Friday, November 12, 2010

Greens must uphold the principle of non-violence.

I notice in the commentary about the Millbank riot from Greens, there is not a clear re-statement of our commitment to non-violence.

The anger of the students is totally and fully understandable, but violence against people - which includes the police - is unacceptable for Greens. One Green commentator termed the dropping of the fire extinguisher as "inappropriate". "Inappropriate" is inappropriate here.  It was hopefully just a totally mindless act, done in the heat of the moment; I say hopefully, because if it was not mindless, it was an act of attempted murder.

Here are the Greens' principles on violence.

PFSS : (sorry, cannot find an open link to our policies, this is from my version of the PFSS, downloaded from the members' site)

PB0001/7: 7.We look for non-violent solutions to conflict situations, which take into account the interests of minorities and future generations in order to achieve lasting settlements.

And from the 10 key values of the US Green party: We promote non-violent methods to oppose practices and policies with which we disagree, and will guide our actions toward lasting personal, community and global peace.

And from the Global Greens Charter: 9.6 Will help strengthen existing peace programs and forge new programs that address all aspects of building a culture of peace. Programs will include analysis of the roots of violence, including inter-familial violence, and the issue of mutual respect between genders; and support training in non-violent conflict resolution at all levels.

In demonstrations, it is important for us to engage the police in friendly dialogue, as far as possible. The police are vital. They are disaffected themselves, or will be when the cuts start to hit them. Governments change when they discover that the police and the Army are not prepared to obey orders to attack their demonstrating fellow citizens.

Sorry to be a wet blanket, but non-violence is an important historic Green value, and we must uphold these values, especially in uncertain times.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank God! The voice of reason. I’ve been horrified by the number of Greens, who are disingenuously paying with words to justify violence. The robust and unequivocal press release from Jenny Jones seems to have been withdrawn and replaced with one condemning the police.

Glenn Vowles MSc, PGCE, BA said...

Great post Richard - I wholeheartedly agree.

Jim Jepps said...

Policy can be found here http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/

The policy document is called the PSS.

Anonymous said...

March all day if you like.

Sing songs all day

Hold up your banners

It won't change anything.

Sometimes, you just have to DO something.

And please spare me your patronising arguments - I understand them. I just happen to disagree.

Anon. PhD, BSc, PGCE if it bothers anyone.

DocRichard said...

Anon1, Glenn, and Jim - thanks. Jim - I did try again to navigate from the website, and it is indeed possible, but it is not well signposted.

Anon2: I spare you my arguments, patronising or otherwise. Hang on...no, I won't. This is a big issue. Peaceful demonstrations, agreed, can be ignored. Direct action does get media coverage, though it is generally used to diss the issue.


So sometimes we do non-violent direct action, civil disobedience, breaking the law, and taking the consequence. I am proud to have been arrested at Faslane.

Sometimes NVDA involves violence against property, as when Ploughshares smashed up a Hawk jet, and were found not guilty, on the grounds that they were preventing a greater crime.

However, NVDA and civil disobedience needs to be well thought through. This Millbank action looks far more like a crowd impulse. I can vouch for this - it is very strong.

In the end, if it really comes to a contest of violence, the State is much stronger than us. They have arms, and armour.

The Green commitment to non-violence must be reaffirmed by the Party's statements.

Anonymous said...

Poll Tax - got rid of

Miners' strike - almost won

If the miners had grovelled and the we all paid our poll tax and didn't riot, do you seriously think it would have made a difference? If the Iraq war marches had been a bit more passionate then things there might have been different...

Anon 37.1

When has peacful protest had an impact?

DocRichard said...

The trouble with peaceful protest is that we all go home for tea at 5pm.
If we come prepared for ketting, with thermos, sandwiches, sleeping bags, tents and compost toilets, we can do a Tiananmen Square. The Berlin Wall fell when people did not go home at 5pm. You may not think this was a Good Thing, but I do.

The other non-violent possibility is the General Tea Break.

Anonymous said...

Agree with you totally Richard. Thanks for posting this.

Darren Johnson AM

DocRichard said...

Thanks, Darren that means a lot to me.

BTW, Bristol Temple Meads has Keep Left signs on the stairs now, and the same applies in Paddington. Streaming of pedestrian flow makes sens, easing peoples' movements about the Great Wen.