On promoting and excusing political violence

Kevin posted this comment: “Usually I’m just taking the mickey with these things but in this case there’s serious underling themes of what is violence, is it ever justified and when, etc, so could make a good thread. And to be honest I find the thread a little bit on the scary side.”

Referring to this post be ‘weka’ at The Standard: Punching Nazis, and practicing resistance

I’ve been sitting for a few days trying to figure out what I think about punching Nazis and applauding punching Nazis, as a form of resistance. The act spoke for itself in obvious ways, and yet the glee with which the anti-fascists danced around the internet putting the video to song left me discomforted, as did the inevitable stand-off between liberals and radicals about what’s ok.

In comments Marty Mars:

If you don’t punch them they think they are allowed to do what they want including punching others.

because of all that I say punch a nazi every time

Weka:

I agree with much of that, and I can’t say I have too much of a problem with the original punch.

That some people accept, excuse  and promote physical violence against people with different political views is a concern in the New Zealand context.

McFlock:

I tend to follow the rule of thumb that sometimes, some people need to be punched – but it is never a good thing.

This is why I try to avoid socialising with tories: they might be all amiable and good company, then they tend to say or do something that makes my fists itch.

Nazis are easy to justify punching, like paedophiles. I won’t be overly sad if Rolf Harris gets thumped in prison, for example.

The trouble is that if you don’t have a pretty firm line about where and when and on whom thumping is justifiable, you end up on a slippery slope.

The interesting argument is the dividing line between “someone who disagrees with you politically” and “oh hell, no, thump that guy”. In the case of nazis it’s important to not normalise their existence. So yeah, disrupt their interviews. If that doesn’t work, hit them. And the more political power they gain despite those actions, escalate it again. Because as they’ve shown, as soon as they get a legitimate toehold they’ll expand their campaign of hate.

Yes, that’s me advocating intolerance to the point of violence. The difference is that I’m intolerant to nazi-style organisations, because they’re intolerant of every other group in society. Not one or two groups that are particularly vile, everyone. That’s pretty much what makes them nazis. They glory in violence against inferiors, and see themselves as superior to everyone else (well, overcompensate much, anyway).

Weka:

Spot on McFlock. I love it when someone else does all the thinking and then encapsulates it so I don’t have to. Thanks for that 😎

I would probably separate out paedophiles from Nazis, although that’s a different conversation I think.

But as McFlock pointed out, if you start trying to decide which political views or social behaviour esxcuses violence or not it becomes a slippery slope.

Phil makes an important point:

My concern with this matter is a little more practical: what is the measurement standard for determining if one is or is not a Nazi?

Someone like Richard Spencer, with his truly vile and hateful views of race and ethnicity, would seem to exceed any reasonable metric of judging Nazi-ness and my initial gut reaction is that he deserves to be punched, repeatedly.

But, each of us is going to have a different standard for measuring Nazi-ness. Your own post hints at it by linking John Key and proto-facist. I’ve seen plenty of people on here, and other blogs, suggest everyone from John Key and Helen Clark, to George Bush and Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and Tony Blair and Nigel Farage are Nazi’s.

I have serious concerns that some deluded individual is going to think “I think Politician X is a Nazi, therefore it’s acceptable for me to punch, or shoot, or kill them” and that’s not a political opposition/resistance we should be encouraging in any way at all.

And then in comes Sanctuary:

Waaaaaaayyyy to much over-analysis going on here. The neo-fascist got clocked on camera. Good job.

And:

Jesus, what a bunch of namby pambies! You all sound like the giddy heights of resistance for you is pointedly refusing a second biscuit from a conservative vicar.

Now look here. Right wing violence in the form of cruel infliction of poverty or the humiliation of having to grovel for a dime happens all the time. These right wing neo-fascist types are not playing at politics, unlike the completely useless bunch of pearl clutching pacifists here. Those assholes wouldn’t think twice about stomach punching your granny, or slashing her pension to nothing. I would happily scone any one of them on the noggin with a baseball bat. Assholes deserve it.

Weka responded:

What are you on about? There’s 2 people in this thread who I would consider leftish, that have said it’s wrong to punch people, and 3 RWers. Everyone else is saying there’s a context and are talking about that. Hardly a bunch of namby pamby pacifists. I wonder if you are bothering to even read what people write, or the pos, let alone think about it.

Her response is a bit bizarre, and notably doesn’t oppose the violent suggestions.

I guess it’s ok to raise discussions about whether political violence is acceptable or ever justifiable, but I would have liked to see condemnation of it from a blog moderator who warns and bans people for very trivial things.

I find  labeling people left or right or Nazi or fascist in the context of making reasons and excuses for violence, especially in a politically benign New Zealand context, more than a bit disturbing.

Violence on political or religious or ethnic or just about any grounds, especially initiating it, should simply be condemned.

25 Comments

  1. Kevin

     /  January 28, 2017

    I wonder what the reaction would be if it had been a hard-left communist who had gotten hit and the perp was a Trump-supporter.

  2. Joe Bloggs

     /  January 28, 2017

    Slavoj Žižek on punching a Nazi

    I once made a statement, maybe you know it, which cost me dearly. I said the problem with Hitler was that he wasn’t violent enough. Then I said, in the same statement, that Gandhi was more violent than Hitler. All Hitler’s violence was reactive violence. He killed millions, but the ultimate goal was basically to keep the system the way it was—German capitalism and so on—while Gandhi really wanted to bring down the British state. But his violence was symbolic: peaceful demonstrations, general strikes and so on.

  3. David Waller

     /  January 28, 2017

    “Violence on political or religious or ethnic or just about any grounds, especially initiating it, should simply be condemned.”

    It is easy in a country like NZ where we have one of the most democratic forms of government to condemn any form of politically inspired violence. But what if you live in one of the countries at the authoritarian end of the political spectrum?

    What do you do if you have no vote or the political system is otherwise corrupt? You are probably already exposed to subtle or overt political violence from the establishment.

    Were the Blacks in South Africa, the Sandinista in Nicaragua, the Russians in Tsarist Russia or any number of other instances, to be condemned for resorting to violence.

    In NZ there is little need for violence as you are able to fully participate in the political system. But we have still seen that, at times the establishment, and even the majority in NZ, have been on the wrong side of history. Examples of this are the Viet Nam war, South Africa and the Springbok tour and at home Maori rights.

    • Kevin

       /  January 28, 2017

      Revolting against an unjust regime and sucker-punching someone because you don’t agree with their views are two totally different things.

    • @ David Waller – ” … at times the establishment, and even the majority in NZ, have been on the wrong side of history. Examples of this are the Viet Nam war, South Africa and the Springbok tour and at home Maori rights.”

      A little bit of understatement there David. Significant periods of our colonial history is slightly more than “at times” IMHO … regarding Maori rights and sharing power with Maori.

      This means, to paraphrase you, “we DIDN’T/DON’T have one of the most democratic forms of government to condemn any form of politically inspired violence … in fact we had successive governments that used politically inspired violence … and therefore we WERE/ ARE one of the countries ranging some way towards the authoritarian end of the political spectrum?” [Righties please note the words “some way”]

      Okahu Bay 1951, Bastion Point 1978, Springbok Tour 1981, Waitangi protests 1984 …

      It could easily happen again …

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  January 28, 2017

    The problem with that lot is not that they are violent but that they are brainless. The former may be sometimes be excusable but the latter is intolerable.

  5. David

     /  January 28, 2017

    This is just a logical step in the road for them. They defame all there opponents as ‘Nazis’, they can then start justifying any action against them on the grounds they are ‘literally Nazis’.

    Of course they are completely blind to the fact this is literally what Nazis did with the Jews. The most amusing part is that it’s the ones they claim are Nazis that have all the firepower. They can never carry out their fantasist ‘punches’ without getting something in return.

    • Joe Bloggs

       /  January 28, 2017

      Sources please, not bloviating generalisations

      • David

         /  January 28, 2017

        Source for what exactly? Your lack of specifics is distressing and I suspect this makes you a Nazi.

  6. PDB

     /  January 28, 2017

    Ironic the left in general hate Nazi’s and Jews……..

    • David

       /  January 28, 2017

      Yeah, they did manage to label Key both a ‘Nazi’ and a ‘Jew’ didn’t they?

  7. David

     /  January 28, 2017

    Here is a video of one of those punches in action. A so-called ‘Nazi’ is punched by someone dressed in black with a mask. Note that it’s not just a punch, but a running sucker punch.

    Happens at 1:39. Question, is this what The Standard are about?

  8. Weka dug herself into a hole trying to support McFlock’s comment, and when I pushed her to clarify what she actually supported regarding the use of violence she fell back on her moderation stick.

    I asked: Here are some of McFlock’s statement’s – do you include them in “some of the best ethical commentary I’ve seen on TS for a long time’?

    I tend to follow the rule of thumb that sometimes, some people need to be punched – but it is never a good thing.

    Nazis are easy to justify punching, like paedophiles. I won’t be overly sad if Rolf Harris gets thumped in prison, for example.

    In the case of nazis it’s important to not normalise their existence. So yeah, disrupt their interviews. If that doesn’t work, hit them. And the more political power they gain despite those actions, escalate it again. Because as they’ve shown, as soon as they get a legitimate toehold they’ll expand their campaign of hate.

    Yes, that’s me advocating intolerance to the point of violence.

    Your immediate response to his whole comment was “Spot on McFlock. I love it when someone else does all the thinking and then encapsulates it so I don’t have to.”

    Given that the National party and National MPs are referred to as Nazis and Natsis do you advocate intolerance to the point of punching John Key or Bill English or any National MP or any National Party supporter (or ACT Party supporter)?

    I asked “Perhaps you can clarify.”

    Her response:

    [Certainly. You have just taken McFlock’s words selectively out of context and presented them in a new way as if he said them just like that. He didn’t. This isn’t just an out of context cut and paste though. You have literally removed important parts of his comment to alter meaning. As far as I can tell you have done this to try and make out that somehow McFlock (and then my) arguments are wrong. It also looks like a deliberate attempt to misrepresent both our views.

    I don’t know if you are stupid or disingenuous in the extreme, but most people can see that removing pieces of someone’s argument and pretending that you are quoting correctly is a pretty fucked up thing to do. I think about people on a phone reading this thread. They’re not going to bother doing the scrolling and checking to see what you done or what McFlock actually said, so would take it at face value. So it’s down to someone else to check, in this case the post author and moderator.

    3 week ban for wasting my time as a moderator doing the checking. If I ever see you doing that kind of deliberate misrepresentation of someone’s arguments again I will ban you for a much longer time.

    You then go on to refer vaguely to something someone else has said that has nothing to do with me, my views, arguments or the post, and then ask me if that vague something informs my own views around violence. It’s a bullshit question because it tries to tie someone else’s views in with my own as if I agree with them or are associated with them. I don’t and I’m not. If you want to know what I think about calling NZ politicians Nazis, I’ve already stated that elsewhere in the thread. – weka]</blockquote.
    That's her fall back way of trying to win a debate – ban the opponent.

    • Gezza

       /  January 28, 2017

      Aren’t being just a wee bit devilly going over there & poking sticks @ the wasps nest PG ? 😳
      You know what’s going to happen. You only ever seem to wind up with a one day window for posting & then it’s back to Coventry for you.

      • The thing is that it wasn’t just me pointing out the obvious, there were a number of people questioning the tacit approval of political violence.

        It suits me to only be an occasional visitor anyway.

        • Anonymous Coward

           /  January 28, 2017

          Interesting that so many can justify punching the guy, but no one has questioned wether or not he is actually a card carrying nazi. I wouldn’t call him that, but those who can justify violence have no problem with it.

        • Gezza

           /  January 28, 2017

          I rest my case. 👹

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  January 28, 2017

      I rest my case.

    • Kevin

       /  January 28, 2017

      That’s the problem with editing. Others (Weka in this case) can claim that what was edited out was important. Although I can’t see what Weka is on about. McFlock’s argument is that Nazis are so bad that punching them is ok. He mentions that we need to clear on what groups are so evil they justify violence against them but the basic argument is still the same.

      Also as far as I can tell McFlock doesn’t actually describe how we can tell groups that are so evil that violence is justified. I mean what’s the criteria? If no criteria then it’s just a subjective judgement call.

      Anyway if there’s a group of Nazis having a rally most people instead of punching the nearest one would call the police. That’s what sensible people would do.

  9. Missy

     /  January 28, 2017

    This is an interesting issue that has yet again come up in social media, blogs etc over here, especially since the comments by Madonna at the march last weekend. To my mind it shows up those on the far left once again as being hypocrites.

    Lets look at two scenarios.
    Scenario One:
    Last year during the referendum there was a lot of rhetoric about immigration from some campaigning to leave (not the official Leave campaign, but rather a high profile alternative group led by Farage). This group published a poster that suggested the UK would be invaded by millions of foreigners. Not long after this poster was published, a man with some serious mental health issues and far right extreme views killed an MP.

    Immediately those on the Remain side – and left of politics – labelled him a far right nationalist terrorist (these are the same people that label Muslim terrorists a lone wolf with mental health issues and refuse to refer to their religion – or nationality). These same people also started blaming everyone on the right and promoting Leaving the EU as being inflammatory in their language and promoting hate and violence.

    Scenario Two:
    A couple of months ago a President was elected in the US. Since then the Media, Social Media, and other outlets have been saturated with people not just speaking out against his policies and morals, but also him, his wife, and his children. Comments on Social Media have included such things as his daughter should be raped, his son will turn into a school shooter, and a hostage promoting the assassination of the then Presidet-Elect now President. Those who have supported him have been targeted for violence, ordinary voters who have been beaten up for voting for him. But the big one this week, a high profile celebrity stands in front of Millions and proclaims she has thought about blowing up the White House.

    When these people on Social Media and in the Media have been condemned for their bullying and violent language and violence it is excused and passed off as some great service to the world, because they find him and his policies vile. When the celebrity is pulled up for talking about blowing up the White House, her supporters immediately pile in saying of course she didn’t mean it, and she would never do it, it was a joke, and it was freedom of speech.

    Those two scenarios, and Weka’s (and others) comments on The Standard highlighted above show say the following to me about activists on the Left:

    1. They only believe in Freedom of Speech when it applies to them and their cause. Those they disagree with are not allowed to have Freedom to say anything they don’t like – then it becomes inflammatory hate speech.

    2. They condemn the violence of language and deed from the Right, but actively promote violence of Language and deed from the Left.

    3. They really do not have the world view they proclaim to have as many will not associate with those that have different political views. After the EU Referendum with hundreds of young Remainers reportedly broke off friendships, stopped talking to parents / siblings, broke up with boyfriends and fiancees because they had voted Leave, and just note McFlock’s comment here: ‘This is why I try to avoid socialising with tories…’ Basically those on the Left proclaim to be open and tolerant, but they are in reality closed minded and intolerant.

    4. Sometimes it seems that those on the Left don’t like to think for themselves, but prefer to have someone else do it for them, at least you could think that if you saw this comment from Weka: ‘I love it when someone else does all the thinking and then encapsulates it so I don’t have to.’ Is she suggesting that she prefers someone else to tell her how to think?

    Lastly, I found this from McFlock interesting: ‘They glory in violence against inferiors, and see themselves as superior to everyone else…’ He was talking on his view of Nazi style organisations, but what I find interesting is that there are those on the far left that act in exactly the same way. We have seen that especially in the US with the violence of those Hillary supporters who have now lashed out in violence against Trump supporters because they are inferior. It shows an incredible lack of open mindedness to not acknowledge that the Far Left have many characteristics and behaviour in common with those on the Far Right that he hates.

    That’s it from me, I will be using all my data up just on this! (one week and counting to internet).

    • Missy

       /  January 29, 2017

      To the five downvoters – I thank you for the support, it totally sucks having no internet, so that you are supporting that with your downvote is appreciated.

      Of course I am assuming that is what you don’t like about my post or you would have provided an intelligent and coherent argument disputing whatever you disagree with.

      • Gezza

         /  January 29, 2017

        T’was not I, fair damsel. I send you nothing but upticks. If you are ever wrong, I simply stay silent. I was happily married for many years. One learns stuff. There is nothing worse than an unhappy woman in the house. 🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹

        • Missy

           /  January 29, 2017

          I never would suspect you Gezza! Unless you were downticking my internet company taking so long to come and connect me! 😘

  10. Missy

     /  January 29, 2017

    An interesting article in the Telgraph today about dehumanising those we don’t agree with and how it can lead to genocide.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/27/dehumanising-opponents-first-step-genocide-right-now-every/

  11. Its an interesting conversation I suppose – but it just highlights yet again that the further you go “left” and the future you go “right” the more you circle back to the same authoritarian and repressive tactics of violence, coercion and fear. We should all condemn those tactics