Saturday, January 29, 2005

Filler while i write other things...

Woman threatened with arrest for her "F___ Bush!" bumper sticker...

I'm sure i don't need to go on a rant about this, so instead let's examine what the freepers are saying. Not one of their better (read: crazier) threads, but amusing. (Side note: while some of their arguments in that thread are seductive none of them have substance. Don't be drawn in :P)

Well, anyway...

In my giant, upcoming, post that i was mentioning i say something like "This inauguration was the most protested ever... but you wouldn't know that from watching CNN." Well, here's some of the protest.

Random, unrelated MMFA link. It's about Gonzales being a scumbag.

On gays White Supremecists infiltrating your schools and recruiting your children.
Also from Orcinus, a fairly solid defense of hate crimes.

An exercise in "naked partisanship" from the regular media. Now there's something you don't see every day...

President Bush throws up the horns: Innocent regional gesture or sign of allegiance to Satan? We report, you decide!

I was going to write something else--something quite substantial in its own right, actually--but now i've forgotten what and i seem to have lost my notes. Curses...

Instead, i'm going to substitute my talk about direct action from my giant post.

I'm running off of's "twelve myths about direct action".

I don't usually do anarchist stuff here, do i? Well, today is different.

I already wrote a bunch on this, but i want to add more.

Let's go line-by-line...

1. Direct action is terrorism.

I basically agree with the original author here.

2. Direct action is violent.

I have two points: Firstly that the most famous instance of direct action in American History was undertaken by a notorious pacifist: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I also think the author of the original article falls prey to a common problem for anarchists. I don't think brick-throwing is absolutely ineffective or "bad", but in the example given it certainly is ineffective.

Smashing some windows will not destroy the system. Even burning the whole plant to the ground has very little net effect. All that means is that they build a new one or buy new windows and carry on.

If brick throwing were a direct challenge to systematic inequality do you really think brick-throwers would be let off with vandalism or disorderly conduct charges? Enron was destroyed, not because America was "cleaning house", but rather as a symbolic sacrifice to convince people everything was and is okay. Make no mistake: the end of Enron was symbolic and not an indication of lack of corruption in business. Sure: Enron was actually guilty, but that is merely a side issue.

But brick throwing can't even begin to challenge inequality, injustice, corruption, etc, and if it could then not only would brick throwing be an inexcusable crime but bricks themselves would be illegal.

3. Direct action is not political expression, but criminal activity.

I would say sometimes it is both. "Actual" direct action is always political and sometimes criminal. Again: i refer to Martin Luther King.

4. Direct action is unnecessary where people have freedom of speech.

I would say that direct action is an extension of freedom of speech. Direct action is communication through action and not words--after all: don't actions speak louder than words?

But the original is also correct in saying that direct action exists for when "freedom of speech" gets rendered meaningless. After all: people must be willing to listen if speech is to mean anything. They can plug their ears up and chant "I can't hear you!" and all the speech in the world will do you no good. But march on their voting booths...

5. Direct action is alienating.

I have nothing to add at this time.

6. People who practice direct action should work through the established political channels instead.

Another Martin Luther King reference: his Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

7. Direct action is exclusive.

The "is" is a bit unclear here. I'm going to just let the original's commentary stand as-is.

8. Direct action is cowardly.

Again: i refer to Martin Luther King.

Even in the case of stuff that's not so peaceful (for instance, ninja-sabateurs) i would propose that resisting or challenging an establishment is always going to be more difficult than going along with it.

Sure, some forms of direct action might seem cowardly: but i would propose the correct word is "efficient"...

9. Direct action is practiced only by college students/privileged rich kids/desperate poor people/etc.

I'm going to, again, let the original speak for itself here.

I do want to take a piece of the response and run with it though. In fact, this is my primary reason for discussing this article:

...The only possible exception to this would be members of the wealthiest and most powerful classes, who have no need to practice any kind of illegal or controversial action because, as if by coincidence, the established political channels are perfectly suited to their needs.

I think this quite sums up a lot of problems with our system as-is. Inequality will always exist and injustice will always exist in a society of hierarchies because the powerful have advantages just by being "the powerful". In a capitalistic society there will always be those who have more power and those who have less.

As someone whose name i can't remember once said: "Money isn't the goal, it's the way we keep score."

Let's look at Enron again. Ken Lay may be going to prison--but he's going to a prison that is made up of primarily economically deprived people. How unusual, considering Ken Lay may be worth any 100 of them in terms of overall damage done. Yet even if he was given a 3,000 year sentence he only has a certain number of years left to give. Even if society went on a rampage and began heavily convicting "corporate criminals", even those who didn't technically break the law, the prisons would still be primarily made up of the poor.

Prisons cannot, by their nature, reflect the graveness of Ken Lay's crime. How convenient, yes?

Prisons are, by this point, inherently unjust and as long as the inequalities of wealth can exist they will never be just.

The wealthy, as if by magic, need not break any laws to continue being at the top. The poor, in contrast, often need to do so to even survive.

Just because the system exists does not make it legitimate or just. A just or fair system must be fought for fiercely--even, i propose, by those who also would tear all such systems down. At least in a fair system people will not starve to death.

10. Direct action is the work of agents provocateurs.

This one is sometimes true, unfortunately. It's the price you pay, i guess.

This also demonstrates the superiority of using Dr. King's approach (nonviolence) as it's very hard to be a provocateur when you're peacefully going to prison for your right to vote. King didn't tolerate that sort of behavior in his own followers and as such his movement was inoculated against external provocateurs.

11. Direct action is dangerous and can have negative repercussions for others.

This is true, to a certain degree, and especially with respect to the more "brick-throwing" end of the spectrum.

12. Direct action never accomplishes anything.

I agree with the original in that direct action is one of the few ways to actually force change. In that respect: quite the opposite is true. Direct action is the only thing (or, i guess, one of the only things) that ever accomplishes anything.

However, as mentioned above, i think direct action needs to adhere to the actual principles of direct action. Burning the factories down may be flashy--but the factories will be rebuilt. The factories themselves are merely symbols of the problem and not the actual problem. By confronting the factories you really do accomplish nothing.

However, i would not term that direct action (in an abstract sense) as it does not directly challenge the problem.

Well, anyway. That's all for now.

1,350 words. About one tenth the total... A bit less considering only some of this post was taken from the primary one.


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