"Revolutionary Nonviolence"

Faculty Seminar by Mark Lance, Georgetown University.

Tue Dec 4, 2018 12:45 PM - 01:45 PM

When we consider social movements to transform society, there is a tendency to associate nonviolence with modest or reformist aspirations. Violence, it is often assumed is inherently more radical, and more suited to changing the fundamental features of our social situation. This is wrong, I believe, on both pragmatic and conceptual grounds. Pragmatically, such associations involve both a limited awareness of the range of possible nonviolent tactics, and an unreasonably optimistic assessment of the likely effects of violence. Conceptually, one can argue that a proper understanding of what it takes to bring about truly radical changes in society implies that such changes must be largely and strategically nonviolent. This is not to say that the achievement of radical change will never involve isolated acts of violence, but that the primary strategic course will be nonviolent. 

This paper is a part of a book project with Matt Meyer in which our primary aim is to build a plausible strategic vision of nonviolent revolutionary change in the contemporary world.

Mark Lance is currently a Professor in both the philosophy department and the program on justice and peace, which he co-founded. Professor Lance works mostly in the areas of philosophy of language, metaphysics and epistemology, and philosophical logic, but writes as well on pragmatism, feminism, meta-ethics, the foundations of mathematics, anarchist theory and applied issues of social justice activism. He has published over 40 articles and two books, most recently two papers on the nature of normativity. He is currently writing a book on revolutionary nonviolence, continuing his normative pragmatics project with Rebecca Kukla, finishing a paper on the nature of faith that has a lot to do with normative pragmatics and nothing to do with God, and working with The Truth Telling Project on a wide range of resources to educate and organize around White Supremacy. Outside of philosophy, Prof. Lance is an activist, organizer, and popular educator on issues of social justice, anarchism, and revolutionary nonviolence, a rower, and a chess player.