Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Reply to No_Blah_Blah_Blah

I don't have a lot of time today, so I'll post my response to No_Blah_Blah_Blah's comment at this post.


I'm a little surprised over the somewhat widespread anger over the few broken windows. I suspect it has something more to do with this incident being an outlet for people to vent their rage at the protesters for raining on their Olympic party. Really, I wouldn't consider isolated vandalism to be "violence."

Well, I was referring to a lot of progressive bloggers who were already opposed to the Olympics.

Regarding your bit about just who exactly is doing the protesting, I'm talking about violence done by genuine activists. Provocateurs and amoral trouble-makers weren't the topic of the discussion, though I did refer to the way they're used to "discredit" genuine protest.

I don't think that broken windows can discredit an idea, but, unfortunately, it can discredit groups of people in the eyes of the public... the physical version of an ad hominem, I suppose. In an ideal world, ideas like human rights shouldn't need people campaigning for them.

As long as change is pursued through democratic means, public support is necessary. For better or for worse, that means that things like smashing windows will not accomplish much if anything.

But I tried to address that issue. If the general public turns against a worthy cause for such a lame-ass reason, can we truly say that they were ever onside in the first place?

Where is the evidence (for instance) that were it not for the smashing of some windows, there would have been anything of value done to address the homelessness, the profiteering, etc., at the Olympics?

Do these people who say that the violent protesters ruined everything have any actual evidence that, say, the voters in B.C. are going to tax the gains of the greedy who profited from the games and use them to restore funding for cancelled surgeries?

About your last bit, how our elites might be sowing the seeds of their own destruction, greater than anything a window-smasher could conceive, I'll add that when it comes to global warming, toxins in the environment, destruction of the earth's abiltiy to support human life, etc., that ALL OF US are vulnerable to those ill-effects.

If some well-placed direct action was to give those elites pause on their mad quest to threaten humanity, would the whole process be "discredited" because of some violence?

1 comment:

no_blah_blah_blah said...

I'd been grappling with the question for a few days before posting my comment yesterday, and even now I still can't come to a strong position on the matter.

Your position has real-life evidence that "violence" that doesn't hurt people can provide measurable results. For example, the Sea Shepherd's actions against Japanese whalers often prevent them from reaching their quotas.

An educated public being actively involved and putting pressure on government is the ideal course... but it's unrealistic at this point in time. Like you say, the public isn't really onside if they are turned off by a few broken windows. Unfortunately, temporary gains in public opinion are more or less what people hope for these days, hence the fuss over the optics of the broken windows.

Still, I concede that the broken windows didn't magically prevent any progress from taking place.

Progressives (including the both of us) are tired of the two tiers in society (the wealthy, and everyone else), the toothless/corrupt/regressive governments that are elected, and the apathy of the public. That's the common ground, but the actions taken will be varied and diverse.

I guess the thing to do (and this is probably as close to an opinion I'll be able to form for now) is to let everyone do their thing, contribute in our own ways, and let the overall picture change "organically" as a whole...