How often do you hear someone here talking about the need for violent revolution, about how Bush should be strung up by his heels, about how Cheney should face his own birdshot?

Not very often, true.  Good for us.  But occasionally, and that means still too often.

Today, again, I heard some brave talk from people about taking it to the streets, about the need for liberals to stockpile guns -- the kind of wishful thinking about the efficacy of force that one usually hears coming from the Right.  And I got into an argument about it, as I often do.

My feeling is: go talk about it somewhere else.  Not here.  More after the jump.

I can't say that I'm unalterably opposed to violence --  that includes sabotage, by the way -- in all possible situations that the U.S. might ever face.  If Bush canceled the 2008 elections and declared himself President for Life, and the political system seemed incapable of removing him, maybe then.  But while the political system still has signs of life, it seems stupid to posture about taking a gamble that the Left would likely lose.  (We don't have the guns, nor the glee in using them, with which our opponents are "blessed.")

But that's not why I'm as opposed to talking about the use of violence on DKos as some are about conspiracy theories.  It is because calls for violence are one of the oldest tricks in the book for agents provocateurs.

There are a lot of people here older than me who can talk about their experiences in the 60s with infiltration of their non-violent political groups by law enfocement (I should put both of those words in scare quotes) groups.  Mine starts in the mid-70s, and I still could not tell you today who were the real infiltrators.  (Some people claim to be able to spot them, but I've never seen those claims tested.)  But I do know that there were often a small number of people who wanted us to go trash things, to go hurt people, based on some incoherent and inexplicable theory that this would somehow help our cause.

Other people with more such experience than mine report that those people were the agents provocateur.  They were trying to provoke us to take actions that would justify a police crackdown, because they were afraid of what we might accomplish.

As this site becomes ever more prominent, it's a given that people will try to do the same here.  While some calls for Bush's execution might not quite run afoul of federal laws against threatening the life of the President, I agree with my fellow attorneys who have said that that is not the sort of issue that is best adjudicated while one sits in prison awaiting the outcome.  And, I don't like DKos associated with (or attracting recommends for) that sort of bluster.

You say you want a revolution?  Well, you know, we all want to change the world.  Don't make it harder for those of us to do so non-violently (though perhaps including civil disobedience, which is another matter), by making this a place where your fingers type out promissary notes of violence that your ass can't honor.  Because when I see that my first assumption is: there's an agent provocateur.

So go plan, if you must, somewhere else where you don't drag the rest of us into it.  And if you don't know what the Reichstag Fire was, you might want to look it up and see how politics really works.

Originally posted to Major Danby on Fri Jun 30, 2006 at 02:23 PM PDT.


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