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How do we decide on tactics? Who gets to decide? (Boundaries to Protest II)

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Polunatic2
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Joined: Mar 12 2006

Quote:
I'd like an example
How about the US civil rights movement which raised non-violent resistance to a principle in order to bring down the legal pillars of white supremacy and segregation? 


NDPP
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Joined: Dec 28 2008

Excellent discussion of 'Heart Attack' protests and diversity of tactics  by Vancouver Media coop's Dawn Paley on Rabble TV frontpage:

http://www.rabble.ca/rabbletv/program-guide/2010/02/features/vancouver-m...


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004

Pogo wrote:
King's notion of nonviolence had six key principles.

I think the largest issues right now in both Canada and the USA are the collapse of neoliberal ideology in the economy, and phony war. In America the two issues are directly related. Harper has committed Canadian taxpayers to spending on US-style military buildup in Canada forward to the year 2020. That's a lot of money and resources to waste in a country that can't afford it with the massive debt they're dinging up now same as Mulroney. They will spend billions of dollars as before, and most Canadians will never see any benefit from it. And we are continuing to send troops to an illegal war and NATO military buildup on the other side of the world. HEL-LO frozen hosers? And some large minority of Canadians have swallowed hook, line and sinker the American inquisition's raison d'etre for waging phony war in the Middle East and Central Asia.

The 9/11 Truth and anti-war movements seem to be divided somewhat in both countries, but these are already existing anti-imperialist grassroots organizations with some fairly significant and credible people already backing both of them. I think the US bipartisan war parties worked together to create Al-Qa'eda/Al-CIA'da some time ago. And in lockstep, Canada's mirror image bipartisan war parties have shadowed US government policies in Afghanistan and Iraq from the time of both Bush's, Clinton,  and now Obama. Whatever Uncle Sam says goes as far as Canada's two old line parties are concerned. And Canada's Liberal and Tory parties are only concerned with fulfilling their colonial administrative duties and completing tasks assigned to them by their imperial masters in Warshington. If the left united on this, we could turn this war of disinformation against the US and Canadian right, and use it to destabilize the plutocracy like they've worked to achieve in so many other countries around the world. This could eventually develop into revolutionary change, and not just for Canada but in the heart of the vicious empire itself where real change, whenever it does occur in the U.S.,  seems to radiate outward like spokes of wheel to the rest of the western world.


remind
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Joined: Jun 25 2004

wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee wingy you goooooo....................!


Slumberjack
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Joined: Aug 8 2005

I'm kinda partial with the cut of that jib at #30 as well.


Di
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Joined: Jan 7 2010

WingNut wrote:

What I have discovered through my many, many years of careful research supported through Hostess Potato Chips and Moslon's Export

You eat Hostess potato chips while researching protest on the CBC?  Interesting that you would support a multi-national through your consumption while doing this -- not exactly voting with your wallet, are you?


Slumberjack
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Joined: Aug 8 2005

From experience, the process of growing potatoes in the backyard and attempting to process them into a reasonable facsimile of the ubiquitous snack food is a fairly time and labour intensive process, where the end result never quite captures the desirable essence that one looks for in a potato chip.


Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001

I think he was being sarcastic. :D

BTW, you're not using a Windows or Apple computer to discuss this, are you? ;)


Di
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Joined: Jan 7 2010

I only mention it because this discussion just seems so far removed from tactics.  Voting with our wallets can be really effective, and it's frustrating that there's so much ranting going on and so little discussion of effective tactics.  Some of the other means of non-violent protest Gandhi used were economic -- like making his own salt instead of importing it from Britain, and weaving his own cotton. 

The big corporations are all about profit, so we should try to address that.  It doesn't take much.  If you shop at Walmart, why not shop at the Sally Anne instead?  Or buy local or fairly traded. Or buy as little as possible (which is easy in this economy). Or move your money from a bank to a credit union, or put your RRSP funds into something environmentally friendly, and let other people know why.

The Yes Men are great tactitians -- actions that make people think about what they're doing and providing alternatives is a big deal. Reducing it to violence/non-violence misses so much.  It would be great to see a discussion about effective/non-effective action.

 


Polunatic2
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Joined: Mar 12 2006

@ Di - I provided a response to your earlier question - wondering your views on the thesis that civil rights movement used non-violent means to successfully achieve its objectives. 


Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001

No Difference Party, that is an interesting clip and I just watched it and she made some good points.

I had to laugh at the end, though.  She just got through telling us that the mainstream corporate media lies and distorts.  And then at the end, she complains that all they did was "feast" and "gorge themselves" on shots of the broken windows.

Well, what do you expect?  Yes, that IS what the mainstream media does.  So why hand them such images on a silver platter?  It's just poor strategy.  Complaining about the fact that they don't report the "so much information" that you're putting out is pissing into the wind, if you are giving them something much juicier to focus on instead by breaking windows.  Anyone who works in media knows that in an 8-second soundbite world, your "so much information" isn't going to get onto the television news, and that if you smash a bunch of windows, that WILL get onto the television news.

Yes, I agree that police with assault rifles are ridiculous overkill, and I agree that calling them "peace officers" is Orwellian.  But that's beside the point.  I agree that CTV and VANOC and the police are in cahoots and feeding each other.  So in that case, when you're protesting something so popular that 84% of Canadians who were watching television during opening ceremonies were watching the opening ceremonies, why use a tactic that will completely alienate everyone who watches it?


remind
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Joined: Jun 25 2004

Did it achieve its directive? Or is it my imagination blacks in the USA  are  poorer than whites by far, and are in jail in larger numbers?

 

Or are we only looking at Oprah et al these days.

 

As it seems that would be like us saying that First Nations,  are successful and thriving  from when they got the right to vote too, plus a bag of chips.

 

 


radiorahim
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Joined: Jun 17 2002

Di wrote:

I only mention it because this discussion just seems so far removed from tactics.  Voting with our wallets can be really effective, and it's frustrating that there's so much ranting going on and so little discussion of effective tactics.  Some of the other means of non-violent protest Gandhi used were economic -- like making his own salt instead of importing it from Britain, and weaving his own cotton. 

The big corporations are all about profit, so we should try to address that.  It doesn't take much.  If you shop at Walmart, why not shop at the Sally Anne instead?  Or buy local or fairly traded. Or buy as little as possible (which is easy in this economy). Or move your money from a bank to a credit union, or put your RRSP funds into something environmentally friendly, and let other people know why.

The Yes Men are great tactitians -- actions that make people think about what they're doing and providing alternatives is a big deal. Reducing it to violence/non-violence misses so much.  It would be great to see a discussion about effective/non-effective action.

 

C

Yes indeed, finding ways to hit the corporations in their wallets is almost always a useful tactic.    Much more useful than smashing a few windows.    Speaking of which...(Windows that is), I figure I hit Microsoft in the wallet every time I install a GNU/Linux operating system on someone's computer.   It means that they're on their way to computing with community built software instead of monopoly corporate software. Microsoft...one of the most profitable corporations in the world doesn't like me very much ;)

 Edited to add:   Microsoft happens to have an 18% interest in MSNBC..a major part of the NBC empire ... the folks who have the Olympic games rights in the US.   So wanna hurt NBC?  Organize an Olympic-sized GNU/Linux install fest.


Slumberjack
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Joined: Aug 8 2005

Di wrote:
  Reducing it to violence/non-violence misses so much. 

The reduction to violence, which is monopolized by the corporate state through its own self serving laws, is routinely wielded against citizens who extend themselves beyond window dressing forms of protest, and for some, it can materialize as police intervention for the impudent act of using a sidewalk.  Justified self-defence can be expressed through a variety of conceivable reactions.


NDPP
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Joined: Dec 28 2008

"All resistance must recognize that the body politic and global capitalism are dead. We should stop  wasting energy trying to reform or appeal to it. This does not mean the end of resistance, but it does mean very different forms of resistance..."

Chris Hedges: Zero Point of Systemic Collapse

http://www.adbusters.org/magazine/88/chris-hedges.html


WingNut
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Joined: Aug 30 2001

Di wrote:

I only mention it because this discussion just seems so far removed from tactics.  Voting with our wallets can be really effective, and it's frustrating that there's so much ranting going on and so little discussion of effective tactics.  Some of the other means of non-violent protest Gandhi used were economic -- like making his own salt instead of importing it from Britain, and weaving his own cotton. 

The big corporations are all about profit, so we should try to address that.  It doesn't take much.  If you shop at Walmart, why not shop at the Sally Anne instead?  Or buy local or fairly traded. Or buy as little as possible (which is easy in this economy). Or move your money from a bank to a credit union, or put your RRSP funds into something environmentally friendly, and let other people know why.

The Yes Men are great tactitians -- actions that make people think about what they're doing and providing alternatives is a big deal. Reducing it to violence/non-violence misses so much.  It would be great to see a discussion about effective/non-effective action.

 

In all seriousness, I couldn't agree more. You see, it's all about the power of the individual. You. Me. Us. Together but apart as grouped individuals representing real power. Purchasing power! I can feel it! Even as I ... I ... type ... OH MY GOD!... it feels sooooo good ....

I'm sorry. I'll get a grip, no I mean a hold, no I mean I will calm down, get into my happy place, think nice thoughts, icecream, sunny days, yellow flowers ....

Okay, so, back to where I was. I couldn't agree more. There is in fact an entire philosophy built around the very ideas you are expressing.  You can read more about it here. I like to think of it this way: let's say we all vacationed at a Florida time share with a swimming pool. Let's say, for the sake of discussion, there were 12 couples, with shared domestics, for a total of 30 people. Now let's say, further, we shared in common a swimming pool. Now let's also say six of us routinely urinate in that pool. That would piss the rest of you off (no pun intended but it works) ; especially assuming we all pay equal shares.

Now there are two ways you could go about addressing this: the communist way, and the freedom way.

The communist way would require all the gays and socialists to go away, form a committee, and return with rules that would include denying us pee-ers access to the pool and maybe even denying us our time shares. That kind of big government, draconian, tyranny-of-the-majority thinking is what's ruined this country. And the USA. too. It's turned us all into a nation of  milquetoasts pissing in toilets and lowering the seat when we're done. We used to be real consumers. Git 'er done, we would say to each other as we marched ourselves to the Home Depot. It's a damn shame is what it is.

With the freedom way, each one of you would exercise your God given right to ostracize me and my fellow liquidators. You'd leave us to the chemically pure water of the pool and our deviant practices secure in not only being politically righteous and ideologically pure, but that in being shunned through the act of individual choice, we will eventually recognize the errors of our ways and conform to individualistic norms. God bless ya. 

So long as you're not using the pool you don't mind if I swim naked, do you?


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004

WingNut wrote:
With the freedom way, each one of you would exercise your God given right to ostracize me and my fellow liquidators. You'd leave us to the chemically pure water of the pool and our deviant practices secure in not only being politically righteous and ideologically pure, but that in being shunned through the act of individual choice, we will eventually recognize the errors of our ways and conform to individualistic norms. God bless ya.

ASCE Report Card for America's Infrastructure  C- grade for parks and recreation, and  D grade overall

The freedom way in America has been to lower taxes, dreg'ulate and privatize just about everything in sight since Ronald Raygun. Public swimming  pools and Olympic sportsplexes across the USA began resembling that of the former USSR years ago except sans cold war embargoes and dirty wars to point to as an excuse for the failed ideology. In fact, the USSR wasn't as bankrupt by 1989. The city of Vancouver's waterworks need repairs and upgrades worth billions of dollars. Money for circuses but not clean water and sewers. It's busted, Jim.


WingNut
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Joined: Aug 30 2001

Fidel you old, Cuban, bastard, you ... I hear ya. I really do. I just don't care. I'd like to, if only for old time's sake (you're old, right?), but I just can't summon the will. I feel it. I just can't do it. You understand.


j.m.
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Joined: Dec 20 2009

WingNut wrote:

Fidel you old, Cuban, bastard, you ... I hear ya. I really do. I just don't care. I'd like to, if only for old time's sake (you're old, right?), but I just can't summon the will. I feel it. I just can't do it. You understand.

It's the power of capital. It has that effect on people.


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004

WingNut wrote:

Fidel you old, Cuban, bastard, you ... I hear ya. I really do. I just don't care. I'd like to, if only for old time's sake (you're old, right?), but I just can't summon the will. I feel it. I just can't do it. You understand.

E.D. and change of life seminars are down the hall on the right next to neoliberals anon. ha


George Victor
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Joined: Oct 28 2007

Snert wrote:

Quote:
The majority has been rendered incapable of analyzing the repressive actions of the ruling elite, let alone demonstrates a level of awareness which would permit even the most basic objections to the heinous acts undertaken by this power.

 

Ah, of course. BRAINWASHING!

 

That must be it! There can be no other reason why the populace could reject something as well thought out, and frankly, as perfect as anarchy!

 

Gimme a break. You don't need to resort to mind control to explain why radical politics don't appeal to the majority.

You've seen too many early Cold War movies, Feeding people lies is not brainwashing.  After a while, they distrust the truth, and avoid it like the pox. Their faith helps greatly (now THERE'S an example of brainwashing).  :)


George Victor
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Joined: Oct 28 2007

As for the pee in the pool...Nobody is going to stand on the edge of the pool and do that.  You learn as a child to urinate while immersed, and then nobody knows but Jesus. And it is a God-given right in this here democracy not to tell another person whether you peed in that pool or not, or whether you vote as a consumer/taxpayer peeing on the poor, or not. No sir. And it's those "quiet ones" that get you at election time. The "butter wouldn't melt" variety.


peterjcassidy
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Joined: Apr 27 2001

Jingles wrote:

I will concede an example of direct action, or "smashysmashy", that was effective, if in a very minor way. 

It wasn't the Raging Grannies that forced the G-8 to Iqaluit for their summit last month. It was an understanding that these heavenly meetings of the rich and powerful deciding our fate were not being met by fawning love from the people. If every time you meet, you must call out your expensive mercenary army to protect you, people might start to question your beneficence and godly wisdom. It's best to meet in secret when you are carving up the spoils.

 Personally and politically I have no problems with activists making the rich and powerful feel unwanted and suggest any attempt at disrupting their plans should evoke some sympathy from "progressives". Often however it seems to some progressives that certain approachs,  certain tactics , don't  advance the struggle. and there can be a debate ,? At times it may be argued that  a certain tactic, a supposed attack on the rich and powerful hurts the "poor and powerless" or the "working class" or the "middle class allies"or legitimizes repression or costs us an elecion or set back the cause somehow. .There are, to me, strategic questions to be discussed..

Generally, from what I have seen and heard of the protests leading up to and during the Olympics so far, I think the sum total helps the cause and none of it hurt us inordinately, i would be inclined to defend those accused of "thuggery"not condemn them.

 

 

 


Pogo
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Joined: Aug 19 2002

Putting together affordable housing projects is very difficult and requires bringing as many parties as possible to the table.  The Oympic protests have made this job harder.  While I wouldn't necessarily support it I could understand people if they were willing to take this negative outcome in order to build a stronger movement.  But if anything they have marginalized themselves.  Even David Eby has washed his hands of them.


dgr_insurrection
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Joined: Feb 16 2010

Does anybody really think that if we all sing give peace a chance that Obama is going to get out of Iraq? Or NATO out of Afghanistan? Or that if we ask nicely that Exxon is going to stop polluting or Pacific Lumber is going to stop clearcutting? Let's get real.


dgr_insurrection
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Joined: Feb 16 2010

Oh, here's something else...

http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/4801/

Quote:

Forget Shorter Showers by Derrick Jensen

Would any sane person think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?

Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption—changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much—and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide.

Or let’s talk water. We so often hear that the world is running out of water. People are dying from lack of water. Rivers are dewatered from lack of water. Because of this we need to take shorter showers. See the disconnect? Because I take showers, I’m responsible for drawing down aquifers? Well, no. More than 90 percent of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. The remaining 10 percent is split between municipalities and actual living breathing individual humans. Collectively, municipal golf courses use as much water as municipal human beings. People (both human people and fish people) aren’t dying because the world is running out of water. They’re dying because the water is being stolen.

Or let’s talk energy. Kirkpatrick Sale summarized it well: “For the past 15 years the story has been the same every year: individual consumption—residential, by private car, and so on—is never more than about a quarter of all consumption; the vast majority is commercial, industrial, corporate, by agribusiness and government [he forgot military]. So, even if we all took up cycling and wood stoves it would have a negligible impact on energy use, global warming and atmospheric pollution.”

Or let’s talk waste. In 2005, per capita municipal waste production (basically everything that’s put out at the curb) in the U.S. was about 1,660 pounds. Let’s say you’re a die-hard simple-living activist, and you reduce this to zero. You recycle everything. You bring cloth bags shopping. You fix your toaster. Your toes poke out of old tennis shoes. You’re not done yet, though. Since municipal waste includes not just residential waste, but also waste from government offices and businesses, you march to those offices, waste reduction pamphlets in hand, and convince them to cut down on their waste enough to eliminate your share of it. Uh, I’ve got some bad news. Municipal waste accounts for only 3 percent of total waste production in the United States.

I want to be clear. I’m not saying we shouldn’t live simply. I live reasonably simply myself, but I don’t pretend that not buying much (or not driving much, or not having kids) is a powerful political act, or that it’s deeply revolutionary. It’s not. Personal change doesn’t equal social change.

So how, then, and especially with all the world at stake, have we come to accept these utterly insufficient responses? I think part of it is that we’re in a double bind. A double bind is where you’re given multiple options, but no matter what option you choose, you lose, and withdrawal is not an option. At this point, it should be pretty easy to recognize that every action involving the industrial economy is destructive (and we shouldn’t pretend that solar photovoltaics, for example, exempt us from this: they still require mining and transportation infrastructures at every point in the production processes; the same can be said for every other so-called green technology). So if we choose option one—if we avidly participate in the industrial economy—we may in the short term think we win because we may accumulate wealth, the marker of “success” in this culture. But we lose, because in doing so we give up our empathy, our animal humanity. And we really lose because industrial civilization is killing the planet, which means everyone loses. If we choose the “alternative” option of living more simply, thus causing less harm, but still not stopping the industrial economy from killing the planet, we may in the short term think we win because we get to feel pure, and we didn’t even have to give up all of our empathy (just enough to justify not stopping the horrors), but once again we really lose because industrial civilization is still killing the planet, which means everyone still loses. The third option, acting decisively to stop the industrial economy, is very scary for a number of reasons, including but not restricted to the fact that we’d lose some of the luxuries (like electricity) to which we’ve grown accustomed, and the fact that those in power might try to kill us if we seriously impede their ability to exploit the world—none of which alters the fact that it’s a better option than a dead planet. Any option is a better option than a dead planet.

Besides being ineffective at causing the sorts of changes necessary to stop this culture from killing the planet, there are at least four other problems with perceiving simple living as a political act (as opposed to living simply because that’s what you want to do). The first is that it’s predicated on the flawed notion that humans inevitably harm their landbase. Simple living as a political act consists solely of harm reduction, ignoring the fact that humans can help the Earth as well as harm it. We can rehabilitate streams, we can get rid of noxious invasives, we can remove dams, we can disrupt a political system tilted toward the rich as well as an extractive economic system, we can destroy the industrial economy that is destroying the real, physical world.

The second problem—and this is another big one—is that it incorrectly assigns blame to the individual (and most especially to individuals who are particularly powerless) instead of to those who actually wield power in this system and to the system itself. Kirkpatrick Sale again: “The whole individualist what-you-can-do-to-save-the-earth guilt trip is a myth. We, as individuals, are not creating the crises, and we can’t solve them.”

The third problem is that it accepts capitalism’s redefinition of us from citizens to consumers. By accepting this redefinition, we reduce our potential forms of resistance to consuming and not consuming. Citizens have a much wider range of available resistance tactics, including voting, not voting, running for office, pamphleting, boycotting, organizing, lobbying, protesting, and, when a government becomes destructive of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we have the right to alter or abolish it.

The fourth problem is that the endpoint of the logic behind simple living as a political act is suicide. If every act within an industrial economy is destructive, and if we want to stop this destruction, and if we are unwilling (or unable) to question (much less destroy) the intellectual, moral, economic, and physical infrastructures that cause every act within an industrial economy to be destructive, then we can easily come to believe that we will cause the least destruction possible if we are dead.

The good news is that there are other options. We can follow the examples of brave activists who lived through the difficult times I mentioned—Nazi Germany, Tsarist Russia, antebellum United States—who did far more than manifest a form of moral purity; they actively opposed the injustices that surrounded them. We can follow the example of those who remembered that the role of an activist is not to navigate systems of oppressive power with as much integrity as possible, but rather to confront and take down those systems.


epaulo13
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Joined: Dec 13 2009

Jingles wrote:

It would be great to see the discussion move to how we can define our goals, and come up with strategies to help us attain them.  Part of the goal is to gain public sympathy and support (which the smashysmashy stuff doesn't). 

 

Bingo!


Frustrated Mess
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Joined: Feb 23 2005
Derrick Jensen is a great writer.

Mick
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Joined: Jun 11 2002

It's not a direct response to the above article, but I would encourage readers to read my recent blog post on linchpin.ca

Quote:

We need a mass movement not a black bloc
By Mick Sweetman

As I sat in an activist meeting at a union's downtown Toronto office on Saturday afternoon, discussing such exciting things as what type of brochure we should produce for the upcoming International Women's Day, a text message flashed onto my cell phone from the Vancouver Media Co-op.

"BREAKING VMC VIDEO: Anarchists Smash Windows @ the Bay"

I sighed, shook my head, and blurted out a single word in frustration, "Idiots."

Why was I so frustrated by this almost predictable news from across the country? It's because I've seen it before and knew exactly what the backlash against not only the anti-Olympic protests but also against anarchism itself would be.

Read the rest of the article...

 

 


NDPP
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Joined: Dec 28 2008

Personally, I find the 'predictable backlash' far more revealing than the usual smishy smashy of the black bloc. Such a lot of fuss over a little broken glass. If this was Athens, Paris or even London such would barely be noticed...You'd think Al Qaeda had hit town. What a backwater get over it.


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