Nonviolence and Its Violent Consequences (2000, Gualala, CA.)
There are some debates that will rage forever without a conclusion: dogs vs. cats, West Coast vs. East Coast, tastes great vs. less filling… At the end of the day the answer to these questions means very little to the way that we live our lives and forge new, more just societies. There are, of course, angry divisions which, although equally unresolvable, play a major role in the world that we live in and hope to create. Most notable is the chasm between those who advocate strict Non-Violence and those who see the need for other tools to be used. This argument has been taking place for a very long time and will continue to be a weapon in the hands of our oppressors. It guarantees that they will see much of our energy wasted on horizontal conflict, and that our actions will be slowed by the constant need to justify every move we make in the struggle against global capitalism, industrialism, and anthropocentrism.
Still, there are times when people on both sides of this debate make errors that must be confronted. Recently a media and electronics group within Occupy Denver worked to discover the identities of people who had thrown water bottles at cops during an Occupy event. They claim that they are doing this to fight “violence,” and somehow they have magically ignored the much greater violence that sparked the throwing of plastic bottles to begin with- the Denver PD pepper spraying and firing pepper balls at protestors whose only crime was setting up tents in a public square.
Back in the 1990’s pacifism and it’s sister dogma, “Non-Violence,” had paralyzed the once thriving Earth First! movement. It was argued that cooperation with the authorities was somehow not violent (Despite those same authorities carrying weapons and working for a state with a nuclear arsenal) but sabotaging machinery made one akin to a mass murderer. Tackling and attempting to citizens arrest people breaking the windows of Nike town was not violent, but harming the property of people who own slave-run factories abroad was “just as bad” as owning those factories yourself. Many books and pamphlets were written at the time to counter this nonsensical, non-strategic, non-resistance movement, most famously Ward Churchill’s Pacifism as Pathology. Still, for it’s conciseness and applicability to wilderness defense (and offense!) movements, nothing beats William Meyers “Nonviolence and Its Violent Consequences.” Given the current rhetoric of many in the Occupy movement who see sabotage as violence, while working within the system as somehow not violent, this booklet has suddenly become a must read once more.