Saturday, January 14, 2006

Let's have a Dream...AND a plan

Happy Martin Luther King Weekend!

I’ve just returned from day two of the Baptist Peace Fellowship’s King Fling, which is being held right here in Louisville. I had the great privilege of hearing a concert tonight by Darrell Adams and Paul and Kate, from my church.

Mesmerizing. Uplifting. Wonderful!

I thought I’d share the joy and challenges of what I’ve heard the last two days by posting some King quotes. The man could turn a phrase and penetrate the heart. Enjoy and be challenged!

When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.

The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.
[upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize - 1964]

Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.

Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man's sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.

Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.

Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.

I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.


My pastor, Cindy, challenged us last night to be aware of society’s tendency to honor the dead, pointing out that it’s always easier to ignore them and change their message once they’ve been killed off. Can I get a witness?

She also reminded us that King was not merely a protestor: He was an organizer. He didn’t protest for the sake of protesting, he used Direct Action to change corrupt and unjust systems.

Not merely protesting and certainly not just being quiet, but radically challenging the system to get Just results. May we all be so challenged.


Eleutheros said...

King, is it? Then I have a pretty koan for you:

As a pacifist, you are against all forms of violence, no? Not only are we talking about bombing civilians, but are we not also talking about all forms of force, aggression, and violence?

King's last book "Where Do We Go From Here?" unabashedly advocates a guaranteed income for everyone regardless. Where's this income to come from? It must be taken from those who earn it in the ordinary sense by producing something. If it is not offered willingly, it must be taken by force from them (by threat of jail or seizure of property).

This is aggression and force against the person who legitimately earned the income. How can a pacfist endorse aggression against anyone?

Dan Trabue said...

King can be wrong. I haven't read that book, so I don't know what he's advocating exactly.

If he's saying that we ought to strive to make sure that everyone is able to feed themselves, I'm cool widdit.

A guaranteed income outside of Babylon, I believe you might say, would be the relative guarantee of the season's crop and the stored food one has manage to save collectively or individually.

I'm looking to figure out how we can move to something along those lines as a viable option.

Still, I agree with every quote I offered above (and before we start any endless circles, I'm not suggesting King is inerrant, infallible or anything along those lines).

Dan Trabue said...

Are none of our friends on the Religious Right wanting to tackle King's comments?

Eleutheros said...

Dan:" I haven't read that book, so I don't know what he's advocating exactly."

Ah, then have a care that you are quoting the man and not the myth.

Dan:"If he's saying that we ought to strive to make sure that everyone is able to feed themselves...A guaranteed income outside of Babylon"

Alas, nothing of the sort. Remember he published the book in 1967 and was killed in 1968. I remember 1968 quite well and the world was a very different place. Insustrialism was coming into full force and King noted that most goods could be mass produced without much human attention. He opined that what the world would soon have is too many goods and too few consumers. He pruported to solve our social and economic ills by simply assigning an unqualified income to everyone so they could sop up all the consumer goods he imagined would soon be lying around in heaps.

He died before he could see they type of world his proposal was likely to produce.

My opinion is that everyone already has the ability to have a guaranteed minimum income as defined outside Babylon and it's as topic I am exploring in another blog.

Dan:"Are none of our friends on the Religious Right wanting to tackle King's comments?"

Those quotes are vague mean-anyting platitudes much as the Bible is. King is being quoted by the right more and more as the left gets farther and farther from what King preached.

Dan Trabue said...

"guaranteed minimum income as defined outside Babylon and it's as topic I am exploring in another blog."

And fine blogs they are, I recommend everyone go to either of Ellie's two blogs.

And usually, E, I find your arguments challenging, but this time, I think you're way off. Your comment:

"Those quotes are vague mean-anyting platitudes much as the Bible is. King is being quoted by the right more and more as the left gets farther and farther from what King preached."

King's comments that I quoted above are fairly clear. Just as I can't see any other way to interpret Jesus' "Do unto others...", etc, I think anyone familiar with King and his teachings will know that King's position on peacemaking and non-violence was quite clear.

As to the Right quoting King, you are right. But they do so by quoting "I have a dream," and reducing King to a harmless little person who thought we ought to be nice to each other, sort of like they've done to Jesus.

Marty said...

I looked up the Baptist Peace Fellowship on the internet. Then I tried to find a church affliated with it in my area. Nada, not a one. Sigh.

Dan Trabue said...

That's too bad, Marty. No Quakers? Mennonites? Hutterites? Burned out ol' hippies? Nothin'?!

Eleutheros said...


We've already gone over that 'Do unto others' isn't as clear as you imagine because what you want done unto you might be very different than what I'd like you to be doing to me.

The same with King's comments. My MIL once went to a Sikh funeral and the oration was done in such general platitudes that she said "You know, they believe just like we do!" She being a Presbyterian, they most certainly do not!

Today, Dan, if you heard an ardent militant Muslim sermon, you might come away feeling as if you had a lot in common with them so often do they stress that all they want is 'peace'. But what does that mean? To the Jihadist it means a cessation of resistence to convert to Islam. Not at all what you mean by it.

Same way with most of the King quotes you have posted. "When you are right .. when you are wrong ..." Fine. What does that mean? Sounds good, but what do we mean by 'right' and 'wrong' and who's to decide??

'Unarmed truth?' What in the hell is that?

'Justice, peace, brotherhood' What's that?

"That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant." Could have been included in Mystery Men and a line for the Sphinx.

I know these things seem clear as day to you because you are filtering them through the Pacifist goggles you have on. I've read King's books, not just listened to an emotional rendering of one liners as "King's greatest hits". A great deal of Kings ideas have been put into place since his death with disasterous results.

The paradox of King's teachings are that he advocated his followers and protogees practice non-violence to force others to act on their behalf and to their own disadvantage ... in other words, use force and coersion to get your way.

And there's the weakness both of King's teachings and of the Pacifist mindset. It is too concerned with affecting the way other people act and not concentrating first on how we are acting ourselves. King threw in the towel and said to his followers "It's not your fault that you are economically poor, it's only because of your history of oppression. Let's force society to recognize and agree that this is right and give us restitution." He did not call on his followers to FIRST make changes within themselves.

Read over your list of quotes again. Praising the Moses-like nonconformist who is going to part the waters and lead the people to the promised land.

If you're in a mood to feel good about yourself, the quotes are nice ear candy. But in the cold light of morning, they are vague platitudes only pleasing to those who see that there are changes to be made, and are waiting patiently for the rest of the world to make them.

Dan"As to the Right quoting King, you are right. But they do so by quoting "I have a dream," "

They quote "content of character rather than color of skin" which would mean that race based quotas and affirmative action are morally wrong. It would also mean the same thing as Brutus' "our fault is not in our stars but in ourselves". If we took King at his word on this, we'd be looking for a change in the 'poor' and not in everyone else but them.

Anonymous said...

I will agree with you eleutheros.

Dan Trabue said...

My pointis that King was a pacifist (or at least eventually was) and his meanings in the above statements are clear unless you wish to obfuscate them.

He believed in using direct action to effect change. Yes, he believed in "making people" change by applying pressure. But it was non-violent pressure.

King and others reckoned that Montgomery would have to change their policies if they staged a bus boycott, that the national pressure applied because of this sweet, righteous woman, Rosa Parks, (being the face of the injustice forced upon the blacks) would eventually foce change and he was right.

Are you suggesting this was wrong? How would you effect change? Guns a-blazing?

You said:
"they are vague platitudes only pleasing to those who see that there are changes to be made, and are waiting patiently for the rest of the world to make them."

Says you.

For some of us, this method of causing people to change their ways is the preferable way. It's not cravenly accepting the injustice and it's not using violence to cause change. As I said, it makes sense to me.

Eleutheros said...

Dan:" his meanings in the above statements are clear unless you wish to obfuscate them."

His meaning and vague and variable unless you wish to personally specify them, and then you may be quite far afield from King's actual meaning as clarified in the greater corpus of his writings.

Dan:"Are you suggesting this was wrong? How would you effect change? Guns a-blazing?"

I'm suggesting that history demonstrates that he was wrong. You are concentrating on the ear candy soundbytes. I'm looking at his concrete proposals and actions. What I would do to effect change is to raise the bar higher and see if you pacifist really ARE pacifists.

Aggression is aggression. Violence is violence. It is purely artificial to hold that just because you don't schwing out the guns, you are somehow on morally higher ground if you are still being the aggressor. I suggest that the ilk of the King pacifist are drawing the line just below their own feet to include themselves in the company of peacemakers all the while being just as vilolent and aggressive as the gun toters.

Violence: Forcing someone to do something for your benefit that they are otherwise unwilling to do without that force being applied.

Being a practical peaceable man, the proviso to the above is that DIRECT and immediate violence against you can and should be met with whatever force is needed to thwart it. Other than that, it is immoral to force people to do things against their will.

When Ghandi proposed that the Indians weave their own cloth rather than buy it from England, he was proposing that they break their political and economic association with them permanently. He proposed from that moment on to not traffic with England again in textiles and to become permanently self sufficient in that area. In fact, and this is a model for me, he proposed that whatever cloth the Indians could manage to weave, that's what they would wear no matter how modest it turned out to be.

That's REAL pacifism. He was not just putting on a temporary show to coerce the British into doing something FOR HIS BENEFIT that they were unwilling to do.

Not so with King, nor with any so called modern militant pacifist. King did not propose for the blacks in Montgomery to permanently forego the use of the bus system and devise their own transportation network. Only to disrupt it until he forced the city to do something FOR HIS BENEFIT they were otherwise unwilling to do. This fits my definition of violence. It is only a few insignificant degrees different from usning guns to do the same thing.

The only person one has moral leave to change is oneself. The difference between the so called Pacifist and the Freeman is that the Pacifist wants to (immorally) force a change on someone else, while the Freeman changes himself.

Instead, just as with the modern (so called) Pacifist, King's writings are full of excuses why the people he proposed to champion could not change, it was not their fault, it was the OTHER person who had to change.

When I hear the Pacifist say "Yes, I see that I should not be supporting the very economic system I decry, and I am TRYING" it sounds exactly like the armed agressor saying "Yes, I see that bombing and killing fifty innocent people a day is wrong and I am TRYING, just today I only bombed and killed fourty people so I'm doing my part."

I might eventually agree that Jesus and Ghandi were pacifists, but they, especially Jesus, preached an internal change in the person embracing peace, not just an alternate form of violence to coerce others into changing for His benefit.

Dan Trabue said...


And who are your heroes and role models, Ellie?

Eleutheros said...

Dan:"And who are your heroes and role models, Ellie?"

Well, that's the poser. It would have to be people who live their spiel, no excuses. No waiting around for the social conscience to change, Congress to act, nothing. Just decide what is the decent way to live, decent thing to do and then do it ... themselves.

So, I might include Francis of Assisi but not so out right entirely. He left great wealth to 'depend on God' but that meant being a mendicant and so he was still living by the sweat of others.

Closer would be the namesakes of your blog, Harlan Hubbard of Payne Hollow. All his business transactions were a decent arm's length and most of his living came from his hermitage and hard work.

I somewhat like the Nearings because they actually lived the way they adovcated others live. Although he was quite wealthy he got his supper with a spade and hoe and heated his house with his own labor in the woodlot. I utterly disagree with his politics as he was an avid socialist and communist.

I could name a few others, Dan, but here's the rub. People who actually live their convictions, it is very unlikely you've ever heard of them.

Dan Trabue said...

Excellent, wonderful! Amen and amen! I can agree with it all. Excellent choices in role models and advisors.

I'll still believe in King's message, though, if it's all the same to you.

Dan Trabue said...

By the way, everybody, I normally would discourage such a looong post. I'd likely delete it just to save space unless it were something as good as all this.

Eleutheros said...

Dan:"I normally would discourage such a looong post."

I was uncomfortable with including it as a comment. What I should have done is put it as a text file on one of my sites and included a link. I appreciate your graceousness but I'm unlikely to be so rude again.

Dan Trabue said...

Thanks for turning me on to Seymour, I'll be sure to check out his book (I just checked and it's at my library).

Did you know I'm just down the road from Payne Hollow? One of these days I'll be stopping by there to visit (tis a shame that I haven't, yet). It's still up and someone lives there maintaining it, which is cool.

Daniel Levesque said...

I had to dwell on the first King quote you posted for a bit in order to put into modern perspective rather than the way it is obviously meant. It would seem that some groups have taken it too far, especially animal rights groups and eco-terrorists who have taken the radicalism thing so far that it has become highly prone to violence, which Rev. King opposed vehemently, as your further quotes sufficiently prove.

It brings to mind the conflict we seem to have between original intent and revisionism in modern politics and law.

Eleutheros said...

Daniel:" It would seem that some groups have taken it too far, especially animal rights groups and eco-terrorists who have taken the radicalism thing so far that it has become highly prone to violence,"

That's right, but is it surprising at all? The sort of activism that King promoted, as I've pointed out, focused on forcing other people to do something for the benefit of his protogees, not a change in the protogees at all except to instill in them an insistence that 'we won't take it any more' and demand something from someone else. The key word here is 'force'. Force is violence.

If your paradigm is forcing others to change rather than changing yourself, you may pat yourself on the back and say, "Hey, I'm non-violent about it!" But when the protests don't work, when the chanting and letter writing don't work, the goal to force someone else's behavior is still there, the desire to do so, often the obsession to do so.

Even the very violent Islamic Jihadists groups began as non-violent groups that tried to persuade others to act in a way they approved. When that didn't work they pushed the coersion by degrees until it ends up with planes crashed into buildings.

The modern pacifist is no different. Sure, now it's lip service to no violence (by their definition of violence) but when no one pays attention to them, they will have recruited and oriented so many to long for and obsess over making someone else behave differently, that the distance from pen to sword becomes very short.

I find it supremely ironic that when states did not want to approve the MLK holiday, proponents resorted to threats, intimidation, force and coersion to get it passed. Very ironic.

The pacifist (some here in this forum) say in frustration, "Don't you see that peace is the way, won't you give peace a chance." To which I say equally frustrated, "Peace can only mean never using coersion or force of any type to make me do something for your benefit agaisnt my will."
I have yet to meet a peaceful pacifist.

The recent capital murder cases that have been making the news reflect that in our psyche, we (correctly, thinks I) make the person who hires a murder done more culpable than the person who actually does the murder. The 'Pacifist' of the King variety make a point of not touching a gun, and yet are perfectly willing, and enthused, to talk the government into using its police power (its guns and jails) to make me conform to their wishes. Which of the two is the more violent, then?

Dan Trabue said...

E said:
"Peace can only mean never using coersion or force of any type to make me do something for your benefit agaisnt my will."

I disagree. YOU say peace can only mean that. I'm talking about a definition of peace that includes justice, or at least what justice we can muster in this world.

Suppose you have a group of poor subsistence-level villagers in Nicaragua, for instance, who are regularly being raided and terrorized/killed/kidnapped by US-supported Contra soldiers.

What do you suggest doing in such a situation, E?

I think King and others would have us strive to find a way to FORCE people to do that which is apparently against their will, insofar as terrorism was what they wished to do. But we'd seek a way to do so that does not involve killing violence, which we'd suggest would only escalate the killing and terrorism.

So we organize US citizens to go stay with those villagers. When the Contras come to terrorize the village, they now see US citizens. Knowing that their support comes from the US gov't, they are now less willing to kill and pillage.

I suppose you could say that the contras were being constrained against their will from killing villagers, but to call such action violence is an abuse to the english language.

Dan Trabue said...

"To wit: you have intentionally inverted my posit."

I've never touched your posit!

So, then, we are agreed that it is okay to use force to stop aggression then? Fine. That is my point and seems to be King's point, as well.

"They fear what the US government with its bombs and guns might do."

I disagree. They fear losing money and support they needed to force their (contra/US) way upon the majority of Nicaragua. That's all. At least in the very clear case of Nicaragua, that is the case.

You can say that there is a fear of retaliation with guns (ie, money) and there is some truth to that, but there is also a fear of retaliation of people: the loss of support. The Direct Action advocates say there are two sources of power: Money and numbers of people. The non-violent resister chooses to use people power to stop the forces of evil/money/weaponry (ie, you can't do bad stuff if sufficient numbers of people turn against you).

So did I miss what your proposal would be if you were the Nicaraguan villager? Was it to live in a place that is defensible by your own shotgun?

Tis a bit ridiculous in this age of precision bombs to think you could defend yourself with a shotgun against a force like the US.

Eleutheros said...

Dan"Tis a bit ridiculous in this age of precision bombs to think you could defend yourself with a shotgun against a force like the US. "

The Contras don't have precision bombs and shotguns would be quite effective against them.

As to the US and it's precision bombs, have you ever been around any of the SCA reenactors? Someone idolizing being Sir Ziltch or some such. In reality to field a knight in the middle ages required the expenditure of a great amount of resources (ie it was expensive). You had to feed the Knight, his family, his horse, his squire's horse, shoe his horse, weave his tunic, forge his armor, supply his weapons, supply fodder and food for him, his horse, his squire, his squire's horse in the field. To forge his armor and weapons, you had to make charcoal which took a lot of time and trees. That's for one mounted knight. How the villagers must have mused on the ribaldry and parties they could have thrown on those resources! I also wonder why SCA'ers want to idolize people who where such a economic burden on the folk.

My point is, no extensive village, no knight. Like that, it takes a very great deal of resources to put a precision bomb in the air, much like the knight. The place you nix the bomb is at its support system. If you are not personally generating a surplus by mean of exploitation, you are disarming your share of the bomb.

But meanwhile, back in the middle ages, I wasn't the only one who realized how expensive knight based warfare was. In England about the time of Robin Hood and on into the early Renaissance, the rulers recognized a class of people too independent to be made serfs of and (gasp!) armed! So instead of trying to subjegate them, they struck a bargain that their interests would be honored and protected in exchange for periodic military service. These were independent, land owning farmers who wielded the long bow, made of yew wood, and so they were called yew-men, or yeomen. It was very cheap to field a longbowman. He supplied his own tackle and supported his own family. And one cheap longbowman could fell a very expensive mounted knight. In 1415 at the Battle of Agincourt scarcely 8000 longbowmen defeated 25,000 mounted French knights wiping them out to such an extent many ancient French families were made extinct that day.

The medieval longbowman is today's villager with a shotgun. If every villager packed a shotgun, Contras would be as scarce as they are here in this hollow. And for the same reason.

Precision bombs falling on Pakistani houses and poverty pimps trying to redistribute wealth are the two sides of the same coin. If you want to stop the bombs, quit being a part of the medieval village shoeing the knight's horse. Of course, in doing that, you will also be taking away the feedbag from the hand-wringers.

Daniel Levesque said...

"'They fear what the US government with its bombs and guns might do.'

I disagree. They fear losing money and support they needed to force their (contra/US) way upon the majority of Nicaragua. That's all. At least in the very clear case of Nicaragua, that is the case."

Actually, you're both right. And both of these threats consitute force.

Dan Trabue said...

And if both of these constitute force, I'd suggest one is a Just force and one not.

Jesus used force. He did not use deadly force.

Eleutheros said...

Dan:"And if both of these constitute force, I'd suggest one is a Just force and one not."

And now, Dan, you are (although you have been all along unawares) a hair's breadth from "both are DEADLY force and one is Just deadly force and one is not."

And even if you were to be able to stop short of deadly force yourself personally, many, if not most, of those you recruit to follow the way of [nudge, nod, wink] "Peace" will not. Once you start using force as daily repertoire, it gets to be an addictive habit. Such is the inevitable consequences of dealing in force-mongering.

"He to takes up the sword [force] shall perish by the sword [force.]"

Dan Trabue said...

e said:
"a hair's breadth from 'both are DEADLY force and one is Just deadly force and one is not.'"

I'm not willing to make that leap in logic, E. Further, I haven't seen a workable answer to a Nica-type problem.

And yes, I certainly believe in the economic solution you advocate, but in the meantime, while the bombs and bullets are flying, what shall we do?

Daniel Levesque said...

What shall we do? Why, we should use so many bombs and bulletts that the enemy is completely destroyed and we can achieve something resembling peace so we can bring our soldiers home in homor. That's what we should do.

Dan Trabue said...

Well, Daniel, in the specific example I was giving (Nicaragua), the US were the ones sponsoring terrorism. So are you saying that the poor Nicaraguan villagers should have enlisted the help of the rest of the world to drop bombs on the US until we were "completely destroyed" and the Contra attacks would end?

Eleutheros said...

Dan:"I'm not willing to make that leap in logic, E."

The key word here, Dan, is 'willing'. I'm sure you are not willing to, you won't make the (very tiny) leap intentionally or perhaps even consiously.

Using force on others to better your own lot is seductive. What drug addict is there when they first used drugs said "I think I will become hopelessly addicted"?? No, they said, like you, "I'll never go that far." But force is addicting. If you get your way, you will like the feeling and want to experience it again, so you will use more force next time, and more, and more. And pretty soon you will find yourself causing human misery and saying "I never intended for it to go this far."

The solution I advocate has an end. When you have withdrawn your support as far as you can from the machine that is destroying the world, you have done what you can. Once you are independent of the machine for your life and livelihood, there's nothing beyond that to tempt you. But when you use force to coerce people to behave as you would have them behave, the sky's the limit. If you knock enough out of the hated rich for a good meal and some clothes for the "less fortunate", hey why not an air conditioner and some new furniture too. The rich still have some money, and a house, and a car. In fact let' just sieze the lot, and send those horrid rich off to camps.

What? You never intended that? When we find someone hopelessly addicted to alcohol, we point to the first drink they hoisted. Same here, it all begins because someone says "Sure I'd use force and coersion, but only JUST force, yeah, that's the ticket, JUST force. But I'd only go so far!"

That's why you see every dictatorial despot that ever lived always claiming to act strictly for the people.


Dan:"Further. I haven't seen a workable answer to a Nica-type problem."

Perhaps because you are looking for the ficticious quick fix. If only Bush weren't in office! If only our policies were different!

Dan:"And yes, I certainly believe in the economic solution you advocate, but in the meantime, while the bombs and bullets are flying, what shall we do?"

The economic solution is the only thing that can be done. It is a mechanical thing, our consumerism is the finger on the bomb release and trigger. When you turn on the heat pump, you drop one more bomb. When you drive to work to a climate controlled building to shuffle papers uselessly from one side of a desk to the other, you draw the crosshairs on anohter Nicaraguan child.

Just as you opined in another post that we have not given the pacifist way a chance, you have not given the enonomic way a chance. If the consumerism doesn't stop, the bombs and bullets keep flying no matter what you do.

Dan Trabue said...

As pacifists often get "What do ya do..." scenarios thrown at them all the time (although I've not not by you, El), let me toss one your way to get a better handle on your position.

You live in the rich state of TN, suppose, in the simple holler of Luther. Two hollers over in King Hollow, the State has begun conducting raids because they want to run the people out (we don't know their reasoning, maybe it's a land grab).

The poor folk over in King Hollow have some hunting rifles but nothing to match the state's firepower (paid for by your tax dollars). Now, inasmuch as the presumed land grab is done to support Babylon and you've already divorced yourself from the Harlot, you're not really supporting the raids.

And yet, your tax dollars are.

What do you do?

Dan Trabue said...

I'll start us off by showing the Non-violent Direct Actioners would react.

1. In an immediate first response action, we'd call our representatives to let them know we expect them to stop immediately. We'll assume they did not listen to this.

2. As an immediate response, we'd move some folk there to be a witness and a deterrant to the action, to report on the action to the state at large to influence them to also call their representatives to stop this action.

NOTE: We're not doing this to convince the population to rise up in arms in civil war, but to stop the action by political pressure.

NOTE: As a representative gov't, having a large number of people to stand in opposition to this action is likely enough to end the aggression then and there. But let's assume it doesn't.

3. We find out which representatives are pushing for these raids. We find out where they get their money, who their supporters are, where they go to church, where they live. In other words, from whence they derive their support. Then we attack that support - nonviolently. We boycott their businesses, we investigate what laws they may be breaking, we have discussions with their pastors, rabbis, etc to get them to denounce the actions and confront their parishioners.

What we don't do is call for violent retaliation against the gov't. But we do what we can to shut it down and shut down their support. It's an amazingly effective technique, especially on the local level WHEN it's been used (the more you're dealing with multinational corps and global cops, the more difficult it is - but still do-able), and it requires no violence or threat of violence.

Dan Trabue said...

I agree with Gandhi, who said, “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”

In your example (and thank you very much, E, for providing a real life example – always better to deal with than abstract ones), there may indeed appear to have eventually been a win for the oppressed. And you may wish to believe so.

But while meeting violence with violence appeared to work in the miners' advantage that time, it could just as easily have gone the other way. If the coal bosses had been willing to keep pouring money and blood into a violent victory, they might have. (And while I'm familiar with the general history, I'm not familiar with this specific may be the case that public outcry – ie, non-violent response – contributed to the coal bosses deciding it was too costly to continue the violence.)

The point is, your solution is by no means any guarantor of victory (that is, an end to the oppression). I'll be quick to point out that neither is mine. But it is often presented as a false dichotomy; either we protect ourselves by meeting violence with violence or we try this non-violent way and likely get creamed. It is important to note that neither violence nor non-violence is a sure way to end oppression.

Further, even if it seems that violence “worked,” then that also gives the illusion that violence will work for others. For the Contras, who want to overthrow a gov't they disagree with. For the US, who wants to support the Contras. For the 9/11 terrorists, who want to end “our way of life,” or strike a blow against the Great Satan or whatever their goals were.

If you believe that violence is an acceptable way to solve things, then you're saying that it's right for everyone who believes in their cause. Not literally, of course, because “we” will always disagree with the just-ness of “their” cause. But we agree with the philosophy if not the specific instance.

Non-violent resisters would disagree with that very notion. And, as seen by Daniel's inadvertent answer above, he'd have the Nicaraguan villagers trying to arrange to bomb the US 'til we were destroyed.

That seems like no valid answer to me.

Eleutheros said...

Dan, the difference in our opinions is clear and quite interesting. That's what comes of having an enjoyable discussion.

For you, as I see it, there is a clear and significant demarcation between violent force and non-violent force. As long as the guns stay in the holster, the knives stay sheathed, and there's n fisticuffs; then all's fair. You can persue your ends by any other means of pressure, just don't get physical about it.

For me, I do not see that as being a significant line of separation. Instead the very clear line for me is between initiating force or aggression or not. Any sort of initiation of aggression toward someone who is minding their own business is wrong. Any sort of force of violence applied toward anyone who is such an aggressor is right.

We are dealing, in my paradigm of things, with two totally different questions when we are addressing aggression against people who just want to be left alone on the one hand and people who are initiating aggression on the other.

You've used the two interchangeably. When I've said that aggression against people who just want to be left alone is morally wrong, you use the Contras as an example. The Contras (in your description of them as raiders and pillagers) are NOT people who just want to be left to their own enterprises. They want to use force to make other people do things for their benefit.

The Contras are a bit of a red herring in this discussion. I know half a dozen starry-eyed liberals who have jouneyed to Nicaragua to meet with officials, stay in villages, the whole nine yards. Another friend of mine who worked for the US Secret Service told me that most of those tours were staged money making schemes that amounted to little more than a trip to Fantasy Island. The village head man would wring his hands about the terrors of the US backed Contras, and the be-cammoed Contra would make an appearance and fade away when he discovered gringos in the village, and then after it was all over and the gringos went home, the head man would have a good laugh with his cousin the contra as they divveyed up the take at the local cantina. "Hey, Pedro, my wife is driving me crazy, you got to be the Contra last time, I want to go live in the jungle for a couple of weeks this time."

By the bye, the first of those 'gringo in the village' programs I knew of was twenty years ago.

So I'm afraid I don't find myself putting much stock in the Nicaraguan village as a paradigm. What's more to the point are the social programs in this country that is more in keeping with this thread on MLK. When someone is living their life, attending to their own economy, is NOT an aggressor in any way, and just want to be left alone ... and you advocate assigning by force some of their assets for the benefit of someone else (with a generous cut for yourself as the professional hand-wringer), you are acting as the aggressor and you are morally exactly the same as the Contras.

So my question then would be: Can you come up with any solution for any of these problems, the things that MKL advocated, that does not include having your hand in someone else's pocket? what will you do for the homeless, downtrodden, suppressed, and discriminted agaisnt if you must strictly leave everyone alone who is not themselves an aggressor?

Dan Trabue said...

One quick point whilst I ponder the bulk of your response. You said:

"Any sort of initiation of aggression toward someone who is minding their own business is wrong. Any sort of force of violence applied toward anyone who is such an aggressor is right."

On the first point, I suppose we agree. On the second, I'd suppose we agree further than you suggest. You would not, I'm guessing, truly use "any sort of force" towards aggressors.

You wouldn't deliberately bomb children, I suspect. I'd hope we could agree further that we shouldn't bomb when we know there is even a likelihood that children will die.

Just trying to clarify our positions.

Eleutheros said...

You are right. Force is a bother and an expense for those of us not addicted to its use. I'd have a tendancy to be very niggardly with it.

So 'any' in that doesn't mean indiscriminate nor maximum force just because you can, but rather any type of force being exerted against someone should be turned aside ... but by the most 'force economic' manner possible.

J0kerr said...

1. Your comments are way too long.
2. There is no point debating.
3. Your views will never change.
4. My opinion, you are a coward afraid to fight for change.

Dan Trabue said...

1. Okay.
2. Okay.
3. Okay.
4. Okay.

Welcome to Payne Hollow Joe Kerr.

voixdange said...

Great quotes, Dan. I'm printing them so that I can study them. Was jOkker talking about your comments or Eleutheros?

Andrew Young just visited our church last Friday. He said that in the headquarters of the civil rights office were he worked with Dr. King they had a picture of Gandhi and that everything they did was modeled after Gandhi and his non violent efforts in India. He also stated that he approached Kofi Annan before Bush was elected and pre 9-11 and told him that the Republicans were going to invade Iraq if elected. Thought you would like that tid-bit of info Dan.

Dan Trabue said...

Well, they said as much in all their writings. It's not as if they were dishonest about their dishonesty. The neocons were pretty upfront about their plans all along.

But thanks, Ange. And yeah, I reckon ol' Jokerr was referring to me. He's welcome here nonetheless.

JJ said...

King was a commie and a man whore.

Dan Trabue said...

And JJ was rather sweet on him and wears women's underwear!

Gee, making up useless names and adhering them to folk is fun!

Welcome to Payne Hollow JJ. I'd suggest if you want to add to the comments, it'd help to have something to say.

JJ said...

So it is a prereq to write long winded liberwocky on your blog? I don't have the time or the brain damage to keep up. But since you are such a nice guy, Dan I will elaborate on my previous comment.

King was a communist sympathizer: Hense my comment, "King was a commie."

King regularly cheated on his wife with random lucky ladies of the night. Hense the comment, "King was a man-whore."

I celebrate Civil Rights Day, not Martin Luther King day. Any questions?

Dan Trabue said...

JJ, you're welcome here anytime.

And yes, we do go on a bit.

Communication often requires more than bumper sticker sentimentalities.

(I wonder if that would fit on a bumper sticker?)

Word of advice, JJ: Lose the fear of words. Communism is a word, not a deathray. Communist, communist, communist! See? No one was injured.

Have their been oppressive communist gov'ts? Certainly. But those gov'ts tended to be totalitarian gov'ts and it was the totalitarianism that was the problem, not the communism.

Having said that, would I want a "Communist" gov't - one which all property was owned by the state? No. There are problems with such an arrangement. But there are some serious problems with capitalism, too. Laissez Faire capitalism, especially.

I'd want something in between, as we have. Or something Other. "Regulations" is another word you need not necessarily fear.

Y'all come back now, y'hear?