Wednesday, July 21, 2010

G20-Toronto property damage is a good thing

Their law versus sanity and justice

by Denis G. Rancourt



Why should unelected and parasitic banks, insurance companies, and corporations run our lives? They shouldn’t but they do.

And why should politicians, lawyers and judges work for banks, insurance companies, and corporations? They shouldn’t but they do.

How can individuals obtain some measure of democratic influence? Tried voting? Surprise – doesn’t work huh? It’s like it’s a fixed game or something?

We are told that we “vote” with our “consumer choices”. Problem is the “choices” are pre-determined, like with political candidates and corporate media coverage, and the prices are fixed…

The next level beyond consumer choice is a boycott and we are told that boycott’s are legitimate. Problem is… the economy is quickly becoming a monopoly – so how do you boycott? Want to be a hippy living out of a dumpster and avoiding rent, mortgages and taxes, growing your food on the strip of land between the road and the sidewalk? (How come the working poor didn’t think of that?)

The purpose of a boycott is to inflict financial damage on a delinquent corporation to pressure it into compliance with moral behaviour.

Similarly, the purpose of targeted material damage to banks and corporations is to inflict financial punishment to force compliance with moral behaviour. History shows it to be vastly more effective than a consumer boycott. It is controlled directly by the individual in the purest form of democratic participation (you don’t need to be unionized), gives measurable immediate results, is psychologically empowering, and is a brave act for the common good with real associated risks. It also generates jobs and provides a visible public critique.

It is not a personal attack on personal property or livelihood. It is a political act; one that does not physically harm persons but instead aims to pressure undemocratic organizations towards change. It is an act motivated by love, vitality and self-preservation, not hate. It is not insane aggression. It is sanity. It is a noble form of taking one’s responsibility as a citizen. We have a duty to take back democratic control from the banksters and their corporate collaborators.

Any just legal process in prosecuting such cases would objectively consider the misbehaviour and criminality of the bank or corporate entity and would consider the mechanism whereby the property damage provides societal improvement. It would also consider the motivation and intent of the individual actor. It would then reward the individual actor for his/her risk, inconvenience, and service to society.

Similarly, when at G20-Toronto the police disregarded constitutional and natural rights actors had a duty not to let them and to resist arrest. Any criminal charge of resisting arrest in such circumstances, in a just legal system, would be disregarded and the resister would be compensated for his/her risk, damage, and service to society. WTF. The cops corral peaceful bystanders and protesters, intimidate, retain and selectively assault without cause or explanation, in the hope that some will resist in order to crush those with will. WTF. Those sane individuals are then to be prosecuted for resisting arrest – for questioning illegitimate authority? Violation upon violation in the true spirit of a fucked up system.

In these circumstances pacifism is pathology. Not the true pacifism of Gandhi but the pseudo pacifism of deference to illegitimate authority and deference to absurd context-blind and justice-blind laws that serve undemocratic power.

The only crimes at G20-Toronto were committed by the cops and their bosses.

It is not a crime, in a protest battle zone created by a militaristic police occupation, to spontaneously destroy police property offered as bait to encircled pro-democracy protesters for the benefit of corporate media propaganda that serves the police and its bosses in wrongly justifying tax-funded mass aggression and organized civil liberties dismantlement.

The division between “violent” and “peaceful” protesters is a divide-and-conquer tactic intended to neutralize and dismantle democratic expression and popular leverage. The crimes of the financiers, their corporate collaborators and their government servants, designed in secret behind closed doors at G8 and G20 and in all the boardrooms of power, are too great to let them divide us.

Free all political prisoners now!


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16 comments:

the Vegabond said...

well said

Denis Rancourt said...

A discussion string about the post from the "Canadians Demanding a Public Inquiry into Toronto G20" FaceBook group.

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/posted.php?id=135629036463012&share_id=144690888876537&comments=1#s144690888876537

PART - 1

Valentyna Onisko
I see a few flaws in this argument.
First, it makes no difference for Starbucks if a window gets broken. They have insurance, so they don't pay for it, and even if they did, a few thousand dollars make no difference for them.
Second, as a symbolic tool, it does not work. The public sees this as terrorism and it serves to discredit the entire ... See Moremovement. If nobody was violent during the G20, we would have more to stand on right now against the abuses that took place. Right now, smashed windows, however wrong, are being used as a justification and the public agrees. Some activists have been working on their message for months and their message got completely hijacked in a few minutes and dismissed.
Lastly, not just corporate buildings were damaged, but also family businesses. This might not have been done by those with the black bloc tactics, but other vandals with no political message, but sadly, they all get lumped together.
I understand peoples frustration and motivations. I don't want to call these people criminals. Heck, after that weekend I was pretty damn angry too. I just that in the long run, this damages the movement and serves to alienate us further from the public.
18 hours ago · LikeUnlike ·

Tim Gray
Tim Gray
Sorry, this is badly out of touch with reality. Window breaking just makes more money for window repair companies.
Also, many of those breaking windows were STEALING STUFF. So please, its time to face reality.
Every broken window, just means more MILIONS for police budgets.
A good article, which shows how this type of street violence is damaging... See More, is found at this link. http://www.henrymakow.com/irish_dan.html
Also, breaking windows is VIOLENT. Ask those people working in stores, who's windows were attacked by gangs of masked bandits. Many of those people will have PTSD as they were also TERRORIZED.
So these armchair revolutionaries don't know what they are talking about.
Notice the people being picked up seem to be around 20 years old.

As well, it just makes the general public want to see "protesters" locked up, in cages, without water.
Those idiots lighting cars on fire, almost burned down Queen West, those are all local businesses.
If there was no black bloc breaking windows, the police-system would have to invent one, as its great for police budgets.
18 hours ago · LikeUnlike · 1 personLoading... ·

Denis Rancourt said...

PART - 2

José Tremblay
José Tremblay
I'll more or less side with you on this Valentyna. Intellectually I can agree with the reasoning of the article in terms that it is very much a political statement and an attempt at a pressure statement. Possibly empowering as well etc.
I will even add that, because such acts do have a tendency of seeing strong "system" reactions (ie police ... See Morebrutality) they often do offer opportunities to open the eyes of yet a few more folks to issues of the system. How many though?
I will never personally call these acts "violent" and continue to discourage folks of doing so. (my own line of "violence" is damage or risk to living entities)
Now the buts....
As you said Valentyna it makes little if any difference to starbucks. (it might even, if damage is bad enough, cause some days of loss of wages for folks paid very little and for whom these dollars make a dif). I'll also agree that not all damage gets targeted only to "greedy corps" or symbols whether by others or not. This loses the message even more.
THe main point however is that the great majority of the population does NOT understand it is a political message! and because they don't, they are not standing beside us fighting the abusive actions during the G protests. MSM of course being at root of this but most now see "violent proterty damage, Toronto out of control, cops had no choice to act".
18 hours ago · LikeUnlike ·

Rodney Halko
Rodney Halko
the blac block works for glass repair shops
17 hours ago · LikeUnlike ·

Tim Gray
Tim Gray
Maybe Joe's Glass Company, sends in its boys to make some work!
If they are trying to make a political statement, by breaking windows, it ain't working. The only statement that comes out of that is...
"lock 'em up in a cage on bread and minimal water".

Besides, frankly, Starbucks is an absurd target anyway, isn't it? Who is paying $6 for a cup of coffee? ... See More
Even progressives don't "get it", never mind the general public.
If they want to expose coffee companies, why not have the coffee workers come up, adn talk to people outside the coffee stores, and explain what is really going on?
17 hours ago · LikeUnlike ·

José Tremblay
José Tremblay
‎@Denis: I can empathize with the message you are trying to send.
I am noting however a trend over the past few weeks which I believe is part of what makes it difficult to reach "the mass of mainstream".
There are truly two issues here, and though I agree they have some inter-relationships, I am advancing that it is best, for "now", to separate them... See More. At least in the broader message sending.
1) there is the issue covered by the inquiry, which should include everything from the political decisions to hold the G in Toronto/the $ devoted to an intimidating police presence 3) the new Reg under PPWAA 4) who gave the orders to... 5) curtailment of civil rights and behavior of the police.
I believe that if enough folk remain focused on THIS message, there is a hope of reaching masses of people. Masses of folks all pressuring their pols etc at same time, COULD result in an inquiry.
2) there are the issues "of the G", of greed, of corporation, of abuse of systems, which lands us right into a discussion on resistance/movement/anarchy. Many are seeing item 1 above as good timing to grow certain movements.
I am advancing that though we *might* hope to convince the broader public on 1.......the broader public is not even willing to or ready to listen to 2.
16 hours ago · LikeUnlike · 1 personLoading... ·

Denis Rancourt said...

PART - 3

Tim Gray
Tim Gray
By the way, this citizen is 100% against breaking a window of a Starbucks, for example. Its simply vandalism.
But this citizen has never given $1 in business to Starbucks either.
On the other hand, many "average" people do buy $6 coffees for some reason. It would be far better to "educate" the public? Isn't it?
I bet those those Starbucks that had broken windows, ended up with MORE business out of local sympathy!
It doesn't make any sense.
16 hours ago · LikeUnlike · 1 personLoading... ·

José Tremblay
José Tremblay
When the messages get interweaved on the two items above (and I know it is sometimes tough for them not to be), the "public" stops even listening and actually anchors its opinion that "the cops had no choice" (ah!).
I would suggest that it could be wiser to first work on the FIRST message, get the public on board. THen, people who are on board, might begin to explore other concepts, ideas, alternatives. Then, if some wish, might be better timing to attempt to grow their movement.
16 hours ago · LikeUnlike ·

Tim Gray
Tim Gray
and besides, fixing broken windows would be a tax write-off anyway!
16 hours ago · LikeUnlike ·

José Tremblay
José Tremblay
broken windows in a political protest don't at all fizz me Tim. But I find it non-strategic.....because everyone expects a certain property damage, whether they understand the underlying political message or not.
some big turning points in history were reached via acts of property damage hmm Boston Tea Party being a first that jumps to mind. ... See MoreCertainly one that was "unique", send a very strong message, and had results.
But this window or that window, burning cars, even firebombs in bank (that one I draw a huge line at as it had potential of hurting individuals)....none of these "communicate" with most folks and none will have much of a historical turnpoint.
It is time folks dropped property damage and got more creative maybe.
16 hours ago · LikeUnlike ·

Vikram K. Mulligan
Vikram K. Mulligan
No, this article represents the barely coherent ravings of an angry, frustrated person hoping to justify the urge to lash out violently. Time and again, history reveals that violent uprisings achieve nothing, and in this case too, they only serve to polarize the general population against those protesting (including the 25,000 non-violent protesters).

Though it is the more difficult path requiring greater self-discipline, it is only through non-violence that we can achieve any true change.
16 hours ago · LikeUnlike ·

José Tremblay
José Tremblay
many disagreed with you last week Vikram (ie July 14th - French Revolution).
16 hours ago · LikeUnlike ·

Denis Rancourt
Denis Rancourt
Vikram, which "history" book is that? Consider reading "Pacifism as pathology" by Ward Churchill. It's a history analysis of violence as a force for change and pacifism as an excuse for going along... It's a good read.
16 hours ago · LikeUnlike · 1 personLoading... ·

Denis Rancourt said...

PART - 4

Denis Rancourt
Denis Rancourt
Jose,

In my opinion, just my opinion, your analysis wrongly assumes that societal change primarily arises from broad public opinion. Depth of conviction and persistence in a dedicated minority is much more powerful than superficial popular/media opinion. Media opinion changes with the next broadcast or hot story but a dedicated group keeps the ... See Morepressure on and keeps bringing the story out and exposing, etc. For example, it's the dedicated radical base that makes a political party, not the ordinary voters that happened to show up to vote... The latter just divides along the line of impressions of the moment.

That is why the police focus on intimidating, isolating, neutralizing, criminalizing... activists and organizers and why the media avoid contact with same.

That is also why this divide-and-conquer tactic that I describe is so systematically used by the establishment, because otherwise the minority could get and sustain their anti-globalization pro-democracy message out to swell their ranks of more committed resisters...

I think the "violent" vs "peaceful" lie needs to be taken head on because it is central to how each of us see the system and relate to the system.

Also, it's completely unjust how these political prisoners of the system are being treated! We need to be on their side.
15 hours ago · LikeUnlike · 2 peopleJean-francois Brousseau and Laila Rashidie like this. ·

José Tremblay
José Tremblay
I think Denis that in part we differ here in opinion because our goals are different. My goal in being here, being "on board", is very focused on the breach of civil rights that occured at the G.
Yours I think is much broader in that this is an occasion from which you would like to see flow much more massive, revolutionary (?) changes.
I am ... See Morewilling to acknowledge that some changes do need begin to occur in society but when you and I say "change" we are not at all envisaging the same scope or scale. I want the system to alter somewhat while I think you would prefer to have no system/something totally different as a system.
The kind of change you envisage, I'll grant, can be reached via dedicated small group. Historically that has happened in the past.
But since the goal of the group here is primarily to push for a G20 inquiry (as is mine) then reaching the mass and trying to work within the existing system/push the existing system, requires communicating with the mass.
15 hours ago · LikeUnlike ·

José Tremblay
José Tremblay
btw.....I'm not "against" the political prisonners as you speak of them. They had the same rights (or should have had) to be arrested with due process, without excessive force, to have legal access, to be treated humanely, and it is a position I've repeated to anyone who speaks of "violent protesters". My focus is everyone's rights were breached.

... See MoreWhat you might find Denis, if anarchists movements trie to use the events too much to directly "build their base" is that instead you will get counter-resistance.
and btw though I can not, by any stretch of imagination, ever be called an anarchist, I do have some understanding of "where they come (issues) from". (I dated one lol for a few years so an oft repteated discussion). With me it has always much been the "but where does it lead to" that left me colder.
15 hours ago · LikeUnlike ·

Maks Wells
Maks Wells
Dennis, Have you read "The Rebel Sell" by Douglas Heath and Andrew Potter? Among its points is a pretty solid argument against Ward Churchill's premise in "Pacifism and Pathology".

Let's not forget that Mr. Churchill is known for his shoddy scholarship.
15 hours ago · LikeUnlike ·

Denis Rancourt said...

PART - 5

Denis Rancourt
Denis Rancourt
‎@Maks, Oh that is a cheap blow against Churchill. No need for that. I will get Heath and Potter and read. In exchange, you might consider "How pacifism protects the state" an excellent more recent book by Peter Gelderloos.
13 hours ago · LikeUnlike ·

Denis Rancourt
Denis Rancourt
‎@Jose, I agree that tactics are often based in fundamental beliefs. Contrary to what your X may have wanted, I do not want an instant meltdown as you seem to think. I do want an inquiry but I also want a broad discussion of just the things that a broad inquiry should consider. My point is that these political actors and prisoners cannot be treated ... See Morelike pathological criminal thugs (although the violent cops are not far from this end point). They are being cast and treated that way now. I am trying to push for justice for them. They will bear the brunt of what the police system will deliver to individuals. My point is also that they are doing good and are motivated by good, even though our irrational obedience to an unjust system of economic control would cast them as villains. If we can't come to see that then we are lost and no inquiry will save us.
13 hours ago · LikeUnlike ·

José Tremblay
José Tremblay
ok I see better from where you arrive Denis (and btw....my x was the most pacifist and kindest soul I've ever been privileged to cross paths with, now how many can say that about an x! = my high level of tolerance/compassion for folks self declaring anarchists beliefs...but also source of why I acknowledge that there is more than one school of ... See Morethought on tactics).
I do agree with you Denis that a public inquiry should examine VERY broad issues, including whether these folks are political prisoners.
(even something as simplistic as would some folks be behind bars if the actions had been carried after a hockey game).
What I mostly caution about is, when speaking to a public who fears the very word "anarchist", who already perceives breaking windows as "violent" ........how message is worded. "fuck the POlice" might not make them listen. "we'll retaliate" either. Explaining that there is a political message to some tactics, possibly.
And I fear that if folks get too caught up in fighting the existence of the Gs themselves or in overly broad social discussion......then the battle is lost.
On the other hand I think that if we do have a broad inquiry, the results will be such, that a much broader span of population MIGHT just begin to question some of the very point you would want question.
13 hours ago · LikeUnlike ·

Denis Rancourt
Denis Rancourt
‎@Jose, I think the term "fuck the POlice" is right on target and can help us to clarify where we stand. It needs to be clear so that as more of the public join they know what they are joining and who the enemy is. I know the police does not work for me. G20 has made that very clear. How many cops tried to stop their colleagues from violating ... See Moreinnocent citizens? That's 10,000 bad cops from around Canada by my count. Do they only send the bad ones for these little fun outings? How many cop unions have denounced what happened? How many cops have spoken out?
13 hours ago · LikeUnlike ·

Denis Rancourt said...

PART - 6

José Tremblay
José Tremblay
let's agree to disagree Denis on nuances Denis.
Please note that the term FUCK the POlice does not at all offend me personally. (I would have used it an awful lot had I been in TO that week.....actually I so dislike/have reflexes at being manhandled I'd now still be in jail for assault of a POlice officer had I been there).

But my opinion on "... See Morelanguage" "angle" became more anchored at our rally when when I noticed that, when speakers were using certain language, presenting certain angles (ie support for the alleged bombers)
suddenly folks were "avoiding" (walking further away on sidewalk) and signaling me not to even approach them with petition. When speakers voiced what ended up being the same thought in different words...folks would let me approach, listen,sign, some stayed to participate.
Very "strong" message at the end......lost us many folks for the march.

So if the goal is to get "lots of" folks on board the inquiry issue, for political pressure......educating via explanations might work better than "forcing", in a manner which they will resist. But for that, "mainstream" is "my" target pop and I believe the one we can try and reach via rallies, unions etc.
There are other segments of pop that your way may very well better reach. And I will respect your right to try various alternatives.

eh this issue is broad enough for many of us to be approaching it from various angles.
12 hours ago · LikeUnlike ·

José Tremblay
José Tremblay
ps Denis......some of the more decent cops are beginning to talk to family and friends. I've heard of two now, via friends who are close to some, who had moral struggle with what colleagues were doing. (not every cop acted like an ass......on some vids we see some trying to be more reasonable).
My guess from data received is that for some there is... See More a hge struggle right now between what their gut tells them (right) and what the blue code (wrong) dictates. It is a strong strong culture of support but this as well an inquiry could smash thru.
(though I'm still holding fingers crossed that the odd decent individual will speak up before!).

One other thing that my antenna are picking up is a whiff of mention that cops were "scared". of what? 35-50 "kids"?
I wonder what behind the scene brainwashing occured to cause that if true. Though I do want every abusive cop to pay.......I want the politicos who gave the orders even more!
12 hours ago · LikeUnlike ·

Stephen Cashman
Stephen Cashman
‎@ Denis - Probably the biggest problem with violence used to advance political causes is that it marginalizes the political cause. Most Canadians (including me) are more opposed to open political violence than pretty much anything that goes on in this country. Unless you hope that you can overthrow society all together, by doing violence you are ... See Moreprobably massively setting back whatever ideal you espouse.

Violence/vandalism (vandalism is a mild form of violence - it is frightening and traumatizing to people who witness it, and it causes economic harm to business owners and employees) just discredits what might otherwise be a perfectly reasonable idea.

Also your "Fuck the police" attitude is childish and irrational. The police are an essential component of ANY society. It is entirely reasonable to want them to do their job properly, but to level simple hatred at them does not help you or anyone else. Police are subject to the same human flaws as any other person - if you want to make the world better instead of just impotently voicing your rage you should accept the imperfection of human institutions and work in a positive manner to improve them.
9 hours ago · LikeUnlike ·

Denis Rancourt said...

PART - 7

Stephen Cashman
Stephen Cashman
Also @ your response to Vikram. There are examples in history of violence being successful- these generally involve a popular movement opposed to an oppressive force.

The examples do NOT involve minority fanatics pushing for unpopular change.
9 hours ago · LikeUnlike ·

Denis Rancourt
Denis Rancourt
‎@stephen, I am also "more opposed to open political violence than pretty much anything" and I see 99.9999% of that "open political violence" coming from police, military, government, corporations, and financiers. So to even make any fuss at all about how broken windows are perceived by a passive public is a distraction at best and willful collaboration with the real violence. Your "rational approach" is exactly part of this very real problem of perception because perception is largely moral and emotional. My opinion.
47 minutes ago · LikeUnlike ·

Denis Rancourt said...

PART - 8

José Tremblay
José Tremblay
on that point Denis I will much side with you. I abhor the use of the word "violence" when referring to property destruction. Words are powerful and when using the same word to describe broken windows and physically bashing, kicking, charging with horses, punching, etc human beings, and this by the very folks who are working at convincing of an ... See Moreinquiry, is not just counter-productive but feeds the problem of 'image by public".
Whether one approves of it as a protest tactic or not, I suggest reserving the use of the word "violence" for actions against living entities. (I do personally include in this property desctruction actions of such nature that they put living entities at risk of injury/or hurt them).
@ Stephen: when obtaining signatures for petition, folks who know little of the G often first react at "oh yeah I saw how violent it was".....my answer: "yes, I was horrified at the police's actions, blah blah with examples". If they mention but the "police cars, the windows", I add "yes, there was property damage/destruction of corporate and power symbols, which the police chose to not stop/prevent, but regardless of this, the folks accused of these acts are also entitled to their civil rights, due process. An inquiry would also need examine *why* police chose not to act and if protesters actually did do the destroying, etc. "
I've found very few who balk at signing petition when presented in this fashion.
34 minutes ago · LikeUnlike ·

Denis Rancourt
Denis Rancourt
‎@Jose, It is exactly because of these opportunities, that you describe, to confront the mental dissonance and to thereby actually reach people beyond just expressed opinions that the broken windows are so fucking important. In pedagogy we learn that no learning can occur without confronting the misconceptions of the "student"... This is even the ... See Morecase in physics teaching (my area) and it is super true in relation to our understand of our place in society and the nature of society... Rational (so-called objective) explanations alone don't work. The learners (and the teachers!) need to be perturbed, unsettled, challenged... And it is this Socratic-style "confrontational" discourse (they killed Socrates, that's confrontation) that gives progress, not "objective" "rational" "non-threatening" presentation of views.

PS: I posted this string to the original blog article in the comments.
a few seconds ago · LikeUnlike ·

Jeremy Owen said...

This is a great article Denis; I also appreciate you posting the comment thread and the arguments contained within. I've read Pacifism as Pathology and enjoyed it and agreed with it immensely. I'm going to try to track down the other book you mention, as well as 'Rebel Sell'. We'll get to the bottom of this.

Anonymous said...

Denis, just take the approach of Jensen as he writes in the preface to Pacifism as Pathology, i.e., fuck discourse with the pacifists, focus on your actions, continue writing, and whoever becomes your ally does so because your cause and theirs is one and the same and because they don't need intellectuallization in order to understand oppression. And if the pacifists get in your way, then plow them down.

Jane Scharf 4 Mayor of Ottawa said...

Acts of aggression are not effective agaist the powers to be if you want reform because if you take out a violate tyrant by violence then you have just replaced it with the same thing.

You can fight oppression without stooping to the tactics that you are opposed to. It has been done many times and continues to be done by those of courage in everyday acts of resistance. If we all resisted the tyrant then they would cease to rule. And then we would not have the same situation just with some else at the helm we would have self determination.

Michael said...

"Violent revolution is not revolutionary enough: we change the rulers, but not the rules, the ends, but not the means."

Satyagraha is using the strength of truth to transform people - may even to remind people of what they really believe, and why they're not doing it... maybe even help show them how to get back to living their truth... by example, not simple pointing fingers and establishing blame.

"You CAN'T solve the mess we got ourselves into with the same thinking that got us into this mess in the first place" (aproximation)

Donella Meadows' #1 of twelve leverage points to intervene in a system is the power to transcend the current paradigm: the zen to think yourself a bigger box, or a more appropriately shaped one, that can fit the truth to the degree you need, inside of it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kohlberg's_stages_of_moral_development

rosswolfe said...

The property damage and chaotic acts of destructiveness at the G-20 Conference shouldn't be assessed in terms of "sanity" or "insanity." It's impotence. Pathetic, really. And this is coming from a leftist.

Anonymous said...

re: rosswolfe

If breaking violence is putting out impotence on display, then what is it when we do things like yell at a building for an hour or two, then go home? Much of what passes for protest these days is a spectacle of impotence

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