On Maoism and Nonviolent Communication

I read most of the book Nonviolent Communication today, and I cried several times. It helped me get back in touch with many parts of myself, and to forgive myself, and to feel much more alive than I had been feeling. I hope to keep returning to this book and the wisdom in it for the rest of my life. It is one of the best books I’ve ever read.

I advocate Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. One of the things that I mean when I say that I advocate maoism is that I advocate a certain type of war. I advocate a long war, called protracted people’s war, across almost all of the planet.

I believe there is room in the wisdom underlying nonviolent communication for the necessity of protracted people’s war in every country in the concept of “the protective use of force.” According to Rosenberg, the author of Nonviolent Communication,

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“In some situations, the opportunity for dialogue may not exist, and the use of force may be necessary to protect life or individual rights. For instance, the other party may be unwilling to communicate, or imminent danger may not allow time for communication. In these situations, we may need to resort to force. . . .

The intention behind the protective use of force is to prevent injury or injustice. . . .

When we exercise the protective use of force, we are focusing on the life or rights we want to protect without passing judgment on either the person or the behavior.”

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Class society is a self-reproducing pattern in the global human population that systematically generates circumstances that leave no time or room for nonviolent communication. To derive an understanding of the necessity for protracted people’s war in every country from this principle of the protective use of force, there are a couple of things I have in mind. These two concepts are definitely closely linked, but I also think they’re distinct.

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a. Class society systematically raises a portion of the human population to want to rule. Capitalism-imperialism has only intensified a dynamic that is now around 15,000 years old. Those who are less ready to use violence, deception, and manipulation (and other things that completely subvert nonviolent communication) to rule are pushed down the hierarchy by those who are more ready to use those things. What’s more, the lower one is in the hierarchy, the more likely one is to suffer the power being wielded by those higher up and be pushed even further down–so everyone has a very strong incentive to climb and thus to harden themselves. In this way, the structure guarantees that those making the biggest decisions–that is, those with the most power–are those who are hardest, who are most resistant to nonviolent communication. So, yes, there are those who are unwilling to communicate.

b. Class society gives the most power to people who are ideologically as far as possible from the communist mindset. For similar reasons to those in (a), those who less fully accept the precepts of capitalism are nudged aside by those who accept them more thoroughly. For this reason, those who are making the biggest decisions are also the most difficult to make allies of the people. Hard-hearted or no, willing to listen patiently or no, they are the least likely to be convinced. To put it another way, they will take the longest to convince of anyone. And yet they are the ones with both the greatest power to do violence and the greatest desire to do so to shore up capitalism. This ties in to (2), because we are talking about thwarting imminent violence.

2. The violence of capitalism-imperialism is always imminent. There is never a time when the war against the poor, against non-euro-descended people and darker-skinned people, against non-men and trans people and queer people is not being waged in some individual or collective fashion. The war that is white supremacist, patriarchal capitalism-imperialism has not let up for centuries. And in order to thwart the violence of the would-be wagers of this war, yes, there is not time to communicate with them. Not with enough of them to thwart any meaningful fraction of the violence.

The long and short of it here is that to protect humanity, to protect as many of those living as we can and to protect the future of humanity, there is no time for total nonviolence in the defeat of capitalism-imperialism. We must fight with loving hearts, but a massive, world-historic level of protective use of force is completely called for.

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