Correspondence from Bob Irwin in Issue 7 of the US libertarian marxist journal. Undated but published late 1978/early 1979.
In response to your request for feedback, I would like to limit myself to one point regarding Paul Mattick's remarks on violence and nonviolence [Interview, Root & Branch 5]. When Mattick states (on p. 35) that the bourgeoisie "does not allow the workers to choose between non-violent and violent methods of class struggle", I think he expresses a common but mistaken opinion long ago refuted by the historical development of methods of struggle. Out of the growing literature on nonviolent struggle, I need only refer to Gene Sharp's The Politics of Nonviolent Action (Boston: Porter Sargent, 1973), which in over 800 pages of well researched text establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that nonviolent action is a technique of struggle capable of winning victories against the violence of state and bourgeoisie, and that these methods have been resorted to frequently, not only with principled nonviolent leadership, but also innumerable times in the spontaneous activity of working people.
There is certainly room for debate on the role of nonviolent campaigns in the revolutionary movement and on the feasibility of a nonviolent strategy for revolution. I and my comrades in Movement for a New Society look forward to increasing discussion of these issues in libertarian publications; but, it is essential that such debate be informed.
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