Yes, it is acceptable. But it depends as we get into details.
History tells us about revolutionary and evolutionary changes. This is how the society evolves. To me, evolution is much better as it excludes social violence and bloodshed.
Still, history again teaches us that at some point revolution is needed as this could be the only way out. I am not an American but I believe that as of today Dean would support the American revolution and the war for independence against the British. Yes, there were casualties but it was the right deal for the Colonies. I have no idea what Roger would say about it, though. So let ’em have a nice chat about it.
In August 1991 a big change, I’d call it a revolution, did happen in Russia that led to the end of Communist regime and, finally, four months later, to the demise of the Soviet Union.
It was an almost bloodless change: 3 young men died though lots of people feared at the time that the death toll could’ve been much higher. So this looks like an almost perfect violent protest to me. There was a lot of protest, almost no violence, still a big change did take place. But what do we call a violent protest in this case? People walking out on the streets to protect the existing constitution? Building up barricades? Is this violence? I think it was their answer to violence initiated by the hardliners who tried to topple Mikhail Gorbachev.
I would even go further and say that if the status quo is more violent than a potential violent change then yes, let’s do it. Change it through violent protest. ‘By the Bible or the bullet, any which way, a change must come’, like Mutabaruka said. In this case I would blame not the protesters but the irresponsible authorities who let it happen by turning a deaf ear to the people. I mean I’m back to the August 1991 situation in Moscow as I still remember it very lively and was a part of those events.
But I’m not saying that any violent change is justified. Most of such things are simply not acceptable and that’s the rule. With the above-mentioned exceptions.
Is change through violent protest acceptable?
This subject immediately takes me to Nelson Mandela, and his fight for equality, to end state sanctioned racism in South Africa. Would he have had as much eventual success without the violence associated with the African National Congress party?
We need to remember that at college, Mandela studied Gandhi’s methods of non-violent resistance. Indeed, although he was expelled after taking part in such a non-violent movement, the ANC was originally committed to using non-violent techniques. Only when these demonstrations were cruelly and violently crushed by the government of the day did things change. Mandela decided that sabotage, rather than terrorism, was necessary to get the world to listen. At least with sabotage, nobody needed to get hurt……
Of course, using violence usually sways public opinion away from the perpetrators. Remember how Margaret Thatcher, amongst others, referred to Mandela as a “terrorist” because of ANC violence.
So what about France today, and the yellow-jacket protests? Do they really have to overturn vehicles, and set light to them, to make their point? What is violent protest anyway? Is it when people actually get hurt or worse, or can it just be setting cars alight? Another words, can indirect or unintended harm be considered violent?
I think that individuals who feel they are completely alienated from the decision-making process have a right to resist and fight against, for instance, a tyrannical government and, like Apartheid, political injustices. Just standing in a line, holding up a placard, is hardly likely to get any bad government to listen. Blowing up the local power station, it could be argued, might well have the opposite effect. But to keep public opinion on the side of the protestors, any violence must be in retaliation, not the other way round.
As revolutionary Thomas Paine wrote back in the 18th century: “It is the violence which is done and threatened to our persons … which conscientiously qualifies the use of arms”.
Violent protests are here to stay. In Britain we have had many in recent times, some successful, like the 1990 Poll Tax rally. That saw some 200,000 people attending in London, including some of the worst rioting in 100 years. Months later and following a change in leadership of the country, the Poll Tax was dismantled.
However, 50,000 people protested in 2010 against plans to treble tuition fees, and cut University funding. It all turned violent, but the planned fee increases still went ahead.
I stick to the idea that bad government and political injustices make violent protest not just acceptable to some degree, but totally inevitable.
Europe may not be on fire but there is smoke in the house.
Here are two pictures of protest last week in Europe; on the left we see France and a somewhat violent protest. To the right, protest in Hungry look more like a candlelight vigil.
Now, you may be saying somewhat violent is like a little pregnant. I can’t argue that but I will say that murder and mass looting are not part of the festivities. Such misbehavior is not likely on the menu; short term.
Why would I say that? Look again at these pictures from BBC coverage. Notice the ages of the protesters? These are not punk-assed kids in black hoodies; these are adults and they have had enough.
“The causes which destroyed the ancient republics were numerous; but in Rome, one principal cause was the vast inequality of fortunes.”
— Noah Webster
- Throughout history, the rich have subjugated the working class; up to and including slavery
- In the 1970’s corporations successfully decoupled productivity from wages (You will not get ahead by working harder, dumbass)
- Throughout the West, the rich control governments and use that power to declare economic war (this is expressed through tax cuts which only apply to the rich while cutting social services for the poor)
- In several countries, the rich, through their stock holdings, have used major media to discredit the only institution which can strike back – strong government
- When I was a child in school, we were taught that the source of American might was its manufacturing base. Today we are told that shipping industry to China is good for us.
“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
― Warren Buffett
This is a familiar soap-box for me and I’ll now show you some respect by climbing off it. The question was is violence acceptable, not why the protest are taking place.
If you had asked me this question twenty years ago, I would have given an entirely different answer. Today, I believe peaceful protest is what the government lackeys want because it makes it easier to throw the smallest bone to the whiners and kick the problem ten years down the road.
Jean-Claude Juncker, EU head bitch, has said the answer to Europe’s problems is more EU, not less. Clearly this man is tone deaf to what the people of Italy, Hungry, The UK, France, and others want.
So, you want to hold a candle up and politely ask Juncker to listen? He will — then he will give you more EU.
The US is no better, Putin’s Poodle is so removed from the people that he thinks the people of France are protesting climate change and marching about shouting: “Trump! Trump!” Remember, Trump won the election and you live in a democracy. Kool-Aid anyone? If he gave a shit what the people want he would close that Twitter App and listen.
But they are not listening and they are not going to. The only way to get their attention is to … well, I really can’t believe I’m saying this … when the people burn the whole damn house down and pike a few rich bastards, then, and only then, will the rich and their bitches in government start to take the situation seriously. Yes, I just said that. I do not advocate violence but it is most likely necessary to achieve dignity in the West today.