The Hierarchy Of Violence

Why revolutionary violence is necessary against the corporate compradors that rule us


The Haitian Revolution upended the hierarchy of violence, and for that they have been punished ever since (Via)

Somehow, beheading 40 babies is considered a moral atrocity, while bombing 5,000+ is OK. This is especially galling because the ‘40 beheaded babies’ story is a lie while 5,000+ Palestinian babies are actually dying because. More are slowly dying under the rubble right now, and even more fated to die because Israel has systematically destroyed hospitals. That’s an abomination I must point out, but it’s not my point. My point is the hierarchy of it all. This atrocity goes all the way to the top.

The Pyramid

Imagine a pyramid, with bare hands at the bottom, blades above that, then bullets, then bombs, then an entire military-industrial complex at the top. We are, perversely, the most disgusted at the most petty violence at the bottom, while professional, industrialized violence from the top gets parades and ribbons. The words even change as you scale the pyramid of pulverization. If I kill someone with my bare hands it’s homicide but if I kill 10,000 people by government diktat it’s nothing. Why is that? Well, as always, the relevant question is who.

Imagine that we’re not alone in this world, because it’s true. Imagine that many different levels of self exist, some of them encoded legally as corporations and government and so on. Imagine that these collective selves, encoded by law and silicon, are in fact cybernetic beings, AI with human parts. Then the why starts to make sense. It’s really about who gets to commit violence, not violence in general. There is a pyramid of violence, with the living at the bottom and the artificial at the very top.

The rule is that corporations and governments can kill but humans should not. The logic is that it’s not homicide if there’s no ‘one’ doing it, though this makes no difference to the person being killed at all. Human law says that if the killing is by an artificial being, then no ‘one’ is responsible at all. The soldiers and bureaucrats and lawyers doing the killing are just cogs in a cybernetic machine. The man pulling the trigger is himself a trigger pulled by someone else, pulled by someone else; on and on into a complete diffusion of responsibility. This is the real nature of AI, and…



Indrajit (Indi) Samarajiva is a Sri Lankan writer. Follow me at, or just email me at