“War is Peace. Freedom Is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength.” - George Orwell, 1984
|Don't know about you, but I'm sticking with Gandhi not Critical Theory Marxists|
Came across Judith Butler's statement of "the paradoxical possibility of a nonviolent violence" in the chapter on "Walter Benjamin and the Critique of Violence" found in the 2012 book Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism and thought of the above phrase by Orwell. Benjamin was German born, and a member of the Frankfurt School who committed suicide in 1940 out of fear that he would be repatriated to the Nazis.
In a July 23, 2020 lecture Butler conflates social inequality with violence, and this combined with the earlier idea of a "possibility of a nonviolent violence." Butler also views that nonviolence "does commit us to a notion of radical social equality."
Simon Critchley, professor of philosophy at the New School for Social Research in a March 17, 2011 presentation at UC Berkeley "Why War? / Non-Violent Violence" focused "on how such a politics [of nonviolence] has to negotiate the limits of nonviolence and in what circumstances it might become necessary to transgress those limits. The complex necessity for such transgression will be captured in Judith Butler’s paradoxical formulation, ‘nonviolent violence.’" It is available online.
The clear message found in both Butler and Critchley is that capitalism is objective systemic violence, and must be radically resisted and violence is not off the table as an option. They also regularly speak from the Marxist tradition of analysis.There is a lot of talk about Marx, Lenin, and Bakunin. Critchley gives a definition of non-violence as "a carefully constructed fuck you."
Critchley also references the Marxist scholar Slavoj Zizek who argued that there is a divine violence. Adam Kirsch in July 26, 2010 in The New Republic revealed that "violence, Zizek said in his letter, was using force 'to really change things,' and Hitler did not really change things (because, as the old Communist interpretation runs, fascism was really just capitalism unmasked).
[ This is ironic, because the origins of fascism are a variant of Marxism. Benito Mussolini was a Marxist before he was a fascist. Both movements trace their origins to the French Revolution and the Jacobins. Winston Churchill, in 1948 in the first volume of his memoir The Second World War, Volume 1, The Gathering Storm outlined the origin and the evolution of this political idea as follows. "Fascism was the shadow or ugly child of communism… As Fascism sprang from Communism, so Nazism developed from Fascism. Thus were set on foot those kindred movements which were destined soon to plunge the world into more hideous strife, which none can say has ended with their destruction." It is also interesting that Marxists tend to ignore that WW2 started when the Communists, and Nazis joined together in an alliance against Western Democracies on August 23, 1939 and invaded Poland in September in 1939 and their armies met in the middle to celebrate together.
Marxists and fascists both share contempt for liberal democracy and capitalism while focusing on a group or class of people that will come to be the rulers of the future. The fascists view it through a nationalist prism through "a people" while the Marxists through universalist prism with "the proletariat". In both cases the end result was a totalitarian dictatorship with concentration camps in the first and Gulags in the second, and massive body counts in both. Neither can accept that nonviolence can achieve real change because both ideologies believe in violent struggle as the only means to achieve "real change." ]
This leads to some bizarre conclusions to reconcile with the historical record and Slavoj Zizek engages in it. As an example of what he meant by true violence, Zizek rather surprisingly adduced Gandhi: 'In this precise sense of violence, Gandhi was more violent than Hitler: Gandhi’s movement effectively endeavored to interrupt the basic functioning of the British colonial state.'"
This is the ultimate misrepresentation of Gandhian nonviolence. Marxists believe in class struggle that at its core is a belief that violence is necessary to achieve real change. Gandhi described himself as a socialist, but his Marxist critics viewed him very differently.
The Soviet press published an article written by S.M. Vakar in 1948
following Gandhi's assassination on January 30, 1948 titled "The Class Nature of the Gandhi Doctrine" subtitled "Gandhi as a Reactionary Utopian" in the Soviet philosophy journal Voprosy filosofii (Questions of Philosophy). The Marxist Leninist argument was outlined as follows:
Although Gandhi regarded the union and independence of the Indian peoples as his goal, his reactionary-Utopian social theory and the reformist methods of struggle connected with it caused his activity to fail in facilitating overthrow of the colonial yoke [...] The social essence of the Gandhi doctrine and its fundamentally reactionary role in the history of India's national liberation movement has hardly been treated in Marxist literature. Yet this doctrine still retards the development of class awareness among the Indian masses.
What was this social essence of Gandhian thought that so troubled the Communists in the Soviet Union? First, the reformist methods of struggle referred to in the above quote and secondly Gandhi's social theory rejected class struggle as another manifestation of destructive violence.
On September 11, 1906 a new word came into existence that gave a better understanding of Gandhi's social theory and method of struggle which he defined as:
'Satyagraha.' Truth (Satya) implies love, and firmness (agraha) engenders and therefore serves as a synonym for force. I thus began to call the Indian movement 'Satyagraha,' that is to say, the Force which is born of Truth and Love or non-violence, and gave up the use of the phrase 'passive resistance,' in connection with it, so much so that even in English writing we often avoided it and used instead the word 'Satyagraha' itself or some other equivalent English phrase.Marxist-Leninists embraced revolutionary violence and a movement led by a small vanguard of intellectuals and professional revolutionaries that would carry out the changes necessary by whatever means necessary and rejected nonviolence as naive. They followed the doctrine of Lenin as presented in his 1902 revolutionary tract What is to be done.
Over a century passed with both sets of ideas set out and applied around the world. An analysis done by Maria J. Stephen and Erica Chenoweth systematically explored the strategic effectiveness of both violent and nonviolent campaigns using data on 323 campaigns carried out between 1900 and 2006. There findings demonstrate that major non-violent campaigns were successful 53% of the time versus only 26% for major violent campaigns and terrorist campaigns had a dismal 7% success rate.
Today, India with all its flaws is the world's largest democracy with a growing economy that presents new competitive challenges to the developed world and Marxist-Leninism has amassed a body count of 100 million dead and counting. It would appear that Gandhi's criticisms of the communists were prescient:
"The socialists and communists say, they can do nothing to bring about economic equality today. They will just carry on propaganda in its favor and to that end they believe in generating and accentuating hatred. They say, when they get control over the State, they will enforce equality. Under my plan the State will be there to carry out the will of the people, not to dictate to them or force them to do its will." - Mohandas Gandhi
"It is my firm conviction that if the State suppressed capitalism by violence, it will be caught in the coils of violence itself, and will fail to develop non-violence at any time. The State represents violence in a concentrated and organized form. The individual has a soul, but as the State is a soulless machine, it can never be weaned from violence to which it owes its very existence." - Mohandas Gandhi
Slavoj Zizek in order to not abandon his philosophical outlook and recognizing the above history than comes to the grotesque conclusion highlighted above that Gandhi was more violent than Hitler, because otherwise he would have to leave behind his erroneous Marxist ideology.
Exploring Critical Theory is a tedious affair, but necessary to understand what is happening in academia, and how it is now spilling out into the real world. It is a bit disturbing how it is providing a narrow Marxist perspective to the great tradition of nonviolence that stretches back centuries, and was perfected in the 20th century by Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., and their commitment to nonviolence was clear and unambiguous.
What is shocking is that Gandhi is subjected to woke attacks, while Angela Davis embraced and supported Reverend Jim Jones who led 900 of his followers into a mass suicide and murdered a Congressman and four others who visited his colony in Guyana. But all becomes clear when we understand that Marxists are running the show, they cannot abandon violence because it is intrinsic to Marx's class struggle and in Angela Davis they see a comrade, and in Mohandas Gandhi an enemy.