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Image: Protest in Hong Kong (Studio Incendo)

When Political Resistance Turns Violent

Philosophers, historians, and political scientists contribute to a reading list on nonviolence.

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Collective resistance has often taken a brutal turn, from the uprisings of nineteenth-century abolitionists, to the Los Angeles Watts Rebellion of 1965, to recent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. In cases like these, is violence defensible?

Today’s reading list considers different perspectives on this question, from a political scientist who thinks that “uncivil disobedience” is crucial to political success, to a former “terrorist” who thinks Antifa are harming their own cause.

And what happens when nation-states appropriate the language of necessary violence? A provocative personal essay from philosopher and former IDF crew commander Oded Na’aman picks apart the claims made by Israelis that “we never choose violence, violence chooses us.”

—Rosie Gillies

Self-defense is not merely an individual right; it is collective political resistance.

Chad Kautzer

The protests have been critiqued for their rejection of classic nonviolence—but that may help explain why they has been so successful.

Candice Delmas

War is almost always a choice, a madness we go along with.

Oded Na’aman

Long before the Civil War, black abolitionists shared the consensus that violence would be necessary to end slavery.

Randal Maurice Jelks
Elizabeth Hinton

Violence and nonviolent protests were entwined forces.


A debate with Mark Bray about Antifa and the use of violence as a political tool.

Amitai Etzioni

Judith Butler talks with Brandon M. Terry about MLK, the grievability of black lives, and how to defend nonviolence today. 

Brandon M. Terry, Judith Butler

Images of police violence against African Americans have a radical heritage.

Benjamin Balthaser

Most Recent

Jodi Dean responds to Ayça Çubukçu’s “Many Speak for Palestine.”

Jodi Dean, Ayça Çubukçu

So many simply leaving.

Daniel Halpern

Is partition the only path to self-determination?

Leila Farsakh

Can the nation-state serve social justice?

Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò leads a forum with Thea Riofrancos, Mariame Kaba & Andrea Ritchie, Ishac Diwan & Bright Simons, and others. Plus Leila Farsakh on Palestinian statehood, Astra Taylor and Leah Hunt-Hendrix on a “solidarity state,” Joshua Craze on rule by militia, and much more. 

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