No doubt, violence can play a role in revolutionary change. And, I would guess that confrontational politics whether violent or non-violent is ordinarily an indispensable part of such change. But I doubt that violence can be effective in bringing about such change in the absence of massive support. Without that support, violence is typically counterproductive. I would guess that the violence of the Black Panther Party (as opposed to other of its activities) and the Weathermen did more to hurt the cause of change than to help it.
It is in that context that I read this morning’s news that allegedly five clueless youngsters were arrested for plotting to blow up an Ohio bridge in an effort to advance the cause of the Occupy movement which they thought is not violent enough.
Societies for the most part rely on younger people to participate in demonstrations. Too often, however, when revolutionary change does not come, a splinter group will turn to violence that is ineffective and counterproductive. It is hard to see how blowing up a bridge in this context would have been helpful. What did the clueless five expect ? A frenzied epidemic of copycat revolutionary activity leading to overthrow of the government? Really? Or did they just need an outlet for their anger?
I have no idea. I do think that we need to be humble enough to recognize that we personally may not bring about revolutionary change. We need to be patient enough to recognize that our actions are designed for the long haul. And we need to be mature enough to recognize that random acts of violence make it harder to promote serious change.