William C. Anderson: The violence we’re used to and the violence we need

The state maintains its oppressive systems through violence disguised as law, and only through counterviolence can we dismantle those systems

Prism | July 8, 2022

“Remind them that the sword still hangs upon the wall and the heart still beats within the man, and that that sword will be unsheathed again, if necessary, in defense of your rights.” – Lucy Parsons

In the everyday struggle to sustain ourselves amid the constant upsurge of state assaults, we always encounter the question of violence. People wrestle with numerous ideas about what it is and isn’t. The debate about what constitutes violence is a violent one itself. Because ultimately, the terms of that debate are dictated by a ruling class of people who decide what violence is acceptable or unacceptable. People protesting the regressive decisions of an unelected Supreme Court body or the latest police killing are portrayed as uncivil and dangerous, but the policies that kill those uprising are all too normal. 

Much of the violence we’re used to being inflicted on us is codified in what’s called: the law. As a settler-colonial project, the U.S. uses the law to uphold the arrangements of white supremacy and capitalism that dictate the oft-accepted oppressive norms of society. Legality is the framework used to secure perpetual injustice under the umbrella of one of the most accepted atrocities we face: state violence. Therefore, every time injustice occurs we have to look at what structures and organizes these cyclical conditions. 

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