The Value of Great Anger, Hate and Other Negative Emotions

Anger

Here are some of the Tweets from last night, and this morning, after the verdict in the trial of Daniel Holtzclaw, the police officer in Oklahoma who raped thirteen Black women:

“I feel violent watching this. He really doesn’t believe he did anything wrong”

“That motherfucker had the nerve to cry.”

“stop posting courtroom pics of this cryin ass fa[k]e ass piece a shit ass”

“Happy fucking birthday you sick piece of shit.” [12/10 was Holtzclaw’s birthday]

“To hell with Daniel Holtzclaw, and his tears.”

“Fuck yes. Rot asshole. Rot.”

“Looking at this piece of shit and I want to strangle him with my bare hands”

“Holtzclaw crying, & I wanna beat his ass even more”

“I have thought of a wide variety of ways to beat #DanielHoltzclaw’s face into a pulp… *deep sigh*”

These Tweets don’t necessarily reflect hate.  And perhaps “great anger” isn’t a good way to put it either– for it’s a normal reaction to be angry at a rapist.  But describing “hate” and “great anger” as negative emotions is not to say that it’s a negative thing to feel these emotions, but quite the opposite: sometimes it’s a positive thing to feel a negative emotion.  A very positive thing.

One can say that these Tweets express negative emotions if one contrasts them with expressions of cheerful, carefree, pleasant, or joyful emotions.  Emotions just are. Judgments about how emotions are related to specific behavior are connected to the attitudes of the individual and the society toward this behavior.  But an emotion on its own simply is.  If negative emotions lacked value then people wouldn’t feel them so frequently– only monsters or very sick individuals would feel negative emotions.  Yet it’s clear that people feel negative emotions like great anger, and even hate, fairly regularly– that is, whenever their situation calls for such a reaction.  And this was the situation last night when people on Twitter were reacting to the verdict in the trial of the rapist Daniel Holtzclaw.

Suppose the opposite reaction to this situation had occurred?  Suppose the reaction of people on Twitter had been one of mildness, great love for Holtzclaw, or mere indifference?  What this positive reaction would have reflected was a lack of love for the thirteen Black women who were raped by Holtzclaw.  A mild, unfeeling reaction to the news of Holtzclaw’s conviction by people on Twitter would have reflected a mild indifference toward Black women.  However, the people who love Black women are the people who hate Holtzclaw– or, at the very least, feel tremendously violent, and full of disgust and great anger, when they see him.  To direct more positive emotion toward Holtzclaw would mean directing less positive emotion toward the Black women whom Holtzclaw heartlessly raped.

In the moments leading up to the reading of the verdict, many people on Twitter expressed feelings of being sick to their stomach, and overwhelming anxiety, and violent anger at the prospect of a verdict of “not guilty.”  As people on Twitter watched the livestreaming video of Holtzclaw entering the courtroom (which some of us could not bring ourselves to do), and saw him already weeping, their reaction was one of contempt, accompanied by feelings of violence, disgust, and what might be described as hateful anger.  After the verdict was read, there was a  general feeling of relief, and tremendous surprise that Black women would receive justice in the United States, and even joy.  Yet the sight of Officer Holtzclaw’s tears for himself, when he had raped thirteen Black women without any regard for their humanity, replaced measured joy with immeasurable rage.

This argument here states that such feelings of great rage, even hate, are good things because they reflect a passion for justice and a love for humanity.  If people don’t feel the negative things, then how can we feel the positive things?  How can we have one without the other?  Clearly, these emotions exist.  They simply are.  So they must have a purpose.  There must be a time and place for them.  Feelings of great rage, and all the hateful, stormy emotions, those enormous agitations of the human spirit which arise at the suffering of others, and at the presence of injustice and oppression in the world, are not expressions reserved for monstrous, twisted individuals– no, such individuals are only capable of weeping for themselves.  The well-adjusted, loving, kindhearted person will express extreme rage, hate, and contempt when the people whom they love are treated inhumanely and unjustly.

Hate has its place.  Hate should not control our lives and consume us.  But it’s a toxin that occurs naturally in the soul, one that must be directed outward in order for the soul to return to a state of balance and well-being.  It’s only when a soul is sick and unfeeling and incapable of absorbing these agitated feelings, these storms of hate, anger, and disgust, that this impenetrable, practically nonexistent thing, this sick soul, will express the mildest of reactions to injustice and suffering– if any reaction at all.  A soul capable of agitation, of negative movement, is a soul that can be moved to take action against an unjust system, and the monsters created by this system.

The current system (European imperialist capitalism) places great emphasis on “race relations,” and “getting along,” and a sense of “togetherness.”  But it’s a good thing when an oppressed people can love themselves so much that they hate their oppressor, and direct this negative emotion outward rather than inward.  When a system tells people to get along with (or love) the people who harm them, this hateful situation of colonial oppression is directed inward.  If human beings love themselves, and love the people who suffer from the same oppressor, they will direct their negative reactions to this oppression away from themselves, away from their people, and aim the negativity at the oppressor who is harming them.  Only the people who support such a hateful system will tell the oppressed to love their oppressor.  In fact, only people who hate the oppressed will seek to erase their negative emotions of anger and hate.  When we side with the oppressed, we hate the same things they hate, and are moved to react in the same negative way they are moved, and then we will act together— which is revolutionary, which is love.  In a system built on hate (that is, in European imperialist capitalism) love is revolutionary.

Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) said:

StokelyHate

So the argument here is that negative emotions (great rage, disgust, hate), when they are reactions to injustice and suffering (or systemic oppression: colonialism), are a good thing.  These emotions of great rage, disgust and hate, where injustice toward a colonized group is concerned, should be fed and indulged– unlike emotions where the self is concerned.  When we indulge emotions of rage and hate in our individual interests, we begin to stew in our own negativity which eats away itself.  But when we can feel great rage and hate on behalf of humanity, and direct these negative feelings outward at the source of these feelings, then we no longer will tolerate injustice and oppression.

How we deal with these negative feelings is another matter altogether.  The wish may be to abolish all prisons, for it was a hateful system which devised such an inhumane form of punishment.  The wish may be to forgive our enemies and even learn how to love them.  But first we must validate and allow to grow the negative emotions regarding their behavior, for any attempt to repress or erase these violent feelings of anger and hate will lead only to more negativity.

By validating feelings of hate, we turn them into positive forces.  We see that hate is just a thing.  “We are human beings and we have emotions.”  If we’re going to have love, we’ve got to have hate.  “If you don’t have hate, you cannot differentiate love.”

If only more people in the U.S. settler colony could feel such negative emotions, such rage and such great hate, toward rape and injustice, toward capitalist oppression, toward the entire hateful system, then we could turn these negative emotions into positive actions, and show a revolutionary love for the people.  European colonizers in particular– white people– need to learn how to feel, to feed off emotions: not when it comes to ourselves as isolated individuals, but when it comes to humanity as a whole, and the planet, our source of life.

As for Daniel Holtzclaw …

“Fuck yes. Rot asshole. Rot.”

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The Value of Great Anger, Hate and Other Negative Emotions

Terrorism Empowers the Reactionary Force of European Imperialist Capitalism

 

“Acts of sabotage are very important. It is necessary to distinguish clearly between sabotage, a revolutionary and highly effective method of warfare, and terrorism, a measure that is generally ineffective and indiscriminate in its results, since it often makes victims of innocent people and destroys a large number of lives that would be valuable to the revolution.” — Che Guevara, Guerrilla Warfare

The ongoing dialectical struggle in the world today is that of capitalism and socialism, as observed in class antagonisms between the bourgeoisie/petty bourgeoisie and the proletariat.  This is the revolutionary process by which society qualitatively transforms from capitalism to socialism: from rule by the few in the capitalist class to rule by the masses of workers.  These two opposing forces within material conditions are in constant conflict as they move in opposite directions.  A revolutionary act is any act which moves conditions toward socialism.  A reactionary act is any act which advances the material interests of capitalism.

Herbert Marcuse wrote:

“In terms of historical function, there is a difference between revolutionary and reactionary violence, between violence practiced by the oppressed and by the oppressors. In terms of ethics, both forms of violence are inhuman and evil– but since when is history made in accordance with ethical standards?”

When the people are starving, and need bread, they will rebel and kill their oppressors, whether this is right or wrong.  Morality does not determine history; history is made by evolving material conditions, and by the systems that control them.  When the oppressor has exploited the oppressed to the point where their conditions are no longer bearable, violence becomes unavoidable.

All violence is evil.  It ought to be avoided as much as possible.  However, the oppressor (European imperialist capitalism) enjoys the material gains of violence against Africans and the majority of humanity.  White power’s ongoing colonization of the working class of the world has made violence the only means of getting free from this oppression.  In the historical process, the bourgeoisie never willingly gives up its material advantage, and this makes armed struggle inevitable.

Mao Tse-tung wrote:  “Revolutions and revolutionary wars are inevitable in class society, and without them it is impossible to accomplish any leap in social development and to overthrow the reactionary ruling classes and therefore impossible for the people to win political power.”  While all violence is evil, societies inevitably make a choice about which type of violence they support: violence by the colonizing exploiter, or violent acts by the people as they rise up to stop the colonizer’s violence.

So-called terrorist attacks by ISIS and ISIL, and such attacks by individuals in the U.S. settler colony, are not revolutionary acts of violence.  Huey P. Newton said, “The only time an action is revolutionary is when the people relate to it in a revolutionary way.”  Acts of violence against “innocent people” (in Che Guevara’s words) do not move material conditions in the direction of socialism, because the masses do not relate to them in a socialist way– that is, a way that shows a movement toward freedom from oppression.  A supposedly isolated act of terrorist violence, like the attack in San Bernardino which killed fourteen innocent people, is a reactionary act of violence.  Such terrorist attacks actually empower the existing system of oppression, moving against the revolutionary force in this ongoing struggle for power.

Huey P. Newton said, “Any action which does not mobilize the community toward the goal is not a revolutionary action.”  An individual (or a couple) picking up a gun and going out to shoot a lot people is not revolutionary because only the masses can create revolution.  The people must relate to an act in a revolutionary way, one which mobilizes them to pick up the gun together and move together against the oppressor.  Otherwise, it’s simply an act of violence, and all violence is evil.  Anyone can pick up a gun and begin shooting people– the police do this every day to colonized Africans.  Huey P. Newton also said, “The gun itself is not necessarily revolutionary because the fascists carry guns, in fact they have more guns.”

So it’s important to distinguish between revolutionary violence and reactionary violence.  After the shooting in San Bernardino, dozens of police showed up on the scene, including SWAT vehicles.  This act of violence became a commercial for capitalist rule to be shown on CNN and all other white-controlled networks.  Watching these images, the people may begin to believe that the forces against the revolution– the same genocidal forces which murder African people in the U.S.– are keeping them safe.  The people will relate to the acts of terror in a reactionary way because they will turn to the existing system of power for their security, and this will consolidate and increase the force against the movement of socialist resistance.

If we objectively look at history, what we find is that the SWAT team, which originated in the Los Angeles Police Department, was first used to put down the rebellion by the Black Panther Party.  So the SWAT team, which apparently makes some people feel safe, was– in reality– formed to kill Black people.  Generally speaking, the police are enforcers of colonial rule by the white supremacist system of capitalist power, used to carry out genocide against colonized Africans in the so-called ghettos and everywhere else in the United States.  The subjective goal of the revolutionary ought to be to educate the masses about this objective reality, so they can relate to police terror in a way that consolidates and increases the force against capitalism.

A revolutionary act is one like Jonathan Jackson committed in Marin County, California on August 7, 1970, when he moved against the oppressor in order to free his brother, George Jackson, and all the “Soledad Brothers.”  Jonathan Jackson, along with three Black Panther inmates, took a judge hostage in the Marin County courthouse.  Jackson and the judge were killed in the ensuing shootout, but this act against the oppressor had a specific target and a clear objective.  Jonathan Jackson’s heroic act was one that his people could relate to in a revolutionary way.

Terrorist acts are hideous forms of violence without specific targets or clear objectives.  Following these attacks, the people look to the bourgeois government, led by President Obama, to step up its attacks on oppressed nations around the globe.  Drone attacks and bombings of civilians and hospitals appear to be justified, because they supposedly keep the “American people” safe from the “terrorists,” and this justification for more evil violence (just as hideous as the attacks by mass shooters) enhances the material advantage of the already oppressive European capitalist empire.

Mao Tse-tung famously said: “We are advocates of the abolition of war, we do not want war; but war can only be abolished through war, and in order to get rid of the gun it is necessary to take up the gun.”  This may sound too much like George W. Bush’s logic for bringing peace to the Middle East– through war.  But capitalism (and its leaders) must lie to the people at all times in order to keep expanding its power.  Unlike Bush’s lie, Mao Tse-tung was making a scientific observation: if someone is coming at you with a gun, of course you will do whatever is necessary in order to stop them.  The oppressed are simply trying to stop the oppressor, and the oppressor himself has made violence the only avenue with which to stop him.

Mao Tse-tung also said: “War, this monster of mutual slaughter among men, will be finally eliminated by the progress of human society, and in the not too distant future too. But there is only one way to eliminate it and that is to oppose war with war, to oppose counterrevolutionary war with revolutionary war, to oppose national counter-revolutionary war with national revolutionary war, and to oppose counter-revolutionary class war with revolutionary class war…. When human society advances to the point where classes and states are eliminated, there will be no more wars, counter-revolutionary or revolutionary, unjust or just; that will be the era of perpetual peace for mankind. Our study of the laws of revolutionary war springs from the desire to eliminate all wars. Herein, lies the distinction between us Communists and all the exploiting classes.”

The goal of the revolutionary, in the struggle with capitalism, is to form a “human society” in which “there will be no wars.”  The goal of the capitalist is to exploit the majority of humanity for the material enjoyment of the few.  While all violence is evil, the aims of revolutionary violence and the aims of reactionary violence are not the same.  The reactionary commits violence in order to perpetuate oppression for the benefit of the few; the revolutionary commits violence in order to end oppression for the benefit of all.

The difference between “reactionary” and “counter-revolutionary”– to my understanding– is that “reactionary” refers to any act, attitude, ideology or thought that moves in the opposite direction of the revolution.  So any person can commit a reactionary act, even a revolutionary.  All of us have internal contradictions.  Revolutionary movements have contradictions.  So there are reactionary aspects to all individuals and groups, regardless of political views.  The goal of the revolution is to eliminate as many of these reactionary elements as possible, moving against all forms of systemic oppression: racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, capitalism, all in a colonial context of national liberation (which, in turn, is in an internationalist context of global communism).

If someone or something is “counter-revolutionary” then it is actively moving to destroy the revolution.  The “American” military is a counter-revolutionary institution.  Police departments are counter-revolutionary.  The institutions and structures of European imperialist capitalism are counter-revolutionary, for they all move to destroy the force of revolutionary resistance: and, ultimately, they must be destroyed or the people will be destroyed.  Such violence cannot be avoided, if the people are to be protected from the destructive force of European imperialist capitalism.  Conversely, European imperialist capitalism cannot avoid committing violence against the revolution, because it is only through this aggression that it protects its own material interests.  This is why there is the U.S. military.  This is why there are police departments.  The function of the military and the police in history is to further the material interests of capitalist domination in any “necessary” way.  Morality is not the question.   The protection of material interests is the only question, in terms of history.

Therefore, the revolution is against counter-revolutionary forces.  The revolution is not against people– it’s against the system.  The ruling class will move to protect the system.  The ruling class of the white supremacist capitalist system has shown over and over how ruthlessly it will move to protect and expand its power.  The masses cannot get free by attempting to appeal to the conscience or morality of the rulers, for (when it comes to their material interests) they have no conscience.

Assata Shakur said: “Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.”

If the people who are oppressing knew or cared that it was wrong for them to oppress, they would stop doing it, or wouldn’t have started this oppression in the first place.  This is why violence becomes necessary– it’s why “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”  White power has committed genocide, has enslaved, lynched, bombed, and beaten, in order to grab this power; it will not let go of power without a fight, without an equal force of violence (if not the same despicable means) moving in the opposite direction.

Assata Shakur also said: “Too many people in the U.S. support death and destruction without being aware of it. They indirectly support the killing of our people without ever having to look at the corpses.”

The fact is, we support violence every day (especially white people), by the choices we make about the material benefits we enjoy.  European colonizers live on land which the current system of power stole for us through genocidal violence.  If we don’t support this “death and destruction,” why aren’t white people getting off the land of Native nations against whom we committed (and still commit) this violence?  Every day the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie choose to support violence when we live off the stolen labor and resources of Africans who work in conditions of near-slavery for our material advantage.  Every day white people choose to support violence when we do not pay reparations to colonized Africans in the United States who built up this empire on which we live.

So where is the revolution against these ongoing acts of violence committed by European imperialist capitalism for the benefit of white people?  The revolution is not the Islamic group responsible for the attack on a hotel in Mali which killed 27 people.  The revolution is not to be found in hundreds of rapes committed against Nigerian girls by the group Boko Haram, any more than it is found in the mass shootings in Oregon, Colorado, or California.  These reactionary acts of violence are the effects of European capitalist imperialism.  They are not part of the movement of revolutionary resistance against capitalism in the struggle for socialist transformation.

In order for there to be revolutionary acts– or a revolution– the masses must be organized under a revolutionary ideology against the system, just as white power is organized under capitalism against the masses.  Only the masses create revolution.  But the majority of white people in the U.S. settler colony subjectively do not want to end systemic oppression–because we benefit from it.  We say we are for peace, for nonviolence.  In reality, white people support a status quo which kills “without ever having to look at the corpses.”  European colonizers support violence against colonized peoples (here and abroad) by the existing system of power because it has become a way of life– it brings our material comfort, and allows us to sleep guilt-free in our warm beds, deep in our dreams of “American exceptionalism.”

Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) said:

“Is it not violent for a child to go to bed hungry in the richest country in the world? I think that is violent. But that type of violence is so institutionalized that it becomes a part of our way of life. Not only do we accept poverty, we even find it normal. And that again is because the oppressor makes his violence a part of the functioning society. But the violence of the oppressed becomes disruptive. It is disruptive to the ruling circles of a given society. And because it is disruptive it is therefore very easy to recognize, and therefore it becomes the target of all those who in fact do not want to change the society. What we want to do for our people, the oppressed, is to begin to legitimize violence in their minds.”

While all violence is evil, a revolutionary ideology begins to “legitimize violence” in our minds because we begin to see that it’s the only way the oppressed will get free.  If we begin to organize under this ideology of revolutionary change, then the masses can become an actual threat to the existing system of power, because the rulers will know that we will move against them.  Then the ruling class must respect the force of the masses, and this force is what prevents violence against the oppressed.  The capitalist ruling class will not respect ideas, or individuals, because these lack power.  What is respected is the organization of the masses under an ideology which systematically changes the balance of power and wealth.  As long as white power controls material conditions, the current imbalance in these material conditions will continue.  So the people must organize against the oppressor if we wish to end systemic inequality and injustice, which is only brought about through a qualitative change in conditions: that is, a change from capitalism to socialism.

If we truly oppose violence– and all forms of systemic oppression– we must move to end this violence, even if it means committing revolutionary violence.  In order to do this, the masses must be unified under a revolutionary ideology, and the masses must become an actual threat to the existing system.  So this is a fight for control of resources, a struggle against European imperialist capitalism for wealth and power, and not a fight for ideas.  It’s a fight for material things that will benefit the children and all the people, free from capitalist oppression.

AmilcarCabral

 

Terrorism Empowers the Reactionary Force of European Imperialist Capitalism

Notes on Herbert Marcuse’s “Repressive Tolerance”

MarcuseAngela

Herbert Marcuse, Repressive Tolerance (1965)

“In terms of historical function, there is a difference between revolutionary and reactionary violence, between violence practiced by the oppressed and by the oppressors. In terms of ethics, both forms of violence are inhuman and evil–but since when is history made in accordance with ethical standards?  To start applying them at the point where the oppressed rebel against the oppressors, the have-nots against the haves, is serving the cause of actual violence by weakening the protest against it.”

“Non-violence is normally not only preached to but exacted from the weak–it is a necessity rather than a virtue, and normally it does not seriously harm the case of the strong.”

“In an authoritarian system, the people do not tolerate–they suffer established policies.”

“The toleration of free discussion and the equal right of opposites was to define and clarify the different forms of dissent: their direction, content, prospect. But with the concentration of economic and political power and the integration of opposites in a society which uses technology as an instrument of domination, effective dissent is blocked where it could freely emerge; in the formation of opinion, in information and communication, in speech and assembly. Under the rule of monopolistic media–themselves the mere instruments of economic and political power–a mentality is created for which right and wrong, true and false are predefined wherever they affect the vital interests of the society.”

“Then the decision asserts itself, without any open violation of objectivity, in such things as the make-up of a newspaper (with the breaking up of vital information into bits interspersed between extraneous material, irrelevant items, relegating of some radically negative news to an obscure place), in the juxtaposition of gorgeous ads with unmitigated horrors, in the introduction and interruption of the broadcasting of facts by overwhelming commercials. The result is a neutralization of opposites, a neutralization, however, which takes place on the firm grounds of the structural limitation of tolerance and within a preformed mentality. When a magazine prints side by side a negative and a positive report on the FBI, it fulfills honestly the requirements of objectivity: however, the chances are that the positive wins because the image of the institution is deeply engraved in the mind of the people. Or, if a newscaster reports the torture and murder of civil rights workers in the same unemotional tone he uses to describe the stock market or the weather, or with the same great emotion with which he says his commercials, then such objectivity is spurious–more, it offends against humanity and truth by being calm where one should be enraged, by refraining from accusation where accusation is in the facts themselves. The tolerance expressed in such impartiality serves to minimize or even absolve prevailing intolerance and suppression. If objectivity has anything to do with truth, and if truth is more than a matter of logic and science, then this kind of objectivity is false, and this kind of tolerance inhuman. And if it is necessary to break the established universe of meaning (and the practice enclosed in this universe) in order to enable man to find out what is true and false, this deceptive impartiality would have to be abandoned.”

“… in endlessly dragging debates over the media, the stupid opinion is treated with the same respect as the intelligent one, the misinformed may talk as long as the informed, and propaganda rides along with education, truth with falsehood. This pure toleration of sense and nonsense is justified by the democratic argument that nobody, neither group nor individual, is in possession of the truth and capable of defining what is right and wrong, good and bad. Therefore, all contesting opinions must be submitted to ‘the people’ for its deliberation and choice. But I have already suggested that the democratic argument implies a necessary condition, namely, that the people must be capable of deliberating and choosing on the basis of knowledge, that they must have access to authentic information, and that, on this basis, their evaluation must be the result of autonomous thought.”

To enable [the people] to become autonomous, to find by themselves what is true and what is false for man in the existing society, they would have to be freed from the prevailing indoctrination (which is no longer recognized as indoctrination). But this means that the trend would have to be reversed: they would have to get information slanted in the opposite direction. For the facts are never given immediately and never accessible immediately; they are established, ‘mediated’ by those who made them; the truth, ‘the whole truth’ surpasses these facts and requires the rupture with their appearance. This rupture–prerequisite and token of all freedom of thought and of speech–cannot be accomplished within the established framework of abstract tolerance and spurious objectivity because these are precisely the factors which precondition the mind against the rupture.”

“The tolerance which is the life element, the token of a free society, will never be the gift of the powers that be; it can, under the prevailing conditions of tyranny by the majority, only be won in the sustained effort of radical minorities, willing to break this tyranny and to work for the emergence of a free and sovereign majority – minorities intolerant, militantly intolerant and disobedient to the rules of behavior which tolerate destruction and suppression.”

“I believe that there is a ‘natural right’ of resistance for oppressed and overpowered minorities to use extralegal means if the legal ones have proved to be inadequate. Law and order are always and everywhere the law and order which protect the established hierarchy; it is nonsensical to invoke the absolute authority of this law and this order against those who suffer from it and struggle against it–not for personal advantages and revenge, but for their share of humanity. There is no other judge over them than the constituted authorities, the police, and their own conscience. If they use violence, they do not start a new chain of violence but try to break an established one. Since they will be punished, they know the risk, and when they are willing to take it, no third person, and least of all the educator and intellectual, has the right to preach them abstention.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes on Herbert Marcuse’s “Repressive Tolerance”