Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Anti-War Movement Crippled By Violence

Now, I'd like to make something clear in this, my fourth post on the topic of violent protest. I don't advocate violence. I don't advocate violence but at the same time I don't condemn violence and I don't reject it as a tactic.

One of the knee-jerk statements that comes out of the pathological anti-violence mentality is how violent actions discredit noble causes and ruin the many hours, days, weeks, months of hard-slogging of non-violent activism. Violence undercuts the achievements, or the potential achievements of "movement building," "education," "dialogue" (with elites) and etc., etc., that non-violent activists do. The general public is alienated from a progressive cause because some rowdy, disreputable, individualists with no real ties to anybody but themselves, engage in frightening violent actions.

In earlier posts I've mentioned that there's actually precious little evidence for any of that. But today I'd just like to offer a thought experiment: How do we account for the total failure of the anti-war movement to influence Canada's role in Afghanistan? It's been eight years now, the Canadian public is as opposed to the war as it's always been. It's difficult to say that the anti-war movement can claim much credit for this. The publics' opposition to the war has always ranged somewhere between 50-60% and this has probably been as much the result of the news' reporting on the lack of progress and the steady trickle of dead Canadian soldiers as anything peaceful protesters did.

What impact did we have on the actual politicians who make the decisions? I'd say they're more constrained by budgetary limitations than any worry about public opinion. Thinking about it now, Canada's government has strained its military to the limit to fulfil its obligations in Afghanistan, there's been no pulling-back on that front.

"Things would have been worse without our efforts!" the anti-war movement could say. Except it's devilishly hard to prove a negative. Direct-action types could just as groundlessly say that things would have been better if there'd been more support for more physical expressions of dissent.

And, at the end of the day, eight years is a long fucking time. Eight years of corruption. Eight years of killing. Eight years of torture. Eight years of wasting billions of dollars that could have gone to social programs. Eight years of fraud and cover-ups. Eight years that our "educating the public" has consisted of preaching to the converted. Eight years of standing around impotently holding anti-war signs. Eight years where we had the majority of public opinion on our side and it's counted for shit.

Now, as harsh as my words sound, I'm not really trying to trash the anti-war movement. I'm more concerned with demolishing the vapid, self-defeating condemnation of violence as a tactic, or a justifiable response to inhuman greed and sadism.

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