How Nonviolence Protects the State

How Nonviolence Protects the State

Since the civil rights era, the doctrine of nonviolence has enjoyed near-universal acceptance by the US Left. Today protest is often shaped by cooperation with state authorities—even organizers of rallies against police brutality apply for police permits, and anti-imperialists usually stop short of supporting self-defense and armed resistance. How Nonviolence Protects the State challenges the belief that nonviolence is the only way to fight for a better world. In a call bound to stir controversy and lively debate, Peter Gelderloos invites activists to consider diverse tactics, passionately arguing that exclusive nonviolence often acts to reinforce the same structures of oppression that activists seek to overthrow.

Contemporary movements for social change face plenty of difficult questions, but sometimes matters of strategy and tactics receive low priority. Many North American activists fail to scrutinize the role of nonviolence, never posing essential questions:

• Is nonviolence effective at ending systems of oppression?

• Does nonviolence intersect with white privilege and the dominance of North over South?

• How does pacifism reinforce the same power dynamic as patriarchy?

• Ultimately, does nonviolence protect the state?

Peter Gelderloos is a radical community organizer. He is the author of Consensus: A New Handbook for Grassroots Political, Social, and Environmental Groups and a contributor to Letters From Young Activists. He is the co-facilitator of a workshop on the prison system, and is also involved in independent media, copwatching, anti-oppression work, and anarchist organizing.

Title:How Nonviolence Protects the State
Edition Language:English
Format Type:

    How Nonviolence Protects the State Reviews

  • Brian

    I don't think I have ever read anything that persuaded me to change my mind about something so radically. While I wasn't an absolute pacifist going into this book, I was pretty committed to nonviolenc...

  • AJ

    This book helped confirm my nagging feeling that nonviolent activism doesn't really help further any type of real revolutionary agenda. The author does a great job explaining why this is so and what a...

  • Evelyn Woagh

    I think this book is important, and has given me many words and helped me find explanations for thoughts and ideologies in my mind which were previously abstract. Unfortunately, there are several thin...

  • Charlie

    I have a lot of conflicting thoughts about this book. On the one hand I feel like I learned a lot from it, and gained some worldview-evolving information; but on the other, the author said a few reall...

  • Kat Dixon

    Peter Gelderloos claims to advocate a variety of tactics with which to achieve social revolution and transformation, each “chosen to fit the particular situation [and:] not drawn from a preconceived...

  • Whitney

    An interesting and compelling critique of pacifism as an ideological imperative. Gelderloos shows that those who demand a strict adherence to a principle of non-violence in social movements are speaki...

  • Ganglion Bard-barbarian

    Only one charming example, out of many, of Gelderloos' astounding scholastic prowess; he lists a personal e-mail exchange with a JMU professor as his only academic citation in regards to his account o...

  • Rei Avocado

    i.....did not enjoy this book. in terms of style the author is incredibly repetitive and it annoys me. okay we get it. liberals are bad and ignorant. you are such a good activist because you dont shy ...

  • Kate

    i have a LOT of thoughts about this book. these will not be articulated well at all. i am a high school student and definitely can’t talk about these things (especially while typing in the Goodreads...

  • ?arlo

    A high rating off as hypocritical, seeing as I've just given Thoreau's Civil Disobedience four stars, but I'd still give the book four, maybe five stars.Thoreau suggested and embodied his anti-governm...