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The Virtues of Violence

September 3, 2009

I’m going to be blunt, as blunt as a hammer to the face.

We need violence.

Violence is an inherent component of life, utilized by every organism that resides within life. Violence comes in many forms; it is physical, emotional, intellectual, abstractual. It is scientific and mathematical in its application, especially when defined as a physical force against an objects self or another, thereby making one’s self or another act. Violence is a form of power, and pain is but a sliver of how violence can be threatened. It is a tool of manipulation, and we silly, silly things that we are, believe that we can contain or repress this tool. Heh. Violence against violence, no? How ambitious we are, how arrogant, in thinking that we can seriously stop violence…we might as well attempt to flap our hands and fly to the moon, whilst whistling, perfectly, three different tones of the most complicated symphony ever composed by man…all in the span of a few seconds.

Violence is here to stay, and don’t let the lawyers, the human rights advocates, the military, the politicians, and the people with their hearts on their sleeves fool you. We will never eliminate violence; we use the excuse of eliminating violence in order to create more violence.  The mantra of bombing them for peace, waging war for security, burning their villages to save them, and all that bloody stuff, comes slicing to the mind.

And we try to be so intelligent and skillful in our slyness, by trying to contain violence, making it “good”, “moral”, “just”. Oh yes, the concept of the legal war in international humanitarian law, the sarcastic title for the fucking laws of war, where we try to categorize and define certain ways to kill each other. You can conventionally bomb the hell out of a nation by plane (you can sometimes use the illegal stuff that burns and melts a human being, if your powerful enough to get away with it, of course), but using a car bomb is a “savage” act… Interestingly enough, the car bomb has been dubbed “the poor man’s air force” so maybe the democratization of violence to the “poor” probably freaks the balls off the well-confined, unscathed richer folks, who cry foul when it suits them best, and spout out legal nonsense, with its twist and turns, to be free of responsibility…talk about the inequality even in violence, eh?

Fun Times!

Fun Times!

But I digress. Violence is a mover and shaker (literally) of the world. Through destruction creation comes rises from the ashes …mind you, creation probably gets destroyed later but that is just a small sticky point.

We are animals after all, social or political or add-your-own adjective-here animals, but animals nonetheless, and when push comes to shove, we will accept a lot of disgusting and terrible things arising from the spirit of violence if it fits our interests. We would slit the throats of orphaned blind children if an elegant yacht sprouted out from the flowing wound. Or more passionately, we would ground a society to dust for an idea; secular or religious, economic or political. Through violence, suffrage, emancipation, and revolutions have been won and lost. All the agreements, the constitutions, and the institutions are the glue that holds together a fragile state, until the hammer falls again.

Therefore, I don’t shy away from it, nor am I going to be absurd enough and talk about how we can get along with our enemies.

“I say kill them all, kill them twice, and even thrice for all I care. As long as it’s my side that’s winning right?”

That’s what echoes inside your repulsive dark side after all. Kill the conservatives, the hippies, the mullahs, the Nazis, the rabbis, the liberals, the communist, the technocrats, the peasants, the rich, and the prophets, right?

Ahem. I got vigorously carried away there.

Anyways, yes. We need violence. It is an inherent part of who we are as human beings and I, personally, am all for violence. I’m for violence because paradoxically, I do believe that by unblinkingly confronting it, by accepting it, by not shying away from the blood, the gore, and the sheer “inhumanity” (which is unwarranted, because such actions are all too human, made or should I say choked, by human hands), we can learn something more in the muck and grit.

Once we wipe away our inflated ego, then can we actually understand the beauty of cooperation, and perhaps, we won’t need the darker forms of violence. Idealistic, probably. Hypocritical, totally.

Why do i believe in violence? Because to achieve true peace, enlightened discourse, or a higher standard of morality, or whatever, we have to under stand our flaws, our blemishes, and our scars, as a dash of the old Zen logic applies, in order to humble us in our arrogance and our asinine proclamations of being “civilized” or being “developed” or reaching our end of history. Nothing really ever ends. And our humanity arises from our imperfections.

However, until that is reached, pass me the napalm; I’m going to burn a few folks, on the road to nirvana.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. snugglebus permalink*
    September 3, 2009 3:24 pm

    so your thesis is that:

    “We need violence…because paradoxically, I do believe that b[y] confronting it, by accepting it, by not shying away from the blood, the gore, and the sheer “inhumanity” (which is unwarranted, because such actions are all too human, made or should I say choked, by human hands), we can learn something more in the muck and grit. Once we wipe away our inflated ego, then can we actually understand the beauty of cooperation, and perhaps, we won’t need the darker forms of violence.”

    …because I have absolutely no idea what that means.

    Violence => Love => nicer forms of violence ???

  2. theflithyviewer permalink
    September 3, 2009 3:30 pm


    is it more absurd than trying to “stop violence” ?

    If we can’t defeat violence, might as well join it.

  3. theflithyviewer permalink
    September 3, 2009 3:35 pm

    Less stress o snugglebus arises from worrying about the horrors of violence, and all those poor victims…might as well enjoy how the clouds of dust and wreckage looks after a bombing. The sparkling of military flares, illuminating the darkness of a city. The vibrant color of blood!

    ah violence, what beauty arises from thee.


  4. snugglebus permalink*
    September 3, 2009 3:48 pm

    If we can’t defeat violence, might as well join it.

    some questions:

    1) who are ‘we’ here?
    2) how do you ‘join’ violence?
    3) why does this follow?
    4) you do realise you just justified something like the flattening of Gaza, right?
    5) the closest thing I can see to an idea here is some sort of aesthetic ethical theory of violence, i.e. recognising the peverse beauty of violence will change something in ourselves, leading us to a higher plane of self-knowledge through which we will be better human beings….all I can say to that is, srsly?

  5. elmaryachi permalink
    September 4, 2009 12:57 am

    Painting/caption is hilarious!!

    I’m not all for violence at all. But then I do understand how only violence ends violence (even on a domestic level).

    it’s a sad fact of life.

    Isn’t evolution violent?

  6. SadEye permalink
    September 4, 2009 2:59 am

    I kind of see the point of this post, as foggy and chaotic in it’s ideas.

    The movements, intellectually, philosophically, and even physically of trying to curb violence are all restricted by the limits of their own power. Power, that can be derived from violence, or the threat of violence to ensure the acceptance of their position.

    elmaryachi brought up an interesting point, the security of the nation-state, and even the existence of the nation-state itself could not be possible if the strongest entity did not enforce its hegemony. The poster is definitely entering the sand box that neo-cons, the Zionists, and many other groups play in with their justifications of annihilating one society or another. But if the tables were turned, wouldn’t we support the annihilation of a dictator, or say, a murder as well?

    We can act all idealistic, and say that we abhor violence and destruction. But wouldn’t we jump right up and use it if our family were truly in danger? or would ponder supporting the death penalty to some serial rapist or mass murderer.

    What I can gather is the point that the react to violence, and here i think we are just limiting ourselves to physical violence rather than verbal, musical, literal violence, is that it is inherently an element of the human condition.

    The attempt to deny it, because it makes us (not surprisingly) uncomfortable, or call for its total end is in a sense delusional because it really is not going to end. As many protests there are, or charity organizations, or intellectual debates, someone somewhere at sometime will do something violent – whether we consider it just or unjust (because violence is subjective).

    You brought up the point of Gaza, and I was completely against what was done there, and in many other places that are currently being flattened. But we crying about it, or speaking out against it, didn’t really stop what happened there nor is it stopping the forms of violence now. And as I was/am against what happened in Gaza, it is equally undeniable that many people were all for and accepted it.

    The tables turned in 2006, when Hezbollah utilized rockets in reply to Israel’s bombing of Lebanon, I found myself agreeing to their tactics, and their forms of violence. Why? because i saw it under the paradigm of “resistance”. Which to me was justifiable.

    Now, taking a step back, in an ideal world with ideal things occurring I would probably say any use of violence is wrong, and the “pen is indeed mightier than the sword” or some other cliche, but unfortunately we aren’t in an ideal world. We are trying, i guess to create one, but it would be folly to think that whatever ideal world we are to create, or in the process of creating, it’s flower would be fertilized by some blood and bones.

    it is truly a sad fact of life.

  7. theflithyviewer permalink
    September 4, 2009 10:14 am

    snugglebus (wtf by the way):

    1) “we”, under the context of what the topic is, are human beings. i thought that that was pretty clear unless you thought that animals or aliens are part of this equation, and i dont know why you would.

    2)was using a cliche to imply that violence is unstoppable and therefore an form of serious acceptance of the concept and the act should be returned, thought that that was pretty obvious as well. I can pull out paste the definition of ‘join’ from if you want to further ask me what i meant by using the term join.

    3) ? follows the “why does this follow” because you were asking a question. Grammar 101 snugglebus, grammar 101.

    4)Probably, and that does not bother me, because even with the position of it being unjustifiable, that did not stop the violence nor is it, or will it. And does justifiable violence, make the action even more “better” or “acceptable”, that is a silly position to be in. And are you implying by your example of Gaza, that large-scale violence “bad”, low-level sporadic violence “good”?
    And as the poster above pointed out, some people did justify it and supported it, and if a certain form of violence was aimed at some group of people I was completely against, I would think that I would be inclined to support it…which is speaking quite honestly about the human condition.
    I do think that within the human condition, the genetical codes of “cooperation” and “violence” are intertwined. To deny even the darkest aspects of our condition, is to lie to one selves. The Marquis deSade, which I would suggest you did your toe in, plays with such ideas in his “moral tales” filled with debauchery and violence, with an underlying message…fascinating stuff.

    5) wtf is srsly?
    …..ah the urban dictionary: “Srsly is an internet shorthand or slang for seriously. It is either written out of laziness, a complete inability to spell or type, or in a failed attempt to be amusing.”

    now I thought that with a little extrapolation such ideas would be clear. but i guess with you deconstructionists, you always need to be fed and wiped after, so its understandable.

    • snugglebus permalink*
      September 4, 2009 3:27 pm

      ok perhaps I left room for confusion here with the way I asked the questions, so let me much more explicit. Keep to the numbered system:

      1) If your whole point is that ‘we’ are inherently and permently violent, then how can ‘we’ (the human race) join in with the violence that ‘we’ are perpetually executing? I asked the question not to be facetious, though god knows your statement deserved it, but to imply that it really matters who you are talking to, or about, here in the context of your post. Otherwise it is just a strange ramble about violence. Though I do like the picture.

      2) My second question really followed from the first, in that it matters what you mean when you say ‘join in’ with violence. I was assuming you didn’t mean I should go punch my grandmother. But depending on who we are, how do we engage in violence then? Any way at all? Against anyone at all? At what cost?

      3) As kind as you are to offer a grammar lesson, my point was to ask, if you cannot ‘defeat violence’, by which I presume you mean you can never erradicate it, why does it follow that we should ‘join it’? Attempts to ‘manage’ violence does have positive consequences, even if it is hypocritically applied, inadequate, undermined by power inequalities, etc. etc. My concern links also into the fact that assuming that you are looking at this from the perepective of violence as resistance, which is the only way I can interpret it, doesn’t this kind of attitude just collapse towards the general supporting of any kind of resistance movement? So you would by implication defend Iraqi ‘resistance’ even when it involves sectarian slaughter for example? I mean its all just violence right? And since they’re doing it, it makes sense of the others to do it…and we’re into the spiral elmaryachi up there mentions.

      4) You ask me if by my question am I implying that I would want to differentiate between different forms of violence under different cirucumstances, by different actors? Well yes. I don’t think that differentiation is necessarily any kind of denial of how dark we are as human beings or whatever you are suggestiing. I think it is kind of sensible and desirable, even if you are tempted as I am, to take the opposite view to you and lean towards a dislike for all violence (but thats all to easy to say from the comfort of my own position so I would probably shy away from it…but on the other hand, in your case its all to easy to speak positively about violence from a position that is completely and utterly removed from its effects, no?)

      5) Finally my point was that there are very few ideas that are clear from what you wrote by ‘extrapolation’ as you call it. The closest I could come to was what I called an “aesthetic ethical theory of violence”, fufilling our destiny as violent animals will make us better somehow. I think that idea is kind of stupid. Sorry.

  8. theflithyviewer permalink
    September 4, 2009 11:35 pm

    your posts are inherently facetious, i deserving it or not. because you a) take things too seriously, b)…well i forgot what b) was so lets jump in this useless practice of trying to intellectual wrestle, or whatever it is we are doing here.

    1) there is a difference between executing violence, and being aware that you are executing violence. My point of joining in, is to understand and not be repulsed by violence, thereby unifying with it because all too often does one here in mainstream society of how violence and acts of violence is beyond, an other-action, separated from what the normal man or woman does. I do think, everyday we perform an act of violence, in some form, in some magnitude. I’m sharing for the sake of sharing, not aimed at an audience, snugglebus, and nor do I care for the audience, or aim to change minds.

    2) Does it matter? violence is subjective, so for me to dictate the rules of violence is basically dictating my interests and notions of “right” and “wrong” violence, which I would rather leave up to the common individual, or society. So all this business of trying to define how, as interesting and deep a read it may be, is all cosmetic and does not interest me.

    3) this point, kudos to your succulent throbbing jelly of a mind, is an interesting point. If you can defeat it, nor join it, then what would be the alternative…hmmm I’ve got mental tingles. Although, I’m assuming you are referring to the idea of just not partaking in it, which is anarchist-zizek crap filled with apathy and narcissism that I would rather throttle with a sharp mace. Oh, you misunderstand me on that point, I don’t support violence because it’s used as a form of resistance, that would be silly. i support all kinds of violence, oppressive or resistant, evolutionary or detractive.

    If a bullet does not discriminate, why should I !

    4) i like this point.

    5) you think that idea is kind of stupid? so what? am I suppose to care about if you think something is stupid or not? holy shit, didn’t know that this blog was defined by what you think is or isn’t worthwhile. next time, i’ll be sure to run it by you, o amazing one.

  9. AugustInChains permalink
    September 5, 2009 11:56 am

    I dunno why there is much confusion, I read a lot of sarcasm into the post.

  10. snugglebus permalink*
    September 7, 2009 6:29 pm

    not partaking in violence is “anarchist-zizek crap”…? im not gonna engage with this as its just going to drag this discussion further down. but srsly, think about that statement, thats all im saying.

    i think my bullet points format was stupid, and it helped make the conversation stupid.

    yes I got the sarcasm…im actually very passionate about sarcasm. i just didnt like the ideas.

    but more than that, i just think it is all very easy. its tempting to fall into a WWE view of resistance…that trivialises it, ultimately reimmagining it as benign somehow like the rest of the violence that is conducted on our TV screen. but in the end, though i dont put this forward as a developed idea, i think the ‘martyr’ or the ‘guerilla’, or whatever else, tell us more about the mechanisms of oppression than any empire or occupier.

    i can only here speak emotionally and without theory, but isn’t it the case that behind these romanticised catagories are human beings, that is to say something complete is reduced to a fragment, a shard? to celebrate this is to reproduce the same structure of oppression, to devalue, allow the reduction of the fullness of what it can and should mean to be human into something else. violence reduces the human from the ‘ends’ of resistance to the ‘means’, subjects created as an answer to another’s question.

    maybe we just see things differently, but whateverz.

  11. theflithyviewer permalink
    September 8, 2009 11:06 am


    that’s the point, I’m not trivializing forms of resistance and especially violence, rather I’m taking it much more seriously.

    Its not about re-imagining it as a good thing, but rather to take it as it is in its rawness. Violence is what we do, as human beings, and there should be an awareness of that. The attempts to sanitize violence, control it, through legal ideas or human rights documents have perhaps caused more harm than good because it de-values the seriousness of violence, by allowing certain protocols of how to kill which is absurd when you think about it, as if one way is more acceptable than the other way.

    And your point of violence in television is excellent, violence in television, games, whatever has ridiculed violence to a point of being a form of a game. My calls for returning and accepting violence is a backlash of that sentiment, because I do think if violence does return to its rawness its sheer disgusting levels, perhaps the risk arising from the fear or guilty of using and experiencing violence will make one pause before bringing that axe down.

    Another point, you referred to, is the celebration of violence is a form of devaluing the human. Violence is a liberating tool as well, is it not.
    Speaking emotionally and theoretically, I have read enough studies that have pointed out that the most successful political groups are the ones that have a balancing act between violence and non-violence.

    And I would argue that to rely solely on non-violence, won’t be much help on the ground, sure you’ve got the idealistic and moral victory, but that doesn’t amount to much when faced with a war machine. That is a sad fact, but that is how it is.
    We can speak of a Utopian world, but I do think that any Utopia, no matter what is it and who envisions it, will require blood to cement its foundations, because there will be conflict with the many or the few.

    What we differ is ultimately our vision of a human being, I am in the position that both the “angels” and “demons” of a human being is what makes us complete. That, to use a terrible cliche, a bright light shining from the human is equally as important as the dark shadows that is casted by the human. To reach whatever “ends” that we as humans are progressing or digressing to, I do think we need to take into consideration and accept both negative and positive factors. It is easy to embrace the positive, the negative part, understandably, we shy away from.

    the conversation only got dragged down when you came in…ahem…guns blazing rather than willing to engage.

  12. theflithyviewer permalink
    September 8, 2009 1:21 pm


    ” Now I come to truly answering you. What if this sounds almost proto-fascist, a celebration of violence and such? I will give you a horrible answer. “Why not?” This line of questioning is the typical liberal trap. In These Times – those crazy loonies, they are my friends, I like them, Leftists – published an essay of mine apropos Leni Riefenstahl in which I ferociously attack a typical liberal reaction against fascism. notenotenote
    You don’t really have a theory of fascism. So you look a little bit into history, encounter something which superficially reminds you of fascism, and then you claim that it’s proto-fascist already. Before making her famous Nazi movies, Riefenstahl did so-called bergfilms, “mountain movies,” filled with this heroic, extreme danger, climbing mountains, passionate love stories up there. Everybody automatically assumes these films must already be proto-Nazi. Sorry, but the guy who co-wrote the scenario for her best known early film, Das Blaue Licht (The Blue Light), Béla Balézs was a Communist. [Chuckles]. Now, liberals have an answer to this one, which is [spoken in a half-whisper] “this only proves how the entire society was already penetrated by the spirit of Nazism.” No, I violently disagree. Take the most popular example used again and again by Susan Sontag in her famous text on Leni Riefenstahl: mass public spectacles, crowds, gymnastics, thousands of bodies. I’m very sorry, but it’s an historical fact that the Nazis took these forms from the Social Democrats. Originally, these forms were Leftist. The liberal point would be, “Oh, this only proves how totalitarianism was in the air.” I am totally opposed to this line of argument. We should not oppose something just because it was appropriated by the wrong guys; rather, we should think about how to reappropriate it. And I think that the limit is here – I admit it here, we are in deep critical waters – very refined, between…engaging in redemptive violence and what is truly fascist, the fetishizing of violence for its own sake.

    A kind of litmus test is – this always works on all my friends – “How do you stand toward Fight Club, the movie?” All the liberals claim, “Ah, it’s proto-fascist, violent, blah, blah, blah.” No, I am for it. I think the message of Fight Club is not so much liberating violence but that liberation hurts. What may falsely appear as my celebration of violence, I think, is a much more tragic awareness. If there is a great lesson of the 20th-century history, it’s the lesson of psychoanalysis: The lesson of totalitarian subordination is not “renounce, suffer,” but this subordination offers you a kind of perverted excess of enjoyment and pleasure. To get rid of that enjoyment is painful. Liberation hurts.

    In the first act of liberation, as I develop it already in The Fragile Absolute, where I provide lots of violent examples – from Keyser Soze in The Usual Suspects, who kills his family (which I’ll admit, got me into lots of trouble) to a more correct example, Toni Morrison’s Beloved. But, of course, now, I’m not saying what Elizabeth Wright, who edited a reader about me, thought. I love her, an English old lady. I had tea with her once, and she said, “I liked your book, The Fragile Absolute, but something bothered me. Do I really have to kill my son to be ethical?” I love this total naïveté. Of course not! My point was to address the problem of totalitarian control. The problem is: how does a totalitarian power keep you in check? Precisely by offering you some perverse enjoyment, and you have to renounce that, and it hurts. So, I don’t mean physical violence, or a kind of fetishization of violence. I just mean simply that liberation hurts. What I don’t buy from liberals is this idea of, as Robespierre would have put it, “revolution without revolution,” the idea that somehow, everything will change, but nobody will be really hurt. No, sorry, it hurts. “

  13. theflithyviewer permalink
    September 8, 2009 1:27 pm

    i actually like Zizek.
    its some of ideas the anarchist have i can’t stand.

  14. empressmuhammad permalink*
    September 9, 2009 1:11 pm

    i am really confused about what this argument is about?

    is it that violence is good? because it isn’t.

    is it that violence is inevitable? well, maybe it is, but maybe it isn’t. and i’d like to try and think that it isn’t, and definitely want to be on the side that is advocating for peace.

    with all do respect, considering i am writing this from a war zone, i have no choice but to conclude that anyone who actively takes the position that violence is not necessarily ‘bad’ has probably never left the comfort of his or her home. maybe they should come spend some time surrounded by the death, misery, and chaos of war. i’m sure that will change your mind.

  15. SadEye permalink
    September 9, 2009 1:36 pm

    Again, violence is not simply a matter of “good” or “bad” and such simple dichotomy is not beneficial to engage and discuss the matter. I’m not saying Violence is solely “good”, but I’m also in the position that violence is not solely “bad” either. Violence can be “moral”, or “just”, just as easily as it is “immoral” and “unjust”.

    and with all do respect: I have been in a war zone, I have family members and friends who have been effected directly by different forms of violence, whether warfare to domestic abuse, so I am completely aware of what violence is about and what it entails, and that is what composes part of my thinking. Again, a note of violence is not “necessary bad” stems from a pragmatic understanding of history and how things flow. We can ideally speak that any movement or any idea, or whatever would be great if it was wholly “non-violent” but that isn’t the case, and it won’t because it is inherently part of the structures of reality, and it is not and will never be mutual exclusive to how things are or will be. We can hope, and dream, and there is nothing wrong with that, it does give up a mark to work towards, but how we dream and what we do are two far far points.

    And another thing, if our basis in discussion is that if we did not “directly” experience a topic, then we have no right to have an opinion on the topic, then we can all only discuss issues about our cozy comfortable elitist lives that we all live in the comfort of our homes, and leave subjects like politics, war, poverty, disease, and whatever to a poor infected politician in a war zone.

    And it is easy to say you are advocating for peace, who really isn’t when it comes down to it. But I would argue empressmo that you would be inclined to use violence if your family or yourself were directly effected, so their is a point in all of us where we will utilize violence, and that point differs between all of us, for some it is easier while for others it takes more pressure before one succumbs.

    The ultimate point I am making here, and I do not see why all the confusion and uproar is about, is that the understanding and progress of the human condition requires an acceptance of both positive and negative attributes of human thought and action.

    That is all.

  16. Fawzia permalink
    November 5, 2009 2:35 pm

    Firstly,as i said .. take OWNERSHIP of your words and opinions …even if you are in sensitive workplaces .. wtf.
    for sure this discussion caught my eye…RIDICULOUS .. anyways guys check out Girard…he would totally agree with you filthyviewer only violence prevents violence ..and on this concept he bases the notion of sacrifice.. thus the only way violence can be kept pure is through the sanctification of the sacrificial victim. the existence of violence has been explained from many psychoanalytical perspectives.. displaced violence,agression,an innate violent drive… my question suicide and violence one and the same coin?
    there is no answer if violence is “good” or ” evil” .. there is something beyond the nietzschean good and evil ..right nazism agreed on this .. bullshiittttaaaa .. anyways much more complex…so what are we doin here ?? saying yes or no to violence…. I agree with filthyviewer eventhough I want to violently disagree…but again that would be hypocritical .. actually NO I do not want to agree…so in order to prevent violence we need to channel all our aggression in something constructive rather than destructive.. okay now i am totally following jungian pattern .. who couldnt handle destructiveness nor chaos… DENIAL …okay so back to the point … it exists,we cannot deny,its there …can we stop it ? naively,yes lets do some good and stop it …realistically it will never stop …so how are we gonna deal with this ??by reinforcing the cycle or by trying to channel our own aggressive behavior into some sex and some art .. anyways you cannot JUDGE every kind of violence .. NO judgements .. okay guess u didnt understand much what i wrote cz as usual i am not understandin it myself…sorry for more bullshit and confusion …anyways go and read girard .. he is great even though i dont completely agree !!!

  17. snugglebus permalink*
    November 5, 2009 7:04 pm

    This argument was not over the question of whether violence is good or evil, not at all really. So coming at it from that angle kind of misses the point. But its probably understandable because it was a pretty low-quality exchange that didn’t really set out the disagreement very well. This I think was almost exclusively my fault, but you live and learn!

    For filthyviewer the point of the post was to celebrate violence, not for its own sake, but as a subversive gesture. It would be ‘subversive’ because, rather than criticise the hypocrisy of governments that would criticise violent resistance but at the same time support violent governments, by saying they need to be consistent and so on (the nice ‘liberal’ critical approach), he tries to sarcastically turn it on its head and say ‘ok, why don’t we just forget this idea that violence is bad completely! Life will be so much easier!’. He is attacking the frame of reference, instead of directly pointing out its inconsistent use (though by doing it sarcastically what he was really trying to do was to take a different route to pointing out that same inconsistency, rather than actually questioning the frame…at least I think so).

    So in his arguments above with me, what he was really implying is that what he did was a valid subversive gesture (‘I had people read it and they got what I was up to’), and that I was missing the point of the whole thing when I attacked the actual content of what he wrote, said it didn’t make sense etc. But I did that because I just didn’t buy the subversiveness of it, and wanted to strip that away and say ‘look all you have here is ramble that doesn’t make any sense!’, but I never really made myself clear I don’t think.

    So let me do a bit better: is it really subversive just to say ‘violence is great’? To me not really, as I don’t think it really resonates with anyone, since, for example, most people don’t think that punching old ladies in the face would be a good thing, or that a sectarian cycle of violence in Iraq is a good thing and so on. So you’re left with a small crowd that are going to be amused at the fact he said something ‘naughty’, and if this is true then its just not really very subversive. So if you strip away the sort of sarcastic/subversive cloak (‘see how I celebrate violence when the powers-that-be tell us it’s bad!’) and take it at face value (as literally attacking a whole frame of reference) what you have is something that was pretty lame, especially by the standard of filthyviewer’s other contributions, and didn’t make much sense (at least in my view).

  18. theflithyviewer permalink
    February 15, 2010 3:45 pm


    First, I’m not celebrating violence as a subversive move. Rather, I argue, that violence is essentially a tool, and therefore is amoral. The morality comes into play on how the violence is used.

    Secondly, we must, as human beings, be very honest with ourselves. To argue that violence should not be used in a cause (whatever cause) and that non-violence is the right and only way, is misleading. It is not an either/or situation, violence will be used when necessary. It is a logical tactic, not irrational or chaotic as the media/movies/etc. presents it.

    Thirdly, violence is a natural form of expression. But that does not mean that it should be used whole heartedly, nor because it is cool. Liberation is a violent act, and requires a violent form of change. Nothing is ever painless.

    Fourthly, we are still stuck on looking at physical violence. The post was an attempt on looking beyond just the physical violence, and looking at violence abstractly. Is it not fair to say that there is emotional, or literary, or mental violence?

    Ultimately, the point is that we should shed our moral smugness in regards to violence. To look at it as natural, part of life, and not fear it. Only then can it really be overcome in a sense.

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