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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/25/11

How Nonviolence Protects the State

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How Nonviolence Protects the State is the title of a 2007 book by Peter Gederloo. It can be downloaded free at

As a long time activist, I have always been troubled by the militant nonviolent perspective that dominates the progressive movement in the US . In some circles, the taboo is so absolute that activists are systematically demonized for even raising the subject. I tend to get suspicious whenever I see the politically correct thought police swing into action -- especially when they embrace views that are clearly counterproductive to successful organizing (the US left, in contrast to other countries, is a shambles). An arbitrary taboo against specific topics is often a sign that your movement has been infiltrated, either by Cointelpro or left gatekeeper agents.

The systematic misrepresentation of Gandhi's and Martin Luther King's views on violence also puzzles me. Neither were militant pacifists. Gandhi clearly articulated situations in which he would advocate violence as a strategy. Whereas as Mark Kurlansky describes in 1968, King employed violence strategically in some of his marches (in which female protestors slapped cops to provoke a violent overreaction) to maximize media attention.

Likewise I have never understood the failure to distinguish between property destruction and interpersonal violence. If anything progressive organizers come down harder on activists who break shop windows (because of its greater harm to corporate interests?) than those who get into scuffles with cops or counter protestors.

Alienating the Working Class

As an organizer, however, what bothers me most is that militant nonviolence is totally alien to working class culture and creates a major stumbling block in drawing blue collar workers into the movement for change. We try to recruit working class activists by appealing to their deep resentment over the unfairness of wage exploitation and privilege. Then we outlaw their natural reaction -- to level that privilege by destroying property and looting (to reclaim what they believe is rightfully theirs) or bashing a cop or security guard who is manhandling them or standing between them and food for their kids. I have repeatedly seen blue collar activists marginalized and demonized in these debates. And yet people wonder why they are drawn to the Tea Party movement (which isn't bound by politically correct niceties) rather than the left.

Reviving the Debate

Obviously I'm extremely pleased to see Gederloo, American Indian Movement activist Ward Churchill, environmental activist Derrick Jensen and even the culture jamming group Adbusters revive the debate. In 2007 Churchill released the second edition of Pacifism as Pathology: Reflections on the Role of Armed Struggle in North America . This can also be downloaded free at

AIM activist Ward Churchill
AIM activist Ward Churchill
(Image by RAIM-Denver)
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Moreover I am unsurprised to learn that the taboo against violent protest isn't a totally spontaneous development in the American progressive movement. As in the case of alternate media outlets that refuse to report on 911 or the JFK assassination, there is increasing evidence that government-backed left gatekeeping foundations have carefully inserted themselves into roles where they dominate the dialogue around the issue of violence.

The Role of Left Gatekeeping Foundations in Promoting Nonviolence

Australian journalist and researcher Michael Barker is one of the most prolific writers about the role of CIA, Pentagon and State Department linked foundations in the nonviolent movement. The ones he has followed most closely are the National Endowment for Democracy, the US Institute for Peace, the Albert Einstein Institute, the Arlington Institute, Freedom House, the NED-funded Human Rights Watch, the International Republican Institute, and the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict (

Most of the research into these foundations focuses on their work overseas, particularly their active role in creating "color" revolutions in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. However as Barker points out, the ICNC also has major influence, via its workshops, literature and documentaries, on progressive organizing in the US .

To fully understand the role of International Center for Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) and its sister foundations in promoting a de facto taboo on violent protest in the North America, it's helpful to understand the role they have played in galvanizing the "color" revolutions in the Philippines, Eastern Europe and elsewhere now the Middle East and North Africa. According to Australian journalist and research Michael Barker (, this role (in the Philippines , Nicaragua , Chile and Haiti ) was first identified in William I. Robinson's groundbreaking 2006 book Promoting Polyarchy. "Polyarchy" is defined "low intensity democracy" -- a form of government that replaces violent coercive control with the type of ideological control (i.e. brainwashing) that Noam Chomsky describes in Manufacturing Consent. As Ward Churchill (in Pacifism as Pathology) and Peter Gederloo (in How Nonviolence Protects the State) clearly articulate, white middle class activists have very complex psychological reasons for their dogmatic attitude towards political violence. However I feel it's also important to look at the role played by the US government and the corporate elite in covertly promoting these attitudes.

In Promoting Polyarchy, Robinson describes how the CIA, the FBI and other intelligence agencies were pressured to cut back on many of their more repressive covert activities (i.e. covert assassination) as a result of Church committee reforms enacted in the 1970s. This resulted, in 1984, in the creation of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which works closely with the CIA and the US Agency for International Development (the USAID is a well-documented conduit for CIA funding), as well as other "democracy manipulating" foundations, such as US Institute for Peace, the Albert Einstein Institute, the Arlington Institute, Freedom House and the International Republican Institute. Robinson specifically outlines how these US-based "democracy manipulating organizations" orchestrated "non-violent" revolutions in the Philippines and Chile to prevent genuinely democratic governments from coming to power, as well as sabotaging democratically elected governments in Nicaragua and Haiti (where they caused the ouster of the Sandinista government and the populist priest Jean Bastion Aristide).

Since then numerous studies have furnished further examples where these organizations have infiltrated and "channeled" (i.e. co-opted) the genuine mass movements that form naturally in countries dominated by repressive dictators. The goal is to make sure they don't go too far in demanding economic rights (for example, labor rights or restrictions on foreign investment) that might be detrimental to the interests of multinational corporations. All the "color" revolutions in Eastern Europe , which also received substantial funding from George Soros' Open society Institute, have been a major disappointment owing to their failure to bring about genuine change (see

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I am a 63 year old American child and adolescent psychiatrist and political refugee in New Zealand. I have just published a young adult novel THE BATTLE FOR TOMORROW (which won a NABE Pinnacle Achievement Award) about a 16 year old girl who (more...)
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