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mygif

Wrote a post expressing these exact sentiments on my blog.

I think the public has an inate dislike for protesters partly because they seem to disrupt much of the daily order. The amount of logistical problems for work and play caused by the G20 (parking, driving, the whole security badge thing) would be enough to cause resentment from anybody.

The same issues affected my university’s annual “protest high tuitions with other schools” rally. Everyone and their mother had a cause to bitch about, and the protest leaders weren’t about to turn them away. These piggybackers destroyed the protest’s credibility to the point that people from our school were even wondering what the central cause was.

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mygif

Unfortunately it was obvious violence was going to occur at the G20 protests simply *because* various protest organizers refused to condemn it before the summit began. I’m sure many of them dislike violent actions, but they enable it by refusing to say it’s wrong. They have to realize that some of their fellows are the movement’s worst enemy, and at least make an effort to curb it.

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NCallahan said on July 21st, 2010 at 10:49 am

Protests are a display to emphasize the politic and/or economic power the organized force has to wield against the establishment. That’s my take on it and any protest without that intent is a waste of energy and hurts the recruiting power of the cause. The civil rights movement in America work because it sent the message, “Here’s what will happen if black people don’t spend money and here’s how many votes you could have if you secured out right to vote.” The peace movement worked because it established that so many people were unwilling to follow the draft laws that a draft army could no longer be maintained. And so on and so forth.

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mygif

A++. Bingo.

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mygif

I was downtown Ottawa when several “pro-life” protesters were blocking traffic and marching. I understand their desire to protest however I found myself not supporting them because they inconvenienced so many people to make their point.

Do these protests do anything? I am all for change but I find my opinions become jaded when I see the protesters…

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Anton P. Nym said on July 21st, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Serendipity rules. I learned a new word today, thanks to wikipedia: herostratic. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herostratus) It’s an adjective applied to fame, indicating that fame was sought no matter the cost.

Too often anti-G(n) protests strike me as herostratic acts rather than presentations of well-considered alternate policies. (Yes, even the ones with folks wearing masks.)

— Steve

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mygif

The Black Bloc is completely distinct from liberal marches. We don’t care what “the masses” think. So shut the fuck up if you don’t know what you’re talking about.

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mygif

And that is precisely why the public doesn’t really care about any valid points the Black Bloc may, tangentially, touch on. Public protest can only be effective when they can actually make a coherent case to the public, and gain their support.

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Pierre-Joseph Proudhon said on July 21st, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Political economy — that is, proprietary despotism — can never be in the wrong: it must be the proletariat.

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Mister Alex said on July 21st, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Veto:
Black Bloc
proprietary despotism
Rob Ford

Add:
Dark City
Memento
Trois Couleurs trilogy

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Fred Davis said on July 21st, 2010 at 1:51 pm

You have to admit MGK has a point with footnote #5, after all there would be no problem if only there was some sort of organisation that could police these gatherings of protesters, so as to ensure that people of a mischievous or criminal bent could not make hay of the proceedings and commit felonies.

This is especially true given that such miscreants turn up at every such summit wearing the same uniform and do the exact same thing, and thus would be very easy to deal with if only some sort of policing organisation was ever present at these things, but as there never is I would be surprised if anyone was able to disagree with MGK’s basic thesis that the burden, both moral and operational, for dealing with criminal activity associated with these protests should be upon the shoulders of the protest organisers rather than the national or local government agencies of the areas where the summits are held.

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Mary Warner said on July 21st, 2010 at 2:39 pm

I found it very difficult to figure out what most of these protesters were in favour of, as opposed to what they were against. And whenever someone did seem to have a clear ideology, I was always against it.
But still, I just can’t understand how anyone could support the violent overreaction of the police.

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mygif

The ‘violent protesters’ are nearly always undercover police or paid contractors, tasked with manufacturing a reason to send in the jackbooted thugs to stomp on the legitimate protesters and journalists.

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mygif

The ‘violent protesters’ are nearly always undercover police or paid contractors, tasked with manufacturing a reason to send in the jackbooted thugs to stomp on the legitimate protesters and journalists.

I’m sorry, but this is crap. I’m not dismissing the existence of undercover cops or agents provacateurs, but there are more than enough protesters who are entirely willing to cause shit all on their own and always have been.

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John 2.0 said on July 21st, 2010 at 4:54 pm

I guess Pope’s Law works for anarchists, too.

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mygif

“The Black Bloc is completely distinct from liberal marches. We don’t care what “the masses” think. So shut the fuck up if you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

If you’re not interested in democracy, then I recommend heading to a non-democratic state. I hear Somalia is nice this time of year.

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highlyverbal said on July 21st, 2010 at 5:24 pm

One concrete, practical effect of the protests is to bankrupt the city holding the conference with lawsuits after the police abuse their power. (q.v. Seattle/WTO) Not sure how this works in Canada, of course.

There may be a tipping point on the horizon, where city officials don’t need to experience the police violence -> lawsuit -> bankruptcy cycle to decline to host the conferences.

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That Guy said on July 21st, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Hear hear, BringTheNoise.

The Black Bloc only serves to undermine credibility or anyone whose protest they turn up at. When a protest goes from bringing forward an issue or grievance to random acts o unconnected and ultimately useless destruction the protestors gain nothing, and only hurt thier cause.

If the acts of random violence and property damage are all caused by plainclothed police oficers or other provocatuers, why even use the Black Bloc tactic?

Anonymity and groupthink only make it easier to lead such a mob into illegal actions that ultimately change nothing. Once again, the general population only sees a bunch of thugs breaking and burning. Wether the police are overreaching or not, if the average person only sees the Black Bloc as a bunch of hooligans, They will neither care not support the Black Bloc’s mission.

You do have a mission, right? Something to stand for? Something to build instead of merely tearing everything down?

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mygif

While I’m all for protest movements denouncing acts of vandalism among their ranks, before, during and after an event, and hope that it would have some effect on the turnout for violent protesters, I can’t imagine it would cause a significant decrease.

Also, physically policing violent protesters internally would prove next to impossible. I was aware of the damage done to Yonge Street before I headed downtown, yet most of the people I spoke to at Queen’s Park had no idea what had occured. Yonge Street may as well have been the moon. That’s why so many people at Queen’s park were surprised by the presence of the riot squad.

If nineteen thousand police officers couldn’t stop the violent protesters, I don’t know how a few thousand civilians unaware of the situation should be expected to.

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mygif

Do the G20 summits work?

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mygif

The code phrase for protest organizers who want to subtley (they imagine) support the window-smashers is “diversity of tactics”.

For an example of the violent protest end game, see Weatherman.

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mygif

Independents were driven away from teabaggers because they realized how much like the the John Birch Society those losers are.

Oh, they may get a couple people elected in the next ten yrs or so, but in the end its just another far right political fad.

The effectiveness of protesting depends on the intellectual nature of the message behind the protest and how passionate the people are to see it through.

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mygif

On a related note, when police are allowed to get away uncharged with killing people who get cordoned into the protest areas, strike first, cover their numbers, and aren’t ever held accountable, one does wonder what the point is.

Largely referring to today’s news. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-10723274

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Mister Alex said on July 22nd, 2010 at 8:58 am

To highlyverbal — our City officials tried to decline hosting the G20; it was the Federal government that forced the summit on us and stuck it in the worst possible location, right next to the major transit hub of the downtown core. As far as I know everyone from the Mayor down to the guy asking for change at the subway wanted nothing to do with the G20, but that didn’t matter.

I can’t help but suspect that Stephen Harper (our PM) put the G20 in downtown Toronto hoping to do maximum property damage, and also turn the city against itself.

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mygif

Can all of these issues be overcome, and thus make the protest movement more effective at shifting public opinion? I think it’s possible, but here’s the thing: everything that would make it possible – IE, would serve to fix the abovementioned issues – would likely require greater central authority and coordination among the protesters, and the protest movement is by its very nature decentralized (and not really keen on the idea of greater central authority anyway). Which is why I don’t think the protest movement isn’t going to see its objectives come to fruition any time soon.

Protests are great at capturing attention for a specific cause, advertising the existence of your organization, and galvanizing people for/against your movement.

No one would know what the hell the Black Block was without the G# summits. Without the advertising, no one would even think to join / oppose the movement. And then it would quickly die out.

But the Black Block is otherwise useless as a movement, because they don’t take their numbers and their popularity and use it for a political purpose. Compare the Black Blockers to the Pirate Party in Sweden. The Pirates won themselves a Parliamentary seat, and have been aggressively pushing candidates and legislation. Do the BBs have any genuine political presence? When was the last BB Get Out The Vote rally? Do they even champion specific legislation?

It feels like that’s the big flaw in the G# protests. The protesters appear, make a lot of noise, and then vanish. Even the most naive Communal Anarchist has to realize that rabble rousing once a year isn’t going to be enough to win any kind of political victory.

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mygif

The only thing that interests us about politics is its destruction.

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mygif

Because there’s no politics in an anti-establishment lefty union commune. Or something.

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mygif

@Anarchy: You want to destroy an abstract concept? Perhaps later you’ll want to go after competition, humility and anarchy. But stay away from sarcasm!

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mygif

ANARCHY DESTROY PUNY POLITICAL SYSTEM!
ANARCHY SMASH! ANARCHY BASH!
ANARCHY USE RAGE TO IMPRESS TRENDY GOTH CHICK IN 7TH PERIOD! LOOK AT MY NOTEBOOK STENCILS AND DESPAIR!

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mygif

I’m really not sure mocking Anarchy is really the best way to deal with system backed police brutality and killing of innocents.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-10723274

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That Guy said on July 23rd, 2010 at 2:12 pm

I’m not sure one incident is adequate proof of the malfeasance of the entire system, and until Anarchy can tell us what will replace the existing system that will more equitable and workable, mockery is honestly the best response that should be expected.

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Jonathan Roth said on July 23rd, 2010 at 5:58 pm

The question is, what effective tactics can be learned from the successful protests of the past?

Martin Luther King’s desegregation marches worked well enough in concert with passing civil rights legislation. Gandhi’s tactics seem to have worked. The film “Sir! No Sir!” showed that the anti-vietnam war movement within the military accomplished its goals. I don’t see a lot of protests combining with legal action these days, and that seems to be what brings about permanent change. The closest I can see is that anti-war protests didn’t prevent or stop the Iraq and/or Afghanistan wars, but I think theat they combined with the war news and eventually helped turn the public here in the U.S. away from Bush’s policies. (Unfortunately it seems that Obama is continuing way too many of these policies.)

(Two small notes, at Mark Evanier’s blog newsfromme.com a while back, he posted that he went from supporting the Vietnam war to protesting against it. Steve Wozniack, in his book IWoz, mentioned having his views on that war changed as well. It seems a small subset listens, and Kurt Vonnegut wrote about how ineffective the anti-war movements have been. I don’t have too many clear answers these days, other than that I wish more people pushed for critical thinking lessons in school and/or taught them to their own kids and friends. See Carl Sagan’s baloney detection kit for exaple.)

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mygif

Come on, That Guy, we’ve got to do your homework for you? Hundreds of books and thousands of other writings exist that spell it out. Do you need someone to read it to you?

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Anticorium said on July 23rd, 2010 at 11:07 pm

Hundreds and thousands exist, huh?

Shouldn’t be any trouble at all to name one, then.

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highlyverbal said on July 24th, 2010 at 2:10 am

To Mister Alex – Thank you for your reply!

You said:
“our City officials tried to decline hosting the G20″

That is very interesting. Perhaps the tipping point is quite close if Toronto tried to decline. I am totally going to use that as confirming my theory. :)

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mygif

@Anarchy: Can you do my homework for me? And then send it back in time to ’96 when I was still in college? Its a 15 page research paper on the impact of pollution, hunting and conservation on dolphins. You’ll need to cite at least 4 references. This way I’ll have passed English 105. I mean unless your paper writing skills are only as good as what you’ve shown here. In which case I guess I’m stuck with that F…

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That Guy said on July 24th, 2010 at 10:41 am

I live in a society that is not completely free or equitable, I admit. But if you claim “The only thing that interests us about politics is its destruction” burden of proof that your way is better, will work better, and will be fairer is on you.

So far, all the Black Bloc and thier ilk have done is mostly burn and smash things. That’s not worthy or respect, that’s not a rationale it’s infantile tantrums from people that seem to think doing those things will change anything. Of course, kids always scream when they get sent to thier room with no supper ater a tantrum, so we see this too.

Anarchism as a system exists in places across the globe- Somalia is the current best example. Anarchism, in its purest, most honest form is the state of ‘bellum omnium contra omnes’as Hobbes reflected.

As Churchill noted: “Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Cynical, yes. True? Mostly.

You say you want a revolution Anarchy? Then convince those of us that live in the system that you so despise that you can do better, will do better, and know how to do better. Burning a cop car and smashing windows at starbucks? Not proving a thing. So far I have no indication that any of your ideals are those I would buy into, so why should I go out of my way to find out about a socio-economic ideal that has yet to demonstrate any verifiable benefit?

This is what people are trying to get across- dress like thugs, act like thugs, posture like thugs, and you become to the outside observer a thug. I have no interest in tracking down an ethos expressed by thugism. Neither do most people.

In conclusion, what you’ve just said… is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent responses were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

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mygif

Anarchy may be acting in a childishly provocative manner, but hes got a point, theres a wealth of reading material if you want to know the various alternatives to the capitalist political system that has been propositioned by leading Anarchist thinkers over the years.

Mikhail Bakunin,Peter Kropotkin, Noam Chompsky to name a few and I don’t think any of them were trying to impress “goth chicks”.

Its also worrying how quick people are to dissmiss the act of protesting and what effective protests have acheived.

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mygif

If Anarchy has a point, he has yet to mention it. So far, all he’s done is to express contempt for real protesters who may have something to offer, and suggest that we make his argument for him because… Um… Well, I really don’t why we’re supposed to do it for him. He didn’t really say.

Just like his comrades at the G whatever meetings, he is just making a mess, and getting irate because nobody understands how Brilliant and Right he is.

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DensityDuck said on July 24th, 2010 at 10:52 pm

“Anarchy” is saying that the Black Bloc people do indeed have a message, and that message is “society is a fiction”. You can’t prevent someone from being violent without doing violence to them. Maybe stopping them doesn’t involve the same degree of violence–pepper-spraying someone who wants to knife you, sort of thing–but that doesn’t mean that you could engage some kind of Social Order Field and just ignore the violence.

So every time a Black Bloc guy throws a brick into a window, he’s expressing the message of his movement. This doesn’t mean he isn’t a total asshole–anyone who’s learnt anything about game theory understands why cooperation leads to the best results–but it’s not really true to say “anarchists don’t have a message” or “anarchists aren’t communicating”.

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John 2.0 said on July 25th, 2010 at 11:15 am

@DensityDuck, No, Anarchy hasn’t said anything of the kind, unless it’s in a dog whistle pitched so high that only people immersed in anarchical philosophy can hear.

I’m still of the opinion that “Anarchy” is a troll, but anyway you can’t smash windows on a comment thread here is Anarchy’s big opportunity to articulate his/her philosophy to us sheep.

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socraticsilence said on July 25th, 2010 at 3:15 pm

The problem with anarchy is that its implementation would lead to a social darwinist paradise- it wouldn’t “smash the big corporations” or “free the masses” it would just remove any and all disincentives for exploiting the weak and killing those who speak up- in short the black block are the perfect symbols for anarchism as it would in practice result in an oligarchial “thugocracy”- I mean unless someone can show me why Hobbes NBS summation of the state of nature is wrong then I can’t see Anarchy as anything or than an incredibly myopic worldview.

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highlyverbal said on July 25th, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Governments are like diapers. After short periods of use, they end up full of crap. Sure, in infancy they are totally required. But as you grow more civilized and mature, you are supposed to be building the skills that let you move beyond them.

Adults need neither, and their continued use is a bit ewwwww.

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mygif

@highlyverbal: Congratulations you’ve said something as stupid as anarchy…

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That Guy said on July 25th, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Governments are like outhouses, they contain messes that cannot help but be made, keep undesirable byproducts from contaminating everything, and no matter how old we get, those issues stay with us so long as we are alive. Through 90% of human historical record we have formed governments of various kinds; and when they fill up with crap, we change them.

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John 2.0 said on July 25th, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Thanks, Lurker. You said it so I didn’t have to.

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[...] about protests. First of course there was the criticism of the protest movement that mostly echoed last Wednesday’s post, but then it turned to something that I think was more interesting, which is: is protest, as we [...]

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Candlejack said on July 27th, 2010 at 12:22 pm

So, just to be clear here, highlyverbal: you’re saying that all the chaos and horror that reside in places currently experiencing anarchy (such as the afore-mentioned Somalia) are the result of the people who live there being uncivilized and immature. If Canadian govt (and all the services it provides) were to roll up the rug tomorrow, you foresee no troubles.

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highlyverbal said on July 27th, 2010 at 4:42 pm

That Guy said: “Governments are like outhouses…”

The funny thing is, more people are abandoning diapers than are adopting outhouses.

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highlyverbal said on July 27th, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Candlejack said: “If Canadian govt (and all the services it provides) were to roll up the rug tomorrow, you foresee no troubles.”

Nah, I know the Canadians are the most civilized we’ve got so far, but they are nowhere near adult enough to start toilet-training.

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mygif

Remember, true “adults” don’t need things like roads, firefighters, health care, police, courts of law, hospitals, schools or even the multitude of things government is supposedly “good” for. Real “civilized” people will get along just fine once the mean government stops taking some of our money so that it can continue funding The Man keeping us down…

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mygif

@LukerWithout thats not what anarchism is about, please read up on the subject before criticizing it, my god the ignorance on this thread.

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