Rann and I had this Fascinating Argument

… About whether or not violence is ever necessary and what ‘necessary’ means, and whether or not ‘necessary’ = right, and whether or not what’s right ultimately matters (apologies for butchering a pretty deep, animated discussion, but it’s late and I have work in the morning).

I base my beliefs on violence purely from personal experience. I don’t ever read any philosophy on the subject. I wonder if most people are like that – and whether or not philosophy is something that’s congruent to experience, or whether or not it’s vice versa.

Rann, at one point, saiid I’m weirdly abstract and New Age-y when it comes to violence, but when I see it in my mind’s eye, I see it as something very concrete and everyday – the struggle, the screaming, the idea that even if you survive, nothing will ever be the same again.

It hasn’t and, frankly, I’m waiting for it to start all over again. I always will be.

51 thoughts on “Rann and I had this Fascinating Argument

  1. No, that’s not what it implies. I think many people have experiences with violence, but what they walk away with can be very different.

    After a person tried to choke me to death (and one of the reasons, as it was later discovered, had to do with the fact that, let’s face it, my parents were bourgeois pigs and I was their little piglet), I haven’t responded to the idea of justifiable violence from an objective viewpoint, and I don’t think I ever will.

  2. The personal is political. 😉

    But seriously, like I said last night, I think that’s an incredibly slippery slope to be standing on in regards to violence. You might see a clear difference between the two, and why one is justified and the other one isn’t – but I don’t.

  3. As I said last night, there are many concrete historical examples where political violence was not only justified, but where positive change would not have happened without it. Whereas I cannot think of examples where personal violence was positive. How much more of a difference do you need?

  4. Hindsight is 20/20, but how can we prove that positive change would only have happened due to the violence involved?

    And, once again, the personal is political. I don’t need to find a difference between the two, however, because I consider both fundamentally wrong. Whether or not those involved should be prosecuted or labeled as murderers, however, is another thing entirely.

  5. One cannot prove ahead of time, but intelligent people can debate, discuss and decide.

    You’re using the ‘personal is political’ quotation entirely out of context, by the way. One person physically abusing another is not political. Many people being systematically abused is political.

    Without political violence (Black Panthers), it is extremely unlikely that the civil rights movement would have succeeded. Ditto for the (eventually non-violent) anti-Apartheid struggle. Ditto for just about every 3rd world anti-colonial struggle. It is better to have limited small-scale violence than large-scale oppression. The willingness of Huey Newton etc to stand up, with guns, to police furthered the implementation of civil rights far faster than would have otherwise happened.

  6. I strongly disagree with the assertion that Newton and his actions were the primary core of the civil rights movement. I think that that is some serious revisionist history. If the civil rights movement was characterzied primarily by people like Newton, the establishment with the backing of the white majority would have come down on the civil rights movement like a pile of bricks.
    In terms of violent anti-colonial liberation movements, it seems that that sort of struggle has not necessarily led to greater peace in prosperity in the long run. Take for example, Algeria and the FLN and the years of civil war. Indian independence was reached more or less on a peaceful platform. When you ground liberation in the language of violence you produce a society that is highly unstable. The track record of nations and societies that have confronted colonialism with violence is rather abysmal. Once the colonialist is removed, the violence and militarism remains leading more often than not to civil war or dictatorship and oppression that is on par if not worse than than the colonialist. Simply because is isn’t a white man doing the oppressing doesn’t make that oppression any better.
    Viable anti-colonialist and liberation movements that lead to stable societies and affluence find their bearings in non-violent movement.
    Personally, I think that the militarism of palestinian resistance to the occupation is the cause of the perpetuation of that occupation and the inability to get world opinion on their side as largely as the anti-apartheid movement was able to.
    Khaled

  7. Rann, I’m using the quotation in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. I think it’s very idealistic, to say that such-and-such violence is different from such-and-such violence, without perhaps thinking about the nature of violence and the nature of human beings. I think there are a whole lot of people out there who engage in it without having another choice, or without seeing another choice, and I don’t judge them. Their actions, however, do not make violence good thing, or a viable strategy for an improved future, a better life, etc. I think the world should be focusing on ways in which to remove or diminish the so-called necessity in the first place.

    As for what is and isn’t unlikely, and what would and could have happened, and what’s better or worse, it’s not up to me to decide. If you think that you may be that intelligent person, the one who gets to arrive at a solid conclusion at the end of all this, then that’s fine. It’s not me, however, and it’s never going to be me, hopefully.

  8. Khaled: I never asserted Newton etc were the core of the civil rights movement. They weren’t. However, their (armed) struggle forced police to implement the desegregation laws far faster than national authorities ever could.

    As for Algeria: Are you seriously saying French rule was preferable? To me, the subjugation of a people is the worst form of violence possible. A stable society can only exist when it can determine its own future. Under occupation, any society will struggle against said occupation, further destabilizing itself. Once the occupier is gone, the society has a chance of fixing itself. It may or may not do that, but it has a chance that it didn’t previously.

    Palestinian struggle: the cause of the continued occupation is Israel’s expansionism. If the occupation had ended by May 15th 1967, there would be no Palestinian resistance. I agree that the militancy gives Israel an excuse to continue the occupation, but it is not its cause.

    Natalia: no, it isn’t up to you to decide. However, one can analyze past events. That’s what history is about.

  9. By the way, a current wonderful example of violent struggle yielding desired effects is the struggle of the militant groups of the Nigerian Ogoni Delta against the economic colonialism of the big oil companies. Attacks on oil installations and the kidnapping of oil workers have been shown to result directly in cost rises for the oil companies, which are passed on to oil consumers (us), forcing us to pay attention to what the companies are doing, which in the long-run, will force them to give in to the demands of the militants, namely enforcement of environmental regulations and the return of profits to the Ogoni people, to whom the land traditionally belonged.

  10. the question of whether violence is justifiable usually comes down – in almost all cases – as to whether it is done in self-defense. In the case of revolutionary violence, you cannot talk about the violence of the revolutionaries without mentioning the violence of the oppressors, and yet people constantly talk of palestinian “terrorism” as if the violence committed against them was not even violence. in personal as well as political matters, violence as a matter of self-defense is always justified. this is what malcolm x meant when he talked about “any means necessary” – the necessity is survival against those who are tring to detroy you.

  11. Non-violence is a wonderful ideal, and has led to many good things. However, far more people die in state violence (often directed against non-violent movement) than in violence perpetrated by social movements.

    Among those movements, I think there is far too much violence, much of it lacking in any sort of strategy and therefore not in their own interests. That does not lessen the right to self-defense.

  12. I didn’t mean to say that French colonialism was preferable to the Algerians. 300000 died in the struggle for independence, but following independence another 250000 died in a civil war whilst further hundreds of thousands “dissappeared” . Not to mentioned the harkis and their families that were systematically purged after the war for independence.
    I don’t think there is any real way of measuring oppression, persecution in any meaningful way. Certainly the french weren’t preferable but the end result of armed struggle in Algeria was decades of bitter civil war, poverty and misery not in any real tangible or meaningful way any better than the french. At the end of the day I don’t think that people really care if they live in society ruled by democratic ideals or a military junta, what they really care about is their own economic welfare, peace and stability and I don’t think armed struggle is capable of achieving that.

    I don’t think that the cause of the occupation is the form in which palestinian resistance has manifested itself, which is armed resistance. But rather that one of the major reasons the world sits idly by and does nothing is because of that very response.

    It’s funny you should mention the niger delta as it is a perfect example of how ethnic communalism has led to incredible levels of violence, In Ogoniland, it seems that there is not as of yet an adequate resolution tot he problem, but rather ehtnic strife persists, the large oil companies continue to enjoy their profitable position in the market, my own response to this would be given the monopsonistic and monopolistic power of the oil companies, the organization of labour unions and the taxation of oil companies would be far more effective than angry mobs tourching oil production facilities, I gather that there have been attempts to unionize some of which have been succesful.

  13. what is it with the f*ing “ethnic strife” anyway? were our monkey ancestors as incredibly stupid as we are? did we get it from them? it is hard to be too hopeful when you see all these recent examples, from yugoslavia to rwanda to iraq, etc …

  14. Regarding Algeria, Rwanda, Lebanon, Palestine and many others: it’s clear (at least to me) that the (usually European) occupiers’ divide-and-conquer strategy is the direct cause of post-colonial civil wars, not the method of resistance.

    Palestine: that’s complete nonsense. The world stood idly by during the first intifada, when the resistance was largely non-violent and Israel killed thousands. The world also stood by in the 30’s, when the resistance consisted of massive non-violent strikes and the British did the same. The world stood by when the women of Beit Hanoun engaged in non-violent protest last week, and two of them were shot in the head.

    If all people care about is their own stability, how do you explain the repeated rise of social movements throughout the world? Over and over again, we’ve seen mass resistance to occupation, whether the resistance was violent or non-violent, and whether the occupation was physical or economic.

    As for the Niger Delta – there is a simple solution: the companies can pour their profit into cleaning up their horrific pollution and back into the local communities, rather than creating profit for themselves and their shareholders. The Nigerian government and those oil companies have spent years attempting to divide the Ogoni people, turning them against each other and against other people of the Delta. The responsibility for that violence lies with the colonizer, not the colonized. Instead of protecting its own civilians, the Nigerian government protects oil installations, just as puppet ‘native’ governments during the physical colonial era protected the interests of the colonizers.

    You constantly blame violence on those protecting themselves, rather on those initiating violence. Not only do state forces do far more physical harm and cause far more death, but if you factor in the economic and social violence, there simply is no comparison between the two.

  15. i didn’t mean to say that violence works or works well, only that it can be justified by circumstances sometimes. it usually takes a tapestry of events for positive change to occur, and some of those events may be violent. there is never a simply cause and effect for positive historical change. dr king preached non-violence, but his christ-like martyrdom and the riots that followed it were powerful events leading to the end if open/legal racism in america, just as the official violence against southern blacks in the early 60’s, dr king’s movement, AND the 65 riots led to the end of the americna apartheid. (sorry, enough)

  16. My ultimate problem, repeating what Khaled said, is that revolutionary violence often develops into state violence. (Look at the two most famous
    revolutions of all, the French and the Russian).

    I think there can be a time and place for force, but that doesn’t make it right.

    Also, lets face the facts: Regardless of the violence committed by Israel, the Palestian track record is the one on display, and it ultimately falls on their shoulders to prove themselves above violence and willing to negotiate. Whining about it being unfair and blowing shit up is not going to solve immediate problems. In this case, I think working with the system (i.e. showing a more negotiable side to the world media) is a more promising strategy than working against it.

  17. Why should it be up to Palestinians to prove themselves to be above violence? Why shouldn’t the burden be on the occupying body, rather than the occupied?

    Palestinians have been prevented from ‘showing a more negotiable side to the world media’ by Israel putting most of their moderates in jail and actively encouraging extremist groups.

    The point is that Israel controls the media agenda by investing enormous quantities of money in external propaganda.

    Non-violent demonstrations and acts of resistance occur daily in the Occupied Territories, but they aren’t covered by the media, because no one gets blown up. Or just Arabs get blown up and no one really cares about that, because they’re all terrorists anyway.

    ‘You know, I’m a liberal, but those black people really need to get their shit together like us white people have….’

  18. first of all, you never directly responded to my point about revolutions leading directly into dictatorships.

    secondly, I never said it was fair to put the burden on the palestinians, but I still think it’s necessary. They need to stop giving Israel any excuse (be it justified or not) to retaliate.

  19. Not all revolutions lead into dictatorships (see Ireland), and not all non-violent struggles lead to stable societies (see Congo and Patrice Lumumba).

    Why shouldn’t Israel stop giving the Palestinians an excuse to be violent by ending the occupation? After all, the moral burden is certainly on it, not the Palestinians, at least if one looks at the situation objectively.

    As I said before, if Israel had listened to those it called ‘far left crazies’ (look up Matzpen) in 1967, none of this would have happened.

  20. Put another way, should those blacks in the 50’s and 60’s have quietened down and stopped being so fussy so that the KKK wouldn’t have an excuse to kill them?

  21. or shouldn’t those Jews in Germany just have given some money to some nice aryans and left quietly so that the Nazis wouldn’t have an excuse to gas them?

  22. You’re comparing apples and oranges here. With the exception of some underground resistance movements, the Jewish people were not organized group. As for the KKK, you can’t use the same kinds of political pressure on groups as you can on nations.

    Also, I believe we threw ethics and moral issues out the window a long time ago when we began to attempt to justify violence, so saying that Israel has a moral burden to stop is beside the point. You’re justifying political violence because you say its effective and/or more efficient. I’m saying that in this case it is clearly neither effective nor efficient towards achieving any kind of Palestinian goals. Thus my reasoning above.

  23. If you spend any time whatsoever in the West Bank, you’ll find that the militant groups are far less organized than the KKK and probably less organized than the Jewish resistance in WWII. The illusion of this big organized resistance structure is simply false. Certainly the resistance is less organized than the Israeli state/army.

    I am not saying political violence is always more effective, I’m saying it is sometimes. For example, without the massive (and pretty horrific) violent acts committed by Palestinians in the 70’s, no one would have been paying attention to them whatsoever and Israel would have been able to wipe them out/transfer them by now. Thus that violence was morally justifiable as self-defense.

    What would you suggest for Palestinians? They’ve tried non-violence in the past and Israel just massacred them with US support. The ratio of deaths in the first Intifada was 10:1.

  24. Your point regarding pressure on groups vs on nations is very true: We have a duty to pressure Israel, as it is a nation. Palestinians have been denied the right to coherent nation as far back as history goes. They are divided into a large number of disparate and rival groups.

    Our duty, as non-residents of Israel, is to put as much pressure as possible on the Israeli government to end the Occupation with immediate effect, so as to allow moderate forces in the Occupied Territories to take hold and develop a society. Reduction of violence has historically never been achieved under occupation and it won’t be in this case either. Thus the burden is once again on Israel.

  25. I meant to say ‘develop a society not defined in opposition’ rather than ‘develop a society’.

    Just reread that and it sounded weird…

  26. Violence is when you have exhausted your beliefs about outcome. Non violence is a state of knowing and not of belief. all violence are part of strong of beliefs. India’s victory of war thru non violence was state of knowing that non violence can bring victory. when I belief I mean belief is something coz you don’t know

  27. WOW! You guys are fascinating!.. and all of you have a point. Once I saw someone about to hit someone else I love, and I’ve never been so traumatized. It was one of the most difficult moments of my life, and it didn’t even personally involve me. Violence is like a virus. It is an infection that bleeds and multiplies.. That’s why most personal violence often (if it doesn’t start out as) ends up being political. For most people involved in political turmoil, it doesn’t start out as being political… it starts with someone having blown their brother to bits.. or from having experience personal violence themselves in some form or the other… which is why they react. In self -defence. I think of it like a funnel, starting with storm at the personal level, and then as momentum gathers and you meet people who are as victimized as you have been, it graduates into something more political.
    As for whether violence is called for in any situation…. at the philosophical level, if we didn’t know violence, would we feel the need for peace? Can we yearn/strive for something, without knowing what we strive against? I don’t know. I do know that Rann makes a point when she says that small spurts of organized violent behaviour have accelerated resistance movements closer to their goals, and may in some cases, have saved more lives than they took. But on a personal level, I know, as others here have stated, that violence more often than not, only perpetuates itself, and is in many ways, a learned behaviour to problem solving and the easier route out. PW says it best here, “it usually takes a tapestry of events for positive change to occur, and some of those events may be violent”. That’s it exactly. There is no justification for violence morally. But sometimes, and life will put us all in this position at one point or the other, it takes an immoral act to right an even more damnably immoral wrong.

  28. P.S. this a great blog…I’m having the best time reading all your posts Natalia!! Please don’t stop.. you’re gonna be a great writer some day!

  29. “There is no justification for violence morally. But sometimes, and life will put us all in this position at one point or the other, it takes an immoral act to right an even more damnably immoral wrong.”

    Exactly. However, since we can measure morality (ie we can say ‘this is more moral than that’), any act which rights a greater moral wrong makes a positive contribution to the moral universe and hence must have positive moral value. By definition, an act with positive moral value cannot be immoral. Hence violence can be morally correct.

    Point out flaws in that argument and you will win a copy of the non-existent Book of Rann.

  30. “Point out flaws in that argument and you will win a copy of the non-existent Book of Rann.”
    Ah.. temptations.. 😉

    Although in a sense (i.e. self-defense) I do agree with you, just for the sake of the argument, I’ll pick at it.
    Flaws in that argument: WE cannot measure morality. You can, and I can, but since the measure of what is moral is based on the sum of our own personal experiences/values/culture/education….. what you think of as a positive moral act, may not coincide with what I believe could be a positive moral act. Hence, violence is often only morally correct, when in a universe of one.

  31. I agree that we can’t put an absolute measure on moral concepts, but the vast majority of people can agree on some principles. For example, killing thousands of people is worse than killing one. So, for example, if some dude is about to press a button launching nuclear missiles, it is perfectly moral to shoot him in the head, pretty much regardless of other circumstances.

    Also, a community can decide what is morally acceptable to itself, so the ‘universe of one’ argument can be generalized.

    Anyway, you said “But sometimes […] it takes an immoral act to right an even more damnably immoral wrong.”

    What I’m saying is that shooting that guy in the head isn’t immoral, because a measure of the morality of an act is not separate from the context within which the act takes place.

  32. When you talk about community, you begin to bring in the rule of law…(which in some ways imposes, and/or pre-supposes the morale of the community) Nothing wrong with that… It’s the best way we’ve come up with for society to function within the bounds of broadly accepted moral concepts..

    As for, “What I’m saying is that shooting that guy in the head isn’t immoral, because a measure of the morality of an act is not separate from the context within which the act takes place.” That’s very well said, but I’d change that ‘context’ to ‘contextS’…. In every act, there are a multitude shades of the unanswered. Did shooting the guy give you a thrill? Was shooting him in the head the best way to incapacitate him? Did you hate the guy? Was there another motive you had to kill him?
    The question of whether that act was a moral one or not, is dependent on answering all these questions… and then, it depends on who is asking the questions too… Are you asking them of yourself, in a bid to understand the morality of your actions? or Are these questions being asked by a jury of your peers? In which case, the rule of law comes in and you are subject to the morality of your peers. ..who may or may not see the sequence of events the way you do…

  33. I disagree. The very fact that killing that guy prevented the death of thousands makes the act moral. Would it have been more moral to, say, pounce on him? Possibly, and that may have had higher positive moral value, but that doesn’t change the fact that killing him had positive moral value.

    To me, the obvious rebuttal of my own argument is capital punishment: does the state have the right to execute someone who committed atrocities? My answer is no, unless it can be proven beyond doubt that killing him/her will prevent further atrocities taking place. That is never the case, as one cannot predict the future actions of anyone, so the negative moral value of killing him/her would outweigh the value gained. Putting him/her in jail would have positive moral value – if you believe jails can be morally justified.

    I’m not convinced that law comes into it, as I don’t believe that modern legal systems are products of democratic action by communities, but rather are imposed from above. That, however, is an entirely different topic.

  34. Lol..You’re relentless…;) What’s your take on Hiroshima and Nagasaki then, with respect to ‘moral’ violence, given that it essentially ended the second world war?

    Thanks Natalia, for the support.. :).. even if this conversation has gone off into highly turbid territory.. (for me too,… I think Rann almost had me convinced, but then I had to go watch Flags of our Fathers last night.. and now I just think violence is hopeless….

  35. Nagasaki: the Japanese were on the verge of surrender prior to Nagasaki. Most reliable (ie academic rather than military) historians of the time agree that the bombing of Nagasaki was pointless and served mostly to deter the USSR from further engagements along the European line of control. So Nagasaki was an intensely immoral act.

    As for Hiroshima: I would argue that any act of mass murder is immoral, especially mass murder of civilians. Regardless of that, though, by the time the bomb was dropped, Japan posed no threat to US territory. It was still strongly engaging US forces in various parts of the Pacific, but it was not threatning US civilians. Therefore the US had no moral right to attack Japanese civilians, especially with its weapon of choice, the A-bomb. There was massive domestic pressure to end the war in a likeness to the situation with Iraq today: bring our boys home now and fuck everything else. The A-bomb was one way to achieve that, but it was by no means the only one and it was certainly not the most moral.

    Howard Zinn, who served as a bombadier in WWII wrote a wonderful book called On War, in which he details how immoral US and Allied forces were during the war and demolishes the classical justifications for it.

    On another note: I don’t believe any capitalist state ever has the right to go to war, since any such conflict will by definition have the protection of private capital as its primary interest. While it can be argued that the US war with Japan was defensive (at least at its onset), US involvement in Europe was capital-driven, as massive US corporate profit from post-war reconstruction shows.

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: state violence is always immoral. Violence can only be moral in the hands of liberation movements. It isn’t always moral in the latter’s hands, but it is always immoral in the former’s.

  36. PS Before anyone jumps and says the US got involved in Europe to save the Jews from the Nazis, let’s save some time and point out that the US was seriously considering getting involved on the German side prior to Pearl Harbor, and that major US industialists, led by Henry Ford, were on a pretty successful anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi lobbying drive before ’41. Ford was among a number of US industrialists who sold weapons to the 3rd Reich, with the full knowledge (and probable support) of the administration.

  37. Yes, I think I will take that sandwich..;) This is a really good debate, but I have to at this point agree to disagree… There are some contextual circumstances in which violence would/could be the only recourse… (especially those acts made in self-defense) .. but I can’t understand the need for it in any other form… Impetuous violence, maybe… But not, premeditated acts of violence..at the individual or group level… I’m sure Rann meant the legitimate liberation movements, when he mentioned them earlier.. but there are plenty of so-called liberation movements that do not exactly have the people’s interests at heart.. like the LRA in Northern Uganda for one. One person’s liberation movement is another’s terrorist network. It’s subjective. Violence can only be seen that way. And once the act is done, is it possible for the victim or the victim’s family to be understanding of the reasons for the violent act? I don’t think so… especially not in terminally violent places in the world, where today is all you could have sometimes, and consequences (moral or legal) seem a far off concept.
    Eitherway, I’ll just eat my sandwich, now, and be done with it for awhile. 🙂

  38. The problem arises when liberation movements become self-interested organizations. At that point, they become politically and morally equivalent to governments, whom I maintain have no moral right to violence.

    The rise of Fatah in Palestine is a case in point. Prior to the Oslo agreements, the PLO (of which Fatah was the main component) was a genuine liberation organization, with full moral rights to violent resistance. Post-Oslo, it became a pseudo-government, no longer interested in the liberation of the people it came to represent, but rather in maintaining its own power. It thus lost its moral right to violence in the name of liberation. One can see the reflection of this in worldwide opinion regarding Palestinian violence: prior to Oslo, much of the world saw Palestinian resistance as legitimate, whereas resistance post-Oslo is seen quite differently. The issue in this case is of course, somewhat obfuscated by media manipulation by allies of Israel, but that’s getting tangential.

    Similarly, revolutionary pre-US forces in the late 18th Century had the moral right to use violence against the British, as they were liberating themselves from unfair taxation burden and so on. Once they became a government, they had no moral right whatsoever to use force.

    Let’s examine the conflict in Iraq in this light. There are a number of groups fighting:
    – Iraqi Sunni insurgents;
    – External Sunni forces (al-Qaeda in Iraq being the primary one);
    – Internal Shi’ite forces, who have taken over the police and the army;
    – US and coalition forces.

    Obviously, the last of those has no moral right to be there at all. Let’s leave the internal Sunni forces for now and examine the remaining two groups:
    – The internal Shi’ite forces cannot have any moral right to violence, because they have effectively become the government. So good, so far.
    – al Qaeda and its allies have no moral right to violence because they are self-interested external players, playing a similar role to US forces.

    That leaves the question of the internal Sunni forces. I maintain that they have a moral right to violence. Why? Well, for one, they were the ones displaced by the US to start with.

    Secontly, without violence on their part the Shi’ite instinct of revenge (Saddam was a Sunni) would quickly make them a very oppressed minority with practically no resources. Since I start with the assumption that no group should live under oppressive conditions and that all groups have the right of access to resources, this morally legitimizes the use of violence.

    I define a liberation movement as a movement with its people’s interest in mind. The LRA was never a liberation movement, but rather a violent Christian cult. One can judge these things pretty objectively. The old adage of “one man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist” is easy propaganda, designed to discourage us (the public) from actually analyzing political situations individually. It is only meant to cloud our eyes.

  39. Man, I was enjoying that sandwich (read: time-out..;))
    I meant it is subjective to someone who is involved. Of course, if you’re an outsider and emotionally uninvolved, you can reasonably look at the facts and find an equally reasonable objective point of view. But that is rarely what happens when one is right in the middle of all of it.

  40. Absolutely, which is why (as I said on the other thread) it takes quite a bit of wisdom to judge whether or not violence is moral when you’re planning to carry it out. But it is the lack of wisdom that is at fault, not the morality of violence.

    Having said that, it is pretty straightforward to decide when violence is immoral, based on relatively subjective criteria. For example: are you a state? If so, then violence committed by you is immoral. Etc etc.

    PS I’m pretty emotionally involved in Israel/Palestine issues. I just can’t stand the bastards in power on either side.

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