An occasional series on Marxism, by J L Samboma
A revolution without violence? Yeah, right! Dream on, brother. Whether you want it or not, the po-lice are gonna jump on your back. How about going on a turkey shoot, and you be the bird? Go read some Malcolm. Listening to him might be better. Well, I never!
At least the sister knows what she's talking about. Bless your good soul, Sis. They want us to be non-violent when they use violence against us every day. Some might not see it, but it's there if we look just beneath the surface. Poverty is violence; homelessness is violence; lack of healthcare is violence. Sub-standard education is violence - see your gang-bangers. And the brother wants to make an omelette with the eggshell intact. Tell me another.
But we don't start of by telling the oppressor class that if they use violence, we will retaliate. That's a non-starter. They'll just laugh in your face and beat you down.
Let's start with how these situations develop. The people resist, either through sit-ins, demonstrations or marches. That is not violence; it's protest. It is the armed machinery of the state, in the form of the police, paramilitary or national guard who invariably start the violence, using their water cannons, guns or sticks to disperse the people. Then the people resist it; that's how revolutionary situations develop.
Revolution means change. Change in this context means the expropriation from the oppressors of the wealth which the people have created. Do you think these guys are ever gonna say, "Okay folks, we hear you. Let's split everything down the middle?" Hell, no! They owe their wealth and status on the continuation of the system of exploitation they have created. They will never agree to letting it all go, they will never agree to change, without a fight.
Therefore, our side must be prepared. Part of that preparation means letting them know that we have the resolve, the strength and resources to put up a good fight. That preparation means not allowing them to see us blink first, which is what you will do by telling them you are a peaceful man, for we all know that he who sues for peace is the weaker one. Let them sue for peace if they want peace. We don’t want peace; we want change. Don't put the cart before the horse.
They use violence everyday against us because they know it works. Violence is not a bad thing, for the one who uses it to achieve their goals. When they use it, it’s good, it’s necessary. When we use it to resist the violence they impose on us, it’s evil. There are fundamental, irreconcilable contradictions between the oppressor and the oppressed. Those contradictions can only be resolved in struggle. Without struggle there's no progress. So if you want progress you have to struggle. If that struggle is against an enemy that will not give up without a fight, then we fight.
If you let him know you are weak by pleading to his “better nature,” he’ll just walk all over you. Does the oppressor have a “better nature?” Look at your position and then show me that “better nature.” Remember Iraq? See Libya? That’s the oppressor’s “better nature.”
Which leads to one of my favourite quotes from my good friend Dr Marx: "The profound hypocrisy and inherent barbarism of bourgeois civilisation lies unveiled before our eyes, turning from its home, where it assumes respectable forms, to the colonies, where it goes naked."
Those who want to win fight. Those who want to appeal to the oppressor's “better nature” will never see the change they presumably want. Did George Washington and his generals appeal to the better nature of the British monarch?