This is meant to be an ethical debate about the use of violence for achieving political or social justice goals. It can include discussion of current events as well as historical cases. As per the GWJ Code of Conduct, this thread is not about advocating violence.
I’m creating this thread as an offshoot of the George Floyd protest thread. Several posters mentioned how the Tulsa Massacre in the 1920s helped reshape America for ill, with the suggestion that using similar methods today could result in a good outcome for PoC in America.
Its a good question that I think is worth it’s own thread.
Let me first state that my default position is that life is sacred and violence should only be used as a last resort in self defense. I’ve seen too many instances both in my own military career and as an amateur historian where mindless violence solved nothing.
But I’m willing to admit I may be wrong on this. The Haitian Revolution and Civil War were both incredibly violent but ended slavery. The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the march of fascism and likely saved millions of lives. Saying that Martin Luther King Jr would have been as effective without Malcolm X as a foil is probably revisionist history.
And if we want to look at the ultimate “ends justify the means” argument, we should look at the Mongol and Roman empires. Both engaged in mass brutality and yet created peaceful and prosperous conditions within their borders. It’s said that during the reign of the Mongols, a young girl carrying a bag of gold could walk the entire Silk Road and feel perfectly safe. While I don’t think any modern person would approve of those methods, I think we can all marvel at those results.
Which leaves me to some questions I’m willing to debate.
Should violence always be a last resort, or is there a good argument to be made that’s a useful political and social tool?
Are all lives sacred, or do some lives have relative or even negative value? (I can see the argument that say Ted Bundy was a negative value life and the world is a better place now that he’s not in it).
If everything is relative, is it moral to accept these many casualties or property damage to create this or that outcome? For example, air campaigns worked great during World War 2 and Kosovo but failed to win in Vietnam.
And finally, is there something to be said for embracing revenge? If your enemy has used rape, torture, child murder, etc. does that make it more morally acceptable to engage in the same?
At any rate, I thought this might be a useful place to debate both current and historical examples of violence.