Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Hegemony of Authoritarian Ideology and the Vancouver Hockey Riot

The immediate response of both the authorities and most of the public was to find a subject to blame for the riot and demand swift vengeance. The riot was the work of “anarchists”, or “thugs” and at the most analytical level, dragged out the old and dog-eared, “society is too permissive” bromide.

We expect the authorities – as group forever mired in a LaBrea Tar Pit state of denial, to do this. But for all the ordinary people who engaged in this blame fest, it only goes to show the hegemony of authoritarian ideology. Such hegemony means that most people are incapable of a structural or systemic analysis of an event. All they can do is conjure up demons, scapegoats and conspiracy theories. Thus, the causes of an unpleasant event, like the hockey riot, are shoved onto individuals or despised minorities.

The inability to think in structural terms is an immense help to the dominator class, by taking the heat off the system of domination, which in this era is corporate capitalism. Furthermore, analyzing an event systemically or structurally leads one to seek rectification of the problem in structural and systemic changes, ie, social change not vigilantism. Of course, it is easier to yell for revenge than get up off your lazy butt and eliminate the root causes of a problem. That requires action and thought, not to mention it automatically leads one to a critical evaluation of the status quo.

Socialists and anarchists have struggled for almost two centuries to acquaint the masses with systemic thinking. That we still have to do this shows the immense strength that authoritarian ideology has. Blaming, vengeance and punishment all have their roots in religion. Authoritarian religions claim that humans are innately evil and that when they do bad things it is because they chose to do so – the doctrine of free will - being too weak or vicious to restrain themselves. People need to be terrorized into obedience and punished severely if they fall by the way side. But terror is not enough to maintain a system, it is much better when the masses sincerely believe this clap trap and engage in a virtual knee jerk reaction, applying it to all situations. Truly a wonderful tool for protecting the system of domination.

It comes as no surprise that such doctrines have their origins in a slave-based society. Hunting and gathering and pre-dominator class agricultural societies sought harmony among their members not punishment, nor did they believe in humanity's supposedly innate evil nature.

That a supposed progressive mayor would seek to scape goat anarchists only goes to show how deeply ingrained this ideology is. Part of the problem lies with social democracy which ceased its educational role back in the 1950's when they adopted the foolish belief that class struggle was over. The only “education” most people get is from the schools and the mass media which naturally indoctrinate them in dominator ideology.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Vancouver Hockey Riot of 2011

The riot pointed out, one more time, the incompetence and stupidity of both our leaders and the media. Oh, such moaning! “The riot was totally unexpected.” What dolts, you put a hundred thousand adrenaline charged, boozed up people in one spot and at least some of them will think it funny to flip over a car or toss a bottle through a window. And that's how it starts. The riot was virtually inevitable, and the civic leaders don't want to take responsibility for it.

The CBC hit a new low. They tried to smear the Black Bloc as somehow initiating the riot, since a number of the rioters wisely hid their faces from the cameras. But blockers smash windows to make a political statement and not for the thrill of doing so. Videos show rioters as ordinary suburban working class youth and not counter culturals or the “goons and thugs” so beloved of the media as rationalizations. (I am pleased that a number of commentators in the CBC comments section noted how mildly the cops treated the rioters compared with the G20 brutality against non-violent demonstrators.)

Nor did the rioters seem a “tiny minority”. Though the active smashers may well have been, they were surrounded by a crowd of laughing, smiling youth egging them on, posing for pictures against the flames, sharing looted goods, more of a carnival atmosphere than a war zone.

The riot was not in the least political in terms of the consciousness of the participants. None of them had a political idea in their heads. Yet in one sense it was political. These youth have no future and somehow know that. Future means working in Walmart. Future means never being able to afford a dwelling in the Vancouver area even if they scored a half-way decent job. .Even if they go to university, they end up $50,000 in debt and the right to work part-time at Starbucks. Those with the slightest grain of consciousness know we are about to be royally screwed by climate change and the corporatist policies of the government.

These kids come from the suburbs, that ultimate anti-community. They belong to no community and have nothing to defend, so they feel detached enough to smash up what does exist.

They hate the police. This is understandable as youth are targeted by them, due to the fact that the majority of crimes are committed by males under age 30 and the police are used to enforce a morality that youth constantly challenge. Part of being young is loud music, beer and pot all of which brings the heat.

Now as they go about smashing and looting, they are not thinking these thoughts, seeing themselves as just having some wild fun. But their alienation lies beneath the surface as a hidden impetus. People who are happy with their lot in life do not smash things up.

One point cannot be stressed enough. Don't be surprised that given an opportunity to riot, youth will take it. What ought to surprise you is they don't riot all the time.

This riot should be a lesson for the criminals who rule over us. Working class youth have done vastly more damage than conscious militant activists. If the inchoate anger of the masses becomes conscious and politicized the bosses are in deep trouble.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Canadian Labour Martyrs Booklet

Hot off the press! THEY DIED FOR YOU – A Brief History of Canadian Labour Martyrs, by D.J. Alperovitz and Larry Gambone. When we started this project we thought we would have maybe 8 or 9 martyrs and a 10 page pamphlet. Doing research we found twenty-five of them. Read their stories in this 37 page booklet. Full of illustrations. Available from for $4.00 per copy plus postage.


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