Sunday, June 27, 2010

Working For The Clampdown

Alright people, let's all get a grip. That means you too, Mr. Mayor. It's worth noting that the G20 contains some countries that are responsible for the deaths of millions of people in wars, repression, imposed economic policies that devastate economies, not to mention the ass-dragging of all of them when it comes to climate change, which is already leading to extreme weather events, with more to come. In the face of this it is hypocritical in the extreme to give the kind of coverage that has dominated the news of a few windows broken and a couple cop cars torched.
Don't get me wrong, I think that the Black Bloc are dummies for playing into the cops' hands and providing an easy excuse to ignore the real issues raised by the vast bulk of protesters who were out yesterday. And, as seems likely, the cops left their cars as good targets for anarchists to target for the photo-op it provides, justifying the billion dollars wasted on security, it still doesn't mean that the anarchists had to torch it. This is not about violence vs. non-violence or about property damage vs resisting corporate evils. This is about how to build a movement that can stop the horrors that are being visited upon the planet by the governments represented at the Summit and the corporations that they protect.
Let's be clear: breaking windows will NEVER stop or even hinder capitalism, at most it will cause an increase in insurance premiums that will be passed on to working people via higher prices. Anarchists could torch a hundred cop cars and all it would mean is a tax increase on working class people to buy a hundred more. At worse it will offer an excuse for the cops to do what they are now doing - clamping down on dissenters with indiscriminate round-ups in the streets. With the image of the burning cars in the minds of the population, it will make it that much more difficult to oppose the clampdown. For all these reasons, the Black Bloc, are elitist, anti-democratic and profoundly counter-productive to the real tasks, which are to build a truly mass movement that takes on all the existential challenges we face as a species and a planet.
But, let's also be clear, these guys are gnats on the ass of the problem, which is global capitalism and imperialism. When you set a few Starbucks windows next to the Israeli apartheid regime (which Starbucks supports and has funded in the past), which kills and imprisons millions in Palestine, denying the most basic human rights to the population in Gaza, including murdering nearly a dozen people for the crime of trying to deliver humanitarian aid, the Starbucks windows are insignificant. When you juxtapose the burning cop cars with the billowing oil in the Gulf of Mexico that may destroy the entire coastal eco-system for generations and lead to a vast oceanic dead zone - as dozens of other deep water drilling platforms continue to pump oil to feed the world's insatiable appetite for that poisonous hydrocarbon - well, the cop car is nothing.
Ah, but the media say, people want to see the exciting images of people smashing things. Of course, everyone slows down to check out a roadside car accident. But they don't drive around the block again and again to see it over and over and commit every detail of the crash scene to memory. There are other things to move onto. So too should the media move on to the far more important and far more chronic issues that plague our planet and which are being contributed to by the countries at the G20. Ah, but don't hold your breath. The media's complicity in all this; the fact that they swallow and regurgitate undigested the communiques of the G20 as though they are truth and fetishize the minor property damage caused by a statistically insignificant minority of the protesters is proof of that. Alas, the media too are corporations and they have their own bias.
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