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Do we owe our freedoms to violence?

edited May 2011 in General Banter
"Pacifism is objectively pro-fascist. This is elementary common sense." - George Orwell

Now I'm not talking violent wars, or wars against terrorism, these are being discussed already in other threads... But violence generally as a form of political protest or revolt? A few off hand examples would be the Poll Tax Riots(destroyed Margaret Thatchers political career), Indian uprising against the British Empire(pretty damn violent, despite being cited as a model of peaceful protest and uprising) and even - and this is very much conjecture - the Civil Rights movement in the United States. The Civil Rights movement in America was built on violent revolt, only when it really picked up steam did it take on a more Pacifist and "Democratic" direction. I'd personally argue MLK was a co-optation on behalf of Government; A 'cut-your-losses', 'we'll-hear-you-out-if-you-play-by-our-rules' decision. Government have a history of negotiating and working with the most Pacifist and accommodating parties or elements of a movement or uprising, which serves to give the impression Peaceful protest is what works, but this isn't necessarily or even generally true - It's usually the violent and 'militant' elements that force Government hand.

You can pretty much go through history and find example after example of violent revolt bringing about positive social changes, ending slavery is another example. And where people are unwilling to act, they're largely ignored and abused... Tibet comes to mind, or the majority in Europe who call for the end of war but are ignored by Politicians, OR just generally ignored :D

Is violence ever just? Violence as a means of achieving a better society, maybe even achieving non-violence? A contradiction of sorts, I realise. If not violence, then how do we influence change and move forward as societies and nations?

I don't really ask this as a Buddhist question but it's not banter or a current event either. Buddhist-centric(?) opinions and views are of course expected and welcomed.

Comments

  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    I don't agree with some of your examples. The Civil Rights movement was peaceful until after King was shot, and the movement turned militant (this actually began when King was still active, he disagreed with the younger militant leaders, and insisted on a non-violent path), was the Indian overthrow of the British all that violent, while Ghandi was leading the liberation movement? Maybe after his death things changed...I need more info.

    Change in South Africa, for example, was violent, that's a far cry from the US Civil Rights Movement.

    Some think WWII was a just use of violence. Because it averted even greater violence and suffering.

    Protests don't have to be violent. Marching, picketing, or refusing to pay part of one's income tax to protest a war are non-violent.
  • "Pacifism is objectively pro-fascist. This is elementary common sense." - George Orwell

    Now I'm not talking violent wars, or wars against terrorism, these are being discussed already in other threads... But violence generally as a form of political protest or revolt? A few off hand examples would be the Poll Tax Riots(destroyed Margaret Thatchers political career), Indian uprising against the British Empire(pretty damn violent, despite being cited as a model of peaceful protest and uprising) and even - and this is very much conjecture - the Civil Rights movement in the United States. The Civil Rights movement in America was built on violent revolt, only when it really picked up steam did it take on a more Pacifist and "Democratic" direction. I'd personally argue MLK was a co-optation on behalf of Government; A 'cut-your-losses', 'we'll-hear-you-out-if-you-play-by-our-rules' decision. Government have a history of negotiating and working with the most Pacifist and accommodating parties or elements of a movement or uprising, which serves to give the impression Peaceful protest is what works, but this isn't necessarily or even generally true - It's usually the violent and 'militant' elements that force Government hand.

    You can pretty much go through history and find example after example of violent revolt bringing about positive social changes, ending slavery is another example. And where people are unwilling to act, they're largely ignored and abused... Tibet comes to mind, or the majority in Europe who call for the end of war but are ignored by Politicians, OR just generally ignored :D

    Is violence ever just? Violence as a means of achieving a better society, maybe even achieving non-violence? A contradiction of sorts, I realise. If not violence, then how do we influence change and move forward as societies and nations?

    I don't really ask this as a Buddhist question but it's not banter or a current event either. Buddhist-centric(?) opinions and views are of course expected and welcomed.


    Violence has a root in our DNA.

    Blood-spattered human’s history is the consequence of it.
    I have a big problem to acknowledge it why but the past is a fact.

    ‘’ "Pacifism is objectively pro-fascist. This is elementary common sense." - George Orwell’’

    Only because we have given up our principles in front of the fascist or totalitarian regimes.


    ‘’You can pretty much go through history and find example after example of violent revolt bringing about positive social changes’’

    Sure, but look at lost of life and suffering.


    This is why: I said in the ‘pragmatism tread’’ We can’t be silent.


    We have a democracy in some parts of the world. Let use this privilege to assure that the next step will not be so brutal

    Buddhism has so many positive solutions but sitting and meditating – is not the all answer for the humanity in 21 century. /as such/

    We can’t be silent.

    We need to share:

    our perception and opinions when things go wrong and condemn if necessary.




  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    I think democracy depends on a vocal electorate. Doing nothing and letting the gov't do what it wants is what the USSR was all about.

    Has anyone noticed how life in the US is gravitating slowly toward the Soviet system in some ways? Surveillance of citizens, this mentality of "enemies within, enemies without" (sleeper cell fear), how under Bush especially, the news was heavily censored, or self-censored (stories of huge protests against Bush and Iraq were never reported, nothing critical of Bush allowed). It's become Stalinesque, in some ways.
  • Yeah, with people like Rupert Murdoch controlling the media, freedom of speech is becoming idealist. Less people vote, politicians don't listen and the world becomes apathetic.

    Islamic fundamentalism imho is one reaction to this, but it also demonstrates that violence isn't the answer.

    I dunno the solution, but if more of us are vocal and challenge injustice, the few become many and it may even result in change.

    Being a Buddhist isn't the same as being a wet lettuce!
  • zidanguszidangus Veteran
    edited May 2011
    I think democracy depends on a vocal electorate. Doing nothing and letting the gov't do what it wants is what the USSR was all about.

    Has anyone noticed how life in the US is gravitating slowly toward the Soviet system in some ways? Surveillance of citizens, this mentality of "enemies within, enemies without" (sleeper cell fear), how under Bush especially, the news was heavily censored, or self-censored (stories of huge protests against Bush and Iraq were never reported, nothing critical of Bush allowed). It's become Stalinesque, in some ways.
    Yes it was a bit scary to watch how the American news outlets. CBS, NBS, ABC, etc etc would not criticize the bush administration for quite some time after 9/11 for fear of being unpatriotic. In fact was the bush administration ever really criticized as much as it clearly should have been by the US press ?

    I guess we are lucky in the UK, as we have the BBC, which is independent and does not rely on advertising, and really loves criticizing the government and holding them to account, as any good news provider should

    :D
  • I think democracy depends on a vocal electorate. Doing nothing and letting the gov't do what it wants is what the USSR was all about.

    Has anyone noticed how life in the US is gravitating slowly toward the Soviet system in some ways? Surveillance of citizens, this mentality of "enemies within, enemies without" (sleeper cell fear), how under Bush especially, the news was heavily censored, or self-censored (stories of huge protests against Bush and Iraq were never reported, nothing critical of Bush allowed). It's become Stalinesque, in some ways.

    USSR should teach us something else.

    It gave a power to people who have been oppressed through feudalism and industrial revolution;

    Look what happened with it???

    Human nature i.e. alpha dominance had been replaced for another alphas individuals.

    This new power took a dominance and being angry /maybe rightly/ and have spilt a lot of blood and revenge.


    Your words:

    ''I think democracy depends on a vocal electorate.''

    Great , but the vocal part of the society is too concentrated to survive and being able to vote or feed their kids / poor countries/ or where to go for holidays next /rich countries/.


    Some Buddhist have much better solutions but they sit in some monasteries or as modern Buddhists say......just be compassionate but don’t condemn or judge.







  • MountainsMountains Moderator
    edited May 2011
    I guess we are lucky in the UK, as we have the BBC, which is independent and does not rely on advertising, and really loves criticizing the government and holding them to account, as any good news provider should
    In the US we have Public Broadcasting. It is the only major news outlet in the US that is not corporately owned (for-profit), and thus, as far as I'm concerned, the only reasonably objective source of news in the US. It is roundly despised by the far right as being "too liberal", when in point of fact, NPR (the radio arm of public broadcasting) goes to greater pains to present both sides of every argument than any other news outlet, bar none. I think part of the problem is that they're smart, which scares a lot of Americans, so they label them "elitist" or "intellectual" as if the latter is a bad thing. Sadly, those who are unable to see objectivity for what it is see it as a threat to their worldview, and thus, something bad. Hence the headlong rush to defund what little Federal money Public Broadcasting is getting these days.

    I get 100% of my news from NPR and BBC. I wouldn't give you two cents worth of powder to blow the rest of them to hell quite frankly...
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited May 2011
    PBS is in danger of having its budget slashed by a conservative Congress.

    Tess, I'm not sure how to interpret your comments, but you and I have similar views. You're right that the potentially vocal part of the electorate is too busy trying to survive in these difficult economic times. But where are the students and other young people? It's often the young ones who dare to raise their voices.

    The USSR evolved the way it did precisely because of the "surrounded by enemies" mentality. Criticism of the system, rather than being viewed as constructive, was interpreted as an "enemy" attack. Gorbachev had the foresight to know that criticism and analysis were needed in order to improve the system, but events overtook his initiative But...we're getting off-topic.

    In any case, IMO democracy is about speaking out, making one's voice heard.

    @zidangus No, the Bush admin never did get much of any criticism, even from "independent" news sources, like (publicly-funded) National Public Radio. It was really disillusioning (regarding NPR). I'm glad you noticed, all the way from your side of the Pond. :) You know the old joke from the days of the USSR, regardng their 2 news sources: Pravda (Truth) and Isvestiia (News)? They used to say "Our Pravda has no izvestiia, and Izvestiia has no pravda". That's how our news outlets were during the Bush admin. No truth, no news, except the approved material. (Instead of pages of news on farm harvests and factory production, we got tabloid news about Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, etc. palmed off as real news.) :p
  • I don't agree with some of your examples. The Civil Rights movement was peaceful until after King was shot, and the movement turned militant (this actually began when King was still active, he disagreed with the younger militant leaders, and insisted on a non-violent path), was the Indian overthrow of the British all that violent, while Ghandi was leading the liberation movement? Maybe after his death things changed...I need more info.

    Change in South Africa, for example, was violent, that's a far cry from the US Civil Rights Movement.

    Some think WWII was a just use of violence. Because it averted even greater violence and suffering.

    Protests don't have to be violent. Marching, picketing, or refusing to pay part of one's income tax to protest a war are non-violent.
    Hi. The IIM while not overwhelmingly violent owes much of its success to violence, do you know Netaji? Netaji is one of the most well remembered revolutionaries of the time and highly respected in India I believe. He led his military force against the British Empire, helped to a large extent by WW2, which severely weakened the Empire. Funded by Japanese too, it's worth mentioning. An element of the IIM strength which doesn't seem to get much mention in the mainstream... Nor the fact he had alliances with the Nazis, but I digress. The Indian National Army was pivotal in India's independence, their actions were actually what led to the Indian people finally standing up to the Empire, it was massive inspiration for Indians. 'History of the Freedom Movement in India' is a good book on the subject.

    You're absolutely right about the Civil Rights Movement, but so am I :D The Civil Rights movement is actually much older than most think, we're taught it started in the 50's, but it goes back much longer(to the 1800's). You could argue the Civil war was part of the Civil Rights Movement. Although it was as much about 'wage-slavery' as it was physical slavery or racism. With out physical violence it's debatable that black people would have been in a position to preach non-violence. That platform was built with violent revolution. But whether MLK was a co-optation is again conjecture on my behalf, and pure opinion. I'd argue the entire tail-end of the civil rights movement was an accommodation on behalf of government, but that's also my opinion, and certainly not fact!

    South Africa is a strange one, it's pretty much the opposite. The ANC and many other influential groups began as non-violent! and I guess people weren't happy with the results or lack of. One thing they do have in common is that international condemnation went a long way in assisting both African-Americans and South Africans. International condemnation of the British Empire in India was also roundly criticised by many countries. Whether in any of these cases the condemnation was done for benevolent reasons or political reasons is unknown.

    I probably should have gone with much better and clearer examples, but wanted to focus on history or uprisings people would be familiar with.

    I'm not saying violence is a good or desirable thing either, just to clear that up. What I'm asking or maybe even supposing is whether it's necessary? Should the Arabs fighting against oppressive governments not be celebrated, or do we say black and white that violence in all forms, for whatever reason, is unjust? In Britain many people march and it falls on death ears. In 2003 for example, what's widely reported as over a MILLION people marched the streets of London in opposition to the Iraq war... Unfortunately it was a wasted effort. 3 million people in Rome also protested against the war, it didn't sway the Italian government either.

    So in a hypothetical situation where peaceful protest proves fruitless, or worse still see's you beaten and murdered - Lets say Saudi Arabia for arguments sake - what would you do? I'm not saying violence is good, but that the position we're in and the freedoms we now enjoy, I don't think we'd have these without violent revolutionaries and movements.


    :thumbup:
  • edited May 2011
    I think democracy depends on a vocal electorate. Doing nothing and letting the gov't do what it wants is what the USSR was all about.

    Has anyone noticed how life in the US is gravitating slowly toward the Soviet system in some ways? Surveillance of citizens, this mentality of "enemies within, enemies without" (sleeper cell fear), how under Bush especially, the news was heavily censored, or self-censored (stories of huge protests against Bush and Iraq were never reported, nothing critical of Bush allowed). It's become Stalinesque, in some ways.


    Yes it was a bit scary to watch how the American news outlets. CBS, NBS, ABC, etc etc would not criticize the bush administration for quite some time after 9/11 for fear of being unpatriotic. In fact was the bush administration ever really criticized as much as it clearly should have been by the US press ?

    I guess we are lucky in the UK, as we have the BBC, which is independent and does not rely on advertising, and really loves criticizing the government and holding them to account, as any good news provider should

    :D
    You think so? If there's one criticism I have of the BBC it's that they're too Pro-Establishment. I'd probably go as far as saying they're more pro-Government than any other news station, even lesser news stations, like Sky News :D

    That's not to say Sky is good, Jesus I hate Sky! But the BBC know who butters their bread. BBC coverage of the Royal Wedding bordered on nauseating for me. I mentioned the Poll Tax riots earlier, did you know for years the BBC reported that "Anarchists" and "Hooligans" were responsible for the violence, and there was absolutely no reporting of the Police attacking innocent protestors. They maintained that position for years, until forced to concede -- in light of evidence -- that they were wrong.

    I don't think that's too out of line with the BBC on the whole if you pay close attention. The other month I was watching the Tuition Fee protests and violence, they had on a young guy who had cerebral palsy I think, and was also wheel chair bound... Do you know what the interviewer suggested lol? That the kid was rolling towards the Police in a provocative manner :hair: They received tens of thousands of complaints and their response was a small blog posting hidden on the back-end of their website. Guess what the BBC News Editor said? You might imagine he'd apologise, instead he pointed towards this kids website showing him to be a supporter of Anarchism, and implied that fact made him guilty and deserving of both Police treatment and BBC treatment.



    That's the interview. Oh, and I like Channel 4 myself. You can't beat Jon Snows socks and ties :D In saying that, if there's one thing that leans in the favour of the BBC it's The Paxman! Newsnight is great

  • vinlynvinlyn Veteran
    CosmicGypsy, your last two posts don't even mention Buddhism. I think you're here to argue politics and international politics. I know that those realms affect us since we live in the real world, but, PERSONALLY, I'd like to see mostly posts that somehow connect with Buddhism.

    Again, that's just my personal view.
  • zidanguszidangus Veteran
    Well I think the BBC is the most reliable news source in the UK, and I agree that Paxman is great, especially at making politicians feel uncomfortable. As for SKY news, well I cannot trust any news organization which has Rupert Murdoch on its board of Directors (Think FOX news, though SKY news is not as bad as FOX), also David Cameron is a Murdoch Puppet, so I can't see SKY news being big critics of the government, just my opinion anyway :D
  • I dont accept violence.
    I hope even under extreme circumstances
    when my life is threatened, I will run, not fight.
    remember gandhi.
    Violent revolutions in China and Russia est the communist regimes.
    It was followed by worse violence. It never ends.
    America thanks to its revolutionary founding and fascination with
    weapons continues to have the distinction of being the
    most violent developed country in the world.
  • The difference btw UK and US
    is UK has a law governing news organisations.
    So, what fox news does would be illegal in UK.
    Well I think the BBC is the most reliable news source in the UK, and I agree that Paxman is great, especially at making politicians feel uncomfortable. As for SKY news, well I cannot trust any news organization which has Rupert Murdoch on its board of Directors (Think FOX news, though SKY news is not as bad as FOX), also David Cameron is a Murdoch Puppet, so I can't see SKY news being big critics of the government, just my opinion anyway :D
  • This shouldn't be in Buddhism for Beginners, but under General Banter.
  • The difference btw UK and US
    is UK has a law governing news organisations.
    So, what fox news does would be illegal in UK.
    What does Fox do that would be illegal in England? I don't watch Fox.

  • zidanguszidangus Veteran
    edited May 2011
    I really don't understand why FOX news is so popular, but with the right wing rhetoric it churns out, when I look at the poll I posted in another thread, I kinda do understand.
    :-/
  • zidanguszidangus Veteran
    edited May 2011
    This shouldn't be in Buddhism for Beginners, but under General Banter.
    Yes your right CW, sorry kinda went off topic a bit
    :)
  • CosmicGypsy, your last two posts don't even mention Buddhism. I think you're here to argue politics and international politics. I know that those realms affect us since we live in the real world, but, PERSONALLY, I'd like to see mostly posts that somehow connect with Buddhism.

    Again, that's just my personal view.
    I mentioned in my original post as a footnote of sorts that the post isn't strictly related to Buddhism, but that it also isn't appropriate for the general banter section either.

    Why would I be on a Buddhist message board with the sole intention of talking politics? I'm here because I like the community and have an interest in Buddhism. I'm also interested in Politics, so occasionally you'll see me rambling about political issues. Or Music, and which Music I like. Or even my wisdom teeth :p

    Most questions I have relating to Buddhism will be asked in time, I don't want to flood the forum all at once with what I imagine has been covered quite extensively. Where I can contribute or feel I can add to a discussion I will do. Right now I don't really know enough about most Buddhist topics to really add anything of merit. I see no real point offering my views or opinions on subjects in which I have little insight, experience or understanding - just for the sake of maintaining some post content ratio.

  • It's perfectly ok to post on non-Buddhist topics, that's why there are non-Buddhist categories. And Lincoln removed the "general Banter" category from the main board precisely to strengthen the Buddhist focus, for those who prefer that. I think he's doing a good job of finding a balance to keep everyone happy.
  • CloudCloud Veteran
    Okay moving to General Banter, since can't really find a better category for it and that's the one for "anything else".
  • vinlynvinlyn Veteran
    Thank you, Cloud!
  • zidanguszidangus Veteran
    The difference btw UK and US
    is UK has a law governing news organisations.
    So, what fox news does would be illegal in UK.

    What does Fox do that would be illegal in England? I don't watch Fox.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2003/may/08/tvnews.rupertmurdoch
  • zidanguszidangus Veteran
    edited May 2011
    Here is a documentary on Fox and Rupert Murdoch

    "OUTFOXED : Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism"

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6737097743434902428#
  • zidanguszidangus Veteran
    The documentary above highlights just why (thankfully) Fox news would not be accpeted in the UK. :D
  • vinlynvinlyn Veteran
    Now I'm just asking a question, so don't take it as more than that.

    In the UK are there a variety of Broadcast news outlets to choose from? Or is BBC pretty much the only one that has significant coverage?
  • zidanguszidangus Veteran
    There are three major one's, that is the BBC news, ITN news and SKY news. ITN is not too bad, sky is rubbish (anything to do with Rupert Murdoch is rubbish IMO) and BBC which is the best in my opinion.
  • vinlynvinlyn Veteran
    The only thing I'll say about Rupert is that he's only out for the money. FOX News may be the most conservative news outlet in the States, yet the programming on the network is just about the most liberal. For example, last night I was watching "Glee"...really enjoy that show. Talk about gay story lines! Whew! A lesbian couple. A gay couple, one of whom gets a standing ovation when he is elected Prom Queen. If it gets ratings...Murdoch will do it.
  • zidanguszidangus Veteran
    edited May 2011
    The only thing I'll say about Rupert is that he's only out for the money. FOX News may be the most conservative news outlet in the States, yet the programming on the network is just about the most liberal. For example, last night I was watching "Glee"...really enjoy that show. Talk about gay story lines! Whew! A lesbian couple. A gay couple, one of whom gets a standing ovation when he is elected Prom Queen. If it gets ratings...Murdoch will do it.
    Yes I agree this is so true, it also one of the reason why he hates the BBC.

    Here is a nice article about Murdochs history, its actually a BBC article also :D



    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/2011/01/rupert_murdoch_-_a_portrait_of.html
  • Interesting.
    Not sure what to think of it.
    I lean towards Pacifism.
  • "Do we owe our freedoms to violence?" is, I think, a very good question and one which challenges those of us who want to embrace ahimsa, pacifism or similar, whether we be Quaker, Buddhist or secular humanist.

    A study of history would suggest that we have to say that we do, indeed, owe many of today's freedoms to violent action, revolution, terror and general bloodshed. Our democracies arose as a result of the sacrifice of many. In truth, I cannot seem to identify any general freedom that has not involved preliminary violence.

    Once we have seen this, we need to ask the next question which is "Do we need violence to achieve freedom?" The Buddhist (and Christian, Muslim and Hindu) answer is "Yes, but..." The problem is the 'but...', the question of how we go about things differently.

    Friends ask me how I come to the conclusion that, at the heart of all faith systems, is a positive assertion that freedom can be achieved without bloodshed. The secret lies in the energy wasted in 'violence' when it could be transformative. Buddhism teaches us that we can each transform and find liberation if we put in the work, work which needs energy. Waste it on violence and there is none left for the personal transformation that, like a stone dropped in a pond, spreading out peace. Because we shall, as Jesus points out any number of times, run into opposition by the violent, it is not an easy road.

    I truly believe, however, that it is worth the effort.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited May 2011
    Friends ask me how I come to the conclusion that, at the heart of all faith systems, is a positive assertion that freedom can be achieved without bloodshed. The secret lies in the energy wasted in 'violence' when it could be transformative. Buddhism teaches us that we can each transform and find liberation if we put in the work, work which needs energy. Waste it on violence and there is none left for the personal transformation that, like a stone dropped in a pond, spreading out peace. Because we shall, as Jesus points out any number of times, run into opposition by the violent, it is not an easy road.I truly believe, however, that it is worth the effort.
    I think you point out the dichotomy between mundane consciousness, and spiritual awareness. If everyone were spiritually awakened, there wouldn't be a need for war/violence. Theoretically. And yet, I suppose that George W. Bush thought he was spiritually awakened. The jihadists probably think the same. Oh well. Another good thought shot down in flames. :-/

    If everyone stuck with the more contemplative traditions in each religion: Sufism, Buddhism, Gnosticism, THEN maybe we'd all be on a similar page. What do you think, Simon?
  • .....................
    If everyone stuck with the more contemplative traditions in each religion: Sufism, Buddhism, Gnosticism, THEN maybe we'd all be on a similar page. What do you think, Simon?
    There are days when I think this, Dakini, and days when I think that 'human nature' just takes too much pleasure in violence. In Christian terms (as I remember from Anthony Burgess), I swing between the Augustinian and the Pelagian viewpoints. This morning, for example, the Black Dog is snapping at my heels and I struggle with negativity and pessimism. Tomorrow (or, insh'Allah, later today) the mood will lift and I shall regain my belief that we can move on from bloody revolution as the midwife of freedom.


  • Is violence ever just?
    I prefer to ask, "Is violence always wrong?" I can only respond to your frame with IDK.

    But with my question I can say NO! & feel conviction when I do.
    b@eze

  • vinlynvinlyn Veteran
    news is poison
    too simplistic

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