Mike Newman, one of the founders of the Centre for Popular Education at UTS is here at the Redefining Outreach Workshop to talk about conventional, confrontational and violent action. While the title of Mike’s presentation is the role of passion in education, he started off by handing out a paper on these types of action.

Its after dinner, a few drinks, and Mike is starting out with some pretty serious issues… “how can one be cheerful” is his introduction – referring to the alarming news in the media on activism. David Hicks for example…

Mike wants to talk about love and hate in political action. “Love has been commoditised”… Mike reflects, and takes us through the popular perceptions of community action from the 60’s through the 80’s. Mike believes that in the 90’s the state began to lose interest in its citizens, more interested in service to business, worse still service to itself. The community loses faith in its capacity to change. People stop going to marches, people disengage. Now, the state has control – people don’t question. “All you need is love – has no sense of meaning in 2005”

“… so lets talk about hate” Mike brings us to. He asks the group to talk to each other about people they hate. We are then asked to refer to the text on conventional, confrontational and violent action and asked “what can you do?”…

Mike makes it very clear that he does not believe in violent action. However he states that to understand his moral position on violence, he must entertain the idea and consider it in all variations, both action and cause.

Mike talks to several examples, including Nelson Mandela (recommending reading Mandela’s speeches), and of course – Mahatma Gandhi.

“I won’t engage in violence, but I might engage in the menace of violence” referring to Gandhi’s letter stating “…no Englishman will be harmed..” Interpreting it as a threat the India will burn…

Hazlitt: “The Pleasure of Hating

Hazlitt gives Mike an understanding of hate and how we might use it. Mike reflects, “Hate is all very well in the hands of a reasonable person, but what about in the hands of a bigoted maniac?”

Back to love

I want to use hate to motivate, but how do I control it? Its too easy to talk of love as a balance, the benevelance of it.

1. Alaine Finkielkraut – The Wisdom of Love

2. Zygmund Bauman – Liquid Modernity

3. Rick TurnerThe Eye of the Needle.

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