Rise up with violence?

Many of you will remember a song we used to do, back in 1984, called ‘Rise Up With Violence’. And you’ll probably remember that, after a few airings, in November that year it suddenly became ‘Don’t Give Up, Rise Up’. Everyone used to ask us why.

We shied away from explaining it, back then. Events were too recent and too uncomfortable, and the sentiment of the whole song remained the same – just the first line of the chorus changed to reflect a change in our thinking. Of course, we accept that there might be a defining moment of revolutionary change.  But we acknowledge that the counter-hegemonic ‘hearts and minds’ approach leading up to that, as outlined by Antonio Gramsci, is not just the most attractive, but will prove the most successful means to achieving our end.

We knew this back then, of course. But the events of November 84, when two comrades from the NUM dropped a concrete post onto a taxi carrying two miners intent on crossing the picket line and returning to work, clarified our thinking. What did it accomplish? The death of a taxi driver and the imprisoning of two comrades, all from an act of violent desperation when a hearts and minds approach didn’t seem to be working.

That re-adjusted our focus on what needed to happen for revolutionary change to come about. Individual acts of terrorism, or Boys’ Own plans for armed insurrection, are an infantile way forward.  Counter-hegemonic struggle is about the transformation of common sense. It doesn’t happen overnight. But when it does happen, the ‘violence’ is a single moment, when one class symbolically takes power from another.  By the time that moment happens, the revolution has already occurred.

Our role is to play a small part in the facilitation of that counter-hegemonic struggle.  Don’t give up: rise up.

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