For (hopefully) the last time, no one on this forum is saying that people can’t defend themselves when they’re met with violence. No one is asking anyone to just stand there and be beaten. Why is this so hard to understand?
I agree with you that it may be the more efficient use of time and effort, but that doesn’t mean that moderates can be ignored. Our system of government is set up to favor the rural areas of the country over the urban ones. Unless there’s a major shift in where progressives live, moderate whites will always have some measure of political power due to where they live and how spread out they are, instead of being clustered in specific areas
Without being too flippant myself, this reminds me of all those bad memes on Facebook where someone is arguing that we shouldn’t take care of refugees because there are American veterans who are homeless and need help. Eventually, someone always writes the comment: “Why can’t we do both?” And that’s my answer to you. Why can’t we do both? We can focus on restoring non-gerrymandered voting rights and enabling voting access to POC AND reach out to moderates. Why does it have to be an either/or dichotomy?
The legal observer thing is a great idea, thanks for mentioning that.
Antifa is just like almost any other organization – there will be a percentage of goons among them who are just looking for an excuse to start a fight, whether or not that fight is legitimate or not. I mean, some of them (or at least goons who claim to be part of them) beat up a journalist. Whether the media is overplaying the percentage of goons vs. the broader goals of Antifa is certainly an issue that needs to be discussed, however.
To those Antifa who aren’t specifically looking for a fight and basically act as “human shields” for counter-fascist protests, I applaud you. I hope you only escalate to violence when absolutely necessary, and I assume that by and large you do.
Sometimes, like in the Boston example, all it takes is a large enough show of strength in numbers to show the Nazis that they are not welcome and will not be tolerated. Other times, unfortunately, yes, you may need to get more violent. I’m certainly more in favor of the former, but not philosophically opposed to the latter if necessary.
I’m not saying not to reach out to white moderates (if you’re a masochist). Why you think I’m responding here lol. I’m saying that the “antifa violence makes it harder to convince white moderates who could be super helpful” line is unhelpful backseat activism and pretty questionable considering.
Side note, There are contradictory narratives of violence at protests, sometimes using completely irrelevant photos. What white moderates choose to believe will reflect their existing biases, gravitating towards whiteness and authority. That antifa is being presented as violent without nuance by government officials and media, and that people believe that is what convinces me it is a PR problem, rather than a fundamental issue with the movement.
Additionally, if violence in self defense is acceptable, what form/level of violence is ok to defend against? State violence? Threats and incitement? Is only the targeted individual free to engage or can they enlist proxies? Is it acceptable to respond on another’s behalf to fatal or debilitating violence? Is there a statute of limitations after which we wait until another person is hurt/killed? When others side with the aggressor, are they acceptable targets? I’m saying that Nazi advocacy is violence. The ideology hinges on violence. Why wait for nazis to do what they are threatening to continue doing, and have a record of doing, especially if afterwards moderates will pop out of the woodwork to condemn any response. I’m saying this is all self defense, from a collective standpoint, if not an individual one.
The only issue upon which I was undecided was whether or not it was ok to punch nazis, “in cold blood” as it were. In hot blood I’ll punch many a person. (was because I defined my position above, totes cool to punch nazis specifically in cold blood)
If we’re now talking about whether or not antifa is a force for good or not, this is open and shut. duh of course they’re a force for good, they’re vital for standing up to nazis in hot blood, especially when others won’t.
On the violence of antifa that’s really all that need be said.
Want real criticism? How about the fact that antifa isn’t super cohesive about what they want. If we’re gonna make a movement out of counterprotesting, how about some well defined goals. Something like an exception to the first amendment condemning and lawfully revoking the free expression of nazism a-la Germany?
Have some smart legal mind write that up, and have some people with signal boosting power get the word out, and put it on antifa signs, to be shown at counterprotests.
I definitely think the street medics would benefit from some form of organization / adopting a respectability performance like journalists have… Just so they don’t get pulled off by LE while doing CPR. Hopefully. Also, since they adopted the face mask and camel colors, they were hard to find in a crowd. In Boston, pkerr & I had a sign with a red cross, for this reason.
None of the concern trolling from the white moderates has done anything more than show that they care more about their own hurt feelings and the evil system that upholds white supremacy than the conflict necessary to actively proiritize the safety of the communities directly threaten by Nazis and their reactionary enablers. Most of the white people accused of appeasement here simple played victim as if their imagined slight is worth more than the actual lives being threatened by Nazi goons. It just shows that white moderates will always prioritize order over justice. They aren’t going to lift a finger to defend me and mine when the murderous hordes of Nazis approach. Though I have my political disagreements with anarchists I would rather have the occasional faults of people that are willing to fight side by side with me than the verbal support of people frozen in the ice of their own indifference. Most of the anarchists that I know are people of color, and the casual erasure displayed here by these white moderates just shows that their faux concern is just a mask to divide and conquer, as if white people making the conversation all about the small contingent of white people that make them feel bad isn’t the whitest thing you could be doing right now.
If you want to attack other forumites, please address them directly instead of relying on context and sneaking in the word “here” a couple of times to refer to the forum.
I am not concern trolling, nor am I expressing any kind of “faux concern”. I am stating my honest positions on this issue. Nor am I doing this just because I have “hurt feelings”. Posting in this thread is painful and difficult, and it does nothing to make my feelings any better, but I do it because I think what’s at stake here is more important than my feelings or the feelings of anyone else on this forum. I post here because, like you, I am genuinely concerned about the approach of murderous hordes of Nazis; while it’s an outcome I think is rather unlikely, it’s still one I desperately want to prevent.
First of all, you should understand that the things people say vary significantly with the target audience. The readers of this forum (and most specifically this thread) are, for the most part, not white moderates who will buy into a false “both sides” narrative just because someone happened to speak out about injudicious use of violence. The things I say in this thread are completely different to the kinds of things I would say to the actual “white moderates”.
Secondly, I think people in this thread are not taking the most important questions seriously enough. If what you really want is to stop the murderous hordes of Nazis, or better still to prevent them from happening in the first place, then it’s super important to ask what the best ways of doing that are. When you are at war with Nazis, you have to be willing to do what it takes to win, not just whatever makes you feel best.
I am anti-violence in that I don’t like people, even bad people, getting hurt, but I’m not a pacifist. From a basic understanding of consequentialism it’s easy to grasp that it can be necessary and overall good and right to hurt a few people now to achieve greater good in the future. But I don’t think that any and all attacks on Nazis are a path to that greater good. I mostly agree with this:
but I think this may not be entirely correct:
Although I guess that “goons” of this kind probably exist, I think that the bad elements of antifa (insofar as they exist at all) would likely be much more similar in their mentality to terrorists than goons. I don’t say this to be derogatory, because I have a lot more respect for terrorists than goons. Most terrorists do what they do in service of the greater good; it’s just that a terrorist’s view of reality and what “good” is is deeply skewed.
The reason I post in this thread is that I think that giving blanket support for the punching of Nazis (as many here seem to be doing) is a strategy that loses far more than it gains, and this is a war I really don’t want to lose. Is this backseat activism? Sure. But so are all posts in this thread, because they are exactly that: posts in a forum thread.
For an argument claiming to have the best interests of progress at heart, “strategic non-violence” can have a negative impact on activism overall.
The term “strategic nonviolence” contains the contradiction within itself. A strategy that begins by assuming that a certain approach is correct is not actually a strategy but a belief. Civil resistance theorists claim to be motivated purely by the effectiveness of their approach, but if effectiveness is truly the goal, then one must be open to all possibilities that might prove to be effective in a given circumstance. If one rejects a priori all possibilities that are not nonviolence, then what is called strategy is actually selective evidence to support a preexisting conclusion.
While pacifism was never fully purged from strategic nonviolence, the attempt to abandon the moral foundation of nonviolence has had troubling consequences. Without a guiding ideology, that which is deemed to be most strategic can come to stand in for that which is just and correct. In other words, focusing exclusively on how movements win the next battle can obscure the meaning of the war. Ironically, moral nonviolentists like Gandhi and King were far more sympathetic to violent actions that were understood to be on the side of justice than strategic nonviolentists are to a broken bank window.
Rather than taking cues from Gandhi and King, who humanized and allied themselves with all resistance to oppression even when they disagreed with the methods, today’s strategic nonviolentists are quick to deride, abandon and even incriminate activists engaging in property destruction or self-defense. The loss of principle may have allowed strategic nonviolentists to pursue valuable research on effective tactics, but it has also led to a callous attitude towards fellow activists — one that is distinctly un-strategic in its approach to polarizing public opinion around systemic oppression.
Unsurprisingly, there is evidence that violent actions generate greater police repression. At least one study suggests that mainstream tolerance for police repression of protests, especially violent ones, is quite high. These are important factors for activists to anticipate and strategize around, but this type of backlash does not necessarily undermine movements. In fact, state repression and polarizing public opinions are part of the cycle of disruption that is required for radical social change.
It is not about which team wins symbolic points in the violence-nonviolence debate; it is about how different groups’ tactical approaches can work in harmony to build power. In the context of today’s movements, the broad argument over violence and nonviolence is at best a distraction. At worst, it promotes a good protester/bad protester narrative that helps the state divide and conquer movements.
This argument disregards classical non-violent activism that has been predicated on creating tension and discomfort.
The “strategic non-violence” argument revolves around white moderates hypothetically being dissuaded from justice essentially by discomfort. While MLK Jr is now held up as a paragon of successful non-violent protest, this change in opinion was posthumous.
In 1965, 42% of Americans thought civil rights were too radical. In 1966, 63% of Americans had a negative perception of MLK.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s plan to disrupt the larger Northern cities with massive demonstrations of civil disobedience is the latest in a series of misguided moves that can only provoke greater divisiveness and racial discord.
[. . .]
But his course is one of grave peril to e v e r y o n e concerned-- mainly in the Negroes themselves. Mass defiance of the law might start out as peaceful as Dr. King may want it; but one lone spark can set off an upheaval of violence that could end in massacre, and a public reaction which would spell disaster for the Negro cause.
Additionally, I would argue that previous non-violent movements would have less impact today, due to the loss of emotional intelligence and empathy, as seen through the Kekistan/lulz faction of the modern Nazi movement. Protesters have been driven into, not just in Virginia
“It isn’t nice to block the doorway,
It isn’t nice to go to jail,
There are nicer ways to do it,
But the nice ways always fail.
It isn’t nice, it isn’t nice,
You told us once, you told us twice,
But if that is Freedom’s price,
We don’t mind.”
Finally, there is an argument that violent and non-violent protests work in symbiosis.
I hope these resources will point you in the right direction. They are historically based, unlike the hypothetically strategic honey fallacious argument repeatedly posted here. They were very easy to find, and I recommend doing a lot more reading before claiming that this hasn’t already been considered by people with a lot more knowledge and experience. The only reason I bother arguing here is that I believe that this argument is a destructive excuse for apathy, and the less people lend it validity, the better.
p.s. I better see numbers by all the gotdamm links.
Given the importance of this topic and the time you’ve spent it is clear that, after reading through the materials you cited (and others), I owe you a response. I largely agree with you about the pitfalls of so-called “strategic nonviolence” and I definitely don’t buy into any kind of violence/nonviolence dichotomy. Insofar as I have (wittingly or unwittingly) been an advocate for that position, I must apologize.
My own positions have changed somewhat over the course of this thread, in part due to being underinformed (although I think you’ve overestimated the degree of my ignorance). Mostly I think the main issue has been my own failure to fully communicate my positions, especially a lot of the relevant nuance. There are still important things I need to say, but right now it’s probably best to leave those for later posts.
This post (from a certain other thread) is relevant:
The context of the FRCF is very different to what it would be if one’s audience were the general public. Some in this thread seem to have assumed that anyone expressing any “white moderate”-adjacent position in this thread must be a “white moderate” more generally, despite the massive difference in contexts. Overall, I’ve found much of this thread rather disappointing in the dire lack of charitable interpretation of opposing arguments. Only a few people in this thread (such as @no_fun_girl) seem to want or care to understand where other people are coming from. Others in this thread would prefer to paint opponents as Nazi sympathizers instead…
What I’m saying here is not what I would be saying in a conversation with an actual “white moderate”, because I understand the importance of context and audience in choosing one’s words. That said, I’ve clearly underestimated the need to provide some additional context for my opinions here, due to this being the FRCF and not properly accounting for my own degree of “outsider” status or my history of being extremely guarded. I apologize for my own failure to communicate, as it has clearly lead to a lot of frustration all around.
It’s quite telling if even Gandhi was willing to ally himself with violent resistance, despite also saying (rather silly) things like this:
Ultimately, this entire discussion is one of how to bring about shifts in public opinion, and I agree with you that public, outspoken criticism of parts of a movement can play into opponents’ hands via a “divide and conquer” approach; thus the general need for a broad alliance.
But while public criticism may be harmful, there is also a need for internal criticism (and openness to it) in any group and any movement.
I think the “those conversations” of which you speak are extremely important, but with regards to the actions of activists perhaps the best I can do is trust you on that count. However, at the very least, I am in a position to participate in those kinds of discussions w.r.t. positions put forth by people on the FRCF and have some people bother to listen to me. Being critical of others’ positions on the FRCF is a very different matter to public criticism of any particular movement.
So, perhaps I shouldn’t be critical of antifa’s methods even when I disagree with them (e.g. in Berkeley), and perhaps I shouldn’t be critical of someone who decided to walk up and punch a Nazi in the street; it’s entirely possible doing either would be a tactical error (on my part) of the kind that I’ve railed against in this thread. In particular, Nancy Pelosi’s condemnation of certain actions in Berkeley might well have been a major tactical error, although it’s very difficult to evaluate that. But do keep in mind that certain arguments that would be a destructive excuse for apathy if made to the general public are not necessarily so if made to a different audience, e.g. on the FRCF.
In particular, I think that I can and should be critical of people here who (whether implicitly or explicitly) are offering support for pretty much all forms of violence against Nazis in all circumstances, because I think that that support is a serious tactical error, and speaking against that support on my part is not. There isn’t a dichotomy here, either; you don’t have to offer blanket support for punching of Nazis to be in favour of some uses of violence, e.g. antifa’s use of violence in protecting counter-protesters.
Also, given that I live in Australia, both my channels of information and my channels of influence are necessarily very different to yours. There is a discussion to be had about activism and how I (and others) ought to be spending my time, and it’s a discussion that can be had on this forum, although it would fit best in a different thread.
I, personally, think this presents far too limited a view on when violence may be warranted. However, as the article was written by a POC and clearly ecpresses at least one specific, justified instance of violence, I wanted to share it here:
I flatly disagree with you here. Certainly, I think this community is better on average than typical cross-sections of geeky communities - but we are not that special, and we still suffer many of the same issues as society writ large.
I ran out of charity a long long time ago. I am no longer interested in giving people passes just because they are familiar to me. I’m not sure when it became a virtue to weigh and consider all arguments on a topic, but it’s an increasingly problematic approach, particularly when the national dialogue is trending in a direction of false equivalence. Some arguments are just bad and do not deserve charitable interpretation.
Formulating an argument does not mean that the argument needs to be heard or considered.
With all that said - I don’t see it happening that much. I see a lot of people engaging discussion on topics that normally would never see discussion at all.
It’s also important to understand that discussions on this forum are not being had in a bubble. We are not an ivory tower, locked away from the rest of the world. The issues we broach here are also being broached in other contexts with other people. So when you start with an argument for which you expect some charitable interpretation, you’re not seeing the baggage people are carrying from having more-or-less the same argument elsewhere.
My bottom line: the context of this forum is not independent of other contexts. It’s important to be aware of the effects of various discussion venues on one another. Rather than trying to ignore those realities by keeping contexts in neat little boxes (which really doesn’t happen), we need to discuss and account for them.
Good points. I guess I was wrong in my assessment of the context, more so than I’ve already admitted to. I don’t think there is virtue in weighing and considering all arguments on any given topic; some things aren’t worth reading or responding to at all. Also, in some situations when there is more at stake, winning an argument (or appearing to) can be more important than the quality of discussion.
For me, people and posts I feel are worth responding to in the first place are usually also worth treating charitably. But, rather than relying upon others’ charity in return when there is little reason to expect it, I guess the only way forward is to communicate better.
The problem is, though, if no one on both sides of any particular argument is ever really willing to take the time to understand where their opponents are coming from, the result is that very few people will ever change their minds one way or the other; then you get results like in this quote from no_fun_girl’s linked article:
It’s very difficult to avoid this type of outcome, especially in political discussions where taking increasingly polarized positions is par for the course. But it’s not a hopeless affair either.
Determining which arguments are worth hearing and which can be dismissed immediately is much like deciding what entertainment media are worth giving a watch, and which you can completely ignore.
Someone is telling you about an anime, and you see an image that has middle school girls in bikinis. Ok, you have seen enough. No more information necessary. It can be dismissed. No more information required. Same as if someone tries to tell you the earth is flat. You don’t need to hear their crazy reasoning. That’s just a waste of time. You are good to go.
Anything that clears the instant filter, though, is probably worth at least hearing out. For example in another thread I saw some discussion of someone claiming to use a particle accelerator to make solar cells cheaper, better, more efficient, etc. That passes the initial filter, so you hear it out. And then we start having discussions about the details, whether it’s actually a good idea, whether it is actually better, etc.
TL;DR: I don’t need to watch one episode of the perv anime to know it’s bad and I don’t need to listen to any arguments from the nazi to know they deserve an ass-whupping.
This is true, and I do generally try to consider the merits of arguments on topics I am interested in discussing. Considering the perspectives of arguers and context of the audience is paramount for all in a discussion.
I am expressly not interested in discussing the merits of pro-Nazi arguments. As far as I am concerned, this matter should have been settled in World War II where we said “fuck you” to the Nazis with giant military machinery.
This is where things are getting sticky. It appears increasingly obvious that there is a contingent out there fallaciously committed to the concept of centrism and hearing “both sides” without weighing in. False equivalence is pervasive and maddening, and is literally making it harder to get actual useful discussion out there.
There appears to be a culture for whom not taking an educated stance is a virtue.
I read a great opinion piece recently that sums it up for me. It’s science-focused, but the principles apply elsewhere:
If we narrow the constraints of this discussion from nazism at large to specifically whether or not it’s ok to punch a nazi giving an interview. I started reading this thread as a nay and ended firmly in the yay camp.
Nobody gave my arguments any charitable interpretation and I was made to feel a little bad for having held them in the first place. I think that’s fine. It also, at least in my case, changed a mind. Anecdotal but still.