David Swanson Has Issues (with my Manifesto)

Blogger David Swanson has penned the first full-length analysis of the Anti-American Manifesto.

Swanson likes my analysis of the situation:

Rall’s book is packed with great analysis of our current state and appropriate moral outrage. I highly recommend it for the clear-eyed survey of the tides in this giant pot of slowly boiling water where we float and kick about like frogs.

But he takes issue with me on the issue of violence:

From these statements, scattered throughout the manifesto, one would have no idea that anyone else believed there was a third choice beyond violence or doing nothing. There is no indication here of the role of nonviolence in evicting the British from India or overthrowing the ruler of El Salvador in 1944, or even in ending Jim Crow in the United States and Apartheid in South Africa, in the popular removal of the ruler of the Philippines in 1986, in the largely nonviolent Iranian Revolution of 1979, in the dismantling of the Soviet Union in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany, in the resistance to a stolen election in the Ukraine in 2004-2005, and in hundreds of other examples from around the world.

The thing is, all of the events mentioned above involved violence on the part of the oppressed against their oppressors. Yes, those who carried out violent acts against the British had the non-violent Ghandi as an ally—but that doesn’t make the Indian independence movement a non-violent one.

He concludes:

I share with Rall his concern that people think they have no choices and his conviction that something must be done. If it were impossible to organize committed, independent, uncorrupted nonviolent resistance with the dedication necessary to succeed, if violence were our only option, we’d certainly have to look into it. But I suspect organized violence would be even harder to bring forth than organized nonviolence. Rall attempts no argument to the contrary. He predicts a hellish nightmare with or without his violent revolution. I predict peace, sustainability, and justice if we nonviolently resist. A deeper debate is needed.

Certainly, a deeper debate is needed. A debate that, before the publication of this book, was not occurring. So, in a sense, I already feel proud of my work.

As for the prediction of peace, etc. as the result of nonviolent resistance—well, it’s never worked before.

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About Ted Rall

Ted Rall is the political cartoonist at ANewDomain.net, editor-in-chief of SkewedNews.net, a graphic novelist and author of many books of art and prose, and an occasional war correspondent. He is the author of the biography "Trump," to be published in July 2016.

16 thoughts on “David Swanson Has Issues (with my Manifesto)

  1. The violent fringe legitimizes the demands of the non-violent factions that would otherwise be dismissed as the fringe. People start to pay attention for fear that more people will be driven to violence if they do not.

  2. Non-violent resistance is the only to effect any change – violent resistance is too easily isolated, propagandized into being the province of evildoers and crazies, and crushed.

    The implied social contract of America is that as long as we all smile and work hard to make the rich richer, we may be lucky enough to get rich ourselves one day. Most people, liberals and conservatives alike, have bought into this.

    Violent resistance relies on organization and numbers, and gives way to a new order that ends up being as corruptible as the old order. Non violent resistance leads to a sea change – it changes the rules, and exposes regimes for being what they are.

    Violence still occurs in a non-violent revolution, but the side that initiates overt violence is the one that loses the battle for, to steal the military’s wretched euphemism, ‘hearts and minds’. Violence unleashed against peaceful protesters is roundly condemned, and ignites the revolution. You start with non-violence. Tune out, turn off, drop out of the society, sit in the streets and bring the system to its knees. When things turn ugly, of course the revolution must defend itself. But it wins not through force of arms, but de-legitimizing the corrupt existing system.

    So there’s my disagreement with Ted on the role of nonviolence. Start peacefully, but be ready to defend yourself.

  3. Someone,
    libertarianism came into it’s own as a critique to Marxism. Ironically, the same way Von Mises condemns planned economies for their inability to set prices in a way that does not lead to collapse, the weak state he favors virtually assures monopoly. Monopolies contribute to inflation by debauching prices, and that is where the libertarian dream dies.
    Housing prices in the US for the last 30 or so years are a prime example of inflation brought on by monopoly. Von Mises might say that since the banks cannot hold on forever to the houses, it’s not really a monopoly. Similarly, Marxist tell you the USSR and Cuba never were communist.

  4. 395, Dr. Tiller was shot in Kansas just last year.

    And you still haven’t mentioned a single example of left-wing violence.

    To help you get started, the guy that flew the plane into a building in Texas was libertarian. Lowering taxes is not a big leftist platform.

    You might try to shoehorn the Unabomber in but that’s not a good fit either.

    You’ll have to go back to the early 70s to dig out any genuine leftist violence.

  5. Timothy McVeigh? All the dudes bombing abortion clinics and shooting at doctors?
    McVeigh died 9 years ago. When was the last abortion clinic bombing or doctor shooting?

  6. >>>You will see what peaceful resistance (The Tea Parties) can do on November 2nd.>>>

    Oh for pity’s sake, Highway. What exactly is going to happen? Bush was in the White House for eight whole years. And you know what? He did absolutely fucking nothing for you. Not a damn thing to benefit you. Unless your income was seven digits or above, Bush did nothing for you. Why don’t you just come right out and admit it; that this is what you’re angry about? Oh, yes. It’s much easier and more cathartic to focus on the skin-color of the current president. Just keep focusing on that dark skin color, Highway, and forget that it was a lily-white Texan who screwed you over.

  7. Ted Rall says: As for the prediction of peace, etc. as the result of nonviolent resistance—well, it’s never worked before.

    I disagree. Which neighboring nations are least threatening to Israel, those it has befriended or those it has defeated? Is it determined negotiation or determined violence that has finally given us peace in Northern Ireland? What would you recommend as the next steps in dealing with North Korea?

  8. @olegna78: This isn’t a criticism, I am legitimately curious, but how do libertarians propose to fight monopolies? I can understand how libertarians might dislike monopolies and agree that they damage the free market by cornering it, but to prevent monopolies requires the regulation of the free market, typically through government and regardless of whatever means in place to do so calls itself government or not. Furthermore any government-like entity actually capable of breaking up a monopoly in anything other then name only must inherently be fairly big. So while it is quite understandable that monopolies may be hated by liberatarians, prohibiting or busting monopolies strikes me as requiring inherently anti-libertarian establishments or social entities. Unless this boils down to the old “vote with your money” thing, but that really can only work when one is not facing a monopoly.

    Again, I just want to know for my own edification as this exact conundrum is one of very few issues that cause me to question the effectiveness of libertarianism. If I can get satisfactory answers to such questions I may start to seriously consider libertarianism myself.

  9. US395, whoever you are. Listen. I am your friend. Many in my family have similar beliefs to yourself. I love them, and I love you. We are all libertarians. Really, I mean that. As libertarians our first enemy is the one in our house. That enemy is monopoly (and monopolies in development). This enemy in the house of libertarianism renders our philosophy fantastical. Killing the other enemy (ie. big government) will only encourage the one in our house.

    Right now, government is the monopolie’s servant. They are on the same side. The monopolizers control government. They use it as their own private security force / insurance pool. But we have to pay into the pool too, and that makes it the most cost effective option for them.

  10. You mean like serial liar Christine O’Donnell? I’ll just say ….. Bwa-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha!! LOL. Yeah, right.

    Nov. 2 is not the important date, it’s Nov.3. That’s when all these conservative nut-jobs will be engaging in violence all over the country, when they realize they’ve gained nothing. Of course, this is due to the media over-hyping TeaBaggers as something other than a handful of fat, lazy conservatives who don’t like a black President. TeaBaggers – on the other hand – will ascribe the continued Democratic Party domination to a rigged game, rigged voting machines, and on and on. There will be violence, and the cops and military will put it swiftly down. Democrats will still control both houses. Once the economy recovers further, we’ll solidify more gains in 2012 and retain the presidency.

    No US 395, it’s not gonna happen for you. Please don’t start killing people though when you realize the reality.

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