This I believe

We are all still barbarians who resort to force and violence to settle our doubts, difficulties, and troubles. Violence is the method of ignorance, the weapon of the weak. The strong of heart and brain need no violence, for they are irresistible in their consciousness of being right. The further we get away from primitive man and the hatchet age, the less recourse we shall have to force and violence. The more enlightened man will become, the less he will employ compulsion and coercion. The really civilized man will divest himself of all fear and authority. He will rise from the dust and stand erect: he will bow to no tsar either in heaven or on earth. He will become fully human when he will scorn to rule and refuse to be ruled. He will be truly free only when there shall be no more masters.

— Alexander Berkman, What Is Communist Anarchism?

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About Charles Davis

A writer and producer with whose work has aired on television and radio and been published by outlets such as Al Jazeera, The Intercept, The Nation and The New Republic.
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5 Responses to This I believe

  1. jcapan says:

    Did my freshman research paper on Berkman & Goldman's deporation, so I have trememendous respect for him and this passage in particular. Sadly, some 20 years later, I tilt towards this view as the more realistic:“There’s no such thing as life without bloodshed. I think the notion that the species can be improved in some way, that everyone could live in harmony, is a really dangerous idea. Those who are afflicted with this notion are the first ones to give up their souls, their freedom. Your desire that it be that way will enslave you and make your life vacuous.” –Cormac McCarthy

  2. jcapan says:

    Also known as a deportation

  3. Oh Tarzie says:

    I find myself somewhere between Berkman and McCarthy. I think that life can be improved, but not without violence. I think non-violent philosophies more than anything fortify the monopoly the state has on violence, which can't be a good thing, in addition to putting activists like Rachel Corrie in harms way. It's why criminals like Obama love Gandhi and Christ so much.Non-violence is for suckers.

  4. ergo says:

    I agree with this:"It is not the state which recapitulates the viciousness of man in his state of nature, but man who recapitulates the depredations of the the state."http://whoisioz.blogspot.com/2011/08/northern-blights.htmlBerkman seems in line with this. The McCarthy quote doesn't strike me as necessarily inconsistent either.

  5. Berkman has it backwards. Barbarians – which is to say, pre-agricultural, pre-class societies – were far less violent than the civilized people who slaughtered them and stole their land. Violence and tyranny isn't rooted in human nature, and it's not "the method of ignorance," either – humans lived for hundreds of thousands of years without kings, presidents, bosses, or masters of any kind. It's not the "really civilized man" who frees himself of tyranny – the civilized man invented tyranny. If there are going to be free people in the future, they're going to look like free people in the past: the uncivilized barbarians.

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