Stop Being a Stupid Liberal

By David Boehnke

“Nonviolence” can
be the heart of an uncompromising movement as typified by Gandhi and
the struggle for Indian independence or the core method through which
those who refuse to hear are forced to see, as typified by Martin
Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement. Yet this article is not
intended to critique nonviolence or to reveal it’s limitations, but
to argue against nonviolence altogether.

Why is this? It is
because the central feature of the movements mentioned above, the
reason why they were effective, was not their nonviolence, but their
violence. Their assaults against the status quo, and its violence,
could not be ignored within their historical contexts.

A refusal to recognize
nonviolence as a specific strategy of organized violence is to fall
into a mainstream-created trap. This trap simultaneously makes space
for “legitimate” protest (long since neutralized), while
severely punishing anything that can be portrayed otherwise.

Nonviolence therefore becomes a codeword for “waste-of-time.”
This needn’t change
the dictum that our ends and means are one, that we must live the
world we wish to create; but it does mean that any effort to do so is
thoroughly removed from the current status quoƒ?Ý and liberals.

Since the 1960s, when
the supposedly beneficent government of the USSR was exposed as a
bureaucratic nightmare, communities of all types have worked towards
realizing in earnest what is promised but impossible within the
current world order.

Growing out of the
civil rights movement in the US, identity groups of all sorts sought
to reclaim their humanity and shatter the primacy of the capitalist
and the white-maled norm. At the same time, other groups around the
world sought to realize direct democracy, group autonomy, sustainable
living, to mention a few. An example of this is Europe’s Autonomen,
but epitomized by the ongoing practice of the Zapatistas in Chiapas.

This is an ongoing
struggle, local and global, as demonstrated by recent events in
Oaxaca and the decision by the Minneapolis Janitors (SEIU) to strike
if their core demands are not met today.

What we see in current
movements at their best is a recognition that there is no one way
towards the world we wish to create; that oppression must be opposed
in all its forms. Moving towards a qualitatively better world
therefore requires organizing so that no group is allowed to
consolidate sufficient wealth or power to take control over any
others. It is this type of organizing that is antithetical to the
dominating structures of the State.

It is here, in these
struggles for liberation where violence returns and destroys, where
the violence of political liberalism and State politics reemerges ƒ?”

not to mention the terrorific economic system which drives and
supports violence. And it is because of this violence that Gandhi and
Martin Luther King Jr. organized their own violence against the
powers they opposed.

Perhaps it is time for
us to again organize our violence, or better, join others that are
doing so. It is in this context that we may realize “freedom as the
practice of freedom”.

Welcome! to the seven
part series entitled Stop Being a Stupid Liberal. I hope you enjoy
it, after all, I wouldn’t be writing it without you. Unhappily not
a zealot, I am pleased that most of you find politics dispiriting. It
means you know shit when you see it and still have hatred for being
forced to act like what we say when applying for jobs, or college.

Unfortunately, this is
precisely what we enforce as appropriate, normal, even moral, when we
refuse to have a position.

As such, I am writing
these articles, and holding discussion hours in the Infoshop (in Kirk
basement across from the computer lab). For these discussions I am
listing contextual reading, though I would of course prefer talking
to you than to myself.

This week’s
discussion will be on Tuesday at 4:30pm and the requested reading
will be The Damage Done by Sophie Smith, found in last semester’s
zine (available in the Infoshop) and the first chapter of Wendy
Brown’s new book on tolerance, which can be found at:

Next week’s topic:
Against Nonprofits.