“Decolonization is always a violent phenomenon,” Frantz Fanon wrote, reflecting on the Algerian revolution.
But people should know that there is a much better sort of revolution which can bring more stability and peace for more people. The peaceful protest and the getting united of people willing to construct a more social liveable community shall be more prosperous in the long term.
In his essay “Critique of Violence,” Walter Benjamin differentiates between two types of violence, mythical and divine. In her article “Terrorists and Vampires: Fanon’s Spectral Violence of Decolonization,” Samira Kawash describes the latter as “violence against violence… that breaks through and destroys the cycle of mythical violence, the ‘cycle maintained by mythical forms of law’ (Benjamin 1986: 300).” This divine, revolutionary violence only “interrupts” and “deposes”, unlike that of the mythical state, which uses violence to impose a law that always empowers the sovereign, and crushes the population.
I believe that civil resistance, including various forms of nonviolent protest, urging for democracy, human rights and national independence in the country concerned, are able to bring about the departure of governments seen as entrenched and authoritarian.
Why Dictators Don’t Like Jokes
Revolutions are serious business. Just recall the grumpy faces of 20th-century revolutionaries like Lenin, Mao, Fidel, and Che. They could barely crack a smile. But fast-forward to the protests of the 21st century, and you see a new form of activism at work. The ominous scowls of revolutions past are replaced by humor and satire. Today’s non-violent activists are inciting a global shift in protest tactics away from anger, resentment, and rage towards a new, more incisive form of activism rooted in fun: “Laughtivism.”
Today’s protestors understand that humor offers a low-cost point of entry for ordinary citizens who don’t consider themselves particularly political, but are sick and tired of dictatorship. Make a protest fun, and people don’t want to miss out on the action.
On the other hand, acts of humor and cunning reminded the outside world that Egypt’s protestors weren’t the “angry young men” and fervent radicals that the regime would have them believe. Humor effectively communicated a positive image of the Egyptian uprising and won the sympathy of the international community.
- The Necessity of Revolutionary Violence in Egypt (jadaliyya.com)
- Policing the Neo-colony (deliberation.info)
- Violence erupts as police disperse peaceful rally in Cairo (ireport.cnn.com)
- In the cradle of Egypt’s revolution, women will no longer be silenced (egyptianstreets.com)
- A law meant to be broken (azzasedky.typepad.com)
- Final Thoughts on the Protest at UofT (reyekomra.wordpress.com)
- Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Vengeance: The Divine Violence of Django Unchained (jenrlstryke.wordpress.com)
- Review of four Arabic commentaries: what legitimacy of violence in the Syrian scenario? (mabisir.wordpress.com)
- Violence as liberation in ‘Season of Migration to the North’ and ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ (theglobalnovel.wordpress.com)
- Marry Me, Katniss: a Rebuttal to Scott Weiner’s Post-Orientalist Theory of Violence (blogtarkin.com)
Daniel Guérin (1904-1988) was a French libertarian communist who helped spark renewed interest in anarchism in the 1960s, first through his book, Anarchism: From Theory to Practice(1965), and then through his anthology of anarchist writings, Neither God Nor Master(1969; English translation published in 1998 by AK Press under the title, No Gods No Masters). I included excerpts from his 1965 essay, “Twin Brothers, Enemy Brothers,” in which Guérin discusses the continuing relevance of anarchism, in Volume Two of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, together with a selection of his writings on homosexuality and social revolution (Selections 49 & 76), and Noam Chomsky‘s Introduction to the 1970 English edition of Anarchism: From Theory to Practice. The following excerpts, translated by Paul Sharkey, are from Guérin’s 1958 essay, “Three Problems of the Revolution,” reprinted in his collection of essays, In Search of a…
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