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How Nonviolence Protects the State

How Nonviolence Protects the State

A 'must read' for revolutionaries struggling to be effective against the government's 'War on Terror,' in which one person's freedom fighter is another's terrorist.

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"As a nonviolent activist, perhaps I should have been offended by the title of Peter Gelderloos' new book, How Nonviolence Protects the State, or by chapter headings like 'Nonviolence is Deluded.' And yet upon finishing this book, which attempts to systematically tear down many of the values and strategies to which I've devoted the last 20 years of my life, I found myself strangely exhilarated: the revolution is alive." -- Sue Frankel-Streit, review on Richmond IMC

"Instead of always assuming that a particular choice is morally superior, activists have to constantly reevaluate their tactics and critically examine how they act, a process that could be aided by a reading of How Nonviolence Protects the State." -- Grand Rapids IMC

"Peter Gelderloos's How Nonviolence Protects the State, finishes off where Ward Churchill's classic, Pacifism as Pathology, began. In this indictment, he makes a strong argument for the diversity of tactics, while illuminating how the ideology of pacifism leads us not to social justice, but rather, the peace one finds in cemeteries. A 'must read' for revolutionaries struggling to be effective against the government's 'War on Terror,' in which one person's freedom fighter is another's terrorist." -- Ann Hansen, Author, Direct Action: Memoirs of an Urban Guerilla 

"Peter's exploration of how power is upheld by the privileged through ideological nonviolence challenges white middle class activists to question if they are truly committed to solidarity with oppressed peoples." -- Jason Lydon, Congregational Director, Community Church of Boston

"Thoroughly-researched and extremely well-argued, How Nonviolence Protects the State is a potent antidote to the insufferably self-serving sanctimony which has for far too long been able to pass itself off as a 'principled opposition' in the United States. Essential reading for anyone seriously committed to the attainment of constructive change." -- Ward Churchill, Author, Pacifism as Pathology

 

Since the civil rights era, the doctrine of nonviolence has enjoyed near-universal acceptance by the US Left. Today protest is often shaped by cooperation with state authorities—even organizers of rallies against police brutality apply for police permits, and anti-imperialists usually stop short of supporting self-defense and armed resistance. How Nonviolence Protects the State challenges the belief that nonviolence is the only way to fight for a better world. In a call bound to stir controversy and lively debate, Peter Gelderloos invites activists to consider diverse tactics, passionately arguing that exclusive nonviolence often acts to reinforce the same structures of oppression that activists seek to overthrow. Contemporary movements for social change face plenty of difficult questions, but sometimes matters of strategy and tactics receive low priority. Many North American activists fail to scrutinize the role of nonviolence, never posing essential questions: Is nonviolence effective at ending systems of oppression? Does nonviolence intersect with white privilege and the dominance of North over South? How does pacifism reinforce the same power dynamic as patriarchy? Ultimately, does nonviolence protect the state? Peter Gelderloos is a radical community organizer. He is the author of Consensus: A New Handbook for Grassroots Political, Social, and Environmental Groups and a contributor to Letters From Young Activists. He is the co-facilitator of a workshop on the prison system, and is also involved in independent media, copwatching, anti-oppression work, and anarchist organizing..

 

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