The Liberal and the Revolutionary both uphold struggle and dialogue — but disagree on emphasis and occasion, as this conversation illustrates.

(Image source: Internet)

No, you don’t understand. Let me put it this way ….

I do understand. I just don’t agree.

If I could only explain …. I’m sure you would …..

No, we won’t agree because we have a different view of the world, what goes on there and especially what the reasons are.

But surely we can discuss it?

We have.

Don’t you believe in dialogue?

Of course, up to a point and depending on the circumstances.

What do you mean by that?

Well, when the enemy is about to attack your barricades, for example, I believe the time is right to place your defenders and your weapons – not an appropriate time for dialogue.

That’s so dramatic.

Discussion, argument, dialogue (Image source: Internet)

Well, drama happens too.

What if dialogue could prevent the attack on your barricades?

Well, then I’d be for it but I can’t see how that would happen.

That’s because you close your eyes to the possibilities of dialogue.

No, it’s because I open my eyes to the current reality and to history. Let’s look at the barricade situation. Most likely the barricades have gone up to defend an area where the people have seized power. Right?

Well, that’s one possibility.

OK, well let’s explore that possibility. The State sends police and/or troops to attack the barricades, in order to take back control of the area. Right?

Well, yes. They might be under pressure to do so. Concerns about property in the area, law and order and such.

So they want to take control back and we don’t want to give it to them. What’s to be gained by dialogue?

You could persuade them that their concerns about property, law and order and so on are unfounded. You could let a couple of them in to see for themselves. Or you could try to get an intermediary.

Someone like yourself?

Well, actually I have done a mediation course.

Hmmm. And then they’d let us run the area ourselves?

They might. They might not. But without dialogue, how would you know?

Listen, their main concern is to get back control. The better we run our area the more worrying it is for them because it shows another alternative to their capitalist model. And the longer they leave ours running, the more chance that other areas might take the example. So they have to crush us and we have to defend. No middle ground whatsoever. And letting some of them into our area would only give them additional intelligence to better plan their assault and target leaders afterwards, if they are successful.

God! You’re so negative and defensive. There’s no point in trying to persuade you.

Now, that last sentence is something we both agree on. See? No point in dialogue here.


Murder of peasant leader Wat Tyler by King’s man during negotiations 1381, Smithfield
(Image source: unknown artist 20th Century, Internet)

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