Governments and Violence

By Anarchist Prisoner Sean Swain    

Governments claim to be opposed to violence. They teach us in school that violence is bad. They pass laws to criminalize violence. They lock up people for acts of violence. But governments don’t really oppose violence at all.     Governments spend millions of dollars on bombers and tanks and aircraft carriers– all weapons of violence. Governments recruit and train soldiers to form armies and employ violence. In the United States, police carry guns and routinely shoot people–often, unarmed people–every single day. This is violence.    

Every new development from communications to “stealth” technology, from atomic power to drones, is applied first by governments to the science of inflicting violence before being used for anything else.    

Governments do not oppose violence. Governments seek to monopolize violence. Everything that government does, it relies upon a gun or a billy club, a can of pepper spray or an attack helicopter. Its every demand carries an implied threat, “or else.” Pay your taxes “or else.” Obey the laws “or else.” Keep working and shopping and dying “or else.”    

The relationship between an individual subject and the government is defined by violence. Violence is the language of governing, of controlling, of subjugating and exploiting.    

But we do not have to permit governments to maintain a monopoly on violence. We don’t have to keep doing the bleeding and the dying while they continue to do the killing.    

Our problem is not violence. Our problem is, we are killing the wrong people. When we start killing the right people, the attack helicopters and the bombers will change hands. Violence will cease to be the language of government and will become instead the language of liberation.