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Only Nonviolent Resistance Will Destroy the Corporate State


Only Nonviolent Resistance Will Destroy the Corporate State

Chris Hedges

The Dakota Access pipeline protests illuminated the conscience of the nation.

The Oceti Sakowin camp, near the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota, in November 2016.


All nascent tyrannies rely on funding to advance their agendas. The easiest method available to counter them is to cut off their funding at its sources, and the most readily available tool for this is the consumer boycott of their products and services. How many folks know that the Koch brothers own Georgia Pacific or make Brawny paper towels, for example?


It did not light the conscience of the nation. Only a minority of USAns have any familiarity of “Standing Rock” and of those that do, a majority view the protests negatively.

And what, exactly was it a template for? It failed. Bakken oil is flowing down the pipeline as type this.

This superstitious religion-like belief in “nonviolence” in all cases has got to go. Nonviolence is just a tactic - a good one one in many situations but not in all situations.


This is losing advice, but I’m not surprised given the source and given the fact that the people acting as our moral compasses are affluent and comfortable liberals; those who have a stake in a less disruptive transition.

Hedges, however, is still half-right: nonviolent resistance is ONE means to at least weaken the corporate state.

But it can never be the only means. In clinging to that principle, you’ve just told your enemy that they are free to pound you into total submission with no fear of risking their own skin–an incentive to do some very bad things and take wild risks that you would think twice about if you thought they could lose more than just “face”.

Take nothing off the table. Power must believe that you’re willing to match escalation with escalation. Power must believe that if it fails in its oppression, that it might very well end up in an Ekaterinburg basement.

Being an obstacle to a single pipeline–while many others are built to compensate–cannot possibly be confused with wrenching power from the rulers of an entire political economic system.

If we’re not honest about what we are and are not willing to risk for our emancipation, then we’re not serious about changing the world at all. We’re merely posturing for our own moral sanctimony.

Stop putting on straightjackets. That is, unless, if you don’t care all that much if you lose.


And Black Bloc violent jerks are the standard bearers for action that is effective at building movements?

By the way, what violent protest are you going to organize and violently participate in. Date, time, and place please.


From the article:

“Going for what you want, instead of opposing what you don’t want, is itself fulfilling.”

I whole-heartedly agree, whch is why I haven’t voted for a D or R in some thirty years. I wish many others felt the same.

As to this assertion, (“Power must believe that if it fails in its oppression, that it might very well end up in an Ekaterinburg basement.”), if power ever actually fears it might share the fate of the Romanovs, those who instilled that fear—and the rest of the 99%—will feel the full force of indiscriminate state terror.

Many years ago, I attended a Citizens Party convention, during which I witnessed several individuals trying to provoke attendees into subscribing to violence. That they were infiltrators was painfully obvious to all, and as a result of that experience, I remain deeply suspicious of anyone whose first utterance to a roomful of strangers is in the language of Molotov cocktails.


There is much truth in your reply. I believe the best way to attack the corrupt govt is to weaken their ultimate strength, the military. The worship of “soldiers”, i.e. mercenaries must end. Militarism in all its forms must be cut off at the knees. Without the brutish foreign adventures and the concomitant hardware buildup, profits are stripped from corporations pushing for violence worldwide. An inward looking country will be more focused on justice and equality at home. Is the quote, ’ Empire abroad entails tyranny at home" ?


" Street violence, he said in echoing Native American elders, always strengthens the state."

Yes, the oil protectors have no answer for non-violence. Being environmentally, violent, the more their agenda is threatened the more they can only resort to physical violence of the Native American water protectors. That is why they send in agents provocateurs.


Capitalists only respond to demands if there are consequences of not complying with their demands.

So sure, always start with mass peaceful protest action, but state clearly the consequences of not complying to our demands. What kind of consequences? Denial of access and use of their capital. Stealing their labour-power-capital, i.e. withdrawing our bodies, is one good way. Disabling their inanimate physical capital is another - and no, the smashing of capitalist’s inanimate unliving property is not “violence.” If it is, then aren’t most kinds of historical labor actions - pickets, barricades, sit-ins, sit-downs, general strikes also “violence”? It’s denying a capitalist his property, isn’t it? And as far as I can tell, that seems to be the liberal bourgeois definition of “violence”. But real violence can only be inflicted on sentient things - and of course we all roundly condemn that except in self-defense.

Of course, right now, we are far, far from even the “mass peaceful protest” stage, so random Starbucks-window smashing and the like is indeed counterproductive**. But there will come a time when it won’t always be.

**Although, the Mi’gmaq’s burning of some RCMP (or was it NBPP?) cars to drive home their anger at frackers on their tribal lands in New Brunswick a few years ago did appear to be effective.


Fully agree. Also, it is not so much the privileged bourgeois liberals not having a stake in disruption as it is that they are in a much better position to tolerate the status quo - activism to them is more “hobby” and less a real matter of survival.


I often wonder at your sanity Yunzer or whether you have a hidden agenda?

Define what you mean by this drivel! It seems that you forgot to define what the alternative to non violence means! I won’t even bother asking whether you intend to apply this poser advice to yourself or whether you intend this creep show advice to apply to others? Maybe you want to give contrary medical advice to others online too? How about urging others to try suicide?

It is easy to say things online where you can avoid responsibility for others being harmed or doing harm. Way easy!

But maybe I have it wrong - maybe I have you wrong? Define the kind of thing you suggest as an alternative to nonviolence?


Firstly it is wrong to define “violence” to mean any kind of action against inanimate property of one’s adversary. I explain that in my response to P.C. above.

Secondly, throughout history, after nonviolent appeals, then more vigorous direct actions, fail at getting the powerful to accede to our demands, then organized armed struggle has often been needed. I leave it to you to see all the numerous instances of this throughout history, including the (not so revolutionary to say the least) one starting in 1776.

Of course, we are a long, long, long way from this right now. But to categorically exclude it is a huge mistake for the essential reason that all demands at the powerful require consequences for not acceding, and tactically, for the reasons drone1066 stated.


My my! Let’s pretend that you were talking about civil disobedience and denying a capitalist his property! How cravenly you walk back the intent of your comment.


Yeah you were talking about violence and not about damage to property! But Che Yunzer, you have not defined the meaning of your advice. You want to instigate but not define which means you want others to do what you qualify and quibble over for yourself.

Define exactly what you mean? You hypocrite!


What a bunch of baloney! Your drama sounds like bong fueled drivel shouted in your mom’s basement before complaining that one of your buddies has munched down all the chips!

Seriously, get real! Our emancipation? Wrenching power from the rulers of an entire political economic system? Taking time from smiling at reading this, let me ask you just whom do you have in mind that will do this minor task?


In every way time is running out for capitalism. It is unsupportable by dwindling natural resources, global warming, ecological destruction and increasing resource wars. The worst that could happen is that the human race dies by the fire of nuclear war, Otherwise there could come a new dark ages of complete economic collapse and technological breakdown in which case look out for the gangs, and the local war lord. Feudalism is as impossible as a “new world order’. Both would depend on a stable world of order and class stability. The future favors neither for capitalists, they face a future of increasing disorder and a collapsing environment. The only tenable governance for the future is socialism with a planned economy and equitable wealth sharing by destroying class based systems.

By all means let us struggle for sanity in a world gone mad. Nonviolent demonstrations can serve the purpose of informing and educating people and, more importantly, get them to connect with each other. But real change cannot happen until capitalism is destroyed. A peaceful revolution based on “earth jurisprudence” cannot happen in a system based on class and private ownership. Over 90% of U.S. laws are the old Roman laws verbatim, which is why lawyers must know Latin, protecting private property.

Yes violent confrontations with the radical right or anyone should be avoided. Demonstration and speech should be as civil as possible in order to reach and reason with the most people. Successful revolutions of the past have often occurred when the police, military, and even when some members of the ruling elite have joined the revolution. Remember even in one’s darkest thought that we are all human and capable of change except perhaps the mentally ill such as psychopaths.

Unfortunately it would seem that the world’s elite 1% has “full spectrum dominance” politically, socially, economically and psychologically. Capitalism for well over a hundred years has perfected the tools for conditioning and programing most people from birth. But capitalists have been unable to come up with any solutions for their system that has reached the end, as Marx wrote that it would, unable to either expand or generate profit at former levels. Capitalism has been failing worldwide for decades and permanent war and austerity have become the norm in order to continue the status quo.

American “defense" spending accounts for, by itself, over one third of all global military spending, and it consumes the great majority of the federal discretionary budget but the US neoliberal economy depends on war. The war machine and its ramifications contribute more than 50% to the US GDP. Without war the U.S. economy and its empire would collapse. Of course such classic military overextension preceded the fall of previous empires. World peace would mean a black hole for the U.S. but the “exceptional” nation has no other way for the predatory owners to not only protect but increase their obscene wealth although a big difference now, as Joseph Tainter points out in "The Collapse of Complex Societies”, is that "collapse, if and when it comes again, will this time be global. No longer can any individual nation collapse. World civilization will disintegrate as a whole.” http://bit.ly/2ne7UK2

The end stages of capitalism will definitely mean that most people will be too busy just trying to survive in capitalism’s collapse. People do not demand change from knowledge or information, they will only act from fear and pain. Knowledge, information and transcendence are the domain of intellectuals. It is from them that leaders must come who can discern the growing areas of unrest, can unite and inspire those who are in pain towards a common goal of replacing global capitalism with socialism. The good news is It only takes 3.5% committed(willing to suffer and die), trained and organized to win a revolution.

While I share Hedges distaste for violence I also recognize that ultimately the state controls the level of violence and violence is in every way exploited for elite control. The greatest challenge facing any revolutionary leader is to know when violence is necessary and effective. Every method should be used to pin any violence on the state and for the revolution to appear more rational and peaceful in contrast.

I believe that one should use the time until the coming worldwide collapse, everyone is expecting, to connect with others and plan a transition to socialism and ultimately anarchic personal responsibility replacing the class system and authoritarianism.


The battle is waged but the battlefield is located in the media. I think you hit the nail on the head! They look for any excuse to silence the message of those who speak truth to power! The media often tries to characterize a protest as if it were reporting on a riot! It is a tactic used to prevent the message being heard and instead reducing or restricting what is being communicated to acts of violence!

The truth is that large scale non violence convinces the public that they can agree with people who are sincere and responsible. It wasn’t violence that ended the Vietnam war - it was millions of non violent protesters marching on Washington that proved to a country that the war was not supported by the majority of the citizenry.

Non violence is the only successful tactic in a modern state. The days of Che up in the mountains might have worked in a earlier age on an island or a non industrial state but to paraphrase …let’s just say >>> The riot will be televised but the revolution won’t be.


Well said my friend.


Excellent post, Rusty. Thank you!


You are telling me that destroying some other person’s property, setting it on fire, smashing glass and the like does not put innocent peoples’ safety in danger?

Violence upon human flesh is not likely to be a result of such tactics by these jerks?

It falls into the realm of a violent act, however you wish to parse it to make your point.

On the one hand you advocate that there need be an embrace by movements that violence is a viable route to take, and on the other hand you bend over backward to justify the violent acts of Black Bloc jerks.

Oh yes, this chicken is “liberal bourgeois”!!!