Friday, February 19, 2010

More Random Thoughts on Violence

Continuing from yesterday's post, I shall offer yet more of my disconnected thoughts on the issue of violent protest!

My first commentator on that post was a banned right-wing blogger who no doubt googled some random quote about non-violence and cut and pasted it here. My response to the dip-shit is that he cheered on bush II's invasion of Iraq, so that cuts the whole "non-violence" shtick off at the knee-caps, doesn't it?

It's so fucking convenient, isn't it? The clown gets to have his imperialist war, and then he also gets to sanctimoniously lecture decent people that if they get so enraged against the evil system, they must never, never, ever lash-out in a way that might have real consequences for the perpetrators because violence never solves anything.

That's called rank hypocrisy.

My other commenter was "law librarian" who insists that every "Black Bloc" protester is probably a police provocateur. As evidence, "law librarian" refers to the stupid galoots from the Surete de Quebec at the rallies against the SPP in Montebello. My partner witnessed something similar at the anti-WTO rally in Montreal a few years ago, how during a peaceful march a few punks (I'll explain) started throwing rocks through windows and this then led to the massive police crackdown on everyone present. The next day, she and I were walking around downtown Montreal and she pointed to a very tall, very skinny young man with a "Mohawk" of 20 cm. of spiked green hair. This was one of the half-dozen protesters who had started throwing rocks. There were cops surrounding the march, including police on the roof-tops. That this distinctive-looking young man could have genuinely escaped the police cordon after having quite obviously instigated the window-smashing beggared belief.

Does this mean that any and all violent protesters will be agents provocateurs? Obviously not. Lots of demonstrations in contemporary Europe have their violent elements. They're obviously not all police agents.

But here's the thing: the police in North America do these things to 1) "Justify" their overboard, heavy-handed stifling of dissent and the harassment of anti-corporate activists, and 2) "Discredit" the protesters in general. Let's deal with both of these motivations, shall we?

1) The use of state brutality cannot, it simply CANNOT be justified by a few broken windows. Blaming genuinely angry protesters for a brutal police crackdown is like blaming somebody for an abusive husband's violence if all they did was convince the wife to stand up for herself. ["Don't confront him, you'll just make him angrier."] The longer we go along with this sort of enabling of state violence, the longer we will have to deal with the steady diminishing of our civil rights and our reputation as a democratic society. If a few windows get smashed, or some corporate-stooge's office gets trashed, big fucking hairy deal. People are literally dying in the streets in this, one of the richest countries in the world, because of the policies of these scum-bags. And more people are dying in Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Gaza, Honduras, etc., etc., because of these policies. We should loudly insist that the police refrain from the smothering of dissent.

2) It remains entirely obscure to me how smashing a window can "discredit" a worthy cause. How does physical damage to property (especially the property of some giant corporate entity) "discredit" the case against the inhuman greed and folly being exhibited at the Vancouver Olympics? (To see how far this insanity can go, bear in mind that some idiots believed the protesters who dropped banners calling for action on global-warming from the roof of the Parliament Building in Ottawa before the Copenhagen conference were accused of "violence" that should be met with harsh reprisals! Supposedly their actions "discredited" the case for saving the planet!)

What is the metaphysical process whereby destroying an inanimate object "discredits" a immaterial concept such as social justice or human rights? How does this work exactly?

Obviously, this whole notion is intellectual garbage. What most people who say this mean is that the cause is "discredited" in the eyes of the general public. When faced with the terrifying images of a few skinny leftists smashing a window at an HBC outlet, the general public, as one, says "I was prepared to think that tripling the homeless population of Vancouver and raising the deficit in British Columbia to the extent that all sorts of worthy social programs and health care services are going to be slashed 'discredited' the Vancouver Olympics, but now I think the Olympics are awesome! The private greed being so richly rewarded is a beautiful thing, all because a window was smashed."

I don't know, I could go on and on parodying this stupid drivel. The level of incoherence is so ... I'm literally staggered.

First of all, some stupid couch potato who doesn't have a clue about any of the pressing issues of the day, (or if they do, haven't done the minimum level of thinking to have a goddamned opinion about them) isn't going to be onside with us anyway, okay? If you can't rouse these stupid buggers to even have a fucking opinion about something after years of activism and attempts at public education, why the FUCK should we assume that these people were going to join us in our causes until the violent protesters "discredited" everything? I mean really?

The fact of the matter is that the dialogue is going on between the activists and the elites. The general public, to the extent that they remain oblivious or without an opinion on a subject, HAVE NOTHING TO SAY. Why do I say that they have nothing to say? Because it's all part of being ignorant or indifferent about a subject, okay? Are we clear? Sure, these people can be polled "What do you think about the violent protesters?" and they'd no doubt say that they feel negatively towards them, but who cares? Were they going to do something for the cause until they heard about the vandalism? No? Well then, what's the fucking point?

My last random point on this topic today is to deal with the truism that in a contest between the general public and the coercive powers of a modern state, the general public will lose. The forces of the state are so pervasive, well-armed, well-trained, that there's no question but that we will lose should we confront them.

No shit Sherlock.

But please to observe, if the Vancouver window-smashers were genuine left-wing, direct-action anarchists, they were not trying to topple the Canadian state with their window-smashing. They were therefore NOT in a genuine physical contest between themselves and the forces of the state for control over this country. They were trying to make a point. They were trying to draw attention to their anger and frustration at the obscene corporate greed on display, the cruelty towards fellow human beings, evicted and tossed on the streets so that some landlord could make a quick profit, and etc., and so forth. [Now, we can debate the tactical brilliance of that, so long as people leave at home the straw-man argument about public opinion that I've already trashed upstairs.]

If, from time-to-time, an activist does something like, oh I don't know, splatter red paint on some politician responsible for torture and mass-murder, the LAST things we should do is give a shit if your average ignoramus barks like a trained seal about how BAD that act of protest was, or consent to the state-suppression of dissent as a "justifiable" response to this protest, or to imagine that the protester is engaged in some Quixotic attempt to take over the country by force and that we have no choice but to root for the forces of order.

To conclude, here's a video of Gilbert Gottfried making fun of Andrew Dice Clay. If you're too young (or old) to know what's going on, don't worry about it. It's not that important.

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