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The Cult of Violence Always Kills the Left


The Cult of Violence Always Kills the Left

Chris Hedges

The Weather Underground, a clandestine revolutionary organization that advocated violence, was seen by my father and other clergy members who were involved in Vietnam anti-war protests as one of the most self-destructive forces on the left. These members of the clergy, many of whom, including my father, were World War II veterans, had often became ministers because of their experiences in the war. They understood the poison of violence.


Unfortunately, the 1% percent will not give up the status quo without a fight and false flags.

Non-violence is fine as long as you are protesting inside the ruling class box, but now we are in a time when the whole system is crumbling, that’s when the violence happens. No priest is gonna save things then.


Thank you Chris! It is crucial to always be reminded that non-violence is the only way forward.

Violence is always destructive, and will achieve nothing good or lasting.


Yes. The antifa/black bloc contingent at your next demo might just as easily be undercover cops.


I don’t like antifa/black bloc. I consider them allies of represssion.

But my fear is that the privileged ruling class don’t mind a challenge as long as it doesn’t threaten their system too much.


The “left” (those with humanity and ecological awareness) must sacrifice themselves until a sufficient number in the relevant population have their consciences so moved that the sociopathic power players realize the need to make some degree of concession. Not pretty, but true.

If the population is not moved, then at some point the knives will be drawn and that society will end.


Non-violence is the way to go. But even non-violent tactics did not seem to have much effect on the Vietnam War. The civil rights movement was much more successful using non-violence. The most power people have is through voting. A large percentage of people don’t vote thereby giving up most of their political power. There is an effort in this country for a minority to permanently take control over the majority. This effort is being funded in large part by the Koch brothers. To overcome it people need to vote, they need to register others to vote, they need to run as candidates themselves, they need to overcome voter ID laws, they need to elect candidates who will support fairly drawn election districts and even better, independent commissions to draw elections districts. If the libertarians win life will be even far more crueler than it is now for millions of Americans without a considerable wealth.


We saw this with the murders of JFK, RFK, MLK who were objecting to the invasion of Vietnam to begin the American Empire. We see it today with Trumpers taken to court by attorneys experienced in organized crime. The Republican Party is far advanced in organized crime. Add half our discretionary income going to the military/security cabal working in the dark. People could rise up, but the people need to have a backbone and commitment beyond daily challenges to their existence.


Nonviolence worked best for the Black civil rights movement. There was violence aplenty but it was used by the haters and opponents and worked through the sympathy and courage of those who were willing to take the abuse and be seen by TV news crews getting brutalized and enduring it bravely with no sign of wanting to strike back, it made the segregationists look like Blue Meanies and swung the sympathy of the public over to the side of those willing to be “roughed up,” to use our president’s words, to show what they were willing to endure for a cause they believed in,


The only real vote the 99% cast are the votes we cast in the marketplace every time we spend a buck.

Although the 1% will always be able to outgun the 99% 10,000 to 1, impacting the 1%'s bottom line is the only real weapon the 99% have against the 1%.


Chris, both your mentor (James Luther Adams) and mine (Paul Tillich) both knew all too well the murderous zeal that Nazis, then and now, take in
slaughtering the innocent; so is non-violence, before such life threatening
zealots, self-destructive and thereby necessitating violence for self-protection; and would that be liberation theology?
Israel’s slaughter of non-violent protesting Palestinians in Gaza, and western mainstream media’s avoidance of Julian Assange’s captivity, require a “doing of the truth” (John 3:17-21).


I hear you but how do you address voter machine tampering, stealing of elections, and corruption involved with the electoral college? I believe that is why people don’t vote. They feel it is already decided who the winner will be and they feel hopeless to change things.


Yes, and that is EXACTLY why todays corporate media DO NOT cover scenes like that! There is usually no coverage of brave acts by the populace, and if there is coverage, it is misconstrued as “domestic terrorism.”


There is very little evidence of voter machine tampering so I don’t know why people would think there is a problem there. I don’t know what elections have been stolen are exactly what that means and I don’t have a sense that many people believe elections in the US are stolen. The electoral college only involves the presidential election and the president is only one of many offices people vote for. I would assume many people feel that since there are so many people voting that there vote doesn’t matter so they don’t put in the effort. I also think many people do not connect what politicians do with their lives so the feel unconnected to politics. I think the critical thing is that majority of people who don’t vote would cast their votes against politicians supported by the Koch brothers, Robert Mercer, etc. The voting groups with the lowest voting percentage are young people and minorities. There are a lot of potential votes against the candidates of these right wing billionaires that are not being cast.


“A base means people show up. They vote. They go where they’re told. That was the old union model for the Democratic Party. But with unions depleted we have no institutional or structural base. This is a huge problem. We have to rebuild structures. It’s going to take a long time, maybe 20 or 40 years. I’ll be 110.”

Thanks for a long winded explanation of how screwed we are. I have to ask what will be left of this country and the world in 40 years? Most of the island nations will be gone, and half the worlds population will be under corporate rule of some sort. But hey, we’ll have our institutional structures back…maybe.

As for non-violence as the main theme of this piece, I agree. My point from the start is that if the cops show up and are the ones acting violent, then that means your non-violent protest is actually a real threat. However, if the cops show up and are being civil and cordial to you while you’re protesting, then you should ask yourself “what difference am I really making?”

But here’s a better question…how does self-defense come into play? My reluctance to participate in a truly effective non-violent protest, one that spurs violent action from cops, comes from the fact that if I were to feel my life threatened, I would fight back and defend myself, which would obviously be used as justification that the protest was, in fact, violent. So, the question is, how far should we carry this non-violent protest? To our deaths? To the point that our spouses become widows/widowers? To the point that our parents bury a child or that our children grow up without one or both of their parents?

And what of the left in Nazi Germany? Many of them practiced non-violent protest and all it got them was dead. It took the combined effort of half the world’s major armies to end the Nazi regime. No amount of protest, non-violent or otherwise, made a damn bit of difference. And frankly, I think we are similarly as far gone. The American brand of incrementalism makes Nazi incrementalism look break-neck.

No, at this point, I think the best approach for anyone under the age of 30 is to leave. Just get out and move to another country, preferably one of the Scandinavian countries. It’ll be hard. You won’t make many friends and Scandinavians are not even half as gregarious as Americans, but you’ll have a much better shot at a decent life there while here, you will have absolutely no shot whatsoever.


I have relatives who have done that and it has worked out well for them.


Cool! Wish I could do the same. But finding a job in another country is challenging, even as an engineer, and my wife loves her friends and family too much and doesn’t want to start over. She just keeps hoping Bernie will live long enough to “fix things.” Right now, my best hope is that my kids will want to go to college in a different country and will want to stay. At this point, that’s the only thing that would convince her to leave the country. And we should be retired by then so the job thing shouldn’t be an issue anymore.


Ok. I won’t argue with regard to voter tampering, etc. You are right tho, about the majority of young voters and minorities not voting. It seems that even white middle class voters are getting discouraged by the system. A supposed “great” candidate was presented to the masses in the body of Barack Obama. He fell far short of the hopes placed in him. That was the end of hope in our system. What do we need now? I agree with you about placing many many progressive candidates in all aspects of our government. Perhaps that will do the trick!?


Violence creates fear and fear is the authoritarians strongest weapon.


Fascists do not know how to react to non-violence except with violence and always resort to violence when they have to. And to have their opposition resort to violence is exactly what they want! But unfortunately, many equate non-violence with pacifism or cowardice which in the Gandhian narrative, is wrong. Nothing could be further from Gandhi’s paradigm of non-violence.