(published in The New People, January 2005)
More Questions than Answers
by e b bortz
For those changing or maintaining the status quo, expanding an empire
or defending their land, there is a basic human choice of violence or nonviolence to consider. This is not an argument of tactics or strategy, but more of a question of what kind of individuals we are, or choose to be. And there is no wiggle room...the issue of violence or nonviolence encompasses all varieties of apologists.
The goals sought through violence may be at complete opposites (empire and occupation vs. national sovereignty), but who can argue that the carnage is cleaner or more humane based on the goals? Is the violence of the freedom fighter less dehumanizing on the individual than that of the torturer? Of course none of these arguments are new, though they take on hideous new forms with the daily news from Fallujah and Palestine.
Governments throughout the world use violence or the threat of
violence to maintain order, expand their economic and political hegemony,
condition the population with fear and conformity. Nowhere is this more
sophisticated than in the present-day United States of America.
The great divide on the issue of “legitimizing” violence goes to the core of every religious and political institution and dogma. We need to look at the terms of rationalization: “Just War”, “Armageddon”, “War against the Infidels”, “War on Terror”, “Pre-emptive War”, “War of National Liberation”, “Revolutionary Violence” (an oxymoron). Maybe war and violence are not natural human traits? People don’t come naturally to killing other human beings, so societies must “teach” them, give them the language to make them believe that war and violence is “normal.”
Maybe it’s time to stop arguing over the historical “necessity” of certain
wars or previous revolutions. Surviving today means keeping our eyes and ears wide open to our inner-voices of nonviolent engagement and nonviolent struggle...without compromise. Global justice will not come out of the barrel of a gun. Pacification is not peace. George Bush, Osama bin Laden, and John Kerry are all selling snake oil. If you buy it, you’ve just sold a piece of yourself.