Do you support the use of targeted violence to accomplish revolutionary change?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Good afternoon:

This is our 799th post.

Nelson Mandela is one of my heroes and I have been following the news about his death and funeral. Today, I read an article by Jim Maceda for NBC News titled, Mandela’s freedom fighter days not part of ‘saintly’ image.

Many argue that the Sharpeville massacre on March 21, 1960, when police opened fire on a peaceful protest in a black township killing 69 people, was the turning point when black resistance went from a non-violent campaign to an armed resistance movement.

Mandela, far from remaining a passive, non-violent activist, became the first commander in chief of the African National Congress’ military wing, called the “Umkhonto we Sizwe,” or “Spear of the Nation,” (and better known as “MK” – the South African version of the IRA) after Sharpeville.
Inspired more by the writings of Mao Zedong and Che Guevara than Gandhi, Mandela built up from scratch a small insurgent force, trained in blowing up easy targets, like electricity transmission towers and rail lines. His recruits learned to make primitive bombs from ingredients normally found on South African farms.

By 1962, Mandela was already an underground “terrorist,” wanted by the police and living an outlaw existence who the media had dubbed the “Black Pimpernel” — a twist on the fictional “Scarlet Pimpernel” who struck at will and, Zoro-like, always avoided capture.

We know the rest of the story.

Jesus is another one of my heroes and my favorite story about him is when he overturned the tables of the money changers at Passover and kicked them out of the Temple.

I support what he did. I believe his outrage was fully justified.

I also support Mandela’s selective use of targeted violence as a means to accomplish revolutionary change.

What do you think?


If everyone who has not contributed a donation, were to donate $5, we could end this fund drive today.


15 Responses to Do you support the use of targeted violence to accomplish revolutionary change?

  1. Tzar says:

    The Socratic positive argument can be made

    The question is a bit too broad
    it’s akin to asking does one believe in self-defense
    in that both questions are made banal, the latter by specificity, the former by generalization.

    As a matter of concern, it is the ensuing arguments, ie those made to determine who should be the targets of violence, that become important, once the die is cast.

  2. MDH says:

    The history of the Irish independence movement really brings home how conflicts over human rights yield heroic men rife with “shades of grey”.

    The Wind That Shakes the Barley is a film that I feel delves into what I am trying to say quite well.

    This song, IMO, conveys the emotions of a group fighting against another group that has the backing of the system.

    The other two films – Tom Collins and Rebel Hearts are also worth a look.

    Look at how the racists in the USA hide behind the power of law enforcement to do their dirty work.

    One could easily change the line of this song from

    “Come out ye black and tan and fight me like a man” to “Come out ye racist klan and fight me like a man”

  3. fauxmccoy says:

    mdh and crazy pretty much expressed my own thoughts. not much more to add.

    i can and do support violent resistance in some circumstances, i am quite picky though as to what would be a legitimate target. the ANC went about this as best as possible and i can find little fault.

    yet there are other situations in the world which i cannot support. while i may approve (more or less) of the revolutionary desires of the IRA or che guevara, i abhored their tactics.

    while i cannot support suicide bombing of civilian targets, i also understand the plight of these bombers. when you have nothing left to lose, what are your options?

    as MDH said, ‘one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’.

  4. crazy1946 says:

    I wonder how many of our fellow country men realize that this very nation was founded due to terroristic actions by our founders? It would seem strange that we as a nation would condemn another for what we ourselves did in the past….

      • crazy1946 says:

        If we think for just a moment about how the black population in this nation have been treated for many years, going virtually back to the inception of this nation, one could only wonder why they have not physically revolted against the white population… I sit in amazement some times that some of our racist members of society, actually consider the peaceful protests such as were held in Sanford, Florida over the murder of Trayvon, as riots… I would suggest that if the tables were reversed we would have seen “REAL” riots and not peaceful protest… I can only express admiration for individuals such as the parents of Trayvon, Kendrick and many others who have been murdered in this nation yet they did not strike back in anger, they instead formed peaceful protests and movement to attempt positive change in this nation.. I wonder how many of the rest of us could have walked that path of peace and love?

    • fauxmccoy says:

      was going to mention the same, crazy. i know that my family used guerilla tactics to gain independence for this country. in my mind, there is a time and place for resistance be it peaceful or otherwise.

  5. Dave says:

    I fully agree. The ANC used nonviolent tactics to build a movement and, when the movement had grown sufficiently and these tactics proved ineffective in the struggle against Apartheid, they moved up to the next stage. The South African ruling class was smart enough at this point to negotiate a compromise giving themselves amnesty and the retention of economic power in exchange for universal suffrage and equal legal rights for all “races”. The alternative would have been all out revolutionary war (and it might still come to that).

  6. lady2soothe says:

    Gospel Choir Turns Feel-Good Flashmob Into Moving Tribute To Nelson Mandela

    A retail store in South Africa was home to one of the most moving Nelson Mandela tributes we’ve seen in the past week.

  7. MDH says:

    Freedom fighter or terrorist?

    The answer to that question seems to come down to the side of the issue in conflict that history deems just.

    Partisans who killed fascists in WW2 using targeted bombings or assassinations are deemed heroes today because the cause espoused by fascists in now considered unjust and repugnant.

    Sure, Mandela was not Gandhi. But that does not make him unqualified to be a hero.

    I will take this topic to where it belongs.

    Anyone who says Mandela should have worked peacefully within the framework of a legal system of, for and by whites is a follower of white privilege.

    How dare the black man get mad or violent when we punish them?

    It is up to us {the white system} to grant them {blacks} equal rights and justice, when we deem it so.

    How many times have any of you heard a conservative state the blacks in the USA should stop being angry because we gave them their rights.

    I am not black and, as such, can not speak from experience.

    But, IMO, that statement is insulting in that it presupposes that one group is so great that they have the right to grant that which is an inalienable right to other groups they deem under them.

    Sometimes, a person or a group has to fight in that the “wait till things change” line becomes seen as a lie to keep the oppressed docile.

    From the lines in Harder They Come:

    They tell me there is a pie in the sky waiting for me when I die

    But between the day your born and the day you die

    They never even hear your cry

    So as sure as the sun will rise

    I am going to get my share, what’s mine

  8. Two sides to a story says:

    Violence only breeds violence. Defensive violence can be necessary at times, though. I think that young people often make the mistake of engaging in violent and then recant later.

    • International law recognizes only one legitimate use of force by one nation against another: self-defense.

      Preemptive self-defense, which the US claimed as its justification for invading Iraq, is not a recognized exception.

  9. bettykath says:

    There are a lot of parameters. In the South African case, there were absolutely no laws to protect the non-whites. The Coloreds of South Africa included everyone who was not Afrikaan, or white. No laws that gave them rights of any kind. Their peaceful protests were met with violence. The massacre was the final straw. Forming a militant resistance that included people that greatly outnumbered the white overlords got their attention where the demonstrations did not. Targeting key assets, but carefully avoiding people, sent a message that things had to change, that the Coloreds weren’t going to take it anymore.

    I cannot condemn them for their use of force. The use of force brought about world-wide attention to their plight and, eventually the disvestment in South Africa, a non-violent tactic, made changes possible.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: