moiraemachy wrote:if they are close to seizing power and enacting genocide (even if they haven't killed anyone yet), it makes sense to employ every violent tactic that might be effective against them. The disagreement is about where our reality fits between these extremes.
In my experience, people who are for punching nazis have a "tooth and nail" view of culture: they believe that without the struggles of human-rights activists, there would be hardly any social progress, and alternatively, they believe groups that openly advocate for racism are very capable of dragging any society to a dark place even without resorting to violence (until it's way to late for your non-escalating-counter-violence to be effective).
Assuming this "tooth and nail" view of culture is correct, and that punching nazis is an effective way of stomping out their growth, would you agree punching nazis is moral?
I think that "tooth and nail" view is incoherent as you've stated it, so it cannot be true, and I cannot answer what I would think if it were.
Or rather, to put in more practical terms: if racist and genocidal groups are already poised to drag society into dark places "without resorting to violence (until...)", then you're already well past the point that punching them in the streets will do any good. I presume you mean by that quoted bit that they or those sympathetic to them are already in political power and could start enacting terrible violence any moment now. Let's imagine that they are.
Let's imagine that Trump and his cronies were as openly as possible supporting brazen Nazi ideology, or further still, imagine we're good Germans in antebellum Germany as the Nazis are rising to power but haven't actually seized it or started killing anybody with it yet. What good is punching Nazis in the street going to do there? If it's to that last point, it sounds like a violent political revolution could be warranted, but for that to succeed it's going to take the kind of broad popular support that would have kept things from getting to that point in the first place, which you therefore presumably don't have, as if you did you wouldn't be in that situation.
By that point, you're basically powerless already, and while I'd still cheer anyone fighting to save people from active violence committed by the powerful in such a situation, just randomly punching people in the street just because they're wearing a swastika or whatever is (completely understandable but) ineffectual angry venting, not the pragmatic application of violence it's being framed as in this discussion.*
And we're not at that point yet, and I've yet to see how assaulting people who are not themselves trying to assault others does anything to stop us from getting to that point, and I can see several lines of argument (some of them already under discussion in this thread) as to how it could push us closer
to that point.
*(And, again, I get the impetus to ineffectual angry venting. I get why someone would want to punch a Nazi and I'm not especially upset about the fact that they did; no tears for the poor Nazi from me. I'm more bothered by people trying to frame it as more than just "I hate Nazis so I punched one", but rather some kind of practically calculated, morally justified application of violence as a mere means to an end, not just because you wanted to hurt a bad guy).