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Steve Shiffrin

Im looking forward to it and I am sorry about the need to grade
papers. Definitely the worst part of the job. By the way, in the
many bibliographies you have produced, is there one on the
possibilities of progressive change? If so, I would love to see it.

Patrick S. O'Donnell

Not that anyone is eagerly awaiting the post, but it now appears it will be at least several days before I get around to writing anything as I have to grade "term papers" at this point....

Patrick S. O'Donnell

Steve, you broached two of the topics I hope to address, not so much as a response to (or in disagreement with) what you wrote but more to fill out the questions and topics raised by your post and which I hope our readers will find of interest. I doubt I know more about all of this than you do, it's just fresh on my mind of late having recently attended a memorial conference on the Port Huron Statement and prompted to think afresh about the radical politics and countercultural movements of the 1960s: not only the seeds planted during that time, some of which have germinated and come to fruition, but also the historical lessons we might glean from this period. Well, back to work. I hope to have something to post in a day or two.
Best wishes,

Steve Shiffrin

Thanks for the comment. Even assuming they are anarchists as the
Journal reports, I do not disagree with your characterization of the
anarchistic tradition. Moreover, unlike the Weathermen for whom I do
not see much mitigation except that they are responding to an unjust
system, the facts surrounding the Black Panther Party are themselves
complicated (raising questions whether armed self defense against
the police was generally needed in the black community). I am quite
sure you know more about this than I do and I look forward to what
you have to say.

Patrick S. O'Donnell


I hope to have a few things to say about this topic anon, but for now I want to note how the tradition of anarchism has, alas, and unfairly, been associated with the resort to violence, owing to some well-known historical incidents and events in which anarchists were the responsible parties or played leading roles in clear acts of violence to persons (and the destruction of property). Unfortunately, it's not a fair characterization of the tradition, and incidents like the latest one (assuming these are in fact self-described anarchists), as well as recent demonstrations in this country and elsewhere (e.g., in Greece) in which a comparatively small number of anarchists have used violence, only serves to entrench that association and stereotype. Indeed, compared to their brother and sisters on the Left of socialist and especially communist suasion, anarchists have generally been nonviolent.

Again, I'll speak later to this "resort to violence," in particular with regard to the two cases you cite, namely, the Weathermen and the Black Panther Party. Questions of motive, intent (i.e., of moral psychology), ethics, strategy, tactics, ideology, philosophy, and so forth from the vantage point of the subjects or agents who opt for violence as well as the "objective" circumstances, conditions, situations, even histories (so to speak) invoked to rationalize or justify this violence, might be viewed as interdependent factors and variables of greater or lesser intensity or power worthy of scrutiny and assessment for all concerned parties: both for those of us with a professed or principled commitment to nonviolence, and for those who believe in some degree or another in the efficacy or utility of disciminate and proportional or even indiscriminate violence (e.g., terrorism) to achieve various purposes or ends.

Clark West

Thanks, Steve, for pointing this out. Existential resentment is a scary beast, and humility, among other spiritual gifts, is much needed.

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