Nothing in this blog can be believed. If you think that anything in this blog is true or factual, you'll need to verify it from another source. Do you understand? No? Then read it again, and repeat this process, until you understand that you cannot sue me for anything you read here. Also, having been sucked into taking part in the mass-murder of more than 3 million Vietnamese people on behalf of U.S. Big Business "interests", I'm as mad as a cut snake (and broke) so it might be a bit silly to try to sue me anyway...

Friday, November 18, 2011

The perils of peaceful protest

I went to Kambra yesterday [1] to join a small anti-war protest there to mark Barack Caesar's visit to this wonderful client state of the American Empire.

But this blog post will be more about why I choose to remain a non-aligned protester rather than become a member of any of the participating groups. The following account of an incident will explain why I feel this way:

Naturally, the police were there in force, outnumbering the small gathering. We were on the lawn near Parliament House. There were banners. One of the event organisers had made some impressive banners which were held aloft on tallish bamboo poles which, due to the wind, were a bit of a handful to keep upright.

This organiser (let's call him Grant) brought up six 2-metre long steel star pickets which were driven into the ground to hold up the banners.

The police (quite reasonably, I thought) asked for them to be removed, quoting all sorts of reasons (but I suspect the real one was that these star pickets would make awsome weapons if the protest went ugly.) I have to say that if I had been the police commander I would have banned their presence as well.

But Grant was having none of it, and ignored the police request for their removal. I felt he was baiting them to escalate things into a physical confrontation which could then have been spun to look like police heavy-handedness.

A lawyer at the rally suggested to me that we go along with the (reasonable) request to remove the star pickets. I agreed, and so we did. Grant was not impressed.

Based on this and other things I know about Grant, I no longer trust that he has a genuine commitment to keeping protests peaceful and absolutely non-violent. I suspect he doesn't mind a bit of violence as long as the police can be blamed for it, believing it to be good publicity and sympathy value.

My idea of non-violent protest precludes the presence of star pickets, because if things get out of hand you can bet London to a brick that they will be used by undisciplined, angry protesters and that would quickly escalate things into an out-of-control melee.

As for most of the groups there, I am not convinced that their commitment to non-violence is rock-solid or well-grounded. I suspect that if the police acted in a heavy-handed way, some of these groups' members would feel justified in meeting violence with violence. With no visible mechanism in place to deal with any protester violence, I cannot trust these groups' ability to ensure the protests remain non-violent.

So I shall continue to remain a non-aligned anti-war protester.

[1] My apologies to Andrew and Sue for not offering to meet either (or both) of you in Kambra. I wanted get back home same day, so with the 8 hour round trip, it was a bit much to also try to fit in any social activities. Sorry. :-(

6 Comments:

Blogger phil said...

A sensible and moral way to do it.
Good on ya.

November 20, 2011 11:25 AM  
Blogger lemmiwinks said...

It took me until the 3rd paragraph to realise what/where Kambra was.

Very revealing story Gerry, and I'll second Phil's good on ya!

November 21, 2011 9:53 AM  
Blogger AndrewM said...

Right. Plenty of time to hang out with the Trotskyite rent-a-crowd seeking media coverage while POTUS is in town, but no time at all for catchup with the locals :-)

Oh well, Sue had school and I had several appointments, so I doubt whether we would have been able to squeeze you in anyway.

November 21, 2011 5:01 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Phil, and Lemmiwinks, thanks.

Andrew, glad to hear that you would have been too busy too. :-))))

And, dutifully biting, I would point out that what you called the "Trotskyite rent-a-crowd" was in fact a conglomerate of people from many different groups (as well as individuals) who felt so strongly about a number of issues that they chose to take part in the protest action. Many spent quite a bit of money and time to be there.

But what disappoints me about many on the left who are given to expressing their dissent is that whilst they are happy to take part in a peaceful protest action, they nevertheless will, if push comes to shove, condone, take part in, or even initiate, violent or destructive action, justifying this with some sort of warped "two wrongs make a right", or "an eye for an eye", or "right to self-defence" moral.

What they completely fail to grasp is the utterly devastating power of non-violence as a political strategy for mass protest, and how any violence plays directly into the hands of the powers they are up against.

They fail to grasp the essence of the philosophy of non-violence that both Jesus and Gandhi applied with such devastating effect.

Their anger and hatred blinds them into doing things which ultimately empower and justify those who they claim to be oppressed by. I see it as some sort of masochistic victim-mentality thing being played out in a Pythonesque kind of way.

Tragic.

I find their ignorance and latent warrior mentality depressing.

It's why they are doomed to failure unless they can crank up a big enough civil war in which a _huge_ chunk of the population dies before they are victorious.

This is why that course of action, if successful, then usually self-defeats by becoming the _next_ repressive regime.

Here endeth the rant.

November 22, 2011 7:42 AM  
Blogger AndrewM said...

Golly, if I'd known it was that easy to fire off your Rant Missile, I'd have done it ages ago. :-)

I daresay there were many at the demonstration who are nice people with sincere beliefs who wanted their voices to be heard ( although I persist in the belief that choosing the POTUS visit is rank hypocrisy - why not do it on Australia Day?) but you know even better than I that these events end up attracting some or many of the hard-core leftists who despise everything American, condone violence and extreme civil disobedience (which is why I called them Trotskyist) and show up at everything from Australia's lame imitations of the OWS movement to QANTAS staff marches to the waterfront (which is why I called them rent-a-crowd).

You're objecting to them yourself, which is why I took to poking fun at you about them.

Incidentally, if Grant was waddling around with a revolver and the cops objected, you'd take it away from him and remove the firing pin, and then give it back. But how did you disable the star pickets?

November 22, 2011 5:56 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Andrew, the thing about the star pickets was that the police objected to them being used to prop up the banners and they were threatening to remove them themselves, so in order to prevent the police intervention (which we felt might trigger a confrontation, and perhaps escalate into violence), we removed them ourselves and stacked them neatly out of the way (i.e. well away from the police). After that, the police lost interest in the pickets, even though, as you say, they were still locked and loaded. :-)
Strange...

They were "Grant's" property, so I just left them near his gear.

I take your point that they should perhaps have been taken from the scene, but that was not my call.

My point is that if the organisers wanted to ensure minimum risk of violence, then these star pickets would never even have seen the light of day.

It is that lack of foresight and commitment (to preventing violence) which I bemoan.

November 22, 2011 8:40 PM  

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