By George Ikners
Resistir e Vencer, to resist is to win, a simple phrase from the life of Gusmao describing the struggle in Timor-Leste. Today there are various meanings attributed to the idea of resistance and struggle. In a recent article by Ramzy Baroud, Baroud discusses resistance with a remarkable degree of clarity and precision. His main point commences with the observation. “Resistance is not a band of armed men hell-bent on wreaking havoc. It is not a cell of terrorists scheming ways to detonate buildings. True resistance is a culture. It is a collective retort to oppression.”
If you combine the two approaches you realize quickly that there can never be nor has there ever been a victory without resistance and then struggle. No one handed the poor or oppressed the benefit of better working conditions on a plate. The elites who rule the planet take no heed of complaints and urgings it is only when they see the true effect of their desire for domination expressed as resistance that there is ever any movement.
The whole position revolves around what people see as the good and bad sides to resistance. After many decades of propaganda the response has become that there are acceptable forms and other unacceptable types of resistance. That of course overlooks what the people who are resisting actually think their own position is and not what western ideals of any type say the position is or should be.
Baroud deals with this when he says,” Understanding the real nature of resistance, however, is not easy. No newsbyte could be thorough enough to explain why people, as a people, resist. Even if such an arduous task was possible, the news might not want to convey it, as it would directly clash with mainstream interpretations of violence and non-violent resistance. The Afghanistan story must remain committed to the same language: al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Lebanon must be represented in terms of a menacing Iran-backed Hizbullah. Palestine’s Hamas must be forever shown as a militant group sworn to the destruction of the Jewish state. Any attempt at offering an alternative reading is tantamount to sympathizing with terrorists and justifying violence.
The deliberate conflation and misuse of terminology has made it almost impossible to understand, and thus to actually resolve bloody conflicts.”
What has been instilled by the media and politicians acting on behalf of the elite is that first there must be an ‘evil’ enemy. If there isn’t an enemy of that type the task is to invent one and give it the relevant persona. Anyone in that group then assumes the mantle of evil and those opposed have the saintly task of preserving the rights of all.
What is really being preserved are the advantages and domination of the elites, the ordinary people are then offered as the sacrifice to this goal. From the economic point of view the process is completed when the group in control uses the money, assets and lives of the majority to secure victory for themselves.
In Baroud’s view what happens is that,”… certain ideas are perpetuated: suicide bombings bad, non-violent resistance good; Hamas rockets bad, slingshots good; armed resistance bad, vigils in front of Red Cross offices good. Many activists will quote Martin Luther King Jr., but not Malcolm X. They will infuse a selective understanding of Gandhi, but never of Guevara. This supposedly ‘strategic’ discourse has robbed many of what could be a precious understanding of resistance – as both concept and culture.”
With these weapons at their disposal those who rule the planet continue a campaign of distortion, deceit and lies against anyone foolish enough to resist their advances to greatness. Effectively the elites want these people to become the road kill on their highway to happiness.
What Baroud offers as a further explanation is that,” By resistance as a culture, I am referencing Edward Said’s elucidation of “culture (as) a way of fighting against extinction and obliteration.” When cultures resist, they don’t scheme and play politics. Nor do they sadistically brutalize. Their decisions as to whether to engage in armed struggle or to employ non-violent methods, whether to target civilians or not, whether to conspire with foreign elements or not are all purely strategic. They are hardly of direct relevance to the concept or resistance itself. Mixing between the two suggests is manipulative or plain ignorant.
If resistance is “the action of opposing something that you disapprove or disagree with”, then a culture of resistance is what occurs when an entire culture reaches this collective decision to oppose that disagreeable element – often a foreign occupation. The decision is not a calculated one. It is engendered through a long process in which self-awareness, self-assertion, tradition, collective experiences, symbols and many more factors interact in specific ways”
This is a well written article by Baroud and does deserve to be read if you wish to get an idea of what others think and feel about resistance. The touching part is the way he deals with children when he says that,” In Gaza, Palestine, while the media speaks endlessly of rockets and Israeli security, and debates who is really responsible for holding Palestinians in the strip hostage, no heed is paid to the little children living in tents by the ruins of homes they lost in the latest Israeli onslaught. These kids participate in the same culture of resistance that Gaza has witnessed over the course of six decades. In their notebooks they draw fighters with guns, kids with slingshots, women with flags, as well as menacing Israeli tanks and warplanes, graves dotted with the word ‘martyr’, and destroyed homes. Throughout, the word ‘victory’ is persistently used.
For every adult killed there is at least one child created by the oppression who will carry on, what happens and how it happens is really a matter for the oppressors the aggressors and those seeking domination. It is their quest for power that is the moving force to the resistance. It must be their powers of conciliation and recognition of their past behaviour before even one eye can be turned to the future.
– George Ikners have been a practising Criminal Defence Barrister in Sydney Australia for the past 21 years. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: ikners.com.