Violence or Inaction: The False Dichotomy

J.G. Vibes
Activist Post

There is one false dichotomy that always seems to pop up in discussions involving war and authority, that being the false choice between violence or inaction. I have discussed the idea of false dichotomies in the past, but for those who are unfamiliar with the term, it is a way of describing a situation where two choices are offered when many more are actually possible, but are left out of the debate entirely.

In an article this past October, I described a false dichotomy as "a situation where there seems to be a narrow field of two options to choose from, when there is actually a larger set of possibilities beyond those guidelines. In other words, you are asked to choose between black and white, leaving you to think that the only colors in existence are black, white and maybe gray, when in reality there is a whole palette of different shades and tints that were left completely out of the discussion."

Sadly, for the better part of history our species has resorted to violence as a rule when dealing with dispute resolution, crime and even things as seemingly innocent as raising children or funding community projects. The system that has been built around us has taught us to punish children, fail students, tax consumers, throw so-called “law breakers” in cages and invade any country who might pose a threat, someday, maybe.

This being the case it makes a lot of sense that the “violence or inaction” false dichotomy would develop in the minds of so many people. Our outdated and mundane social structures have established traditions of violent interactions, which leads many people to believe that this is the only way of doing things. If someone is under the impression that violence is the only way out of any particular situation, then they will naturally think that nonviolent solutions are ineffective.

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