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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 25. 6 October 1972

[Non Violent Revolution cont.]

page 13

Well lets up that and ask the question with regard to one short term objective... What will stop the war? if any action by ordinary American citizens will... no matter what their strength in terms of numbers.

I think what will stop the war is a coming together of a large size radical movement that will use the Indo China war as a case in point of a broader analysis. Then I think the government will look at that movement and say UH, OH, as long as we keep this war going that movement is growing and we need to take away that case in point in order to stop them.

And you believe you will do that?

Yes if we get that movement started. Whether we will I don't know. Even some tremendously radical people will when a McGovern springs up, say, alright alright lets drop it and work for McGovern. There are these conditionings and it is really hard to liberate ourselves from them. There is also a kind of anti-intellectualism especially among the students that surrounds the movement that is coming through with the counter culture, and which doesn't see the importance of political analysis. We are very uncontinental in that respect because there is a long stream of that in the U.S. so it is harder than one would think to develop a radical movement.

Assuming that the government did remove the radical movement's primary case in point, how far can you see the radical movement going in attempting to put a halt to the imperialism of the American State and the Military Industrial Complex? With pressure will the government bow to the will of the movement in other areas? Can you see some degree of democratisation?

I dont think that there are going to be many reforms along the way because the U.S. is in a position viz a viz their source of raw materials and markets. The elite does not have the crumbs to give off to buy people off as it used to. That is one thing and the second thing is the ecological pressure which means that in the next decade and especially the decade after that, there will be a shrinking resource base creating a bigger problem for the establishment to co-opt new groups by handing out the goodies. I think the working class is going to suffer especially, but also groups that are not properly in the economy at all. We have a lot of people who are not engaged in productive labour at all. They are just kind of there, and they may more easily revolt, but I think that their revolt may not count for as much as a working class revolt. So I don't look for any reforms coming our way or any democratization before a massive movement has developed. I think the rhetoric will get better and better. Public relations will be marvellous and the Kennedys will be out with balloons and flowers. But I don't think that will fool people for very long. Which means I think that the U.S. will be in a revolutionary situation between 1976 and 1984 (roughly).

Does that mean revolutionary ferment with guns or your non-violent thing?

I merely mean revolutionary in the sense of struggle for fundamental change that is throwing out Capitalism and the present idea of what industrialisation means and what technology means.

Now what happens when the bosses realise the nature of that ferment? How do you see their reaction?

They already do. They are already gelling people. But they will realise it better later. I dont know what will happen. The experience of the black panthers has taught people a lot. Because they made such a botch of even rhetoric about armed struggle, and some actual practice of self defence by violence, and that just failed, and black people notice that especially. There is much less talk now of violence of armed struggle.

The Panthers tend to adopt the involvement approach now don't they? With the breakfast programmes and that sort of thing.

Right. What they haven't discovered unfortunately, is non-violent revolution as an alternative to violent revolution. It is really hard to say whether they will innovate at that point or not, but it seems to me that various things are happening, various experiments with armed struggle will be just quickly and efficiently repressed. You can't get to first base in the U.S. scene doing that. People will be forced to develop a non-violent revolutionary programme, if they are to be revolutionary at all. Granted many will give up and become cynical.

Photo of George Lakey

That is all very well as a strategy for the developed western world at present. However it is necessary, surely, to view the struggle as global. It is clear that it is unlikely that there will be a successful revolution in Australia N.Z. or the U.S. in the near future. What though of the global situation?

I think that there is a chance for a successful Revolution in the U.S. I do not think there is a chance for a successful violent revolution. But I think that there can be a revolution from within, assuming these other things..... that there will be pressures from outside, that is barring access to the raw materials and markets, plus the ecological pressure. But I don't want to downplay the importance of movements in other parts of the world I know I can sound very ethnocentric. What we went through from 1950 to 68 or so, was a lot of white radicals flogging themselves and beating themselves saying, "We aren't the people. The people are the black people, and we must only do what they say, and that produced a very flabby and sick movement. It was also a cop out because you can easily do nothing. You sit around waiting for a signal that doesn't come. So more and more people are saying that we must understand where we are coming from.... the sources of our impressions, how we fit into the larger picture. And we need to struggle from where we are. That means of course that we are in solidarity with others struggling from where they are. But of course they will have some stronger allies if we know where we are. And we are not just some romantic thing of identifying with people who we have never seen or associated with. Now some blacks have said that we are deserting them, but some others, the more radical, are saying now that we are not just on a guilt trip. They know why they are in the struggle and they are part of an effort toward solidarity.

Do you see your nonviolent Revolution as acting in solidarity with the violent revolutions of Indo China and of Latin America? Are you talking merely of the appropriate tactics for the time and place?

I am glad to talk of it in those terms but I have some other ideas that go further than that. However I am happy to see it discussed on the pragmatic level. There is no question that the revolutionary movements in the third world see us as part of the same struggle. What is important is not the posture but the leverage that really exists and can be used. We have a lot of dealing vCrith the North Vietnamese and they are interested in our methods We had a man in Pnom Penh for a year, and the N.L.F. Ambassador (this was pre P.R.G. days) said, "We dont really understand where you people are with this nonviolent thing. Could you please explain further?" and they talked for an hour and he was genuinely interested.. That does not mean that he was going to cable back to Hanoi and say 'Change your tactics.' But it was a statement of rapport and of openness.