The practice of violence, like all action, changes the world, but the most probable change is a more violent world.
In 2007, in the aftermath of Nandigram, I wrote that violence had become the most important issue we needed to debate. However, political assassination in India is the ground shared by enemies, and by mutual consent, remains unspeakable. A frank discussion would reveal our double-standards: my violence is better than your violence. And when we focus only on 'who started it', we're led into an infinite regression. In our fractured ethos, we are moved to tears by the plight of our preferred victims, but impervious to the suffering of others.
Class society is held together by the threat and reality of violence—it is the very grammar of exploitation, and it tends to break free of institutional constraints, to overtake the end for which it is a means, and become a force in itself. That is why bands of warriors are the most...