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Love and Nonviolence in the Time of Coronavirus

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/03/17/love-and-nonviolence-time-coronavirus

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I do see a lot of grassroots efforts to build community. Around me, folk have worked on plans to aid in housing, food deliver, and transportation. But, at the same time, I see a powerful deepening of fear and hate. I find, even among some progressives, xenophobic calls for closing the border (Trump’s Border wall is very popular now), calls for keeping incarcerated populations in jail (including non-criminals and people who have not been convicted of crimes), and a disregard for low-income communities, communities of color, non-English speaking communities, who are disproportionately cut of from adequate internet access. As always, folk committed to social justice, peace, and sustainability have a lot of work to do.

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Emancipation from want can only with the abolition of class-ownership of the means of life, i.e., in the social revolution.

We cannot have non-violence when ownership and control of the means of living is in the hands of a ruling elite requiring the immense majority to work for a waged or salaried ration of the wealth, which only the working class produce, which is traded on a market.

We can not have non violence when the comfort of the rich is dependent upon reproducing poverty relative or absolute to be exploited wage enslaved producers of wealth.

Neither can we have non violence, when along with poverty relative and absolute war by deed or proxy is an inevitable concomitant of capitalist competition over markets, trade routes, raw materials, territory and spheres of geopolitical advantage.

Capitalism has to be replaced by an advanced, post-capitalist, commonly owned, democratic, production for use, free access, global society, run by us all, as social equals, in administration over resources locally , regionally, globally.

Capitalism can not be reformed by love or redistribution. It must be replaced.

The Market System Must Go!

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As a Peace Advocate who promotes the Global Movement for the Culture of Peace at the UN, I LOVE this profound article! With the U.S. Peace Alliance, I promote bill HR 1111 in Congress to establish a cabinet-level Department of Peacebuilding. And as a UN NGO, am UN liaison to the Global Alliance for Ministries and Infrastructures for Peace (i4P) where we want the UN to pass a Resolution urging member states to create governmental Departments, Ministries and Other Infrastructures for Peace to “institutionalize” nonviolence and make it a national priority organizing principle.

I say all this because I believe that creating such “i4P” are a vital missing link that would provide the policies you mention to support unity, cooperation, healing and promote nonviolent social change in a comprehensive, collaborative way. As you say, this pandemic throws into focus the need for dramatic social change and the need for systems capable of handing such transnational emergencies. Because “i4P” are designed to do this, I hope people will join our national and global movement advocating for them. AS NOW IS THE TIME FOR THIS CONCRETE PEACE ACTION.
!!! May Peace Prevail on Earth (From Anne Creter)

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I agree, with the addition that non-violence or non-violent protest is considered violence and treated as such. Consider those who block pipelines, protest with sit-ins to draw media attention… they are considered domestic terrorists.

As the Doors said “They have the guns, but we have the numbers”.

We need to act wisely, and not walk into a firing squad. We can’t compete on that level with the largest WMD manufacturer on earth. The US government.

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Seeker, I’m having trouble finding the moment of a domestic war-crime, with a serious potential to kill (murder) millions of USAmericans, as the most appropriate for articulating the enlightening benefits of the non-violent approach. (As we’re snuffed out?)

I’m leaning toward Frantz Fanon’s attitude toward surviving while totally immersed in lethal violence. It’s conventional to shallowly dismiss Fanon’s observations as the ravings of a terrorist madman – or else any slur will do to silence freedom’s voice (like Assange’s today) whenever it arises.

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That was a different time. The weaponry, the citizen surveillance (including monitoring places like CD), the ability to turn us against each other, the inbred hate of the “other”, has developed substantially since then. I worry that the total immersion would be short and decisive against us.

Strike at the weak spots… the infrastructure, communication channels, use their own internal distrust of each other (such as NSA vs CIA vs FBI vs POTUS) to our advantage. Step out into the open as little as possible.

I am not saying lay down in front of the tanks to get run over peacefully. But we need to choose the battle wisely and not be led into a slaughter.

I also worry some come to places like this to try to stir things up. Get us to start preaching violence as the only solution. We are not anonymous, even though we like to think we are. And the US may not have lots of hospital beds, but we do have a lot of jail cells. And a president who thinks martial law is a viable option. So once the jails are full, what next? Firing squads? Middle of the night arrests and disappearances? Mass executions?

It may come to that anyway, but I think we stand a better chance if we are more thoughtful about how and when we fight with violence. They are much better prepared now than ever before.

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The immersion in violence for us, as for the people of Flint MI, has not been a choice on the part of any ordinary people. It has been murderously imposed on us. It’s a swimming pool brimming over with mass-murder, as we speak. How do we talk about non-violence while stuggling in the turbulence of this suffusive violence, not of our own making?

It’s comparable to the situation of third reich jews. They’re slaughtering us. How do the subjects of looming genocide resist? Should they be constrained, in this struggle, to purely non-violent (whatever that means) resistance? That’s what our time shares with the time of Frantz Fanon. All times are different times. This shouldn’t be a way to dismiss our heritage of liberational wisdom.

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Hitler lost because (eventually) other nations rose up to stop him. Who is going to rise up to help us once the bullets start flying? The powers of the world are all buddy-buddy now.

Right wing militias are itching to kill a liberal. They are already flexing their muscles, often with the support of local law enforcement. How many battles can we fight at once?

I am not saying I am right and you are wrong. Just that we need to be very careful to not be tricked into a position where we can’t win. Here and in other places I see a new group of self proclaimed “progressives” that sound more like they are inciting violence for the sake of violence. If we start echoing it… well, they know where we physically are every second of the day. Can listen into all of our conversations. Can identify us with hidden and not so hidden cameras on the streets. Can even “create” events as proof to blame us for killing innocents.

Then hand out the lists with our names, pictures, locations, and bounty claim certificates to those militias. I am very cynical in this regard. It will give the appearance of randomness, and vigilante justice that they will claim is outside of their control when in fact it will be orchestrated by the government using all of the high tech tools they have at hand.

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Such as professed non-violence. It’s okay to practice non-violence, but better to keep your enemy guessing, off-balance. The consciousness of non-violence sometimes misleads people to lose sight of the antagonistic struggle: There is an enemy. They’re concertedly killing us off now.

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I think of it as lulling them into a false sense of security. People saying they have a gun and are going to go shoot up XYZ isn’t going to be helpful. That is the message I am trying to get out there.

Broadcasting violent intentions will just get the person doing it jailed or killed. Unless of course they are being paid to do it to draw us out so there is a “valid” claim against us, to get all of us on a government watch list.

We need to “fly under the radar” for as long as possible.

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Only a suicide-by-cop moron would think of such broadcasting. That doesn’t mean discussions of Frantz Fanon are “another time” or out of bounds in any way. We have now indisputably been enrolled amongst the Wretched of the Earth, like it or not.

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Not at all. I was originally replying to another poster. We just got into a philosophical discussion of violence… at least that is how I saw it.

Discussion good… call to arms not so much. Even if/when it comes to that, being subtle in words can be to our advantage.

Be more like the democrat, and not like the republican in the quote below:

Republican: Snarls while ‘sticking it to you’ and says “This is what you deserve”.
Democrat: Smiles while ‘sticking it to you’ and says “This is the best I could get for you.”

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I’m enjoying this most interesting dialog between you and Seeker. We personally have never been here before, but we as a society have, and profound thinkers ranging between Fanon and Gandhi have left us a trove of ideas to choose among.

Plainly we will have to decide for ourselves which path presents us with our best long-term prospects, versus which path will provide us with immediate relief from personal danger. Until that moment arrives, I believe it’s best to keep our darker thoughts behind our teeth (or keyboards).

In an interview for In These Times magazine by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. with Susan Sontag, shortly before her death, she was asked “What, if anything, do you think the Holocaust has to teach us?”

She replied “Ten percent of people will be kind no matter what, and ten percent will be cruel no matter what. The other 80% can be driven either way.”

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Thanks for that reflection. Your “ten percent” Sontag citation brings to mind a (largely irrelevant) personal transition of mine, years ago, around that famous passage from Anne Frank’s diary, about people being basically good. I was trying to figure out what to do with photographic and calligraphic skills, so I set the Frank quote against a sunsetty beachscape, on a little card. Then it started bothering the hell out of me, to the point where I ultimately couldn’t figure out how to conscientiously continue at all. I lacked the philosophical grounding to feel secure in my conscience, in those days. I imagined someone asking me: “Are you citing this respectfully, or in a spirit of ridicule?” It could easily be taken either way, with the stark reality of the Holocaust in mind. The ambiguity induced a seizure of philosophical catatonia.

Nothing immediately better emerged from that cessation. Still, it marked a significant page getting turned in my consciousness, long ago now.

Increasingly, reports of serious illness in young people are emerging from France and Italy. That’s the worst news I’ve heard since the Japanese woman apparently caught it twice.

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Blessings from the truth tellers>Thanks

Like competing with ignorance and greed, we got no time for that>

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“Socialism never took root in the United States, because its workers see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but rather as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”
–Ronald Wright

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“The greatest social movement in human history is coming,” indeed, not because anyone willed it but because our history of mistakes has made it inevitable. My heart is dancing with joy that this hour has arrived, for we are about to be overwhelmed by tsunami of love.