Thursday, July 1, 2010

Police state? Thanks, Black Block.

Firstly, kudos to the Globe and Mail for speaking to and publishing the words of those involved in the Black Block techniques at the G8/G20.
It makes clear the motivation behind the violence - lash out against the corporate entities that are allegedly oppressing the populace.
“Look here, look at the reaction to austerity measures in Greece, look at the anger surrounding BP in the Gulf,” Mr. Bowen said. “The whole global economy is coming down. We are going to kick it until it breaks.”

One black blocker even argued the vandalism was helping spread the messages of non-violent protesters.
He claimed that Black Bloc acts as “a wrecking ball” that clears the way for other protest groups to state their various cases. Smashing windows at Hudson’s Bay Co., for instance, “actually opened up space for Canadians to stop and think about the colonial history of HBC,” Mr. Hundert wrote.

I see this as a teachable moment - an opportunity to restate what's evident in the way media covers protests marred by violence.
Destruction takes the lead. Your violent acts don't clear the way for other messages. They don't carry any political message through editors' filters. Violence is an opaque lens on the real issues that have upset you and motivated you to kick and smash.
If you're truly anarchists as you're often described, then maybe you're happy that the violence focuses the debate on the power of police instead of the politics affecting our daily lives.
You would do anything to elicit a heavy-handed police response, undermining public confidence in the social order.
But outside your living-room revolutionary brigades, there's a public that may well side with police in this debate. They see your antics as deplorable, and therefore the police justified in their use of force.
For that sizable part of the populace, you reinforce the need for a heavy-handed law and order state. You make the subversion of civil liberties seem like a necessary recourse to keep store windows in place.
The media you're aiming to saturate? Reporters are told to report at risk of arrest, or to leave.
Suddenly the list of your opposition grows - it's the corporations and governments, then it's the media, then it's the populace itself. Who exactly are you with? Who are you serving?
Do you care? Or are emotional fits enough to scratch that itch for action on your grievances?