Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Non-Violent Class Warriors

The members of the World Socialist Movement often meet demands for our solutions to the on-going struggles in Palestine, in Syria and all the other places over the world where despots are repressing peoples. We are how we'd deal with someone like Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein or who is the latest personification of evil is. We are accused of offering no immediate answer and it is true - we are no aspiring Che Guevaras - thankfully.  Socialists don't want to die for socialism, we want to live for socialism. By shortening of our lives with martyrdom, we can make no constructive useful contribution to the future.

Our view is that the power of dictatorships ultimately comes from the willing obedience of the people they govern.  All hierarchical systems require the cooperation of people at every level, from the lowliest workers to the highest bureaucrats. Despots depend on the population’s cooperation and submissiveness - and if the people effectively withhold their consent, even the strongest of regimes can collapse. Without the consent of the working class - either their active support or their passive acquiescence the ruling class would have little power and little basis for rule.

If protesters don’t have a clear objective, then they are likely to be sadly disappointed. Protest alone accomplishes very little. If you don’t have that basic understanding of what you’re doing, then you’re not going to win anything. One struggle doesn’t always do the job; sometimes you have to have two or three or four or five struggles in succession. Class war is in fact very much like war, a series of class-struggle battles with both victories and defeats. Cutting off our enemy's sources of sustenance, its power, is the ultimate goal. But it won’t happen easily, or quickly, or always. Non-violence is not passive, nor is it a way of avoiding conflict. Any non-violent movement that takes on a well-entrenched dictatorship. Those who start such a movement must be prepared for a long struggle, with setbacks and numerous casualties. After all, only one side is committed to non-violence. Nor is there any guarantee of success, even in the long run. However th other option, entails even larger casualties and has even poorer prospects of success.

Violence is not all that effective in a revolution. People have long thought that power grows out of the barrel of a gun.and it's taken a number of historical events to prove that is not true. When non-violence fails, the method is condemned. But when violence fails, strategy or tactics are blamed—not violence as a method. And partial success is seen as total failure.

Non-violent means will increase our chances of the military refusing to obey orders. But if you go over to violence, the soldiers will not mutiny. They will be loyal to the dictatorship and the dictatorship will have a good chance to survive.  An armed response from the revolutionaries will not succeed, as the regime is invaribly stronger on the military front. As soon as you choose to fight with violence you're choosing to fight against opponents in possession of the best weapons. The state's police and  army are better trained in using those weapons. And they  control the infrastructure that allows them to deploy them. To fight dictators with violence is to cede to them the choice of battleground and tactics. Using violence against  experts in it is the quickest way to have a movement crushed. That is why governments frequently infiltrate opposition groups with agents provocateurs—to sidetrack the movement into violent acts that the police and  security agencies can deal with. Non-violence is an aspect of resistance that the normal forces of co-ercion are ill-prepared for. When therulining class choose to use their superior force against noviolent activists, they sometimes find that it does not bring about the desired results. First, all sanctions must be carried out by the ruler's agents (police or military personnel) who may or may not obey or may reluctantly make a show of obeying to commit brutal acts against people who are clearly presenting no physical threat. It could have the effect of converting them to our point of view by winning over their hearts and minds. Even if a non-violent campaign is unable to change our adversary's way of thinking, it can still wield power and influence the course of events who may decide it is too costly to continue the fight or forced to make concessions because its power-base has been dissolved.

People turn violent because they feel there is little alternative but to resort to violence. Socialists organizations will develop the substitutes to militarising the class struggle and then people will have a choice of psychological weapons, social weapons, economic weapons and political weapons which can be applied and are ultimately more powerful against tyranny.  Once enough people and organizations within a society (trade unions, community groups) are engaging in civil disobedience and withholding their cooperation from a regime, the capitalists' power will gradually wither from political starvation.

The success or failure of any peaceful revolt largely depends on the campaign’s ability to undermine the regimes supporters and weaken the allegiance of its civil servants, police and soldiers to the regime; to persuade those neutrals sitting on the fence to join the opposition. The worse the regime suppresses protests, the more steadfast ought the opposition  be in its commitment to non-violence and the more the people resists, the more we will realize our own power and discover the means of re-shaping our destiny.

Non-violent popular civil-disobedience has an important role in moving forward from limited political democracy to full social democracy, which is what we mean by socialism. Not as a substitute for electoral and constitutional action, but as an additional guarantee that the socialist majority will achieve its goal under any conceivable circumstances. Socialists are not pacifists on principle but purely as a practical tactic. We acknowledge that there might be instances in which violence is a legitimate means to use.  

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