Militancy Through Suggestion – The Subtle Advocacy of Violence

The Subtle Advocacy of Violence
Guest post by Rich K.

The videos at UMKC and UMSL have revealed a pattern of political extremism to some on the right, and to those on the left been merely a matter of academic discourse.

Lenin said that instead of listening to his beloved Beethoven, because he didn’t want to live in his current society,

“…all too often I cannot listen to music. It works on one’s nerves. One would rather babble nonsense, and caress the heads of people who live in a dirt hell and who nevertheless can create such beauty. But today one should not caress anyone’s heads – one’s hand would be bitten off. One must beat heads, beat unmercifully – although ideally we are against all violence.”

It’s an interesting quote because it demonstrates several values, some of which are obviously conflicting.


It embraces violence as a political tactic to be used when appropriate. It demonstrates a desire to use radical means in order to transform society.

Words have power, they have primary meanings and alternative meanings. They carry weight. Even tone and diction can speak volumes.

It is without even the smallest acknowledgment of irony that Judy Ancel complains about alleged “death threats” sent to her. Setting aside the validity of such threats, one wonders which professors the bullies who threaten Ancel had that taught them that violence was a political tactic, to be used when appropriate.

Certainly there is no place for violence, or violent rhetoric, in politics. That much should be agreed upon, acknowledged. Judy Ancel should acknowledge and admit that her actions in approvingly citing to previous violent radicals, her use of violent rhetoric, the militancy she preached in her class, are all outside the bounds of normal decency.

There is mutual respect and recognition possible only when someone is able to admit their mistakes. By arrogantly and pridefully retreating into abstractions like “academic freedom” Judy seeks to distract from the central point being discussed: that violence is never an appropriate “pedagogical explanation” to students, and it’s never an appropriate political tactic.

Others can try to protect Judy, seeing this through the jaded lens of partisan politics, thinking that defending Democrats is synonymous with defending Professors extolling Communism and preaching violence. These people are confused in thinking that this dispute is ideological. Rather, it’s cultural, it represents a group of people who want to live their lives and work for positive social change in peaceful non-violent ways whether they are conservative or liberal, Republicans or Democrats. On the other side are the radicals who are impatient with the slow pace of social change, and advocate such changes “by any means necessary.”

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