The Limits of Violence: Lessons of a Revolutionary Life
Organized violence of man on man continues to be part of the human experience. In many cases, despotic regimes perpetrate this violence. In other situations, violence is the response of people that rebel against oppressive systems.
In the book “The Limits of Violence: Lessons of a Revolutionary Life”, Ira Chaleff compiles the memories and reflections of Élan Le Vieux, a hundred year old revolutionary who lived through much of the political turmoil of the 20th century.
Under the premise that people have the right to stand up to an oppressive regime, int The Limits of Violence Élan focus the violent methods of revolutionary struggle, their legitimacy, consequences and limits. He analyzes the challenge of replacing an oppressive regime without becoming the new oppressor. With this approach, in The Limits of Violence Élan contributes to the conception, development and preservation of the highest values of any genuine revolution, independent of its ideological views.
Élan’s counsel in The Limits of Violence to 21st century revolutionaries is to first analyze if they can achieve their goals through reforms before concluding that revolution is the only mechanism.
Once negotiations for freedom from oppression are exhausted, in The Limits of Violence Élan calls for consideration of modern revolutionary tools that can become as or more effective than the traditional armed struggle.
If the final judgment is that violence to combat violence is the only possible course of action, in The Limits of Violence Élan examines how to do this without becoming a violent individual or establishing a regime as oppressive as the one the revolutionary is trying to overthrow.
Throughout this book The Limits of Violence, Élan offers an ethical revolutionary path to becoming a great historical character that future generations will admire and honor.
Editorial Review of The Limits of Violence
Revolutionary leaders and The Limits of Violence
Revolutionary followers and The Limits of Violence
David Korten: Author of When Corporations Rule the World and The Post-Corporate World: Life After Capitalism.
What a book for our time. The manuscript The Limits of Violence has a dark power, while carrying a sense of profound wisdom relevant to all revolutionaries, including those of us who reject violent means.
Felix Ulloa: PhD Salvadoran Lawyer: former member of FMLN/FDR (Revolutionary Coalition of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front and the Democratic National Front) during the civil war in El Salvador (1970-1980)
If this book The Limits of Violence had been published in the 60’s/70’s, we would be living in a better world today. It gives the kind of tools that can change mankind’s path.
Sabrina Kellen, Spanish Edition
A very entertaining and easy to read approach to the complex problematic of revolutionary tyrannies that have brought so much frustration to the idealist of today, yesterday and forever.
Daniel Alvarado, Spanish Edition
The Limits of Violence is A compendium of lessons for all those close to a strong leader both in the social and political world as well as in institutional and even family scenarios.
Amelia Macía, Spanish Edition
I love the character of Old Élan. His narration in The Limits of Violence seduces to the extent that I read the whole book for the first time in just one night and, taking into account that I’m not very interested in politics, it can be said that this book catches even the most cautious.
Francisco, Spanish Edition
Without reaching the extremes of armed revolutions, in The Limits of Violence Élan’s lessons are also valid to progressive governments that arrive in power with strong popular support. In the wake of accomplishing the changes promised during the electioneering, these governments fall into the temptation of shutting off dialogue with the opposition and exposing themselves to countless numbers of destabilizing actions, and even coups, which slowly win consensus among the non radicalized majority that gave its support in the electoral act.
Table of Contents
- TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE
- PREFACE: What is Revolution?
- PRELUDE: My Life
- CHAPTER I: Anger and Violence
- Hard Life: Anger at Injustice
- To Become a Revolutionary?
- Violence: Its Uses and Limitations
- The Elder and the Revolutionary
- Violence versus Force
- Basic Acts
- Young Revolutionaries
- The Rabidly Angry
- INTERLUDE: Reflection
- CHAPTER II: Revolutionary Leadership
- Confusion of the Personal and Political
- What Makes a Good Human Being?
- Revolutionary Leaders
- Revolutionary Followers
- Preparing to Govern
- Good King Alfred
- INTERLUDE: Lament
- CHAPTER III: Monsters and Revolutionary Chaos
- What Makes a Monster? (read)
- Funding the Revolution
- Dehumanizing and Demonizing
- INTERRUPTION: Fright
- Power, Sexuality and Sadism
- The Mensch
- The Hero
- Sasha’s Diary
- INTERLUDE: How I Came To Be In North America
- CHAPTER IV: Having Won the Revolution
- The End Game
- Cry For the Drowned
- When Does the Revolution End?
- Building a New World: Changing the Structure, Maintaining the Spirit
- Keeping the Spirit Alive in Future Generations
- TRANSCRIBER’S EPILOGUE
These principles are distilled from Élan’s writing in The Limits of Violence:
- Value transformation over power.
- Determine the necessary force to realize transformation; no more, no less.
- Honor individual lives in the pursuit of all life’s betterment.
- Respect comrades who disagree with you; they are still comrades.
- Learn how to do things better; admit mistakes and stay human.
- You are not the revolution.
- You are the symbol of the revolution; live up to it.
- Do not expect others to behave as symbols.
- The revolution will be imperfect.
- Imperfection is preferable to tyranny.
- Do not become the tyrant in the name of perfection.
- The revolution will change; accept it.
- The revolution is in the hearts of people.
- Hearts are changed over time. Be patient. Persist.
- The revolution fosters the legitimate interests of all constituencies.
- Revolution is against illegitimate interests, not against their bearers.
- At the right time, exchange the revolution for the institutions and practices that will sustain its achievements.
- Legacies are determined by successfully institutionalizing the legitimate aspirations for which you fought.
- Only you can ruin your legacy.
- The legacies of leaders that use power wisely are the threads that wave a just future.