As goes my penchant for stumbling upon books in a particularly synchronous manner, I’ve recently picked up a book called “How Nonviolence Protects the State” by Peter Gelderloos. And ho ho oh boy…my thoughts about this topic are rapidly developing in the direction of a decisively clenched fist. God damn. It’s when I read shit like this that really opens my eyes that I feel most like the Huge Racist Idiot I’ve been trained to be. The indoctrination runs deep, my friends. Best to stay humble, because this shit is fucking EVERYWHERE. Tell ’em what’s up, Petey:
“Pacifism as an ideology comes from a privileged context. It ignores that violence is already here; that violence is an unavoidable, structurally integral part of the current social hierarchy; and that it is people of color who are most affected by that violence. Pacifism assumes that white people who grew up in the suburbs with all their basic needs met can counsel oppressed people, many of whom are people of color, to suffer patiently under an inconceivably greater violence, until such time as the Great White Father is swayed by the movement’s demands or the pacifists achieve that legendary “critical mass.”
People of color in the internal colonies of the US cannot defend themselves against police brutality or expropriate the means of survival to free themselves from economic servitude. They must wait for enough people of color who have attained economic privilege (the “house slaves” of Malcolm X’s analysis) and conscientious white people to gather together and hold hands and sing songs. Then, they believe, change will surely come. People in Latin America must suffer patiently, like true martyrs, while white activists in the US “bear witness” and write to Congress. People in Iraq must not fight back. Only if they remain civilians will their deaths by counted and mourned by white peace activists who will, one of these days, muster a protest large enough to stop the war.
[…] Pacifists must know, at least subconsciously, that nonviolence is an absurdly privileged position, so they make frequent usage of race by taking activists of color out of their contexts and selectively using them as spokespersons for nonviolence. […] Even Gandhi and King agreed it was necessary to support armed liberation movements (citing as examples those in Palestine and Vietnam, respectively) where there was no nonviolent alternative, clearly prioritizing goals over particular tactics. But the mostly white pacifists of today erase this part of history and re-create nonviolence to fit their comfort level, even when “claiming the mantle” of Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi. One gets the impression that if Martin Luther King Jr. were to come in disguise to one of these pacifist vigils, he would not be allowed to speak. As he pointed out:
‘Apart from bigots and backlashers, it seems to be a malady even among those whites who like to regard themselves as “enlightened.” I would especially refer to those who counsel, “Wait!” and to those who say that they sympathize with our goals but cannot condone our methods of direct-action in pursuit of those goals. I wonder at men who dare to feel that they have some paternalistic right to set the timetable for another man’s liberation.'”
Seriously, fellow peace-loving white people of the racist matrix, read this book and take your medicine.
I had someone at the grocery market today ask me why I was working for mental health reform instead of trying to change the socioeconomic conditions that lead so many to become so fucking depressed in the first place. Well, guy who works at the deli and knows a lot more about nutrition than me but that doesn’t give you a right to dig on the things I care about person, everything is important and connected, but quite frankly, this one’s personal. Mental health reform is an issue close to my heart. There are a great many things that I care about, but I’ve got a itch I gotta scratch when it comes to our fucked up mental healthcare system and I’m gunning it for it first. I also believe that changes to our current paradigms of mental health are directly tied to issues of resistance. You need a basic degree of de-conditioning and a lot of internal support and faith in yourself in order to fight back against systematic oppression. Our fucked up mental healthcare system invigorates our patriarchal colonialist society by telling people their pain is all in their heads. That there’s nothing to worry about, that they’re chemically imbalanced if they try to resist.
Feeling at home in your own skin does not necessitate complacency in the face of evil. Thinking back to the whole buddhist transforming anger thing, and also to some stuff I heard Maya Angelou say to Dave Chappelle about how you must use your anger but must never become bitter, I think it is important to cultivate a calm presence *within* your anger. To be able to act decisively and deliberately and authentically in the service of what you believe in. That’s the position from which a diversity of tactics is really going to take its power. But also, fuck it! Let’s burn this fucker down! Consider me rabble- roused.