Wednesday, May 02, 2012

controlling ourselves

The Seattle Times reports this morning that there were "spasms of violence" punctuating the "mostly peaceful" protests downtown yesterday. Still, it was a bad scene in Seattle, especially early on.

Most of the violence was vandalism of the broken-windows type, directed primarily against financial institutions. Now, there's no question in my mind that NikeTown deserved to have its windows busted and its store trashed, but at the same time doing that is a very bad idea, because it causes the protesters to lose the one battle they have to win -- the battle of the mass media.

If a movement like #OWS is to overcome the tyranny of the corporate bottom line and dictatorship of money, it will have to use force, just as Gandhi's followers did, and just as the civil rights people did 20 and 30 years later in the US. Repressive regimes will only yield ground under the pressure of force, since they can't be persuaded and they have no concscience people can appeal to.

But the force must be applied with great restraint and self-control. If the insurgents resort to violence, then they lose the battle of the media, and then it's checkmate and lights out.

My advice to the 50 or so people who split off from the main demonstration yesterday to break stuff is to control your vessel. It may feel good to resort to violence, and of course Bank of America has it coming.

I'd be in favor of it too, if I thought it would do any good.

Photo: John Lok, Seattle Times

3 comments:

Joe said...

What would be really good is to promote a way ethically superior to the thing being protested. Since violence isn't apparently better, try to think harder, people.

Dave B, a.k.a. catboxer said...

Dr. King spoke frequently of the need to be "morally superior" to the forces attempting to suppress the civil rights movement.

Joe said...

Thanks for mentioning that because it makes a lot of sense about Dr. King. I remember a neighbor playing an LP recording of him for me when I was very young.