Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's BĂȘte Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

questions for jane

1. Is the only insurrection violent insurrection?

2. If so, how would you characterize the lunch counter sit-ins of the Civil Rights movement?

3. Do you consider the substantial, material, historical gains in rights won by African Americans in the Civil Rights movement to be negligible?

4. If so, why, and on what basis?

5. If not, why would this success story not point to the strategic effectiveness of nonviolent rebellion?

6. Can you name one successful armed revolution resulting in a putative Marxist state that has not resulted in the censorship of the press and the repression of homosexuals? (Nicaragua? That's a question, not a skeptically raised eyebrow.)

7. Is the answer to the repression of the homosexuals by Cuba simply more armed insurrection, to install a new, nonrepressive government?

8. If the vision is to keep the revolution going until nobody is oppressed any more, how will we know when nobody is oppressed?

9. And who decides when nobody is oppressed?

10. Are you saying that it is right for the oppressed youths of France to burn random strangers alive?

11. Who decides who is worthy to live and who is worthy to die?

12. On what basis does the decider get that authority?

13. On what basis does the decider decide?

Wow, it's like you're trying to be ahistorical. The set of presumptive virtues that underwrites your list -- freedom of the press, to choose the most obvious example, but also the right of habeas corpus which made civil rights protests viable -- were uniformly achieved by armed conflict. As was the freedom of slaves in the United States. And what part of the phrase "Stonewall riots" don't you understand? As a critique of political violence, this can't decide if it's tragedy or comedy.
Your scorn is misplaced on at least two counts.

First, Yes, I presume that freedom of the press is a virtue. And to the extent that "not a drop of blood was shed" in the Velvet Revolutions of Eastern Europe, it was won by nonviolent means in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and the rest.

Second, the armed revolutions that established press freedoms in the U.S. and France took place in pre-industrialized societies, as did the successful revolutions in Russia, China, Cuba, and Nicaragua. The *historical* fact that there has never been a successful armed revolution in and against a fully industrialized state shows me just who's being ahistorical here, Mr. or Ms. wallflower anonymity.

Third, whoever you are, you haven't answered my questions. But that is the tactic of the aggressive dialectician, or should I say rhetorician: Never answer questions. Only ask them of others. Push back and try to keep your interlocutor on the defensive.
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