On Legitimate and Illegitimate Protest

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Nora Samaran
On Legitimate and Illegitimate Protest

http://toronto.mediacoop.ca/node/3883

Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.
Frederick Douglass, 1857

 

This page grows out of dialogue with many community members between the Vancouver Olympics in February and the Toronto G8/G20 in June. It needs saying.

I am writing this for friends who believe that direct action tactics - namely property damage - are either violent and/or 'overshadow' the messages of our movement. I have had so many of these conversations that clearly there is a will and a need to make these points public.

How you can help: Support the Toronto 900: Till every last one is free! Solidarity actions and statements of support are being called for by organizers. Also, you can send bail/legal support funds via paypal by clicking on the 'support us!' link at the bottom right of this page: http://g20.torontomobilize.org/

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My pacifism can - must - coexist with your militancy if we are to acheive any of our goals

 

The thing is that my basic nature is to prefer to avoid physical confrontation. For my own spiritual reasons, as well as straight up fear of being hit on the head or penned in by police, I tend to feel in my gut the same way as many of these voices do who are unhappy when the smashing begins - scared, overwhelmed, afraid of the police response, and preferring for my own ethical reasons to be gentle in my actions - which is why i'm not there smashing shit up myself.

At the same time, speaking out of care for and friendships with many people who have thought through their choice of tactics and intentionally use direct action strategies as one set in a large and varied toolbox - I can say that in fact those members of our communities who choose to use these strategies are some of the least violent and most responsible, loving people I know in how they choose to live their lives.

If I were trapped on a desert island a la Lord of the Flies, and had to figure out how to survive collectively, share our food and set up a new society, these are the folks I'd want there with me.

They're the ones with the concrete skills in collective decision making and the respect for life that would make me feel the most cared for and safe.

They're the ones who would make sure no one else gobbled up my share of the food, and the ones who would make sure everyone else had a safe place to sleep before they hit the sack themelves, and who would be the first and most willing to take their turn on watch.

They're the ones least likely to put pig heads on sticks and kill each other with conch shells.

I can't speak for the actions of everyone out on the streets, but if the people I know personally are any example, this is not 'wanton destruction' but comes out of a long, deep, intelligent and educated commitment to larger global social justice movements.

If people here glorify the Zapatistas (which a lot of northern progressives tend to do), then how can we villify people who use the same tactics for the same purposes here?

I think these moments of crisis, and those who create them, help us reach each other in a more genuine way through the haze and bubble wrap of consumerism in which north americans are encouraged to live.

The police, the state, and the corporate media want to separate us into:

'legitimate' protestors: those thousands who walk in incredible numbers with passion and banners - who can be ignored and have absolutely no effect any longer, because the current dominant culture in media and government - i.e. government by elites for elites, and the rest of us can eat cake - no longer takes any notice of expressions of democratic will. Remember the enormous peaceful demonstrations in 2003 when the US stepped up bombing in Afghanistan? All over the world, we marched and sang in the hundreds of thousands as the bombs dropped, and it acheived not a thing.

And 'illegitimate' protestors: those who actually challenge the system, those who recognize that marches may - may - have worked in the 1960s but they no longer work today. In fact, I'm not sure they are what really brought about change in the 60s either - if you look at the civil rights movement, the black panthers, etc. in successful social change movements, there was always a more militant wing of the movement that helped make the 'peaceful' events have more weight and effect.

Basically the 'legitimate/illegitimate' labels work to separate us from one another, and the commercial media laps it right up.


Unity in Diversity means space for genuine diversity
The thing is we live in a world with so many different kinds of people in it... and I don't think my personal preference for slow gentle movement needs to overwrite other people's need for direct, militant resistance.

Do our discomforts with one another's choices about how to resist mean that we have to all resist in the same ways? Would we ever want to live in a world, or be part of a movement, in which there is one uniform party line that we all have to buy into (i.e. only one kind of resistance is allowed, only slow, gentle resistance... or only militant resistance)?

In a conflict with someone or something much, much more powerful... when people live their daily lives in fear... sometimes we may need to be free to scream and yell or be really really firm and not allow ourselves to get trampled because that is asserting freedom from the fear that people live with normally - the fear people live with when we all act like everything is fine. Particularly for the people whose livelihoods, lands, and cultures are on the line.

The quiet daily system of aggression is more frightening when people let it poison our bodies and spirits quietly and while acting nice then it is when people are free/liberated to speak the truth - the full truth- about systems of power - even if that means a few inanimate objects get destroyed.

For those who feel strengthened and liberated by speaking out and refusing to be afraid, I think power to them - it's not my way, and that's fine with them and fine with me.

At this point, while I have a personal (maybe spiritual, maybe self-preservation) discomfort with militancy, so long as it is against inanimate objects, I don't see these things (direct action vs. gentle protest) as in opposition - I see them as complimentary.

And I see them both as profoundly loving and profoundly hopeful.

My gentle approach acheives certain kinds of things, such as the sympathy of middle and upper middle class people who want change without 'plowing the ground' - and there are other things it simply can't do - and I recognize its limitations.

I depend on people with the stomach for more direct action to take those risks, and to push the neoliberal state to recognize that there is only so far the corporate elite can push the population.

There is only so far the corporate elite can steal from us, repress Indigenous peoples and continue to colonize land, destroy our planet and our ecosystems, erode all of our human and civil rights, take apart our social safety net, and repress or ignore us when we speak up.

There is only so far that inequality between the wealthy and the poor can go, before unrest becomes widespread, and this is an important message for governments and the corporate elite to hear. I remember how it felt to be part of an enormous demonstration against the war and then realize that our governments were going to go ahead and bomb anyway.

I remember the feeling of hopelessness and powerlessness watching unspeakably, unthinkably horrible things happen and knowing that no matter how many hundreds of thousands of us take to the streets, we would acheive a tiny blip in the corporate media world, and absolutely nothing in the world of international capital and colonial domination.

When you ignore us, and allow only ineffective marches in Green Zones to be 'legitimate', as you dismantle everything we care about and expand your destruction of our cultures, of civil society, and of the planet, yes, eventually more and more people will resist.

Those who choose direct action tactics are standing their ground and speaking the truth to power, at great personal cost. For taking a stand, I owe them both my honesty and my support.

I think the reason people don't see the value of direct action is because of media and official PR spin. I'm not suggesting that any of us are fools who suck up what's in the news, but rather that we don't have access to a lot of information - in the sense of what doesn't get heard, what doesn't get covered, what is downplayed or ignored... what daily regular violence is ignored.

Rather than turning the dominant opinion against the vulnerable people who take these risks to speak truth to power by destroying symbols - symbols! A cop car is not alive; it is a potent symbol - while people's faces, bodies, lands, and freedoms are being smashed... I prefer to use the conversations as opportunities to build mass movements. Don't let the media trick us into blaming each other.

The protesters in jail deserve kindness and support, whether we share their strategies or not. Let's get them out and be clear in our wholehearted support, and then when we've got them back in our communities and in our arms and around our dinner tables, and out of the arms of the state, then let's strengthen our ability to make space for and compliment each other's approaches - both our gentler approaches and our more assertive ones.

 

http://movementdefence.org/G20appeal

Support the Toronto 900: Till every last one is free! Solidarity actions and statements of support are being called for by organizers. Also, you can send bail/legal support funds via paypal by clicking on the 'support us!' link at the bottom right of this page: http://g20.torontomobilize.org/

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Vancouver

Here in Vancouver, where I live, many people I care about were involved in a direct action in February against a corporate sponsor of the Olympics games - Hudson's Bay. After the fact, I heard a lot of pain, fear, and confusion from many around me who are struggling with a perceived rift in the global justice movement: a rift between those who want to protest using only gentle tactics such as marches, singing, and sit-ins, and those who want to protest by actively fighting back against the ever-growing police repression in our lives, and by destroying symbols of corporate domination and colonization such as the windows of massive corporations.

I heard from members of the community choir that I sang in at the demos, for instance, that the direct action tactics 'overshadowed' the message of what I'm going to call 'gentle' protestors.

In response, I can't help but note that, if those I know are any example, the people who used direct action strategies in Vancouver are very committed to social change, and spent countless hours organizing things including the direct action 'heart attack' march but also the tent city, the Women's March (Indigenous women in Vancouver's downtown eastside), and the general flag-waving puppeted facepainted large demonstrations.

The behind-the-scenes relationships can look very different - much more cooperative, organized, meaningful and respectful - than media portrayals or even the way events might look to people who just show up for a demo without coming to the meetings beforehand to find out what's planned and how and why. I find it divisive to separate out and demonize those 'bad' protestors from us 'good' protestors, when really we're all the same people doing different work on different days... particularly since the media and police want to make that distinction.

I wonder, given the history of agitation for social change, which always includes direct physical struggle of some sort or another, whether it's helping anyone to replicate that division of 'good' and 'bad' forms of protest against oppression

As my choir director noted, had the result in the mainstream media been better - for instance, had there been an actual discussion of the real issues in the mainstream media - then those who were so upset about how things turned out in Vancouver (people injured and in jail, protesters branded as thugs, media even less sympathetic) would have been cheering the physical tactics of the direct action folks as part of the reason for success. Anyone who attempted to protest the Olympics at all knows that mainstream perspectives had already decided that the protesters were just a bunch of grumps and killjoys.

It is very easy to scapegoat and blame each other within a movement that is striving to be heard by larger forces who so easily manipulate the message: "Good" protesters and "bad" protesters.

 

and Toronto

In Toronto, as I write this, the people who have been breaking things (police cars, windows, corporate buildings) are not harming anything alive - they are attacking symbols rather than life - while the corporate status quo is daily harming/killing/destroying not only individual lives but whole ecosystems as a daily matter of course.

As a recent update stated: 'While the media focuses on its predictable ritual of scape-goating protestors, tens of thousands of labour, anti war, migrant justice, Indigenous solidarity, anarchist, environmental justice, anti-oppression, anti capitalist, socialist, student, and community-based activists took to the streets to expose and confront the violent policies of the criminal G20. The reasons they did so - Indigenous self determination; environmental justice; a world free of militarization; income equity and community control over resources; migrant justice; gender, queer, disability, and reproductive rights - are just as relevant today as they were this past weekend.'

The violence i'm seeing in all the reports - from corporate and independent media alike - is of police en masse with weapons and riot gear penning people in, attacking people, threatening and assaulting trans folk, queer folks and women, beating, trampling, charging, and injuring people (including people with disabilities, people holding babies, elders, journalists, random passersby, people in so-called `green zones`), rounding people up in mass arrests, sending people to the hospital with broken bones, throwing people physically to the ground by their necks, and generally using brute violence and intimidation against the population.

All of which is 'legitimated' by new laws passed very recently and very quietly (the lawyers and the mayor weren't even informed) stating that within the 'security perimiter' the Toronto police can bodily search anyone they wish upon demand, and can demand that we produce ID without the usual privacy and civil liberties protections we expect in this country.

This is Stephen Harper's Canada - and culturally, people`s acceptance of such a state of affairs smacks of Weimar Germany to anyone who has studied - or lived through - the rise of actual authoritarianism. It is also the side of Canada that those of us who are non-native don`t usually have to see. As Ray says in one of the interviews cited below, the brute force Canada has always used against native people under colonial rule, Canada is now using against the rest of us. Witness the four-hour pen at Queen and Spadina, or the charging at crowds peacefully assembled singing Oh Canada. What the state does to the most vulnerable of us, it will eventually do to all of us, so we must stand in solidarity with those who are most vulnerable.

I met a woman who had moved to Canada from the former Yugoslavia. She works at the flower shop where I picked up flowers to give to friends as they were released from jail last February. As she cut and wrapped daisies for me, she looked out the front window of her shop at the police lined up outside and the Canadian flags marching past, and said she left and came to Canada to get away from this kind of thing and never expected it here. Her words have stayed with me. "Didn't we learn anything? The german people put up with a lot before things got really bad."

 

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For those not currently in TO who are asking what's going on and looking for analysis, here are the news sources IMHO currently worth using for information:

http://movementdefence.org/G20appeal

http://www.ckln.fm/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=150...

http://g20.torontomobilize.org/

http://2010.mediacoop.ca/

http://www.democracynow.org/

and on twitter by checking the #g20report hashtag
and following g20mobilize

 

and here are a few other stories and clips:

Journalist threatened with gang rape by police while being held; young woman searched "had finger put up her" by Toronto police: http://vimeo.com/12925239

Conditions in Detention Centre Illegal Immoral Dangerous: http://toronto.mediacoop.ca/story/conditions-g20-dentention-centre-are-i...

Police Drag Man With Cane: www.facebook.com/#!/video/video.php

Childcare/teacher in Green Zone says: "I had a walking stick, and they took it and broke it and pushed me" Journalist reports: "Police Broke Cameraman's Finger": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5G7aCgXtWg

"Refuse to be afraid, refuse to be silent": http://bchannelnews.tv/?p=5959

Report re arrests: http://bchannelnews.tv/?p=5959

Quiet Boost in Arrest Powers: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/torontog20summit/article/828974--dalton-...

New Police Powers: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/g8-g20/news/new-police-powers-...

Police attack seated demonstrators who are singing Oh Canada: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Heb9BXjYcII

Provocateurs and Media Stunts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5G7aCgXtWg

Real News journalist punched in the face by police, and police attack a deaf man for not hearing their commands: http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&I...

Police Fire at Protestors: http://www.thestar.com/videozone/829371--police-fire-muzzle-blast-at-pro...

"Your rights don't apply within this building": 18-year-old bystander detainee in mass roundups reports on treatment in detention: filthy conditions, denied water, food thrown on floor, 24-hour lights on, overcrowded containment, threats to gay people told to 'act straight': http://rabble.ca/rabbletv/program-guide/2010/06/features/exclusive-eight...

"learn what the issues actually are, and why people are resisting": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAOhCdWsb2M&feature=related

"Your Bra Is A Weapon and Must be Removed" Reports of freezing conditions, body searches in detention, told to stay away from all protests in the future despite no charges: http://rabble.ca/rabbletv/program-guide/2010/06/features/young-woman-tel...

Journalist beaten and arrested: http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/rabble-staff/2010/06/guardian-journalist...

"Whatever they do to native people they will eventually do to everybody else in this country." http://toronto.mediacoop.ca/story/outside-makeshift-prisonfor-us-native-...

Arrestees Disappear Down a Rabbit Hole: Lawyer http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/torontog20summit/article/829465--arreste...

Parents of 6 month old awoken with gun to head in bedroom, no warrants shown: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/toronto/story/2010/06/26/police-booth-raid426.html

Police State and Humiliation on Toronto's free streets: http://www.torontosun.com/news/columnists/joe_warmington/2010/06/27/1453...

Police detained and handcuffed journalists: http://toronto.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20100627/g20-protests-100...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acknowledgements:

Thank you to Patti Powell of Accapelaboratory for dialogue (and words ;P) that shaped some of this post; thank you to friends and organizers who have challenged me, argued with me, and taught me; those thoughts in some form or another make it into everything I write, whether we agree or disagree. And thank you to those who have put themselves on the line to keep our movements strong and thriving. We've got your back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Wow. That's a lot of words. I have done a 360 on violent protest. I never much liked it, but I could at least appreciate the emotion and sentiment behind it. I'm not a pacifist. But aims, strategy, and tactics must compliment each other. In the case of Toronto, I've been thinking, if the Black Bloc didn't exist, government would have to invent them. They have been so incredibly effective at shifting the focus away from the waste, away from police state tactics, away from the growing recognition of the illegitimacy of the G20 and onto the "hey, look!" specatcle of a sideshow.

I am not one to argue that people ought not to protest, and I abhor the so-called "free speech zones" setup to deprive us of free speech, but in this case, in this one case, a entirely peaceful protest could have seriously jeopardized the Harper government as public focus demanded to know why it was necessary to waste a $1 billion on cops dressed up like Mussolini's black shirts.

Instead, all anyone talks about is the violence. What a waste. I read an excellent essay that argued the Black Bloc protects the G20. I accept that argument. It deflects scrutiny away from the real crimes being committed inside the fence.

SunOfSongun

That is a very good quote at the beginning of the article.

 

 My main problem with the protests at the G20 is that they didn't seem designed to accomplish any kind of actual goals though. Smashing up symbols is well and good, but they are fooling themselves if they think that is going to have any effect on the G20.

milo204

black bloc pretty tame compared to these south korean labour activists.  this is real violence:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qsdvTaFskc&feature=related

skdadl
Tommy_Paine

In the case of Toronto, I've been thinking, if the Black Bloc didn't exist, government would have to invent them. They have been so incredibly effective at shifting the focus away from the waste, away from police state tactics, away from the growing recognition of the illegitimacy of the G20 and onto the "hey, look!" specatcle of a sideshow.

I am not one to argue that people ought not to protest, and I abhor the so-called "free speech zones" setup to deprive us of free speech, but in this case, in this one case, a entirely peaceful protest could have seriously jeopardized the Harper government as public focus demanded to know why it was necessary to waste a $1 billion on cops dressed up like Mussolini's black shirts.

Instead, all anyone talks about is the violence. What a waste. I read an excellent essay that argued the Black Bloc protects the G20. I accept that argument. It deflects scrutiny away from the real crimes being committed inside the fence.

 

See, I disagree with that assessment, Frustrated Mess.  Without the BB, everything would have been nicely stage managed and none of the stuff you project would happen, would have happened.   

The BB made the system do something it has no practice at, and that is thinking on it's feet.

For example,  people can still talk about the waste of a billion.  And people still are.  And people will come election time, again. 

 

And so much more.   

This will be seen as a watershed event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michelle

How's this for an example of "pacifism coexisting with militancy"?

trippie

I understand that the bourgeois capitalist state, needs to be torn down and rebuilt. At times there will be violence..

But the problem is, randum violence, plays into the hands of the ruling elite.

It scares the passive elements of the working class. It lets the ruling elite curtail civil liberties.

The working class has struggled hard for these rights. Randum violence is used by the bourgeosie, to take them away at moments notice.

peterjcassidy peterjcassidy's picture

In related posts I cited CTV as, by 5:30PM Saturday, giving the score Protesters 1 Police 0.  Sunday I gave kudos to the protesters, ranging from "Blac Bloc" "anarchists "thugs" to 'legitimate" "peaceable" Xisians, and. along with CTV, I  rated the whole weekend "game". a big victory for the protestors, a total loss for the police.

Thinking of the weekend as a game, the media had  a "team", identified loosely as the "Black Bloc", who carried out  a number of great offensive plays Saturday. The Team had pre-set goals, achieved those goals  and left. There was what could be called the Blue Team" the police/security forces who were hardly in the game, forced into a defensive huddle around the fence and giving the city up to the Bloc. Seen one way, the cops  just stood there and let  gangs of "thugs" smash windows, trash Starbucks and burn police  cruisers. WHAT?  BURNING POLICE CRUISERS?- what kind of incompetents are the cops?  seems to be the dominant view picked up by the media. The line emerging now that the police were under orders not to intervene isn't going down well with the taxpayers who wanted to see heads split, , especially contrasted with Sunday when the Blue team went on a total offensive against the wrong team, the defenseless and inoffensive Peace Team.

I love the CTV story  of the young woman from Cleveland, up visiting her girlfriend, who thought she had a right to peaceably protest and sat down and the cops dumped her on her head and put her in a cage. I saw a middle class dad who always supported the police. questioning the very fibre of his being as the tape show his 2  peaceable children being attacked by cops for no reason. They were boxed  in the protest, trying to leave, and the police wouldn't let them go.  Baton wilding police waded in and his son got a split lip from a riot shield.  Sounds minor, but that is his son there, peacably sitting three  and he gets whacked  on the lip by a riot shield. Later the baton wielding snatch squad grabs the son,  for no obvious reason and his daughter screams as the police hustle her brother away. there were protesters singing Kumbuya, and O Canada as the cops waded in.

I consider it extremely important neither the  "Blac Bloc" protests or any other G20 protest seriously harmed any human being, nor did media I watch portray the protests as dangerous to bystanders or the general public. The media realized windows being broken and a Starbucks trashed at a G2A protest is pretty tame stuff in the scale of "violent"  or "direct action" protest and are starting to question the police letting that  go by- to justify their budget? Add a soupcon of agent provocateurs, a few thousand legal proceeding s- insurance claims, law suits,  criminal court cases and public inquires in the federal, provincial and muncipal sphere  and its seems the Blue Team is out of the World Cup.  this round.while the protesters move on up to the Finals.

We do need to have more analysis of the developing political scene in Canada and the world, given the current crises of capitalism, their attacks and our moves.

Innocent

 

NDPP

thanks [Nora], saw the piece elsewhere and glad you brought it here. I too think the BB acted as catalysts and 'change agents'  provoking the police into the kinds of heavy handed gestapo tactics that all are now aware of here. That being said, I think the days that they can infiltrate somebody else's parade or protest and then start smashing shit are probably numbered. It's fundamentally wrong to expose others to police actions for something they had no part in or awareness of. Respect and consent must inform all our relations between ourselves in such situations I think.

[post edited by moderator to remove personal information]

Daedalus Daedalus's picture

Tommy_Paine wrote:
See, I disagree with that assessment, Frustrated Mess.  Without the BB, everything would have been nicely stage managed and none of the stuff you project would happen, would have happened.

 

No, it wouldn't have been nicely stage-managed at all! People would be furious - a billion dollars, for what??

Quote:
The BB made the system do something it has no practice at, and that is thinking on it's feet.

For example,  people can still talk about the waste of a billion.  And people still are.  And people will come election time, again.

 

The BB didn't make people talk about the billion dollars, it made them stop talking about it. And no - it won't be talked about during the elections, it won't even make the next news cycle. The BB guaranteed it.

The BB didn't make them spend the billion dollars, either. Do you really believe they needed to spend a billion dollars to control a few hundred rioters? If that were true, no city would ever want to win the Stanley Cup, they'd go bankrupt. If it takes 20 000 police and a billion+ dollars to control 50-100 kids in bandanas . . . one can only imagine what a few thousand hockey rioters would cost. Never mind bankrupting the city ... the entire nation would be impoverished by a single true riot!

Notice that the police didn't actually do anything to stop the BB either? The police attacks were focussed on the actual protestors, not the BB. They just watched the BB, or disappeared when they were around. They don't care to stop the BB; for one thing, police are very fraternal and don't attack their own, and for another, the BB provides a veneer of justification for the billion dollars; which was employed exactly as intended, to intimidate protestors from exercising their democratic rights.

If we divided up the BB and the rest of the protestors, and imagined two hypothetical situations, one in which the BB shows up by itself, and one in which the rest of the protestors show up without the BB - do you really imagine they would have spent the billion in the first scenario? No! They'd need less resources than what they need to control the annual Aberdeen Street riot in the student ghetto here in Kingston every year, much, much less. Maybe 100 police (overkill) and a few tens of thousands of dollars.

But to intimidate protestors in general, the billion dollars and 20 000 cops was not enough. So you can see the relative proportions of effect here.

The BB provides the pretext for police violence. That's really all there is to it. They don't scare the police, they're a Christmas present. The Raging Grannies scared the crap out of the police - they can't release the dogs and shoot the rubber bullets and start cracking skulls when faced with a line of grandmothers, and that IS forcing them to do something they have "no practice at". Dealing with petty vandals is definately NOT something the police have no experience with - it is very much within their comfort zone, within the sort of thing they are trained for and imagine themselves doing.

ennir

The actions of the black bloc gave the police a pretense for making all protesters and in fact all people on the street "illegitimate". 

Some would have us thank the black bloc for helping to reveal how much trouble our democracy is in, you know all those folks at the cabin hearing about little Tommy's ordeal will suddenly wake up to the danger Canada is in.  I think that most of those people will simply be terrified and realize that the best thing they can do is hide.  I think that was the intent and if you listen to people as they were released without charges they were told that if they EVER participated in another protest they would be arrested, voila protesting is illegal.

If the black bloc is so committed to these kinds of actions why don't we hear about them at other times?  Are the only actions they involve themselves in ones in which they can hide themselves in the midst of peaceful protesters?  Where are they now?  Are they taking any responsibility for Toronto?

absentia

There are several more questions people should be asking, such as :

Media: Exactly how was that $ billion+ spent? A public accounting is not being hollered-for. If no protestors had shown up at all, this is exactly what the largely quiescent middle-class would be asking (rather than moot arguments over police tactics). Especially when the bill for this extravagant junket is juxtaposed against the austerity measures to which they themselvers are about to be subjected - again.

Protestors: What are we trying to accomplish?

If it's to get a message across to our glorious leaders, why bother? They already know what we want and they don't give a sff.

If it's to get the majority of the population to wake up and see how they're screwed, the job is half done: they're pretty much aware, but don't know what to do about it. Slogans won't tell them, and anything longer won't be allowed on the media: even if your head is bleeding enough to catch the eye of a camera, the microphone will be snatched away before you can formulate a sentence. Getting hurt is useful, though - if you are a granny or a pretty girl not wearing enough to conceal a weapon. Seeing that kind of thing does make 'regular Canadians' wonder: "to serve and protect" whom? It makes them realize that policing has changed, and not improved - that maybe the system itself is no longer the one they've taken for granted. If you are a fit young man, getting hurt or having your shirt ripped off is no use: the old guys who have any kind of power don't like disobedient young guys - hence the oft-repeated remark: "Send 'em off to Afghanistan!"

 It's all theater, you see. A reality-show. They own it; they run it, but we can, to some extent, manipulate it. If we are realistic about what can be accomplished, and how most effectively to accomplish that - rather than waste bodies, minds, time and resources on the impossible. 

Michelle

A good article from the Toronto Media Coop:

Quote:

The violence of this Black Bloc wasn't just directed towards property. People were attacked and endangered through their recklessness during Saturday's march. I personally was threatened and attacked by black bloc members because i had a camera. I saw black block members attack several other photographers for myself.  I also came very close to getting a rock in the head that was headed for a window. On other occasions I saw bloc members smash windows with bystanders on the other side of the windowpane. Not to mention the attacks against police that I witnessed.  Putting aside for a moment the argument that attacks against property are not violence, attacks against people certainly are violence and their reprehensible.   

Whether the police felt their crackdown was a necessity after the black bloc action or the action was the excuse the police needed to start it, the Black Bloc action by 75-100 individuals was the event that lead to 10 000 of our allies facing police violence and 900 of them being arrested. A small cadre changed the entire dynamic of the convergence and its relationship with the police. After Saturday's Bloc march, no space in Toronto was safe for dissent. Sometimes I wonder if some people who use these tactics aren't hoping for a violent response against their allies just to prove a point about the violence of the state... The Bloc's also made the actions of police acceptable in the eyes of the wider public. This Bloc's actions essentially justified the $1 billion in security costs, the fence, the secret law and the mass arrests in the public opinion.   

Respect for diversity of tactics does not excuse activists from being accountable for their actions, but that is how it is treated by members of the black bloc.  We lose credibility as a whole to our audience when property destruction and violence occur, these tactics endanger others who choose not to use them (directly and afterwords when police react to them), when these negative effects are felt, members of the Black Bloc are long gone after essentially using the rest of us as human shields... I believe to an extent that this indifference to the damage Bloc tactics do to our movement comes from vastly different priorities: confronting the state's authority vs. putting a message out to a wider audience. The members of this Bloc put their priorities ahead of the priorities of the majority of people at this convergence.

Respect for diversity of tactics is a two-way street. Members of the black bloc generally harbour a disrespect for activists who do not use such risky tactics, often viewing other more peaceful activists as less committed.

Another good article by Chris Lawson:

Quote:

I work for unions. I have for a long time. I like strikes. They’re risky. They’re a direct confrontation between authority and people and they cost the enemy (the employer) money.

So in some ways, I suppose I should understand bashing windows, cop cars and the like as part of a protest. It’s risky, involves confrontation and it costs the capitalists (the enemy) money. It makes sense, I suppose, insofaras most of the folks doing the smashing (the ones that aren’t members of the police union) don’t have a union to organize a strike for them.

Strikes, though, are legal (within the strictures of the labour code anyway).

That’s unfair to people who aren’t unionized and want to hit their oppressors where it hurts, so it’s not a compelling reason to be pro-strike but anti-property destruction.

What is compelling, though, is the fact that with strikes, there’s an exit point. And there’s something to be gained. If you play your cards right, at the bargaining table, you can actually end the strike by raising working peoples’ wages.

Not all strikes end well. Sometimes that’s not the union’s fault. Sometimes it is. But at some point, it’s over and we can see how we did. When they go well, they can bring a group of people together, and show them their power.

But this business with the burning the cop cars and smashing the windows during the G20 protest in Toronto – how did the bashers think that was supposed to end? And what exactly was the purpose? Moreover what has it cost us?

...

Also, the further marginalization of progressive ideas and alienation of social change movements. Mass demonstrations now mean kettling, mass arrest and 36 hours handcuffed in a cage. Who is going to want to be part of that? If I can’t bring my four year old, I don’t want to be part of that revolution, dudes.

Polunatic2

The other ROAR

Slumberjack

Peaceful activism had its time in the sun, but has failed miserably as a force for change against an unmoveable enemy bereft of conscience or decency. The repetitive counsel for more of the same is an echo which originates from countless defeats.

WillC

Slumberjack wrote:

Peaceful activism had its time in the sun, but has failed miserably as a force for change against an unmoveable enemy bereft of conscience or decency. The repetitive counsel for more of the same is an echo which originates from countless defeats.

Well written phrases, but totally wrong. When in Canada did we ever achieve a victory through violence?  Never. In Canada, our peaceful activism helped keep us out of the war in Iraq.  In North America we turned public opinion against the war in Vietnam through peaceful protest. 

Many children go through the phase of expressing their rebellion through petty vandalism, when they are going through puberty, but most of us realize that it is a poor way of getting at the powers by the time we reach our mid-teens. Some people apparently are childish enough to think that the system is going to be frightened by a few broken windows, and some scrawled slogans, that are quickly erased.

Obviously the forces of repression are only glad of that. If enough of the childish ones don't come to the demos, the police will impersonate them, to discredit the demonstation.

Someone asked in these threads, 'what do you call the kind of people who perpetuate the evil injustices of the system in which we live,' well one of the things we could call them is 'good at directing public opinion.'   Those who have their petty vandalism are good at one thing as well. That is directing public opinion in favour of the police, obscuring the values of the demonstarions, and getting Harper off the hook for wasting $1B. They have accomplished that.

Daedalus Daedalus's picture

Slumberjack wrote:

Peaceful activism had its time in the sun, but has failed miserably as a force for change against an unmoveable enemy bereft of conscience or decency. The repetitive counsel for more of the same is an echo which originates from countless defeats.

 

Marginal black blocs were around long before the Seattle protests - I remember them well at the ARMX protest in Ottawa in the late 80s. Their time under the sun - the last 25 years or so - has marked the most profoundly unproductive time the left has ever witnessed, and the most triumphant period the right has ever experienced. So I completely and utterly reject your assertion.

We are not talking here about Sandinistas or other armed revolutionary groups who set out to achieve their goals with broad support from their community. We are talking about some children who like to break some windows and liken this to being heirs to the tradition of armed struggle, which is utter rubbish. Drawing any such parallel is an outrageous insult to all those who have fought and died for justice.

Unionist

Well and eloquently said, Banjo and Daedalus. I think the childish crap is over. "Diversity of tactics" was killed by the Toronto G20. Now organizers will need to find ways to neutralize the saboteurs.

 

Bushfire

Thank you so much, [Nora].  I have been trying to find the words to exlain why I support the Black Bloc protestors even though I don't personally destroy things.  You have explained it so well and I agree with everything you wrote here.  I was in full support of the BB until I read that they also destroyed store windows of small businesses run by immigrants and that really bothered me.  However, I believe most of them probably would not condone that and I still believe in their cause.  I think in a world such as this one where there is no possible way to break free of capitalist oppression or even get the State to listen to the people's concerns, there can be no "right" or "wrong" way to protest.  When there is no right answer, no one's answer can really be "better" than anyone else's.

[post edited by moderator to remove potentially identifiable personal information]

cruisin_turtle

Anybody considered why the police didn't arrest a single Black Bloc member?  I see in videos these well armored riot squads standing in large groups while a couple of BB thugs are smashing a police car with sticks mere meters away!

Ok time for some art   http://www.pbase.com/matrixone/image/126009867

Daedalus Daedalus's picture

Bushfire wrote:
I was in full support of the BB until I read that they also destroyed store windows of small businesses run by immigrants and that really bothered me.

 

It didn't bother you when they started assaulting other protestors and journalists?

Polunatic2

How to make friends and influence people. 

Angry merchants ask: Why did G20 protesters attack us?

 

Quote:
Kilislian cut his hands, which had several bandages on them last week, while cleaning up the mess.  A young woman who works for him was struck on the hip by the two-by-four. 

Not to mention all those toxic chemicals released into the air from burning cars. But that pales in comparison to the BP oil spill, agent orange and depleted uranium. Here's some of the "corporate symbols" that were damaged last week. 

  • Ken Li’s souvenir shop First Choice Gifts 
  • Wanda’s Belgian Waffles Café (take that King Leopold)
  • Barclay Jewelry Ltd. (will jewelery be banned after the revolution?)
  • Swiss Chalet
  • All Leather
  • Doctors offices at College & Bay

NDPP

Chronicles of Rebick: The Real G20 Conspiracy..

http://mostlywater.org/chronicles_rebick_real_g20_police_conspiracy_divi...

"Since my last article debunking long-time Toronto activist Judy Rebick's publicly promoted conspiracy theory that the Toronto police allowed the black bloc to run amok to justify the billion dollar G20 security budget, new information has come to my attention..."

ReeferMadness

I don't support the blac bloc techniques for the same basic reasons I don't support capital punishment.  It isn't so much about what "we" do to "them".  It's more about how our actions define us.  

Over on Maple Leaf Web, they're having pretty much exactly the same debate but from the police standpoint.  It's OK to do whatever is necessary to stop the protestors because they deserve it, blah, blah, blah.  People who support the blac bloc protestors should go over there and look into the mirror.

The ends don't justify the means.  The means you're willing to use define you as a person to a far greater extent than whatever high-minded goals you claim to support.

If we can't come up with more intelligent and more creative ways of settling our differences, we're pretty much doomed as a species. 

Party on, Garth.

cruisin_turtle

Polunatic2, where in downtown were the 19,000 officers while those 2 thugs shown in your article were carrying that 10 ft weapon and destroying store fronts with it in plain view?  I live downtown and I have never before seen Yonge street completely empty of police.

Slumberjack

Unionist wrote:
Well and eloquently said, Banjo and Daedalus. 

Quote:
Drawing any such parallel is an outrageous insult to all those who have fought and died for justice.

They're rather nifty talking points too Unionist.  Don't you recognize them?

Unionist

Sure I recognize them, SJ. That's the "talking point" for brave civilians and soldiers who have fought and died for justice against nazism, fascism, imperialism, colonialism, and apartheid throughout the decades - the "talking point" which has been appropriated by those very enemies in (for example) the "Support the Troops" call over Afghanistan.

The talking point is perfectly fine and noble. The outrageous insult is applying it, without distinction, to the Canadian military of WWII and the Canadian military of Kandahar. To the national liberation forces of Viet Nam and the SUV boys of Ottawa. To the warriors of Oka and the window smashers of Toronto.

Unionist

NoDifferencePartyPooper wrote:

Chronicles of Rebick: The Real G20 Conspiracy..

http://mostlywater.org/chronicles_rebick_real_g20_police_conspiracy_divi...

"Since my last article debunking long-time Toronto activist Judy Rebick's publicly promoted conspiracy theory that the Toronto police allowed the black bloc to run amok to justify the billion dollar G20 security budget, new information has come to my attention..."

This anti-Rebick and anti-Klein lying article is just a more polished variation of the "Stimulator" crap that Cytizen H fed us a few days ago - in fact it cross-references the earlier piece.

In typical disinformation style, it simply lies about Rebick - never using direct quotes, because then the lies would be instantly exposed. Example:

Quote:
In addition, Rebick's claim that indigenous warriors in Toronto showed that we don't need confrontation and violence was almost as preposterous as her assertion that peaceful protest stopped the Vietnam war.

This is allegedly based on a 7:46 minute video clip embedded in the article, where Judy spoke to the solidarity rally in Toronto. The author must be counting on the reader's laziness. Watch and listen to the full clip. You will find no such claims. In fact, Judy never even uses the words or concepts of "peaceful" or "violent" in the entire speech. Her whole and sole point is the winning of rights in struggle and the criminalization of dissent. She never mentions the vandalism of the previous days.

This is not rocket science. Activists like Judy Rebick (and, thankfully, many others like her) are capable of inspiring thousands to take to the streets and join the struggle. The "diversity of tactics" ideologues, and their cowardly car-burning cadre, are capable only of dissuading people from going anywhere near a street where a protest is being held. The conclusions are not hard to draw.

Bushfire

"It didn't bother you when they started assaulting other protestors and journalists?"

I didn't hear much about assaults to people. I was under the impression that they did not harm

anybody, but now I am starting to find out otherwise. Of course I do not support harming people.

absentia

Harming people is going to happen, one way or another. If protesters - militant groups, exasperated students, enraged ethnic minority members, terrified kettled bystanders can't be provoked into lashing out, the harm will be done by police, militia or mercenaries. It doesn't matter what tactics the dissenters use: grievous bodily harm is the next step on this escalator. Firing live rounds into a peaceful crowd follows soon after. 

First, people being held, for years, without charges, bail or trial. People handed over to foreign secret police. Then home-searches (in the night: that's classic) and arrests for owning black clothing or having made a phonecall to somebody on a list, or crossing provincial borders, or reading Judy Rebic....

The US is leading this trend, but everyone else, especially Canada, is following quite closely. What the people want doesn't matter. It's all about the money. The more they 'lose' (it's not lost; it's gone somewhere, but that's another story) at the global poker table, the harder they have to squeeze ever-fewer productive taxpayers. The more harm they intend to do, the more anger they expect and arm against, the more they need us to be scared. This monster has its own logic and life-cycle. Nobody can stop it now... except, just possibly, a nation-wide, universal strike. Not likely. Or maybe peasants with torches and pitchforks - but there would have to be millions of peasants, not hundreds. It's far more likely to do what every monster does: grow and grow and grow, destroy its food-supply, foul its habitat, devour its children and starve to death. (economic collapse)

Or maybe fall to one of its other natural enemies: pandemic, climate change, world war, industrial accident. It most certainly will not yield to a few thousand people singing songs, nor a half dozen breaking windows.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

The black bloc causes police brutality.  They are the chicken not the egg.  So what was the excuse for the police violence prior to the black blocs emergence? 

I understand the debate going on within the other side.  It and the debate going on here is going to give some police security official the moral certainty to order the shooting of people in our streets for breaking windows.  Most people here will agree they deserved everything they got for ruining our great movement. The Union movement can't even rally behind the workers in Sudbury trying to hang on to the pensions and benefits that were won in the early 1960's.  So we tell the truly marginalized young people who will never get anywhere near a Defined Benefit Pension that they should be nice and respectful to the police and their masters. Peaceful demonstrations have never worked wonders to get social change.

I hope that when the fascists round up the black bloc they don't inadvertently sweep up any of you nice protesters because it would obviously not be the fascists fault but the black blocs and then we will have to have ten more threads decrying the black bloc for the police actions.

 

Papal Bull

I have one question regarding the thread title.

 

I know what constitutes a 'legitimate' protest. What is would make a protest illegitimate?

Polunatic2

cruisin_turtle wrote:

Polunatic2, where in downtown were the 19,000 officers while those 2 thugs shown in your article were carrying that 10 ft weapon and destroying store fronts with it in plain view?  I live downtown and I have never before seen Yonge street completely empty of police.

I have no idea where the cops were. Why they held back remains one of the $64,000 questions? The police and government must be held to account for their actions - even moreso for their illegal detentions, assaults and other violations of civil rights.  But that accountability also applies to "the movement". People need to take responsibility for their actions. They need to think through and mitigate any unintended consequences of their tactics, particularly where bystanders may be impacted - whether those bystanders are working people or shoppers on the other side of the shattering glass or protesters assembled in a so-called "green" zone. Re-writing history after the fact is a recipe to ensure that nothing is learned. (e.g. - the march/rally & BB action were completely separate OR no one was hurt therefore the action was non-violent.)  

With that in mind, the BB tactics were an abject failure. A waffle shop is not a bank. A doctor's office is not an oil company. A gift shop is not the government. At least one person was (allegedly) unintentionally assaulted by a stick. Others were terrified and forced to find a safe place to hide in their own workplaces. Yet others were pushed around and verbally assaulted on the street for taking photos. What was the point again? 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Papal Bull wrote:

I have one question regarding the thread title.

 

I know what constitutes a 'legitimate' protest. What is would make a protest illegitimate?

Dressing in black.

cruisin_turtle

Polunatic2 wrote:

the BB tactics were an abject failure.

If some of the BB were imbeded police informants then their tactic was a resounding success.  Harper now has his excuse to continue transforming Canada into a police state.  The social activists movement has been marred as a violent destructive movement.  And the police departments now seem justified in getting the hundreds of millions for these 3 days.

Freedom 55

Daedalus wrote:

Slumberjack wrote:

Peaceful activism had its time in the sun, but has failed miserably as a force for change against an unmoveable enemy bereft of conscience or decency. The repetitive counsel for more of the same is an echo which originates from countless defeats.

 

Marginal black blocs were around long before the Seattle protests - I remember them well at the ARMX protest in Ottawa in the late 80s. Their time under the sun - the last 25 years or so - has marked the most profoundly unproductive time the left has ever witnessed, and the most triumphant period the right has ever experienced. So I completely and utterly reject your assertion.

 

That's quite the straw man, there. Yes, the failures of the Left in recent decades can be blamed on the 'marginal' tactics of black blocs.[/sarcasm]

 

I'd be quite happy to see the Left jettison black bloc tactics in favour of something more effective. But please, if we're going to do away with these 'marginal' tactics because of their ineffectiveness, let's be sure to also purge ourselves of the rallies, marches, vigils, petitions, letters, postcards, and electoral campaigns which have surely been even more ubiquitous during that period, and which have also failed to deliver on their promise of a better world.

Polunatic2

So given that in the post-Seattle world, no one set of tactics - separate or combined - have been able to stave off the deepening economic and political crisis, perhaps we need to start thinking outside the box? There are victories (and they should be widely publicized and celebrated) but there are many more defeats as our adversaries have the means to fight us on a thousand fronts at the same time. They have a long term plan and if it takes an extra 5, 10 or even 20 years to get to where they're going, they've got the patience and resources to pull it off. 

melikesocialism

I would like to thank Kropotkin 1951 for summing up my view on this, especially his point about the union movement's failure to rally behind the Vale Inco workers in Sudbury. Is this what you want these idealistic, energetic young people to do? Join the conxervative unions and political parties as they pursue their toothless fight to give capitalism a gentler face? We have managed to purge the Communists and the Socialists out of the union movement and the NDP, now are going after the young Anarchists. Who will be left to fight the Fascists when they come (if they haven't already)?

Fifi

Ideology is bullshit and the stated aim of the NeoCons (and unstated aim of the NeoLiberals) has been to fuck with reality based thinking as much as possible. The black block kiddies are ideologues, they're tv babies that are desperately playing at being authentic in the hopes that it makes them feel alive. They like destruction - fire, breaking glass, blood, etc - because it makes them feel real for an instant (it's fight club baby). They're stuck in a narcissistic loop they can't see beyond, they adopt an AnarchistTM identity to try to feel real and authentic (fake it until you make it!) and as a release for their resentment about the world not telling them they're more special than everyone else. They could just be authentic, of course, but that would mean they'd have to face their own hollowness and being "normal" or "average" like the rest of us they despise and consider themselves superior to (they consider themselves more empathetic even though they have no empathy and, like anyone wiht a narcissistic personality disorder that sees others as objects to be used for selfish ends, simply appropriate the suffering of others to hide the fact that all they have to offer is suburban angst and rage against their parents, who they equate with the state).

I must say, my favorite bit of AnarchyTM retardedness has been the merging of AnarchyTM with new age rubbish (keep up that unreality based thinking!) and the North American Earth First Liberation Front Press Office (don't forget to send them info about any of your direct actions to publicize!...wacky that it was set up right after the US declared environmentalists to be domestic terrorists). Pretty wacky that all these so called "anarchists" are such ideologues! Talk about an anarchy FAIL. Not to mention a reality FAIL.

Fifi

This battle is about reality and not ideologies - it's about humanity having a place to live and collectively living within the constraints of reality instead of the insanity of ever increasing profits and expansionism. It's about claiming and keeping - and expanding - the rights we (and our parents and grandparents) fought and worked for because they were practical and grounded in reality. Both the political Left and Right have been attacking reality based thinking and encouraging unreality based thinking (whether it's just mindless consumerism and media consumption, new agey religion pretending not to be religion or straight up religious fundamentalism, or political ideologies that aren't reality based - it's worth noting that Randians like Rove and Cheney actually advocate reality based thinking by the elite and manipulation of the masses via promotion of unreality based thinking such as religion, entertainment and politics).

Being able to see reality for what it is - something that is nearly impossible to do if one is emotionally engaged with an ideology (including AnarchyTM) - is fundamental to actually being "free" in terms of one's thoughts and in terms of being less vulnerable to being manipulated through your emotional reactions. Just like the riot kiddies are manipulated into playing the role predetermined and encouraged by the elites they like to think they're rebelling against. It would be sad if the arrogance and hate for others didn't make the riot kiddes so pathetic.

cruisin_turtle

@Polunatic2, the basic right of the people is to be able to express their opinions of things they like and don't like.  Rallies are one way of doing that, especially if the people don't have a media outlet to carry their view because all the mass media has been bought by large corporations who only present their point of view.

The Black Bloc tactics using violence to crash rallies by labour movements and the like is denying the people this option.  As seen in 2007, the police sometimes use Black Bloc tactics to crash such rallies and march organizers have to be aware of that and stop it.  Otherwise, we have lost our ability to express ourselves through rallies and peaceful demonstrations.  And I imagine that's not an outcome that you want.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Fifi wrote:

they're tv babies  They like destruction -  they can't see beyond, they adopt an AnarchistTM i

I must say, my favorite bit of AnarchyTM retardedness

They are evil we are not.  Blah blah blah

Hey fuck-head stop using my son's developmental disability as as an insult.  You are a nice piece of progressive work.  I love your commitment to solidarity and fighting on behalf of the marginalized.  

I guess my son is part of your "they" that is all right to denigrate and dehumanize. That is appropriate since the fascist always go for the developmentally delayed and the anarchists first. 

 

Polunatic2

@c_t

You make some valid points about protest rallies/marches. However, there is no evidence to suggest that the police were responsible for the BB tactics. 

The ineffectiveness of one form of tactics doesn't necessarily make another form effective in and of itself. Any tactic should be empowering for those participating. I share the frustration with the way some rallies are organized. How do we make them more empowering and effective? 

Maysie Maysie's picture

Fifi, don't use language like "retarded", it's offensive. First and last warning.

kropotkin, don't call other babblers "fuck heads". Come on, you know that already.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Polunatic2 wrote:

@c_t

You make some valid points about protest rallies/marches. However, there is no evidence to suggest that the police were responsible for the BB tactics. 

The ineffectiveness of one form of tactics doesn't necessarily make another form effective in and of itself. Any tactic should be empowering for those participating. I share the frustration with the way some rallies are organized. How do we make them more empowering and effective? 

When you get the answer to that you will have your revolution.  

I think if we are going to have a debate about tactics we should look to see what has been tried and what the outcome was. So far i have been involved in many peaceful union lead marches and protests against cut backs and more cut backs and you know the cutbacks just keep on coming. Does any one really think that a large peaceful protest will change anything in Canadian politics?  

For those of you who want to right me of as a defeatist I say since I have actually gone to marches and rallies for decades I have earned the right to say they don't work.  But I will still go because I at least get to say I stood up for my beliefs because the beliefs themselves are worth fighting for.

When over 50,000 people protested (peacefully with no black bloc presence) on the lawns in front of the BC legislature one of the Cabinet Ministers looked out at the citizens and in front of reporters dismissed the tens of thousands as Union Thugs. That was almost ten years ago and he is still one of the main players in cabinet.

I don't think any number of protesters will change any policy of Harper's or any of the provincial governments. Been there done that and was ignored.  Oh and by the way the only way that it appears the BC Liberals are in danger is from a populist anti-tax revolt not the progressive movements protests or the BC Feds fight back campaigns. 

 

Freedom 55

Fifi wrote:

They're stuck in a narcissistic loop they can't see beyond, they adopt an AnarchistTM identity to try to feel real and authentic (fake it until you make it!) and as a release for their resentment about the world not telling them they're more special than everyone else. They could just be authentic, of course, but that would mean they'd have to face their own hollowness and being "normal" or "average" like the rest of us they despise and consider themselves superior to (they consider themselves more empathetic even though they have no empathy and, like anyone wiht a narcissistic personality disorder that sees others as objects to be used for selfish ends, simply appropriate the suffering of others to hide the fact that all they have to offer is suburban angst and rage against their parents, who they equate with the state).

 

I find your characterization ridiculous, and completely counter to my experiences with anarchists. 

Daedalus Daedalus's picture

Freedom 55 wrote:
That's quite the straw man, there. Yes, the failures of the Left in recent decades can be blamed on the 'marginal' tactics of black blocs.[/sarcasm]

The straw man is yours, not mine. Where did I say that the cause of the Left's failures in recent decades was the BBs? Simple, I didn't. I was responding to someone who insisted that BB tactics were the way to success, and noted that the era of the BB has actually been profoundly unsuccesful. I didn't say it was caused by the BB - merely that BBs obviously did nothing at all to enhance success.

Quote:
let's be sure to also purge ourselves of the rallies, marches, vigils, petitions, letters, postcards, and electoral campaigns which have surely been even more ubiquitous during that period, and which have also failed to deliver on their promise of a better world.

 

Give up everything those things have achieved in the past century, and tell me that they haven't made the world better. No health care, no universal sufferage, etc. I wouldn't say they are sufficient, but they are quite obviously necessary to change. The BB clearly isn't.

cruisin_turtle

@Fifi, I don't know why you are getting such a bad rap here. I agree with much of what you say. My question is how do you know what you said about anarchists? Do you know some from personal experiences or is it mostly what you hear in the media and read on the web? The only anarchist I heard of is Jaggi Singh and I don't think he advocates chaos and violence.  I don't know much else about them and how real their "movement" is and I still have my doubts about the existence of BB groups during the G20 protest.  I still think these groups were mostly kids egged on and led by undercover agents.  In effect, if the police had no hand in encouraging them, they may cease to exist alltogether or at least their numbers will be much smaller.

Fifi

My experience with anarchists is quite different than my experience with the AnarchistsTM I've met. The anarchists I've known over the years, and worked alongside many times, are nothing like the AnarchistsTM you see playing riot kiddie. Why? Because they engage in constructive action, even when engaged in protest. They never were deluded enough to make grandiose claims to be equivalent to indigenous freedom movements (or other self serving claims that appropriate the suffering of others). Sure there were always some street kids with drug and abuse issues (and lots of resentment against the cops) hanging around but they're not anarchists (writing CRASS on the back of your jacket doesn't make you an anarchist, it makes you a rather pathetic imitation of a punk rocker from before you were born, talk about nostalgia and lack of originality or authenticity!) In Quebec City NOT one local anarchist, those involved with community building and organizing stuff, knew the riot kiddies.

The main point really is that in my experience with  anarchists (which goes back to the 70s, yes anarchy is older than the G8/20 8sigh*), an authentic anarchist is flexible, adaptable and can deal with things in a context specific (and reality-based) way. There is no ideology to defend, there's merely doing the appropriate thing to get the best results. The AnarchistsTM are all about dogma - they're rigid and uncreative, so much so that they're easily manipulated and made into a tool of the state. They're merely providing a wrench to tighten "security" and being used as patsies to alienate the general public from their own best interest. They're tv babies, wired for sensationalism. They only really feel alive when they're engaged in sensationalistic activities and hopped up on adrenalin - just like the cops they mirror so perfectly with their black uniforms and anonymity, hatred for witnessing media and disdain the common man, and their total conviction that they're right and they are enttiled to use any means necessary to serve their personal ends (dressed up grandiosely as ideology, of course, just like the people they hate and equally dehumanize to justify their actions). AnarchistsTM HELP create the fear that police and politicians use to get more power...but, hey, it's all about releasing one's personal pent up frustration and not really about change anyway. I used to stand up for anarchists - even though I'm not into "isms" myself - but the riot kiddies/tourists and AnarchistsTM are more hockey fans really than they are revolutionaries of any kind. They're reactionaries - all they do is react. Direct Reaction isn't direct action.

remind remind's picture

june 28th, the join up day, seems to mean that we have pundits telling us like it is from either side....sewing divisions over this is unhealthy and personally I trust no one that is doing so, in this circumstance.

The focus needs to be on what the state did.

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