December 15, 1967
ROBERT B. SILVERS: ... Under what conditions, if any, can violent action be
said to be "legitimate"? ...
NOAM CHOMSKY: My general feeling is that this kind of question can't be answered
in a meaningful way when it's abstracted from the context of particular historical
concrete circumstances. Any rational person would agree that violence is not
legitimate unless the consequences of such action are to eliminate a still greater
evil. Now there are people of course who go much further and say that one must
oppose violence in general, quite apart from any possible consequences. I think
that such a person is asserting one of two things. Either he's saying that the
resort to violence is illegitimate even if the consequences are to eliminate
a greater evil; or he's saying that under no conceivable circumstances will
the consequences ever be such as to eliminate a greater evil. The second of
these is a factual assumption and it's almost certainly false. One can easily
imagine and find circumstances in which violence does eliminate a greater evil.
As to the first, it's a kind of irreducible moral judgment that one should not
resort to violence even if it would eliminate a greater evil. And these judgments
are very hard to argue. I can only say that to me it seems like an immoral judgment.
Now there is a tendency to assume that a stand based on an absolute moral judgment
shows high principle in a way that's not shown in a stand taken on what are
disparagingly referred to as "tactical grounds." I think this is a
pretty dubious assumption. If tactics involves a calculation of the human cost
of various actions, then tactical considerations are actually the only considerations
that have a moral quality to them. So I can't accept a general and absolute
opposition to violence, only that resort to violence is illegitimate unless
the consequences are to eliminate a greater evil.
With this formulation, however, one moves from the abstract discussion to the
context of concrete historical circumstances where there are shades of gray
and obscure complex relations between means and ends and uncalculable consequences
of actions, and so on and so forth. Formulated in these terms, the advocates
of a qualified commitment to nonviolence have a pretty strong case. I think
they can claim with very much justice that in almost all real circumstances
there is a better way than resort to violence. Let me mention a couple of concrete
instances that may shed some light on this question. I read in the Times this
morning an interview with Jeanette Rankin, who was the one member of Congress
to vote against the declaration of war on December 8, 1941, to the accompaniment
of a chorus of boos and hisses. Looking back, though, we can see that the Japanese
had very real grievances, and that the United States had quite a significant
share of responsibility in those grievances back in 1941. In fact, Japan had
rather a more valid case than is customary to admit.
On November 6, 1941, just a month before Pearl Harbor, Japan had offered to
eliminate the main major factor that really led to the Pacific war, namely the
Closed Door Policy in China. But they did so with one reservation: that they
would agree to eliminate the closed door in China, which is what we'd been demanding,
only if the same principle were applied throughout the world -- that is, if
it were also applied in, say, Latin America, the British Dominions, and so forth.
Of course, this was considered too absurd to even elicit a response. And Secretary
of State Cordell Hull's answer simply requested once again that they open the
closed door in China and he didn't even deign to mention this ridiculous qualification
that they had added. Now that qualification was of the essence and had been
fought about for the preceding ten years. And it was one of the factors that
led to Pearl Harbor and the war. Of course, it was politically impossible after
Pearl Harbor for the United States not to declare war; we know how very difficult
it is to restrain from striking back, even when you do know that the guilt is
distributed. But we're talking about what is legitimate and what is moral, not
what is a natural reflex. And the advocates of nonviolence are really saying
that we should try to raise ourselves to such a cultural and moral level, both
as individuals and as a community, that we would be able to control this reflex.
Now what were the consequences of striking back and what was our own role in
creating the situation in which the violence took place? On December 8, we struck
back quite blindly, quite unthinkingly, and I'm not at all sure in retrospect
that the world is any the better for it. It's quite striking to read the dissenting
opinion at the Tokyo tribunal of the one Indian justice who was permitted to
take part, and who dissented from the entire proceedings, concluding himself
that the only acts in the Pacific War that in any way corresponded to the Nazi
atrocities were the dropping of the two atom bombs on Japanese cities. A.J.
Muste in 1941-2 predicted that we would adopt the worst features of our adversaries,
of the object of our hatred, and that we would replace Japan as a still more
ferocious conqueror. And I think it's very difficult to deny the justice of
that prediction. So even after Pearl Harbor, I would accept advocacy of nonviolence,
not as an absolute moral principle, but as conceivably justified in those particular
historical circumstances. In short, there may well have been alternatives to
the Pacific War.
A second case, which I guess is the one everybody's got on their mind, Vietnam,
raises interesting and difficult questions in this regard. I'm not going to
discuss the situation post-February 1965 but rather the earlier period. From
1954 to 1957 there was large scale terror instituted by the Saigon government,
and the reason was pretty simple, it wasn't just blind and wild. The reason
was -- this is Buttinger's theory and I think accurate -- that any democratic
institutions that would have been created would have been taken over by the
Vietminh and therefore it was impossible for the Saigon regime to allow any
sort of democratic expression. It was necessary to resort to violence and terror.
Then, in the period from 1957 to 1965, there were two sorts of violence, roughly.
There was the mass violence conducted by Saigon and the United States; Bernard
Fall estimates about 160,000 killed during that period. And there was also the
selective violence, selective terror carried out by the Viet Cong as part of
a political program which succeeded in gaining the adherence of a good part
of the population. During both of these periods, Americans tended to accept
and condone the violence that was conducted by the United States and the Saigon
government, reserving their indignation for the much more limited Viet Cong
For my part, of course, there's no question about justifying the American and
Saigon government terror. But what about the harder question, that of the terror
practiced by the National Liberation Front? Was this a legitimate political
act? The easiest reaction is to say that all violence is abhorrent, that both
sides are guilty, and to stand apart retaining one's moral purity and condemn
them both. This is the easiest response and in this case I think it's also justified.
But, for reasons that are pretty complex, there are real arguments also in favor
of the Viet Cong terror, arguments that can't be lightly dismissed, although
I don't think they're correct. One argument is that this selective terror --
killing certain officials and frightening others -- tended to save the population
from a much more extreme government terror, the continuing terror that exists
when a corrupt official can do things that are within his power in the province
that he controls.
Then there's also the second type of argument ... which I think can't be abandoned
very lightly. It's a factual question of whether such an act of violence frees
the native from his inferiority complex and permits him to enter into political
life. I myself would like to believe that it's not so. Or at the least, I'd
like to believe that nonviolent reaction could achieve the same result. But
it's not very easy to present evidence for this; one can only argue for accepting
this view on grounds of faith. And the necessity of releasing the peasant from
this role of passivity is hardly in question. We know perfectly well that, in
countries such as North Korea and South Vietnam and many others, it was necessary
to rouse the peasants to recognize that they were capable of taking over the
land. It was necessary to break the bonds of passivity that made them totally
incapable of political action. And if violence does move the peasantry to the
point where it can overcome the sort of permanent bondage of the sort that exists,
say, in the Philippines, then I think there's a pretty strong case for it.
An interesting sidelight to this issue in the Vietnam situation is a recent
Rand Corporation study which claims that the areas in which American control
is most firm are the areas in which there has been least disruption of the old
feudal social order, where the peasants are docile, where they don't raise political
issues, where they don't cause trouble and then begin to act politically --
which in Vietnam means acting as members of the Viet Cong, apparently.
There's also a third argument in favor of violence which on the surface sounds
pretty abhorrent, but I'm afraid it has a point, from the point of view of the
revolutionary guerrilla groups. That is the idea that violence, say by the Viet
Cong, will lead to reprisal, often overreprisal, and reprisal will win adherents
to the Viet Cong. Of course, that's what happens, in fact. The first year of
the massive American bombardment of South Vietnam, the number of recruits for
the Viet Cong increased enormously, tripled at least.
With all these arguments in favor of this type of violence, I still think there
are good grounds to reject it. It seems to me, from the little we know about
such matters, that a new society rises out of the actions that are taken to
form it, and the institutions and the ideology it develops are not independent
of those actions; in fact, they're heavily colored by them, they're shaped by
them in many ways. And one can expect that actions that are cynical and vicious,
whatever their intent, will inevitably condition and deface the quality of the
ends that are achieved. Now, again, in part this is just a matter of faith.
But I think there's at least some evidence that better results follow from better
For example, the detailed studies of Viet Cong success, like those of Douglas
Pike, indicate quite clearly that the basis for the success, which was enormous,
was not the selective terror, but rather the effective organization which drew
people into beneficial organizations, organizations that they entered out of
self-interest, that they to a large extent controlled, that began to interlace
and cover the entire countryside. Other studies also show that it was the attractiveness
of their programs for rural Vietnam that led to the NLF successes, which by
1965 had led in effect to their victory. I think the course of collectivization
in China and the Soviet Union can also be instructive. It's clear, I believe,
that the emphasis on the use of terror and violence in China was considerably
less than in the Soviet Union and that the success was considerably greater
in achieving a just society. And I think the most convincing example -- the
one about which not enough is known and to which not enough attention is paid
-- is the anarchist success in Spain in 1936, which was successful at least
for a year or two in developing a collective society with mass participation
and a very high degree of egalitarianism and even economic success. Its successes,
which were great, can be attributed to organization and program, not to such
violence as occurred, I believe.
Such examples seem to suggest that there is a relationship between absence
of terror and the degree of organization, meaningful programs and spontaneity,
on the one hand, and success in achieving a just society on the other. This
is a sort of Luxembourgian and anarchist conception, that a just society cannot
really be imposed on the masses of people but must arise out of their own spontaneous
efforts, guided by their own developing insight. I think that this is a valid
conception which has some support from modern history. A final case I'd like
to refer to is the anti-war movement in the United States, where I think the
argument for nonviolence is overwhelming -- so overwhelming that I don't think
I need argue it here.
A couple of days ago I was rather despairingly trying to think of something
illuminating that I might say about this subject, and I decided to turn back
to some of Tolstoy's essays on civil disobedience. I'm not sure I found anything
very deep there, but I was surprised to discover a note of optimisim that I
hadn't expected, and, since that's a kind of a rare treasure these days, I'd
like to quote a couple of remarks just to relieve the prevailing gloom. He has
an interesting essay that was written in 1897 called "The Beginning of
the End" [audience laughter] in which he points out that until recently
men could not imagine a human society without slavery. Similarly, one cannot
imagine the life of man without war. "... a hundred years have gone since
the first clear expression of the idea that mankind can live without slavery;
and there is no longer slavery in Christian nations. And there shall not pass
away another hundred years after the clear utterance of the idea that mankind
can live without war, before war shall cease to be. Very likely some form of
armed violence will remain, just as wage labor remains after the abolition of
slavery, but at least wars and armies will be abolished in the outrageous form,
so repugnant to reason and moral sense, in which they now exist.
"Signs that this time is near are many. These signs are such as the helpless
position of governments which more and more increase their armaments; the multiplication
of taxation and the discontent of the nations, the extreme degree of efficiency
with which deadly weapons are constructed, the activities of congresses and
societies of peace; but above all, the refusal of individuals to take military
service. In these refusals is the key to the solution of the question."
We live in a society which is the most aggressive in the world, and we live
under conditions of almost unparalleled freedom. We therefore have the opportunity
to eradicate a good part of the illegitimate violence that plagues our lives
and that is destroying the lives of many who are much less fortunate. I think
we have no choice whatsoever but to take up the challenge that's implicit in
this prediction of Tolstoy's. If we do not take up this challenge, we will help
to bring about a very different state of affairs which was reportedly predicted
by Einstein, who was once asked his opinion about the nature of a third world
war and replied that he had nothing to say about that matter, but that he was
quite certain that the fourth world war would be fought with clubs and stones.
ROBERT SILVERS: I think that we now will have discussion by the panelists.
HANNAH ARENDT: ... I very much agree with Mr. Chomsky's assertion that the
nature of new societies is affected by the nature of the actions that bring
them into being. And our experiences with such new societies are, of course,
by no means encouraging. It would be really fooling ourselves if we looked upon
them with enthusiastic eyes, with which I sympathize but which, I am afraid,
simply do not see the truth. As to the Viet Cong terror, we cannot possibly
agree with it, just as we couldn't agree with the terror of the National Liberation
Army in Algeria. People who did agree with this terror and were only against
the French counter-terror, of course, were applying a double standard...
...I have the impression that many people today -- at least a number of people
in the so-called New Left -- who are against our country's intervention in Vietnam
(as I am, too) would like us to interfere, only in favor of the other side.
And though I do not think this would be as horrible as what we are doing now,
I definitely think that it would be very wrong indeed...
... American political attitudes are known as "moralistic" all over
the world; in this country we seem not to be aware of the seriousness of this
reproach. Moralistic attitudes in politics tend to provide moral justifications
for crimes, quite apart from leading into pseudoidealistic enterprises which
are obviously to the detriment of the intended beneficiaries....
CONOR CRUISE O'BRIEN: ... Mr. Barrington Moore in his important book, The Social
Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy, asks a pertinent question -- one he says
he's almost afraid to answer: For which is the price heavier, the price for
violent revolution, as in China, or the price for peaceful stagnation, as in
India? And he leans rather toward the view that the price for peaceful stagnation
may in fact be higher. The question has also been raised here about the terror
used by the National Liberation Front, and by other revolutionary movements.
I think there is a distinction between the use of terror by oppressed peoples
against the oppressors and their servants, in comparison with the use of terror
by their oppressors in the interests of further oppression. I think there is
a qualitative distinction there which we have the right to make.
ROBERT SILVERS: Do you want to say something, Noam, about this?
CHOMSKY: Let me make just a couple of quick comments. Dr. Arendt takes rather
an absolutist view, that I don't share, about certain historical phenomena such
as the character of the new societies that have emerged. I don't feel that they
deserve a blanket condemnation at all. There are many things to object to in
any society. But take China, modern China; one also finds many things that are
really quite admirable. Many things, in fact, do meet the sort of Luxembourgian
conditions that apparently Dr. Arendt and I agree about. There are even better
examples than China. But I do think that China is an important example of a
new society in which very interesting positive things happened at the local
level, in which a good deal of the collectivization and communization was really
based on mass participation and took place after a level of understanding had
been reached in the peasantry that led to this next step.
Indeed, a recent article in the China Quarterly -- which is hardly a pro-Red
Chinese journal -- compares Chinese and Russian communization to the very great
credit of the Chinese communization, precisely for these reasons, pointing out
that its greater success in achieving a relatively livable and to some extent
just society was correlated with the fact that these methods involved much less
terror. This relates to a point Dr. O'Brien raised. I'm not at all convinced
that the alternatives are hard and fast, either/or, violent revolution or peaceful
stagnation. What one has to ask about a revolution is whether its success is
based on its violence; and if we look at revolutions that have taken place I
think it's not at all clear that the success has been based on the violence.
In fact to a significant extent it seems to me that the successes have been
based on the nonviolence.
Now again a blanket statement on this is not possible, but I suggest there
are elements of truth in this characterization. I'm quite convinced, as I indicated,
that, to a very considerable extent the revolution that took place in China,
after the Nationalists were defeated, was successful because of its nonviolence,
because the ground had been prepared, because people were moving to the next
stage out of a sort of necessity that was widely felt. And the anarchist revolution
in Spain, I think, is a nearly classic example of this sort of thing, where
the great success of the revolution was largely due to the very long period
of preparation -- extending over a generation, in fact -- during which the groundwork
was laid for what turned out to be a very sudden, spontaneous, and I think highly
successful revolutionary action. And, in a way, one of the most striking examples
of all is precisely the National Liberation Front. If you examine the careful
studies that have been made of NLF success, it turns out that this success was
not due to its use of violence.
Therefore I think one has to be rather cautious about accepting as absolute
the alternatives peaceful stagnation and violent revolution. There's also a
possibility of spontaneous revolution that uses both violence and nonviolent
tactics, that minimizes the use of terror except as necessary in defense. I
certainly don't think that things like the mass slaughter of landlords in China
contributed in any significant way to the revolutionary successes, just as I
don't think the slaughter of landlords in North Vietnam contributed in any respect
to the successes of the revolution there, such as they were; and in fact the
North Vietnamese agree with this judgment.
As to the NLF terror, I think Dr. Arendt and I agree in conclusion but probably
disagree on the reasons. For me, her vision is too absolutistic. I don't accept
the view that we can just condemn the NLF terror, period, because it was so
horrible. I think we really have to ask questions of comparative costs, ugly
as that may sound. And if we are going to take a moral position on this -- and
I think we should -- we have to ask both what the consequences were of using
terror and not using terror. If it were true that the consequences of not using
terror would be that the peasantry in Vietnam would continue to live in the
state of the peasantry of the Philippines, then I think the use of terror would
be justified. But, as I said before, I don't think it was the use of terror
that led to the successes that were achieved.
To turn to another point raised, it's quite true that American policy is often
accused, as Dr. Arendt said, of being moralistic, that it tries to give a facade
of legitimacy to acts that can't be legitimated. The policy of every rising
imperialism has been moralistic in exactly that sense.
For example, Japanese imperialism in East Asia a generation ago used the sort
of rhetoric that we use and it was just about as moralistic as we are. The Japanese
argued that clearly they were just building up a sphere in which their technical
know-how would be used for the benefit of the oppressed masses of Asia who were
being terrorized by fascists and bolsheviks or Western imperialists. In fact,
people like Tojo went so far as to argue that truly no one could accuse the
Japanese of being imperialistic for any crass material gain, because they were
pouring out more money for the benefit of those backward peoples than they would
ever get back in return. In truth, just about every argument that's part of
the American repertoire was used by the Japanese.
Now, of course, I'm opposed to such speciously rationalized moralistic policy
but I'm not in the least opposed to truly moral policies. And I don't see the
slightest reason why moral considerations must be left out until some final
stage is reached at which destruction is imminent. It seems to me that, particularly
in a society which is the beneficiary of both past and present violence, moral
questions should be raised at the very first point. Quite apart from whether
the West reached its present stage because of exploitation of the Third World
(so called), the rape of India, and so on and so forth, quite apart from that
issue, we should, for example, press for the proper use of the capacities that
exist in this country to alleviate the misery and backwardness of much of the
rest of the world. Toward that, we would need to organize our society properly
and organize our concepts and morals properly. That's a moral act, of course,
and I don't see the slightest reason why we should refuse to take that moral
ROBERT SILVERS: Perhaps we should give the audience a chance. Susan?
SUSAN SONTAG: ...It's personally hard for me to understand how in December
1967 in New York the discussion has at no point turned actively to the question
of whether we, in this room, and the people we know are going to be engaged
in violence. Only Mr. Chomsky in one sentence -- breathtakingly short -- said:
Of course, it goes without saying that we in the peace movement in America should
not use violent means. That's the issue I think we ought to be discussing here.
CHOMSKY: I had intended to talk about that and even have some notes about it.
I hoped that by that quote from Tolstoy I would at least imply what I felt,
namely that the real issue today is the all-importance of the refusal to participate
in violence, the refusal to fight. I think that's not only crucial for the Vietnam
War but a terribly crucial, central thing for us citizens of the world dominant
power, the world's major aggressive power -- that we use the freedoms that still
exist in it to try to build up resistance to participation in war. As to the
tactics of the peace movement, I think there are very strong reasons in favor
of nonviolence. The first reason -- which Professor Hans Morgenthau described
quite eloquently -- is that the government happens to have a monopoly of terror.
Therefore violence is simply suicidal. There is no way of combatting the terror,
the violence that the government can use in response to any use of violence
that the peace movement might adopt. And the situation is clearly getting worse.
As some of you may know, the major universities are participating quite actively
now in developing new techniques of control of demonstartions and crowds. The
Institute of Defense Analysis which is run by a consortium of ten major Eastern
universities -- Columbia, Princeton, MIT, and so on -- has been working on crowd
control, which means control of blacks, students, peace demonstrators. And the
technology for doing this is extrememly efficacious and will only improve. So
that's one reason for nonviolence.
The second reason for nonviolence, I think, is that clearly violence antagonizes
the uncommitted. And what we want to do is not antagonize them, but attract
them to, involve them in, the resistance to the War. We want to get them to
take part in active resistance to this and whatever future war the United States
will attempt to conduct. Toward this end, violence carried out by peace demonstrators
would be a serious "counterproductive" tactical error. And, as I mentioned
before, I think that these tactical considerations are not in the least to be
disparaged, but are actually the only considerations that have, ultimately,
any moral charcter to them, because they are the considerations that involve
the human costs. And I think the same is true even in the case of the confrontation
Sitting next to Mr. O'Brien, who was just beaten up by the police a couple
of days ago, I hesitate to say that one can appeal to the policeman by nonviolence.
I, myself, have not been beaten up by the police, but I was kicked around a
little bit by them a couple of weeks ago and I certainly didn't feel so optimistic
about such appeals at that moment. But despite that, I do think there have been
historical occasions when this was possible, when in fact there was defection
from the ranks of authority. And we may not be too far from that now. For example,
last summer, the paratroopers who were sent into Detroit consisted of 25 percent
Negroes and I think it was extremely stupid of the government to be willing
to take the gamble that they were going to fire their guns in one direction
and not in the opposite direction. Next summer, it may work the other way. One
technique for making it happen would be the choice of appropriate means, and
in this case I think it has to be nonviolent tactics.
Another very convincing reason for limiting oneself to nonviolent action is
that in a way that's pretty hard to characterize, immense harm is done to the
individual who participates in violent action. Almost invariably he becomes
much the worse for it. On the other hand, the participant in nonviolent action
very often does achieve a kind of tranforming effect. And I do believe we need
a moral revolution in certain sectors of American society which can then perhaps
extend to other sectors. If these people are contaminated, and if their potential
for transforming the society is destroyed, that'll be a terrible tragedy.
On the other hand, if they can reach the kind of maturity and dignity, and
depth of understanding, that was in fact reached by many of the Southern Negro
participants in the civil rights movement -- and nobody who's seen any of that
or taken part in it can doubt that it was achieved -- if that kind of moral,
human transformation can be achieved, I think it could be an enormous benefit
to the society at large, and might even save the world from destruction -- which
may otherwise not be too far off. [...]
ROBERT SILVERS: I wonder if there's anyone here who believes there is a strong
case to be made for some kind of violent role within the peace movement.
MAN IN AUDIENCE: I agree with those who say that the use of violence is usually
only successful if you have first built very strong political foundations. But
it surprises me that no one has raised the example of Cuba, where you have the
amazingly successful use of violence as a tactic by a small group to create
the political foundations.... Secondly, I'm surpised that the issue of the ghettos
has only been raised tangentially. It seems to me that the violence employed
by the people in getting mattresses and clothes and a supply of liquor for the
winter is a constructive and revealing form of violence.... A third point ...
is that it's not as if people haven't tried the democratic procedures. It's
not as if the violence in the slums and the violence in South Vietnam arose
in a vacuum.... It seems to me that until you can begin to show -- not in language
and not in theory, but in action -- that you can put an end to the war in Vietnam,
and an end to American racism, you can't condemn the violence of others who
can't wait for you....
CHOMSKY: Of course, the alternatives are not either violence or democratic
procedures. For example, draft resistance is not violence, but it is also not
the use of democratic procedures. And draft resistance, I believe, has had a
significant impact on the War in Vietnam, by imposing some kind of ceiling on
Now, you talked about the fact that the blacks in the ghettos had been provoked
to the use of violence by the failure of democratic procedures and the failure
of nonviolent action. I'm sure that's accurate. But I don't think that deals
with the question of whether they were correct in having acted upon this provocation.
Maybe they were very justified because they were provoked beyond reason, but
it still doesn't follow that that was the most politically effective and rational
reaction. Frankly, I doubt very much that it was. Somebody may be provoked to
a certain action and you can understand his being provoked to it and not make
any moral condemnation of it, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you then
go out and tell him, Yes, that was the right thing to do. Maybe it wasn't the
right thing to do.
For example, I think that large segments of the American people who understood
very little about what was going on were provoked to war on December 7, 1941
-- and from the information available to them, justly so. But, as I said previously,
I am not at all sure it was the right reaction, to go to war. In general, one
has to distinguish justification from legitimacy. Legitimacy brings into account
the consequences of the action for the people themselves and for all concerned.
So I see it as a tactical, hence, moral question whether violent reaction is
going to be more efficacious in the slums, let's say, than some forms of nonviolent
reaction that have so far not been terribly effective or, perhaps, other forms
that'll be invented. But the fact that certain things haven't workd so far doesn't
mean that some particular other tactic is necessarily legitimate politically.
It's got to be shown that that's more likely to work; in this case I don't think
that's been done.
As to the question of looting, I myself wouldn't regard that as violence. I
don't see why it's more violent for a person to go into a store and take what's
there than it is for a person who has money that was achieved by violent methods
to go into the store and take what's there by handing over the money. I think
one can give a good argument that looting isn't violence at all. In a sense,
most of us are looters, or at any rate we are benefiting from others' looting.
Now with regard to Cuba, I really don't see much historical evidence for the
Debray thesis that the successful revolutionary situation was created by the
use of violence. That's based on an assumption, which I think was probably false,
that the peasants were participating actively in the revolution in Cuba; actually,
it appears that it was largely middle-class elements. And whatever support was
given by the peasantry has not been shown to have been due to the success of
the violence. This thesis was recently tested in Bolivia with utterly disastrous
So to sum up: if violence could be shown to lead to the overthrow of lasting
suppression of human life that now obtains in vast parts of the world, that
would be a justification for violence. But this has not been shown at all, in