Monday, February 11, 2008
About a saying of Bart de Ligt
Karl Marx called violence the midwife of a new social order. In a certain sense this is not incorrect. I mean, where violence is used, change takes place, and where much violence is used big chances take place in a society. If the changes are big enough, we call it a revolution. But is it that what Marx meant to express? I think that Marx meant something different. He wanted to say that violence is the first step, or at least a first step we have to take on our road to a better society. But if we look around us, where do we find a better society that came about by a violent revolution? Most or at least the most important so-called revolutions that came about by violence did not end in a better society but in repression and a Thermidor. On the other hand, other social changes, if not many social changes, in other societies took place in a nonviolent way. I do not want to say that such changes have led to an ideal society. Far from that. As long as man is not an ideal being with an ideal character, society cannot be ideal. But many societies became better by relying on nonviolent means for opposing suppression, violence and the attack on democratic institutions. The Philippines, Serbia, Georgia are only a few examples of countries where recently nonviolent change had positive results. Rather than supporting the idea that violence is the midwife of a new society, these social changes endorse the idea of that Dutch peace activist and peace researcher Bart de Ligt (1883-1938) expressed when he said “The more violence, the less revolution”. Isn’t it just that, the violence, what made that so many so-called revolutions failed in the end?