At work I deal with the files of refugees
, many of whom state in their statement of evidence form
s and appeal grounds that they have never been involved in terrorist activity because they do not believe in violence, even if they were in the LTTE
or the KLA
or a local militia group.
This assertion has always puzzled me. Do the appellants literally not believe that violence exists? That all violence reported in the media is a sham? Surely not. Violence does exist. It is an integral part of the human experience, one that cannot be removed without removing our humanity. It is a physical expression of the intellect, the heart, the loins and the guts, and should be regarded as one of the greatest achievements of the human spirit, as valid a representation of humanity as any great act of reason, love, sex or cookery. As much evil has been instigated by pure thought as by violence; neither Marx nor Mao were physically violent men, indeed Mao was a weak man, a loathsome fat man with a soft body, but their writings and thoughts have proved to be a poison that corrodes humanity, pulling us back to the level of beasts.
Unreasoning, thoughtless violence burns itself out as the parties involved are either eliminated or worn down by conflict, but violence that stems from the written word - from the preservation of memory - is extended indefinitely by the printing press. The most lethal and persistent killing machine is the book, and mass propagation of such weapons is madness. Libraries stock munitions, whilst writers kill millions with their poison. If memory was eliminated from human beings at birth, or reduced to no more than ten seconds of recollection, the world would be a better place. We would live our lives in ten-second increments, for the moment, according to our primal urges. There would be no fear of death, neuroses, no grudges, and no evil.
Returning to the subject of this essay, it seems more likely that the appellant does not believe that violence produces meaningful change, but this seems equally nonsensical; all physical action, all motion involves force, if only to project one's limbs through the air, and violence is merely a matter of degree of force and cultural context. What one man might consider to be a forceful but non-violent action - clicking one's fingers, slapping a misbehaving child, or killing an adulterous wife, for example - might not be considered so lightly by another man, and change does not come about without action, coercion, persuasion and assault. The right wing uses promises of righteousness and firing squads, the left wing uses subversion and mobs. All is full of war. Art is violence. To witness a painting is to be on the receiving end of a punch to the face.
Violence solves problems. Might does make right, in the real world. No amount of moral justification or high-minded ideals will help you when you are looking at the wrong end of a gun wielded by the impure of heart. Violence eliminates uncertainly, removes dissent, excises disruptors and projects the power of the righteous. In Denmark, violence removed the threat of a right-wing regime assuming power; President Reagan's economic violence against the Soviet Empire removed, at least temporarily, the possibility of global socialism.
Violence does not require conscious intent; neither a volcano nor a lion chooses to cause chaos, yet they do. The Earth's biosphere is violent. Nature is violent. The stars and planets are created with violence. To eliminate violence would require the cessation of all biological and mechanical processes on the planet Earth, the complete extinguishment of all life and motion. We should instead celebrate violence. It is the liberator, the spirit-giver.
And of nuclear weapons, the purest expression of violence - what will future generations think of us, to have such power in our hands, and to not use it? To develop atomic weapons and then to abandon them, unused? They will think us fools. The ICBM is the pinnacle of human achievement, a device which can strike and kill any human being and destroy any man-made object in the world, from any place in the world, at the touch of a button. To keep them underground is lunacy. We should worship them, use them, own them. There is a question and North Korea knows the answer.