Two Kinds of Non-Violence: Occupy Oakland, Khader Adnan and the Liberal Non-Violence Discourse

Violence has always been a useful term for governments and their allied establishment figures in media and punditry. Key to that utility is a very specialised use of the term as a descriptor for actions that don’t originate with the establishment or authorities. Police, armies, presidents and city administrators do not engage in violence. They use strategies, protocols, plans of action, deployments, operations and strikes. The people that are injured and die in those acts are not actively killed by violence. Rather, they suffer only in the passive voice…

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4 thoughts on “Two Kinds of Non-Violence: Occupy Oakland, Khader Adnan and the Liberal Non-Violence Discourse

  1. Here is how I see the Occupy violence dispute:

    There are many people who would like to be a part of a popular movement for economic justice and democracy, but don’t want to be a part of a movement using destructive tactics such as breaking windows or setting things on fire. I’ll call these people the non-violence advocates.

    Borrowing Hirshman’s Exit, Voice, Loyalty idea: Neither most “DoT ” advocates nor most non-violence advocates want the non-violence advocates to leave the Occupy movement. Some non-violence advocates are trying to use their voice to change the movement rather than exiting. Some “DoT” advocates would rather appeal to the non-violence advocates’ sense of loyalty to the movement than respond to that voice.

    I am rooting for the nonviolence advocates to prevail. It is not just that I prefer constructive activism over destructive activism, but because I prefer organizations based on voice to organizations based on loyalty.

    • As I’ve written, non violence isn’t the absence of breaking things, its actual use of one’s own body and/or liberty. I’ve heard almost no non violence advocates actually offer any such tactics. You can call yourself non violence advocates; marching around in a circle is not non violence.

      • Your comment makes me think of this:
        “The techniques being used by OLAASM are typical Psy-Ops, or psychological operations. Psychological operations are often used by undercover law enforcement agents infiltrating protest groups. The marks in OLA — the people being drawn in as “insiders,” are supposed to view themselves as special, in on something big, and against the other lame, more mainstream people.”

        that I read here.
        Still, I think most of what you write in this blog is brilliant.

  2. I don’t think it is fair to characterize nonviolence advocates as promoting marching in a circle. I have interacted with some longtime activists in Occupy who are both non-violence advocates and have taken considerable personal risk for the causes they believe in. Their accomplishments include taking People’s Park and work with Berkeley Copwatch. Moreover, I know of several upcoming nonviolent actions in the works.

    On March 3rd from 1-5 pm in the Alameda County Public Health Building there will be an an event called the 99% Knowledge Share.
    There will be a several tables, including one devoted to non-violence. The person organizing the table will have a wealth of information about non-violence including information about upcoming trainings and organizations devoted to non-violence.

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