[Nicolas Walter Letter on 'non-violent fascism']

Dear Black Flag,

The term “non-violent fascism” gives rise not to great offence, as you claim, but to great amusement, and not because “fascism” is a bogey word, as you claim, but because “non-violent fascism” is a self-contradiction. Fascism involves a system of belief and behaviour which cannot be reconciled with non-violence. Has there been a fascist manifestation which does not include or imply racialism, nationalism, colonialism, oppression, dictatorship, hatred, punishment, obedience, torture, assassination, war – violence? And can you genuinely imagine a non-violent manifestation which could fit such a pattern? Surely a fascist tries to enforce fascism, whereas a non-violentist cannot possibly enforce non-violence. The people you have described as “non-violent fascists” may be pacifists whom you find unpleasant in various ways, but they are not really fascist in any way – Accusing pacifists anarchists of being “non-violent fascists” is like accusing Trotskyists, pacifists and anarchists of being “objectively pro-fascist” (which Stalinists used to do) or accusing non-pacifist anarchists of being “violent fascists” (which makes just as much sense – or nonsense) Playing with words in this manner may be fun, but it only lowers a worthwhile debate to the level of meaningless abuse.

Nicolas Walter

Amused is he? Amusement should be made of lighter stuff… Most pacifists including some so-called pacifist anarchists, hold up Gandhi’s achievement as their ideal of non-violence. It includes, as a logical sequence from Gandhi’s gentle totalitarianism, all the crimes listed in the third sentence above. 

If one takes the Labour Party pacifists (whom some Committee of 100 activists wanted to join) – many of them, clinging to “non-violence” as an ideal have had no qualms [about] some, most or even all but one of these crimes. The Quakers are a glaring example of non-violent colonialist oppressors.

But it is such cliches as “I see no way of fighting fascism but by becoming a fascist, this is the dilemma” – or “by using violence you become the same as those you are using violence against” –  that illuminate the phrase “non-violent fascist” since the issue of “violence” is the one thing the person concerned is objecting to in fascism. Many pacifist radicals accepted fascism precisely because it brought “internal tranquility” since their one criterion in the usual sense, not the all-embracing one given here) was violence.

Black Flag v.4, n3 1975-08

A response to The Nature of Non-Violent Fascism and the George Woodcock Myth. [Uploaded as supporting material for ‘Slaughter or slander? Notes on the Albert Meltzer-George Woodcock conflict’ in KSL: Bulletin of the Kate Sharpley Library No.107-108, December 2022: https://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/cjt075 ]