What role for violence in anarchy?

Posted: 18th May 2010 by The ImModerator in anarchist thought

The recent deaths of bank employees in Athens has drawn history back into the present, as we again find ‘anarchists’ being identified with mindless violence. This occured at the end of the nineteen century, resulting in anarchists being linked with acts of terrorism. It is happening again, as the protesters who threw the bomb into the bank either identified themselves as or were identified as ‘anarchists’.

IF you are unhappy with the powers-that-be (and that is, afterall, the underlying premise of anarchistic thought) then is the killing of working class bystanders justified? If you believe that individual workers should be given more power, how does a random killing of workers help that cause?

What vacuous thinking sits behind such inane acts of stupidity?

  1. The Moderator says:

    Maybe. That doesn’t make you a good Anarchist, it just makes you a less principled nihilist. To pass judgement and sentence on who and what is ugly breaks one of the basic tenets of anarchy. It pretty much aligns your moral code with that of the society enforcement agencies you profess to despise. Strange stuff, isn’t it? Of course, the Apathetic Anarchist is more interested in trying to live a life true to the anarchy code, while being very careful to not raise a sweat while doing so.

    That is not to take a Liebniz approach of saying that everything is as it should be but it does seem a good idea to have some concept of how things should be before you finish the job of changing them from the way that they are. Think of the mess the USofA created by starting the Iraq war without having a valid roadmap of how things should look if they ‘won’. Rebellion for rebellion sake is just violence, and not really Anarchy but it is easy to see how the misuse of the term in the English language would lead to a different conclusion.

  2. I choose the bad, if I decide someone doesn’t deserve to live and I can change whether they live or not I will do it…there is so much ugly in this world they need people to get rid of it and I’m the perfect guy to do it…

  3. The Moderator says:

    True. The odds are that we are all operating on a fixed use-by date, and at some stage the world will cease to exist for each of us. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – we are all fated to die. Some will die a painful and agonising slow death of sickness or ill health, others through accidents reflecting the uncertainty of our existence in a chaotic world. Others will live long and peaceful lives, expiring quietly in their beds.

    How will you decide who is to meet their demise through an early end, caused by your actions? Will you choose the good or the bad? Will you adopt the John Galliano approach and simply get rid of the Ugly?

    Anarchy as a philosophy holds the individual as highest but in the context of the surrounding society. Talk of revolution does not necessarily require violence, and many amazing changes in society happen without random acts of violence. If you are prepared to kill, are you also prepared to die? What ends would you trade your life for?

  4. The Moderator says:

    The origins of anarchy can be seen as a reaction against oppression, and most early writers saw governments and the police forces which enforce their laws, as being violent and oppressive. They also saw this as an unavoidable outcome, and were all the more forceful and violent in their acts as a result. This culminated in the torrid times leading up to the early twentieth century – a period of incredible anarchistic acts, including the assassination of royalty, government ministers and widespread bombings. Many of these anarchists detested the need to kill to achieve their ends – to the point where some would not go through with their attempt if innocent bystanders would be hurt. Their angst in the face of a decision to act with violence is a physical force that they had to deal with.

    So are random acts of violence a means to an end of just an end in themselves? If a policeman beats up a protester, does that justify your violent retribution against a completely different policeman? What about policewomen? Are they justifiable targets? How about the constable who shuffles the paperwork all day – are they a justifiable target?

    If the police use batons to stop a demonstration – but don’t hunt down the protesters in their homes or follow-up with any persecution, does that single act justify random acts of retribution? What about night-club doormen? They are most likely responsible for sorting out the rowdy and untamed, so are all doormen appropriate targets for violence?

    Who decides on the level of tit-for-tat? Is a beating worth a shooting? Is a water cannon equal to a knife? It is possible to argue yourself into lethargy but to ignore thinking about these points at all does not give recognition to the huge body of work put down by great activists, writers and thinkers in the anarchy movement.

  5. The government has the police who are very violent also so if they’re allowed to be violent, why can’t we?

  6. Everyone’s going to die some day, we’re just assisting them and reaching the end of their lives…

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