We have to change the cultural delusions about protester violence.
We need to have a mature discussion about this.
Yes: Employing violence against fellow human beings is inherently dehumanizing.
Yes: Peaceful processes have more legitimacy than violent ones.
Yes: Black Bloc window smashing seems formulaic and pointless.
Yes: Violence can spin out of control.
Yes: The police and the other servants of the state are more powerful than we are.
Yes: Employing violence will alienate non-activist citizens and be used to de-legitimize the protest movement.
But that last thing is something that needs to be addressed. There is a reflexive response to violence AT protests, even when it is all employed by the state to crush dissent, that somehow the violence is a product of the protests themselves. Furthermore, the general public is far more tolerant of state violence (unprovoked, excessive, and illegal) than of even justifiable physical resistance on the part of protesters.
Without having to argue for violent anarchy in the streets, we should at least internalize that fighting back isn't always the end of civilization and the precursor to the blood-soaked doom of our species, and then we should try to inculcate in the minds of others the idea that violence has to be put into context. Sometimes people resisting being wrongfully arrested, resisting being carted off to being tortured and humiliated, resisting being truncheoned or pepper-sprayed, resisting being rendered voiceless with their right to peacefully protest being lawlessly crushed, are justified. Sometimes anger against massive injustice and massive crimes is justified.
I am not, at the present time, saying that the people in the Occupy camps that are being razed in the USA should have fought back. It's just that when I hear and read calls from people sympathetic or supportive of the movement saying that violence must NEVER ever be employed, and that one can ONLY win through non-violence, I disagree.
In the first place, non-violent protest has utterly failed to even slow-down the abominations that are the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Saying things like "You might lose if you employ non-violence but you will definitely lose if you employ violence" is just making an assertion. Second of all, we are protesting against massively selfish psychotic murderers. True, they have a powerful state apparatus that can obliterate most opposition. Therefore, violence applied against them is suicidal. On the other hand, if these psychotic, murderous greed-heads know that no matter what they do, the people will be as meek as lambs, then what threat are any of our legal, peaceful protests?
It could just as well be asserted: "If you use violence, you might lose, but if you always practice non-violence you will definitely lose."
Yes, it would be unfortunate if things became violent. Yes, it would most likely be crushed. But could we please abandon the notion that it would be inherently wrong and should always and everywhere be condemned? Could we dispense with the dangerous delusion that physically resisting the injustice and oppression of the state is immoral and shameful?