Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Anti-Olympics Demonstration and the Black Bloc.

I have never cared much for the Black Bloc, but the amount of hypocrisy about the "violence" of breaking a couple of bank windows this Saturday in the demonstration against the Olympics corporate welfare fest has almost made me sympathetic.

Tactical differences and criticism are legitimate. There are ethical and utilitarian aspects to any tactical choice and the BB's can be questioned about these. However, the bulk of hostility wafting their way has little to do with arguments about tactics. Many of the red-faced and bellowing crowd (1) simply hate "protesters" period and use the BB as an excuse to spout venom at any public critic of the system.

Those who rant about violence would be comical in the extremity of their hypocrisy if it wasn't just plain sad that people could be so blind and so deluded. A newspaper box was thrown through a bank window – you would think it the atrocity of the decade. Thirty million children die each year from malnutrition and bad water. If a few broken windows makes these folks apoplectic, how do they deal with this violence? How about the trillion dollars a year squandered on military foolishness while those same kids drop dead? Shouldn't that peeve these clowns enough to heat up the comments sections of the on-line forums?

So far I have seen accusations of cowardice against the BB's and at the same time calls for vigilante action against them (and also generic "protesters.") 20 unarmed, unprotected people take on hundreds of armed, body armoured riot cops. They may be nuts but cowards they ain't! The accusation of cowardice is actually psychological projection on the part of the right-wingers. What is a right-winger but someone filled with a host of irrational fears – of protesters, trade unions, feminists, environmentalists, peace activists, socialists, communists etc., all raised into towering bogey-men causing the poor little right-winger to practically piss himself in terror? A fair fight to a right-winger is a thousand to one – the lynch mob so let's drop all talk of cowardice.

I have actually heard it all before. Back in the 1960's we student radicals were attacked in similar terms. "Public opinion" turned apoplectic when the Yippies arrived on the scene and went off the Hate Mongers Richter Scale when a bunch of street kids destroyed a train load of brand new automobiles during the Blaine Invasion. (And you morons get your shorts in a knot over a couple of windows?)

The BB made me think of other violence that I witnessed during that time. I was in Berkeley in May of 1970 when Nixon invaded Cambodia. The students held a night demo and molotov cocktails were hurled at the ROTC building setting it on fire. Around the same time students in Santa Barbara burned the local Bank of America to the ground.

Now let's move away from the right-wing moonbat element and turn to one aspect of the tactical criticism of the BB. The notion that their actions will "turn people against the movement." No one other than right-wing fanatics reduces the movements of the 1960-70s to the most extreme or violent aspect of those movements. People are actually a lot smarter than that. Debate on the BB will have to move to other areas other than this, but that would have to be another time...

1. I got this image from living in Quebec. This is how most Quebecois see Anglo Canadians.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, and I sure don't hear a lot of comparison between this incident and the riots outside of BC Place when a crowd went nuts and broke many, many windows... but, I guess, that's OK, since they were just a bunch of cute jocks blowing off steam?
And, there also isn't a lot of comparison between this incident and the thousands of windows that are broken all throughout the year. In fact, it could be seen as average vandalism. "Big whoop," I say, "and what a waste of a billion bucks in policing the Olympics - they couldn't even stop this! Amateurs!

11:44 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

It gets even more bizarre. Just now some tax protester crashed a plane into the Austin TX IRS building killing someone. The same sort of righties that foamed at broken bank windows apologize for this terrorism

12:46 PM  
Blogger Fasaud said...

I think there's stupid people on both sides.
The kind of people that talk about 'vigilante justice' against legitimate protesters (or anyone really) and the protesters who are blaming the Olympics on everything wrong in their world.
The Olympics aren't the 'war', and while it might be symbolic for some world ills, violently attacking it will not garner you the same public sympathy rallying against troops in Afghanistan will.
The assumption that everyone 'for' the Olympics is blind and a 'sheep' is part of the problem, just as the view that all the people against the Olympics are violent 'terrorists'.
Both sides need to stop simplifying; the games really didn't cost 6 million dollars (Highways and upgrades were necessary and will be a boon for the future) and 20 kids throwing a mailbox into a bank does not turn thousands of peaceful protesters with legitimate views into thugs.

5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anti-Texas, GA said...

I would like to take issue with the 'legitimate protest' comments. That is establishment hairsplitting. Don't get into an rhetorical argument with the focus of your protest. Protest is all-encompassing and includes all manner of action, by definition. Don't let the evil-doers convince you otherwise.

12:36 PM  
Blogger Fasaud said...

Do you think calling people who don't agree with you 'evil doers' might sort of discredit your message?
Many protesters want to be sure that they aren't lumped in with the 'black bloc' group, some are very adamant about that because they'd like to be taken seriously.

Also, terms like "the establishment" you might as well throw in "the man" or "sheep/sheeple" sound like our sides version of labeling people "communist or terrorist".

We'd all be better served without these simplifications.

6:12 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

But there are real divisions in society between rulers and ruled, Fasaud. They have to be identified in order to understand our situation of being dominated and exploited. Call them the "establishment", "boss class", "ruling class", capitalist class" or whatever, but they exist.
And through their media they propagandize against movements that resist their domination. One of the forms their propaganda takes is demonization of radicals. Thus we have to be very careful or very skilled in our criticism - (and such criticism is needed in order for us to move ahead) not to mimic the phrases or attitudes of the dominators. To do so only empowers them all the more.
Sectarians are so caught up in the righteousness of their positions that they forget this.

8:09 PM  

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