Violence or property damage at protests

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remind remind's picture

"Communities which are fighting for their very existance daily; and for whom there is no ally in the system"

Excellent point, and very true.

N.R.KISSED

Michelle wrote:

Those are good points, about how state-sponsored violence is considered legitimate and any kind of fight back is not.   I agree with this.  I also think that people who are against using violence are not necessarily refusing to direct anger at the authorities over state violence.  It would be hard to argue that Judy doesn't denounce state violence when she takes actions like occupying the Israeli consulate.

Isn't there something to be said for the pragmatic argument against violence?  It's true, the media will always focus on violence at a protest if there is any.  Always, always.  We can rant about the biased media, but we could also choose not to feed them with such images to begin with.  Same with police violence and tear gas.  If there is no violence or rock throwing and the cops STILL throw tear gas at thousands of protesters, then at least the media and the police aren't being handed the gift of images of rock-throwing, window-smashing protesters to help them in their attempt to justify such police thuggery in the court of public opinion.

I'm not saying anything against people who choose to be non-violent(being one), I respoect Judy for what she does. I am however arguing against the actions of some people are being portrayed and condemned. Judy seems to be arguing that the only legitimate response to state/corporate violence is stoic non-violence. Does this mean that if you or your friends loved ones are attacked by police than the only way to respond is allowing yourself to be brutalized? I think there is a problem in which certain responses are being portrayed or characterized as just a bunch of yahoos getting their kicks by fighting cops or breaking stuff. I'm willing to admit that might be the motivation of some. Others are just responding to provocation in the moment, some come prepared to respond to police violence as well.

I also think one can be overly concerned about the media and the court of public opinion which is mediated. I am thinking of the miners strike in the UK in the 80's in which there was violence(condemned by the media) but the strike still mobilized strong popular support.

 

saga saga's picture

Snert wrote:

Missing entirely was any kind of analysis of strategies, outcomes or optics, unless someone criticized these actions, in which case the typical response was "don't tell me what to do, sell-out!"

Again, I think we have to be careful about applying our middle class judgment to people who may have very different life experiences than we do.

 

saga saga's picture

It's Me D wrote:
Great post saga! I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels that way.

Thanks D! Yes, we seem to be on the same wavelength.

I've had the opportunity to learn from some seasoned veterans of social action who, though they may not approve some of the actions of the anarchists, always speak respectfully of their right to do as they see fit, drawing the line at personal violence, of course.

Of course, another issue has arisen at times if the more 'active' say they are doing it on behalf of someone else who may not appreciate the negative attention. As long as they have their focus on an issue of their own and don't claim to speak/act for someone else, I think we have to respect their rights too.

 

It's Me D

saga wrote:
I've had the opportunity to learn from some seasoned veterans of social action who, though they may not approve some of the actions of the anarchists, always speak respectfully of their right to do as they see fit, drawing the line at personal violence, of course.

I've had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with poor people Laughing

saga wrote:
Of course, another issue has arisen at times if the more 'active' say they are doing it on behalf of someone else who may not appreciate the negative attention. As long as they have their focus on an issue of their own and don't claim to speak for someone else, I think we have to respect their rights too.

I'm not sure its exactly what you mean but what sprang to mind was demonstrations against police brutality. Although themselves carried out almost universally by the victims of police brutality (because by and large no one else cares) they do not always take the form all victims of police brutality would choose. Since they invariably invite even worse from the cops; they can have serious reprecusions on a community, many members of which might have elected to avoid drawing attention (both good and bad) to the issue. Frown

Tommy_Paine

 

 In the context of street demonstrations, violence and most property damage is either pointless or counter productive.

But violence against tyranny is not a choice, it is an obligation.

But, it's like anger.  It's unusual that it's directed properly, and is visited on the appropriate person(s).

More often, it is the threat of violence that is a more productive weapon.

You think I joke, but you all know that if Judy Rebick and other notables on the left started telling everyone on the left to aquire rifles, not only would the Conservatives withdraw the legislation to end the long gun registry, they'd recall the troops from Afghanistan to go on house to house searches for weapons their new and speedy legislation banned the possession of.

 

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

In his 2008 book Violence, Slavoj Žižek posits the theory that there are two kinds of violence: subjective violence, violent acts that incite our subjective outrage and ire; and objective or ’systemic’ violence,  the necessary violence that sustains liberal capitalist hegemony. More importantly, acts of subjective violence—the suicide bomber, the school shooting, particularly violent video games, movies or books—blind us to the systemic, endemic violence in which we are complicit. Žižek writes:

Quote:
Is there not something suspicious, indeed symptomatic, about this focus on subjective violence—that violence which is enacted by social agents, evil individuals, disciplined repressive apparatuses, fanatical crowds? Doesn’t it desperately try to distract our attention from the true locus of trouble, by obliterating from view other forms of violence and thus actively participating in them? According to a well-known anecdote, a German officer visited Picasso in his Paris studio during the Second World War. There he saw Guernica and, shocked at the modernist ‘chaos’ of the painting, asked Picasso: ‘Did you do this?’ Picasso calmly replied: ‘No, you did this!’ Today, many a liberal when faced with violent outbursts such as the recent looting in the suburbs of Paris, asks the few remaining leftists who still count on a radical social transformation: ‘Isn’t it you who did this? Is this what you want?’ And we should reply, like Picasso: ‘No, you did this! This is the true result of your politics!’ (9-10)

saga saga's picture

It's Me D wrote:

saga wrote:
I've had the opportunity to learn from some seasoned veterans of social action who, though they may not approve some of the actions of the anarchists, always speak respectfully of their right to do as they see fit, drawing the line at personal violence, of course.

I've had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with poor people Laughing

saga wrote:
Of course, another issue has arisen at times if the more 'active' say they are doing it on behalf of someone else who may not appreciate the negative attention. As long as they have their focus on an issue of their own and don't claim to speak for someone else, I think we have to respect their rights too.

I'm not sure its exactly what you mean but what sprang to mind was demonstrations against police brutality. Although themselves carried out almost universally by the victims of police brutality (because by and large no one else cares) they do not always take the form all victims of police brutality would choose. Since they invariably invite even worse from the cops; they can have serious reprecusions on a community, many members of which might have elected to avoid drawing attention (both good and bad) to the issue. Frown

No, I don't have a problem with that. Here's an example of what I mean:

Let's just suppose some young anarchists blocked a highway with burning debris, posting a large sign saying they were doing it in support of xxxx First Nation. Then the media demands a response from xxxx.

And let's say even when it is pointed out to them by members of xxxx that it's not welcome, they do it again anyway. Wink

I have a problem with that.

It's Me D

Saga: Hell yeah I'd have a problem with that. The situation I described was problematic, in that there is no easy answer. In the situation you just described it is easy to spot the problem! Tongue out Solidarity is one thing but I'd have to wonder about anyone who would think doing as you described would help.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Well shit. You know, you have a lot of people milling around, and so on, and then stuff gets broken sometimes. Can't be helped.

Ze

Well.

 I have enormous respect for Judy Rebick and her work. I even hear she created a pretty good web site that lets this sort of discussion happen. There's a clever gender spin in how she phrased her comment too:

Quote:
"Don't do it," she screamed. He did.

I'd bet she's rightly pissed at the male bravado and selfishness in the act she is talking about. I think a gender lens on this might be useful, although I don't think I'm qualified to really address it. 

 But.  

 I think she's painted it far too black-bloc and white. She's accepted the mainstream trope that the anarchists dressed in black are automatically "violent" based on how they present themselves. Their outfits are performance (drag, even). They are not the same as a bloc of violent people. Quite the reverse, they are banded together to resist police violence -- which is itself conducted in the name of an authority grounded in everyday violence, so banal and taken-for-granted we don't even see it as violence. Her distaste for the "yahoo" she identifies, I can't really take issue with. Her automatic displacement of that onto an entire group based on self-presentation, well, that's distaste grounded in fashion choices (NOT in a "diversity of tactics" at all) and that makes it elitist, as others have said.

Because ... what's violent about a group of anarchists scaling the fence at the APEC summit in Vancouver in 1997, and getting pepper-sprayed for their pains? What's violent about a cannon firing teddy bears? What's violent about using a megaphone? What's violent about trying to rescue a protester being beaten by cops, when there are no fists directed at the cops?

Nothing.

I hate to always harp on this, but way too often the cops get a pass for their violence. Dominant groups get a pass for the violence in (let's use an example from the Center of the Universe) demolishing Toronto's Tent City. Those who strike back in small ways, usually the most marginalized people, often racialized people out in "Detroit" or "Oakland" or "Jane and Finch" (images to scare the comfortable, more than real places) get tagged as "violent." The biggest cases of violence are so routine they get called normal. And violence gets equated with the wretched of the earth, simply for resisting.

I do take Joey's point about hijacking of protests, though. I'm pretty hardline about the organizers of a protest having "ownership" over it, and a right to tell others to take their tactics elsewhere. Ownership is fairly easy to assign in first nations struggles, harder in things like a protest against the G20. 

-- 

"One law for the lion and the ox is oppression" - Blake

Tommy_Paine

 

Who was upset about Goodwin's house getting trashed?  That was properly targeted.   Most people saw justice in it.  I doubt the broken windows, trashed Mercedes-- all insured-- bothered Goodwin too much.

But the resounding public "You had it coming, asshole" undoubtedly shook him-- and others-- to the marrow.

 

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

I have a real problem with folks who hijack demonstrations/protests with random acts of vandalism or violence.

IMHO it's an elitist kind of action.

It says I'm too damned good to do the hard day to day slogging work to convince very large numbers of people of the importance of an issue and to organize them into taking collective action.

So instead, I'll show up at an event where others have done all the hard organizing work.

I'll show all these folks that they're a bunch of wimps, and show everyone how "uber militant" I am...how much more committed I am to the cause than everyone else is.

If the horses, the billy clubs, pepper spray, tear gas, rubber/plastic bullets come out I've shown everyone the repressive apparatus of the state...woken all of these "wimpy" demonstrators out of their slumber...

All because I'm an "elite militant"...and elite militants don't get their hands dirty talking to "icky" ordinary people.

 

martin dufresne

(double post)

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Quote:

The initially peaceful protests turned violent as the police penned thousands of citizens who marched against the G20 policies into "corrals," preventing them from moving for hours.

Activists interviewed by Pueblos sin Fronteras condemned the officers who for hours blocked men, women, and children from moving, denying them access to food, water, or restrooms.

The clashes with the police were concentrated in the financial center of London. Environmentalists, students, workers, and pacifists denounced the governments for continuing to bail out the banks, which caused the global economic crisis, and ignoring the poor.

A group of youths smashed windows of the Royal Bank of Scotland, the banking institution that caused popular anger when the news of its former president receiving an annual pension of over a million dollars became public, at a moment when the economic crisis is hitting Great Britain hard.

Later, the police beat up a group of students who were engaged in an act of peaceful civil disobedience, holding a sit-in in the middle of the street.

[url=Source[/url]">http://www.monthlyreview.org/mrzine/london020409.html][=mediumblue]...

martin dufresne

In the end, such issues are either weighed by referring to the people involved - listening, talking, eventually deciding and trying to implement that respectfully or safely, i,.e. what the demonstration is - or by referring to disembodied principles and/or spectators - authority, onlookers, media, a comfortable peer group, i.e. how it looks.

I am sorry to acknowledge that on this issue, Rebick, a honourable long-term activist, seems to takes the second tack and play it to the hilt, which puts her in the opposition to people whose peer group is less well-connected and whose issues do not benefit from her well-honed strategies and contacts, even if these have yet - and by far - to prove their efficacy.

Maysie Maysie's picture

I'm really enjoying this thread, including arguments that I don't support.

I think of the state's violence as a bubble prison. You don't know it's there until you bump up against the sides. Some people can/do live their lives never bumping against the sides, and don't see what the problem is. Do as you're told, be good, don't throw things, sit in the street for a non-violent sit in, be peaceful, and nothing will/should happen to you. It's the surprise that's surprising.

Some people, as mentioned by saga and It's Me D, bump into the sides all the time. Some people's very existences are "illegal" or "problematic" as far as the state's control  mechanisms are concerned. They live in the place where violence against them is invisible to others.

To be clear, I'm not one of those people. I have a rather privileged bubble. I try to work in alliance, and know that there is daily violence or threat of violence, whether an organized protest is going on or not.

One thing these protests do is make visible the "bubble" for those of us who mostly can choose not to see it. Then we wonder how could we have not seen it all this time.

And, yo, Catchfire, I need to make up a term for anyone who talks about Slavoj Žižek in the middle of a tactics discussion. Something akin to "Godwin's rule".

P.S. Can you explain why, having never heard of Žižek a year ago, I've now encountered in the past 7 or 8 months a zillion people who read him and talk about him and name-drop him? Does he have a new reality show or something? Tongue out  

P.P.S. He seems to be a smarty pants I should read, btw. 

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

Yes riot cops are shithead fascist pig thugs and always will be.   What else is new?

And I know very well that cops are most likely to beat the crap out of anti-poverty activists, young people and minorities.

But the question at the beginning of the thread is acts of vandalism and/or violence by activists at demonstrations...and how movement destroying it can be.

 

Maysie Maysie's picture

You're right radiorahim, sorry for my contribution to the drift.

martin dufresne

I don't know: Who is to tell in advance what will be most "movement-destroying"? Maybe going home and bad-mouthing a not-peaceful-enough-to-one's-taste demo with killer rhetoric is just that.

martin dufresne

As for Slavoj Žižek, Maysie, I have checked out his Wikipedia entry and feel tempted to give him a very wide berth...

Cueball Cueball's picture

Yes. I hardly think he will be providing much support to your already fixed ideological constructs. We wouldn't want your head to explode or anything.

He is big on pyschology though, so you do have some things in common. That said, and despite a sweeping pejorative dismissal, based on a "wiki" article of all things you might actually try dealing with the arguement put forth, which was:

Quote:
Is there not something suspicious, indeed symptomatic, about this focus on subjective violence—that violence which is enacted by social agents, evil individuals, disciplined repressive apparatuses, fanatical crowds? Doesn’t it desperately try to distract our attention from the true locus of trouble, by obliterating from view other forms of violence and thus actively participating in them? According to a well-known anecdote, a German officer visited Picasso in his Paris studio during the Second World War. There he saw Guernica and, shocked at the modernist ‘chaos’ of the painting, asked Picasso: ‘Did you do this?’ Picasso calmly replied: ‘No, you did this!’ Today, many a liberal when faced with violent outbursts such as the recent looting in the suburbs of Paris, asks the few remaining leftists who still count on a radical social transformation: ‘Isn’t it you who did this? Is this what you want?’ And we should reply, like Picasso: ‘No, you did this! This is the true result of your politics!’

N.R.KISSED

radiorahim wrote:

Yes riot cops are shithead fascist pig thugs and always will be.   What else is new?

And I know very well that cops are most likely to beat the crap out of anti-poverty activists, young people and minorities.

But the question at the beginning of the thread is acts of vandalism and/or violence by activists at demonstrations...and how movement destroying it can be.

 

Actually it wasn't a question it was a statement and one that some of us are questioning and challenging.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Fundamentally, I think the right to violence is entirely contextual. So while I agee with Radiorahim that having a few upstarts hijack an action is most certainly obnoxious, especially when this kind of thing is done over the heads of the people who a responsible for the action, I don't think violence, including attacks on property and vandalism should be rejected as outside the bounds of civil disobediance.

I think this question is way too theoretical.

Opportunism should definitely be quashed. For me this is more of a question of the internal organization of the protest. Organizers must be careful to arrange their own security which will remove obnoxious elements and provocateurs from any demonstration, by intimidation or by force if the police are not willing to back up the organizers requests.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Good post, Cueball.

Caissa

Does Judy Rebick Babble?

Cueball Cueball's picture

I see mythological Gandhi has surfaced in discussion piece by Rebick, and I think it would be wise to point out that the Gandhi movement existed against a backdrop of a great deal of violence directed at ending British rule. In fact the Japanese got a great deal of milage our of supporting and fielding a 50,000 strong anti-colonialist all volunteer puppet army during WWII led by Chandra Bose, who is still hailed as a national hero in India to this day, even though he fought on the side of the Axis during the Second World War. Gandhi himself put forward the position during WWII that the people of India should not join the British army and fight the Japanese.

I am not sure where people sit with the idea of India being a Japanese client state during WWII, but that seems to have been the counter-historical narrative, supported directly by militant Indian nationalists and tacitly supported by the Congress party, (in charge of the colonial parliment by free vote under a British Governor General) that refused to declare war on India's behalf against the Axis when hostilities broke out.

The British Governor General, predictably, deigned to do it for them. The fact is that the British had been trying to disentangle itself from direct rule of Indian affairs for quite some time, and the first elections for an all India parliment were held in the 30's.

The writing was on the wall as far as the British Raj was concerned, and had they not assented to full Indian independence after 1945, it is very likely that things would have gotten pretty bloody pretty fast, and everyone knew it. 

The lesson to be learned from Gandhi, is not that "Gandhi taught us not to use violence", but that non-violence is preferable. It can be very powerful force in the hands of adroit political leadership, but there should be no absolute prohibition against its use in the face of tyrrany.

Just so, organizers should have no qualms about ejecting provocateurs and hotheads from a demonstration, by force if necessary, if the police wont do it for them.

Michelle

I've drawn her attention to this thread, so she'll most likely read it at some point, but she's out of town at the moment (in Edmonton tonight for her book tour if anyone is interested!) so she probably hasn't had a chance to read yet.  She has an account here but she hardly ever uses it.  Probably because she has a calendar/schedule that would daunt 3 people.  I don't know how she does it, frankly. :)  I just posted it here because I wanted to see what babblers would have to say about it, and I knew I'd hear another perspective here - and I think that's really important and great. If you want to draw her attention to something and make sure she sees it, the best place to do that is a comment on her blog.

I'm not wedded to either position in the absolute, nor am I dogmatic about non-violence.  I lean towards Judy's point of view on it, but I do see where "violent" protest is acceptable.  For instance, that eviction of the Harris Tory politician's constituency office (forget his name) is an action I support, even though I realize it probably scared his office staff.  Well, that's what an eviction is like.  Scary.  I totally support OCAP's action in that matter.  Not sure whether Judy would agree with me or not on that one.  I also think that the action in London, attacking that banker's house after he made off with all that money, is laudable.  Violent?  Yes, I suppose, but it was strategic and got the point across, and furthermore, it got good press, which is a bonus.

So I'm not a total pacifist.  I think there's a time and a place.

Caissa

So when violence is used at a demo what is its purpose(s)?

Krystalline Kraus Krystalline Kraus's picture

Banjo wrote:

I wonder what those who commit  property damage think they are accomplishing.

 Banjo, the political term is Propaganda of the Deed (propagande par le fait).

"...a concept that promotes physical violence against political enemies as a way of inspiring the masses and catalyzing revolution. It is based on the principles of anarchism and appeared towards the end of the 19th century."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda_of_the_deed

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Caissa wrote:
So when violence is used at a demo what is its purpose(s)?

Well, I assume, Caissa, that the purposes are the same as non-violent protest: a statement against some form of oppression. Like statica says, it is a 'diversification of tactics'; that is, a different way of manifesting the protest statement. I think it's interesting that it's mainly these anti-globalization, or anti-capitalist demons that most often result in violence, because they are direct responses to the violence enacted and enlisted by capitalism to promote its well-being. Anti-war protests, even anti-occupation protests (in the West--i.e. not by those being occupied) rarely escalate to violence.

That is not to say that the violence isn't occasionally or simultaneously satisfying to the actors in and of itself--as peurile retaliation or thrill-seekin--but contrast this with the fun many peaceful protestors enjoy at demonstrations: witty slogans, drum circles, artistic political expression, etc.

Michelle

I don't think anyone considers a peaceful sit in "violence".

Krystalline Kraus Krystalline Kraus's picture

Michelle wrote:

I agree with you about that, ElizaQ.  And I think people who are against destruction or violence at protests make a distinction between that and blocking roads or railroad tracks.  Certainly I do.

I also agree with you about calling destruction of property "violence". 

 Along with property destruction, there are also tactics such as occupations, sit ins, etc, where a crowd of people rush through a door and suddenly are taking over someone else's space for political purpose: no business as usual concept.

Let me forward the example of an unfair/illegal eviction of a woman and her children from a apartment for illegal reasons. As a response, a political/social justice group might occupy the landlord office in response to eviction.

Now, one side could call it an just occupation. The other side could consider it an act of violence.

another example is one that Michelle pointed out with OCAP:

her quote: "For instance, that eviction of the Harris Tory politician's constituency office (forget his name) is an action I support, even though I realize it probably scared his office staff.  Well, that's what an eviction is like.  Scary.  I totally support OCAP's action in that matter."

 

Krystalline Kraus Krystalline Kraus's picture

Michelle wrote:
I don't think anyone considers a peaceful sit in "violence".

you and i and other progressives, but i have had a peaceful sit in described to me by the target of that sit in as a, violence and offensive act as people rushed into the lobby in an agressive manner and occupied the place. she called the police as she felt threatened and intimidated.

Ghislaine

Michelle wrote:

I've drawn her attention to this thread, so she'll most likely read it at some point, but she's out of town at the moment (in Edmonton tonight for her book tour if anyone is interested!) so she probably hasn't had a chance to read yet.  She has an account here but she hardly ever uses it.  Probably because she has a calendar/schedule that would daunt 3 people.  I don't know how she does it, frankly. :)  I just posted it here because I wanted to see what babblers would have to say about it, and I knew I'd hear another perspective here - and I think that's really important and great. If you want to draw her attention to something and make sure she sees it, the best place to do that is a comment on her blog.

I'm not wedded to either position in the absolute, nor am I dogmatic about non-violence.  I lean towards Judy's point of view on it, but I do see where "violent" protest is acceptable.  For instance, that eviction of the Harris Tory politician's constituency office (forget his name) is an action I support, even though I realize it probably scared his office staff.  Well, that's what an eviction is like.  Scary.  I totally support OCAP's action in that matter.  Not sure whether Judy would agree with me or not on that one.  I also think that the action in London, attacking that banker's house after he made off with all that money, is laudable.  Violent?  Yes, I suppose, but it was strategic and got the point across, and furthermore, it got good press, which is a bonus.

So I'm not a total pacifist.  I think there's a time and a place.

laudable? What about children or other family in the house? What the hell does attacking his house accomplish? It is definitely violent and I don't think it results in good press.  There are lots of rich people still making millions during this crisis, is attacking all of their homes laudable?  I'm sorry, I don't support attacking someone's home or a place of business.

 Sit-ins, demonstrations, etc. are all peaceful and a completely different situation. Lumping all of this together is playing right into the MSM's hands in terms of what is defined as violence. Attacking a private residence where children may be present is definitely a category that should be characterized as violence by both.

I hope Judy does come into this thread and make some much-needed comments.

Krystalline Kraus Krystalline Kraus's picture

Ghislaine wrote:

 

Sit-ins, demonstrations, etc. are all peaceful and a completely different situation.

I'm sorry if I wasn't clear when making this point so I'll clarify. While progressives see sit-ins, demonstrations as peaceful, that is not/never how the state preceives them. This is why the police are called.

They are not peaceful to the state because the state considers it "disturbing the peace" because it disrupts capitalism's business-as-usual concept (how can their be peace without justice?)

And when the police are called, they bring the force of the state's capasity for violence with them -- not just guns, batons and tasers, but the ability to threaten, intimidate, beat and arrest. They (the police; the state) brings down the violence.

(how many times have i been to a peaceful demo where people are literally chanting "this is a peaceful protests" while the cops are rushing in and beating the shit out of the people at the same time)

Essentially, what we consider as peaceful is considered a threat to the state. Sad but very true. This is why police behaviour (the state's behaviour) needs to be challenged in this regard.

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Goodwin didn't give a fuck when he gave a giant two-fingered salute to the entire British population with his 16-million-pound pension after taxpayer bailed out his calamitous spell as CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland. How much responsiblity does he bear to people (and their children) who lost their homes or jobs because of mismanagement like Goodwin's? I agree that Goodwin is largely suffering because of the picture-perfect symbolism his greed effects, but his absolute antipathy for the plight of the British un- and under-employed is shocking.

It's like poking a hornet's nest and then complaining when you get stung.

ETA: By the way, Goodwin's house was empty when it was vandalized. It was his second home here in Edinburgh, poor chap.

Ghislaine

I agree it is ridiculous and unjust Catchfire. But there are tons of situations like this. GM.s CEO just made away like a bandit. What does Bombardier's CEO make? They just layed off thousands in Montreal on the same they posted profit. Should his (or her..not sure) house be attacked? Bombardier's receives millions in corporate welfare. Would Michelle call attacking his house laudable?

 

ETA: It is Pierre Beaudoin and [url=http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2009/04/02/bombardier-aerospace-aircraft-... here [/url] is what he said yesterday~

Quote:

The announced layoffs are now expected to be about 4,360.

The cuts will be made at the company's facilities in Canada, the United States, Mexico and Northern Ireland by the end of 2009.

Bombardier, the world's third-largest maker of commercial aircraft, said it expects the demand for business aircraft to remain weak for the foreseeable future.

The announcement came as Bombardier reported that its full-year profit reached $1 billion US for the first time, topping the $317 million the company made in its last fiscal year. Bombardier's revenues for the year rose 13 per cent year-over-year to $19.7 billion.

"During the past year, we more than held our own as the world's financial markets tumbled and the global economy weakened," said company president and CEO Pierre Beaudoin.

For the fourth quarter, Bombardier made a profit of $309 million, or 17 cents a share, on revenue of $5.4 billion. In the same quarter of its previous fiscal year, the company reported earnings of $218 million, or 12 cents a share, on revenue of $5.3 billion.

martin dufresne

To what extent do we care if our tactics get "good press" in the National Pest or other bastions of the establishment? I would think that this would indicate a problem with them.

Beside, whenever it suits the system for you to get bad press, rest assured that you will get it in spades.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
Attacking a private residence where children may be present is definitely a category that should be characterized as violence by both.

Hear hear.  The left rarely supports vigilantism, even for violent criminals.  But vigilantism is kewl when it's an economic criminal? 

Quote:
It's like poking a hornet's nest and then complaining when you get stung.

One could say the same of any offender in a community.  I'm really missing the part where an economic crime is somehow deserving of vigilantism.  Once you say that bad people deserve whatever an angry victim decides to throw at them, how are you going to put that genie back in the bottle? 

Apparently in France, managers are being held hostage by angry workers.  Sorry, but tell me how that's not kidnapping, and why those workers should be exempt from the usual laws that say that none of us has the right to hold another hostage?  

Again, just vigilantism, and there's nothing noble or laudable about vigilantism.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

You can choose to ignore all the philospohical underpinnings throughout this thread and reduce it to vigilantism if you like, Snert, but that's just intellectual dishonesty. It's also reactionary, elementary contrarian stuff. But knock yourself out.

Snert Snert's picture

Feel free to tell me how these "philosophical underpinnings" have somehow justified vigilantism.

And sorry if you feel I'm taking your toy away. 

Ghislaine

Snert makes a good point though.  Should a raped woman be justified in attaching the home of the rapist (or the judge that let him off too easily...or the police that did not believe or or treat her with a respectful investigation)?  I understand and have studied the philosophical underpinnings of anarchism and I still believe in the rule of law and democracy. You can argue that it is severely flawed in its current formation in Canada, but also argue that extremely positive changes have happened while respecting the rule of law and working democratically.

Pressuring politicians to ensure companies receiving corporate welfare cannot lay people off and working to bring public attention and outrae to this issue seems the way to go. Trashing the CEO's house is a crime and should remain a crime.

martin: I wasn't arguing that activists should strive for "good press" from a biased MSM (or that this should be valued) I was arguing Michelle's contention that those trashing the Brit bankeer's house did in fact receive "good press" (however you define it).

Refuge Refuge's picture

Caissa wrote:

So when violence is used at a demo what is its purpose(s)?

I can't speak to general rules because I have only had experience with a few protest areas, never directly the black block, but can speak about my experience.

I mentioned about a protest at Queens Park up the tread.  At that particular protest, as I mentioned there was no violence per say but the protestor did act in a way that compelled the police to act.

In that situation I, personally, see what the protestor did as sympolic.  It was a way of bringing out for all to see exactly what we do.  He tried to equalize the Haudensaunee, his nation, and Canada, our nation by raising both flags together.  Canada would not exist except for the ability for them to accept us and treat us as equals and it was only in this  act of treating us as equals that allowed us to get to the point where we made their governments illegal and made their people not people.

So what did we do?  The agents of the government, who have been assured by the government that they are acting rightly and justly through years of teaching what they deem to be appropriate history, did not allow him to carry out this symbolic act but instead came in and forcibly arrested him just as they had all those before him.  Anyone witnessing that event or even hearing about the event can not deny what the governments attitude toward the Haudensaunee in particular and FN people in general are.

I see the protests in Brantford, Cayuga and Haggersville the same only less symbolic and more reality.

On a day to day basis the Haudensaunee land is being taken.  The government keeps saying we will talk later and in the words of Smitheman "they won't get it back".  They go to the construction sites and stop construction.  Some consider this economic assult and indeed the protests have escalated as well to include violence.  Why is that?  One reason is because the police initially stopped the workers from working and kept the construction crew and builders off site because of the Ipperwash Inquiry, however recently this has not been happening.  We have decided that our want to keep our colonialist version of captalism going is more important than their right to their treaty land or say over their treaty land.  Our wants are more important their their rights.  When violence happens it is because they are standing up for their rights because no one else will.  They are not willing to back down.  If they have to meet a violent confrontation they will but of the people that I have talked with who were involved in the more violent confrontations they didn't initiate anything.  They stood their ground and if it staying non violent meant that they would have to back down they refused to do that, they were willing to meet whatever came their way to stand up for themselves, again because no one else will.

One memory I have is from the highway bypass blockade last April.  At one point the police said they were going to come in and clear everyone out.  I was standing on the bridge above the blockade with about 200 people.  Below me there were about 20 Warriors on the road and double that on the hill.  They were waiting.  Their actions at this point had been non violent.  But they were willing to meet what came to them.

George Victor

Gandhi was a winner.

He was killed by a rock thrower without an understanding of humanity.

martin dufresne

Michelle says it got good press, an empirical assessment (which I can't express any opinion about, personally). You say you "don't think it results in good press", an idealist normative argument. Your implicit point seems to be that tactics should get good press in the MSM. Well, this apparently did.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

I just think people need to get over the hang-up of automatically thinking "violence = evil; non-violence = good".

To call something violent is not necessarily to condemn it. Violence is a fact of nature and of life; its moral dimension depends very much on the circumstances in which it occurs.

The Bish

I think that, short of civil war, violence against an industrial nation-state is simply not going to affect meaningful change.  The state will virtually always have superior firepower.  Protestors will never win that battle.  Every violent act by protestors will draw an even more violent act from the state.  So to my mind there are two possibilities: either we deliberately involve ourselves in constantly escalating violence, or we acknowledge that, justified or not, it's simply not a battle we can win.

As one poster asked, what are the specific aims that a violent protest aims to achieve?  Let's say that a protestor breaks the windows of a bank.  The end goal of this is what?  The bank is not harmed in any way.  The money to repare that property damage isn't going to come from the CEO's bank account.  If anything, it's going to come in the form of increased service charges to that bank's users.  The bank may even justify the increased service charges as being necessary because of the damage that has been done to them.  That, in turn, sets the bank's customers against the protestors.  But not just the protestors, but their goals as well.   That is a serious problem.

Now, the goal of a peaceful protest, at least in my mind, is not to actually change the behaviour of the state directly.  Rather, it is to raise awareness about the issue and get a broader cross-section of the public to learn about the cause and come on side with it.  This increased mass will, in turn, put increased pressure on politicians to adopt progressive policies.  That's the theory, anyway.  It is quite difficult to tell exactly how well such a thing works.  But it is not at all difficult to say that property destruction is extremely unlikely to get the average citizen on-side; whether activists like it or not, those average citizens are going to have to be part of any successful movement.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Except that there comes a time in history (and we are very far from that time as yet) when "average citizens" are so desperate and angry at the state that they will embrace social movements who demonstrate they are not afraid to take violent measures if necessary in defence of their rights as against the violence of the state.

Violence and non-violence are tactics, not eternal moral principles. 

Krystalline Kraus Krystalline Kraus's picture

M. Spector wrote:

Except that there comes a time in history (and we are very far from that time as yet) when "average citizens" are so desperate and angry at the state that they will embrace social movements who demonstrate they are not afraid to take violent measures if necessary in defence of their rights as against the violence of the state.

To use a famous example:

 Southern Bread Riots

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richmond_Bread_Riot

"The protesters believed a negligent government and greedy merchants were to blame. To show their displeasure, many protesters turned to violence."  

(the price of bread is rising again and we have seen riots in parts of the Middle East)

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