Royal Bank firebombed in Ottawa - part 5

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Slumberjack wrote:

Unionist wrote:
It's my country, see.

I see.  So you've taken on the role of decider, its your country after all, the entire sea to sea landmass and everyone in it.  I hope you don't take offense then if I understand those who choose not to listen to you.

I'm totally fine with that, SJ. You, and everyone here, have the right to debate whether torching bank branches is good, bad, not a big deal compared to bigger crimes, etc. That's what we've been doing. Not I - but we Canadians, collectively - are the "deciders".

But when you start insinuating hypocrisy when we cheer sabotage and destruction of NATO installations (say) in Afghanistan, but condemn similar tactics here as the work of stupid or paid assholes - well, that's when one has to distinguish between tactics that [b]WE[/b] have a right to decide (as Canadians) vs. tactics that have [b]NO RIGHT[/b] to determine (i.e., the struggle of others).

Likewise, if Karzai, or Obama, or Norman Finkelstein, or Mullah Omar, or Fidel Castro, or Bibi, or anyone else tells us how to wage our struggle here, they should be kindly (or otherwise) told to mind their own affairs.


Unionist wrote:
...but we Canadians, collectively - are the "deciders".

Apparently, some among the 'we' have an entirely different view, 32% in fact voted for force, or by any means necessary, according to a recent Rabble poll, if anything can be gleaned from that snapshot.  The question was:

Social change strategies and the G8/G20.  What's the most effective way for activists to work for progressive change and get their message heard by world leaders at the G8 and G20 summits?

Seems such a waste doesn't it, to write them all off by lumping them with the assholes.


Your sophistry is unbecoming, SJ. Carry on erecting straw men and courageously tilting at them till they fall. If you truly don't grasp the difference between actions (violent or not, vandalism or not) of individuals vs. actions by masses, then you will continue to have a hard time differentiating the Afghan insurgency from the Ottawa SUV heroes.


Everything has a origin Unionist. Mass movements don't materialize out of thin air as you're well aware. It takes time and resonance among the masses who may eventually decide for themselves that they've had enough. It seems that a few are unwilling to wait forever in vain for the arrival of the bandwagon laden with the approval committee. They've apparently come to realize that the conditions which endanger us all simply can't wait for the forces of systemic inertia to arrive at the inescapable conclusions before it.

What on earth do you mean in this instance by ‘strawmen?' A poll, granted an unscientific one, on a white lefty upper middle class website where 32% of visitors elect some sort of violence as the appropriate response for activists. Don't you find that at least mildly interesting? Or perhaps the voters meant violence against this system is fine for ‘others' so long as it doesn't involve us? In that case, one of our problems is clear to me at least.


Slumberjack wrote:

What on earth do you mean in this instance by ‘strawmen?' A poll, granted an unscientific one, on a white lefty upper middle class website where 32% of visitors elect some sort of violence as the appropriate response for activists. Don't you find that at least mildly interesting?

Here's what I mean about "strawmen":

1. Unionist calls individual anonymous bank-burners "assholes".

2. Unionist makes it extremely clear in many threads (including debate with adharden) that Unionist [b]is not a pacifist and does not oppose violence per se[/b], any more than Unionist opposes strikes or demonstrations per se.

3. Unionist clearly distinguishes between actions by anonymous individuals and actions by masses of people discussed and decided as part of movement. Unionist gives countless examples of violence which is not only acceptable, but indispensable. Unionist says Canadian Forces violence against Nazism and fascism was A-OK wonderful, while Canadian Forces violence against the Afghan people (ALL of it) is despicable war crimes and crimes against humanity. One would have thought that made the matter clear - but not, apparently, for SJ, who has a man of straw to defeat.

4. SJ entirely ignores this distinction, concludes that Unionist is opposed to "violence", and accuses Unionist of conflating 32% of poll responders with the real assholes - the ASSHOLES who burned an RBC bank and the ASSHOLES who broke windows and destroyed cop cars in Toronto.

Let me know if you need further clarification.

Slumberjack wrote:
Or perhaps the voters meant violence against this system is fine for ‘others' so long as it doesn't involve us?

No, the distinction isn't "us" or "them". It's individual assholes vs. mass action and decision. Let me give you a made-up example. Let's say the organizations involved in the protests had decided, after much discussion, that they were not going to surrender peacefully if and when the police swept people up who were merely exercising their rights to protest. Let's say the decision was, "we will actively resist arrest and defend ourselves - this watchword may change, so pay attention as the situation develops". That's [b]violence[/b], you know. And I would support that entirely, under those circumstances.

So what are you actually talking about? You want a Manichean "violent - nonviolent" division here? If I support violent actions of some kinds, I must support scumbags and assholes who do their best, through police remuneration or infantile exhibitionism, to destroy our movement? I don't think so, SJ.


The problem I'm having lays with the fact that I see little difference between the system as we know it, and the system that others have to contend with. I see it as one continuous act of aggression against the bulk of humanity for the benefit of a few.  What little discernable difference there is stems from the fact that in our context, the initiators, or leaders of protest and those that mobilize around them are not at this point in time subjected to drone attacks and assassination, the worst excesses of power, as are the leaders and people in other places who conduct their objections with a little more panache.

Our activist and leftist leaders do not merit such attention, because they do exactly what is expected of them, they flawlessly perform through practice the usual charade each and every time they are provided with a stage. I'm certainly open to correction, however I don't believe I'm mistaken to conclude that if the script laid down by the authorities, if the posture they deem appropriate isn't followed by western activist leaders to the letter, then the corporatist state reserves for itself any and all responses up to and including annihilation to deal with the outbursts. It wouldn't matter if it were a few vandals or ten thousand in the street.

We needn't worry though, because we do what we're told. They tell people to protest here and no where else, and the people comply, raise their voices a little on cue, and return home at the end of the day content in the knowledge that they're really out there doing 'it.' Walking the walk as it were. Meanwhile what passes by everyone is the fact that everyone appears to be engaged to the same end, the politicians, the police, the G20 honchos, leftist leaders, the right, the unions...which is to say engaged in the effort to return everything to a state of normalcy as soon as possible, so that we can carry on with our lives without protesting too much, without losing anything, without disturbing anyone who might utterly deserve to be disturbed.

Obviously, my definition of assholedom is different than your own. Nihilism is certainly a frightening spectre to be sure, and I can‘t imagine a more nightmarish spider hole to peer into. We should be accustomed to it by now though, living in the midst of it as we do while benefiting from it, and witnessing it unfold everywhere.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Long thread, innit?


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