Revolutionary "morality"

Matt Davidson afn02065 at
Thu Jun 8 13:30:07 MDT 1995

John D. Walker comments:
>On Wed, 7 Jun 1995, Matt Davidson wrote:
>> If I may offer up a slogan from my RCYB days: "It's Right to Rebel!"
>> Violence by the people against the system and its enforcers is always
>> "justified."  The only question is whether or not it's smart from a
>> strategic standpoint.  I really don't see how we can separate any "moral"
>> question from the political (and ultimately, military) issue here.
>Not sure I take your meaning here -- first you say that anti-system
>violence is justified, and then you say we can't separate any moral
>question from the "political" (I take it you mean strategic) question.
>But it sounds to me as if you _have_ separated off the moral question,
>and answered it!

Point well taken.  Violence by the system against the people is omnipresent
and unceasing.  Violent reactions against that violence are inevitable.  We
shouldn't, it seems to me, spend too much time handwringing over whether
that counter-violence is "right" or not.  Rather, we should address whether
or not in a given specific instance it advances the revolution (broadly
speaking, including oppressed people getting a sense of their own power to
act--ideally, collectively--against those who hold us down), is harmful to
the revolution, or has no net impact.  If we feel compelled to use words
like "morality", then only those things that are overall harmful to the
revolution should be criticized as "immoral."  (Which I guess raises other
issues--are mistakes immoral or just stupid?)

>Frankly, I don't see how we can NOT separate, and address, the moral
>questions pertinent to revolution.  Don't we need to know what political
>and economic systems are just, and why, before we go about rebelling?
>How would we know, otherwise, what to rebel against and what to

I'd argue that consciousness need not preceed rebellion.  Rather, in the act
of fighting back, we come to consciousness--at which point our struggle
takes on a dialectical character, "praxis" vs. practice, etc.

>Don't we then need to know what means we may rightly employ
>in the service of rebellion -- in what circumstances, and against whom?
>(The answer may be "any means, any time, against anyone who opposes us".
>But it's still an answer to a genuine question which we need to provide, and

If we believe that we're correct, then not only can we, but we _must_ be
willing to employ any and all means.  I agree this isn't an answer to the
total question.  What constitutes "opposition," e.g.?  Telling who's on what
side can be difficult at times.  Again the question of "mistakes" vs.
"treachery" ...

What moral standards would you propose?

-- Matt D.

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