Whose Streets? OUR STREETS!

From the New York Times:

These protesters, clad in black, were operating on the streets in addition to a mostly peaceful anti-war march, wreaking havoc by damaging property and setting at least one fire. Most of the trouble was in pocket of a neighborhood near downtown, several blocks from where the convention was taking place. [...] Terry Butts, a former Alabama Supreme Court justice who is a convention delegate, was on a bus taking delegates to the arena when a brick through the window sprayed glass on him and two others. Butts said he wasn't hurt.

''It just left us a little shaken,'' he said. ''It was sort of a frightening moment because it could have been a bomb or a Molotov cocktail.''

While I generally stand for more peaceful, diplomatic and slow changes to politics in society, sometimes a brick through the window gets the point across just the same.

People are showing up to more and more events. More and more Anarchists are getting active. Bush may be on his way out, but people are still angry as hell, and they are letting the government know about it.

I'd like to redirect your attention to a post I wrote some time ago, Protests and Government:

I woke up in the middle of the night last night - bolt upright - upon the realization that the government should be wholly terrified of its people. Instead, we are scared of the government.

Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States.

Noah Webster, An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, 1787

Our forefathers knew it, the rest of the world understands the concept - it's nothing new at all. There are more of us, than them! Yet I have heard, countless times, about how "aggressive" our protests have become. About how oh-so-violent we have become and whining, yes whining, about some of the acts that have transpired during protests - which have somehow contributed to the further restrictions of our freedom to redress the government of our grievances. "Oh, they spray painted the steps!" "Look at the oil on the wall!"

Our government is lucky it resides in America, and not say, Kenya, or the slums of Paris, Pakistan, or Venezuela - or revolutionary France. Our government and the complainers are lucky that spray painting is the worst thing that's happened.

When the votes (for Bush) were contested in Florida, we protested and demanded a recount. When it happened in Kenya they rioted and killed every man, woman, and child they could get their hands on.

When our government passes legislation, half of our population doesn't even know about it, when they put it to public votes we stand outside with signs, or have "talks" before the election to help gain support for our side. In Venezuela they have protests that result in deadly shootouts.

When our country supports police who exercise brutality and profiling, we stand with signs that say "Stop brutality". In the poorest parts of Paris, they protest police brutality and negligence by lobbing bricks, Molotov cocktails, and shooting rifles at the police they object to.

People keep complaining about the "Violence of the Black Bloc" here in the states. The kids here barely do anything other than stand around with their home made shields, completely devoid of anything that could be construed as a weapon since everyone is disarmed before entering their free speech cage. In Germany the members of Black Bloc set fires to cars, over turn buses, and throw bricks and Molotov cocktails at authority figures.

In America we protest nice and easy - yet people complain about things so simple as "spray painting" of steps. Oh! The horror! They're lucky they don't have to dodge home made bombs and bricks. The people in this country are furious with the way our government is running things - yet we sit in our free speech cages, sometimes engaging in civil disobedience, but nothing more serious than that.

If this were France during the revolution, half of the government would have already met with the guillotine by now.

Wake up America, this is a huge election, this is a huge year, and being herded through a voting booth like cattle will no longer suffice for The People.

Folks like Laura Ingraham want good little conservatives to be scared of this dissent. This nationwide dissent.

They want you to be "afearded" of people who are tired of a tired system. They want you to become sweaty palmed and feverish at the thought of having to use violence, and they would like you to forget just how violent the forefathers of the US got when it came time to throw off an oppressive government.

This is yet another example of how the left wants to shut down the right. People need to understand that many people on the left have simply lost all patience with democracy, and they want to make it impossible for us to get our message out. Mainstream Democrats will, no doubt, try to distance themselves from these anarchists, but they would simply use "legal" methods (such as the Fairness Doctrine) to bring about the same result.

Of course, she fails to mention that there were also Anarchists at the DNC, but aside from selective fact finding, she has made her point squarely.

Be Afraid.

Afraid is exactly what politicians should be.

*Apologies for a misprint, the article was from teh New York Times, and not the Washington Post.



voodooKobra said...

I'm reminded of how George Carlin described the class system in America:

The upper class does none of the work, and makes all the money. The middle class does all the work, and gets none of the money. The lower class is there to scare the shit out of the middle class. Keep them showing up at those jobs.

(71% of your readers are smart enough to realize the Boston Tea Party would be considered an act of terrorism. On a related note, 29% of the USA approves of Bush. I guess 29% of the country is completely stupid.)

Alex Mcone said...

In 1857 India had its first armed rebellion against the British empire.

Somewhere around 1920 Gandhi proposed Civil Disobedience.

In 1947 the British left.

My point is that it wasnt after 90 years of violence that India got her independence but it was after 40 years of non-violence.

Today the protesters go to the streets and set things on fire, beat people up, ransack properties and so forth. As a result their cause is alienated from the common man.

The main purpose of a protest is to attract attention to the cause. To attract the common man. And when they are attracted the numbers increase until the whole nation stands up in one voice. That's when the government has no choice but to comply.

Being violent does not do that. Its detrimental. It scares off the citizens and the protestors come off as violent anti-socials with nothing better to do than to ruin their day. The cause as such is lost.

On the other hand a non-violent protest that leads to violent police reaction has a different result. That's unfair is what the people will say. Why would they do that is what the people will ask. What is the cause is what the people will eventually enquire. And in those three steps the protest finds its success.

Just my two cents.

Anok said...

LOL Voodoo - love that percentage...

Alex, while I do agree with you to an extent, I disagree on several key factors,

One, a government has NO obligation to bend to the will of it's people just look at Tibet.

Two, violence is necessary at some points, when pacifism fails revolution is all there is left.

Three, while violence in protests in otehr countries are quite violent, in the US they are but shadows, wimpers. But sometimes, sometimes showin g abit of might - even if it "alienates" otehr groups, it can scare the government into remembering just how goo dthey relaly have it, an dthen they are more likely to listen to teh other groups who march peacefully.

So while they may not know it, sometimes a wake up call actually does benefit the very groups it alienates.

Mark said...

Violence is definitely *not* where it's at. Not even if "all" that's involved is a brick and a window. Remember how much Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders accomplished with nonviolence? That is the tradition that informs Amy Goodman, which makes her arrest today that much sillier on the part of local authorities.

There has been some excessively zealous treatment of protesters in DC too. In one case, ca. 2002, a bunch of cyclists rode downtown as part of a protest against the World Bank (i believe). They were directed by police into a park, surrounded, and arrested. None of the cases stood up in court and the police seem to have changed their behavior.

But you talk violence, even just "a little" or in reference to what some doing overseas, and you're giving policemen an excuse to use it too. If I were the protesting kind (usually the issues have too much ambiguity for me), I would point to the ideas Gandhi talked about in Hind Swaraj. Ends are not all that matter. Means do too.

Anok said...

Mark, you and I both know that I am not a pacifist. I find that there can be value in violence, and to be honest, I really am an Anarchist - although I generally still play by the rules of our government, I see no need to respect any illegitimate authority. Particularly not police.

Our country has taken our pacifism and mild disobedience for granted. Our government is lucky we are not actually violent.

But when you say violence is not where it's at, what say you to the Boston Tea Party? The American Revolution?

Both were forms of violence, (Destruction of property, for the BTP).

Renegade Eye said...

I was at the RNC demonstration. See my blog. I'm not too happy with your post.

Alex Mcone said...

"a government has NO obligation to bend to the will of it's people " - no but it can be forced to. If I'm not wrong the USSR dissolved due to the will of its people. When Germans broke down the Berlin wall the government was powerless to stop it. It took its time, yes, but it eventually happened.

"violence is necessary at some points, when pacifism fails revolution is all there is left." - I am never of the opinion that pacifism can fail. Pacifism only fails when the people get impatient and grow uneasy which eventually leads to violence. This is understandable; one can ony imagine the hell those people are going through. But pacifism can never fail if its held on to stubbornly.

As for your third point, agreed that it scares the government into reconsidering its stand but is that what you really want ? If one group suceeds at it then you'll have a chain reaction that will give courage to the more radical elements of other groups who will follow the same rule: scare the government. With each incident the scale of violence will go up and very soon violence in the US wont be so different than the rest of the world.

I'm sorry Anok but I've seen the same pattern; believe me the same pattern; and I've watched too many people die. I cannot condone violence at a protest.

Mark said...

Anok, the original acts of American revolutionaries do not justify violence.

Really, though, that's beside the point. We live in a different world, which I believe Gandhi understood. With mass media, more can be accomplished by nonviolent protest. Other tactics are, in my mind, counterproductive, since they do not appeal to people's moral sensibilities and thereby attract sympathy from the broader public. Instead they repel.

Anok said...

Dang it! my reply was eaten by the blogger goblin :(

Alex and Mark, I respect your opinions, although I disagree with them - to an extent. I do think that violence, revolution, and the like has it's place and always will until society has finally reached a point where true equality exists. When that happens each voice will carry actual weight.

Although I still prefer it as a last resort.

Do I think, however, that governments should see angry mobs of people on their front lawn? You bet I do. It serves as a reminder to them at what could happen.

Danny Lowe said...

I have to disagree with violence being the answer. I see the pictures of these masked people trying to intimidate. Intimidate who? Do you think the police are intimidated? The only people who are intimidated are those just trying to live good lives.

I also hate the masks because it bring an anonymity that allows more heinous acts to occur. It throws out any integrity of the protesters. They are just violent to be violent. Its almost recreational.

Things change when you realize that the government is made up of human beings just like you. Nobody wants to see others die. Nobody wants any child to starve to death and no one wants war. Everyone was once a starry eyed child just wanting to play kick ball and to be loved.

The only thing that is aroused in me when I see violent protests is anger against the protester.

Anok said...

Danny, from your response I can see that you've never had the opportunity to read any of the write ups, records, laws, or teaching manuals that have been devoted to Anarchists and blac bloc protesters.

Intimidated? That' snot the right word, scared out of their minds would be better. There is a reason that the government has worked on slandering and smearing the Anarchist movement since it's inception in the US, and a reason why the police get all dolled up in their finest protest gear. They aren't wearing it because it's comfortable, that's for sure :D

And yes, politicians are scared of the Anarchists too, although many laugh it off in public, the inclusion of Anarchist and similar groups into bills such as HR 1955 is not because they think the groups are a joke.

you may be angry, but you are angry with the wrong people, and I would ask you to clarify which "good people" you are referring to in your comment, because as an Anarchist, politicians are not "good people".

And they are not just like you and me. They are wealthy, powerful, and untouchable. They live in their own worlds, without being affected by the decisions they make. Their voting records indicate that they don't give a damn about you, me, our children, our grandchildren, or foreigners.

You'll not see me shed a tear for the poor, good, politicians because they went the way of the easter Bunny, and tooth fairy.

I'll tell you what, put a bandanna over your face for a protest, march up front with us, talk to us, and see how you are reacted to by police, politicians, and authority figures.

You might change your mind.

Danny Lowe said...

I have marched, I have rioted. I was an anarchist. I threw rocks at police in L.A. at MacArthur park in the 90's. I set fire to cars, crashed windows and took my beatings from cops.

And for what? So we can destroy to build from the ashes a new government with a new oppressor? I am not scared by anarchist because all they can do is destroy what is of this world. Like an unruly child thrashing about because its past their bedtime and they don't want to go to bed. That is who you would want leading the country? And some one will lead. And others will do their bidding, and it will be in the interest of only a few.

The American Revolution was not started by punks in masks throwing tantrums in the streets. It was started by business owners and land owners. Some of them were rich. Some of them owned slaves. You want to compare your movement to that?

Anok said...

Danny, if you marched to replace one government with a new one, then you were not an Anarchist.

You've read what I've written about how it all works, you know that in no way do I, or the majority of other Anarchists out there would riot to put a new oppressor in power.

I'm surprised at your reaction, actually - if you were an Anarchist, you would know that. Unless you were just an Anarchist in a box kid, which makes the confusion understandable.

And yes, the revolutionaries that violently threw tantrums like the Boston tea Party were considered "punks" and traitors, childish, and unpatriotic, treasonous and a host of other names.

How easily we forget that our "heroes" were someone else's "bad guys". Our patriots were someone else's traitors, our freedom fighters were someone else's punks.

Unlike Mark's claim that things are different, they really aren't.

And of course you aren't afraid of Anarchists. you aren't a government official.

Danny Lowe said...

Things are different. The American rebels were rich, white business owners who did not want to pay taxes. They also had a more fair fight on their hands considering the technology. Does the anarchist movement have that backing. No, and there is a reason for that. Its ineffective.

The American revolution was started so rich people could get richer. So if you guys want to compare yourselves to that then fine.

There is always a leader. There will always be someone to take power. Anarchy is not a natural state. I realized that when I was involved. I saw what happened in the meetings, the planning. The ulterior motives. The self serving aspects of it. When I was involved with the labor movement I saw the same thing and I see the same thing in American politics.

Division is bad and excluding yourself further then injecting violence whenever you see fit is only destructive. The only ones hurt are common citizens because it pushes the wealthy back into their holes and causes class resentment.

Anok said...

You have seriously over simplified, and borderline misrepresented the reasons for the American Revolution.

And you are also wrong in your assumption that Anarchists haven't got backing because it's inneffective - they haven't got backing due to decade after decade of smear campaigns, and fear tactics to make people such as yourself say it is bad.

"Anarchy bad."

"Anarchy won't work"

Anarchism is actually a natural state. Government is not.

Government is authoritarian rule, where as Anarchy is held together with natural leadership. And yes, there is a difference.

Danny Lowe said...

You are fighting against the nation with the most freedom in the world. You are asking prosperous citizen in a nation with one of the highest standards of living in the world to throw all that away so they can be ruled by violent thugs. Every 4 years in this country there is the possibility of a regime change. Every 8 years its guaranteed. Why not try to work within the system?

I think the best thing to do would be to try to make your cause more appealing then to make it scary. The American revolution was fought not because we wanted the kingdom in England gone, it was because Americans wanted to be free of their government. Destroying our government is a bad idea.

A smear campaign? Its hard to say "Anarchy Good" when we see people hiding behind masks setting private property on fire like a group of roving thugs.

Anok said...

Everything you just said was propaganda, Danny, which proves my point.

The founding fathers actually made it clear that if this government no longer worked or represented it's people, then we should revolt against it.

We have been quietly, peacefully protesting and marching fro decades, and the government no longer listens to it's constituents. Voting is a joke, and "regime change" is utterly ludicrous, as each president barely makes a dent in the policies set up before him.

Our government has only begrudgingly set into play major social changes like women's rights, and racial equality. Hell, one of them took a war to finally get rid of slavery (and even then, the war was never about freeing slaves).

Civil rights movements were also just as violent, and our government is even more violent.

I'll say it one more time - Anarchists aren't staging revolutions, so stop framing it like they are.

They are making sure that our government knows and understands exactly what their constituents can and will do if they don't start paying attention.

Our government is lucky they govern America - not the other way around. Our government has taken our peaceful populace for granted, and should be reminded time and time again, that they are so very lucky they are not in a country where the constituents support the murder of the party members they dislike, then carry it out.

I do work within the system, I have no other choice, but that doe snot mean I do not advocate for an Anarchist world.

Which is not full of thugs.

Tell me, what will happen to peaceful discourse and all of our freedoms once our government decides to negate them?

Don't think they can? They have! Lincoln suspended outr constitution during his term sas President, and Bush has sought to do teh same.

All of those freedoms we have are granted by an authorty that can take then away just as quic=kly. That includes the freedom to speak your mind.

What will citizens do then? March peacefully? Or will they turn to the Anarchists an d say "Well, go to it!"?

Danny lowe said...

Its only propaganda to those hell bent on trying, in vain, to take the government down.

"They are making sure that our government knows and understands exactly what their constituents can and will do if they don't start paying attention."

Yeah, I am sure government officials are shaking in their boots.

Anok said...

No Danny, propaganda:

1.information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.
2.the deliberate spreading of such information, rumors, etc.
3.the particular doctrines or principles propagated by an organization or movement.

The thought that presidents have term limits guarantees change is propaganda, because as we can see, it really doesn't change much of anything at all. The thought that we have the most freedom in teh world is also a misnomer - propagated everywhere by way of the democratic proccess, and the American Dream.

Unless you're poor, of course. Our government has done a variety of things to restrict our freedoms and h ave continuously eroded our rights and will continue to do so. There is also the notion that freedom also isn't just about laws, but the fact that our country supports business practices and businesses that routinely restrict freedoms in a variety of ways.

It is propaganda to believe that our precious constitution protects us from everything. Not fer nothin' but the constitution is just a piece of paper. To a dictator in waiting, it is easily burned.

There are NO guarantees in this country, only promises. And half the time, the promises aren't enforced in any way.

It is propaganda to smear Anarchism by calling them "thugs" and insinuating that they will burn, smash, and kill people because that's what they do. It is propaganda to continually say that what Anarchists do are "bad".

And yeah, the government has always feared Anarchists for the very reason that they have no fear of fighting, and dethroning a government, and will not allow those in power back into power.

The government just keeps hoping that Anarchists don't encourage others to look past the revisionist history of our country, past the bullshit of our policies, past the disillusionment and distractions of consumerism, and join in the movement.

And yup, that politician who saw bricks flying was absolutely scared.

Anok said...

Kevin - thanks for asking. No, unfortunately, I am back to battling it on my own. :(


mtyler77 said...

anok--I cannot agree with you on violence. I was born in Alexandria, Egypt and lived there for the first several years of my life. I was there during the upheavel of the 1960's and lost my own grandmother to bombs. You cannot imagine what it is like to live with violence day in and day out unless you have experienced that, which I have.

I have spent a good deal of time in the Middle East (being half Egyptian) and while I desperately seek change in the U.S., I don't believe that violence can bring about any kind of lasting, positive change. Somehow, we have to find a way to come to the table with open minds and open hearts and work to compromise to find common ground.

I am as disgusted as you are about our government but I cannot agree that violent actions, such as the ones you are describing (where innocent people can be killed) will ever be condusive to a better world. I just don't see it. I am not an anarchist but I am empathetic to some views. Not this one, though.

Best Regards,