Coming out of the context of the debates within Occupy Wall Street as it spread across the United States, The Illegitimacy of Violence, the Violence of Legitimacy is an essay by Crimethinc that explores questions of “legitimacy” in social movements. What does it mean to be “legitimate”? What does it mean to be “illegitimate”? How are these terms related to the discourse around violence and non-violence? In exploring the topic, they conclude that the quest for “legitimacy” strengthens the state and weakens resistance movements.
“It’s important to have strategic debates: shifting away from the discourse of nonviolence doesn’t mean we have to endorse every single broken window as a good idea.. But it only obstructs these debates when dogmatists insist that all who do not share their goals and assumptions—not to say their class interests!—have no strategic sense. It’s also not strategic to focus on delegitimizing each other’s efforts rather than coordinating to act together where we overlap. That’s the point of affirming a diversity of tactics: to build a movement that has space for all of us, yet leaves no space for domination and silencing—a “people power” that can both expand and intensify.”