In defence of the diversity of tactics

| March 1, 2010

Judy Rebick, from her office in downtown Toronto, complained that "when a spontaneous anger against the Black Bloc emerged on social media, people berated us for ‘dividing the movement.'" She says that, in fact, "it is the Black Bloc that is dividing the movement."

She is wrong.

I have been involved in a wide array of coalitions on various issues over the past half decade, and never have I witnessed cross-movement solidarity like I have in the anti-Olympics campaign. In southern Ontario, as in Vancouver, radical groups from a variety of locations in the broader movement have come together to start to develop a shared anti-colonial analysis. This solidarity and unity, on the anti-colonial front, is deeper and stronger now than it has been at any point in the last 10 years.

A strong example of that solidarity was on display during the Feb. 12th "Take Back Our City" march. That event saw upwards of 2,000 people march on BC Place during the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games, and was led by indigenous women. When the march reached the police line outside of BC Place that night, the cops started pushing and shoving the front line. Indigenous women called for the Black Bloc to move to the front to hold the line. When the elders amongst that leadership group decided that the crush from the police was too much, the Black Bloc made space for them to move to the back of the crowd.

Twenty-first-century anti-colonial analysis is one that is able to identify commonalities between the struggles of the urban poor and those of indigenous sovereigntists. Where colonization is ongoing against First Nations, we are also able to see gentrification and the criminalization of homelessness and poverty as a form of urban colonialism. In Vancouver (and elsewhere) there is often no distinction between indigenous sovereigntists and the urban poor; they are often the same people.

This 21st-century analysis is finally moving beyond political philosophies rooted in 19th- and 20th-century Eurocentric intellectual traditions (such as those fostered by anarcho-socialists like Mick Sweetman of Common Cause in Ontario, who still choose to see the world through the lense of an industrial workers struggle). This new anti-colonialism is one that seeks to push out the old colonial patterns of European intellectualism to make space for fundamentally different cultural ideas rooted in places other than Europe.

This 21st-century analysis is moving beyond the empty rhetoric of "revolutionary acts." We no longer wish to seize the machinery of the State to use it for our own ends; we wish to see it dismantled, to be replaced by something other than a new Euro-American colonialism. A better world than that is possible, but it cannot come about until we move beyond the dominant paradigms of our culture. Statism and white supremacy must be resigned to the dustbins of history.

Part of the strength of the anti-Olympic campaign, as a watershed for the new anti-colonial movement, has been the solidarity and unity around a "diversity of tactics." Part of that solidarity is rooted in the idea that you cannot attack one part of the movement without attacking the whole. When we remember to defend each other, we also remember to work together to build the movement and our communities. This cannot be done by succumbing to the classic colonial tactic of divide and conquer. Diversity of tactics means that one day we smash the system and the next we build alternatives. The Black Block is a wrecking ball tactic that makes space for more mainstream or creative tactics. The anarchists who participate in the Bloc are for the most part solid community organizers and people who are at the forefront of making space for creative alternatives to capitalism and colonialism. A diversity of tactics is meant to be complimentary -- different tactics demonstrate different values and objectives, and all must be viewed in sum.

Mutual solidarity

The highlight of the anti-Olympic convergence in Vancouver, for me, has been to see a coming together and mutual solidarity between Vancouver's Downtown Eastside (DTES) and indigenous sovereigntists (and their allies) -- two demographics whom have been especially under attack by the Olympic and State machines. In fact, on the streets of Vancouver, increasingly it would appear that the sovereigntists and the anti-poverty activists are often the same people.

Working as allies, not just in a supporting role, have been a wide array of activists from many sectors. Prominent amongst the organizers in the Olympic Resistance Network (ORN) and throughout the convergence have indeed been anarchists who participated in the Black Bloc actions during the "Heart Attack" march on Feb. 13, 2010.

What Judy Rebick, and many other critics who have had little to do with the anti-Olympic movement, have entirely failed to notice is the fact that the Black Bloc was supported by almost every constituency of the ORN. This show of solidarity was not divisive -- it brought us together and has built deep trust between activists who, in the past, have often had very little to say to each other.

Organizations that were publicly represented include (or had individual members present and unmasked): No One Is Illegal, the Council of Canadians, PETA, the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), StopWar.ca, Gatewaysucks, the Vancouver Anti-Poverty Committee, Food Not Bombs, and many more. None of those organizations have denounced the actions of the Black Bloc that day. And they can't, because their members know that on that day, they were there to support the Black Bloc. Anyone who says that they didn't know what was going to happen is lying. There were 200 people in black with masks on, and "Riot 2010" has been a rallying call for the movement for more than two years now. Everyone knew what was going to happen, and they all marched anyway.

For Judy Rebick to claim that the Black Bloc had "come into the middle of a demonstration with black face masks [to] break up whatever takes their fancy when the vast majority of people involved don't want them to," is either dishonest, or a sign that she has stopped paying attention to what actually happens on the ground. The Black Bloc is not dividing the movement -- people with aspirations for mainstream acceptance who distance themselves from other activists are.

Judy Rebick is going to have to decide whether she wants to be a celebrity, acceptable to the CBC and their mainstream audience, or work on the ground with people who are fed up with capitalism, with colonialism, and also with the paralyzing cult of non-violence. It is time to realize that there are people who are ready to fight back, and that it is time to support them.

Unarmed activists do battle

After the police clashed with the Bloc that day, and affinity groups were forced to scatter (the Black Bloc doesn't do peaceful arrests -- the tactic dictates mutual protection from the police instead), the majority of the "non-violent" marchers continued in support. Some of them allowed themselves to be arrested by the frustrated police. Blaming anyone other than the police for the conduct of the police is merely a legitimization of the police presence on our streets -- it would be like blaming the poor for the criminalization of homelessness. I expect people to know better. Cops are no more than armed thugs-for-hire.

In fact, the willingness of unarmed activists to battle with heavily armed riot cops, in order to de-arrest people they may have never met before and may never be able to identify, is one of the strongest forms of solidarity I have ever witnessed. We have to be willing to physically protect our own communities, no matter the cost, by any means necessary.
This is the type of message that the Black Bloc sends. The point is that we don't need or want your cops or your capitalist colonial system. The point of such actions is not to convince bystanders or any particular audience to join us in the streets. The point is to put people on notice that there exists active insurrectionary resistance, right here in the belly of the beast.

For Judy Rebick to suggest that Black Bloc tactics "put other people and the issues we are fighting for in jeopardy," is just preposterous. The mass audiences that dismissed the "Heart Attack" march are consistently the same mass audiences who generally dismiss every form of direct action and every radical cause. Judy may be too used to her celebrity status to notice, but most people aren't paying attention to start with. So-called "nonviolent direct action", with rare exceptions, is also summarily dismissed by most people, most of the time. They want us to go through so-called proper channels, not understanding that the system exists to perpetuate itself, not to accommodate change or the empowerment of communities under attack. Begging the government for change merely legitimizes their claim to be the rightful authority over land and people. Too many, enamoured with the cult of nonviolence, have too easily parroted the conservative media narratives that so predictably hamper our movements.

Further, it is not unity under a commitment to a "diversity of tactics" that stifles debate within our movement -- that is what we call solidarity. It is a zealous adherence to dogmatic "non-violence" that shuts down any meaningful dialogue.

Making Canadians stop and think

An important point that nobody seems to have picked up on, is that the targeting of the Hudson's Bay Company actually opened up space for Canadians to stop and think about the colonial history of HBC, if only briefly. Those citizens still capable of critical thought were left with little choice.

Two days after the "Heart Attack" march, there was an anti-poverty march which was attended by many liberals and so-called progressives -- MP Libby Davies, for example. A group broke off from that march, hopped the fence to an empty lot (owned by condo developers, under lease by VANOC) and cut the locks from the gates, opening them up for people to set up the Olympic Tent Village which will still stand at least until the end of the Olympics. Many activists who participated in the Black Bloc at "Heart Attack" have been there ever since, volunteering almost around the clock cooking meals, working security shifts, helping set up tents and keeping them dry, working the medic tent, organizing new actions with members of the DTES community. Meanwhile, more liberal folks (like Dave Eby of the BCCLA) showed up once or twice for photo ops without ever setting foot inside the camp or talking to any of the people without homes whom they build their careers speaking on behalf of.

It is not the champions of civil liberties, the democratic reformers or academics who are down at the Olympic Tent Village. While they are in their offices, it is community organizers and radicals who are on the ground working side by side with neighbourhood residents, participating in real community building. At the Tent Village the State machine has been shut out from the site. Inside, residents of the DTES are rising up.

I've been at the front gate doing security, for more hours than I have not, over the past 10 days. In that time many conversations with Vancouverites or Olympic tourists who pass by have turned to discussions of the "violence" on the 13th. I have watched multiple individuals take off their HBC red mittens and toss them in the garbage. While these people may not take any further action, in the face of the gross poverty on the DTES, they had no choice but to be ashamed. It was the broken windows which identified HBC's Olympic merchandise as an appropriate symbol to bear that shame.

Stella August, an indigenous elder and a member of the DTES Power of Women group has publicly defended the Black Bloc's actions during "Heart Attack." Those who have chosen to denounce the action without any appreciation of the dynamics on the ground in Vancouver should be just as ashamed as the people wearing those mittens.

People and communities are under attack and it is time to fight back. If you're not willing to stand up and fight, or to support those who are, please at least get out of the way.

Alex Hundert is an organiser with AW@L and the Kitchener-Waterloo Community Centre for Social Justice. AW@L is a community-based direct action group and part of the Six Nations Solidarity Network and the Olympic Resistance Network-Ontario.

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Comments

Well, it's great that all kinds of groups of people fed up with capitalism and the state have developed an 'anti-colonial analysis' and all that, but what I don't quite understand is how smashing store windows has converted anyone who didn't already share that analysis. It also does not fall into the category of 'self-defense'. And certainly anyone who wishes to achieve such elevated ideals as abolishing the state, capitalism and the nastiness of human nature forever and ever won't do so without a fairly broad base of public support.

I have also seen here on Rabble that not everyone involved in the anti-Olympics movement was impressed by the Black Bloc or by the 'diversity of tactics'.

There are many things I don't like about the cops, but when Mr. Hundert says that the police are only hired thugs and have no legitimacy whatesover, it makes me wonder how, in a 'state' of anarchy, we would deal with those people who prey on other people, who cheat other people, who destroy other people. They aren't all part of the state/capitalist apparatus! As it is, if there were no police on the steets, things could be a lot worse for Mr. Hundert and his fellow protesters because instead they would be confronted by right-wing paramilitary groups acting with no restraint whatsoever. States aren't nice but in Canada there are currently rules which limit the extent of repression. States aren't nice but some people who aren't in power are even worse, and they would take advantage of a sudden breakdown in the rule of law to start mobbing, kidnapping, torturing and stringing up the people they don't like.

Rather than get into this game, wouldn't it be better to subvert the current system by building new structures that would serve people better - and defend those against the state when necessary?

 

 

As someone who has been critical of some of the actions on that 'Heart Attack' march, and of the notion of 'respect for diversity of tactics' generally, I agree with Alex on the point that the people who used the Black Bloc tactic were/are involved in many other efforts around the Olympics, and for the most part respected the tactical choices of other groups on other days of action. But that shouldn't mean that their actions are beyond critique.

It has to be pointed out that this statement just isn't true, "Anyone who says that they didn’t know what was going to happen is lying." I have spoken to numerous commited, long-term activists who went along for the 'Heart Attack' and did not know what was going to happen. This includes medics, and folks who stayed until the end, helping support people who got arrested, etc. One activist noted that he had no moral objection to property destruction, but what he saw that day "communicated randomness", rather than a clear anti-corporate or anti-colonial message. And I've spoken to some who had a good inkling as to some of what might happen, but were still disconcerted to see things like: paper boxes smashed and (in some cases) pushed into the way of marchers in the 'green zone', garbage cans overturned, at least one pedestrian objecting to the actions acosted, private cars vandalized, and so forth. If 'respect for a diversity of tactics' means never setting a limit on what one considers a 'tactic', then it is a recipe for disaster.

Unfortunately, there have been real divisions in the broader movement around this. Great to see this debate continuing. Having alternative media give space to opposing viewpionts is a nice contrast to seeing someone violently pied in the face at a 'Safe Assembly Space'.

People can check out the event rabble hosted around this on WorkingTV. I was happy to give some opening comments, and mostly tried to convey concerns I've heard in hundreds of conversations with other activists, friends and so forth. Everybody was talking about this and it was great that rabble provided a forum to discuss some of our differences. I especially appreciated some of the comments from the floor that day, which were in their large majority really thoughtful and respectful.

I'd just like to add to my earlier comment that the personal attacks on Judy Rebick are not only beside the point but actually point to something ugly. You can question someone's motives for making an argument, but such questioning says nothing about whether that argument is a good one or not. And what I'm seeing here is a willingness to attack as traitors to the movement anyone who doesn't share a particular point of view. If that's what solidarity amounts to in this movement, then you can definately count me out of it. 'Good riddance', you may say, but how exclusive can a grassroots popular movement really afford to be?

 

 

Quote:
I'd just like to add to my earlier comment that the personal attacks on Judy Rebick are not only beside the point but actually point to something ugly. 
I agree. Personal attacks on critics for their so-called bourgeois professions & lifestyles seem to the first line of attack for some (not all). Rebick in particular seems to be a magnet for a disproportionate share of these character broadsides. Not unlike other forms of "left" attacks, one's entire lifetime of struggle is dismissed over a disagreement. 

Quote:
It is time to realize that there are people who are ready to fight back, and that it is time to support them.

Maybe it's time for you to realize that "fighting back" isn't just about the tactics you deem to be "militant" enough. It's a bit of a double standard to demand "unity" while having nothing but disdain and dismissive comments for those who engage in other forms of struggle including protests, public education, strikes, petitions, letter writing, fundraising, passive resistance, etc., etc. To characterize those actions as not "fighting back" is disrespectful and rude. If you're going to dismiss everything except the tactics you heartily endorse, why demand unity from those who are wasting time, spreading illusions by just walking around in circles holding placards? Why do you need us at all? 

Oh yeah, someone's got to actually do the organizing in order to provide a "launching pad" for the "real" fight back. 

I cringe at the term "diversity of tactics".  It's as if smashing windows is simply a matter of personal choice that people ought not be judging.  I don't agree.  Violence against property is still violence.  Violence needs to be justified - it isn't just a matter of personal choice. The violence employed in the Olympic riots appeared to be randomly directed.

 

Letter to Editor

Re:  Black bloc taints anti-Olympic movement, Doug Ward, Feb. 27
http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Black+bloc+taints+anti+Olympic+movement/2620793/story.html

One can respect those who break the law on a matter of principle, and are prepared to suffer the consequences.  Betty Krawczyk, who was imprisoned for 10 months for standing in front of a bulldozer in order to prevent the destruction of Eagleridge Bluffs, comes to mind.  However, I think a distinction can be made between civil disobedience and pointless vandalism by individuals in black masks who run and hide.  I would like to commend Olympic critics Chris Shaw and David Eby for speaking out against the tactics of the black-bloc anarchists and against those spitting and verbally abusing the police.  Why distract from the real message - the Olympics have diverted enormous amounts of money from health, education and social services; a fact that will become increasingly clear in the coming provincial and municipal budgets.

The onething that would make this dialogue much more productive is if everyone, on all sides of this, would recognize that the black block is a tactic. A black block can do different things in different circumstances, and every tactic has limitations and an appropriate time and place (the context).


Yes, you may say that the black block is a very important tactic. Sure, but so is the general strike, street theatre, dancing in the streets, the pink block, and clever media stunts (even when only the grassroots media covers them).


I was at the Heart Attack, and I expected strategic and targeted property destruction. I worried that there might be 'trashing' at random; unfortunately that is a lot of what happened. Some of it just looked dumb, like the plastic garbage bin dumped out on the quiet side road - littering does not block traffic. I don't know for sure, but I think many of the people who masked up also hoped for targeted and explained action (e.g. there was a fake Cowichan Sweater - made in China in one of the Bay windows, but that window was untouched. The window that was smashed had a TV behind it. If the TV window was symbolic of anything, i did not get it).


This is not a condemnation of the black block tactic. It is a critique of what was done by people in black on one particular day. Please consider this in the same light as a critique of a demonstration where the talking heads droned on and on and put everyone to sleep; in that case the organizers are often the most critical of themselves. "F*** How Did We Do This Again!!!! We swore after the last demo the next one would be inspiring and finish off with a call to direct action."

But please remember that black blocking is just a tactic, just like the spiral dance is a tactic. Both may seem sacred to some, but sometimes it is the right time and place to do a spiral dance, and sometimes it is time to mask up.

But is it ever the right time to dress all in black, mask up, and do a spiral dance?

 

 

As someone who has worked with Judy for several years, I'm surprised at the undeserved and gratuitous personal attacks against her in this article, accusing her of selling out to be a "CBC celebrity" (what, a few minutes on Q every couple of weeks?) and accusing her of not "working on the ground". The writer should know that Judy's "office in downtown Toronto" is devoted to building solidarity between activist groups on campus and the wider community, and that the majority of her work there has been "on the ground". Including last night, when she hosted, attended, and supported the opening night of Israeli Apartheid Week Toronto, in the face of provincial and federal politicians who are pressuring university administrators to crack down on that kind of activism on campus by declaring it "hate speech" and "anti-semitic". Not to mention a lot of solidarity work with First Nations groups like KI, Ardoch, and Grassy Narrows, who, by the way, weren't interested in property damage or confrontational protest, as Judy discovered while planning the Queen's Park 3 day sleepover with them and a vast coalition of solidarity groups. On the ground. Which, by the way, was a resounding success. Might I suggest suitable theme music for this article? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jaWNhKYzh3Q

Let's build a culture of respectful debate: a response to Alex Hundert

Written in a personal capacity by a member of the socialist-anarchist organization Common Cause, this article takes issue with Hundert's choice to dismiss criticisms of the Vancouver black bloc made by anarchist-socialists by dismissing their political philosophy rather than engaging with what they've actually said about the black bloc and asks for a culture of debate marked by respect rather than personal attacks and sectarianism.

The futility of activism using violence as catharsis

I know Alex Hundert well.  Alex took several courses with me, when I taught peace and conflict studies in a previous university post.  I watched Alex grow as an activist and a thinker.  I decided to post this, Alex, because your invective deserves a public response.

I preached non-violence during that teaching sting - embracing non-violent conflict transformation, taking after the work of the Norweigian Johan Galtung and others.  Violence will bring more violence, and the way out of violence is not through violence (structural, direct, or otherwise, in Galtung's terms). But then, I suppose early on as I publicly embraced these principles and invited students to think about them, you may have been characterizing me, Alex, as just one of those 'profs in their offices'. 

I'd like to focus on catharsis to help interpret the arguments and reactions in your invective. There is a deep-seated rage against injustice, Alex, which courses through you, and has for a long time - I honour that.  Now, what to do with it?  What will be effective?  What will be defined as effective?  Surely not letter writing or trying to encourage more dialogue, or other non-violent strategies - on their own.  In order to create the space where alternative ideas are heard, Alex, you believe that violence is necessary.

The fact is, that many, many more of us in the social movements disagree with you here.  In fact, the embrace of this notion, we believe, leads to actions - which while cathartic to those taking them - cannot contribute to the transformation of the conflicts involved.  Of course, the embrace of anarchist rhetoric ('smashing the state' - sigh), and railing against 'statism' are the perfect intellectual catharsis.  It's all crap! 

There is a sense of deep-seated elitism that goes along with the sense of rage against injustice in this.  To give vent to that rage against injustice that you feel, you would strike a police officer to 'de-arrest' someone, thus provoking more violence through the use of violence.  Being arrested, of course, contributes to the catharsis, but the indulgence in violence is the true catharsis here.  Strike back at the authorities - the 'hired thugs', as you call the police.  Fight back, or 'get out of the way'!

That comment, Alex, is oddly reminiscent of the most rhetorical pro-war bumper sticker I can think of: "if you can't stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front of them".  Perhaps you'd like to use this bumper sticker as new material for AW@L?  It's similar reasoning -  and it's poor reasoning at that.  You're a smart guy, Alex - you and I know that - but you're not doing justice to your reason here.  You're doing justice to your gut.  It feels good to you, perhaps, to spout rhetoric like "We have to be willing to physically protect our own communities, no matter the cost, by any means necessary".  It is essentially cathartic for you.  Does it sound like a culture of peace? 

Let me compare your rhetoric to pro-war rhetoric again.  You write "People and communities are under attack and it is time to fight back. If you're not willing to stand up and fight, or to support those who are, please at least get out of the way."  This is very 'pro-war bumper sticker', but really, it's also George Bush, and Stephen Harper, and NATO.  Where is the way out of violence in all this? 

Or perhaps, in the end, for you, it feels good to do the violence, so you will indulge in it.  I can see how this may be cathartic with respect to your rage against social injustice, but in this respect, it is fundamentally selfish.  All the boring people in their offices or meeting spaces, doing dialogue, doing education, trying to change minds, awaken consciousness, all meaningless if violence isn't employed under a 'diversity of tactics'.  I do blame the fabulous, and I mean that - fabulous - Naomi Klein for lending credence to this notion in No Logo.  Your version of 'diversity of tactics', Alex, is a license for your - and others' - catharsis.  But that is not working for social justice.  It may make you feel better to strike a 'hired thug for statism', and have that be a spectacle that you and others can point to as evidence of state repression.  But it won't help.  Pressure will - of the mass kind.  That is built in other ways than by violence-as-catharsis. 

I don't harbour any delusions that you may actually believe that you are attempting to inspire a broad layer of activists with this type of rhetoric, and this type of thinking.  Rather, I believe you don't actually care what other activists think.  You think you're right, and others can line up behind you, or 'get out of the way'.  That is the kind of thinking that got us colonialism in the first place, Alex.  That is the essence of violence.  And while this invective itself may have made you feel better, more smug, more 'holy than thou', with respect to all the office-bound and 'dogmatic' proponents of non-violence whom you despise, I'm afraid that is all, in fact that you want from your way of thinking - catharsis. 

To base a whole approach to social activism on such catharsis through violence is the height of futility, if peace and social justice are our goals.

AW@L Statement on Diversity of Tactics

On Diversity of Tactics: A Response to "The futility of activism using violence as catharsis"

AW@L--May 2, 2010:

Following the direct actions taken against the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and in the organizing lead up to the G8/G20 in June, the debate over effective tactics and forms of action continues. There is no doubt a myriad of perspectives on the possibilities and potentials of different forms of resistance and certainly constructive debate should be actively encouraged. We would like to take this opportunity to clarify our position as AW@L on this matter in hopes of moving beyond some sticking points in the debate.

As an organization we have received comments on some of our members' views on engaging in diversity of tactics as a core component of movements for social and ecological justice. In particular, a former professor at Wilfrid Laurier University (currently at Queen's), Adam Davidson-Harden, has taken issue with Alex Hundert's response to Judy Rebick's article and Alex's stance on diversity of tactics. We wish to formally respond to professor D-H's cathartic writings.

Prof. D-H asserts that our comrade Alex promotes and propagates a violent tactic of resistance as a cathartic and wholly self-serving exercise which does not take into account others in the broader social and ecological justice movements. Prof. D-H may not be in touch with the grassroots of these movements in Canada, for if he was, he would know that Alex Hundert is a well respected organizer with deep connections to many communities all across Turtle Island. Alex's understanding and application of solidarity and responsibility has inspired and challenged many activists, academics, and community members. His respect for diversity of tactics and his ability to embrace and explain this cornerstone of contemporary activism is a clear example of comprehension and praxis.

Far from cathartic, neither Alex nor AW@L undertakes actions expressly to relieve ourselves of some stress or emotional baggage, we do these things as we have embraced our responsibilities under the Two Row wampum and as products of colonialism - this embrace demands action. We do not qualify the success of our actions on how good we feel at the end of the day, our successes are framed by positive outcomes (for example: the change we want to see in the world) and momentum in our communities and for our allies.

With that in mind, it seems pertinent to specifically define what is meant by diversity of tactics. In our view, a diversity of tactics implies respect and recognition that different groups engage in different modes of action which they deem to be most appropriate to their individual context and circumstance of struggle. This encompasses all forms of action from petitions, workshops, peaceful marches and militant confrontation as forms of direct action. To be clear, diversity of tactics acknowledges a continuum of tactics that range from passive to the confrontational. Diversity of tactics means that we struggle in different ways and acknowledge the right of others to determine their appropriate forms of resistance. Diversity of tactics is not bound by dogmatic adherence to either an overtly pacifist or violence-based form of action.

To characterize a notion of diversity of tactics as blind, unthinking and dogmatic endorsement of all forms of violence is patently false, and derails the possibility of debate over which tactics themselves may be most effective. We do not, and would not endorse wholesale killing or violence as a dogmatic and unthought-of strategy for revolutionary social change. Diversity of tactics means diverse forms of action can be applied to the diverse circumstances in which struggle and resistance occur. There is no strict adherence to one specific strategy or type of action.

The commitment and understanding of a diversity of tactics is observed in practice in the actions and forms of organization that occur within the newest movements of grassroots action and resistance. In the organizing that is leading up to the G8/G20 resistance in Toronto there is agreement between those involved that a diversity of tactics will be upheld and respected. This includes groups that engage in a variety of different forms of direct action, and groups that work on a number of diverse and complex issues and struggles. In the post-Seattle era of activism and resistance there is an understanding in the grassroots that diversity of tactics is the only acceptable means of organizing. It is those activists and organizers that are embedded within social movements themselves that advocate for such diversity, as they know diversity strengthens resilience. These are the folks who are in the meetings, on the street and the ones who will feel the brunt of the state security apparatus. In essence, diversity of tactics springs from the activists themselves, not some imposed top-down mentality.

The Community Mobilization Network, which is the umbrella organization facilitating opposition to the G8/G20, has put forth a Statement of Unity (http://g20.torontomobilize.org/SolidarityRespect) agreeing to a diversity of tactics. The endorsers of this statement include a wide variety of social justice groups as well as the Peoples Summit, which is an initiative focusing on debate and engagement around the G8/G20 and not on carrying out direct actions itself. The Peoples Summit, is an amalgamation of NGO groups (such as the Council of Canadians, the Canadian Labour Congress and CUPE) and academics who recognize the need for diverse forms of resistance to the policies of the G8/G20. They state as one of the principles guiding their organizing, "To respect a diversity of tactics, for which individual organizations will be responsible."

In this light, the most fundamental components of conceiving of a diversity of tactics are the daily meetings, outreach, education, publication, independent media, community building, dialogue and consciousness awakening. It is absurd to characterize a diversity of tactics as not involving these core components of political struggle and resistance. Diversity of tactics, and it must be said again, encompasses all forms of resistance, action and engagement that are required for a vibrant, dynamic and effective social movement.

Part of a diversity of tactics is the engagement with the academic realm around debate and critique of social movements and their practices. Any movement ought to welcome constructive criticism and debate on the effectiveness of its practices and methods. Academia has much to contribute to developing effective forms of resistance. It is, however, not enough. We must also strive to put our theories and words into practice. We must take action. And we must take the action that is most appropriate and effective and available to the situation in which we find ourselves.

It has not been, as a general comment, the academy that has taken a leading role in the organizational capacity of social movements and their resistance efforts. This has come, again generally, from the younger grassroots and community-based activists. Organizing around the G8/G20 has itself mirrored this model. There is a noticeable lack of academics in the organizational committees and the time, resource, and sanity consuming prep work of laying the ground work for resistance to the G8/G20. This is not to say that academics have not participated in any capacity, but rather that mobilization and organizational roles are undertaken by those embedded within social movements and not those in their offices. Perhaps academia can assist in breaking the dogmatic commitment to singular forms of action in the tradition of critique and engagement.

In our view, therefore, diversity of tactics seeks to break away from rigid and debilitating allegiances to singular forms of action. We believe that for a healthy movement we must employ the wealth of skills, perspectives and possibilities that act as parts of the overall movement. We believe dogmatic "non-violence" as well as violence are both unproductive as means of engaging in struggle and resistance. Part of this view recognizes the inherent violence that exists within society.

Violence is an inescapable reality of human existence, whether we like it or not. This is not to say that there are aspects of life where we can limit the effects of violence and cultivate alternative forms of being and relating, but rather that violence is a frequent part of life. This includes both physical and overt forms of violence and those that are less obvious as systemic and indirect forms. We must recognize that many of our actions have violence attached to them. When we buy something the earth is destroyed, and frequently someone is exploited in the production process. When we sell our labour there is a violence of the system at work. When we live under capitalism and the statist system there is the oft-repeated violence of the state and police that hangs over us. This culture relies on violence for its continuance and we must recognize that violence permeates so many of our social relations.

In Vancouver, for instance, brave people fought off the police who were trying to abduct their friends, lovers, and allies to the violence of a prison, and the economic punishment of the court system. When the system you live in does not support the ideals of justice, is it not your responsibility to help defend those at risk of persecution?

To say that an action is "non-violent" negates the systemic violence, the privilege that exists and the effects that may be felt by any and all parties in the exchange. A sit-in blocks traffic or slows business, which means some person is deprived of their economic means. A banner drop uses materials from the earth, has the potential for arrest and jail time and carries a disruptive potential. Even "non-violent" action has violent repercussions in a systemic sense, but we cannot discount these methods as unjustified or ineffective. The point is that we undertake these methods to resist the greater violence of the system. The point is that we begin to think about what is justified and necessary for such resistance. Resigning ourselves to the debate of "non-violence" vs. violence does not allow us to think about what is necessary and effective, it simply negates the material realities of the systems in which we live.

We are not here to dictate the tactics and strategies of resistance that communities must undertake. To do so would be to reinforce the hegemonic nature of our privilege on to others. We are here to allow for a multiplicity of perspectives and actions in order to strive for social justice and recognize the ability for diverse communities, in diverse contexts, to undertake diverse forms of action. Colonialism exists when one community impresses its views upon another with an air of self righteousness. We want to break that cycle and strive for community empowerment and autonomy, while recognizing that we are all in this for a better and more just world. A diversity of tactics acknowledges this view and allows for a diverse set of means to achieve such an end.

The Zapatistas are perhaps one example of a diversity of tactics. They have used a diverse number of forms to create autonomous space for their communities and have used militant confrontation to defend their communities when necessary. They have also engaged in community building projects, alternative media, and "non-violent" action in order to fight for social justice. They have used solidarity to draw links between a variety of struggles and their own. Their success, we think it is fair to say, has been a direct result of the willingness to engage with a diversity of tactics. Perhaps the same can be said for Indigenous communities here in Canada, which Oka as one example where a diverse number of tactics were used, including more militant ones, with success and justification. Diversity of tactics means that we acknowledge the need for self-determination of communities in all forms, including their means of resistance and that such efforts should be supported, or at least not publically condemned by supposed allies in the social and ecological justice movements.

A diversity of tactics means that we are committed to respect, solidarity, mutual aid and support of allies who are engaged in struggle. It centers our focus in acknowledging what is necessary for resistance in self-determining communities. It commits us to engagement and dialogue around what forms of resistance are effective and therefore ought to be employed. It means we acknowledge that we must care about what others think and work together to create a better world. It also acknowledges that disagreements will occur, but that such disagreements will not hold our movements back. AW@L does not feel that we have any place in limiting or condemning someone for how they respond to social and ecological injustices.

A diversity of tactics acknowledges that there are diverse communities, in diverse contexts with a need to engage in diverse tactics. It acknowledges that we don't have all the answers and that our tactics and strategies must evolve, moving beyond the paralysis of dogma. A diversity of tactics means that we are committed to doing what is necessary to resist injustices and support others who do the same.

-AW@L

 

'diversity of tactics' as a justification for violent tactics - a debate


So, AW@L - the organization to which my former student Alex Hundert belongs (which he basically founded when I was at WLU) has issued the above, formal organizational response to my piece, which is interesting. Alex himself has indicated he will respond soon - he has put a comment up on his blog which reproduces the comments of another defender of violent tactics. Perhaps Alex is hesitant to explicitly defend his assertions about the justifiability of striking police officers, etc. I believe this debate is crucially important, both at the present moment and in the long term, so I've decided to continue it in a public forum... it is also viewable on my blog. Readers should know that I've initiated a dialogue with the People's Summit on AW@L's assertions and learned that they have not yet chosen to endorse the Toronto Community Mobilization Network's statement on 'diversity of tactics', though they do make a blanket reference to DoT on another page.  I urged them to consider this carefully, given the fact that 'diversity of tactics' is arguably simply a smokescreen for the justification of violent tactics, as Alex has shown (along with others in AW@L). I await a response from the CLC, CoC and CUPE on this, but very much doubt they would support the type of violent tactics Alex defends.


(what follows is my response to the AW@L collective comment on my ‘catharsis' piece)

So, I'd like to reply to this collective response from AW@L. There's an awful lot of shoddy reasoning in here, and I'd like to get to that. But first, a question for Alex. I wrote my blog as a response to Alex's piece on rabble (links at the bottom of this reply). I wanted to hold Alex's invective to account. In it, he advocated for the justifiability of striking a police officer to ‘de-arrest' someone as a preferable ‘tactic'. He also used inflammatory rhetoric, concerning the need to ‘stand up and fight' and telling those who did not wish to do so, to ‘get out of our way'. In his piece, Alex mirrored alot of the pro-war rhetoric and the stance around violent confrontation that has been trumpeted to support war in Afghanistan and elsewhere.... so I have a question for Alex:

Alex, why are you hiding behind a collective response from AW@L? Part of me hopes that it is because you are finding it difficult to defend yourself here - I would hope that it is difficult for you to stand up and write that you think that ‘yes, we should hit police officers!' And yes, people should get out of our way if they're not prepared to use violent tactics!

Here's the segway into responding to AW@L's response. The authors attempt to sidestep the argument by dismissing ‘violence' and ‘non-violence': "Resigning ourselves to the debate of "non-violence" vs. violence does not allow us to think about what is necessary and effective, it simply negates the material realities of the systems in which we live."

Newsflash, folks: smashing stuff is violent. Hitting people is violent. Throwing stuff at people is violent..... these types of things are qualitatively different than non-violent tactics, as much as you wish to blur the lines in the attempt to justify violent tactics! That's one of the points of shoddy reasoning I wanted to address. Let me extend this critique of poor arguments. The statement also reads: "We believe dogmatic "non-violence" as well as violence are both unproductive as means of engaging in struggle and resistance. Part of this view recognizes the inherent violence that exists within society." Read that a couple times and tell me with a straight face that it makes sense. I get the first part: ‘dogmatic non-violence' is the label you ascribe to those who criticize the kinds of violence that Alex defends, or that I give examples of above. Dan Kellar, for instance, sent me (no doubt proudly) a picture of a postbox smashed through an HBC window. Wow, really ‘effective'.

That's also a decent point to return to. You mention ‘effectiveness', but don't really get into what defines ‘effective' to you. The same goes with your assertion that "we must take the action that is most appropriate and effective and available to the situation in which we find ourselves." I must infer that you simply define as ‘effective' any action (that may use violence) that you employ. After all, you decided to do it - it must be ‘effective'!

this is mirrored in the statement's figuring of ‘positive outcomes'. I will suggest that your idea of ‘positive outcomes' of the use of violence in the way that Alex suggests (and that you more obliquely defend) is badly informed. If a ‘positive outcome' is drawing attention of the corporate media to tar the whole movement with the brush of smashing things and hitting/provoking cops, then perhaps you have it, yes. But that's not positive in my book. If ‘positive outcome' is isolating yourself from a broader movement that eschews the types of violence you espouse, then perhaps you have a positive outcome. Both of these outcomes are indeed, utterly self-serving - and reflective, I believe, of the only truly effective nature of these types of actions, in a form of catharsis.... that vents your rage through violence.

However, back to the collective response. You mention two provocative examples: the Zapatistas and Oka.... Now, with the Zapatistas, I heard from the mouth of a catholic priest who was in deep communication with the movement initially and throughout its first phase post-1994, and in communication with Subcommandante Marcos himself, that the ‘weapons' they wielded were fake, and used for intimidation. Let's put that aside for the moment. Let's assume they used real weapons for the sake of a thought experiment. And let's extend your use of that example and Oka with a defense of the use of weapons in the pursuit of social justice...

Are you going down the path of ‘just war'? Do you believe, along with Ward Churchill (who reputedly challenged some academic colleagues to learn to assemble and use an automatic rifle that he brought to a conference), perhaps, that ‘targeted military strikes' or the use of guns are as legitimate as picketing and marching? Do you really want to go down that road? Is it the road to peace?

The moment we start using violence is the moment that we forget peace and indulge in war. I urge you not to take this thinking to its logical extreme. It involves picking up a weapon and being perfectly ready to fire it at your enemy, and that, my friends, is what war is all about.... AW@L started out as an acronym for 'anti-war at Laurier' and I'm aware that the organizaiton has evolved past this name... and indeed perhaps has leaned in a direction outside the sentiment of 'anti-war' as well. I find it contradictory that AW@L claims to be representing the push toward a 'peace culture' (the name of the email list affiliated with the group) while at the same time defending violence as a tactic..

In this context, the statement offered as a response to my piece attempts to cover up the tolerance and preference for violent tactics and actions under the umbrella of the ‘diversity of tactics'. That has been the idea all along with the use of this term and idea in organizing. You write, triumphantly, "In the post-Seattle era of activism and resistance there is an understanding in the grassroots that diversity of tactics is the only acceptable means of organizing."

Oh really? Whose understanding is that? Not mine, and not many others'. This debate rages globally - it is just as entrenched in Europe as it is here. Activists there are just as frustrated with other activists' willingness to use violence as a tactic as they are here. On your specific references, I've already written the People's Summit, as well as the CLC, CoC and CUPE on this - I'm interested to know whether they directly support ‘diversity of tactics' - I am guessing that they don't, though I'd like to see it in writing. I would be prepared to bet, though, that none of these organizations would condone Alex's recommendations of striking a police officer to ‘de-arrest' someone, nor would they enthuse at his rhetoric, which mirrors that of the warmongers. I'll of course let you know if and when I receive responses there...

I dearly hope I can help to change some folks' minds, and help to invite them to clarify their own thinking on an individual and organizational level in this ensuing dialogue, which all sprung from my response to Alex.... and ironically, Alex, you've been quite quiet in all of this...

Adam Davidson-Harden

Alex's rabble piece: http://rabble.ca/news/2010/03/defence-diversity-tactics

My response to Alex's rabble piece: http://adamdavidsonharden.blogspot.com/2010/04/futility-of-activism-usin...

 

Shame on you, Adam, for your attempt to pit activists against each other with your letter-writing campaigns and your public denunciations. You are serving an ignoble cause.

Your agenda is "Peace" - but it is the Peace of a society based upon violence and the threat of violence by the powerful and the exploitative against the weak and oppressed.

No justice - No peace!  

  

M. Spector, I don't see much point in engaging in a 'shame on you' counter-session here, but I do feel I've put my arguments out there - they are against the use of violence in protest and against the 'diversity of tactics' as a tacit justification for violence in protest, as I've reasoned above... but on an extra-curricular note, the Indigo Girls 'shame on you' is a wonderful tune... 

 

 

AW@Ls response to ADH - http://www.peaceculture.org/drupal/DoT

 

On Diversity of Tactics: A Response to “The futility of activism using violence as catharsis”

AW@L--May 2, 2010:

Following the direct actions taken against the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and in the organizing lead up to the G8/G20 in June, the debate over effective tactics and forms of action continues. There is no doubt a myriad of perspectives on the possibilities and potentials of different forms of resistance and certainly constructive debate should be actively encouraged. We would like to take this opportunity to clarify our position as AW@L on this matter in hopes of moving beyond some sticking points in the debate.

As an organization we have received comments on some of our members’ views on engaging in diversity of tactics as a core component of movements for social and ecological justice. In particular, a former professor at Wilfrid Laurier University (currently at Queen’s), Adam Davidson-Harden, has taken issue with Alex Hundert’s response to Judy Rebick’s article and Alex’s stance on diversity of tactics. We wish to formally respond to professor D-H’s cathartic writings.

Prof. D-H asserts that our comrade Alex promotes and propagates a violent tactic of resistance as a cathartic and wholly self-serving exercise which does not take into account others in the broader social and ecological justice movements. Prof. D-H may not be in touch with the grassroots of these movements in Canada, for if he was, he would know that Alex Hundert is a well respected organizer with deep connections to many communities all across Turtle Island. Alex’s understanding and application of solidarity and responsibility has inspired and challenged many activists, academics, and community members. His respect for diversity of tactics and his ability to embrace and explain this cornerstone of contemporary activism is a clear example of comprehension and praxis.

Far from cathartic, neither Alex nor AW@L undertakes actions expressly to relieve ourselves of some stress or emotional baggage, we do these things as we have embraced our responsibilities under the Two Row wampum and as products of colonialism – this embrace demands action. We do not qualify the success of our actions on how good we feel at the end of the day, our successes are framed by positive outcomes (for example: the change we want to see in the world) and momentum in our communities and for our allies.

With that in mind, it seems pertinent to specifically define what is meant by diversity of tactics. In our view, a diversity of tactics implies respect and recognition that different groups engage in different modes of action which they deem to be most appropriate to their individual context and circumstance of struggle. This encompasses all forms of action from petitions, workshops, peaceful marches and militant confrontation as forms of direct action. To be clear, diversity of tactics acknowledges a continuum of tactics that range from passive to the confrontational. Diversity of tactics means that we struggle in different ways and acknowledge the right of others to determine their appropriate forms of resistance. Diversity of tactics is not bound by dogmatic adherence to either an overtly pacifist or violence-based form of action.

To characterize a notion of diversity of tactics as blind, unthinking and dogmatic endorsement of all forms of violence is patently false, and derails the possibility of debate over which tactics themselves may be most effective. We do not, and would not endorse wholesale killing or violence as a dogmatic and unthought-of strategy for revolutionary social change. Diversity of tactics means diverse forms of action can be applied to the diverse circumstances in which struggle and resistance occur. There is no strict adherence to one specific strategy or type of action.

The commitment and understanding of a diversity of tactics is observed in practice in the actions and forms of organization that occur within the newest movements of grassroots action and resistance. In the organizing that is leading up to the G8/G20 resistance in Toronto there is agreement between those involved that a diversity of tactics will be upheld and respected. This includes groups that engage in a variety of different forms of direct action, and groups that work on a number of diverse and complex issues and struggles. In the post-Seattle era of activism and resistance there is an understanding in the grassroots that diversity of tactics is the only acceptable means of organizing. It is those activists and organizers that are embedded within social movements themselves that advocate for such diversity, as they know diversity strengthens resilience. These are the folks who are in the meetings, on the street and the ones who will feel the brunt of the state security apparatus. In essence, diversity of tactics springs from the activists themselves, not some imposed top-down mentality.

The Community Mobilization Network, which is the umbrella organization facilitating opposition to the G8/G20, has put forth a Statement of Unity (http://g20.torontomobilize.org/SolidarityRespect) agreeing to a diversity of tactics. The endorsers of this statement include a wide variety of social justice groups as well as the Peoples Summit, which is an initiative focusing on debate and engagement around the G8/G20 and not on carrying out direct actions itself. The Peoples Summit, is an amalgamation of NGO groups (such as the Council of Canadians, the Canadian Labour Congress and CUPE) and academics who recognize the need for diverse forms of resistance to the policies of the G8/G20. They state as one of the principles guiding their organizing, “To respect a diversity of tactics, for which individual organizations will be responsible.”

In this light, the most fundamental components of conceiving of a diversity of tactics are the daily meetings, outreach, education, publication, independent media, community building, dialogue and consciousness awakening. It is absurd to characterize a diversity of tactics as not involving these core components of political struggle and resistance. Diversity of tactics, and it must be said again, encompasses all forms of resistance, action and engagement that are required for a vibrant, dynamic and effective social movement.

Part of a diversity of tactics is the engagement with the academic realm around debate and critique of social movements and their practices. Any movement ought to welcome constructive criticism and debate on the effectiveness of its practices and methods. Academia has much to contribute to developing effective forms of resistance. It is, however, not enough. We must also strive to put our theories and words into practice. We must take action. And we must take the action that is most appropriate and effective and available to the situation in which we find ourselves.

It has not been, as a general comment, the academy that has taken a leading role in the organizational capacity of social movements and their resistance efforts. This has come, again generally, from the younger grassroots and community-based activists. Organizing around the G8/G20 has itself mirrored this model. There is a noticeable lack of academics in the organizational committees and the time, resource, and sanity consuming prep work of laying the ground work for resistance to the G8/G20. This is not to say that academics have not participated in any capacity, but rather that mobilization and organizational roles are undertaken by those embedded within social movements and not those in their offices. Perhaps academia can assist in breaking the dogmatic commitment to singular forms of action in the tradition of critique and engagement.

In our view, therefore, diversity of tactics seeks to break away from rigid and debilitating allegiances to singular forms of action. We believe that for a healthy movement we must employ the wealth of skills, perspectives and possibilities that act as parts of the overall movement. We believe dogmatic “non-violence” as well as violence are both unproductive as means of engaging in struggle and resistance. Part of this view recognizes the inherent violence that exists within society.

Violence is an inescapable reality of human existence, whether we like it or not. This is not to say that there are aspects of life where we can limit the effects of violence and cultivate alternative forms of being and relating, but rather that violence is a frequent part of life. This includes both physical and overt forms of violence and those that are less obvious as systemic and indirect forms. We must recognize that many of our actions have violence attached to them. When we buy something the earth is destroyed, and frequently someone is exploited in the production process. When we sell our labour there is a violence of the system at work. When we live under capitalism and the statist system there is the oft-repeated violence of the state and police that hangs over us. This culture relies on violence for its continuance and we must recognize that violence permeates so many of our social relations.

In Vancouver, for instance, brave people fought off the police who were trying to abduct their friends, lovers, and allies to the violence of a prison, and the economic punishment of the court system. When the system you live in does not support the ideals of justice, is it not your responsibility to help defend those at risk of persecution?

To say that an action is “non-violent” negates the systemic violence, the privilege that exists and the effects that may be felt by any and all parties in the exchange. A sit-in blocks traffic or slows business, which means some person is deprived of their economic means. A banner drop uses materials from the earth, has the potential for arrest and jail time and carries a disruptive potential. Even “non-violent” action has violent repercussions in a systemic sense, but we cannot discount these methods as unjustified or ineffective. The point is that we undertake these methods to resist the greater violence of the system. The point is that we begin to think about what is justified and necessary for such resistance. Resigning ourselves to the debate of “non-violence” vs. violence does not allow us to think about what is necessary and effective, it simply negates the material realities of the systems in which we live.

We are not here to dictate the tactics and strategies of resistance that communities must undertake. To do so would be to reinforce the hegemonic nature of our privilege on to others. We are here to allow for a multiplicity of perspectives and actions in order to strive for social justice and recognize the ability for diverse communities, in diverse contexts, to undertake diverse forms of action. Colonialism exists when one community impresses its views upon another with an air of self righteousness. We want to break that cycle and strive for community empowerment and autonomy, while recognizing that we are all in this for a better and more just world. A diversity of tactics acknowledges this view and allows for a diverse set of means to achieve such an end.

The Zapatistas are perhaps one example of a diversity of tactics. They have used a diverse number of forms to create autonomous space for their communities and have used militant confrontation to defend their communities when necessary. They have also engaged in community building projects, alternative media, and “non-violent” action in order to fight for social justice. They have used solidarity to draw links between a variety of struggles and their own. Their success, we think it is fair to say, has been a direct result of the willingness to engage with a diversity of tactics. Perhaps the same can be said for Indigenous communities here in Canada, which Oka as one example where a diverse number of tactics were used, including more militant ones, with success and justification. Diversity of tactics means that we acknowledge the need for self-determination of communities in all forms, including their means of resistance and that such efforts should be supported, or at least not publically condemned by supposed allies in the social and ecological justice movements.

A diversity of tactics means that we are committed to respect, solidarity, mutual aid and support of allies who are engaged in struggle. It centers our focus in acknowledging what is necessary for resistance in self-determining communities. It commits us to engagement and dialogue around what forms of resistance are effective and therefore ought to be employed. It means we acknowledge that we must care about what others think and work together to create a better world. It also acknowledges that disagreements will occur, but that such disagreements will not hold our movements back. AW@L does not feel that we have any place in limiting or condemning someone for how they respond to social and ecological injustices.

A diversity of tactics acknowledges that there are diverse communities, in diverse contexts with a need to engage in diverse tactics. It acknowledges that we don’t have all the answers and that our tactics and strategies must evolve, moving beyond the paralysis of dogma. A diversity of tactics means that we are committed to doing what is necessary to resist injustices and support others who do the same.

-AW@L

Readers of the comments should note that this last post is an exact copy of another one above, to which I've already responded.  Still no word from Alex Hundert on this, to whom I directed my initial criticism..

adharden> considering your "tactics", you don't really have any right to call someone on reposting. And your arrogance in assuming anyone owes you a response is laughable.

I was told a response from Alex was forthcoming....weeks back, maybe more than a month, now I think of it.. but obviously he can choose to reply or not... I'm simply interested to see how he defends his advocacy for violent tactics.  If and when he does, we can engage in a dialogue..  though I am beginning to suspect again that he won't defend himself further.  It's awkward.  "Yes, violence is great in protest movements!  More violence!"  Doesn't fly too well with the vast majority of us.. On that note, Cytizen H, I've got two links for you and other readers - interested to see your reactions:

http://www.truth-out.org/global-justice-is-a-principle-tossing-rocks-a-tactic57360 (the first few paragraphs give the gist of a criticism of 'diversity of tactics'..

http://www.zcommunications.org/im-a-better-anarchist-than-you-by-david-rovics (this one comes from a different angle, and he does seem to support violence in principle in 'desperate situations' (citing Cuba), but he digs in forcefully to those in Vancouver who advocate the use of violence, which of course Alex Hundert defended himself.. (to which I replied).  

in peace, 

-A

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