Violence achieves something that can never be achieved on a non-violent way. A struggle for power always includes some violence. Revolutionary violence is insignificant compared to the violence caused by the 1% and their system. They are responsible for the ten million kids that each year die unnecessary before they are five years old. The American army was chased away from Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia and now from Afghanistan. Saddam Hussein and Noriega were disposed after American violence. The Spanish and Philippine army left Iraq after violent actions against their citizens. Jordanian, Saudi and Turkish firms stopped their business in Iraq after employees were abducted. Medicins sans Frontières left Afghanistan after the death of five collaborators. Many prisoners were freed after the payment of ransom. Many violent acts by unknown people never reached the media but show that violence sometimes has successes non-violence never can achieve.
Violence must hit the power bearers and not the 99%. The Danville Civil Rights Movement of 1963 was worn down by mass arrests, and many wounded and killed marchers. Only after ten years sentences against six demonstration leaders were suspended. (The killer of Jimmie Lee Jackson in 1965 who was the direct cause of the Montgomery marches was sentenced to six months in prison in 2007). The first Selma-Montgomery march was qualified as “Bloody Sunday”. Such actions are unacceptable.
The 1% rule from their comfortable management chairs. They fall when we (violently) break only one leg of the chair. Other 1% wonder if their chair is also undermined. Their future becomes uncertain and the 1% start to act differently to safeguard the legs of their chair. The threat is as important as the real action. Psychological actions combined with some real actions influence the mind of leaders. A changed mind causes that the 1% take into account the plights and wishes of all people and not in the first place the interests of the elite. Without some violence threats and rumours are empty, you cannot break a leg of a chair in a peaceful way.
Place a not-burning Molotov-cocktail on the doorstep of a 1%, put a rock with the words “care for your windows” in the pocket of his coat when it hangs somewhere in an expensive restaurant, send him a letter asking him if he is sufficiently insured, call him in the middle of the night for help against the foreclosure of your house, put a flyer under his windscreen with the text “this could have been paint”, paint texts or spread flyers in his neighbourhood with rumours about his behaviour, drive around his house at four o’clock in the morning on some Harley-Davidsons, do some innocent aniline in the pond so the water becomes blue, send back the stress, the burn-out, the poverty of our life and much more misery they impose on us to their private living quarters. After a month or so they look for ways to reduce the stress. The first step is taking different decisions, the last one leaving the 1%. A thousand small actions during a few months are more intruding than one big action after which life just goes on as before.
Is this psychological pressure violent or non-violent? When you get a letter that your house will be foreclosed you know the state uses violence when you do not comply with the demands. A notice of foreclosure and the following misery is not peaceful, it is a violent deed of politicians or bankers because when you do not comply violence is used.
Actions should combine physical and mental pressure, it are two sides of the same tactic. Street actions can be violent and had some success in getting more rights for American coloured people. Such actions are always restricted in time. Small violence against rulers is a continuous pressure on their position. In the end rulers crack. During street violence they withdraw for some time in their safe and cosy living quarters. There should only be discussions about which kind of violence is best to dethrone the 1%, to take their money and power away. Activists who carry out actions decide about the tactics and not leaders. Non-violent people hinder the development of the movement by restricting activists to unsuccessful action methods.
Small violence is a necessary factor for actions to undermine a mighty enemy. It should be sparsely used on the right way and minimise damage to the 99%. Violence can often be restricted to Creative Disturbance, causing some damage but with the threat that damage could be much worse. When activists intrude in the private living sphere of targets, they also penetrate their minds. The 1% start to realise that people outside their privileged group are obviously so disturbed in their private living sphere that they return the gesture. To avoid these disturbing actions the 1% will take decisions that are also beneficial for these other people.
More about violence in my book “About Violence and Democracy, in search for an alternative for democracy”.
Chapter 10. Psychological violence
Chapter 11. The phenomenon violence
Chapter 12. Violence in history
Chapter 14. Creative violence
Chapter 15. Revolutionary violence
Chapter 16. Kinds of violence
Chapter 19. Creative disturbance.
The book is an analysis of our society and what should be done to change it in a Humane Society. Democracy is built on violence by powerful greedy rulers. To reject violence as one of the means to get change is discarding a mighty weapon.
I first called the action method Small Violence but changed it later in Creative Disturbance, creatively disturbing the cosy private life of the powerful who use a lot of violence to control the 99%. The 1% experience any action in their private living sphere as a violent intrusion. The 99% are used to violence from the 1%. The prisons are crowded with members of the 99% who are violently excluded from participation in our society. Criminal corrupt bankers who amass money at the cost of the 99% are hardly put in prison though they wreck the life of many decent citizens.
Creative Disturbance emphasizes that change occurs when people become active and creative in disturbing targets while avoiding being damaged. Activities against the 1% are a war of attrition, a War of the Flea in which the 99% only use small weapons. Because there are so many 99% the many small pricks in the end force the 1% to leave their privileged and extravagant world so that at last all people have the same status.
Joost van Steenis