Sunday, August 20, 2017

Violence - Non Violence. The Way To Look At It.

Sean O'Torain.
Some of US capitalism's violent history.

After the events in Charlottesville the issue of violence or non violence is being discussed far and wide. There is a lot of confusion. Some genuine confusion and some deliberately created confusion. And of course there is also the hypocrisy and lies of US capitalism to create confusion.

Firstly, look at the deliberate confusion that is being spread. US capitalism through its media and political outlets rails against any violence that is used by protesters who are protesting the violence of the state or the violence of the Nazi and white supremacist groups such as the KKK. Non violent protest is the way to go they insist. Violence must be condemned they insist. The hypocrisy and lies of the US capitalist class and its media is staggering.

US capitalism came to power and maintains power by violence. It just about wiped out by violence the tens of millions of native peoples who lived in what was to become the US. It seized the African people by violence and brought them here and for 300 years kept them enslaved by violence. Never paid them a dime for their labor and when they objected they put them down by violence. When the contradiction between slavery and capitalism became no longer tenable the US capitalist class fought the most violent war in history up to that point to establish capitalism throughout what was to become today's USA. Then they created the terrorist group the KKK to prevent the former slave population from exercising their rights through lynching African Americans and burning their bodies and organizing celebratory events with masses being mobilized to come out to celebrate this horrific violence. The idea being to accustom these people to such horrific violence and to make them accomplices.

Then there is the violence of US capitalism against the US working class. A study in 1969 stated that the "US had the bloodiest and most violent labor history of any industrial nation in the world." Go and Google violence against labor in the US and you will see case after case of where workers were killed trying to organize unions in an effort to have better lives. On Google there is a list of workers deaths in US strikes and labor disputes, which goes on and on. And for every worker killed violently many more are intimidated into going along by this violence. The lists of workers killed in the US by US capitalism and its thugs does not include the numbers of workers held as slaves who were killed by the state and groups such as the KKK and white racist individuals and mobs. They are too countless to number and anyway most were never recorded, just like the numbers of the native people killed was never recorded. They were just murdered and their bodies thrown in the ditch like dirt. And of course there is the violence which continues today carried out by the racist state apparatus, the police, which kills overwhelmingly people from the minorities.

But we are not finished there. US capitalism has military bases in hundreds of countries throughout the world. It has invaded and occupied up to 30 countries since 1945 murdering millions and dropping napalm on them, over 32,000 tons of it on North Korea, what the US called its "Wonder weapon".

And of course the most horrific violent act of all. The US is the only country to have dropped atomic bombs on civilian populations. And under a Democratic Party president no less. In the 1960's and 1970's US capitalism waged what were known as its dirty wars in Latin America. And it continues with its wars today in the Middle East. As a result large parts of the Middle East is being blown to pieces.

US capitalism is in no position to condemn violence. US capitalism only exists because of violence. Its condemnation of violence must be thrown back in its face. We must not allow ourselves to be confused by the propaganda and lies of US capitalism about violence.

Then there is also the genuine confusion about violence. No reasonable person wants violence. Most people say they are against violence. I myself want to live in a world without violence. But that is not the issue.  Like the lady I spoke with recently who said she was against violence but when I reminded her that she had told me that if anybody harmed her little grand-daughter she said she would kill them with her bare hands she said, "okay you are right, I am not against all violence." That is the point to see.

It is not violence or non violence it is a question of context. It is a question of violence for what,  violence against what. The Nazis and white supremacists and KKK wage violence to suppress people who are not white and to oppress women and to oppress people who oppose capitalism and certainly to crush unions. In some cases protesters against these evils use violence and and in some cases this is correct and in some cases not. It is not a question of violence or no violence but it is a question of violence to what end and it is a question of the overall stage and state of the struggle at any given time. Of course, all reasonable people do not want violence. But when we are confronted with violent forces wishing to violently impose their will on people then they have to be opposed.

In the US, the capitalist class and its propaganda machine glorify Martin Luther King and his non violence. They do not mention that they as a class murdered Martin Luther King, that is, used violence to eliminate Martin Luther King. They also do not mention another fact concerning the 1950's and 1960's civil rights movement and the gains it made. There were mass violent uprisings in the cities of the US. There was the formation of groups such as "Negroes With Guns" in North Carolina. This in turn inspired Huey Newton and the Black Panthers. US capitalism was forced to make its concessions to the civil rights movement not just because of the mass mobilization and character of that movement but by the emerging threat of violent struggle that began to appear and by the violent mass uprisings in the cities.

This brings us to today and the struggles that are now gaining strength in opposition to the Confederate statues. In reality these are struggles against the racism and sexism that exists and has been whipped up by the degenerate in chief in the White House and his campaign for president and his actions since. Especially his equating the Nazis, KKK and co with the protesters who opposed them. How should we see violence in the context of the struggle against the increasing aggression of the racists and the sexists in these movements? To be clear on this issue we have to see the following.

Violence or non violence is not a question of principle. It is a tactical question. In Charlottesville it was correct to violently take on the Nazis and co. They came armed for violence and it was right to take them on.  If they had been allowed to march unchallenged with their hate filled chants they would have come out of Charlottesville emboldened. Instead they have come out of it weakened. On top of that, we had the idiot racist in the White House equating both sides and this evoked and explosion of anger amongst the majority of the people of the US who are opposed to racism. Charlottesville and its aftermath has resulted in a most positive sea change in the consciousness of the majority of the US population. This is shown by the fact that racist confederate statues are coming down in all directions.

But back to violence and it being a tactical issue and not a principle. In Boston this weekend we had 40,000 people marching against a so called, right to free speech rally held by a bunch of Nazis and racists. Numbers at this rally were counted in the dozens. It was pathetic. Their rally was to last from 12 noon to 2 pm. I finished by 12.45. They were utterly demoralized and intimidated by the 40,000 people who marched. In this situation and this is where tactics come in, it was wrong for any anti racist people to conduct any violence. To do so risked allowing the racists in and out of the White House to say both sides are the same. Risked taking the steam out of the huge anti racist movement that is developing. Risked putting the broader mass of the population who oppose racism from coming out in future to march against racism.

So sometimes it is correct to violently take on the Nazis and company and sometimes it is not. There are a number of factors to take into account in deciding this. The most important is the effect on the consciousness of the mass of the population. Which tactic will best increase the anti racist consciousness of the mass of the population and the ability to mobilize these forces. As I say the violent confrontation of the Nazis and co in Charlottesville and the reaction of the racist in the White house resulted in a sea change for the better in the attitude of the majority of the US population against racism. The 40,000 in Boston marching peacefully further strengthened this anti racist consciousness. In the future the struggles against the Nazis and the KKK and co should be looked at on a case by case basis as to what tactic is the best.

In relation to this the groups such as Antifa while they must be recognized for their courageous action against the fascists, they must also consider a few things. One, how their actions, their tactics effect the mass consciousness of the broader movement. They have to see that part of their task is to convince the anti racist mass of the US population to take on the Nazis and co. As part of this they have to consider that this is not helped by them acting undemocratically, having their own secret meetings where they decide what they are going to do and go out and do this. Not taking into account the need to interact in a democratic way with the broader anti racist, anti sexist movement.  They can quickly be isolated and weakened if they do whatever they wish and ignore the broader movement. The talk of "diversity of tactics' which is thrown about in these anti fascist groups is a way of these groups doing their own thing as opposed to trying to figure out the correct tactics for the movement at any given time and as part of the anti fascist movement as a whole. This talk of diversity of tactics is a way of allowing them to avoid democratic decision making.

While recognizing that violence or non violence in any given situation is a tactic we must always keep in mind the statement from Hitler. He wrote: "only one danger could have jeopardized this development, (that is the rise of the Nazi party in Germany)if our adversaries had understood its principles, established a clear understanding of these ideas, and if they had from the first day annihilated with the utmost brutality the nucleus of our movement."

Nazism at this time in the US is a fringe nucleus. It is not wanted by the dominant section of the capitalist class. This dominant section of the capitalist class wants to get on with ruling in the old way through its so-called democratic institutions and yes they want to keep racism and sexism, but they want to keep racism and sexism  simmering and not boiling over. They do not want mass fighting on the streets. They do not want their increasingly diverse workforces in open conflict with each other.  Nor do they want the crisis that would erupt in their armed forces where 31% of enlisted personnel are listed as minorities and this is without listing Latinos as minorities. Latinos make up another 11.3%. Open racist conflict on the streets of the US would explode into the ranks of the US military and would lead to a major crisis in US capitalism's military wing with a serious weakening of that wing and from this a serious weakening of its ability to invade and occupy and intimidate other countries.

One other aspect of these Nazi type outfits should be noticed. Not only were they chanting against Jews in Charlottesville. But they were also complaining that Trump was not going far enough for  them as he had "given his daughter to a Jew". This should be taken note of. These Nazis and their sleaze in arms  are not only racists they are sexists. This is shown by how they say that Trump "gave" his daughter to a Jew. That is the way they think. The male rules. The male "gives" his daughter. It is also the view on orthodox religious thinking.  Back to the US military. 14.5% of the US military are now women. This is another reason why the military tops condemned Trump for equating the fascists with the people who opposed them.

The tops of all the sections of the military came out and condemned Trumps statement equating the Nazis and white supremacists and KKK with those who fought them in Charlottesville. The military tops know they have a hard enough job keeping  racism and sexism from exploding in the their ranks and undermining their fighting ability without Trump's big racist mouth.

My mother, a rural Irish peasant woman, used to say when she saw something that just astounded her. She would say- "In under God this" -  "In under God that".  This was her way of saying how could such a thing happen. Being an atheist I do not use this term but it comes into my head when I think of Trump - how could there be such a degenerate stupid psychologically deformed person in the White House.  US capitalism is in a terrible political crisis. That is why their unwanted candidate won the presidency over their preferred candidate Clinton. And to think they are in a political crisis now wait till the next economic collapse arrives.

Having said all this we should also keep in mind this reality. The US capitalist class do not want the racism and sexism of the Nazis and co to explode at this time. A recent book titled "The economic cost of the 1968 riots" in the US gives their thinking on this. Such developments are bad for business. This is shown  by the tops of the major corporations abandoning Trump over his statement on Charlottesville. But things can change, things do change.  The lesson of fascism in Germany is that when things got really desperate for the German capitalist class who at first shunned Hitler and his Nazi party this class then turned to Hitler and his Nazis and and put them in power. And we should not forget that sections of the US capitalist class supported the Nazis in Germany for a time.

The US working class and all anti racist and anti sexist forces in the US must not let down our guard.

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