Theorizing the State with Dale Carrico September 21, 2012Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism.
The argument continues.
Are you saying that because arrests in which governments engage are sometimes violent, that this renders everything that government does violent or renders government essentially or exhaustively violent, even in those endless details and enterprises in which it obviously is not?
I’m saying arrest – like kidnapping, which it is – is always coercive and thus violent. As Robert Cover famously wrote, people walk into prison because they know they’ll be dragged or beaten into prison otherwise. I’ve experienced this personally; cops do drag you if you refuse to walk. They beat you down if do anything to present them from manhandling you. Pretending that arrest can be nonviolent only confuses the analysis of violence. It’s like saying self-defense is nonviolent. While this makes sense rhetorically in the context of nonviolence as an enshrined and inviolable principle, I don’t see how punching somebody in the face or putting bullets through their lungs can possibly count as nonviolent. That framework immediately becomes incoherent. I prefer recognizing self-defense a sanctioned form of violence.
To be honest, Summer, I am not entirely sure you are even proceeding in good faith here.
I feel the same way about you. Why not just accept that you support certain kinds of violence – counterviolence, for example – and move on? What’s the big deal? Plenty of statists and anarchists alike do this.
Can you really pretend not to know where I am likely to stand on such questions in cases where actual police brutality is taking place or where corporate plutocrats are looting common resources or exploiting everyday folks? I mean, doesn’t it matter to you that I rail against such abuses all the time?
Why do you assume we agree on what constitutes “actual police brutality”? I make no such assumption. Various statists think I should be locked and tortured. Many of those that don’t would were I not white-privileged and apparently innocuous. The conflict between anarchism and statism, while occasionally more style than substance, isn’t a joke.
That is to say, I surely disapprove many or even most of the abuses you do — as anybody who actually reads this blog with any honesty or intelligence at all would already know — but I do not use these abuses as rationalizations for infantile fantasies of how awesome lawlessness would be.
I’d say we speak almost in different languages, so it’s far from clear how much we agree about the specifics. If your dreams of nonviolent governance align with my aspirations at all, you’d recognize actually existing states – and the United States in particular – as completely unlike the ideal. That you see violence as incidental rather than fundamental to the U.S. nation-state today suggests we’re not even in the same library, much less on the same page. A democratic state that only employed violence against violence wouldn’t look anything like Obama’s America.