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i get that anarchism does not agree with "ends justify means" type of understanding; and that it is against violence in general.

i also get that there's a distinction between different uses of violence -what i'd call destructive/productive (used by the powerful, aiming to destruct agency and re/produce power) and resistant/reactive uses-.

so ends don't justify means, but context/position does? but are contexts and positions so easily definable? how is it possible to dwell on this in a coherent way?

also, i would really appreciate if you could offer me some readings on the subject.
thanks in advance!

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You should definitely reconsider your assumption that anarchism is inherently or explicitly against violence!

I also don't think it's accurate to say that anarchists (as a whole) have a position on ends justifying means. That phrase seems to imply a moralistic approach. From my perspective, I don't oppose certain tactics because they're "immoral", but rather because I don't believe that those tactics will have desirable results.
i have the assumption that anarchism has more space (than socialism, for example) of the discussion of the means, and it's that discussion i'm looking for, i'm not seeking for a moral code.

"having desirable results" is dependent on the way they are achieved on my part. i'm trying to figure out a space between opposing violence at once; but i'm also trying to avoid it from becoming so central that it defines all, and then the whole radicalness of the act is judged on how violent it is.

1 Answer

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I think you are getting your information about what anarchists are for and against from some biased sources.

There is nothing about anarchism that is inherently opposed to violence, in fact, we have a rich tradition of violence against what we hate. Some of it was even effective.

As far as ends and means, I also think you are painting us (us being anarchists) with a broad brush that ignores a lot of nuance. There are anarchists who advocate bombings and assassinations, there are anarchists who are only in favor of actions against inanimate objects, and there are those who will tell you we need to not act in any way that reproduces the violence of society. Then there are those who don't give a shit.

Violence is present in life. I am both not a fan of violence (or, to be honest, interpersonal confrontation - funny, right?!), and I want to attack and destroy every vestige of the world that I hate. That urge towards violence has none of the moralism you imply. It is about hatred, it is about anger, and it is about acting in a way that I choose to act in that moment.

You seem to be trying to distinguish between "good" violence (windows smashed, molotovs thrown at cops/fascists, etc) and "bad" violence (cops, US bombs, prison, rape, etc). I am hesitant to categorize violence in these ways. It is, and we are all involved in it, explicitly or implicitly. It is a question, at least to me, of what is going to work in a given situation.

Here are some things you might like to read:

Against the Corpse Machine http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/ashen-ruins-against-the-corpse-machine-defining-a-post-leftist-anarchist-critique-of-violence

You Can't Blow Up a Social Relationship http://theanarchistlibrary.org/authors/libertarian-socialist-organisation (I am generally not in agreement with the overall tome of this text, but I think it is worth reading, especially with...)

You Can't Blow Up a Social Relationship... But You Can Have Fun Trying! http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/bob-black-you-can-t-blow-up-a-social-relationship-but-you-can-have-fun-trying

How Nonviolence Protects the State http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/peter-gelderloos-how-nonviolence-protects-the-state

Pacifism as Pathology http://zinelibrary.info/files/pap_imposed.pdf

The Master's Tools http://littleblackcart.com/The-Masters-Tools.html (I just got this and haven't finished it, but it seems like it is valuable in addressing some of what you are exploring)

I also think that some of the ideas explored in the writings of assorted individualists, nihilists, and illegalists might be useful in fleshing out the ambivalence I am trying to express about violence.
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I’m new to this site and not quite confident in articulating my thoughts, but here goes nothing…

I agree that context and position are not easily definable, but then again I don’t feel the drive to define these difficult positions and contexts, or that it is necessary to objectively 'justify' every situation, which I think is the motivation behind you asking this question. I have felt this way before, but I think it was due to a combination of two things:

1. Moralism that suggests each situation can be viewed from a birds’ eye view and sorted into the categories “good” and “bad.”
2. A leftist tendency to make excessive and numerous statements about every issue, or to have official positions on everything.

In my own life I judge a situation involving violence based on the context that it happens and my position in relation to it, as you suggest. In the case of police violence, it’s a no-brainer. But there are plenty of cases, especially inner-personal, where it can get quite complicated. I think if we understand that there is nuance, which I believe you suggest in your question, then that’s really the best we can do.
as i said above, i don't mean to generalise a representation of anarchism, if it sounded like that, sorry.

*warning, from here on i'm not talking in a general sense, i'm simply telling the situation around ME*

i'm simply trying to have a sense of the discussion on violence. having been sick of the masculine hero complex discussions in socialist environments(the more violent, the better, regardless of the point), and in feminist ones that defer violence all at once (a woman was denied solidarity for cutting throat of the man who was threatening and raping her) , i would really like to know more about in anarchist circles.

the differentiation i'm trying to make is not necessarily in terms of "good" and "bad", but i don't think it is fair to call them both "violence". so, let me ask then, why are you hesitant to call them so?
somewhere around here, i have read that "violence from oppressed to oppressor is fine", but i'm not convinced that in most of the context they are definable. apart from positions not being rigid, why not?

thanks for the list, i will check them asap.
@flip, i think i should have specified, i'm mostly concerned about political uses of violence.

i'm not after a statement that goes like:
violence is ok if a,b,c, and not if d,e,f.

but how exactly it's a no brainer? what goes without saying?
Ah, I misunderstood the question then. Being opposed to police violence is a no-brainer for me because I recognize the police as an institution that oppresses and represses. For the sake of avoiding jargon-talk, by ‘oppresses’ I mean they keep marginalized populations under control. ‘Represses’ means they actively work to deter the efforts of people who try to overthrow the system.

Their presence and the violence they inflict are meant to terrorize the public into submission, which keeps the society that I hate functioning. As an anarchist, in a discussion board with other anarchists, I assume that hating violence inflicted by those in positions of authority ‘goes without saying.’ That’s what I meant by that, but I understand and appreciate your inquiry to understand the phenomenon more. Even typing this all out right now is helping me to further develop my own thoughts.
hating the institutions goes for me too, but that's a feeling regardless of the context. i hate it, all the time. that goes without saying. but how and when to act upon that hate and anger -for me at least- is a different issue.

the way i see it, political violence should have a point. violence comes with costs. not that i care about the receiving end (maybe i should, but i just cannot), but the people that i side with get hurt too. so for me, it should be a "way" to do sth. i cannot imagine using violence, in itself, as a resistance practice. meaning, using violence should not be the point, as in "violence for violence's sake"; but it should be a "mean" to an "end". but of course, this is just a vague thought, in real experience, it is really not that easy to distinguish them. so i have an idea, but i'm not quite comfortable with it. thanks a lot for taking time to share my food for thought :)
could you say more about "violence having a point"? what are you considering violence, and what counts as "a point"?
to the extent that i understand what you're saying, the argument against violence "having a point" is the same one some of the students used in the more interesting parts of the student strike -- ie no demands. actions being done with a clear goal, demands being made for something clear (and achievable), are easily coopted, more easily traced back to a small(er) number of people... to the extent that the state can predict what we will do, what we want, what will lull us into passivity, then they have a better hand to play.
(that does make it sound like we can make a difference if we just stay under the radar, and i'm not at all convinced that's true, for sure.)
i'm more for actually changing things (i had really liked the alternative distribution experiences for example, occupy movements and the like), rather than organising demonstrations to show our discontent and willingness to change things and then having clashes. in the first version, there's something i want to do, and they are not allowing me to, so i "resist", and i use violence to get them out.

the problem i have is more about the demonstrations part. it could still be counted as "there's something i want to do, and they are not allowing me to". but the point there is actually to "show our discontent", and making it the "point", rather than the representation of it, somehow, makes it as if a clash is the point. which i believe should not be the point, unless we are organised to erase them all from the earth.

i think the question for me is something like, "after i take part in this, what will change?", "will it reproduce itself, or will it stop the reproduction of the conditions that will turn into a loop?"
jeez why was my answer to this deleted... no fun allowed.jpg

anyway, violence rapport is unjustified and bamboozling... i dont know about yall, but i dont accept it.

rapport in the linguistic sense as used by benjamin whorf. i recommend reading Language, Thought and Reality, a collection of his essays
this is also not an answer, just a refutation (empty) and a reference to a book, neither of which count as answering the question.
please make into a comment.
make it into a comment if you want, but what im saying is that the linguistic construct 'violence' and its rapport is some whack bullshit, and this is really relevant to any discussion of 'violence'.

people get lost by words all the time. just read the fucking question, some liberal making up a monstrous story, building on bullshit.

linguistics are key.
if you mean that violence is a loaded word, and what it refers to linguistically is constructed in a way that one just cannot take it for granted and talk as if it has a coherent meaning, i would agree. but then again, you get the sense of what i mean by violence when i use it.

but, on the "some liberal making up a monstrous story", i'm neither a liberal, nor making a monstrous story.

i'm simply trying to talk about violence without either being labeled as liberal; or a sectarian judging the radicalness of any sort of act by its adherence to use of violent means. and your judgement only makes the question more valuable to me.

it's probably because of the assumption that i was a liberal opposing violence on all terms, and now i'm beginning to "see" that it's no so. well, it's quite the opposite actually. i was more for a "violence against the oppressors are welcome on my part", and accused anyone who would disagree as liberal. but now, i think some time should be spared to the discussion, rather than making people shut up by calling them liberals.
lilah, sk's posts are so inarticulate that i would definitely *not* assume that they were talking about you as a liberal, or your story as the monstrous one.
nor is it generally worthwhile to take online accusations too seriously. i'm sure you know that though. :)