: Quoting one of my hero's is unfair, but you did so innocently, so I'll say in rejoinded: yes, violence may change the leaders minds -- it may persuade them to harden their stance and react with a vengeance.
And that may be for the best. Lenin's dictum:
Victory cannot be won with a vanguard alone. To throw only the vanguard into the decisive battle, before the entire class, the broad masses, have taken up a position either of direct support for the vanguard, or at least of sympathetic neutrality towards it and of precluded support for the enemy, would be, not merely foolish but criminal. Propaganda and agitation alone are not enough for an entire class, the broad masses of the working people, those oppressed by capital, to take up such a stand. For that, the masses must have their own political experience.(1)
People need to see that revolution is the only way out. People must be involved. The burlesque that is called electoral political is precisely what robs the people of political experience.
: I'm saying that their are factions within classes, and you need to identify those which are your allies, not write them off because of their income or education.
While it true that class crisis produces class traitors (such as Lenin), your ardent defense of 'gradual, incremental' reforms doesn't exactly place you securely in the camp of 'ally.' (Communists and bourgeois reformers may share interests, and even form momentary alliances, but communists never subordinate their aims to these alliances.*)
MDG: Suffice it to say that just as I don't know what goes on in the mind of a working-class person like yourself because I'm not working class, you don't know what's going on in my mind because you're not middle class.
Stoller: Sorry, that's a feeble argument. [Neither of us knows 'what's going on in the mind' of a capitalist or a corporal trained at the school of assassins---but we still reject their values.]
: I merely turned your own argument back on you, comrade.
Did you? Sure looked like a dodge to me.
Stoller: You erroneously think that capitalism could evolve from feudalism.
MDG: But it did, eventually.
Stoller: That's absolutely NOT TRUE. First, there was the American Revolution to destroy feudalismís base and then there was the American Civil War to destroy what remained of it. There was nothing 'reformist' about either situation. Revolutions, like wars, occur ONLY because reforms are not possible.
: I didn't say "reform," I said "evolve."
Fine---but that doesn't change my response in the least.
Let me rephrase: Revolutions, like wars, occur ONLY because evolutions are not possible. Do you really think anyone can convince the ruling class to 'gradually' or 'incrementally' hand over their monopoly on the means of production?
: You're the psychology buff, so I think I'll end my part of this thread on this thought: I've always related more to yin than to yang, so in the ongoing struggle, I'll follow Martin's path; Malcolm, I leave to you.
* '[A]ny sort of organizational agreement which restricts our freedom of criticism and agitation is unacceptable to us. We participate in the united front as an independent detachment. It is precisely in the course of struggle that broad masses must learn from experience that we fight better than the others, that we see more clearly than the others, that we are more audacious and resolute. In this way, we shall bring closer the hour of the united revolutionary front under the undisputed Communist leadership' (Trotsky, 'On the United Front,' The First Five Years of the Communist International, Pioneer Publishers 1953, p. 96.
1. Lenin, '"Left-Wing" Communism---an Infantile Disorder,' Collected Works volume 31, Progress Publishers 1966, pp. 92-3.