In Support of Violence

Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, Ezell Ford, Ramarley Graham, Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Stephon Watts, Manuel Loggins Jr., Johnnie Kamahi Warren, Raymond Allen, Justin Sipp, Melvin Lawhorn, Bo Morrison, Nehemiah Dillard, Wendell Allen, Kendrec Lavelle McDade, Patrick Dorismond, Orlando Barlow, Ousmane Zongo, Akai Gurley, Malcolm Ferguson, Timothy Stansbury, Ronald Madison, James Brissette, Aaron Campbell, Steve Eugene Washington, Timothy Russell, Larry Jackson Jr., Jonathan Ferrell, Jordan Baker, and Michael Brown. These are just some of the names of, mostly young, black men (and boys) killed by law enforcement since the dawn of the new millennium. They were all unarmed. The above list does not include the names of black men assaulted and maimed by police, and is simply just scratching the surface of the human toll that state violence has wrought. Additionally, it does not include individuals killed by security guards or vigilantes (a prime example being George Zimmerman’s murder of Trayvon Martin). While black men seemingly prove to experience increased instances of police violence, there are no statistics to verify this, police agencies (local, state, and federal) do not generally keep tabs on whom their officers kill, and when they do the numbers are neither thorough nor are they complete. When a cop kills a civilian, even if the civilian did not have a weapon, the trend seems to be that the officer is cleared of any wrong doing, or at the very most is given a paltry sentence, often reduced once the mind of the public is turned elsewhere.

Police killings of unarmed men are not unique to the black demographic. Indeed, extrajudicial murders – what most police killings tend to be – occur across gender and racial lines, though of course Afro-Americans, Latinos, the mentally ill, migrant laborers, and anyone who does not immediately submit to police power and authority seemingly bear the brunt of the violence meted out by police. One needs only conduct a brief Internet search to see videos of police in the United States wantonly killing people whilst in the line of duty.

The 24 November grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson over the 9 August fatal shooting of teenager Michael Brown has been met with a mixed consensus amongst people in the United States. On the one hand, there are those who claim that the rule of law has prevailed, and that there is nothing else to do. For others, there is a feeling of indignance that has catapulted people into large, sometimes violent, demonstrations in Ferguson and across the United States. State officials and political pundits have either vilified the protests or appealed for some semblance of calm in the wake of the grand jury’s decision. There is almost no discussion on the anti-democratic nature of the grand jury process, on Jay Nixon preemptively calling a state of emergency, or the role that the police play in this society. The focus, it seems, is on the lack of so-called civility on behalf of some of the protesters. Conservatives often use racialist, if not overtly racist, rhetoric when considering what is happening in Ferguson. Liberals appeal to the protestors to harken to the whitewashed legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and engage in peaceful demonstrations.

The time for peace has passed, indeed it never existed in this country. It doesn’t matter if Brown robbed a convenience store, or even if he assaulted Wilson. What matters is that the case highlights the depths to which the capitalist state and its police forces will protect their own and attempt to stifle any sort of dissent. Imagine if Wilson was the aggressor in the situation – which is more likely than Brown being the aggressor – and Brown defended himself with deadly force, mortally wounding Wilson. Brown would have likely go to prison for life, whereas Wilson has been cleared for what has been deemed a justifiable shooting. And it is justifiable based on how police operate within the United States: with near impunity.

The violence of the police is almost always defensible in the eyes of the ruling elite, as evinced by Barack Obama’s platitudes to liberal desires to the rule of law in the aftermath of the grand jury decision. So, why then is the violence of the protestor so reviled? It is confounding that the people seem more concerned about the loss of property than the loss of life in the aftermath of the Ferguson decision. While there are opportunists who have used the protests to their own end, the acts of looting, destruction of property, and violence directed towards state representatives are not only warranted, they are necessary. If people could, they would target the police, but the protesters know that a direct confrontation (with what is now a military force in this country) at this time would likely result in their deaths. The destruction of property in the area is the next best option. And while it is lamentable that some so-called mom-and-pop shops are targeted alongside the larger businesses, it is the truly dispossessed, downtrodden, socially ostracized, and oppressed peoples who are engaging in the only viable option to lash out at an increasingly militarized, bureaucratically regimented, and authoritarian society. It is clear that while the murder of Michael Brown was the catalyst for these events, it is not the cause. The cause is the decades long, the centuries long, daily oppression people experience at the hands of the capitalist state.

Historically, the police, and specifically the policing of minority communities in the United States can be traced to the epoch of chattel slavery. The modern police were developed from, at times directly so, the ranks of slave catchers. The racialized policing and subjugation of Afro-Americans and, later, of Amerindians, European immigrant communities, Latinos and others was born from the desire to maintain a white supremacist state. It does not seem as though much has changed in this regard since the defeat of Radical Reconstruction in 1877. The problem with the protestors’ violence in Ferguson is that it is unorganized. If the violence was to be organized, and the protestors armed – more so than the few that sparingly are – then the brunt of social pressures would not be laid onto middling proprietors, but unto those deserving the most virulent response of an enraged populace.

Calls for calm emanating from the upper strata of society are an attempt to mitigate the popular indignation that has long been bubbling under the surface of the society. The violence against property, that is destruction and theft, is only an unorganized form of something with the potential to be far more revolutionary and inspiring. To say that an all-out class war is on the horizon would be hyperbolic at this point, and maybe even myopic, but the undergirding social structures that position disenfranchised and working class peoples well below the dictatorship of capital are being pressured, the police being only one such institution. With increased organization, the Ferguson protests and riots do have the potential to transform from seemingly random attacks to ones that aim at puncturing the status quo. This is not a quixotic notion, it is within the realm of material possibilities, and activist-scholars should be lending their weight to this and other attendant struggles. The reliability and social productivity of voting for bourgeoisie parties is long dead. The demonstration turned riot, turned revolt, is the most effective means to bring about a new, more egalitarian social paradigm. While the current “unrest” in Ferguson and around the country is unlikely lead to any revolutionary impetus, it is a start. As people’s consciousness is transmuted from subservience to the prevailing ideologies of the elite to something related to their actual position in the society, drastic social change will become increasingly possible.

The death of Michael Brown has spurred this process and has fomented mass discontent with the government. Furthermore, the events in Ferguson have fomented the most visible resistance to the status quo in the United States. What is needed now is to take the next step from indiscriminate attacks to ones directly pointed at state power as well as at the lackeys and apologists who allow it to prosper. The transformative potential emanating from the protestors’ violence in Ferguson and elsewhere will not help recoup some “golden age” in the United States – there never was one – but can hopefully prove to be the kernel of radically altered social relations.

During the protests in New York City in the days after the decision to not indict Wilson, thousands took to the streets empathetically chanting “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” Some, however, went even further, shouting the slogan “Arms Up, Shoot Back!” The former statement represents an appeal to state authorities, namely the police, to cease its murderous rampage upon those living in this country. The latter, represents a challenge – albeit prematurely and an incendiary one, given the balance of forces – to those that currently wield power, and have the legal (fictitious) right to kill whom they see fit. Instead of attempting to demonize the rioters and looters by invoking the image and memory of Martin Luther King Jr., it would be more advantageous for those “progressives” in our society to understand the Ferguson protests as part of the same genealogy as the Deacons for Defense, Malcolm X, Robert F. Williams, and the Black Panthers. What is occurring in Ferguson is symptomatic of the social dislocation that has been ever present but has yet to ferment. When the state comes down on its citizenry violently, we must resist, with equitable violence if necessary. The attacks on property in Ferguson only need be redirected for a magnificent transformation of consciousness to come out of Michael Brown’s death. If not, then Brown’s death, the deaths of the aforementioned men, and the millions who suffered and died under the jackboot of state oppression in this country would have partially been lost in vain. Let us not protest the protestors, but express our solidarity, and our commitment to their struggle, which is invariably our own struggle. As we solidarize and join with the embattled communities in and around Ferguson, let us also remember to look beyond the provincial confines of our own state and express solidarity with others who struggle for a more just and equitable society, be they in Palestine, Mexico, or Burkina Faso. In the word of the late Burkinabé revolutionary Thomas Sankara, “It took the madmen of yesterday for us to be able to act with extreme clarity today. I want to be one of those madmen. We must dare to invent the future.”

Anecdotally, as this issue of the Advocate went to press, Eric Garner’s murderer, Daniel Pantaleo, has been cleared of any wrongdoing, a grand jury in Staten Island opting to refrain from indicting him on 3 December. On 17 July 2014, Pantaleo, and NYPD officer
placed Garner in a chokehold (illegal even by the standards of the NYPD) which resulted in a fatal heart attack for Garner. Garner was not bellicose in his interactions with police and was unarmed. The video of his murder sparked wide spread protests in the New York City Metro area, and the grand jury decision is likely to do so as well.
 
While the Advocate is opposed to state violence, and we support the protests on Ferguson, and we do not think that Wilson should be free, this editorial represents the individual views of the Editor-in-Chief, not the views of the Advocate or the DSC.
, , ,
4 comments on “In Support of Violence
  1. Now it all makes sense.

    The ‘anti-democratic nature of the Grand Jury process’? The Grand Jury process is a protection of your liberty from the incursion of the federal or state government. What would you prefer, people’s court field trials like in Batman 3?! Is that what you mean by Democratic Justice?

    And then there’s this gem: “And while it is lamentable that some so-called mom-and-pop shops are targeted alongside the larger businesses, it is the truly dispossessed, downtrodden, social ostracized, and oppressed peoples who are engaging in the only viable option to lash out at an increasingly militarized, bureaucratically regimented, and authoritarian society” Viable option? What makes this a ‘viable’ option? How is harming another individual (yes, even a “so called mom and pop” [what on earth are you implying here?!) a viable option? You assume that people have a right to ‘lash out’, whatever that means, and that they can exercise a ‘viable’ option to doing so. That makes no sense. None whatsoever.

    But here’s what does begin to make sense, the Advocate and its editor seem to think that looting and vandalism are morally permissible. Perhaps that explains the use of thousands of dollars a year of CUNY GC funds that could be used for something constructive that are instead diverted to publishing this drivel.

  2. “Thomas Paine,”

    Grand juries are indeed anti-democratic as intimated in the editorial. Furthermore, what you say about grand juries is in fact fallacious. Grand juries are convened by prosecutors who, more often than not, are elected as was the case with the prosecutor in the recent Garner-Pantaleo case (which means that the prosecutor was beholden to his voters in Staten Island, an area that is very white, more conservative than the rest of NYC, and is the home of many cops)…prosecutors are representatives of the government and the grand jury is a tool of the government, it is not set up to defend “liberty.” The purpose of a grand jury is twofold: to protect witness speech and allow them to testify with freedom from retaliation (i.e. if some one was to testify against an organized criminal organization), to protect the (potential) defendants reputation in the event that there isn’t an indictment. They are conducted in secret, and a court order is necessary for the public to gain access to the transcripts of proceedings…hence my claim that they are inherently anti-democratic. Additionally, the grand jury process is generally a tool of the prosecutors (and by extension the state or federal government)to get indictments, hence the maxim “a grand jury can indict a ham sandwich if it wanted to.” Grand juries are the opposite of what you say, except of course when the defendant is another state representative. The preliminary hearing process which precedes some felony cases is much more democratic (though of course it is my opinion that the entire justice system in this country is contrived in such a way to subjugate and oppress certain populations) as it is open to the public. I have never seen Batman 3, but I imagine what you are referencing is something like the Stalinist show trials in the Soviet Union during the late 1930s, I am not agitating for anything similar to this, I am simply advancing a radical call for a democratic judicial process.

    As to your second criticism. What makes violence a viable option in response to state terrorism is that it is the only way in which to effectuate any sort of lasting and substantial change. I would challenge you to offer an example of lasting and significant change that was not achieved without the use of force by the oppressed layers of society, I cannot readily think of one. When peaceful measures are deployed to enact social change, they are usually quickly defeated, or if by chance they are successful the state will continuously whittle down the advances that have been made (for example the ongoing attack on women’s right to do what what they so choose with their bodies). If one is satisfied with the status quo in this country, that is the dictatorship of capital and oligarchy (as well as the attendant concerns of racism, anti-LGBTQ violence and sentiments, classism, etcetera), then the violence in Ferguson, and really any violence except state violence, is unacceptable. If one, however, does believe that there is something fundamentally wrong with the socio-political system in which we inhabit, then violence against the state, particularly defensive violence from state terrorism, is not only justifiable, but necessary. If you note, I am implying that it is lamentable that some middling and small proprietors have been effected by looting and property destruction, but that the people doing it are the most oppressed in this society and have no other outlet in which to express their disgust at the centuries long injustices they have faced as a group. Like I wrote in the article, it would make more sense ideologically to attack state institutions and those that help to maintain and further normalize the repression of racial and gendered minorities as well as the working classes. Furthermore, I do not assume that people have the “right” to lash out, the state most certainly prohibits such a right, otherwise this decrepit socio-economic system that dominates most human social relations would have long ago heard its death knell. It does not make sense to you since you are likely content with how social organization currently manifests itself in the United States, the problem is not the protestors, but people who fail to see why such outbursts are warranted…they are not happening in a void.

    Lastly, Please note that this editorial does not represent the views of the Advocate as a newspaper, though it certainly represents my views. I don’t think vandalism and looting are “morally permissible” as you say. Seeing as the only validated morals in this society are those that are (or conform extremely closely to) white heterosexual understandings of liberalism. The only morality is that of the ruling layers in society, and to dispense of what has become a caste ruling over classes they must be destroyed and stripped of all power and relevance (and their apologists and lackeys to boot). I imagine that if such an event is successful, the “new morality,” a democratic one, would not endorse wanton looting and vandalism…but the looting, vandalism, and violence by the protestors in Ferguson is not wanton, it has identifiable antecedents. My final point…what could possibly be more constructive than creating a drastically reorganized society in which the material reality of the now oppressed is not so bleak and in which social relations are predicated on egalitarianism rather than on social segmentation and malignant economics. To be in support of violence in this instance is just Common Sense.

  3. Gordon,

    Thanks for your reply.

    1. Grand Juries. I cannot tell if your claim that my claim was ‘fallacious’ is coming from error or cynicism on your part. The right to trial by jury, including Grand Jury, is a right that is enshrined in the Constitution, and is one which the defendant can waive (it’s the defendant’s right to waive!). It is designed to protect the defendant from spurious prosecution by requiring that the indictment be approved by a jury before proceeding to trial. The alternative to a Grand Jury requirement (one that is practiced in most other countries) is to give the Prosecutor (or the judge) the right to determine this herself. It is precisely in this that it is a tool to defend liberty (why the scare-quotes? Do you deny that being imprisoned [or at least imprisoned falsely] is an abrogation of liberty?). The Grand Jury requirement is surely more democratic than its alternatives, no? You then admit that even the prosecutor is often elected, and yet you use this as evidence against the democratic nature of the grand jury? I don’t see how that follows.
    Your criticism of Grand Juries, if I understand you correctly, is that it is not a sufficient safeguard against indictment. That is the opposite of a criticism of having Grand Juries – it’s the claim that we need stronger, not weaker safeguards.
    And notice another confusing part of your criticism – in your piece you criticized Grand Juries for NOT indicting. You are calling on the Grand Jury to indict, i.e. to be less zealous in protecting a defendant.
    And no, I was not referring merely to Stalinist show trials (glad to hear you oppose those). The problem with those was the substance of the justice system and the lack of safeguards. My criticism was of your calling for a ‘democratic’ system of justice. The justice system should defend people from the wrath of the demos as well as from the wrath of the authorities. If we had no such safeguards, and we let the ‘people’ decide, the rights of people with opinions like your own would be less, not more, secure.
    2. Violence. Your claim that lasting and substantial change only comes about through violence is mistaken on factual grounds as well as what it presupposes. First of all, of course change can occur without violence. Think of women’s suffrage (and women’s rights in general), abortion rights, gay rights (and gay marriage), and the Civil Rights act. But even then, the presupposition you base this on is mistaken: what sort of violence? Violence against whom? It’s one thing to say that social change can come as a result of violence against your oppressor (against the agent of your wrongdoing); quite another to talk of violence against third parties, innocent parties. Even if the latter is necessary (and I doubt that it is either necessary, or, in this case, even effective in the first place), the question remains: is it justified. Even if you think some ends justify some means, that doesn’t mean that all ends justify all means, right?
    Your response then confuses the meaning of the words “right” and “moral”. I asked you an ethical question, not a sociological or even legal question. I did not ask if the state would permit a particular right or whether the dominant morality permits it, but whether such things ought to be permitted. Surely you recognize such a concept, otherwise your very editorial (“in DEFENSE of…”) would make no sense. Do you claim that there is no right or wrong other than society’s saying so? If so, what is the point of social change in the first place (social change would be ALWAYS wrong, by definition, on such rendering)?
    3. The Advocate. I’m glad you try to distinguish between yourself and the Advocate. But the distinction is not convincing. You are the editor in chief of the Advocate, you choose its editorial policy and pen its editorials. The Advocate, whoever that may be distinctly from you, chooses to appoint you as its editor. I don’t see how this distinction can be seriously maintained. At the very least, I don’t see how the Advocate can be completely absolved of any responsibility of the editorial line you take. As someone who calls for violence against cops and shop owners because of the actions of individuals; as someone who calls for boycotts because of the actions of leaders, I’m puzzled how you can draw the distinctions you yourself are drawing.
    4. Civility. You mock civility and you advocate violence. But take a good look at yourself in the mirror. You are a civil and respectful interlocutor, even with those who criticize you vehemently. I’d count that as a virtue; you seem to be counting that as a vice. I don’t get it. Why don’t you act the way you advocate? Personally, I’m glad you don’t, but I think your behavior shows you cannot mean what you say.

    • “Thomas Paine,”

      1. I stand by what I said about grand juries…their anti-democratic nature as well as their usage as a tool of the prosecution (i.e. the state) except when on of their own is in the proverbial hot seat. Also note that not all states use grand juries. Since the U.S. is not a unitary state the individual states legislate if they will implement grand juries for felony charges, about 50% do. The alternative to the grand jury is the preliminary hearing, used in all states, sometimes after initial grand juries, and as I said, is more democratic as it is at least public record. I do not see the grand juries (or judicial processes in this country) as protectors of liberty. But I would venture that we have vastly different conceptions of what liberty is, which would entail a philosophical discussion that is beyond the purview of what this editorial is even about. Suffice it to say that I do not view the U.S. Constitution, the judicial, legislative, or executive branches of government (at the federal, state, and local levels) as being organized to protect liberty for people living in this country. I see them as tools of elite factions that prop up the dictatorship of capital, which in the end amounts to liberty for certain proprietors and their stewards (this is why I put liberty in scare quotes). Additionally, I do not equate bourgeois elections with democracy or democratic values. So even if a prosecutor, sheriff, or governor is elected, I do not see it as democratic under the current system of governance and social organization. Elections in this country amount, for plebeians and non-monied peoples, to a selection of the lesser evil. And often, all options in an election are hazardous to one’s health. I criticize the grand jury for not indicting because as a tool of the state it usually does, except when it doesn’t, which in recent weeks seems to be when a member of the state bureaucracy is in question. Grand juries are anti-democratic, and I also criticize the recent grand jury decision for not indicting Wilson (and Pantaleo as well). I see no contradiction as I am not in the business of attempting to justify the mechanics of the judicial system, I think the entire thing is a fraud and needs to be destroyed and rebuilt on egalitarian terms, in other words it needs to be revolutionized, as most other parts of the government and society in this country. And as for protecting the individual from the demos and from the state (i would also include protecting the demos from the state in this formulation), I agree there should be safeguards. But the current safeguards protect white privileged elites at the expense of all others with blacks, Latinos, and Amerindians rarely benefiting from said safeguards. But, like I said earlier, the entire judicial system is beyond reform. Furthermore, I hold no idealist pretensions as to what justice in lieu of the injustice many people now (and have been since the origin of this country) face. I can’t readily tell you what a democratic judicial system would look like, but I know that it would be more stringent on police (if not abolish them entirely), actually presume innocence rather than guilt, work to mitigate and end the gross racial biases that are endemic at current, and by and large be subject to popular review and participation. And I feel that with the current state of affairs in the United States, people with opinions and ideas like mine do not feel as though our rights are in any way secure. The only way I would feel secure in my thinking is if there were a social revolution lead by the working classes, oppressed nationalities, with some elements of the middle class in support…this is the only way in which the general anti-democratic nature of government will change anyhow. Again, I am not advocating for “mob rule,” as I believe you put it, or for arbitrary trials of a Stalinist flavor (which I would contend are different from mob-rule)…but for the stewardship of governance, social organization, the economy, and the environment to fall to the aforementioned groups, not big capitalists or bought-off politicos.

      2. I didn’t say that societies cannot change peacefully, they most certainly can. It is just very slow and takes centuries. When something progressive is substantially achieved without violence then the forces that the movement(s) were currently struggling against continually attack it to push back on the social gains. For example, the Women’s Suffrage movement (which I link to broader struggles in feminism, that is to have equality between the men and women) was victorious, but women, particularly non-white women still represent a subordinate position in society, they can vote all they like, as can men, but it makes no substantial social difference given our options in the polling booths. Abortion rights for women are under constant attack and have been since the landmark decision of Roe v. Wade (which was only piecemeal in nature since it did not protect women from state encroachment on their bodies after the third trimester). The near constant attack on a woman’s right to choose what she does or doesn’t do with her body persists precisely because the forces that oppose women’s rights have not been smashed and destroyed. The (mounting) restrictions across various states is evidence of this, from minors having to get consent, fetal “person-hood” laws, mandatory waiting periods, mandatory ultrasounds, bans on late-term abortions, the list goes on and on. Gay rights and gay marriage are still not universal, nor will they be anytime soon with piecemeal reformism, when there is success, there will be push back and defeat, again, unless the powers prohibiting such advances are destroyed. As for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there is no evidence that black folks have been categorically better off afterwards. The lynch mob now just wears blue, beige, or green instead of white. The success (if we can even call it that) of Johnson signing the act came out of militant, and violent struggle (of course in addition to non-violent civil disobedience, but make no mistake violence was a part of the solution). And the Civil Rights movement more generally was extremely violent, which is why there were any meager gains at all. The vision of a non-violent Civil Rights movement is used by white liberals (and conservatives too) to elide the militant and violent struggles that were part of the project of black-, chicano-, womens-, liberation. Of course all of that violence, and any sort of revolutionary violence that brings social change to fruition is directed at the oppressors. Like I said in the editorial, the violence in Ferguson is unorganized, and thus not directed at the forces which should suffer the protestors’ wrath. But also, the protestors know that a direct confrontation with police (and now the military) would be disastrous at this point in time. I am not saying that people should target businesses for looting and destruction, but their frustration is justifiable as are their outbursts for want of organization and knowing that the entities they wish to confront directly will dispatch them to their graves without any qualms. I also would differentiate between what is being attacked and destroyed, We should have no care if McDonalds, Walgreens, or Toys Я Us is looted. And like I wrote in the article, the violence against some small and middling proprietors may be lamentable, but the people participating in the violent actions are from the lowest echelons of this society and the most oppressed. I feel more compassion for their daily existence and struggle than I do for a business owner who will lose out on profit. The looters, protestors, and rioters don’t have profits, some are not even fortunate enough to produce them for someone else. I stand by what I wrote, I support the protestors who have been oppressed and ostracized in world which seemingly values private property rights over the life and lives of marginalized people. All ends don’t justify means, but that is more a thought experiment than it has to do with the material conditions at hand. There is no identifiable end in Ferguson (or in this country for that matter) at the moment, but we can justify the protestors’ actions based on the legacy of oppression and the current repression that they endure. As for your ethical query, I don’t find it particularly worthy of discussion, my, and I assume most other people’s ethics are contingent on time, place, and event. One cannot say “YES, this should be permissible, or NO this should not.” Universalizing ethical standards lacks coherence and is devoid of any relation to temporal or spatial realities. I claim that there is a domineering logic that is forced upon people, and endorsed by many to be sure, which posits that right or wrong is based upon the ruling elite (not society’s say so) and that individuals as well as groups that go against this logic are castigated. And yes, drastic social transformation is “wrong” as you put it in my formulation, but for those in power and those that endorse and support the bigwigs who wield such power. Simply put, the point of social change, particularly revolutionary change, is to strip the prevailing ideologies around how social relations, politics, economics, etc. should be manifest and replace it with something new, something better, something that is more equitable and demonstrates parity for all members of the body politic. So yes, social change (particularly radical metamorphoses) is always wrong, but it is only always wrong for a specific group, namely those individuals and groups that maintain power…until we can collectively create a society that is truly egalitarian, progressive social change will always be “wrong.”

      3. The Advocate is not a corporate body, I am one of its editors, not an instantiation of the paper (and while I have final say on most things, we run a the paper as democratically as is possible). I do draft (most) of the editorials, and direct editorial policy and see no need to absolve the Advocate, or myself for that matter. There isn’t anything I, or we are guilty of. I have call for violence against the forces of the state, if the state is not acting jingoistic (a bit hard for this one at present) then violence would not be on the table. Understand I am not a Blanquist or endorser of putschism, but I firmly support the right to self-defense, more so when the aggressor is the state, and I think that the violence against state repression can bring about a more just and equitable world. If a police attacks someone or a group, that individual or group has the right to retaliate, especially if they are interested in dismantling the oppressive social system that cops represent. I never call for violence against individual shop owners in my editorial, though I am more moved and inspired by the struggle of the protestors than the lamentations of petty-bourgeois proprietors.

      4. I wouldn’t say I mock civility (due to its racialized and fraught history…the colonizer has to civilize the savages, after all, without any civility how would they advance as a people to the colonizers level of social understanding, economic acumen, and political prowess) as much as I see it as a loaded word with a specific genealogy around conforming to white norms. I and I do advocate violence, particularly against a reactionary, militaristic, and racist state structure. I am categorically opposed to “terrorism,” but defensive violence is not only acceptable it is necessary in this situation. I am “civil” because I grew up in a household that stressed the values of Anglophone bourgeois culture. Lucky for me I suppose, maybe my “civility” has saved me from death and serious physical harm in my encounters with the police, in that respect I am thankful. My “civility” only goes so far though, I doubt you would label me as civil when I join with and solidarize with the thousands of people in NYC (and around the country and globe) as we demonstrate and engage in direct actions to protest the disgusting state of social organization. I have no problem debating and discussing tense and divisive issues with people, but that is owing again to my origins. My virtues are my vices, as the vices of Ferguson’s unrest are its very virtues…they are non-existent unless you choose to reify them as something worthy of discussion…I support the violence not because it is virtuous, and I don’t detest civility as a vice, rather, these events and term have historical contexts, that is how I, and I hope others that have read this editorial understand them. That is, as part of processes that are link the past to the present, and the present to a potential future. Because I don’t endorse teleological views of social phenomena I can’t tell you what, if anything the violence in Ferguson will achieve, but it does have the chance of drastically changing the ways in which we, as cogs in the machinery of capitalism and imperialism, relate to one another. Lastly, I am not attempting to propagandize readers and suggest they act a certain way (I assume your questioning why I am not looting and vandalizing)…rather the editorial offers a way through which one can understand what is happening, why it is happening and why we should support those people who are most oppressed in our society, instead of concerning ourselves about the loss of profits for business owners (many of whom can actually afford and legally obtain the armaments necessary to defend their business interests, as has been documented), while a working class and an increasingly lumpenized population are being suffocated by merciless state violence and unsparing economic pressures, with no (“mainstream”) political alternatives.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 OpenCUNY » login | join | terms | activity 

 Supported by the CUNY Doctoral Students Council.  

OpenCUNY.ORGLike @OpenCUNYLike OpenCUNY