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?

2 comments:

Nico Niveo Solón. said...

If you look at history you will see that all not only all societies but the social progress achieved once societies were created were related directly or stemmed from violence. This is inherently true for the American Revolution, the Latin American Revolutions. and if we go all the way back to the age where the roots of our modern philosophical and pyschological understanding were born, Rome was a prime example of violence leading to a new society that created many social advances. Also another point being made by Marx, is that where there is scarcity there is conflict, and that when there is abundance there is less conflict. By understanding this we can understand that VIOLENCE doesn't always take the form of physical violence but can take place within the conflict of contradiction, where by even ideas violently clash against each other when a thesis battles an anti-thesis and eventually creates an antithesis whereby a new structure is created out of the destruction of the contradictions of the old. This is a process Marx identified when detailing Dialectical Materialism. These ideas directly relate to a natural phenomena called the negation of the negation, whereby every thing is in constant motion and constantly facing contradictory conditions that lead to construction, while at the same time recreating themselves.

HbdW said...

It is simply not true that all change in progress is based on violence. If that were so, we would live each day in struggle and violence. But most changes in society take place in a peaceful way, also political changes. And not all major revolutions in society are violent revolutions. Think of the revolutions caused by progress in science. I mentioned a few political revolutions in my blog, and also the unification of Europe is something that takes plays in a non-violent way now. I think that you confuse conflict and violence. Conflicts happen and will always take place. But conflicts need not be solved by violence, as daily life shows. There are many other ways for solving them. If we want to avoid violence, we need to look for functional equivalents of violence (cf. Gene Sharp), and as some present political changes have shown, that's certainly possible