In Defense of Resistance

In Defense of Resistance

If anything troubles me in Michael Walzer’s thoughtful discussion of civil disobedience, it is the suggestion that those who use civil disobedience may “have to give way,” because they may be hurting the antiwar movement. I don’t believe that civil disobedience, that militant resistance, to this criminal war does hurt the struggle against the war. But it could be very hurtful if electoral politics and resistance come to be seen as alternatives, and even as antitheses, rather than as tactics to be used in an appropriate combination.

To the extent that those who engage in electoral politics come to see the resisters as enemies rather than as colleagues in a struggle, the lot of the resisters may be made harder. That in itself would be bad enough, at a time when solidarity is all-important. Worse yet, opposition to resistance may become support, however reluctant, of the status quo, as emotion of frustration and bitterness which ought properly to be directed against the status quo get directed instead against the “irresponsible” radicals, who, by failing to appreciate the possibilities of “the democratic process,” cost us the victory we might otherwise have had.

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Lima