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Tolerance and Solidarity vs Enemy Images

Tolerance and Solidarity vs Enemy Images
(Coordinator Comment)

Solidarity, based on mutual understanding, is essential to the success of any revolutionary movement. As Lenin insisted, the revolutionary movement must unite the entire people on the basis of an understanding of the perspectives of all classes in the society. This requires a full appreciation and support for all the complex aspects of national culture as emphasized by Franz Fanon and Amilcar Cabral and it requires overcoming the racism used by the capitalist to divide and weaken workers' movements.

But can one expect revolutionaries to tolerate their oppressors, those whom they seek to overthrow, those who counter the revolution with every violent means possible? This is an important question because enemy images are central to the culture of war, and the overcoming of enemy images is central to the culture of peace

There has never been a war without an "enemy" while in the culture of peace "enemy images" are transcended and superseded by "understanding, tolerance and solidarity among all peoples and cultures" This is the basis on which the United Nations adopted the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace in 1999, including Action Area 14. (a)-(i) on understanding, tolerance and solidarity.

How can revolutionaries avoid having enemies? The answer to this can be found in the practice of nonviolence as developed by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr and as expressed in nonviolent movements such as those in South Africa and the Philippines.

As Gandhi always insisted, we must have no enemies, but only opponents whom we need to "wean from error by patience and sympathy." As he said, we must distinguish between a person and their actions: "'Hate the sin and not the sinner' ... It is quite proper to resist and attack a system, but to resist and attack its author is tantamount to resisting and attacking oneself. For we are all tarred with the same brush, and are children of one and the same Creator."

Martin Luther King, Jr put it this way: The "nonviolent resister [is] constantly seeking to persuade his opponent that he is wrong ... [he] does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding ... [and] to awaken a sense of moral shame in the opponent ... The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community, while the aftermath of violence is tragic bitterness ... attack is directed against forces of evil rather than against persons who happen to be doing the evil ... We are out to defeat injustice and not white persons who may be unjust."

Through the practice of nonviolence, both Gandhi and King were able to neutralize some opponents and turn others into allies in such a way as greatly strengthen the movements they were leading for independence from colonialism in India and for civil rights in America. They proved that the refusal to have enemies is a powerful revolutionary tactic.

The principles of nonviolence were used successfully in South Africa to achieve revolutionary change without demonizing the enemy and with minimal bloodshed. As a result, the people of South Africa were able to obtain justice with reconciliation. A national process of conflict resolution was undertaken. And as Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu has written, "When we look around us at some of the conflict areas of the world, it becomes increasingly clear that there is not much of a future for them without forgiveness, without reconciliation. God has blessed us richly so that we might be a blessing to others. Quite improbably, we as South Africans have become a beacon of hope to others locked in deadly conflict that peace, that a just resolution, is possible. If it could happen in South Africa, then it can certainly happen anywhere else."

Although the revolutionary experiences in India, South Africa and the civil rights movement in the United States were not able to replace capitalism and its culture of war, they broke new ground in showing that revolutionary change is possible without resort to enemy images. The results of these experiences give the revolutionaries of the 21st Century an advantage over Marx, Engels and Lenin, who had no such experiences to study and learn from. It is from this vantage point that one can go back and reinterpret the great revolutionary documents of the 19th and early 20th centuries that saw no option except to label the capitalists as enemies to be destroyed: the Communist Manifesto, the tract by Engels of Anti-Duhring, Lenin's State and Revolution, and the writings of Mao Tse-Tung.

To borrow the language from Gandhi, revolutionaries should hate the sin and not the sinner; attack the system, but not its authors. Or paraphrasing King: attack the forces of evil rather than the persons who happen to be doing the evil; defeat injustice and not persons. As Gandhi would say, Conquer your opponents with love; convert your enemies into friends.

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game administrator Jun. 13 2019,18:22
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