However, there is a difference between one’s abstract ideological sympathies, on the one hand, and the strategic application of concrete tactics in struggle, on the other. The tendency by some would-be ‘ultra-leftists’ to fetishize violence and property damage in all circumstances, is highly dogmatic, counterproductive, and ultimately undemocratic in the extreme.
In this way, the proponents of ‘propaganda of the deed’ who fetishize violence and provocative confrontation as the ’end-all, be-all’, are merely expressing the inverse of the irrational, undemocratic dogmatism of those pacifists who ceaselessly preach ‘non-violence’ in even the most revolutionary of circumstances.
I am a firm believer in the importance of mass, democratic struggle. At an early stage of the development of a struggle, this may mean nothing more than a peaceful, mass march. At another stage (for instance, see Egypt’s revolution or the 1992 L.A. Rebellion), this may mean physically attacking police, reactionary businesses, or political party offices.
The question in the end is simply one of accurately assessing the current mood and desires of the mass base of the movement and figuring out what tactic at a given juncture is best suited to both express the mood of the majority, while also seeking to push things forward as far as that majority is willing to go at that moment.
It does no good if you as an individual are ready to set up barricades in the streets and commence with a revolutionary struggle for power, if the mass of people are not. In fact, it actually tends to have a counterproductive effect, inviting mass repression by the police while also arresting or even retarding the process whereby masses of people are drawn into closer contact with and affinity for the more revolutionary-minded among their ranks.
Militancy itself is neither a talisman nor a curse to the beholder. When applied at the proper moment, it can at most be a midwife to social revolution; but when applied prematurely or in the wrong place, it can often lead to a miscarriage of the struggle.