Violence never really deals with the basic evil of the situation. Violence may murder the murderer, but it doesn’t murder murder. Violence may murder the liar, but it doesn’t murder lie; it doesn’t establish truth. Violence may even murder the dishonest man, but it doesn’t murder dishonesty. Violence may go to the point of murdering the hater, but it doesn’t murder hate. It may increase hate. It is always a descending spiral leading nowhere. This is the ultimate weakness of violence: It multiplies evil and violence in the universe. It doesn’t solve any problems. — Martin Luther King

Really?

Anyone who clings to the historically untrue—and—thoroughly immoral doctrine that violence never solves anything I would advise to conjure up the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington and let them debate it. The ghost of Hitler would referee. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor; and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and their freedoms. — Robert A. Heinlein

If violence never solved anything, police would not have guns or nightsticks. Obama helped solve the problem of Moammar Gaddafi with violence, and FDR helped solve the problem — far too late — of the Holocaust and Hitler with violence. Invariably, the slogan (or its close cousin “War is not the answer”) is invoked not as a blanket exhortation against violence, but as a narrow injunction against the United States, NATO or Republican presidents from trying to solve threats of violence with violence. (source)

Some kinds of violence are absolutely evil. Other kinds of violence are unjustifiable under any circumstances. Still other kinds of violence are debatable. And some kinds of violence are definitely beyond the pale.

HOWEVER, to say in a blanket way that violence never solves anything is to say something so unsupportable that it's absolutely dizzying that otherwise intelligent people assert it in all seriousness.

Views: 709

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Actually, you do hear people say with a straight face that "Violence doesn't solve anything," and yet here they are sitting in their American, Canadian, or British living room, speaking English and not German or Japanese, safe in the knowledge that if someone goes on a rampage somewhere, armed police will come, and if necessary, put down the aggressor. We stand in the shadow of Greece, which defended itself successfully from the territorial aggression of Iran (known then as Persia). How did the Vietnamese drive France and the United States out of their country? It wasn't with passive resistance.

Any good philosopher knows that two of the best ways of disproving an assertion is to (a) find a contradiction resulting from an argument or (b) finding an exception to an argument.

"Two wrongs make a right" can be interpreted more than just one way. One way is by the strict logic of double negation, the other is by finding an exception.

If one accepts that "violence never solved anything," then if a police SWAT sniper takes out a bad guy holding a knife at the throat of a child, he has just made matters worse hasn't he? I would count that as an exception. 

Since there's an exception, "Violence never solved anything" is an overstatement. It should be "SOMETIMES violence doesn't solve something." But then the converse is also true: "Sometimes violence DOES solve something."

Finding an exception to a proposed rule means, logically, that you don't have a rule.

I see you're trying very hard to miss my point. If you took those people who say with a straight face that "violence doesn't solve anything" and present them with your example of the SWAT sniper presumably you'd find they'd agree with you (unless they were particularly bloody-minded). Their general philosophy can still be not to use violence to resolve conflicts.

"Finding an exception to a proposed rule means, logically, that you don't have a rule."

I disagree. A rule, to me, is what generally applies not what has to apply in every case. If you like, we could call it the general rule. Exceptions are consistent with this idea.

"Since there's an exception, "Violence never solved anything" is an overstatement. It should be "SOMETIMES violence doesn't solve something." But then the converse is also true: "Sometimes violence DOES solve something."

The problem is you are being too formal and treating their statement as if they were themselves philosophers making a formal argument. Who talks like that in real life?

The problem is you are being too formal and treating their statement as if they were themselves philosophers making a formal argument. Who talks like that in real life?

Pope draws in deep breath through the nose and ponders... "Mmmm, I just love the smell of formality in the morning...".

Unseen, do I use ellipses too much? They're so built in to me... those pauses.

+1

I have met many people who treat the idea that violence never solved anything to be a rule without exception. These are the people who say ridiculous things like "Suppose someone gave a war and nobody came" or who believe pie in the sky solutions like Ed.

I've always liked Nicolas Taleb's very unscientificky maxim which was:

In general be a non-violent kind laid back guy if you live in a non-hostile enviroment but always be prepared to lash out that rare time when it is truly necesary. This way you can be a good person without being a sucker.

Those people have obviously never really been in harms way.

The US as a democracy cannot sustain an unpopular war, so the statement is basically true. So yeah, eventually we don't show up. Perhaps a little "reading between the lines" is called for when you interpret statements like that.

It's a weakness of democracy. However, if the US population gets 100% behind a "justifiable" war, watch out folks, I wouldn't wanna be on the other team.

It's hard to think of a decade where the US hasn't maintained a war that was either extremely unpopular outside the US and/or became unpopular very quickly in the U.S.

When was the last popular war? Korea?

The US has not fought total war since WW2; including the small excursions that didn't require it for victory such as Grenada. Your use of the word "maintained" is telling, most of the war is spent trying to just get out and maintain our reputation.

I think if we are going to go to war it should be "total war" and total occupation for as long as it takes. Better have some dam good justification and make you intentions clear to the entire world. Fuck politics, war is war. Problem is that involvement in another country's civil war does not justify total war. Everyone knows it.

Instead we go in half-assed, with unclear goals and as it drags on the incumbent commander in chief will usually win a second term, but the next election is the peace ticket, the war is now unpopular and we scamper away losers, nothing accomplished but misery and a new generation of haters.

Anyone here think that the US would have lost in Vietnam or Iraq had the entire country mobilized and focused all conventional power to bear? Then we would have to occupy and help in rebuilding the society for decades ala Japan or the Confederate States of America.

I'm sure Unseen can find an example where two wrongs do make a right as he is the master of finding the exception to the rule and then dismissing the rule.

I'd break it down to syntax and semantics used to draw people into a discussion. Aphorisms and cliches are a common way to communicate ideas, even when they're hyperbolic. "It always rains in spring." Not absolutely true, but makes a point. MLK was making a point "absolutely dizzying that otherwise intelligent people assert in all seriousness", but it reached the hearts of a lot of people and kept them in peaceful discussion, Ghandi-style. Hence the love for MLK.

It used to bug me how people can wordsmith, drawing certain others in and then swooping down to deftly sever aphorisms (and so on) to prove a point that might at first be unseen, er... undetected. (Is that called burying the headline? Whoops, cliche! My bad.) But I think I've learned 1) how to word my thoughts with less hyperbole, and (just as important) 2) not to go apeshit over other people's hyperbole but to still try to understand what they mean. (Damn, did I just say "apeshit"? I don't even know the origin of that word!)

All human communications are always so fatally flawed! How can anyone even sleep at night?

That's all I have to say. But it's never enough.

RSS

© 2019   Created by Rebel.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service