Sunday, June 16, 2019

Fight Violence with Non-Violence

In Hong Kong huge demonstrations are taking place against the government which is perceived as putting the special status of Hong Kong's semi-autonomy under Chinese rule and the relative liberty and democracy it possesses at risk. The mass protests are facing the usual weapons of the repressive State - police clubs, water cannon, rubber bullets, pepper spray and tear gas.

The Socialist Party is always on the side of the oppressed against the oppressors. As world socialists, we are repulsed by the needless and mindless violence going on. We sympathise with our fellow-workers and we condemn and denounce senseless killing.

Those in the Socialist Party are not worshippers of violence. Nor are we pacifists. To call upon men and women to practice tolerance, goodwill and love as the practioners of Christianity suggest is to express hollow sermons in a world of class conflicts, national rivalries and hatred where power politics is the normal way of conducting world affairs. To love one's oppressors would be an abnormal and inhuman feeling. If people were being oppressed by a rapacious minority, hate for the oppressors would be a normal. Many who have listened to Socialist Party speakers will have heard them repeat the Chartist slog “Peacefully if possible, forcibly if necessary.” For anyone to advocate non-violence as the only possible answer to violence would a servile response.

But, above all, the Socialist Party tries to guard against the sporadic, meaningless and inevitably self-defeating violence that suffering and resentment are so likely to prompt.

Non-violence is ineffectual, and dangerously out of touch with the reality of state violence. Non-violent resistance is a more effective method for bringing about desirable social change in the modern world than violence. It is not a moral issue but that non-violence is superior as an instrument to bring about social change. It isn't about non-resistance but non-violent resistance.

Terrorism uses violence, or the threat of violence, to achieve its ends. It is designed to have far reaching psychological repercussions beyond the immediate victim or target. That is the bottom-line despite trying to disguise the fact. For the terrorist the most pressing incentive is belief in the virtue of their cause. Political movements which rely on non-violence are more likely to achieve their objectives than are those movements that resort to force. After all, violence usually results in retaliation and counter-violence. The Socialist Party explains that the only one way to achieve lasting peace across this planet involves forgoing violence as a means of accomplishing goals. The case for political violence is the case against the possibility of working class consciousness. Violence and terrorism are not instruments which can be used in the building of socialism.

What is to be feared by authoritarian states most is non-violent protest. Non-violence is neither passive nor a way of avoiding conflict. A non-violent movement that challenges a well-entrenched dictatorship must be prepared for a long struggle and numerous casualties. After all, only one side is committed to non-violence. However, the alternative entails even larger casualties and holds fewer prospects of success. Peaceful resistance does not mean no resistance. It does not mean non-action. As soon as you choose to struggle with violence you’re choosing to fight against opponents who are on their own terrain and in possession of the best weapons. The state’s police and army are better trained in using those weapons. And they control the infrastructure that allows them to deploy their might. To fight dictators with violence is to cede to them the choice of battleground and tactics. Amateurs using violence against experts is the quickest way to defeat.

But let us be frank, as we presently stand, there is little that can be done by the World Socialist Movement in ending the violence taking place within capitalism and currently on the streets of Hong Kong, except to voice our solidarity and support but more importantly, our constant campaigning for socialism as the hope of humanity. 

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