|Just some Anarchists NOT Committing Violence|
I just read an article by Brendan Kiley over on the Slog and I confess myself amazed at just how remarkably talented the left is at justifying just about anything.
The title (which he admittedly stole from another site) is: Why All the Smashy-Smashy? A Beginner's Guide to Targeted Property Destruction. In it he takes great pains to justify property damage for political purposes. First by drawing a distinction between violence and vandalism as if one is bad and the other can be a good thing (emphasis his):
Smashing a window is not violence, it's (targeted) vandalism. There is a difference—unless you think of people as the moral equivalent of property.
Soooo it's cool to take away someone's means of existence just so you don't assault the actual person who owns the building being vandalized? And further it is OK just so the anarchist in question has a 'legitimate' beef with the business they are vandalizing?
Kiley kindly breaks down his justification in three simple 'frames' after giving a shout out to Jesus:
Why would anyone use targeted vandalism as a means of political expression? It's a very, very old tactic, dating back to Jesus smashing up the moneylenders' kiosks in the temple. And it is still popular among some, but totally anathema to most, today.
The rationale breaks down into three basic frames: one practical, one theoretical, and one a mix of practical and theoretical. Any given act of targeted property destruction usually involves a little of all three.
Really, did Kiley just use Jesus? Is this a WWJD defense, that Jesus' actions were political? Now keep in mind I wasn't there when Christ threw out the merchants - but I was taught that he did it because the Temple was his Father's house NOT to make a political statement. He was just taking out the trash. I just - I mean - Really?
Anyway, let's get back to his justification for 'targeted' vandalism - first the Practical:
Hurting businesses where it counts—their pocketbooks—is a way to get their attention.
OK that's one way but wouldn't another (less
If you don't agree with a business, don't buy their stuff. But just because you have a beef with them does not mean I do. And it is my right to patron that business if I choose. Conversely, it is NOT the anarchists' right to choose for me.
Second the theoretical:
This is basically the broken-windows theory of policing in reverse. That theory was floated by sociologists in the 1980s and became popular under New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. According to the policing model, an unfixed broken window is a sign of lawlessness and a weak state—one broken window might attract more broken windows which might attract squatters and other forms of lawlessness. Window-breaking anarchists, conversely, want to show that the state is weak and that the state of law and economy we live with is not as inevitable as gravity or aging—it's the result of human choices.
Fair enough but here again Kiley is missing the broader picture. His assumption is that the anarchists are right in the first place. Meaning that it is okey-dokey to do whatever the hell you want because your view is the correct one. And the certainty that they are right is based on what? Because some professor at Berkley said so? Because my Daddy didn't give me enough attention? Or more likely I am too damn lazy to get up in the morning and get a job to support myself.
OK the third frame - The marriage of the practical and the theoretical:
broken windows—and even arsons by the Earth Liberation Front—are a kind of fire alarm, designed to make us pay attention to what they see as accelerating economic, social, and ecological catastrophe. "Then you get a chance to say why would [someone] do that," he said. "And the media has to pay some attention to that and people want to know what's going on."
This just kills me. So instead of playing by the rules - i.e., going through the electoral process that is in place, these knuckle heads simply think it's OK to throw a tempy-tantrum all the while they expect the rest of us have to play by the rules. Why don't they find like minded politicians and elect them to champion their cause? If they are so sure that they are right surely the rest of us plebes will rally behind them. Right?
Unfortunately their views are in such direct opposition to the American way of life they couldn't run for dog catcher and get elected. And deep down they probably know it.
Kiley finishes with a flurry of justification by saying that if the protests were peaceful the message would wouldn't be heard (you know like those posers Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.) :
So it's a question: Did today's vandalism detract from the protests? If it was all hand-holding and vigils and kumbaya, would the press have replaced their coverage of the smashy-smashy with an equal amount of attention to "secure communities" and "e-verify" and how Wells Fargo makes money off of private prisons? Or would that have all been equally—or even more—ignored?
I don't know. And I'm not a self-professed anarchist, nor a proponent of targeted property destruction (even though I've just devoted 1,500 words to justifying it in this post).
But I do know there are compelling, not-entirely-stupid arguments for vandalism as a form of protest, and as a way to force people's attention towards certain problems that we might otherwise ignore in the deafening static of our undisrupted, workaday lives.
Kiley writes well but the message is bunk. I am sure the SA Stormtroupers who carried out the Kristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass) thought they were doing the right thing as well. The problem there - as with possibly here - the German authorities were complicit due to their lack of upholding the citizens rights and laws against these criminals.
Exit question: Since I don't agree with these putzes is it OK for me to vandalize their homes as long as I don't assault any one. After all I'm just expressing my frustration with these people.