Ted Rall has a column up at Yahoo! News, in which he calls for violence to advance the OWS cause. His claim is that revolutions do not happen without violence, and that revolution is what OWS wants:
If voting or writing letters to the editor worked, we wouldn’t need Occupations.
The Occupy movement can wind up in one of two ways:
Or success, partly via the occasional use of violence and/or the credible threat of violence that results from those sporadic outbursts.
If Rall speaks for OWS, then we can forget all pretense of OWS being the “Left’s Tea Party”. The Tea Party, for good or bad, is working within the system. For them, votes are good enough. The amount of ire directed at the Tea Party of late is an open admission that the Tea Party is effective. Even while playing within the rules.
But it’s hard to say if the same approach will work for OWS. For one, they haven’t yet tried it. For another, it’s hard to pin down just what OWS wants, so it’s hard to know if they’re getting it–by any means.
Rall, however, seems to believe that OWS is about getting the rich and powerful to hand over their riches and power. And I again have to ask: Does Rall speak for OWS? Does Occupy Oakland (perhaps more appropriately named Trash Oakland) speak for the entire movement? I think OWS had better decide–and fast–what they want and how far they’re willing to go to get it, because others are already determined to take the movement there whether they like it or not.
I hope with as much hope as I can muster that Rall does not speak for OWS. This man has dangerous ideas, and I don’t think I’d care to live in an America where any revolution he would support has won (The man has written a book titled “The Anti-American Manifesto”, for heaven sake! That should say something!). According to Rall not only is violence the only way, but OWS has not yet resorted to violence!
First let’s define terms. Vandalism, theft and destruction of property are not violence. Inanimate objects do not suffer. Violence can only be inflicted upon living beings. Breaking a window may or may not be morally justified, but it is never violence.
I agree. Let’s define terms, but let’s define them correctly. Dictionary.com defines violence as:
1. swift and intense force: the violence of a storm.
2. rough or injurious physical force, action, or treatment: to die by violence.
3. an unjust or unwarranted exertion of force or power, as against rights or laws: to take over a government by violence.
4. a violent act or proceeding.
5. rough or immoderate vehemence, as of feeling or language: the violence of his hatred.
The destruction of property, vandalism, and theft are violence. The inanimate objects may not suffer, but the individuals suffering the loss of those objects do suffer. The people forced to witness the violence of such acts suffer. To claim such is not violence is reprehensible, and I would not want anyone who feels this way to have power–ever.
But let’s accept Rall’s erroneous (and self-serving) definition for a moment. If what he says is true, then the OWS movement needs to go farther. Destruction of property is not enough. They need to start harming people. They need to do actual violence by causing injury or death to other human beings, and only in that way can the movement bring positive change. There must be a revolution.
Rall does not want to change America. He wants to declare war on it and overthrow it. So I ask again: Does this guy speak for OWS?
You need only look back at the political history of the United States between 1971 and 2011 to see what 100% nonviolence has accomplished. Even under Democratic presidents and Congressional majorities, the Left has lost one battle after another.
The Left’s only major victory during that period followed the 1999 Battle of Seattle. Riots and broken windows disrupted the World Trade Organization for years. Countless American jobs were saved as a result. Yet liberals were ashamed.
I can only wonder what counts as a victory for this guy. Just what is it he believes the Left should have been accomplishing all this time? If his book title is to be taken at face value, he wants the destruction or dismantling of America as we know it. Is that what the Left wants?
Occupy Wall Street and the American Left: Does this man speak for you?
Because if he does, we have a right to know, and know now. If I’m going to need to defend myself against other Americans bent on doing me and mine physical harm I want to know now so I can prepare. Even Rall seems to grant me that much:
Further, violent self-defense is not the same as violence. Until now the violence at the Occupations has all been initiated by the police. When policemen fire rubber bullets, bean bags, tear gas and pepper spray at unarmed, peaceful protesters, their victims have every right to defend themselves–to run away, to avoid arrest and yes, to strike back.
Every civilized society recognizes the right to self-defense.
Though I do have to wonder if Rall’s right to self-defense is extended to the people being physically harmed by his revolution. I’m not so sure he would support my bashing the head in of one of his revolutionaries to keep them from bashing in mine, because I sense he feels there is only one right side in this fight he is fomenting.
And I’m not on it.
If Ted Rall speaks for you, then there is no point in further discussion, only action. No change worth having will be accomplished by anything short of revolution, and revolution can only be accomplished through violence. Anything less is pointless. The system is broken beyond hope of repair. Nothing short of violence will do.
Please tell me Ted Rall does not speak for you.