Back in the leadup to the 2010 G20 summit, the debate around violence-nonviolence felt so important – both externally to other group or the public, and within ourselves as individuals. You couldn’t open your mouth in 2010 without talking about violence, but now that debate doesn’t feel at all relevant to my life. It doesn’t at all feel like a sticking point. The issue still comes up, but the illusory divide around it doesn’t seem real now. Maybe watching the endless series of bodies killed by police, watching all the victims as capitalism has conquered the world has made the debate seem trivial.
The violence debate was useful then for clarifying my own politics, but looking back it seems almost surreal how big it all felt, how much weight people placed on the question, how completely distant it feels from my life and organizing in the present. If I were organizing something of that scale again now and someone stuck a mic in my face and asked me about it, I think I would just laugh. “What is this, 2010?”
There are reasons it felt so important then. We were largely coming out of the peace movement, the anti-war movement, and those carried an assumption of certain nonviolent values. At the time it made such obvious sense that we could only break out of the cycle of resistance and repression by doing something radically different. And that was Gandhian nonviolence. I sincerely grappled with the question for years before feeling comfortable enough with it myself, and then a few more years went by and it feels totally irrelevant to me as an organizer, as someone still just as dedicated to resisting gross dehumanization and violence.