“Decolonization is always a violent phenomenon… . Decolonization, which sets out to change the order of the world, is, obviously, a programme of complete disorder… . In the colonies it is the policeman and the soldier who are the official, instituted go-betweens… . Non Violence is an attempt to settle the colonial problem around a green baize table… Compromise is very important in the phenomenon of decolonization, for it is very far from being a simple one…”
— Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth
“They would do well to read Fanon; for he shows clearly that this irrepressible violence is neither sound and fury, nor the resurrection of savage instincts, nor even the effect of resentment: it is man re-creating himself. I think we understood this truth at one time, but we have forgotten it — that no gentleness can efface the marks of violence; only violence itself can destroy them.
“The native cures himself of colonial neurosis by thrusting out the settler through force of arms. When his rage boils over, he rediscovers his lost innocence and he comes to know himself in that he himself creates his self. Far removed from his war, we consider it as a triumph of barbarism; but of its own volition it achieves, slowly but surely, the emancipation of the rebel, for bit by bit it destroys in him and around him the colonial gloom. Once begun, it is a war that gives no quarter. You may fear or be feared; that is to say, abandon yourself to the disassociations of a sham existence or conquer your birthright of unity. When the peasant takes a gun in his hands, the old myths grow dim and the prohibitions are one by one forgotten. The rebel’s weapon is the proof of his humanity.”
— Jean-Paul Sartre, Preface to The Wretched of the Earth
Not understanding, not even wishing to see, the depth of rage against domination poses a serious anthropological problem. After all, how can political leaders envision and order, military planners design and implement, and civilian citizens vote for and support unleashing massive violence against complete strangers, and then stand back with indignation and wonder, “why does the world hate us?” How does it become “mainstream” to reject any hint of a discussion of the “root causes of 9-11” as nothing more than leftist babble (or worse: terrorist apologia)? How does history get reduced to the shortest time-scale possible to produce the most convenient self-justification imaginable? How could reasonable and intelligent human beings expect “shock and awe” to result in their being greeted as liberators in Iraq, and when that fails to materialize, wonder aloud with mouths agape, “Is it a cultural misunderstanding? Did we make some mistakes? Maybe it’s something about our hand gestures?” What accounts for that degree of numb insensitivity and how it gets mass produced and institutionalized, funded as science even?
If violence destroys and dehumanizes, is that not an absolute “fact”? Can violence ever be “relative”? Many will justify recourse to violence as an act of spontaneous self-defense — and some will not, including those who have acted very violently in the most unreflexive, unplanned, self-defense only to find themselves deeply sickened by the consquences of their response. On what bases does one comprehend the counter-violence of the oppressed as liberating, as creative, as re-humanizing?
When do certain acts, practices, and consequences get labeled as “violence” and what are the “weapons”? Is not all opposition necessarily destructive at some level, and if destruction is not violent, then what is violence? Why do some forms of opposition, protest, of pushing back against impositions and oppression, get labeled as creative and productive, while others are intellectually decimated as barbaric inversions, “more of the same”? (Gimme Culture put up a beautiful video of a young boy’s interview with John Lennon on some of these very questions. The conclusion there appears to be: violence reinforces injustice, violence tells the oppressor that his mode is the right one.)
I do not pretend to have satisfactory answers, and I hardly wish to produce a “lecture” at this hour. This is meant to preface three highly charged music videos below, including one so pugnacious that a collaborator strongly recommended that I not link to it. I will start with that one first, and hopefully hear back from some of you with your opinions on the messages of these videos.
“THAT HATE AMERIKKKA BEAT”
It’s kind of Shubel Morgan at Proletarian Productions to take requests, and produce a video with that special “hate Amerikkka beat” right out front, and kind to increase the “agitation ratio” in this video that revels in pounding imperial domination and capitalist inequality. This is electronic Maoism, and it is totally uncompromising. There is only one kind of American, and that is the Amerikkkan, and it is good to hate Amerikkka:
BOB DYLAN, “MASTERS OF WAR”
Listen to the words sung by Bob Dylan about American “masters of war”:
And I hope that you die
And your death’ll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand over your grave
‘Til I’m sure that you’re dead.
THE CAT EMPIRE “ON THE ATTACK”
Their weapons are their instruments they say, killing opponents with an argument. Laughing, creative, vibrant, alive, and more than just a hint of Caribbean influences. Winning battles in dancehalls; the armory contains imagination, symbols, songs; nobody dies, only attitudes, and allies are won as minds are changed, and if more people were like their raving audiences, there would be less room for spreading lies to justify war.
Vote for the video whose message you favour: