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Four on the Floor in Switzerland

By Anne Marie in Op-Ed
Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 10:19:30 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

The air was still, the passions tense. Frigid temperatures and falling snowflakes were punctuated with the occasional blast of a water cannon and the crunching of a citizen's bones under the batons of baton-wielding riot police. The peaceful nation of Switzerland had turned on its own citizens.


This weekend in Davos, Switzerland, a small band of protestors marched against the World Economic Forum's annual meeting for the advancement of economic globalization. Roadblocks and security checks sought to thwart the movements of all in the area, though humorously, some protestors were able to skirt the checkpoints simply by wearing suits and ties. Without a shred of humor, other protestors were gunned down with rubber bullets and water cannons. Hell hath no fury like a government scorned.

It is nothing new that citizens would respond to perceived injustices with public gatherings and sign-waving. It is perhaps also nothing new that their government would respond with disproportionate violence in defense of moneyed interests. What is new, for a generation raised after the violent crackdowns of the 1960s and 1970s is how brazen the government's tactics are. These are no longer police. These are beasts. Only beasts would plan to spray peaceful protestors with toxic liquid cow manure, a plan thwarted (according to independent reports) only by the unwillingness of Swiss farmers to supply the necessary excrement.

From amidst the dust and sweat of Davos, emerges a solitary truth: police action, no matter how disproportionate, can always generate sufficient justification unto itself for further police brutality. In Zurich, blinded and bloodied protestors set fire to a handful of cars. Already, such petty violence is being hailed by officials as precisely the sort of violence a police state must be constructed to fend off. Protestors are converted into hooligans, and the progressives are all the poorer for it. Protestors must remain saints, whereas violent government officials, hiding behind a veil of legitimacy, are free to wreak havoc upon the social order.

<rant>
In our plutocratic quest for the supreme dollar, we are no longer merely raping our earth. We are now raping each other as well. I must say "we", because few of us are standing up to this tyranny. Few of us even bother to keep informed. We are the bridled horse in Aesop's fable, chasing the stag when our true enemy is the hunter. Yet we cannot even perceive the chains of apathy that bind us, the blinders which bend our will to the ends of others.
</rant>

What loyalty must a law-abiding citizen owe to a government which has surpassed conventional norms of humanity?

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Poll
Spraying liquid cow manure on protestors is...
o Unconscionable. 65%
o Precisely what these hooligans deserve. 14%
o Tasty. 20%

Votes: 165
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o Davos
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o were able to skirt the checkpoints
o perceived injustices
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o Also by Anne Marie


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Four on the Floor in Switzerland | 229 comments (222 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
Well it is op-ed (3.32 / 31) (#1)
by enterfornone on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 12:04:48 AM EST

So I guess I should excuse the extreme bias here. This wasn't a small group of peacful protesters. As the article you linked to states, there were over a hundred people who's aim was not to protest but to distrupt this conference.

As far as I'm concerned these anti-free speech hooligans deserve whatever happens to them.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
With all due respect (none / 0) (#153)
by Quark on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 02:30:48 PM EST

But from the point of view of the most of us, so pro-free-speech, even anti-free-speech people have freedom of speech. Now did I just make things unnecessarily complicated?

So much bandwidth, so little time...
[ Parent ]
+1, FP. (3.50 / 18) (#3)
by perdida on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 12:28:03 AM EST

Thanks, AM, for broaching a topic here that should be discussed. We love to talk about the disruption of the rights of software pirates, but not about the rights of other anti-corporate protesters.

It may seem a little hokey for people, but this kind of meat-space protest is very effective although it puts people in a great deal of immediate bodily risk, to confront police.

In response to enterfornone, i would say that everyone who went to the protest had the explicit purpose of disrupting the conference in one way or another. Even doing an action that forces the media to pay attention to opposing views, instead of their preplanned schedule of pablum coverage, disrupts the intent of the conference organizers. Violent tactics are not supported by the vast majority of protesters in that they decrease the effectiveness of real disruptions- the countering of a limited perspective with an opposing view, through peaceful and informed protest.


The most adequate archive on the Internet.
I can't shit a hydrogen fuel cell car. -eeee
protests (3.42 / 7) (#4)
by Delirium on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 12:36:38 AM EST

1) Any particular reason your editorial comment is part of a topical comment and your reply to enterfornone's comment is a top-level comment rather than a, well, reply to his?

2) By "disrupt" these protest groups often do not mean merely "draw attention to our opposition to [insert group here]." They often do literally mean to disrupt the meeting/conference, and if possible prevent it from happening. See the WTO riots in Seattle for a good example of violent protestors who do not deserve our sympathy.

[ Parent ]

reply (4.20 / 10) (#6)
by perdida on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 12:53:13 AM EST

1) No. I am simply tired. My main response was to AM, not efn.. and I wanted to just get it all out in one post.

2) Were you at the protest in Seattle? Where are you getting your info about it from? Nobody planned to be violent in Seattle. They were marching home, having a victory rally, when the cops blocked them in. They didn't intend to stop the meetings. THEN some people threw some things. Little more than what happens at your average baseball stadium, really..the frenzied, riotous response of cops was the real tragedy.

of course, now, after Seattle, the violence meme has spread and there are some people who go to the protests to be violent, to act like frat boys and stuff. Well, all I can do, and you won't believe me I am sure, is tell you that 95% of the people who organize these protests are peaceful. I have put hundreds of hours into this work and nobody is going there to fight cops. People who talk like that get kicked out of meetings, because thye are inconsiderately threatening to put everyone at risk, including people with families and jobs who can't afford to get arrested. The violent people are the assholes in this movement, and they are not open about being violent.

A lot of the violence is caused by provocateurs. I have seen people throwing a rock or a bottle and then hiding behind cop lines, being protected by cops.

I don't give a flying shit whether anyone who is smug and prejudicial about anti-globalization believes me. More important is communicating with folks who are the losers in the globalization war, and taking the lead from them, because it's their fight.


The most adequate archive on the Internet.
I can't shit a hydrogen fuel cell car. -eeee
[ Parent ]
protests pt. 2 (3.71 / 7) (#7)
by Delirium on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 01:20:27 AM EST

I admit that I wasn't personally at the protests (not living near Seattle and not being sufficiently interested in the protestors' cause to take a trip out there), so my information is second-hand. However, from what I've read it seems clear that at least some of the protestors had preventing the WTO meeting as a stated goal. I recall incidents in which protestors attempted to block entrance to the conference center and others in which protestors attempted to stop limousine convoys carrying representatives there. Of course this is not as bad as outright violence, but it still crosses the line from free speech to an illegal action IMHO.

As for the violent parts, I'm less knowledgeable about those, but I do recall quite a few Seattle shop owners sustaining large losses through vandalism. Of course some of this was caused by opportunistic looters unaffiliated with any protests, but it seems that at least some of the protestors were aiming for a violent riot-style disruption of the WTO meeting.

[ Parent ]

Starbucks & Riot Police (4.50 / 10) (#10)
by Simian on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 03:01:39 AM EST

One of the images of the Seattle protests that has stuck with me over the last year is the one with several police, decked out in full riot gear, protecting the storefront of a Starbuck's. I think you miss some of the...ahem...subtlety of those protesters that did property damage. Forcing the police to protect that ubiquitous emblem of corporate power was at least *related* to the sort of expression our 1st amendment is trying to protect.

You're missing the difference between the destruction of property and physical violence directed at people. The "black bloc" protesters responsible for the "vandalism" weren't breaking windows simply to do property damage. They were illustrating (whether you agree with their point or not) the priority our government places on the defense of property above even the safety and well-being of its citizens.

I once burned a five dollar bill in front of someone to make a point in an argument. (It was a kind of agitprop "you understand this is just paper" kind of thing). If it had been his five dollar bill, would I then be a "violent protester"?.

Like it or not, it worked. Although much decried, some of that kind of protest has produced the most effective images. It also prevents the status quo from simply dismissing the protesters.

I have been most disturbed by the constant litany of "violent protesters" that has followed the protesters across the world, evoking more and more *truly violent* police responses. Is the destruction of property a crime? Yes. Is it violent? No!

Breaking the window of a Starbucks != forcing a passive protester's eyes open to spray pepper spray into them. Shooting them at close range with rubber bullets, beating them with batons, or spraying crowds with shit. That's violence. The question is how much violence can we tolerate from our nation-states in order for it to do its job protecting our property?

jb




"As I would not be a slave, so would I not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy." Abraham Lincoln
[ Parent ]
Violence and property (4.00 / 7) (#26)
by jack doe on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 10:31:31 AM EST

They were illustrating (whether you agree with their point or not) the priority our government places on the defense of property above even the safety and well-being of its citizens.

Of course, there are citizens who work at Starbucks, and pension funds which invest in its stock... and people whose livelihoods depend on small businesses with similar storefronts, and on those businesses not being wrecked by vandals...

Is the destruction of property a crime? Yes. Is it violent? No!

While violence against property isn't the same as violence against people, it's hard to avoid classifying "smashing things up" as violence. If thugs came to your house and smashed it up with baseball bats, what would you call that?

[ Parent ]

Glass vs. Flesh (3.71 / 7) (#33)
by Simian on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 11:36:02 AM EST

Of course, there are citizens who work at Starbucks, and pension funds which invest in its stock... and people whose livelihoods depend on small businesses with similar storefronts, and on those businesses not being wrecked by vandals...

Nevertheless, damage to these citizens' property (and let's keep in mind the percentage of Starbucks actually owned by "the little people") isn't the same as assaults on their person. For that matter, it's an odd definition of "property" that includes something like an investment in a mutual fund, where the person who "owns" a piece of Starbucks has utterly no power to influence the corporation's behavior. (Sure, you can go to a shareholder's meeting, eat carrots and drink non-alcoholic beer, but you're not going to sway the board). No control = no "private" property, to some thinking.

While violence against property isn't the same as violence against people, it's hard to avoid classifying "smashing things up" as violence. If thugs came to your house and smashed it up with baseball bats, what would you call that?

Well, it would depend on whether I was home at the time :). I notice that you jump to an example of property that is undoubtably the most sacred, private, and personal. I happen to draw a *big* distinction between actual private property, like my house, and capital. Not the same, in much the same way smashing a window isn't the same as smashing a face, actually.

The destruction of true private property is as close to violence as property damage can be, due to the undeniable and predictable deep attachment somebody has to their house/private property. But it still doesn't quite cross the line, unless (and this is usually the case) there is also the threat of physical harm to the owners implied.

Damage is a much better word for the result of the destruction of property. Don't dilute the real significance of violence by conflating it with damage. Windows don't get hurt.

jb


"As I would not be a slave, so would I not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy." Abraham Lincoln
[ Parent ]
no difference (4.00 / 1) (#78)
by sugarman on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 03:52:19 PM EST

I notice that you jump to an example of property that is undoubtably the most sacred, private, and personal. I happen to draw a *big* distinction between actual private property, like my house, and capital.

How is a Starbucks different from a storefront that is maintained by a single family? Moreover, what if that family, having invested themselves completely in the shop, are forced to live in a flat above it? Are you not threatening something that is "sacred, private, and personal"?

Violence against property is still violence. The police aren't making the distinction between protecting a "symbol of corporatism" or a family-owned shop. It doesn't matter what's behind their backs. Its their duty to protect it from what's in front of them. In this case that would be you, or the protesters, or whoever is about to commit the violence.

--sugarman--
[ Parent ]

Same difference??! (4.50 / 2) (#86)
by Simian on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 05:40:59 PM EST

Hmm. Permit me to be blunt.

If someone told you they would either blow up your house or kill your family, which would you prefer?

Now, what if they were to tell you they would blow up your house, or burn down your store?

Now, they threaten to burn down your store, or take all the money you happened to have in the bank?

Now, what if they told you they were going to steal all your money, or use orbital masers to erase Starbucks from the face of the earth, miraculously without anyone being hurt. Oh wait!!! You have stock in Starbucks! Better let them kill your family and be done with it.

If the above was unclear, let me address your point(s) specifically. You move your point of contention from a house to a privately and completely owned store. Yes, that is sacred, private, and personal. Not quite as sacred, private, and personal as your own house, but yes, fairly private. Don't you notice the direction your argument is moving?

Granted, the store and its inventory is a kind of capital. It is also the closest damn thing to a house capital can be. Yet is still isn't quite totally private, now is it? Unless you have no employees and no customers (in which case...)

Quite simply, if you were offered the choices I outlined above, on what basis would you make those decisions? Let me answer for you: differences.

I concede that the police don't distinguish between the mom and pop store and Starbucks. Neither do you. That doesn't make either of you right. But I do agree that if any of those protesters had ruined a locally owned business, they would deserve to have their asses kicked through the town square. They would have harmed ordinary people's ways of life to no purpose whatsoever. As it is, they captured in an image (and it was protesters taking all the pictures that day, well, besides the FBI) the spectacle of the state armed in defense of a kind of property, a *logo*, that perhaps seemed just a little bit alien in that context. Bravo.

Who would have been hurt, if the glass windows of a Starbuck's had been smashed? The person sweeping it up was much more likely to have been a protester than a shareholder. And the result was a ripple of conversation and consideration that has criss-crossed the globe, and hasn't stopped yet.

jb




"As I would not be a slave, so would I not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy." Abraham Lincoln
[ Parent ]
Property vs Life (4.00 / 1) (#107)
by flash91 on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 08:46:36 PM EST

OK blow up the house if I can get away. I prefer to live as long as possible.

But:

I exchange parts of my life for money everyday. Anyone who has a job does that. I use that money to acquire property, eat, and enjoy the other parts of my life.

If you take my money or my property, you have effectively taken a part of my life. Sure you haven't taken all of it, which seems to be your argument. Strange that you think I should be tolerant of that.

I sympathize with part of your cause (I am against deforestation, I am for global trade, against global government) but if you cost me money, I should have the right to imprison you (Time DOES equal money)

But I suspect you don't see it that way.

[ Parent ]
The Commodification of life (5.00 / 2) (#126)
by Simian on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 12:27:52 AM EST

The smart play was to let the money go, since then you still have life, limb, capital, and shelter. To jump to the end of your post, I think your deluding yourself if you don't think that if we ever get ourselves a global government (moreso than now) it will be created in the interest of protecting the multinationals (global "trade").

Irregardless, your argument is begging the point. I find it facinating that when I argued that violence against a person is qualitatively different that damage to property that people have immediately asserted without argumentation or simply missing the point that in some sense property is a part of life.

You're right. I never denied it. I think I've been rather careful to delimit between real, sacred, mom and apple pie style private property from capital. I'm going to try to be crystal clear here.

True private property is that for which a person takes personal responsibility. It is woven into their life, and thus they acquire the right to dispose of it. I think a 'line is crossed" when someone requests help in the disposition of their property, to make it multiply it's effectiveness. (commonly called capital.) By right, this property should then be vested, in some responsible measure, to those that help work with it, since they are equally responsible for any value that is produced.</p.

Capitalism, and the liberal nation-state that enforces it's notion of property, declares the right of capital inalienable in such a fashion, but looks at the labor and creativity of work as totally tangential.

Capital != private property, which was the point of the exercise about the masers & the house and blowing up and stuff. Sigh.

What is more, I never said anyone should 'tolerate' property destruction. It's obviously an untenable long term behavior! I think that the protesters should take their lumps and go to jail. Do time, if you must. They did break the law and should have no other expectation.

But should they be held, on misdemenor charges, for a million dollar bail as some were in Philadelphia? Should they be humiliated, beaten, sprayed with chemical weapons, denied medical treatment, and held without evidence? Should they be everywhere portrayed in the media as "violent" when the protest movement has actually been outstandingly, interestingly pacific? Were they even justified, because of the effectiveness of their action in drawing attention to a point of view that is utterly absent from public discourse? No, no, no, and yes. There is a huge difference between ethical conduct and "obeying the law".

BTW, the Brownshirts did more than break glass. By the time they met their end, it was *all* legal. The violence of law has never, historically, been surpassed by the violence of resistance.

jb




"As I would not be a slave, so would I not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy." Abraham Lincoln
[ Parent ]
excellent reply, partial apology. (5.00 / 1) (#150)
by flash91 on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 01:35:31 PM EST

I thought you did condone the destructiveness - my apology.

The night of the long knives was legal? Nope. Err, maybe. I could argue that here, but it's not the right place.

Capital != Property? How do you reach that conclusion? Money is the abstraction of goods, labor and property.

Again though, excellent reply.

[ Parent ]
Civility! (none / 0) (#154)
by Simian on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 02:47:40 PM EST

Firstly, I am taken aback by your niceness. :) This thread has made me a little twitchy, because so many people have been arguing with me over a point I considered evident. Whoops! Thanks for taking the time to read before responding.

As far as the relationship between capital and property, I don't think I'd say that capital is not a form of property. It's just a far cry from hearth & home private property. The conflation of these two kinds of property, which is totally common and evidenced by this conversation, is far from coincidental. It is the fundamental pillar of capitalism.

By the definition of property I gave above, it's clear that both the people who in some sense "made" the capital and those who "use" the capital to produce goods for trade take some measure of responsibility for it. Of course, my big beef with capital-ism is the total disregard for the role of labor. For all the techno-slash-libertarian chique capitalism has cloaked itself with in the last decade, it remains deeply rooted in the aristrocratic and "genius"-worshipping culture of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

As for money, it's not unique to capitalism of course. To be honest, the relationship between money and capitalism is wickedly complicated. You could say that one of the innovations of capitalism was to use money per se as not only a component of the economy but as it's lynchpin. If you look at capitalism as a disease (ahem) then money was it's vector. Not surprising, of course, since it served the interests who originally had a lot more money than social status.

Thanks again for giving me faith again in this thread.

jb




"As I would not be a slave, so would I not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy." Abraham Lincoln
[ Parent ]
Devil's advocate: inequity and productivity (none / 0) (#159)
by jack doe on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 04:11:14 PM EST

Capitalism, and the liberal nation-state that enforces it's notion of property, declares the right of capital inalienable in such a fashion, but looks at the labor and creativity of work as totally tangential.

A devil's advocate might argue that in a properly functioning capitalism, the promise of such illicit gains is what spurs each greedy participant on to much greater productivity than he or she would otherwise have had, to the extent that even the people who comparatively lose out end up with more than they'd have had under an equitable economic system.

I'm not sure what I think, exactly, but I've heard this argument advanced.

[ Parent ]

Lucre (4.00 / 1) (#169)
by Simian on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:02:00 PM EST

I agree that the promise of multiplied returns is a terribly effective motivator.

Why reserve this right to the capitalist, who *possibly* (rarely) had some involvement at the beginning of a corporation or had an idea for a product or something. Conversely, why deny it to the very one's whose "productivity" produces the actual goods sold on the market for profit? Or even, to some minor extent, to the community that supports in many ways both the productive labor and the stores, offices, and factories? I'm not talking about payoffs, taxes and government here, either. I'm talking about influence, responsibility and power.

There's no mystery here. Capitalism's answer is not sophisticated, but it is, with the support of the nation-state and wickedly clever admen, brutally effective: "because we can."

jb




"As I would not be a slave, so would I not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy." Abraham Lincoln
[ Parent ]
I'll chime in too (none / 0) (#157)
by jack doe on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 03:55:02 PM EST

Simian, you made some points good enough that I decided to shut up (or at least go off and think for a while).

[ Parent ]
Important difference (none / 0) (#184)
by scruffyMark on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 09:14:15 PM EST

I exchange parts of my life for money everyday. Anyone who has a job does that. I use that money to acquire property, eat, and enjoy the other parts of my life.

Granted, this does not invalidate your argument, but:

I invest a thousand bucks in Starbucks. Maybe I worked for that thousand bucks. If I bought some nice clothes, some bottles of wine, and some theatre tickets with those thousand bucks, that would be trading parts of my life for the enjoyment of other parts. But I invested in Starbucks.

A few years later, I have fifteen hundred bucks. Where did those five hundred come from? Not from my life. I traded part of someone else's life for the enjoyment of part of my life.

[ Parent ]

Property vs Life (none / 0) (#228)
by flash91 on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 05:55:08 PM EST

>A few years later, I have fifteen hundred bucks. Where
>did those five hundred come from? Not from my life. I
>traded part of someone else's life for the enjoyment of
>part of my life.

Yes, you did use someone else's life. But it was at their choice, so it's very moral. If you can't rely on the extra money from investment, you won't invest. This is precisely the situation during the great depression. No capital was available, economy collapsed.

[ Parent ]
Erasure of Starbucks (4.00 / 1) (#112)
by jack doe on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 09:31:35 PM EST

Now, what if they told you they were going to steal all your money, or use orbital masers to erase Starbucks from the face of the earth, miraculously without anyone being hurt.

Perhaps you don't count as injury the sudden unemployment of thousands of Starbucks employees, the loss of money and credit by Starbucks creditors like the bank which runs your checking account, the hiked home-loan interest rates to make up for the losses...

This isn't to say companies won't rob you blind if you let them, but you don't seem to have thought very much about where they fit into the same economy which contains you.

[ Parent ]

public property (4.50 / 2) (#122)
by Simian on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 11:48:54 PM EST

Um, that was intended humorously. I was exaggerating for effect. *cough*

Depriving people of the means to make a living is indeed a form of coercion, a passive violence to human beings. It is a cornerstone of the capitalist conception of property (I'm an anarchist, btw, so don't paint me red please) that makes the "free negotiation" of wages between worker and capitalist such a joke.

The simplest example of the ridiculousness of "private" property as capitalists conceive it is the fact that, if I work for a company for years, investing time, sweat, creativity, cunning, etc. this doesn't translate into any equity whatsoever. But then the great great grandson of the tycoon who swindled the real founder of the company out of a majority stake decides he'd make more money off the stock if it moved the factory to Burma. That's treating a manifestly 'public' property (exactly what public is an interesting question, and I don't mean it in a liberal nation-state sort of way) as one would a toy. Doing violence, in the sense you indicate, to thousands of people who've contributed much more to the value of the company.

When a corporation moves a factory out of the country, or pays workers somewhere else a less-than-living wage, do we call them violent? That would follow from your reasoning.

jb




"As I would not be a slave, so would I not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy." Abraham Lincoln
[ Parent ]
Private property vs. capital? (3.00 / 1) (#109)
by jack doe on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 09:19:50 PM EST

I happen to draw a *big* distinction between actual private property, like my house, and capital.

If you were paying that house's mortgage with your Starbuck's salary, perhaps you wouldn't draw that distinction.

Private property and capital can be the same thing (I use my home computers for consulting work.)

Perhaps the real distinction you're drawing is betweeen "property you own" and "property you don't own."

[ Parent ]

"Ubiquitous emblem of corporate power " (3.66 / 6) (#30)
by Simon Kinahan on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 10:57:38 AM EST

I'm having trouble believing in Starbucks as the symbol of evil transnationalism. Really, they sell coffee. Sometimes they deliberately compete with their competitors. Just what is it that makes them an "emblem of corporate power" ?

If the whole point of the "violent" part of this protest movement is just to demonstrate that force is needed to defend property, then never have I seen so much effort put into demonstrating something so blindingly obvious. Just what are we supposed to do in response ?

If you do not like private property as an institution, or you don't like big corporations, why not just come out and say it ? and then at least we can have a conversatioon about what to put in the place of these institutions. If you limit your political action to illustrating that, like every other political system ever created, ours has to repel its activist opponents by force, then I'm just going to keep yawning.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
"Ubiquitous emblem.... " explained (4.20 / 5) (#34)
by kellan on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 11:46:56 AM EST

if you are actually curious (and not simply playing w/ rhetoric) about why companies like Starbucks, and Nike, realtively harmless seeming purveyors of consumer products, have been singled out as representing the "new evil", instead of companies which seem more obviously evil, then i've got a book for you.

you should read "No Logo" by Naomi Klein, who lays out a much more effective arguement then can be acheived in an online forum of people speaking past each other.(note: amazon link not included :)

its a light read, and the her historical perspective isn't always on, but its definitely worth reading.

kellan
--

[ Parent ]

No Logo (4.00 / 3) (#48)
by Simon Kinahan on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 12:33:16 PM EST

I've read it. I liked it, although she cannot seem to decide whether she's acting as an impartial observer or as an advocate. I believe she's dead on with respect to what is happening: more and more the value of a product is tied up with the image attached to it, not the physical properties of the product itself. Where I believe she falls down, and the whole "anti-globalisation" movement falls down is in the analysis of the importance of this trend and what can be done with or about it.

Ultimately, Nike and Starbucks sell image rather than products, because that is what people want to buy, not because people are stupid, but because even the western poor have the necessities of life taken care of. What they want to buy is a bit of excitement and interest, and the easiest way to get that is by consuming image. The capital of these organisations, in the true sense, is the image they invest in their products.

This is also their greatest vulnerability, and that is the insight that fuels the part of the badly misnamed "anti-globalisation" movement I can sympathise with. Nike understands, and the protestors understand, that if its unpleasant labourt practices can be married in the public mind to its corporate image, the value of the brand, which is their only asset, will lose value.

So far I agree with Ms Klein. This is a major cultural trend, which is likely to be semi-permanent, although there is already a good deal of reaction against it. Where I differ is in whether what Starbucks is doing is bad. The worst thing they have done is put their competitors out of business. Whats the big deal ? Small, local coffee shops that can compete, do compete, at least where I live (and we're at 4 Starbucks already). Those that just aped Starbucks style without the ruthless efficiency, mostly fail. I'm afraid I do not see the problem.

The point is: I do not believe the global brands are bad in themselves. If people want to make and buy products whose main value is in attachment to an image, who am I to stop them ? This is where the protestors fail, in my view. They believe these trends are actually bad, but they have little or no thinking to back this up. Other than a vague sympathy with " the little guy" who Starbucks puts out of business, the only logic to the attack is that people should pay for real, material values, not for image. Thats a view I'd actualy sympathise with, but its a battle to be fought in the minds of the general public, not with the corporations themsleves.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Starbucks...BAD!! (3.83 / 6) (#51)
by trog on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 12:56:51 PM EST

Where I differ is in whether what Starbucks is doing is bad. The worst thing they have done is put their competitors out of business.

This reminds me of one of the last times I went into Starbucks. They had a poster of a South American girl picking coffee beans. She appeared to be about 16 years old. My cynicism took over for a moment, and I laughed, "She must be close to retirement!".

Then I realized that this wasn't very funny.
http://www.globalexchange.org/economy/coffee/pr020400.html

[ Parent ]

Develop a corporate Doppelganger! (4.16 / 6) (#35)
by Simian on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 12:01:17 PM EST

Really, they sell coffee. Sometimes they deliberately compete with their competitors. Just what is it that makes them an "emblem of corporate power" ?

I live in a medium-sized city with a couple of great cultural areas. Small, locally owned cool shops, great hangouts, good bars, and awesome coffeshops (including a worker-owned coop, my fav). We've had to fight tooth and nail to keep these areas unique. Starbucks has a tried and true strategy of putting up about five coffeshops right next to each other to drive everyone else's (i.e. local business owners) margins down and put them out of business. They tried it with us, and we fought them off.

We're losing the war, though, as the city is blowing away about two blocks worth of street to make room for a new "arts center" that will cater to the tastes of the upper class (ballet, grr.) They're rolling out a host of initiatives that will make this area "safe for shoppers" i.e. the same uppercrust that will be attending the opera.

I'm simply sick and tired of community "leaders" at every level of government simply bending over when a big corporation walks into town and starts making demands of us peons, throwing around their superior capitalization to crush superior, local, businesses. Starbucks is a perfect example of that kind of that kind of corporate behavior. Specifically, I rebel against the increasing assumption that markets are somehow more "legitimate" than democratically elected government. (Neither are truly democratic, but that's another story...) It's an ideology called Market Populism, and it sucks.

If you do not like private property as an institution, or you don't like big corporations, why not just come out and say it ? and then at least we can have a conversatioon about what to put in the place of these institutions. If you limit your political action to illustrating that, like every other political system ever created, ours has to repel its activist opponents by force, then I'm just going to keep yawning.

Well, I'm not trying to entertain you, but see by other response to this post titled "glass & flesh" to find out my feelings about private property and the difference between it and capital. But besides that, although I support the protest movement if fora like these and value the dose of real energy they've injected into America's anemic politics, I think they're as a movement doomed.

They use interesting, innovative tactics, but they're too negative. I believe in putting my money where my mouth is, so I'm busy putting together a worker-owned technology cooperative. Building instead of breaking. :)

I think, since corporations have sucked the life out of politics, we need to take the struggle to them. We need a more democratic capital formation. It's been tried and tried, but it is the only hope I see, so I'll pick up the baton and keep at it.

jb


"As I would not be a slave, so would I not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy." Abraham Lincoln
[ Parent ]
Some interesting points (4.50 / 4) (#52)
by Simon Kinahan on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 01:10:43 PM EST

I live in a medium-sized city with a couple of great cultural areas. Small, locally owned cool shops, great hangouts, good bars, and awesome coffeshops (including a worker-owned coop, my fav). We've had to fight tooth and nail to keep these areas unique. Starbucks has a tried and true strategy of putting up about five coffeshops right next to each other to drive everyone else's (i.e. local business owners) margins down and put them out of business. They tried it with us, and we fought them off.

I know about Starbuck's market-saturation strategy. I'm interested in just how you fought Starbucks off. Certainly in most areas I'm familiar with, quite a number of independent coffee shops have managed to stay in business in spite of the presence of Starbucks, and I suspect those are the ones that offer something genuinely different from the vaguely-upper-middle-class-bohemian generic coffee shop thing Starbucks does so well. Your worker owned coop sounds like a good example.

Specifically, I rebel against the increasing assumption that markets are somehow more "legitimate" than democratically elected government. (Neither are truly democratic, but that's another story...) It's an ideology called Market Populism, and it sucks.

I'd go along with the liberal view of this: markets and democracy both have their place, as does voluntary organisation. Markets are usually the appropriate form of organisation where there are no vital common interests at stake, and people can safely make their own decisions in isolation. Voluntary cooperation is usually appropriate when a group wishes to further some common cause and can do so without interfering with anyone else. Democracy is appropriate when a diverse group who are pretty much stuck with one another have to reach a common course of action.

Markets are, sometimes, more legitimate than government, because everyone's participation in a free market in voluntary, whereas when the government does something, your participation is usually compulsory. However, when decisions are at stake that affect everyone, markets are often inappropriate.

What concerns me a little with your perspective is this: if, as you are suggesting, a Starbucks opening in your area would attract business away from your local coffee shop, what exactly are your grounds for stopping this ? After all, if Starbucks gets the business, presumably the customers are choosing it for a reason. I'm not saying there are no legitimate reasons for stopping Starbucks from opening a store, I'd suggest several. I'm just interested in how you justify it.

Well, I'm not trying to entertain you, but see by other response to this post titled "glass & flesh" to find out my feelings about private property and the difference between it and capital.

Hmm. Well, I'm not looking to be entertained. I'm looking to be educated, The protest movement, as you portary it, is not boring because its not entertaining. Its boring because its not telling me anythjing I do not already know. Of course violence is necessary, utlimately, to protect corporate property. Its a situation thats only tenable because most people respect such property, not out of fear, but because they have no strong inclination to do otherwise.

Incidentally, not all corporate property is capital. Capital is the non-labour component of production. The windows of a McDonalds store are not capital because they add no value to the product being sold. Thats why McDonalds leases most of its premises and uses franchises extensively.

Your justification for attacks on "capital" as opposed to "private" property is flawed. The fact that the ultimate beneficiaries of Starbuck's existence, who are mostly the owners of private pension funds, do not control it, it does not justifty depriving them of money by smashing stuff up. I appreciate the emotional appeal of the argument: it does somehow seem more justifiable to destroy the property of a faceless collective entity than of a live breathing individual, but ultimately its just as financially damaging to its owners.

They use interesting, innovative tactics, but they're too negative. I believe in putting my money where my mouth is, so I'm busy putting together a worker-owned technology cooperative. Building instead of breaking. :)

Then ultimately we agree. I believe cooperative enterprises can compete with big business even on a worldwide scale, and I am happy to see you trying it.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]

Coop! Coop! Rah Rah Rah! (4.75 / 4) (#58)
by Simian on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 02:01:04 PM EST

<BTW, Lurkers...don't mod me down because you disagree. It's childish. Hit reply.>

Markets are, sometimes, more legitimate than government, because everyone's participation in a free market in voluntary, whereas when the government does something, your participation is usually compulsory. However, when decisions are at stake that affect everyone, markets are often inappropriate.

Participation in markets (in the literal sense of the word) is usually voluntary. Voluntary is an important word to me, but I see the voluntary nature of a transaction to be a necessary, but not sufficient, condition to freedom of any political significance. One must also face a meaningful choice or decision, and this is not something the market cares about. Although the market can be a powerful force for expanding choices, it is just as capable of restricting choice and surpressing innovation. It is, in short, fickle.

Starbucks has accumulated a truly fantastic quantity of capital. Concentration of capital can, and usually does, warp the free flow of market choices by putting players on terrifically uneven ground. There are some industries which may really benefit from this tendency, such as heavy industry, which doesn't stand much to gain much from a real plurality of market choices. Most industries don't benefit from the uneven playing field.

Perhaps you might interject here that intervening in the market to level this playing field is impossible without destroying the benefits of a market. I don't think you will, because I think we really agree on most points, but for the sake of argument, let's presume :). Oh no! Government intervention!

Well, the coersive government isn't my actor of choice in this instance, but it is more legitimate in many instances than the dominant market player. In any case, my community used grassroots democracy, our right to tweak the zoning laws of our community, to slow them down while we mounted a p.r. campaign raising awareness of Starbuck's tactics. This discouraged Starbucks from pushing too hard, because we made it clear that we would make doing business very hard for them. We had this right because a) we're free to complain and bitch as much as we want in a free society and b) because our appeal was based on the legitimate complaint that gazillions of capital didn't outweigh our local sovereignty.

That Starbucks attracts customers is fine by me. They are free to appeal to that lackluster segment of the population that likes 'em. What I'll struggle to prevent is undue damage on the local businesses that contribute so much to my quality of life around here, undue, due to the unfair regime of property enforced by the capitalist state. Ahem.

Hmm. Well, I'm not looking to be entertained. I'm looking to be educated, The protest movement, as you portary it, is not boring because its not entertaining. Its boring because its not telling me anythjing I do not already know. Of course violence is necessary, utlimately, to protect corporate property. Its a situation thats only tenable because most people respect such property, not out of fear, but because they have no strong inclination to do otherwise.

I know this too. Lots of people I know know this. However, I hear not a whisper of it in the media. I hear an endless stream of pap and bile streaming from the self-adulating corporate think tanks, magazines, televisions. These pundits declare the government the enemy of the market, and the market a friend to the people. This is not only simplistic and wrong, it is disingenous and is wreaking a profound mischief in the "free" societies of the world and actual misery in the more marginalized ones. I find the image of the guarded Starbucks a refreshing one, and it was forced into the spotlight by the destruction of property.

Right? no. Justified? maybe. Time will tell. Justifiable? Undoubtably.

I did not mean to imply I think such destruction is right or just. People do lose money as a result, and this is unfair. However, the question of justification is different. I am just pointing out that property damage a) isn't violence and b) is best understood as a form of expression. The protesters knew, I think, that what they were doing was wrong. But they thought it justified, and I feel where they're coming from there although I articulate it differently.

I've heard the message of the "vandals" before and you're right, it isn't compelling for those who are aware of corporations per se. (I much rather liked all the puppets, dancing, and general good cheer I saw in Seattle.) But it did make a difference. From a deontological perspective, it was wrong, but from a pragmatic one, I think the ends justified these means.

jb




"As I would not be a slave, so would I not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy." Abraham Lincoln
[ Parent ]
uhhh, no. (2.00 / 2) (#104)
by flash91 on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 08:32:30 PM EST

You have every right to burn your own five dollar bill, as a matter of protest. When you take MY money and burn it (or break my window) You cross a line.

If you really think this way, you are a criminal, and should be removed from society. This attitude is inappropriate for a member of a democratic society.

Hmm, seems like you guys should study the SA (Nazi Brownshirts) from pre-WW II germany. You have quite a bit in common.


[ Parent ]
Godwin's Law (2.00 / 1) (#110)
by Stanley Kubrick on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 09:22:54 PM EST

Hmm, seems like you guys should study the SA (Nazi Brownshirts) from pre-WW II germany. You have quite a bit in common.

This discussion is now officially over (see subject).

[ Parent ]
godwin's law (none / 0) (#148)
by flash91 on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 01:28:53 PM EST

Educate me. What is that?

You might think I am trying to "tar" with a negative label. Not so. I really suggest the study. It's a pretty well documented example of activism gone bad.

A specific example that comes to mind is the fear of members of the reichtag when the Sa was shouting slogans out side the building during a very crucial vote.

Look it up bud.

[ Parent ]
not quite (none / 0) (#204)
by naasking on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 09:17:35 AM EST

He didn't compare the poster with Hitler or make any real accusation to that end as far as I could tell.


[ Parent ]
People have right to free speech, not governments! (3.00 / 1) (#100)
by Estanislao Martínez on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 07:47:41 PM EST

However, from what I've read it seems clear that at least some of the protestors had preventing the WTO meeting as a stated goal. I recall incidents in which protestors attempted to block entrance to the conference center and others in which protestors attempted to stop limousine convoys carrying representatives there. Of course this is not as bad as outright violence, but it still crosses the line from free speech to an illegal action IMHO.

When an international organization whose officials are elected by a few powerful economic interests can make decisions that deeply affect your life, to which your democratically elected officials must bow, you have a right to overthrow such an organization. Isn't this almost the same as the basis on which the USian Revolution was justified?

And anyway, stopping government officials from giving speeches at a WTO meeting is not an attack on freedom of speech, because government officials only have freedom of speech in their personal faculties, not their public ones.

--em
[ Parent ]

Vandalism in Seattle (4.00 / 2) (#183)
by scruffyMark on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 08:57:13 PM EST

Everyone has likely seen the media images of riot cops in full body armour protecting a Starbucks outlet. Granted, this has a powerful and surreal symbolism.

However, why do you think that there was still a Starbucks for the police to protect, once they got there? They were called in by the owners of the place, and had to move through crowds of protesters to get there, then force their way between the crowd and the store. That took a good long time, and the black brigades (the anarchists, not the cops) could have stomped every last coffee bean in the place and been away by the time the cops showed up if they'd had their way.

What happened was that the couple of dozen morons<ahem>anarchists were held back by huge numbers of peaceful protesters, who realized only too well what the corporate media would make of an assault on the high temple of SUV-driving suburban capitalism. That was one of the images that struck me most, when I saw independent footage of the demonstrations - fifty or more people shielding the Starbucks, trying to make the faceless black-clad anarchists see that their destruction would actually further the cause of the multinationals by making the activists look like hooligans.

[ Parent ]

Civil Disobedience (4.50 / 2) (#57)
by sinclair on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 01:49:24 PM EST

There's a long precedent in this world of illegal actions that we as a culture consider justified. We call it civil disobedience. For instance, a large number of actions taken during the American civil rights movement were illegal. Were those people wrong? Did they deserve no sympathy? I say, they were right and deserve our praise. They had to break the laws, because they were the laws of an unjust and destructive system.

Perhaps the same can be said for the anti-WTO protesters. They are fighting a faceless system, unaccountable to the vast majority of the world, which is unjust and destructive. Do they deserve sympathy? That may be open to debate; to deny it out of hand is to ignore our history.

[ Parent ]

Civil disobedience vs lawlessness. (4.00 / 1) (#128)
by physicsgod on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 01:31:22 AM EST

Civil disobedience has one very important quality. It's civil, that means you don't destroy property, you don't harm other people. The civil rights marches of the '50s and '60s were civil. What happened in Seattle a couple of years ago wasn't. If you want to claim civil disobedience you break only those laws that you feel are immoral, it's not a liscence to break any law you want. Now if istead you had sat down in front of the WTO meeting place and made it very difficult for people to get in, that would be civil.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
on the civil rights movement (none / 0) (#156)
by Anonymous 242 on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 03:48:17 PM EST

Civil disobedience has one very important quality. It's civil, that means you don't destroy property, you don't harm other people.

Ignoring for the time being that the civil disobedience stands in distinction to military disobedience (disobedience by force of arms), I think a very important facet of history is being overlooked.

The peaceful protests of Dr. King, the SDLC, the NAACP, etc. wouldn't have been so effective without Malcom X and Elijah Muhammed of the Nation of Islam and Huey Long and Bobby Fisher of the Black Panthers raising clenched fists and sporting shotguns.

The difference between then and now is that the media has managed to paint all of the protestors with the same brush as the violent protestors. Dr. King and the other "moderate" civil rights leaders managed to keep a fair distance from the rifle clubs being organized by the Black Panthers and the Nation of Islam. Unfortunately, most of the opponents of the globalization movement have been unable to distance themselves in the popular media from the black blocs causing violence and inciting riots.



[ Parent ]
References? (none / 0) (#189)
by physicsgod on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 10:04:31 PM EST

I'm going to need more than your assertion to convince me. If you would be so kind as to point out exactly where a white political leader said "we need to treat blacks as equals because there are a lot of them and they're arming."

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
common sense (none / 0) (#203)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 08:28:20 AM EST

You can feel free to disagree with me, but a bigot is a lot more likely to sit down and talk with someone that wants to sit down and talk when there are others fighting for the same ideal that are willing to take up arms.

Consider Northern Ireland. Britain pretty much ignored pro-independant voices until groups like the IRA actually took up arms for a considerable length of time. After years of armed struggle, the moderate pro-Independance folks started to look like good people to sit down and talk with.

I'm not contending that the only reason the civil rights movement was a victory was that there were people willing to use violence. I do contend that having a faction willing to use violence sped made hardcore racists more willing to sit down and speak with the leaders of the bulk of the movement that did not wish to use violence.

Again, you have to remember is that part of the reason this happened is that the non-violent movement was succesful in distancing itself from the movements willing to use violence. This seperation has not happened in the anti-globalism movement and is one of the reasons (but not the only reason) so few governments take it seriously at all.



[ Parent ]
Re: Civil disobedience vs lawlessness. (none / 0) (#197)
by sinclair on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 01:07:50 AM EST

The civil rights marches of the '50s and '60s were civil. What happened in Seattle a couple of years ago wasn't. [...] Now if istead you had sat down in front of the WTO meeting place and made it very difficult for people to get in, that would be civil.

I don't know what the mainstream media other than our local papers and CNN said, but judging from those sources, I can see how you'd get that impression. Luckily, we in Madison are blessed with a wonderful community radio station called WORT, a station that actually talks to people who were on the scene, and/or sends its own reporters, rather than going by what the AP newswire says. The story I heard from Seattle is that a great majority of the protesters were there to peacefully block streets to disrupt the WTO meetings. That is, civil disobedience. Unfortunately, some people were there to destroy things. Unfortunately, that property damage provided the most compelling pictures, and thus, got the lion's share of the coverage.

[ Parent ]

But no cows were harmed right? (3.42 / 14) (#9)
by turtleshadow on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 02:11:47 AM EST

In reading this I had a few thoughts
I take it the farmers didn't want to get in bigger trouble by harassing cows to pressure them into making the vile waste?

Seriously
  • In a land where I believe military service is rather compulsorary and arms are stockaded in each citizen's home [sic] for militia purposes you'd think these guys would be able to plan on disrupting the conference more effectively. I'll assume there was a substantial number of organizers from outside of Switzerland.
  • Because the same persons who planned to spray (aka the beasts) are in fact very similarly trained and all things being equal, very similar to these fellow countrymen (aka hooligans) the tactical edge was obviously felt needed, compounded most likely by expecting a number non Swiss who couldn't defend, retaliate or politic via internal Swiss mechanisms.
I'll agree with your last quote, I hate to see examples of any enlightened people like the Swiss being so brutal to each other. The internal civil strifes are always the nastiest as you really dont know who is rooting for who and what your neighbor is up to.
Its enlightening to realized that the Swiss have an under current of knowing their political system is as screwed up as any Nations.

But from what I've scanned their political system is relatively easy to enter, and rather factionalized, so I don't well understand why a good number of Swiss feel so helpless and why another number of Swiss feel so powerful.
Turtleshadow

WTF do these protestors want anyway? (3.68 / 19) (#11)
by goonie on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 04:18:58 AM EST

I'm not going to comment on the tactics of the protestors and police, because not being there and with the typical quality of media reports on protests it's impossible to assess what really happened.

What I'm really trying very hard to understand is what these diverse groups are protesting about anyway, beyond "Globalism bad. . . big companies are evil . . . " Whilst that may often be the case (heck, Microsoft and the media companies aren't exactly run by saints) , I haven't heard a single protestor or leader advocate a positive agenda for change. There are things that can be done to reduce the excesses of global capitalism, but in many cases they will lead to *further* things decided on a multilateral basis and a further erosion in state soveriegnity - and that runs up against the strong nationalist streak that runs in much of what remains of the the "grizzling lower-middle class" that seems to be running the political agenda in Australia at the moment, and to some extent the agendas of other English-speaking countries.

Until I hear a coherent, clearly thought out, positive, and achievable (at least in the long term, with more incremental short-term goals) agenda I'll personally continue to regard the anti-globalisation protestors as a ragtag bunch of over-educated morons led by what appears to be a remnant clan of hard-core Marxists who haven't paid attention for the last 83 years or so.

Some of WTF they want (4.00 / 5) (#45)
by Pac on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 12:30:36 PM EST

I am not sure if you are only raising to the challenge of this rather imflamatory article, but I decided to try and answer you seriously, anyway.

There has been for some time a growing sensation among the non-government institutions ("the orgs in .org"), specially among those involved in environmental, labour and health issues, that the globalization process is also process of allienation. The people of the many countries and the individual countries themselves are being allienated of their power in the name of a global coordination.

So far, so good. But this begs the question of where is this power going and who controls it. The present answers are less than sactisfatory in the view of many of us. More and more power is flowing to faceless transnational organizations. These organizations are mostly out of the reach of the common citizen. They are also mainly controlled by vast commercial interests that have little or no concern about the needs of individual regions.

One of the main objectives of Seattle was to address the "faceless" facet of the problem, to show the world that something important was happening there. IMO, this objective was mostly attained.

The next problem is one of representation. How do we get to be heard in these private clubs? That is starting to be adressed by some of the more active NGOs, in Davos and in Porto Alegre (where a paralel event, the World Social Forum, is happening).

But then you main point was about the agenda behind the protests. Well, you may be surprised to know that, beyond the points described above, little or very little unite the organizations behind the protests. Their issues are different and many times conflictant (environment X unemployment, for instance).

As a side-note, I think "anti-globalization" is too general a term to cover all organizations involved. Even because many fell this process is unstopable. The main problem is that ot is, presently, uncontrollable too.

Evolution doesn't take prisoners


[ Parent ]
They want the WTO to go away. (3.60 / 5) (#49)
by rabbit on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 12:37:47 PM EST

The WTO (World Trade Organization) is a nasty nasty corporate entity
that has been given, by way of treaty, international jurisdiction with
respect to trade laws.

The WTO is probably part of the reason, for example, that Yahoo had to end their sale of Nazi stuff. See, france and the US have both signed whatever treaty it was that created the WTO. So, even though Yahoo is selling stuff on US soil, from servers on us So il, to (by default) Americans in the US, if Yahoo had refused to stop the Nazi stuff sales, then France could have taken the Amer ican arm of Yahoo to court. The WTO gives this international court (the name of which escapes me) the jurisdiction and power to PUNISH the likes of yahoo if they fail to "play nice". ANd by play nice, we mean pander to the whim of every single government on the treaty.

THe problem with the WTO is that it gives other countries governents
the power to affect our own INTERNAL trade laws.

For further examples check these links:
http://bss.sfsu.edu/fischer/IR%20305/Readings/wtoyes.htm
http://www.furcommission.com/news/newsE80.htm
http://www.gatt.org/popotlaaustria.html
http://library.kcc.hawaii.edu/praise/CRS/crsOct00d.html

If that all doesn't convince you that the WTO is evil, perhaps you should consider the possibility that you are evil.

--rabbit
-- I have desires that are not in accord with the status quo.
[ Parent ]
Look, I agree but (4.33 / 6) (#54)
by finkployd on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 01:25:20 PM EST

If that all doesn't convince you that the WTO is evil, perhaps you should consider the possibility that you are evil.

Look, I agree with you on the WTO, but I have to take exception to that kind of reasoning. I'm assuming you ment it tongue in cheek, but it still sounds pretty offensive to claim that unless someone agrees with your point of view, they are evil. I mean, did you ever consider that your references may be very biased to the point of being untrue? Is there no room in your world for opinions other than your own?

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
I said perhaps.... (3.00 / 1) (#105)
by rabbit on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 08:37:51 PM EST

I did say "perhaps" and "consider" and "the possibility".

There is lots of room in there for ambiguity - and lots of
room for someone to come out of that statement A. disagreeing with me, and B. being not evil.

I am very careful to say precisely what I mean - as near as the english language allows for it. If I had meant to make a foolish statement, I would have said "If these links don't convince you that the WTO is evil, then you are evil."

Alas, we quible over nuance; the nuance of a joke at that.

I am not so close minded as you implied. In fact, I know that I am often wrong.

--rabbit


-- I have desires that are not in accord with the status quo.
[ Parent ]
I'm still not convinced (4.00 / 2) (#84)
by goonie on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 05:22:20 PM EST

He problem with the WTO is that it gives other countries governents the power to affect our own INTERNAL trade laws.

Trade laws, by definition, are not "internal". They are fundamentally a matter that directly affect other countries - both the countries directly involved in the trade, and those countries selling competing products. Without a body to settle disputes and enforce its ruling, little countries are just going to get ignored by big ones like the US and the EU.

The WTO isn't inherently evil, it's just that the rules it operates under were negotiated by governments overly influenced by multinationals determining things in their own interest. It needs to be reformed, not disbanded.

[ Parent ]

The crux of the issue (4.50 / 2) (#133)
by thePositron on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 04:36:55 AM EST

The crux of the issue is this. Do we as people of the world want 3 unelected officials from various corporations making decisions that effect the rest of the world? Why do these 3 officials have to meet behind closed doors? Since trade effects the whole world many people believe that institutions like the WTO should be transparent and democraticaly elected. If WTO does not want this then I say get rid of them. The question is do you want WTO changing the laws of your area without the consent of the citizens? Thats why we have elected governments and vballot inititiaves so that people can decide what policies they want governing their lives. The WTO destroys hundreds of years of struggle for citizens control of their governance.

[ Parent ]
The WTO is a creature of governments (4.00 / 1) (#136)
by goonie on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 06:16:13 AM EST

The WTO is a body created by international treaty. It runs at the pleasure of national governments. If it is operating ineffectively, it is the role of national governments to reform it.

As far as global bodies overriding local laws, it is inevitable that this will continue to happen. For instance, if we want to tackle global warming (and one of the constant themes of the anti-globalisation protestors is that globalisation damages the environment), we are going to need *more* global government to reduce logging and emissions. Similarly, I'd imagine that most of the WTO and WEF protesters would welcome a global human rights court with real teeth.

The real problem is that while these bodies continue to grow in power democratic institutions to control them haven't caught up. The EU is starting to realise it, with the slow but inoxerable strengthening of the European Parliament - it's not very important now, but give it 50 years and see what happens.

I expect that over the rest of my lifetime, the nation-state will continue to weaken in power and global bodies will have ever more influence. If we are to retain citizen control over government, we will need to have a direct democratic input into these global bodies.

[ Parent ]

WTO not that important (4.00 / 2) (#85)
by Delirium on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 05:25:05 PM EST

The WTO is probably part of the reason, for example, that Yahoo had to end their sale of Nazi stuff. See, france and the US have both signed whatever treaty it was that created the WTO. So, even though Yahoo is selling stuff on US soil, from servers on us Soil, to (by default) Americans in the US, if Yahoo had refused to stop the Nazi stuff sales, then France could have taken the American arm of Yahoo to court.

While this may be part of the reason, it is in fact a very small part. Even without the WTO, Yahoo would still have been forced to end their sale of Nazi stuff. The problem is that Yahoo France and Yahoo US are the same company, so even though Yahoo US is run on American soil, if they refused the obey the French order, they would've just taken the French arm of Yahoo to court. Being the same company, Yahoo still would lose.

This is how it generally works - countries enforce their laws on foreign soil not through organizations like the WTO, but through saying "if you don't change what we don't like we will confiscate all your assets in our country and ban you from doing any further business here." If the country is one with a desirable market and/or one in which the company in question has a good deal of investment, the country's government generally gets its way. Note that this is all done without the help of the WTO.

[ Parent ]

What a mouthful! (3.88 / 17) (#12)
by jack doe on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 05:24:47 AM EST

From the 'perceived injustices' link:

Temporal boundaries have melted away with the speeding up of circulation; spatial boundaries have been superceded with the growing transnational reach of corporations; even socio-psychological boundaries have lifted, with the increased commodification of life. A newly-empowered transnational capitalist class has emerged triumphant, presiding over the new landscapes of accumulation. But class hegemomy is by no means assured - uncharted territory imposes incalculable risk. Speeding circulation compresses business cycles, confidence rests on ephemera, ideological symbols embody so-called 'fundamentals', speculation rules. Corporate transnationalism exhausts social and physical environments, and the fall-out becomes uncontainable as corporations are pincered by investor and consumer volativities. Deeper commodification disassembles social solidarity and generates powerful imperatives for cultural survival, often carried through the new modes of social communication.

I think this is about enough. I'm not a cruel person, but there seems to have been enough noise and havoc by now that the anti-whatever protesters need to come up with a coherent explanation of what's actually bothering them.

This isn't to say that I can't or won't sympathize with their point of view - but they've got to come up with something better than this or I (and people like me) will continue to think them a bunch of cranks. What evil things are these conferences doing?

Some of the reason why. (4.10 / 20) (#14)
by blixco on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 07:21:57 AM EST

I've noticed (both in real life and on the web) that people are agitated that there isn't a "clear agenda" for the protesters outside of trying to stop global corporations (or rather, stop the spread of global corporation's influences on the people). That's about as clear as it gets, but for some of us, it's more the injection of chaos than the outcome provided.

There are corporations that are out to make some money, and that's OK. There are corporations that are out to make money regardless of the damage they do to the environment, the people who work for them, and the effect that their idea of "culture" has on the populations. There are corporations who own media outlets and would like to change the minds of the population. Some corporations are truly evil, but my definition ends there. I don't actually need to justify what I'm doing, or even give it a purpose beyond this: I am trying to maintain a certain level of resistance against corporations and governments that, when given permission by lack of action, would pave the world and sell you back a distilled, more "perfect" version of what was yours to begin with. Sell you your culture and your identity. Sell you your job and your ability. Sell you your government, your representation tainted by a "brought to you by...." banner at every function.

People get lost in there. People die working for penny and dollar wages, the same DNA as you but never given those chances. Everything from worker injustice to government reform to agricultural unions to cultural indifference is being fought in these rallies.

People expect the goal to be the purpose. For some reason, we're enchaned by this idea that we have to have a Plan and we have to have an End. For some of us, the plan is loosely defined, falls under a blanket of chaos. For others, the plan is very specific, and the goal is uniformly the same: take down the power structure that exists today. Force a disconnection from money and politics. Take the power from the top and spread it out a bit. Create change, create awareness, and create momentum. The last bit is the important part: oftentimes, the goal of a group will be to create momentum towards change or chaos or uncertaintly.

Will it succeed? I'd like to find out by trying it first. There's a lot of people who would rather it never was tried, would rather just heave the deep sigh, sit back in their couches and mutter about how ridiculous the protesting and the corporations and the government are.....but never try and do anything about it. There are people who play within the current system, affecting change by voting, by running for public office. Useless gestures; the system *is* the problem, and no one is going to vote themselves out of a job.

I have my doubts. The police are allowed to do what they want within the confines of non-violence. If I shot a cop in the face with a beanbag gun, I'd be thrown in prison. If he shoots me in the face with a beanbag gun, you cheer and he gets a medal. Me, personally? Cops scare the hell out of me, but they're just doing a job for the guys that own them, and that's that. I probably cannot convince them that the people who own them are bad, so I will either go around them or bring their level of expectation to them; if they want a riot, they can have a riot. It's not really up to me. It's up to them. Heavy rioting does two things: gets the media attention and gets the attention of your average citizen. The response may be outrage at either side, but there's a response, and that's the important part. People are reacting, and in reacting some of them are thinking about the issues. Some are just making noise and complaining about us, but are contributing to the air of Chaos, affecting change (and they don't even know it).

All in all, there's a certain type of person who throws themselves into this type of fight (one that cannot be won at the street level), and most of you aren't that type, and that's fine. No superiority complexes here; there are important things at stake. I do like the quick judgements that are passed on the protests by the common person. It's not like I haven't heard them before. It's also not going to stop me or anyone else, really, but the noise and the attention and the effort are appreciated.
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The root of the problem has been isolated.

Explanation appreciated, content troubling (3.60 / 10) (#16)
by jack doe on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 08:00:38 AM EST

Thanks for taking time to craft that detailed response; please note that my comment was meant as a request for explanation, not as a "quick judgment."

That said - it seems the reasoning is something like: "there's injustice in the world; corporations are big and powerful and therefore an obvious target; so, I will make trouble for them."

Speaking as a "common person," I might feel more moved to support things like this if they were focused on defined problems and achievable goals instead of a vague desire to create chaos.

As a participant in online forums and an inhabitant of a major city, I often see people making a mess for its own sake or out of a perverse desire to annoy others; such people don't have my sympathy or support.

[ Parent ]
Sympathy and support.... (3.90 / 10) (#18)
by blixco on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 08:34:11 AM EST

...aren't the goal, sometimes. It's not simple to define. Yes, some corporations are bad. Very bad. Someone should be doing something about them: the wages, the working conditions, their ads, the ideas they have about culture. I don't want to travel to Africa and see Coca Cola's version of Africa. I don't want to go to Washington DC and see Nike's rendition of the American dream. I don't want to go to Switzerland and get Old Navy's Swiss Experience.

That's just a tiny part of it. Some of the protesters are protesting greed and capitalism. Some are devout communists, some are anarchists, some don't have an -ism that they follow. The focus is there, but the enemy isn't easy to picture. I can't wrap it into a 15 second segment. I can't define this with a few words without over-simplifying the situation. It sounds like you'd be more comfortable with a jingle, a logo, a slogan. I would be too, at times. This is a faceless enemy, hard to pin down because he takes our message and turns it into advertising, into propaganda, into a new trend, an anti-trend, the Next Hip Thing.

I apologize for not being able to provide a wrapper for it. In the end it's a fight against being owned. On a purely religious level, it's about freedom. In reality, it's many, many things.
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The root of the problem has been isolated.
[ Parent ]

Hmm (3.83 / 6) (#22)
by jack doe on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 09:35:32 AM EST

It sounds like you'd be more comfortable with a jingle, a logo, a slogan.

Not really - just explanation (though if sympathy and support aren't the goals, I can understand why such explanations aren't more common).

Although I don't fully share your perspective, I appreciate your taking the time to describe it.

[ Parent ]

can't define it? how about "pessimism"? (3.87 / 8) (#47)
by G Neric on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 12:32:51 PM EST

I don't want to travel to Africa and see Coca Cola's version of Africa. I don't want to go to Washington DC and see Nike's rendition of the American dream. I don't want to go to Switzerland and get Old Navy's Swiss Experience.

No, you want the people of those places to live in little museums to tradition so that you can tour them and gawk, and then you'll come home and bore us all to tears with stories of worldliness. Who cares that the people of New Delhi like Coca Cola as much as the people of New York City do: they should not be allowed to have it! They should squat Nike-less at the sides of roads selling tea and yoghurt drinks to tourist buses. The Swiss on those tour buses should not wear Old Navy, they should wear Leiderhausen (sp?) and Tyrolian hats if they know what's good for them.

My point being, of course, that there may not be some vast global conspiracy in action, simply market pull of human beings sharing the same tastes the whole world round. While I too am disappointed when I get halfway round the globe only to discover The Gap, at the same time there are incredible varieties of products and exotic foods available at my own streetcorner. Since I spend a lot more time near my own streetcorner, I like globalization so far.

Where's it going to end? Who knows or cares. The world is such a better place today than it was 25, 50, 100, 500, etc. years ago that I've no fear of the future. Rather, I can't wait to get there.

[ Parent ]

Nope. (4.66 / 3) (#63)
by blixco on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 02:21:02 PM EST

You assume too much.

I want countries and cultures to develop on their own, free of the influence of my greed. Just because I want a certain melon shouldn't mean that Dole Fruits gets to level a forest to create the supply. My greed shouldn't be the reason that whole languages get wiped out. My greed shouldn't be the cause of entire histories getting lost. These cultures should be allowed. Their customs and traditions shouldn't be drowned in a hail of ads and logos. Should all of the world look like times square in New York, or Downtown Tokyo? Would that satisfy you?

If people want stuff, they can have stuff. The problem is, we replace their culture with stuff. We take away their history with stuff. We remove their ability to live and be happy without our stuff. And it's our greed, our want to drive shares up that puts this desire in place. We replace their culture with ours...or rather, with the one we buy into.

I have no problem with some kid in India wearing Nikes. As long as he doesn't lose his own culture. Nike should be a part of his identity, and not the other way around.
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The root of the problem has been isolated.
[ Parent ]

Yep, that and more. (4.75 / 4) (#88)
by G Neric on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 05:48:17 PM EST

You assume too much.

...you say, meta-assuming even more.

I want countries and cultures to develop on their own, free of the influence of my greed.

You may, but those other countries and cultures don't want to be either museums or little experiments in your Prime Directive. They want to be treated as equals and that means have their own desires, quite similar to yours, respected. They want a lot of the stuff that the West has, and in order to get it they either reinvent or trade. Trade is more efficient.

Whenever two cultures have bordered, they have traded. When the American Indians traded Manhattan for some trinkets, they joined the long tide of humanity that has wished to trade what they had a lot of for what they had little of. Sure, that particular trade was unfair. The theory of market economics shows us that markets can fail when there is asymetric or insufficient information, when there are forces precipitated by the trade that are external to it, or when one party has too much power or a monopoly on the goods.

So, your desire for melon and their desire to grow it for you, and Dole's desire to facilitate the transaction may lead to too much rain forest being cut which in turn may lead to a global oxygen deficit. Or Dole may be cheating the system with bribery or with unfair prices. Then, join the call for regulating global trade to keep the playing field level: that would be what the suits are doing an imperfect job of on the other side of those protests. Help to figure out an equitable way we can all benefit from the rain forests' oxygen without freezing the current system that has you both getting what you want and denying it to others.

You live in a place that was once a pristine forest. Someone who came before chopped it down and turned it into the place that you want to live in. Now, you who has chosen not to live in a rain forest would decide what people in the rest of the world should do with the places they live in? And presume to know then tell them what their motivations are and should be? Why don't you assume they're acting exactly how they wish to? When a "foreign" burger joint opens up, they flock to it out of free will. Don't get me wrong. I never (ever ever ever) eat at McDonald's. I think they serve tasteless dogfood to buffoons. I'd love it if McDonald's and their customers would disappear from the planet leaving behind only good food and interesting people with palates to appreciate it. But I don't delude myself: McDonald's exists because people like it, not vice versa, and those people have all the rights I do... more actually, because there are more of them. I don't either presume to know what the people of India or China or whereever want. From visiting, they seem to want Michael Jackson. So be it. I don't want to regulate them.

My greed shouldn't be the cause of entire histories getting lost. These cultures should be allowed.

These cultures are allowed, just as ours was. Plenty of our own history has been lost. We no longer buy and sell people, or even treat women as rights-less. We left that history behind, along with a history of war, disease, and shortage. We chose to. We each get a limited time on the planet, time we get to spend how we want. Very few people want to spend it either writing down or studying history, and especially not living in it. Most spend it in the rat race trying to earn an extra vacation, higher productivity for their kids, a better retirement, social status, whatever. It's their choice. People in the rest of the world seem to have those same drives. Why do you wish to regulate them, to deny them the choice?

[ Parent ]

Again... (4.50 / 2) (#90)
by blixco on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 06:32:45 PM EST

...since we're going in circles, we may wish to make these the last couple of replies. In any event: I don't believe in regulating what people can and can't do. I just don't want every place on the planet to look / act / smell / feel / talk the same. I'd like there to be some shred of the culture left.

And I'd like some protection for the people who are being assaulted by this. You're thinking that the corporations involved want what's best for the people. If the people want to be owned, that's fine...as long as they are aware that they are being owned, that no part of their culture will survive unscathed. Though I like the idea of some type of utopian captalism where the corporations behave themselves in a humane manner, history has proven that not to be the case time and again. The corporations aren't in it for the good of trade, the wonder of free ideas, the exchange of information. Look at Napster. They're in it for profit. And I'm all for them making a profit so long as they respect the people they serve.

I think it's interesting that we both rely so much on the word "choice." We both seem to think that corporations should be in places people want them to be. I'm all for people thinking freely, but people are sold ideas and lifestyles that don't mesh with reality. Any good corporation has PR, advertising, and money that nullify all choice. It's not up to the people. They become part of the New Culture, and we're all the same homogenized pablum, whatever RJ Reynolds wants to sell us next. They become victims of marketing, of money, of the drive for profits. Nothing else is taken into consideration. The US is a prime example of this. We have no culture to speak of that is ours. It was all sold to us.

To say that we left a culture of war and slavery behind...I can only disagree with you. You're a very idealistic person, and I admire that. I don't hope to change that at all. I think that the problem couldn't be more obvious, but thinking like yours is what keeps me going; apparently the problem isn't well understood. I think it's unfortunate that you don't rely on your culture or history, and I think it's selfish that you don't think anyone else has that right.

Net result: corporations with huge money, targeted marketing, and *no borders or local laws to answer to* will always win, will always look better to people who aren't allowed to understand the consequences. All I want is a balanced approach, and an understanding that the people should be allowed to have their own culture, their own ways, their own history, and their own future. If it includes more western ways, so be it. It should be their choice, though, on a level playing field, with as much understanding as possible of the consequence.

On the plus side, I don't think that any of the current power structures are at all viable (banking regulation, WTO, letting the corps take care of themselves). What you find to be a peaceful, workable solution I find to be stagnant and imprisoning. You're on a completely different planet than I am. I wish you well over there, where things apparently run well on beaurocracy and politics-as-usual. On this side, we're going to have to wait for the dust to settle, and I might be dead before then, but in the end I think it'll work out. In the end, all we really want is the same thing: more freedom with less pain. You can do it through laws and regulations, I'll do it by letting people decide. Not a CEO, not a politician. Again, I don't expect you'd understand this side of things, as I can't possibly begin to understand yours. I do think it'll take both of us, and some combination of efforts will result is both an increased awareness of the issues, and a better understanding (and accountability) of the myriad problems involved with globalizing the economy.
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The root of the problem has been isolated.
[ Parent ]

How a protest it assembled (3.55 / 9) (#36)
by Bisun on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 12:01:23 PM EST

It is totally unreasonable to expect a group of people who have gathered together largely without prior contact to have a unified set of goals. It is necessary in order to gather the people that the goals be stated rather broadly, but in a way that is emotionally energizing. Sometimes news media will pick a certain subset of those who show up as the focus, and declare that they speak for the ture purpose. This time appearantly they didn't. If you have ever been at such an event, and then later read the accounts in the news media, you will understand my skepticism about anything reported. Actually, about everything reported. I've seen a couple of buildings on fire reported as a citywide conflagration. I've seen mobs of police beating up unarmed and peaceful citizens reported as quelling a riot. Even when there is no political motive, the purpose of reporting is to sell news. This imposes a very strong bias on everything they report. I used to think that I could piece together what was really happening by just paying attention, and extrapolating the gaps based on reasonable theories as to how people reacted. Didn't work. A bit of cross-checking proved that. But it also proved that they rarely actually lie. Usually anything attributed to any specific individual was actually said or done by that individual, but one needs to be careful here, because the context in which you envision this will be manipulated. Or it has been in every case that I've checked (not many, I admit). OTOH, there is the phenomenon of the docu-drama. I remember watching a protest in Tiamen (sp?) square in China where the protestors were speaking in English. It was only later that I learned that this was an artistic recreation. In skipping the advertisements I must have missed whatever disclaimer was present. I was not the only person to be taken in by this. I even heard someone say that the protestors were speaking in english so that the media would cover them properly. Was this real or was this conjecture? So. The protestors can't produce a coherrent statement, because they aren't a coherrent group. The reporters can't be trusted, but because they have a history of skewing the reports in non-predictable ways (for some publications, perhaps in predictable ways, but I don't think that that improves things much). And various large companies and corporations are meeting to plan ways to improve their ability to accomplish their ends without interferrence from annoying considerations (do you really doubt that?). The protestors what their various points of view to be considered by the group of corporations, who are meeting privately to avoid those very considerations. The protestors don't really have a coherrent point of view to consider, so there would be lots of different points of view to consider, and the representatives of the corporations would just rather not bother. They would prefer to ignore them anyway, as long as their company didn't get mentioned publically in a negative light. So the host city graciously arranges that they won't need to deal with the messy event. ...There was an experiment conducted in a psychology class at Stanford University that had to be cut short. The clas was dividec into jailers and prisoners. The prisoners were confined in "cells" in the basement of the psych building. It had to be aborted because the jailers started to become violently abusive to the prisoners. These were all psych students in college. The selection was at random. The actions after the selection were far from random. Perhaps the very fact of armoring the police, equiping them with "appropriate" weapons, and essentially guaranteeing them against prosecution (riot police habitually hide their badge numbers, e.g., without being censured) is sufficient to establish a similar divide between a normally decent person and a thug acting under cloak of law. I really doubt that they normally think of themselves as monsters. At least I certainly want to. But in the U.S. I frequently hear persons who are members of minority groups who do not think of this as an unusual abberation, but rather as normal police behavior when there aren't witnesses. Perhaps it isn't the love of money, but rather the immunity from prosecution that is the root of all evil.

[ Parent ]
A short comment (3.00 / 2) (#75)
by nstenz on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 03:13:05 PM EST

Nice post... Made a lot of sense... However- it's one paragraph, and it takes up the entire screen for me... And I'm browsing at 1024x768. <P> is your friend. =)



[ Parent ]
Who will pick up the trash? (4.00 / 3) (#111)
by spacy on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 09:29:05 PM EST

This is a long posting. You have been warned.

I've noticed (both in real life and on the web) that people are agitated that there isn't a "clear agenda" for the protesters outside of trying to stop global corporations (or rather, stop the spread of global corporation's influences on the people). That's about as clear as it gets, but for some of us, it's more the injection of chaos than the outcome provided.

My gripe with "protestor" mentality (for lack of a better word), represented by the quote above, is precisely that there is no adgenda advanced. Being anti-corporate and anti-globalization (pretty much the same thing, really) is one thing, but what are they FOR . It seems to me that the ultimate goal of most of them, whether they realize it or not, is ending capitalism. Ok, so someone waves a magic wand and capitalism is gone. Poof! No money, no private property, nothing. What now? By what system should we, the human beings of the world, organize ourselves?

To me, the two essential functions of a state are to dispense justice and pick up the garbage. How would this be done in this new, non-capitalist, non-hierarchical world? In order to settle disputes there would have to be some kind of central government. And as for the garbage the same again- after all who would decide what to do with the garbage, and how to pay the people to pick it up? In order to pay people you have to have money, etc.

I personally believe that there isn't any better way to organize resources and people than capitalism. Where I differ from the status quo is that I believe there should be limits to captialism, and that the special type of hypercapitalism practiced today is ultimately destructive. There are lots of problems to be overcome in order to change things, but they're not insurmountable.

I think this is where many of the protestors shoot themselves in the foot because they tend to overplay the strength of their opponents. In the end I think this makes people feel helpless about their situation, and that hurts "the cause" my making people feel like change is impossible.

I also have a problem with the quotation below:

Heavy rioting does two things: gets the media attention and gets the attention of your average citizen.

This type of thinking is another reason why I think the "protestors" go wrong. Raising awareness is in itself an empty exercise. Ok so the entire world is "aware"- now what? Without a concrete specific agenda I don't think majority of people will buy into their philosophy. I think people need a concrete goal in order to decide whether or not to support a movement.

Also, I think "heavy rioting" is going to get a negative response no matter who does it, or for what reason. Besides, some cities are only now recovering from the 1968 riots. I don't think more destruction and chaos in the name of "raising awareness" is a good idea.

<soapbox>
I've been thinking for a while about the protests, and the views of the people in them, and I don't think I can in good conscience subscribe wholeheartedly to their philosphy. Its too cynical and empty of substance, apparently more for show than actual content. I think a more moderate approach will actually get results.
</soapbox>

[ Parent ]

Capitalism and moderation (4.00 / 3) (#114)
by jack doe on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 09:50:17 PM EST

I personally believe that there isn't any better way to organize resources and people than capitalism.

There's quite a gap between noting that something works pretty well and declaring that there can be no better way.

I think a more moderate approach will actually get results.

I have to disagree here. I suspect the origin of this movement is in the new high-rollin' global economy's very real tendency to mercilessly grind its weaker players into the mud; certain approaches won't unseat or change the minds of the powerful, only serve as evidence that their proponents don't really have their hearts in it and can be safely ignored.

What I do fear is that the protesters are too muddled, fragmented, or uncaring to actually get their point across to a broader audience. A movement like this can't possibly succeed without gaining mainstream support.

[ Parent ]

Excellent arguments (4.00 / 2) (#117)
by blixco on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 10:58:17 PM EST

And I support the fact that you feel this way. It's great. I'm not asking you to buy into it at all, either. I think that in the end, a truly balanced approach will prevail, maybe reliant on some New Thing that we haven't heard of or dealt with yet. Some new -ism. Maybe utopian socialists had it right. Maybe Sioux indians had it right. Maybe no one has it right, and we need to find something new.

So we're finding something new. Ultimately, there will be a solution to this: either all of us (by us I mean me and folks like me) will be killed (or die Edward Abbey style: broken hearted and dead inside) or there will be change. And wave after wave of us will continue until the solution is presented. A solution that includes a few things: freedom, liberty, justice....the usual. Right now, there *is no answer* I can give. I don't know the answer. I'm struggling against a million enemies that have a million agendas (is it greed? destruction of the planet? tyranny? an end to religious freedom? the killing off of my culture?) and I'm fighting the only ways I have left: words, music, action, protest, and yes....violence. It's a tool.

The message so far has been pretty clear, you allude to it. I know it, in my heart. And we're making a difference, at least in raising awareness. Was it worth it? Not to you, but it was to me. All fights end with a very polar result, we're just disagreeing on the outcome. Ten years ago, most of You had not even thought about any of the issues we're arguing. Today, you've heard them all....and in the span of a year are more well versed in them than most hired analysts. You are aware. Thanks. I appreciate your thoughts, as they help to shape my own (whether through disagreement or through synthesis).
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The root of the problem has been isolated.
[ Parent ]

On peaceful protestors (2.61 / 13) (#15)
by Beorn on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 07:50:49 AM EST

This says it best.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]

4 on the Floor? (3.20 / 10) (#17)
by Mantrid on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 08:10:26 AM EST

Hmmm 4 On The Floor, protesters being beaten up? This is just 4 On The Floor's skit where they sing "Boot to the Head, Ya! Ya! Boot to the Head, Ya! Ya!".

On a more serious note, purely passive protests that a clear point are one thing, mobs of people roaming a street breaking stuff need to be stopped. They may have some point to make that they think justifies such mayhem, but guess what not everyone agrees with them and even if you might have had support from Joe Blow, you probably lost it when you overturned his car.

Its the people. (3.93 / 15) (#20)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 09:25:08 AM EST

I wonder how many non-protesters were caught up in the violence. Here in Cincinnati we had a similiar episode where I got profiled by a police officer wearing riot gear while I was sick and trying to visit my doctor. (Details are here in my diary.)

What disturbs me is not that dissent gets quashed, but that governments have a tendency to quash protesters and non-protesters alike. The tactics that governments use also disturb me. For example, here in Cincinnati, several hundred protesters were hearded into a tunnel, which was then barricaded by police at both ends for several hours. If this had been the reaction to a group that had just started a riot, it would be understandable to a certain extent. However, this was done to peaceful protesters who were only planning on picketing a trade conference. In fact, no one in the group that was forcefully detained against their will was charged with criminal offenses. (At least not for events related to that incident.)



In the case of a riot (3.14 / 7) (#23)
by retinaburn on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 09:56:34 AM EST

I think it is acceptable for the government to use a little more force than is required.

During a riot every action you direct towards a protester is likely to be directed back at you by mutliple civilians. So instead you exert more force than is required to serve as a warning to the other civilians. They often have to exert force before the crowd becomes unruly to keep themselves and the protesters safe.

It must be very difficult to determine who is a peaceful-protester, trouble-maker and who is not involved, as shown in the Cinncinati case where protesters simply wore suits to bypass security.

Herding people into a tunnel was a safety precaution, surely if you were on the other side of the protesters you would have agreed to a non-violent removal of protesters to ensure your safety.

I am all for protesting injustices, and I am all for the police maintaing order.

However...sometimes the police do go to far, adrenilin's a bitch


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
Priorities (3.00 / 6) (#25)
by jack doe on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 10:17:05 AM EST

It's easy to look at things just from the perspective of the police, but that can result in bad injustice.



[ Parent ]
Re: Priorities (3.00 / 4) (#31)
by retinaburn on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 11:18:52 AM EST

It's easy to look at thing just from the perspective of the protesters, but that can result in unfair accusations.

The comment I was replying too was centering on the protester side. I was re-affirming the right/reasons from the other side.


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
not quite true (3.00 / 3) (#41)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 12:18:57 PM EST

The comment I was replying too was centering on the protester side.

Having written the comment you were replying to, I think I can state with some authority that it was not centering on the side of the protesters, but on the side of people who are not protesters that were mistaken for protesters. I suppose this makes my viewpoint slightly anti-law enforcement, but it hardly makes my viewpoint pro-protester.

If my words were somewhat ambiguous, I apologize for the vaguary.

[ Parent ]

I was... (2.50 / 4) (#53)
by retinaburn on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 01:22:17 PM EST

just commenting that your post talked more from the protester (ok anti-police side) which is fine with me. I just felt like I could/should/would bring up the enforecment side. I was going to place is as a new thread but thought I might as well reply to you.


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
Have to disagree (3.60 / 5) (#32)
by Malk-a-mite on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 11:22:16 AM EST

"I think it is acceptable for the government to use a little more force than is required."

I hope your kidding or I'm misreading this comment.

Police/goverment should be responding with the exact amount of force it takes to control the situtation. If you use more force than is required you do not, I repeat, do not control anything, you lower yourself to the level of the mob that you are trying to control.

Once you use excessive violence to control a violent situation the crowd will step it's efforts up a notch to match if not best yours.

Yes I've seen this in action, yes I've been on both sides trying to control crowds, and no excessive force has never effectively worked. The police are no longer working within the bounds of their training, and the crowd is further agaitated having witnesses open violence on one of it's members.

[ Parent ]

Misunderstood (maybe) (3.33 / 3) (#39)
by retinaburn on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 12:16:55 PM EST

Police/goverment should be responding with the exact amount of force it takes to control the situtation.
I had meant that I would find it acceptable to exert a little more force on the individual so that you can accuratly control the crowd.

However I said nothing about excessive force. Beating the shit out of someone for yelling at you is excessive force. And should not be tolerated.


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
expectations, behavior and crowds (3.75 / 4) (#44)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 12:27:36 PM EST

In my experience, people have a tendency to live up to (or down to) expectations. In other words, given a group of predominantly adolescent protesters who are emotionally charged, if one stacks the town with police in riot gear, one is making a riot more likely. The belief that the police are primed and ready to come down hard does not make rioting less likely, but makes it more likely as a pre-emptive strike will be the best chance for violent means to bring about any noticable assault.

Regular beat cops, bicycle patrols and mounted officers in normal uniforms likely would have controlled the crowd in Cincinnati with much more efficiency than the platoons of police in riot gear. It would have been far better to have the police in riot gear held in reserve and brought out only when/if riots did break out.

Aside from that, your words betray an ignorance of what happened here in Cincinnati this past November. The crowd the police unlawfully detained was known to be peaceful and had few (if any) connections to the people who rioted earlier in the day in another location.



[ Parent ]
err on the side of caution (2.50 / 4) (#55)
by retinaburn on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 01:27:57 PM EST

The crowd the police unlawfully detained was known to be peaceful and had few (if any) connections to the people who rioted earlier in the day in another location.
Was this clear to the police ? How did they discover this ?

Protester: Dude, were the peaceful ones
Cop: Oh my mistake, you are all free to protest.


Admittedly I would be pissed if I was a peaceful protester and I was detained, and even more so if I was not part of the protest. But I would understand that the police were trying to protect the safety of all parties envolved.


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
is this erring on the side of caution? (4.00 / 2) (#64)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 02:24:46 PM EST

It seems to me that erring on the side of caution would be assuming innocence until proven guilty. In my case I was prevented from entering the office building that my doctor resided in by a police officer who had no substantial reason to believe I was a protester. I carried no sign. I would have gladly yielded to a search, but instead I was assumed to be a protester simply because I fit a profile (wearing ragged clothes and looking unkept as is often the case with a case of severe bronchitis).

Meanwhile, some protesters in Switzerland are wearing business suits to get by the police.

Hmm. Pedestrians that look like protesters. Protesters that look like business persons. Perhaps the police are not excercising enough caution in more than one direction.

When dealing with property and potential vandlism, there is always the possibility of arrests, criminal and civil lawsuits, insurance, etc. Having had my posessions stolen before and my property destroyed by vandals before and having been strongarmed by the police before, I would say that taking action after the fact in cases like these is almost infinitely preferable to taking action before the fact. It takes a lot less to replace plate glass than it takes to replace a broken skull.

I fully believe that people who commit criminal acts ought to be prosecuted. However, I think it necessary for people to commit criminal acts before they are treated as criminals. I also believe that the actions against criminals should be proportional to their crimes. Tear-gas and water canons in retaliation for broken windows is absurdly over-reactive. It would be far better to arrest the individuals and make them pay for the damages.



[ Parent ]
I disagree (4.00 / 2) (#76)
by retinaburn on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 03:14:16 PM EST



First, Its hard for me to explain what I mean when I say "a little bit" extra force. I don't mean excessive force, and I don't mean 'equal' force. Somewhere closer to the latter though.

When dealing with a group of protesters, where damage to property has already been witnessed, and I will assume some physical injury on both sides then No, erring on the side of caution would not be assuming innocence. To err on the side of caution would be to treat those of presumed innocence as a potential trouble maker. If your wrong and you detained a group off peaceful protesters, well people will be pissed at you. If you do not detain them and they wind up throwing a molotiv cocktail through a broken window or at the police what then ?

I believe that dealing with a group of people is different from dealing with an individual. (Both a group of police officers, and a group of protesters)

How as a police officer do you determine who are the actual trouble makers, you are looking into a large group of (assuming) emotional protesters. To then spot a 'trouble maker', follow them into the crowd and arrest them is putting yourself in danger.

Having had my posessions stolen before and my property destroyed by vandals before and having been strongarmed by the police before, I would say that taking action after the fact in cases like these is almost infinitely preferable to taking action before the fact.
If I am at a concert I would rather have people searched going in then after someone gets stabbed. If my family is inside a place of business where the windows are shattered by protesters then I would much rather have a police presence before and perhaps prevent it rather than after.

During the L.A. Riots do you think it would have been better to have a large police force in place before the citizens rioted ? ..What if they were all detained until emotions could cool down ? ..How many shops would have been saved, how many lives would have been spared.

I'd rather have a cop on my street corner, rather than a coroner with a fast car.


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
innocence and crowd control (5.00 / 2) (#152)
by Anonymous 242 on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 02:28:26 PM EST

When dealing with a group of protesters, where damage to property has already been witnessed, and I will assume some physical injury on both sides then No, erring on the side of caution would not be assuming innocence. To err on the side of caution would be to treat those of presumed innocence as a potential trouble maker. If your wrong and you detained a group off peaceful protesters, well people will be pissed at you.

I understand you to be contending that for any large group of people, if a portion of that group commits a crime, the police are justified in cracking down on the entire group. Is this correct? If one is speaking of a group of twenty or so that can be linked directly to a certain crime, I would agree to a certain extent. If one is speaking of a group of hundreds of people spread out along many city blocks, I would categorically disagree. I especially emphatically disagree when a large group of people is detained with no criminal charges at a time and in a place with no connection to criminal acts as has happened in Cincinnati.

Further, the rights of bystanders are not being addressed, which has been and still is my main complaint. Read my experience with such a protest. Read amnesiak's experience. I can't imagine that the two of us are alone in our experiences. I've seen my local police force make very similiar assumptions about who is a perpetrator in non-riot situations. I've seen thirteen and fourteen year old kids verbally abused, slammed against the ground and handcuffed for curfew violations. From what I see of the news in Seattle and now Switzerland, it seems to me that I can extrapolate my experiences to many other locations.

So when you say that presuming innocence is not erring on the side of caution, I emphatically disagree.

If I am at a concert I would rather have people searched going in then after someone gets stabbed.

How would you feel if you were at a concert and a fight broke out and all ticket holders were detained to guard against the possibility that another fight might break out?

Not to mention that the behavior I am speaking of far past searches. The officer that attempted to prevent me from seeing my doctor didn't even frisk me, which I would have gladly submitted to if it would have allowed me to get past the police barricade to see my doctor. Amnesisak was not allowed to leave a coin-op laundary even though the police had no plausible reason to suspect him of any crime.

If my family is inside a place of business where the windows are shattered by protesters then I would much rather have a police presence before and perhaps prevent it rather than after.

In principle, I agree. However, when those police are outfitted with riot gear, it makes it much more likely that your family will have something to fear from the protesters. There are far, far better means of controlling crowds than riot squads with tear gas and water canons except in very, very unusual situations.

During the L.A. Riots do you think it would have been better to have a large police force in place before the citizens rioted ?

Do you remember much of the LA riots? Bringing in the national guard in combat gear did little (if anything) to defuse tensions. The riot raged until the fury burned itself out. It was also completely unexpected with no way to prepare. Should we have soldiers in riot gear on every corner of every city in the eventuality that something might start a riot? You would also do well to remember that the impetus for the LA riots was police brutality to begin with. If the people of LA felt that they could trust the police instead of feeling fearful of the police, the riots likely never would have broken out.



[ Parent ]
Inaccurate extrapolation of what I said (none / 0) (#205)
by retinaburn on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 09:35:53 AM EST

If one is speaking of a group of hundreds of people spread out along many city blocks, I would categorically disagree. I especially emphatically disagree when a large group of people is detained with no criminal charges at a time and in a place with no connection to criminal acts as has happened in Cincinnati.
A very large group of protesters spread across many blocks should not be detained. But if tensions are rising and incidents taking place in a few locations withing the crowd then yes focus on those sections and be prepared to detain them if it becomes necessary for the well being of the public and the protesters.

I've seen my local police force make very similiar assumptions about who is a perpetrator in non-riot situations. I've seen thirteen and fourteen year old kids verbally abused, slammed against the ground and handcuffed for curfew violations. From what I see of the news in Seattle and now Switzerland, it seems to me that I can extrapolate my experiences to many other locations. So when you say that presuming innocence is not erring on the side of caution, I emphatically disagree
I was talking specifically about riot situations. I have seen a group of 13-14 yr olds also send classmate to hospital for no other reason than he was smart. I have read about 5 15 yr old girls drown a classmate because of her race. We can all come up with 'special cases'. Is police brutality a regular occurence ? Not in Canada. Does it happen ? Hell yes.
How would you feel if you were at a concert and a fight broke out and all ticket holders were detained to guard against the possibility that another fight might break out?
This does happen regularly. Whether at a bar or at a concert and a fight with a weapon occurs then often people are prevented from leaving, why ? Because the Police cannot determine who is innocent and who may be guilty from appearence and statements of declared innocence. They hold the people for a short time, determine whether it is safe to let people out, question those around and then release them. Am I ticked off when I can't leave when I want ? Yes. Do I think the detaining of the innocents is some great tradgedy against my freedom ? Nope.

The officer that attempted to prevent me from seeing my doctor didn't even frisk me, which I would have gladly submitted to if it would have allowed me to get past the police barricade to see my doctor. Amnesisak was not allowed to leave a coin-op laundary even though the police had no plausible reason to suspect him of any crime.
How do police know that you are not a 'trouble-making protester' simply by observation and a search ?

We recently had a protest here in Toronto where 'trouble-makers' were standing at the back of the protesters, ripping concrete bricks from the path and hurling them at the police. Hitting police and fellow protesters at the same time. If I was protesting there would I mind us all being detained to ensure my safe protesting ? Nope.

However, when those police are outfitted with riot gear, it makes it much more likely that your family will have something to fear from the protesters. There are far, far better means of controlling crowds than riot squads with tear gas and water canons except in very, very unusual situations.
So preparing for a possible conflict only enrages the crowd ? I can't believe this. If I were a police officer there I would rather be prepared for a possible conflict then take the chance of not being prepared and a 'situation' not occuring. I agree that you may keep the riot squad out of sight in case tensions escalate, but you couldn't get me anywhere near protesters without some protection. Police officers outfitted with riot gear and the use of Tear Gas and Water Cannons are two seperate and distinct responses. The presence of police does not mean the use of large scale crowd control. The use of these means often (not always) depends on the level of tension of the crowd.

How would you control a group of angry protesters ? Just simply let the crowd destroy property and hurt themselves or others ?

The riot police when they move into action are supposed to disperse the crowd and attempt to incarcerate those who resist.

Would putting an armed police officer on every corner incite violence ? Do banks with armed guards get robbed more ? Why would a group of peaceful protesters feel threatened by the presence of riot police.

What I do agree enrages a situation is when the riot police believe they are invincible so they push peaceful protesters around. Or when 'peaceful protesters' feel they can get away with mischeif because they are part of a large mob.

Should we have soldiers in riot gear on every corner of every city in the eventuality that something might start a riot? You would also do well to remember that the impetus for the LA riots was police brutality to begin with. If the people of LA felt that they could trust the police instead of feeling fearful of the police, the riots likely never would have broken out.
I never said anything about a police state, and saying that is what I was implying is ridiculous. There is a difference between a group of protesters, a group of dangerous protesters, and people walking down the street, in terms of the level of possible 'incidents'

I do in fact remember what caused the LA riots, but what does that have to do with what we are discussing...are Police are all tyrants and we don't need them? Would you feel safe if there was a large mob of people protesting your place of business/school ? Would you feel safer with prepared police officers, regular cops, or no police, no barricades and protesters wandering the halls chanting ?

I think you can trust the police a little more than you can trust anyone else. Do some police officers behave improperly ? You bet. Do some police officers let their adreniline control them ? Yup. But the same is true of protesters.


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
I think that perhaps we both are guilty (none / 0) (#222)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 12:20:09 PM EST

In this particular discussion I think that both you and I have mischaracterized each others statements. Having been the victim of profiling by a riot squad at a point of weakness (severe bronchitis is a very serious illness, I almost passed out walking the few blocks from the bus stop to my doctor's office), I see how the police have overstepped their bounds. Then I read about how other police officers commit injustices against peaceful protesters that are unlinked to any violence. My conclusion is that many police officers haven't got much of a clue on how to really handle a protest.

Then I read about a seemingly similiar protest one third of the way across the world and I see the same things happening. It doesn't take much for me to feel sympathy for the victims of police violence.

I suspect that you are coming from a very similiar perspective from the other side of the fence. You see people wrongfully having their property destroyed by violent protesters and find it easy to have sympathy for the officers whose job it is to "serve and protect."

I think that both the police guilty of civil rights violationsand the protesters guilty of violence need to be condemned. Are all police officers guilty? Probably not. Are all protesters guilty? Problably not. Have some protesters been victimized unfairly by police? Certainly. Have some citizens had their property destroyed unfairly? Certainly. Its not really black and white. The media does a tremendous job of condemning violence by protesters. The media typically does a less adequate job of condemning police officers overstepping their bounds.

I've never maintaind that the police should not maintain a presence during protests. Nor have I ever maintained that some protesters have not broken the law.

Personally, I think that assuming protesters innocent until proven guilty is more important than protecting propterty that has the potential to be damaged if the protest turns violent. I also believe that the protest is far less likely to turn violent if riot squads are not used.



[ Parent ]
Agree to disagree (none / 0) (#223)
by retinaburn on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 01:57:37 PM EST

Wow, I can say without a doubt we have killed this topic :)
Personally, I think that assuming protesters innocent until proven guilty is more important than protecting propterty that has the potential to be damaged if the protest turns violent. I also believe that the protest is far less likely to turn violent if riot squads are not used.
It's not just property (obviously) but also the health and welfare of all participants and bystanders. (We wouldn't want innocent people caught in a tear gas cloud :)

As to riot squads ...if they misbehave then yes I can agree with that, but I can see it adding tension either way.


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
What is the point ? (3.68 / 19) (#27)
by Simon Kinahan on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 10:40:44 AM EST

I find these "anti-globalisation" protests bizarre. If the goal is to effect change, surely turning up at conferences and trying, rather ineffectively, to make trouble, is not the most effective way of doing it ?

Indeed, just what is it that these people are trying to do ? The closest I can get to seeing an agenda is "big companies are bad, we should make trouble for them", but even that does not gel, because the trouble being created amounts to amazingly little: a minor riot every six months or so, most of the cost of which falls on the local government that hosted some conference. CND was a more effective protest movement than that.

The most worrying part of the whole thing is the refusal to engage in debate. Ultimately, if you are going to protest about something, surely in order to acheive anything you will have to let someone know what it will take for you to stop ? To be uncharitable, it looks to me as if the protestors have no idea what they actually want, and do not really care about fixing the problems they are protesting about. Their goal is just to tar major corporations and western governments with the brush of responsibility for every evil in the world. The very term "anti-globalisation" is the kind of corruption of political speach you would expect the left to be criticising, not using: globalistion is precisely the force which allows protetsors from all over the world to follow the international institutions to their conferences and create chaos.

As to violence: I am afraid I consider this to be disingenuous. While the majority of the protestors are peaceful, there are a fair number who turn up in order to burn cars and smash up McDonalds (and I know some of them, so don't tell me thats not true). How exactly are the police supposed to tell the difference ?

This is not to say that I do not see the point. The curent age of transnational capital does pose new problems that need to be solved, most especially in the developing world where governments are in no shape to challenge companies with turnovers many times their GDP. I just do not see wearing a silly hat, or burning cars, in the streets of a swiss ski resort as helping very much.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
How it helps (3.10 / 10) (#29)
by jack doe on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 10:45:50 AM EST

I just do not see wearing a silly hat, or burning cars, in the streets of a swiss ski resort as helping very much.

Some would say it "raises awareness" or gets you on the public radar. Of course, that awareness is wasted unless you make use of it to cogently state your point.

[ Parent ]

The goal is to raise awareness (3.66 / 3) (#46)
by SIGFPE on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 12:31:51 PM EST

And the best way to raise awareness is to engineer a situation where the authorities, whoever they may be, feel bound to use riot control, because that gets the most publicity. Of course the protesters will feign innocence but it's pretty clear that a protest has failed if it takes place without being 'eventful'. It's also a way to engineer apparent injustices by the authorities in order to gain sympathy.

The same goes for terrorism. The goal of terrorism is not to inflict random acts of violence to 'terrorise' people into giving in to demands (we know that doesn't work - it only polarises people more). The goal of terrorism is to encourage governments to instigate 'anti-terrorist' measures which tend to impinge on the rights of ordinary citizens. In this way terrorists can gain the sympathy of people.
SIGFPE
[ Parent ]

All Hail Media Misrepresentation (4.60 / 10) (#37)
by HypoLuxa on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 12:02:20 PM EST

You have the same opinion of these protests and action as many people here in the US do© I think that one of the main reasons that people have this opinion is that they are getting all of their facts from CNN, BBC, News Corp, or some other international conglomerate of bloodsucking weasels :¤ This leads to the problem of perception© Lets take a few points:
  • There is no clear agenda© - this is a very common complaint that I chalk up to media control© There is not a single clear agenda, but about fifty of them© Union members protest because globalization means they might lose their jobs© Environmentalists protest because they feel the ecosystems of developing countries are being destroyed by globalization© Anarchists protest the formation of a world governing body that controls all international commerce© The reason that people who haven't taken the time to study the issue think that there is no clear issue to protest is because there are so many of them© Because there are so many reasons people are there, the media can't wrap the whole agenda into a "Make Love, Not War" soundbite, therefore they propogate the myth that it's a muddled and aimless protest simply because they aren't willing to devote the time to explain it as a multifaceted issue©

  • The protesters aren't willing to participate in dialog about the issues - actually, this is one of the first places I've heard that charge levelled, but I can see how it would be perceived that way© The reason why the opponents of globalization aren't trying to engage in an open dialog with the WTO, IMF, and World Bank is that those organizations won't talk to them© All three of these organizations are controlled by appointed ¥not elected¤ beauraucrats who have no accountability© Their meetings are conducted in secret, and there is no opportunity for public discourse until after the fact© This becomes even more frightening to some when you realize how much power controlling internation commerce is©

    And I would challenge that the protesters have in fact done quite a lot© People know what globalization is© People know that there are organizations making decisions that will shape our world for years to come© Attention and scrutiny is being paid, and that is a huge first step©

    --
    I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
    - Leonard Cohen
    [ Parent ]

So help us out (2.60 / 5) (#40)
by DoorFrame on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 12:17:08 PM EST

What do you want to happen? What is YOUR goal?

[ Parent ]
My only goals.... (3.00 / 3) (#43)
by HypoLuxa on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 12:27:00 PM EST

I actually beleive in globalization as a positive force for both developing and developed countries. All I want is for the internal processes of the WTO, IMF, and World Bank to be opened up to public scrutiny. There are decisions made by these organizations that affect millions of people, and there is no clear understanding by anyone how they are made.

--
I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
- Leonard Cohen
[ Parent ]
"Misrepresentation" (3.00 / 1) (#69)
by Simon Kinahan on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 02:40:10 PM EST

Its not a misrepresentation to say a movement with 50 different agendas has no clear agenda. Its simply an unpalatable truth. There are several factions within the anti-globalisation movement that I sympatjise with, and several that I disagree with strongly. There's not even a minimal program of actual action on which all the factions are agreed. Some of them want to bring back protection, some of them want the institutions placed under democratic control, and some of them want to radicallt alter the structore of society. I cannot see how such a mishmash of different groups, with different goals, can really hope to acheive anything as a single protest movement. The only message that actually makes it though the media is "corporations bad. money bad. WTO bad" Thats not because of some giant conspiracy of media interests (and incidentally the BBC is a publically owned organisation), but simply because there is not coherent message to broadcast, so the media invents a lowest common denominator message and broadcasts that.

Regarding dialog. At the Wold Bank/IMF meeting in Prague the protestors were invited to a discussion session. They could not decide who to send, so they did not go. In my opinion, this is characteristic of the movement: it has no coherent agenda, so it cannot act, or even engage in a coherent discussion of action.

As to what has been achieved: I disagree that the protest movement has ediucated the public. People have the very vaguest idea of what globalisation is: they think its got something to do with exploiting workers in the third world, and that it benefits transnational corporations at the expense of everyone else. Thats an very one sided and prejudiced perspective. To be fair, a lot of the responsibllity lies with national governments that ought to be explaining to people what the benefits of globalisation are, and why participation in the WTO/IMF/World Bank is justified in spite of their inadequacies. Instead many of them make vaguely sympathetic noises in the directtion of the protestors non-agenda and failt to tackle the real issues. The protests cannot be blamed for governments failure to explain their actrions, but they haven't really helped.



Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Good points. (3.00 / 1) (#77)
by HypoLuxa on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 03:51:54 PM EST

Since I agree with most of what you said, I think it makes sense to clarify what I was trying to say a bit.

I agree that there is no clear agenda of globalization protesters en masse, but there is a clear agenda of each group that participates. I guess what I was trying to say was that most of the media in the US has taken the opinion that since there is not one, single, clear objective, that there is no objective. The message being broadcast is not "there is no single, encompassing issue to protest" but "there is no issue to protest." There is a very common perception that there isn't a reason to protest, because they can't encapsulate one in a soundbite.

The invitation to discussion in Prague was viewed by many (including myself) as a sham. It's like inviting the sheep to talk about shearing technique. They could have filled up a room and talked to those who are controlling power and expressed every complaint they had, but at the end of the day, they are still locked out of the process. They have no ability to influence organizations that operate in secret with appointed representatives. It was an attempt to mollify protesters without actually changing any policy, allowing any input into decision making, or making any compromise.

You are right on what has been achieved. No real education, but some awareness. I think that very few people have a good grasp on what globalization is, and how it affects them. I do think that they have succeeded in bringing the issue forward, and many more people are now at least addressing it.

--
I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
- Leonard Cohen
[ Parent ]

Misrepresentation (3.00 / 1) (#99)
by Estanislao Martínez on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 07:38:50 PM EST

Its not a misrepresentation to say a movement with 50 different agendas has no clear agenda. Its simply an unpalatable truth.

I don't think the fact that people disagree is a unpalatable. I think it's natural.

And about misrepresentation, would you consider what follows a good representation of what you just described to call the protesters "causists and all-purpose agitators" (U.S. News 12/13/99)? This is just one from tons of such media quotes.

--em
[ Parent ]

But the fundamental problem remains (none / 0) (#135)
by goonie on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 06:05:32 AM EST

I saw the advertisements for the S11 protests in Melbourne at a WEF meeting, and briefly considered attending, but I couldn't figure out what the goals of the protest were. I asked my housemate, who was attending, and she said "Multinational companies . . . evil . . . slave labour", all of which I have some sympathy with, but when the followup question was asked "so what do you want?" I was met with a blank look. I saw interviews with the protest leaders, who threw up lots of examples of Nike and McDonalds doing unpalatable things, but didn't articulate anything beyond that. I stayed home.

Pointing out the perceived evils of global capitalism isn't enough. For me, and I suspect the original poster and many others, you need one agenda (the intersection of the protester's goals, if you will) to work as a protest movement.

It's a sad comment on the leadership of the protest movements that many government and business leaders are far more effective expositors of ways to achieve some of the more realistic protesters' goals than the protest leaders have ever been.

[ Parent ]

Clarification (none / 0) (#142)
by Simon Kinahan on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 10:50:51 AM EST

I'm not really trying to justify the media reports. I'm trying to provide a limited explanation of why the media, and myself as an individual interested in politics and generally sympathetic to the left, find the protests confusing.

As to your specific quote: No, its not a good summary. The demonstrators are no "all purpose agitators", they have a relatively restricted set of targets, even though they have no well defined cause. As to "casuistry", well actually there's nothing wrong with being a casuist as such, all it means is someone attempting to apply morality to a specific case. It implies, firstly a willingness to ally oneself with those with whom you disagree on principle, because you agree in practice, and secondly a tendency towards specious reasoning. The last implication is just a slur, it has no substantive content. The first impkication is to some extent a good description of some of the demonstrators, though I doubt its what the reporter meant.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
How to tie it together (3.00 / 1) (#81)
by jack doe on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 04:42:22 PM EST

The reason that people who haven't taken the time to study the issue think that there is no clear issue to protest is because there are so many of them

"Today's changing world brings with it many challenges. Globalization and the free flow of international investment are causing many accidental problems which destroy the lives of innocent people. We want to be the brakes on this runaway truck."

Then give details (which you seem to have) about things which are being destroyed and disrupted by the changes.

Do this on the Internet if necessary - it isn't run by CNN.

[ Parent ]

There is a point! (was: What is the point ?) (4.28 / 7) (#42)
by kellan on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 12:26:14 PM EST

I never know how to respond to these sorts of rants, they feel like trolls, or flame baits, and yet I read them in the pages of the NYTimes, which, while not ruling out they are trolls, does mean that a large swath of the population will believe them. Simon is being fairly reasonable, while still buying into all the major corporate media tropes.

I really, really, really want to respond to your post by picking it apart the origins of the memes (proganda) found in it (as we read like so much corporate media flac). Hmmm, that line is from Elizabeth Becker's article the other day, and that was from 60 minutes last october, and, oh goody, and thats from the piece that John Gibson did for USToday. But I won't, because people simply don't believe that they aren't thinking for themselves.

So I have a couple of quick answers to your main points:

  1. Its not that there are no requests, demands, visions for the future, in the protest movement, there are many. The simplest of them involve not exchanging more human rights in favor of corporate rights. Other then that the diversity is staggering.
    Of course the corporate media does not report on this, it is not in their best interest. They find the most inarticulate, least media saavy protestors, and but then on Fox news.

    Its not hard to find inarticulate people. If I had the inclination, and the media access I could have filled the air waves with interviews from bigotted, racists, hicks in Washington DC, who voted for Bush in order to "get this country back for white people." Of course that is not the image you saw on TV.

  2. What are people trying to accomplish with these "minor riots"? First, you have to understand that many of the people who show up to these actions are active all year around, trying to make incremental changes in their communities, using established, and grass roots techniques, working bottom up. The major convergences are not about small changes, not about grass roots, they are about solidarity.

    In Seattle there was a clear mission to shut down the WTO as a demonstration of strength. That is not the only model. Often people in the street are a form of voting, when the questions under consideration have never been presented to a public referendum, or the process was horribly corrupted. People are in the streets to make a statement of belief when no other channels are available. Even so protesting does make a difference. In the language of the civil rights activists of the 50s, and 60s, it "raises the social cost". I could go on for a while about this, but Micheal Albert wrote up a nice (short) summary of this idea for the convetions, fuond here, for those interested.

  3. And I consider your remarks on violence disingenuous. There are not "a fair number" of people who show up to burn cars, there is a small number.(though much larger in Europe then in the US) And you've entirely dodged the question of whether breaking McDonald's windows is violent. Either way, the "violence" being committed by the demostrators does not compare to that being perpetuated by the police, much less the violence committed in the names of those safely sequestered in their ski lodges. (safe of course, unless somebody get inspired by Vail)

  4. I understand that it can be hard to see how wearing silly hats is helping, but try it sometime, it might start to make sense.

wish i had more time to write

kellan

[ Parent ]

Let me make myself clear (4.66 / 3) (#59)
by Simon Kinahan on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 02:02:31 PM EST

Thank you for your thoughtful response. I was ranting to a certain extent. Please accept that its out of frustration, not because I disagree with you, but because I cannot agree with you, becauase I cannot figure out what I'd be agreeing with, even though I suspect our actual positions on the issues are quite close. I'm afraid your follow up only reinfroces my impression.

As you say, quite a lot of the people in the protest movement do other work to bring about change as well. In as far as that is true, and that work is constructive and positive I'm right with them on that. Its the protest movement itself, not the other social movements to which it has vague connections, that I have a problem with.

I appreciate that there is no single positive agenda. I read ZNet from time to time. I've read No Logo and a fair amount of Noam Chomsky. I appreciate the perspectives from which the protestors are coming, and the TV presentation does not have a whole hell of a lot of impact on how I see them, I hope. I agree that the media spin is biased and inaccurate, though I do understand how it got that way and I think the protestors have to take a certain amount of responsibility for not getting their point across.

This is because they do not have a point. I'm afraid thats just a paraphrase of what you said above: "ts not that there are no requests, demands, visions for the future, in the protest movement, there are many". Having many, often contradictory, points is the same as having no point. Under those circumstances, its not really surprising that what the media reports is a misrepresentation. They're trying to draw a coherent picture of something that is not very coherent. Once again, if you or anyone else believes there is a some positive program of action lurking behind all of this, please let me know.

Many of the social movements that feed into the protests I do sympathise with: I believe the WTO and its friends need to be more transparent. I believe that most "aid" programs do much more good to their western donors than to the recipients. On the other hand: I have no sympathy with trade unionists trying to keep their market protections, and I have no particular problem with McDonalds.

Similarly, I do understand from at least two different perspectives how wearing silly hats might be helpful. On the one hand, it attracts attention, which if there were some kind of coherent positive program to be put across would help. On the other hand, it does provide a vision of a freer society, a concept I find appealing if rather idealistic. However, in the absence of a coherent program to bring about change neither of these things helps very much.

Finally, regarding violence: The difference between a "fair number" and a "small number" is not of much interest to me. There are some people who show up and burn cars, and others who act in a peaceful and responsible manner. This is another aspect of the ideological incoherence which is, as I hope I've made plain, the main thing that gives me a problem here.

Whether or not breaking windows is "violent" is not very interesting either. Breaking windows is breaking windows. Its an attack on (corporate) private property. As such, the police have to protect against it, and in a crowd situation, they're going to have to use extreme measures. I do not really understand how we (the public) ar emeant to respond ot this, and once again there is no coherent answer from the protestors as to just what they think is wrong: is the whol institution of private property wrong ? is corporate ownership of property wrong in particular ? or is it merely that a sufficiently large number of people gatehered together should be allowed to smash windows if they feel like it ?

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]

Illustration (5.00 / 3) (#62)
by Khedak on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 02:19:47 PM EST

Finally, regarding violence: The difference between a "fair number" and a "small number" is not of much interest to me. There are some people who show up and burn cars, and others who act in a peaceful and responsible manner. This is another aspect of the ideological incoherence which is, as I hope I've made plain, the main thing that gives me a problem here.

The people who burn cars are usually those who have already witnessed police violence. Here, allow me to illustrate.

Imagine yourself in the middle of a peaceful demonstration. You're marching and shouting on the sidewalk, as is your right. A few seconds later, you are hit in the arm by a rubber bullet. You turn to where the bullet came from, in surprise, and see about a dozen police officers in black uniforms with what look like firearms. They're firing at the demonstrators around you. You and your fellows run. A block away, there are more police, here they have clubs and are beating some people. You don't know whether these people did anything to deserve the beatings, but the next thing you know, the cops are after you with the clubs and their riot shields. At this point, many of your fellows become angry and begin shouting at the police. The fever becomes pitched, and someone decides to start tipping a car. In a few minutes, the crows will probably tip it and light it on fire.

What do you do? Run home? Help your friends? Turn yourself in?

All you're saying is the fact that a "fair number" or a "small number" of people choose to help their friends perform violence disturbs you. What should be disturbing you is the fact that police brutality is increasing worldwide, including (otherwise) peaceful industrialized nations. That's the issue here, and that's why so many of us are concerned.

[ Parent ]
Violence disturbs me in general (4.00 / 3) (#70)
by Simon Kinahan on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 02:49:10 PM EST

Whether its police violence or anyone else's. I'm in no position to comment on specific events. Various different accounts of different protests have attributed blame for starting the violence on both the police and the protestors.

I do know that some people advocate property damage as a means of protest. This may or may not be justified ( personally I believe it is not, but I can see the arguments both ways), but under these circumstances, noone should be terribly surprised if the police feel the need to use violent means to stop it. This is ultimately what property ownership implies, and to blame the police is like standing in front of a charging elephant and complaining when you are trampled.

As to whether police brutality is increasing, I'd be interested in seeing statistics on this.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Statistics (5.00 / 2) (#95)
by Khedak on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 06:56:42 PM EST

This is ultimately what property ownership implies, and to blame the police is like standing in front of a charging elephant and complaining when you are trampled. As to whether police brutality is increasing, I'd be interested in seeing statistics on this.

Sure thing.

Here is a brief report from Amnesty International on the worsening situation in the united states. It's got lots of cross-references and sources for you to explore.

Here is another article, this time more general and focused on the political structure that is responsible for the increase. It's also properly annotated.

There's lots more, that's just what a quick search on Google turned up.

I actually wasn't surprised to hear you say this, because judging from the opinions you've voiced, you're a reasonable well-adjusted male from a middle class background. You think violence in all forms is harmful, which is essentially correct. But you seem surprised to hear that police brutality is actually a problem, and not just something the local crackheads shout when they're busted. I'm not going to lecture you, I've given you a couple of sources, and you can do your own research.

[ Parent ]
not surprised, just sad (none / 0) (#194)
by kellan on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 12:51:18 AM EST

i'm never surprised anymore that the police (not in all country but in most) "feel the need" to use violence. it is not the only, nor the most effective tactic available to them. i also refuse to believe we have reach a level of societal degradation where we must except the brutality of human beings as equatable to the actions of an animal. this seems either sickening if one believe it, or, more likely, a flimsy strawman.

also it is a false conclusion to draw that police respond violently in response to property destruction. in seattle the excuse of property destruction was cleverly added to the story to jusitfy the police's extreme response when it could no longer be denied to have ever happened. if you recall for the first 24-48 hours all statements from the city of seattle (carefully repeated as "official sources" on all the major news sources) reported no use of violence or chemical weapons. it was only after camera footage of black bloc, and some local kids (immediately termed a gang because of the inclusion of teens of color) breaking windows did the seattle police department admit to using chemical weapons.

there is a new book out that has some really good research on the question of police brutality. both the reality and a deconstruction of the media's (selective) hysteria around it. i'll see if i can dredge up the title/author.

simon, if you're in north america, you should come to quebec city in april, it might anser some of your questions.

kellan

[ Parent ]

Another Illustration (4.00 / 1) (#89)
by winthrop on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 06:17:18 PM EST

Or, more to the point, I believe many protesters have advocated property destruction as a means of collective self-defence. For example, if the police charge one part of a crowd that has no means of escaping, a seperate group will break shop windows in the hopes of drawing the police toward them and freeing the other protesters to escape.

I don't mean to say that this is the rationale behind all destruction of property, but here is a case where I think it's a perfectly acceptable tactic to use if the police start employing "mob behavior" themselves.

[ Parent ]

property destruction as self-defense? (none / 0) (#193)
by kellan on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 12:41:06 AM EST

i've never heard this rationale used during a major action. perhaps i was simply talking to the wrong people. (it also seems more likely in places like prague where police confrontation was a consensused strategy rather then seattle and davos where property destruction has been carried out by a minority)

in fact the major critique of property desctruction from within the protest movement is that it puts people involved in civil disobeidence like lock downs in a position of danger as the police are much more likely to lash out in anger at all protestors (some would argue, particularily at immobilized protestors like those locking down) if there is property destruction going on.

kellan

[ Parent ]

Maybe it's just me ... (none / 0) (#165)
by LegionDaMany on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 04:57:10 PM EST

Imagine yourself in the middle of a peaceful demonstration. You're marching and shouting on the sidewalk, as is your right. A few seconds later, you are hit in the arm by a rubber bullet. You turn to where the bullet came from, in surprise, and see about a dozen police officers in black uniforms with what look like firearms. They're firing at the demonstrators around you. You and your fellows run.

Actually, no. My fellows might run ... but I would slowly put my hands up in the air and do exactly as the officers in the "black uniforms" told me to do. Just like when I get pulled over, I put my hands on the steering wheel and keep them there until asked for my license and registration. Maybe I'm more sympathetic to the police officers than most demonstrators ... but I know that some of them are afriad that some amped-out crack-fiend is going to pull out a gun and start shooting and that's not a completely unfounded fear. So I do my best to make sure that they know that's definitely not what I am.

I bet if more protesters followed my lead, they'd find the police more cooperative too.


Call me Legion for I am Many ...
[ Parent ]
Rights and Police Duty (none / 0) (#188)
by Khedak on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 10:03:04 PM EST

I bet if more protesters followed my lead, they'd find the police more cooperative too.

Probably, but some protestors are afraid that the cops at being directed by the very people against whom they are protesting. This not unfounded fear has much to do with the reason protestors do not follow your lead.

Naturally if you submit totally to the police (as if you work for them instead of vice-versa) then it'll be easier to deal with them. But don't the police have a responsibility to protect your rights to protest? The answer has to be yes to some extent. Do the police have the right to beat anyone who so much as pauses to say "What?" in surprise when the police arrest them? Although I think the answer is no, incidents like these are all too common. For another example, I read a report on an incident in which police officers beat a journalist who had taken photographs of the police beating a protestor. There was no reason other than that they saw him taking the photos. The camera and film were confiscated and subsequently 'lost'. If these stories are reported at all in the regular media, they are usually presented in such a way as to absolve the police.

If you think I'm citing a fluke, rather than a serious trend, please at least read up some. I provided some links in another reply in this thread.

[ Parent ]
Sorry, that doesn't work. (none / 0) (#192)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 12:05:40 AM EST

My fellows might run ... but I would slowly put my hands up in the air and do exactly as the officers in the "black uniforms" told me to do.

Then you can expect to be beaten and pepper sprayed, handcuffed, then beaten some more. The job of a riot squad is to beat up anybody in their path. Technically, they call it "advancing" towards their "goal", and they must not let anything "interrupt" that advance.

Really, if you find a riot squad charging you, run. These guys won't give you any orders to do anything, they'll just hit you.

--em
[ Parent ]

Documentation for my claim (none / 0) (#198)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 01:30:47 AM EST

I found this document on "crowd control techniques". Look for the part titled "Crowd Control Formations". Officers are supposed to order you to move in such a situation. If you don't move, well, guess what happens.

--em
[ Parent ]

Notes on crowd-control techniques (4.00 / 1) (#201)
by jack doe on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 03:09:34 AM EST

That certainly makes interesting reading. Thanks for the link.

These things catch my attention:

  • The behavior desired by the police is for the crowd to disperse. The document stresses repeatedly that escape routes are not to be blocked and that the crowd must not believe them to be blocked.
  • If someone is to be arrested, the advancing line just lets him or her through - to be picked up by a following "arrest team." Translation: don't let yourself get behind a police line.
  • The document makes little distinction between violent and peaceful demonstrations. In a few places it uses "civil disobedience" to mean "mob violence." I find this scary.


[ Parent ]
What catches my eye... (none / 0) (#206)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 01:24:06 PM EST

...is the almost total lack of mention of actually using force on people. I think this document lacks much in the way of explicitness, but it was the best I could find...

If someone is to be arrested, the advancing line just lets him or her through - to be picked up by a following "arrest team." Translation: don't let yourself get behind a police line.

Here is one of the places where I think the document is very unexplicit. Yup, it says this, but it also says that the squad should avoid breaking formation. Which means that not many people can be put behind the line at once-- you have to open a small gap in the line to let a person through, and that is to be minimized. Also, as I understand it, the line won't open to let by a group of much more than 1 person.

And yeah, I can't imagine a riot squad in the middle of an operation willingly risking putting somebody from the crowd get behind their backs, intact-- I just have to imagine that whoever gets put behind the line will be at the very least pepper sprayed at point-blank range.

--em
[ Parent ]

Two things about your "documentation" .. (none / 0) (#215)
by LegionDaMany on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 08:46:47 PM EST

First, because as you mentioned it doesn't explicitly state much about the use of force other than in each of the formations the members of the line should have their batons at "port arms" ... one can't reasonably infer that excessive violence is implied by this document.

Second, it is a military document stating procedures for the defense of military installations. As such, I was expecting to see it state far worse options than the simple procedures given in the document. It seems pretty even-handed to me ... especially for a military document.


Call me Legion for I am Many ...
[ Parent ]
I must have not made myself clear... (none / 0) (#217)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 10:14:42 PM EST

First, because as you mentioned it doesn't explicitly state much about the use of force other than in each of the formations the members of the line should have their batons at "port arms" ... one can't reasonably infer that excessive violence is implied by this document.

Yes, and precisely, this is one of the things that I find unsatisfactory about the document-- it describes the maneuvers in a very sterile manner, with zero reference to the actual use of force. You know, "crowd control" typically *does* require use of force.

My point was that the description of the manuevers does not imply *any* violence at all, which I find uncharacteristic.

Second, it is a military document stating procedures for the defense of military installations. As such, I was expecting to see it state far worse options than the simple procedures given in the document. It seems pretty even-handed to me... especially for a military document.

I'ts military police. They deal with police-sized issues, like "crowd control", i.e., dealing with a relatively unorganized, unarmed crowd of angry people. They're not especialised in dealing against organized armed combat units, or anything of the sort.

--em
[ Parent ]

only works for speeding tickets i'm afraid (none / 0) (#195)
by kellan on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 12:55:48 AM EST

that works great when a cop pulls you over. i don't drive, but in day to day situations, i'm always "yes officer, no officer, have a nice day officer" as sincere as i can be. its not like we go around shouting "pig" and spitting on cops. (these are people afterall)

but try that in a protest situation, and you could find yourself, like we did in philly, held on a bus, or in a small over-crowded cell for 8-16 hours with yours hands cuffed behind your back, and no water, and then held in prison for 10 days on charges as silly as jay-walking, or intent to commit a crime.

kellan

[ Parent ]

Actually ... (none / 0) (#214)
by LegionDaMany on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 08:37:10 PM EST

I read the PhillyIMC site about the whole experience in Philadelphia as it was going on.

or in a small over-crowded cell for 8-16 hours with yours hands cuffed behind your back, and no water, and then held in prison for 10 days on charges as silly as jay-walking, or intent to commit a crime.

Let's break this down. The reason why you were in an overcrowded cell is because you refused to be separated from the other protesters. The reason why the cell was small was because you were causing disturbances with the other inmates, so you had to be separated from the regular prison population and couldn't be kept in the standard large holding cell. You were held in prison for excessive periods of time on minor charges because you refused to give your names, preventing them from processing you promptly. All of these tidbits of information were gleaned from the PhillyIMC site during the protest. So, why is any of this the police's fault?


Call me Legion for I am Many ...
[ Parent ]
true, but a narrow truth (none / 0) (#221)
by kellan on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 11:37:00 AM EST

so you are saying that excercising one's 1st amendment rights justifies the police in treating you in a manner that amensty international has decried as a major human rights abuse?

and in Philly, people weren't breaking windows (oh, scary, breaking windows), many were on private property where they had been invited to be, and almost all major arrests where made by infiltrators, a tactic which Philly has been forbidden to use by the oh so liberal Penn supreme court for its repeated violations of people rights.

jail solidarity is a proven tactic, one of the few ways large groups of prostestors can exercise a right which is supposed to be guarenteed.

i've tried being reasonable in the past, but i'm in a rush and frankly i just can't understand your point of view. all i can think if you must have always lived within the comfort of privilege.

kellan

[ Parent ]

What about his rights? (none / 0) (#226)
by Khedak on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 07:13:35 PM EST

Let's break this down. The reason why you were in an overcrowded cell is because you refused to be separated from the other protesters.

Actually, it's because the cell was small, they had larger ones.

The reason why the cell was small was because you were causing disturbances with the other inmates, so you had to be separated from the regular prison population and couldn't be kept in the standard large holding cell.

Well, if that's their opinion, but essentially you're saying that if you misbehave you have waived your right to be held in humane conditions (i.e., not in an overcrowded cell).

You were held in prison for excessive periods of time on minor charges because you refused to give your names, preventing them from processing you promptly.

Maybe, but perhaps they had a valid reason for refusing to give names? Considering they were being held in an overcrowded cell, maybe in this situation the police should have, maybe, not arrested so many people?

All of these tidbits of information were gleaned from the PhillyIMC site during the protest. So, why is any of this the police's fault?

Because the police have a responsibility to protect the citizens' rights, including the right not to be held in inhumane conditions for extended periods. The protestors don't have to give their names and be seperated from the others to be given humane treatment.

It's true, he made it look like this was an 'evil cop' torture scenario, but in reality it's simply a dumb cob flagrantly abusing your rights scenario.

[ Parent ]
Silly hats (3.00 / 2) (#97)
by Estanislao Martínez on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 07:26:46 PM EST

Similarly, I do understand from at least two different perspectives how wearing silly hats might be helpful. On the one hand, it attracts attention, which if there were some kind of coherent positive program to be put across would help. On the other hand, it does provide a vision of a freer society, a concept I find appealing if rather idealistic. However, in the absence of a coherent program to bring about change neither of these things helps very much.

Heh, in your drive to try to find a rationalization for everything, you forget no doubt what is a major motive for protesters wearing silly hats: it's fun!

--em
[ Parent ]

Cheap shot (none / 0) (#143)
by Simon Kinahan on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 11:02:34 AM EST

Of course wearing silly hats is fun, especially in public. I was trying to sort out the relevance of wearing silly hats to acheving any kind of actual political goal.

And incidentally, if you have somne suggested form of magic other than the use of my rational faculties which I'm supposed to use to understand whats going on, I'd love to hear it.


Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
You don't get it, huh? It's movement building. (none / 0) (#162)
by Estanislao Martínez on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 04:30:55 PM EST

Of course wearing silly hats is fun, especially in public. I was trying to sort out the relevance of wearing silly hats to acheving any kind of actual political goal.

You just don't get it, huh? Do you think everything protesters do has to be done dead serious? That in protesting there is no space for fun?

There is a supremely important goal about the protests that I believe most people here have overlooked: movement building. That involves realizing the power you can have when you get together with other people that share beliefs with you. That involves working with other people, making plans together, fighting about differences, and having fun with silly things. It is the human angle of protest movements, what all the protesting and organizing does to you, how it strenghtens you and your ties to other people (and in the case of protests with an international constituency, these ties can span the globe).

People wear funny hats at protests because they have fun together, and having fun makes the protest movement stronger.

--em
[ Parent ]

Reclaim the strreets (none / 0) (#171)
by thePositron on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:23:03 PM EST

In terms of having fun and protesting I believe that Reclaim the streets has the right idea. During the inaugural protests in SF, they trucked a sound system around on a bicycle. The speakers were pumping techno and the people were dancing in the streets. Despite the hundreds of cops glaring at us in riot gear we all ahd a great time.

--The only party we support is a street party



[ Parent ]
Your are quite right (none / 0) (#176)
by Simon Kinahan on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:47:33 PM EST

I don't get it. Thats exactly what I'm trying to remedy. You are not helping much.

So wearing silly hats helps build the movement. Makes it stronger. Fine. But whats the movement for ? All they do is show up at conferences, cause some minor disruption, wear silly hats and (for a minority) cause some minor property damage and get involved in the odd scuffle with police. If this is changing the nature of transnational capitalism, I am not noticing. Unless the point is simply to fight policemen whilst wearing a silly hat a few miles from some (supposedly) powerful people, I am missing the point. In spite of spending a few hours over the last couple of days (and quite a few hours at other times too) trying to discover some other point, I haven't found it yet.

The protestors at various times had the attention of the media. At that point, someone had to step forward with a program and say "this is what needs to be done". They would not have got it straight away, but it would have come to the attention of the people of most of the western world. Some of them would have agreed. As it is the executives of the bodies the protestors are protesting at do a better of job of suggesting reform programs than the protestors do.

Do you get it yet ? Street parties: fine. I like street parties. I even like Reclaim the Streets. They are straightforward. I know what they're about and I like it. Good. The protest movement as a whole however: until someone can tell me what they want, and how they are trying to get it, I'll continue to annoy those who support them by trying to find out.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Maybe this will help... (5.00 / 1) (#181)
by thePositron on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 08:12:28 PM EST

I believe that you want protests to be cut and dried just like everything else presented to us in our society of the spectacle. The reality is that each individual has their own reason reasons for deploring the MEANS by which the world is being globalized. The question is really simple, do you think that undemocratically elected officials meeting in private should be creating policies for billions of people behind closed doors? Or do you believe that the input of the public is important when it comes to matters of policy that affect our lives? This is really the crux of the issue. Without the protests most people would not even know these policy creation bodies existed. Now many do know about the existence of the WEF, WTO and what they are about. As for what people are for and against that is something everyone decides for themselves, there is no one dictating the PR stance of the demonstrations.

This is not a tradtional form of resistance, it has no leaders, it has no catch phrases and it is basically leaderless. I think what ties everyone together is the sense that we are losing power over our culture, our traditional forms of government, our media and ultimately over our lives and that we don't even have a say in it. This is what concerns me and I will resist all attempts at corporate cultural homogenization and the patenting of life. Basically no one is going to hand the answer to you on a plate, start thinking about what you value. Then ask yourself do these world policy creating organizations have the same values as I? If the answer is for the most part no. Then start thinking of creative ways that you can resist what it is you do not like and offer alternatives. I like the example that present day Porte Alegre Brazil and Spain 1938 put forth, but I will rant about that stuff later. Another fact that must be noted is that the protests are usually organized by a broad range of groups. The views held by the participants range from moderate reformists to anarchists to right wing extremists and everything in between, there is no way to make every one speak with one voice. What is amazing is that people who normally do not communicate with each other are beginning the process of dialogue, (IN PERSON) as a result of the demonstrations. Another thing that I have noticed is that the corporate media chooses those who have taken very little time to formulate their views as the spokepeople for the protests thereby marginalizing the thousands of people who participate.

The fact is that humanity does not speak with only ONE voice.



[ Parent ]
Misconceptions. (5.00 / 1) (#185)
by Estanislao Martínez on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 09:25:47 PM EST

So wearing silly hats helps build the movement. Makes it stronger. Fine. But whats the movement for? All they do is show up at conferences, cause some minor disruption, wear silly hats and (for a minority) cause some minor property damage and get involved in the odd scuffle with police. [my emphasis]

Well, then you are terribly uninformed of which organizations go to these protests, their ideologies and what they do when they are not going to massive protests. You should do at least a few representative case studies before you judge, no?

The protestors at various times had the attention of the media. [again, my emphasis]

You must mean "some protestors". Which? In which precise moment were they approached by the media? How much time did they have that attention?

Well, of course, the crucial question is: How much access to the media do the different organizations protesting really have? (Something comes to mind: during the Seattle demonstrations, one of the Seattle local stations openly said it wouldn't give protesters a voice at all.)

At that point, someone had to step forward with a program and say "this is what needs to be done". They would not have got it straight away, but it would have come to the attention of the people of most of the western world.

Do you really think that the organizations behind the protest don't do media relations? That they don't send press releases to the media? That they don't have experts with their own suggestions on a whole bunch of things that can be done, available for interviews?

Way before that point, the media had to report on the things that the protesters are protesting, their causes for protesting, the different ideas on how things could be done better, and so on. The media get quality information about all sorts of things weekly from activist groups, and choose to play it down, distort it, or just plain ignore it.

For example, Institute for Public Accuracy puts out constant releases for the press, announcing the availability of experts willing to be interviewed on current issues, from a progressive point of view. They even have a dedicated page on trade issues.

As it is the executives of the bodies the protestors are protesting at do a better of job of suggesting reform programs than the protestors do.

You give no evidence of this whatsoever. You simply conclude from the fact that, tuning in to mainstream media, you don't see any proposals and analysis by protesters, that protesters don't do any such thing. Which is a false conclusions.

The protest movement as a whole however: until someone can tell me what they want, and how they are trying to get it, I'll continue to annoy those who support them by trying to find out.

You've already been told the basic claim, the one that unites essentially all of the different groups, time after time in this thread, and yet you fail to acknowledge it. Democracy. An end to unelected, unaccountable bank executives meeting in secret to make decisions that affect people all over the globe. Right now they are in the stages of expanding their support base, and having open discussion on issues of global trade.

You're making a mistake-- you're thinking the protesters are a bunch of hippies getting together spontaneously when the trade organizations meet and raise hell. Nothing farther from the truth. This is a loose coalition of a number of organizations from all over the world, with different focuses, which loosely agree on some central tenets. And more importantly, that work all year long in their local communities, doing all kind of work that they believe in. The protesting is the most visible facet of all this-- but is far from the most important one, or the one that takes up most of the time.

--em
[ Parent ]

An answer ! Wow ! (none / 0) (#207)
by Simon Kinahan on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 02:02:04 PM EST

OK. Point by point: as I've already said I'm familiar with many of the organisations in the protest movement and their positions. What interests me is the movement as a whole, whose joint purpose I cannot grasp. I do read alternative news sources, and my confusion is not based on reliance on the mainstream media, but on an inability to figure out what the different protesting groups have in common that they hope to achieve. Anyway, you have sort of answered the question, at long last ...

The basic claim is democracy, huh ? and I've been told this "time after time". Well, actually you're the first person in this thread to use the term, and I am happy to see someone actually produce an answer to my initial question. Its not a satisfactory answer, but it is at least an answer of sorts. Given that you say there are "central tennets" on which the organisations agree, can you supply a list ?

Its not satisfactory to produce a vague generality like "democracy" and hope to escape the necessity of putting forward a concrete program. Everyone likes democracy, even the soviet union was a "democrary". Once again, I know individual components of the protest movement have concrete programs: what I want to know is what they hope to accomplish together.

Just what does democracy imply in this context? elected officials ? referenda on trade treaties ? or the removal of all constraints on trade in their entirety ? What would democratic institutions of globalisation look like ? why is the fact the World Bank, IMF and WTO are accountable to your democratically elected government not sufficient ? I'm not just being picky here. Unless the protest movement actually comes up with a single, minimal program on which all its parts agree, firstly I'll never support it (you may think thats no great loss :), and secondly it will never get anywhere with the governments, organisations and institutions its trying to change.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Read my response (none / 0) (#208)
by thePositron on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 03:25:52 PM EST

I have provided concrete examples of what I believe are forms of governance that I wish were implemented in my post here. Of course everyone differs slightly but ultimately accountability, transparency, compassion, tolerance for dissent and democracy are the goals of many of the demonstrators. World policy making institutions like the WTO and WEF are the antithesis of this in practice and what I believe is reasonable governance. I define reasonable governance as encomapssing the 5 goals stated above.



[ Parent ]
Nice thread...democracy as process (5.00 / 1) (#209)
by Simian on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 03:33:43 PM EST

This is one of the best threads in this debate.

For my part, I think that Estanislao Martínez has indeed put his finger on the issue by pointing out the protestor's demands for democracy. You are also right to question the definition of democracy being upheld.

Allow me to suggest that in the last ten years, in my experience, there has been a rebirth of a resilient grassroots conception of democracy as a practical process. The main roots of the process are free and voluntary participation, unfettered speech within the bounds of civility, the opportunity to influence group decision making processes, and then direct participation in those processes.

My own point of view of these protests has been that they will not accomplish a concrete goal directly, but that the experience of going through them, and the innovation displayed in organizing techniques, bodes well for the left.

As a "radical democrat"/anarchist myself, I've taken for granted in some of my posts that the distinction between democracy-as-process and "democracy"-as-plugin-module-for-nation-state-administration is crystal clear. Being a veteran of protests in the early nineties, I also feel that the best way to learn the democratic process is to live it, under the duress of physical threat and opposition. It's not easy.

The protesters, in short, are united for democratic principles being applied to the political process. They are also, a few provocateurs and hoodlums aside, demonstrating democracy itself, in the many ways Estanislao Martínez thoughtfully pointed out. The protests themselves are just exercises, healthy cells clotting around the grossest examples of plutocracy.

The IMF, World Bank et al., although products of our "democratically elected" (sic--see U.S) governments, are no longer bound to them. In fact, sovereign governments are now subject to rulings by these organizations that would severely affect their ability to govern as they see fit. Global "trade" will be malignant until the more fundamental questions of the economics of democratic processes are worked out. Which means we have at least a century to go. Time to get going!

jb




"As I would not be a slave, so would I not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy." Abraham Lincoln
[ Parent ]
Many answers (none / 0) (#211)
by jack doe on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 05:51:52 PM EST

It may be a bit much (and a bit cramping) to expect at this stage a tight and final platform with enumerated points.

I, for one, have seen here a lot of the information I originally wanted about the protesters' general goals and intentions, and am going away satisfied.

[ Parent ]

Me too, actually (none / 0) (#220)
by Simon Kinahan on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 07:09:45 AM EST

Overall I've very much enjoyed participating in this thread, and I have actually gained a good deal more insight into where the protestors are coming from, and rather more sympathy than I had previously with their movement. thePositron and Simian have been particularly helpful. Even when you have read static sources describing particular views, having a conversation with people who actually have the point of view to make the information cohere helps a lot. I did not really expect Mr Martinez to enumerate a list of points of agreement, but I am still interested in how he'd respond to the challenge.

The biggest impression I'm going away with is actually a refined, and more positive, form of the one I came in with. Someone needs to create a modern, popular explanation of what "democracy as process" means in concrete terms. I've seem older left-anarchist expositions, but they tend to be too obscure for a telly-watching audience. Anyone know if such a thing exists.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
What is the point ? (3.50 / 4) (#50)
by handle on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 12:38:18 PM EST

This reeks of troll-bait but...

Indeed, just what is it that these people are trying to do ? The closest I can get to seeing an agenda is "big companies are bad, we should make trouble for them"

Try doing a little research. There are many reasons wny people are involved in the anti-globalization movement - environmentalism, zero-growth advocacy, regional identity, and so forth. Most of them have reasonably well thought out rationales. I'm not saying that I agree with any of them, just that they're not as intellectually vacuous as you're portraying them.

How exactly are the police supposed to tell the difference?

The police aren't supposed to bash you over the head if you're not breaking the law. Period. It's their job to discern who's a bad guy, and peaceful protester are not.



[ Parent ]
Not a troll (4.00 / 1) (#66)
by Simon Kinahan on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 02:27:27 PM EST

The opinions expressed are mine, and I express them because I'm actually interested in the answers, not just in order to wind you up. I express myself strongly because I find the inpossibility of getting decent answers frustrating.

On to your your points: Firstly, I have done the research. I know what the individual components of the protest movement stand for, but its also clear that their goals are mutually contradictory, hence my question is"just what are they trying to acheive ?" Noone has answered this. I do not believe the movement is intellectually vaccuous, but i do believe its directionless and has no actual aims as a whole. Inasmuch as this is the case, part of the media portrayal is accurate.

On violence: actual cases of the police bashing people over the head have been quite rare, though they have lost control on occasion. To the extent that they have done, the police concerned should be disciplined However, to the extent that the police have had to use riot control techniques to get through crowds in order to defend property which was under attack, that is more justifiable. Its not necssarily right, if it posed an risk to non-violent bystanders, but its not an unprovoked assault.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
you're making it too complicated (4.00 / 1) (#91)
by handle on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 06:39:44 PM EST

I know what the individual components of the protest movement stand for, but its also clear that their goals are mutually contradictory, hence my question is"just what are they trying to acheive?"

Why do you think that everyone at a protest has to be pursuing the same agenda? Is everybody at a sporting event there to root for the same team? And so what if their goals are mutually contradictory? Have you never heard the phrase "the enemy of my enemy is my friend"? What they are trying to achieve at the protest is quite simple: publicity. They want they're voices to be heard - by both the oligarchs at the meeting and the by the masses whos' thinking rarely extends beyond whether to go to McDonald's or Burger King.



[ Parent ]
Read my other posts (none / 0) (#144)
by Simon Kinahan on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 11:11:08 AM EST

But to give you a brief summary:

No, its not necessary for the protestors to agree about everything. However, since the point of a protest is to acheive some political goal, they at least need to agree on some minimal set of goals. "Raising aweareness" is not sufficient: awareness of what ? This is where the minimalist, nihilistic message the media attribute to the protestors comes from: "IMF bad. WTO bad. Money bad. McDonalds bad". When you seek publicity without knowing what you are trying to publicise, this is the kind of thing you get labeled with.

No, the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. If I believed that I'd be out there with the protestors since I share many of their "enemies". Enemies are only enemies insofar as they're preventing something I want, or doing something I consider harmful. What I do to them depends on exactly what I think they're doing wrong. I disagree with a great many of the protestors on just what their "enemies" are doing wrong.

As to the public: I suggest that if you really want to convince them of anything, you get a better attitude. Noone's likely to listen to someone accusing them of being a brainless automaton.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
They weren`t` beasts... (2.90 / 10) (#28)
by pallex on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 10:41:45 AM EST

...they were police. Police always do that sort of thing, check your history. Thats what they do.
Beasts dont do that sort of thing.

"The trouble with that is you think the pigs are essentially kind at heart. But the pigs are essentially pigs." - Frank Zappa, Civilisation III.

Police Brutality (4.30 / 13) (#38)
by Mr.Surly on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 12:11:05 PM EST

A few months back, there was some kind of festival or fair in LA County (Southern California, USA), in Long Beach, I believe. The details and the date escape me.

I watched coverage of this event on the news.

But one thing did stick in my mind. At one point, a small percentage of the crowd was being unruly in that they were doing grab-and-run thefts from vendors, and minor vandalism. In no way do I support this activity. However, the police reaction was to clear the entire area -- "Everybody must leave." What I remember is that there was a guy in the area on a pay phone, minding his own business, trying to have a conversation. A cop came up during the herding, tapped him on the shoulder and said "you have to leave." The guy said something like "just a minute." This must have pissed off the cop, because he proceeded to rip the phone out of the guy's hand and started to push him around. If I remember correctly, they ended up throwing him down and handcuffing him

Now, I understand the police were trying to put an end to the theft and vandalism, and the chosen method was to end the event, and clear the area (because "we cannot isolate the troublemakers from the general crowd"), but what happened to this poor schmuck who trying to make a phone call was obviously out-of-hand. It was pretty obvious that he wasn't stealing or vandalizing a damn thing. What was also obvious is that the cop was on a serious power trip. It was one of those situations where they get to push people around and beat them up (even on camera) without reprisal.

I'm not against the police, nor do I think that they're all a bunch of bullies who like to push people around (In fact, in all of my dealings with them -- traffic offenses -- they've been very polite). I'd like to submit, however, that sometimes cops (especially when in a group wearing riot gear) get as belligerent in their actions as the rioting citizens do themselves. Except they're better prepared.

The reaction of the news anchors rather suprised me. Paraphrase: "If a police officer tells you to do something, just do it, or this will happen to you, too." Hmmm, does anyone see anything wrong with that statement? In certain circumstances, yes, do what the officer says, but not absolutely every time, right? Right?



The culture of the riot squad (4.40 / 5) (#96)
by Estanislao Martínez on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 07:13:02 PM EST

I'm not against the police, nor do I think that they're all a bunch of bullies who like to push people around (In fact, in all of my dealings with them -- traffic offenses -- they've been very polite).

What's you physical appearance? (Make special note of skin color.) What kind of car do you drive? How do you dress? Where do you live?

I'd like to submit, however, that sometimes cops (especially when in a group wearing riot gear) get as belligerent in their actions as the rioting citizens do themselves. Except they're better prepared.

You seem to have no clue of how the culture of a police riot squad works. Random Joe Peaceful is never put in the riot squad. Mean Joe Bully is. The fuckers they put in those squads enjoy randomly beating up people. They are trained to do so, and the drive to do it is reinforced by the general culture. When I've been involved in student organizing, I've seen these things first-hand-- I've innocently overheard off-duty riot squads chat between themselves many times, talking about how eager they are to go into action and beat the shit out of "those spoiled brats".

--em
[ Parent ]

I'm very white (none / 0) (#229)
by Mr.Surly on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 09:47:26 PM EST

Sorry for the lateness of my reply -- I was looking for responses to another comment I made, so I looked at "your comments," and I came across this one.

To answer your question: I'm about as white as you can get: of Swedish/Danish descent (and a bit of Native American). I ride a motorcycle, and live in Southern California (Orange County). I'm quite aware that I'm probably treated differently because of my color. But I have had the opportunity to live on the "other side." I lived in Hawaii for 8 years, and I knew exactly what it was like to be a "minority" (quotes representing the misnomer). I've been threatened, discriminated, and assaulted because of the color of my skin.

And yes, I have absolutely no clue about how the "culture of a police riot squad" works.

In any case, I don't think that that disqualifies me from noticing that what they tend to do is the wrong thing.

[ Parent ]
brutality comes with the moustaches? (5.00 / 1) (#182)
by scruffyMark on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 08:22:45 PM EST

The reaction of the news anchors rather suprised me. Paraphrase: "If a police officer tells you to do something, just do it, or this will happen to you, too." Hmmm, does anyone see anything wrong with that statement? In certain circumstances, yes, do what the officer says, but not absolutely every time, right? Right?

By default, I do as I am asked, and refuse to do as I am told. Yes, this has gotten me in trouble more than once, but seldom from anyone I respected.

Another story - I live in Saskatoon, Canada. This city has had one riot in all its history, as far as I know. This was when the Blue Jays won the world series the first time. As soon as the game was over, all the Chachi idiots in town got in their cars and headed to the street where Chachi idiots drive back and forth all weekend long. Predictably enough, there was a lot of noise, and some minor vandalism (I think the worst thing mentioned in the newspaper was some signs getting knocked over).

So, out came the riot squad. It was by all accounts shortly after they started teargassing the place that the riot started. From more observation since then, I think it is safe to say that upwards of 80% of riots (at least in the West) are started by riot police.

Now that I think about it, I remember when it was that I utterly lost my respect for police. I was in grade 9 at the time of the "riot", and I read in the paper the next morning about a kid lying on the ground, in cuffs, redfaced from pepper spray, who got pepper sprayed in the face and clubbed with a truncheon for asking why he was being arrested. The officer who did this, like all the riot cops, had a mask hiding his face, and did not have a badge visible, so he was totally unidentifiable. I was really shaken, especially by the fact that no one, not the reporter, not the chief of police, not my parents, seemed the least bit concerned about this.

[ Parent ]

Wow! I'm impressed. (2.81 / 16) (#56)
by seebs on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 01:29:13 PM EST

You're nearly as incoherent as Katz.

I'll put it to you simply: Violent attempts to disrupt and limit other peoples' right of free speech and free association are not any sort of protected speech, here or elsewhere.

Globalization and capitalism are the best thing that have happened to the poor, because they've made it *possible* to be rich. The lowest standard of living most of us can imagine is worlds ahead of the lives people live in the rest of the world. The reason? We have capitalism and global trade. If you're sitting there at a computer, wondering why people think capitalism is good, you're blind to the reality that capitalism is what gave you the free time to spend wondering which economic systems are the best.

This is physics. It's not subject to change or negotiation. It's not subject to debate. It doesn't matter what we feel. This is *how things work*. We can't change it, we can only adapt to it and use it to pursue our interests.

If you *really* want the sick to become well, the poor to become wealthy, and the downtrodden to be freed, push for globalization and capitalism. Nationalism means wars and isolation. The alternatives to capitalism mean less wealth to go around, and I don't care how evenly you spread "absolutely nothing" around, it still sucks.

Your assignment for today is to go listen to Oingo Boingo's song _Capitalism_. If it offends you, it's about you, and you need to grow up.


Oingo Boingo as philosophy? (4.00 / 4) (#60)
by blixco on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 02:08:22 PM EST

That's the secnd funniest thing I've heard all day. The funniest being your attempt at an explaination for why globalization is good.

But, you've got your mind made up, and that's fine. Thankfully there are people who realize that you don't need to become a part of a corporate culture (or work in a sweatshop) to be successful. You won't ever get this idea, though, because your "physics" revolve around you being owned.

And saying that things can't be changed....that's the weakest thing I've ever heard. The whole reason your capitalism exists is because people wanted change....and they managed it. Now we're looking for the next best thing, so that your grandkids can complain to a website in fifty years about how we can't change [insert dogmatic quasi-philosophical economic model here] because that's the way it is, and nothing can change it.

You know what's funny? It's changing *right now* and you're not doing anything but helping. It's your type of reactionary thought that drives people like me to want something newer and better for the people you think aren't suffering. It's your myopic philosophy that makes me want to take to the streets...if anything just as reaction to such narrow minded thinking. Thanks for the fuel.
-------------------------------------------
The root of the problem has been isolated.
[ Parent ]

You missed the point... (none / 0) (#139)
by seebs on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 10:38:23 AM EST

Of course we can change how we do things. What we can't change is the economics that make them work one way or another.

I never said you have to work in a sweatshop, or be part of a faceless corporate culture. That's totally irrelevant to the question of whether larger groups specialize more effectively than smaller ones.

What gives you the idea that I think people aren't suffering? I know millions of people are suffering; I also know that, as of now, the thing we can do which will best end their suffering the soonest (and I don't count "kill 'em" as ending their suffering, nor "let them starve") is *globalize*. Give them a chance to be part of a more effective economy.

And yes, Oingo Boingo is silly. However, every word in that song describes, perfectly, the sorts of people who are fighting against globalism. They don't know what it is, they have no idea of the alternatives, and if it weren't for globalization, they wouldn't have the resources to spend running around breaking other peoples' toys.


[ Parent ]
Generalizations (4.50 / 2) (#145)
by blixco on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 12:01:39 PM EST

We can't change the economics? Then do away with them.

And saying that the protestors don't know what they are protesting...that's a pretty ballsy generalization. You assume that none of them knows why they're out there fucking things up for you? A lot of them might be there specifically to fuck things up for you. Chaos is a really nice way to force action.

I'm thinking that your idea of globalization is an *ideal,* a plan that hasn't been proven and relies on the honesty and integrity of profit whores. In theory, it would work: we'd all be one people, no individual cultures, no country laws. Bound by the laws of commerce, and every town looks like Everytown, USA. In reality, we'll trample the poor nations, use their resources and cheap labor...and, get this: all without any laws to protect them. Why? Because the laws that would protect them would slow commerce and trade, would slow profit intake.

Bah. It's really very strange to be arguing the side of reality. Typically *I'm* the idealist, and people are screaming at me to wake up. What a strange position to be in.

Really, I didn't expect that this would be a polar issue. It's turning into an abortion debate.
-------------------------------------------
The root of the problem has been isolated.
[ Parent ]

What are you responding to? (4.33 / 3) (#61)
by Khedak on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 02:09:12 PM EST

Are you saying that once peaceful demonstrators are beaten and sprayed with rubber bullets, if they then choose to ignite cars, the police brutality upon them is completely vindicated?

I would disagree, saying that police brutality is what incited the crowds to violence, as always happens in protests such as these, as happened in Seattle a few months ago. Once they incite the crowds to violence, they can then use records and reports of this violence to justify their own actions. This is the sort of police brutality and police state that is unacceptable, and that I thought couldn't occur in 'first-world' nations other than the U.S.

All I see in your post is a misinformed, poorly connected rant in favor of capitalism, loaded with ad hominem attacks against the author. Before you start singing the praises of capitalism, why don't you bother to find out what happened here, and while you're at it, find out what happened to the events in Seattle and Washington last year. Here's a piece of interpretive advice: The police can and do lie about what happened. Your best source are independent journalists, particularly the cameramen who witnessed the brutality, then were themselves beaten and their cameras confiscated.

[ Parent ]
Peaceful protesters... (none / 0) (#140)
by seebs on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 10:41:35 AM EST

Perhaps when I see pages of rhetoric about how the goal of a demonstration is to stop a meeting, or totally prevent people from doing anything, I am too quick to conclude that they wish to stop the meeting.

If these people had peaceful protests, they wouldn't be designing them with a concrete goal of disrupting everyone else as much as possible. Is that really necessary? If it is, you don't have any arguments, so why bother? If you have a real message, "we're going to stop this city completely" is not the way to communicate it.

Maybe there are a number of peaceful protesters, but the ones that will get noticed are the ones who talk about stopping things, destroying things, and wreaking havoc so that everyone will "pay attention".


[ Parent ]
Strange target... (3.00 / 2) (#68)
by sinclair on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 02:38:26 PM EST

I'll put it to you simply: Violent attempts to disrupt and limit other peoples' right of free speech and free association are not any sort of protected speech, here or elsewhere.

If you really belive this, why don't you excoriate the police that did the same in this instance? Or the police forces that have done the same too often in the USA?

[ Parent ]

..and now *your* assignment for today... (4.50 / 4) (#72)
by seb on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 02:58:01 PM EST

First, take some time to listen the viewpoints of those with whom you disagree. Find out if you think they have a spark of rationality in them, that kind of thing. I get the impression you're assuming to know their arguments (or lack thereof). Just in case I'm right, you could try Corporate Watch, or this issue of the New Internationalist on redesigning the global economy.

Then you could read Globalization and the Postmodern Turn by Douglas Kellner, which tries to define globalisation, in both its positive and negative aspects. Finally, perhaps you could search google along the lines of this.

Once you have read and understood both sides of the debate, perhaps you'll be ready to realise that the world doesn't follow some kind of utilitarian, scientific vision of progress, but is far more complicated than that. Then you'll be a man, my son.

[ Parent ]
Why don't you do some "research" (3.00 / 4) (#98)
by duffbeer703 on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 07:35:18 PM EST

And study tactics.

The protestors at these trade conferences get no sympathy from the people because they are not connecting with the people. The fact that most of them are jerk-off college students with no connection to reality doesn't help either.

Blame "the media" or "the establishment" or whatever all you want, but the kind of protests that your side launches slides beneath the radar because they are not relevant. Study people who are or were masters at shaping popular opinion, men like Thomas Paine, Joeseph Goebbels and Jesse Jackson. Study their methods and you can make people give a shit about your cause.

That's the other problem -- your focus is on protests and police abuse, not your CAUSE. The anti-Vietname and Civil Rights protests were effective because they had a CLEAR and discernable cause. The protest march was just a means to an end. The protests that you champion are expressions of boredom and frustration, not a political statement.






[ Parent ]
A good point... (3.00 / 2) (#141)
by seebs on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 10:47:43 AM EST

I responded to the arguments presented in the piece. It wouldn't surprise me if someone had a more plausible-sounding argument against globalization, but it would surprise me quite a bit if there were any good ones. We've had written records and trade for a very long time, and trade always makes all the parties to it richer. (You can find "counterexamples", but in all cases, it's something other than trade that made one party poorer.)

Of course the world doesn't follow a specific "vision" of progress. And, for thousands of years, we didn't have a theory of gravity, or nuclear physics. They still worked. We have the beginnings of some fairly solid economic laws, and there's no evidence that they will change, any sooner than any other kind of math will actually change. We've got rationals and transcendentals, we've got imaginary numbers, we've got obscure bases, and it still turns out that two plus two is four.

My argument isn't that all dislike of globalization is necessarily stupid; it's that the "me-too" crap we see from people who have never been within fifty miles of any of the "suffering" they're talking about *is* stupid.


[ Parent ]
Oh please (3.31 / 16) (#65)
by ncohen on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 02:25:38 PM EST

Please stop trying to win the JonKatz incohernet rambling contest.

I'll just rebutt a point or two here:

From amidst the dust and sweat of Davos, emerges a solitary truth: police action, no matter how disproportionate, can always generate sufficient justification unto itself for further police brutality. In Zurich, blinded and bloodied protestors set fire to a handful of cars. Already, such petty violence is being hailed by officials as precisely the sort of violence a police state must be constructed to fend off.

Being "blind and bloody" does not justify arson and vandalism, and I'm sure you would not consider it "petty" were it your car set ablaze for no reason whatsoever. Moreover, toughening law enforcement has nothing to do with "constructing a police state." This makes no more sense than to say that improving the education system is constructing an academic technocracy. Finally, your main point in this statement ("police brutality is self-justifying") is founded on no more reason than that of your imaginary officials crying for a police state.

Other than a few Starbucks-Intellectual buzzwords like "plutocratic" I see no support for your wild acusations of a tyrannical-capitalist-despots hiding behind a constructed Swiss police state. All I see is a diatribe against those evil capitalist and them rubber-bullet shooting murderous cops because, you know, that's just so cool.
-----
"(A+Bn)/n = x, hence God exists, reply!"

coherence? (4.83 / 6) (#71)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 02:53:17 PM EST

Moreover, toughening law enforcement has nothing to do with "constructing a police state."

You crack me up. What were you saying about coherence?

This makes no more sense than to say that improving the education system is constructing an academic technocracy.

Your anology fails. "Toughening law enforcement" by means of equipping police with riot gear and instructing them to use violence to quash protests before the protests turn violent is hardly analagous to "improving the education system."

I contend that in virtually every one of these protests over global trade that law and order would have prevailed if the protesters had been treated like citizens instead of like criminals. I expect police officers to wait until a crime has been committed (or the intent to commit a crime is clearly demonstrated) before physically attacking the alleged perpetrators. It is amazing how much less people are incited to violence when police wait until after crimes have been committed to beat, detain and arrest protesters.



[ Parent ]
Coherence and Argument. (3.00 / 1) (#106)
by physicsgod on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 08:39:44 PM EST

Actually ncohen is perfectly coherent and has a valid analogy, if you use a certain definition of "police state". If you define police state as "a government in which the police are conspicuous." then you have a point. If, on the other hand, you are like me (and I assume ncohen)and define police state as "a government in which individual liberties are subject to police revocation" then equipping and training the police is exactly the same as improving education for a technocracy. In each case you are training and equipping the ruling class.

As far as your contention
I contend that in virtually every one of these protests over global trade that law and order would have prevailed if the protesters had been treated like citizens instead of like criminals. I expect police officers to wait until a crime has been committed (or the intent to commit a crime is clearly demonstrated) before physically attacking the alleged perpetrators. It is amazing how much less people are incited to violence when police wait until after crimes have been committed to beat, detain and arrest protesters.
I find it seriously flawed. In the three major anti-big-business protests in the US in recent years (Seattle, Washington D.C.(World Bank and/or IMF), and the Inaguration) the protesters, in both proclomation and action, did not act like citizens, but rather spoiled children. Citizens do not blockade streets when exercising their freedom of speech, they do not attempt to interfere with the lawful proceedings of those they disagree with, they do not steal tickets or seats to a public event. These are all actions of irresponsable children who wish to have someone pay attention to them. I must say, it's actions like these that make me wish for a democracy out of _Starship Troopers_. One final word: The IMF, WTO, and World Bank have just as much right to gather as you do; And George W. Bush is President of the US, get over it.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
RE:Coherence and Argument. (4.00 / 1) (#120)
by thePositron on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 11:42:00 PM EST

I suppose in your vision of the world the Boston Tea Party was undertaken by "spoiled children." As far as civil disobediance goes you might try reading Henry David Thoreau and examining US history a little. No one is obligated to accept things they do not like without a fight and the ability to let their opinions be known.



[ Parent ]
sigh... (4.00 / 2) (#127)
by physicsgod on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 12:41:44 AM EST

The Boston Tea Party was a childish act, that had very little to do with the whole revolutionary war, except as a culminating event of years of escalating tension.

The whole point to civil disobedience is that it's just that, CIVIL. You do not destroy property, you do not injure others, you do not use violence. Thoreau went to jail because he refused to pay a poll tax to support what he thought was an unjust war, he did not burn polling places, he did not terrorize tax collectors, he just refused to do what he thought was immoral. That is the difference between adults and children.

The whole idea behind American Democracy is that we take our disagreements into the civil domain. We do not settle our arguments via duels or fistfights, we prepare arguments, state our cases, rebut our opponents and then let the majority decide how the country is run. The only way government works is if we forgo violence.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
SIGh...Sigh.. (3.00 / 1) (#132)
by thePositron on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 04:16:38 AM EST

AS if everyone who protests breaks windows etc...
You are generalizing to a great degree. The source of info for your perception of the protestors seems to be TV and Media that is driven by spectacle.


[ Parent ]
clarification (3.00 / 1) (#187)
by physicsgod on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 09:52:26 PM EST

My point was that many people have the mentality that "no matter what we do as long an we're protesting it's civil disobedience and we're doing our democratic duty." I was attempting to point out that as soon as you engage in violence of ANY kind (breaking windows, harming people, throwing insults) they are no longer civil. It also doesn't matter if the police hit you first, truly civil disobedience turns the other cheek (i.e. Gandhi)

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Gandhi (none / 0) (#190)
by thePositron on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 10:16:32 PM EST

Gandhi confirms my belief that protestors have the right to express themselves even though some may get out of control. Gandhi himself was arrested for disobeying unjust laws. Besides who are you to dictate the terms of expression? When did you become the authority on what is acceptable and unacceptable as a means of civil disobediance? The way I look at is if one persons freedom of is compromised my freedom is compromised. Another important fact that you are missing here is that in the US people are considered innocent until proven guilty not the other way around. You are assuming that these protestors are guilty until proven innocent. It would never stand up in a court of law. As for the constitution goes, there are no provisions for the permitting of assembly. Permitting, pending the approval of government authorities is a violation of the letter and the spirit of the 1 st amendment no matter what you say your freeking business interests are. The right to assemble and to redress grievances will not be sacrificed for YOUR
business interests.

[ Parent ]
I might not be an authority... (3.00 / 1) (#218)
by physicsgod on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 11:02:50 PM EST

But the US Supreme Court is, and they have said that placing reasonable restrictions on assemblies does not violate the letter or spirit of the first amendment period, end of sentence, there's no where else to go. The world is not as black and white as you would like it to be, the first amendmend does not say "the people shall be able to congregate whenever and wherever they choose" and there are cases when a group assembling is illegal (try arguing with the cops next time you have a rowdy party).

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Still.. (none / 0) (#219)
by thePositron on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 11:25:58 PM EST

The Supreme Court has been wrong in the past. Further I am not looking at it is a black and white issue but rather as I matter of principle. Permits can be used to obstruct freedom of speech and the right to assemble whether or not judges have ruled them to be "legal" or not. therefore I have concluded that they can do more harm then good to the letter and spirit of the law. I don't need tthe Suprem Court to tell me what I believe, I have my conscience and ability to reason to do that for me. Unless you want to take the sovereignty of thought from me as well because it threatens YOUR business interests.

[ Parent ]
shooting at a strawman (5.00 / 1) (#137)
by Anonymous 242 on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 08:45:12 AM EST

One final word: The IMF, WTO, and World Bank have just as much right to gather as you do; And George W. Bush is President of the US, get over it.

You misread my position. Never have I contended that these organizations do not have the right to gather. My complaint is threefold: (1) the police officers involved with "controlling" the demonstrations have trampled on the rights of citizens uninvolved with the protest; (2) the expectation of violence on the part of the police and outfitting a massive number of officers in riot gear heavily contributed to the atmosphere that incited the protesters to riot; and (3) in many cases (perhaps not all) the behavior of the police was the direct cause of the violence on the part of the protesters.

For support of (1) see my comment here. For support of (2) see my comment here. For support of (3) see a khedak's comment here.

Citizens do not blockade streets when exercising their freedom of speech, they do not attempt to interfere with the lawful proceedings of those they disagree with, they do not steal tickets or seats to a public event.

Your statement is obviously fallacious. In the cases your present citizens of the US did engage in the behavior that you claim that citizens do not engage in. I suppose what you mean is that mature citizens do not engage in such behavior. To a limited extent I agree with this. Mature citizens generally find better ways to express their frustration. There are exceptions. Someone else pointed out the Boston Tea Party. I would point out Mahatama Mohandas Gandhi's campaign of non-violent civil disobedience that led to India's independance from Britain.

I am not contending, nor have I ever contended, that people that commit crimes should not be punished. I do have a problem when police stomp on people's rights in the name of "keeping the peace." I also have a problem when the behavior of "peacekeepers" largely contributes to further violence instead of keeping peace. People guilty of non-violent crimes (such as blocking sidewalks or public entrances to buildings) should be arrested with minimal use of force. Only people that commit violent crimes (throwing bricks through windows, assaulting the horses of mounted police, etc.) should have violent measures taken against them.

if you use a certain definition of "police state". If you define police state as "a government in which the police are conspicuous." then you have a point. If, on the other hand, you are like me (and I assume ncohen)and define police state as "a government in which individual liberties are subject to police revocation" then equipping and training the police is exactly the same as improving education for a technocracy.

In nations like the US and Switzerland where the police have the right to trample on the civil liberties of citizens uninvolved with a protest simply because a protest is occuring, any amount equipping the police further contributes to a police state.



[ Parent ]
i'd have to agree... (none / 0) (#191)
by maskatron on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 10:31:40 PM EST

i'd tend to agree with this poster - destroying some local mcdonalds franchise accomplishes nothing except destroy an innocent person's property. yeah, we're here and we must be dealt with. ok, great. don't get me wrong - there are plenty of things to take issue with regarding the wto and others, but why can't people see that the real problem is that governments ARE BOUGHT AND SOLD. "evil corporations" do this because they can. my point is that the dangerous part (when things get forced on you) is administered by the governments. starbucks doesn't force you to drink their coffee. am i going insane (possible), or why do people not recognize this? maskatron

[ Parent ]
Psychology of "They Deserve It" (4.20 / 15) (#67)
by sinclair on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 02:28:23 PM EST

I'm struck, as I always am when this topic arises, by the inevitable cries of "they deserve it!" and the casual dismissal of the protesters' cause. My thoughts always turn to wondering why people so casually ignore governments sliding towards tyranny. I think two factors are at work.

First off, the well-known blame-the-victim phenomenon. We humans really don't like it when bad things happen to us, especially when they happen for no reason whatsoever. It tends to shatter whatever sense of security we can muster. Therefore, we like to think that bad things happen to people because they did something wrong. Just look at one of humanity's most enduring story plots: bad things happening to people who deserve it. The Greeks had their tragedies, in which a fatal flaw brings down a good person. We have our action-adventure movies. It's for this reason that we want to think that protesters who fall victim to power-tripping police forces somehow deserved it, that they brought the bad things upon themselves. They're violent hooligans who have no real message and only want to disrupt good institutions. The media report it this way, and nobody thinks to question it because it fits our desires so neatly.

The second factor, compounding the first, is our out-of-sight-out-of-mind tendency. It's another well-known facet of human psychology that if we ignore it, it doesn't exist, right? Unfortunately, there are bad things afoot in this so-called New World Order. Our free societies are slowly morphing into police states, and an unaccountable, monied elite has already emerged with the unchecked power to corrode national sovereignty and the standard of living for billions of people. The people takingto the streets in protest have the unmitigated gall to point out these problems! This tends to disturb the citizens of developed nations who, comfortable for now with safety, stability, two cars and a big television, want to remain blissfully ignorant. I've noticed this too often in myself and others: If somebody is doing a thing they know deep down is stupid and you point out that it's stupid, they'll get mad at you for pointing it out.

Fact is, most of the so-called "anti-globalization" protesters are peaceful, and have legitimate gripes. However, you won't hear about it in the mainstream media. Why, corporate media hegemony aside? As a result of the above two human tendencies, it wouldn't pull enough eyeballs to sell cars and toothpaste.

Nice Troll (1.00 / 5) (#94)
by duffbeer703 on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 06:45:13 PM EST

Where can I learn to do that?

[ Parent ]
An equally common phenomenon ... (none / 0) (#158)
by LegionDaMany on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 04:00:51 PM EST

... is "The Man Is Out To Get You". I'm not saying that just because you're paranoid that they're not out to get you ... but let's look at it rationally.

Police are people. Some people are good, some people are bad. Unfortunately, you're not going to get enough saints to populate the police forces of the entire world. I don't know what the protesters in Davos did or didn't do ... but it's probably a pretty safe bet they weren't cooperating completely with the police. Did they deserve to be beat up and sprayed with cow manure (whether toxic or not)? No. But if it's not a 100% peaceful protest ... with no antagonism of the police then I'm not surprised by it either, human nature being considered.

Also, since when has the "monied elite" ever not been in power? Since when has it been subject to the same rules as those outside that class? You speak as if the world is changing from someplace good and wonderful into a horrible, horrible place. This is the way it's always been ... and quite possibly always will be. I suggest that the world was never as sweet as you seem to posit, nor is it morphing into the living hell that you claim. It's somewhere in between the two ... and fairly static.


Call me Legion for I am Many ...
[ Parent ]
Sort of... (none / 0) (#199)
by sinclair on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 02:05:00 AM EST

Certainly, I agree about the police forces. Some officers are good, some bad. My point was about the reaction to their actions, whether they were condemned or condoned, but mostly about how many people condone such actions. The actions of police forces are related, though, because they reflect a lot of the greater culture of which they are a part. To use an extreme example, it'd take one heck of a greater disturbance to get that Davos police force to use batons and water cannons on a group of grannies advocating for more fuzzy kittens.

CW Watch: (to borrow a Newsweek-ism)

  • Grannies: /\
  • Anti-corporate-power protesters: \/
  • Police: <->

Now, I hope I didn't come across as positing a world full of sweetness and light. I don't believe that for a moment. But I must strongly disagree with the notion that the human condition remains fairly static. Our ancestors were monkeys who learned to walk upright and talk, and we're monkeys who learned to walk upright and talk on cell phones, so the overall trend of the human condition is upward. However, there are plenty of bumps along the way. At certain times, in certain places, living is good. In other times, in other places, it's hell on earth. The world undeniably has its ups and downs. If this weren't so, the European Renaissance wouldn't be seen as such a big deal.

There's no denying that we in developed nations do have it fantastically good right now. Just consider that article linked on Slashdot that compared life in 1900 to life in 1950 for some good arguments on that point. (If /.'s search function didn't suck so much, I'd have the link.) However, I see signs of this fantastic goodness eroding, and so do the people who are taking to the streets to protest globalization. Sure, this scourge may not lower our standard of living to even the level of a Roman emporer (or it might make it worse for us, if the environmental doomsayers are right), but is that any reason for complacency? Is there some reason we shouldn't try to hold on to what we've got, or even to try to make things better than we've ever had it? To try to make things better for other people, too?

Anyway, that's why I use such heated prose in these kinds of discussions. For whatever silly reason, I care about such things.

[ Parent ]

<rant> (2.64 / 14) (#73)
by stewartj76 on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 02:59:15 PM EST

I think you misplaced the rant tag. It should be at the top of the "article" (more of a editorial masquerading as news, just like real news companies)

Wow, this makes me wish for the incoherent page-view-generating rants/trolls of Mr. Katz.

Congratulations... (3.00 / 2) (#82)
by Anonymous 7324 on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 04:59:52 PM EST

On forgetting your own <rant> tags. I mean, you posted your eloquent little "this sucks" rant, and didn't give a single reason either.

More over, mentioning Katz here invokes his own little version of Godwin's law, and so you just lost the argument. Darn...

[ Parent ]
History lesson (none / 0) (#167)
by aphrael on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 04:58:07 PM EST

think you misplaced the rant tag.

A bit of K5 history is in order, here, I think: Op-Ed used to be called 'rants' and was renamed because there were so few decent rants being posted.

[ Parent ]

Whats with the tags? (3.60 / 15) (#74)
by thePsychotron on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 03:08:43 PM EST

The most entertaining part of this article is that the author put <rant></rant> tags around a section of the text to warn the reader that the enclosed is heavily opinionated, unjustified, possibly incoherent, and probably inflamitory. What I find amusing is that it also suggests that the rest of the article is none of this. I think the entire thing should have been surrouned by <rant></rant> tags and never been moderated to the front page. Just my opinion...

thePsychotron

Thats the key weakness (2.25 / 4) (#93)
by duffbeer703 on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 06:44:30 PM EST

Thats the key weakness to the moderation on Kuro5hin... it is very easily to troll stupid topics like this to the top.

About every fifth article on this website is "I'm a CS/MIS student and I hate small talk". A close runner up is this Libertarian/Green/Wackho "I was arrested for picking my nose while protesting nothing" garbage.

[ Parent ]
Here's a Coherent Reason for Protest (4.12 / 8) (#79)
by jazman_777 on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 03:52:20 PM EST

Local decisions made locally. Not by a bureaucrat (whose favorite color is gray) in some distant capital, who understands nothing about the local needs, preferences, culture, traditions, etc.

Globalism means more power centralized in fewer people. There is remote power making decisions about your life, your community. The ones who push it are those few people who get to do the exercising of that power, or the groupies of those lucky few (i.e., mainstream media and various lapdog intellectuals, typically prowling the New York-WashingtonDC corridor).

Globalism means the homogenization of life--regional quirks and particulars are paved over. It means: McDonald's and Wal-Mart. It means the average American suburban shopping mall, in which all the stores are the same as you find in any shopping mall.

Globalism means the central authority gets to take your sons and daughters to die policing some border dispute halfway around the world. Oh, wait, there won't _be_ any more border disputes! It'll be a perfect utopia! Well, sign me up for the cause!







Why go as far as Switzerland? Click here. (1.00 / 2) (#138)
by leonbrooks on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 09:35:54 AM EST

Hah, beat you to the draw, this was published before the riots.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]
Huh? (3.62 / 8) (#80)
by pope nihil on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 04:13:06 PM EST

from http://194.158.230.225/euronews/startmsg.html

Pinochet's arrest ordered again for human rights crimes

A new arrest warrant has been issued for former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet on charges of human rights abuses during his rule.Over the weekend the general was seen returning to his home outside the capital Santiago after a brief stay in hospital following a new health scare. His lawyers say he is very sick.His opponents say its the latest tactic used by his family and loyal friends to keep him out of the courts. They claim the 85 year old is in nowhere as frail a state as he makes out.However judge Guzman who has been questioning Pinochet is apparantly now confident he can put him on trial and believes his health is not a major cause for concern.He has now decided to charge him in connection with the death or disappearance of 70 known left wing activists under his rule in the 1970s and 80s. Pinochet's lawyers would almost certainly appeal any decision to charge him. As news emerged from the courts in Santiago that Pinochet may finally be put on trial in his own country, relatives of those who suffered under dictatorship couldnt quite believe it was true.One woman said we had waited for years for this very news and finally its true.She said it was worth waiting to see that in Chile justice can be done. Of course similar scenes of celebration by those who want to put Pinochet on trial have turned to tears in the past as one hurdle after another has seen Pinochet manage to escape trial time and time again.


What does that have to do with protestors in business suits getting past blockades?


I voted.

Well (2.66 / 3) (#83)
by Aztech on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 05:14:08 PM EST

Obviously this page displays the latest news, which happens to be constantly updated, when this story was posted I guess it was reporting something about Davos' but has now been updated.

[ Parent ]
The borked link (3.66 / 3) (#124)
by kraant on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 12:27:08 AM EST

Not being the author I can't gurrantee their intent but this seems to be a good candidate for the information that was supposed to be at the end of the link... Although I don't see any reference to protestors getting through by wearing suits.

I do have to admit finding the choice of an upmarket ski resort for the meeting to be rather funny in a sick way... One day they're deciding the fate of the world the next skiing then relaxing in a sauna.


--
"kraant, open source guru" -- tumeric
Never In Our Names...
[ Parent ]
I don't know the truth anymore (3.91 / 12) (#87)
by extrasolar on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 05:45:47 PM EST

I don't know the truth anymore. How come every time I see an article like this, I am always afraid of being persuaded by libretarian extremists? Or am I afraid of that what they are saying is true? I can't tell.

Anyone who's been using the internet know's to take many articles like these with a grain of salt. Especially when they start making large sweeping statements or if they pit a us and against them...without trying to rationalize the behavior of the "opposing" team.

I am by no means a libretarian. I will agree that our government is many times unfair...sometimes in some of the worst ways. But I do not agree that the solution is to abandon it or most of it.

But anymore, I need to see the event with my own eyes to be certain. There are two sides to every coin. I just need to be damned sure I am on the right one.

Good Reason. (1.87 / 8) (#92)
by duffbeer703 on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 06:40:42 PM EST

You are being manipulated by the political fringe.

Remember during the elections when every other post was "There is one truely democratic, independent candidate...Ralph Nader"??? I noticed this especially on Slashdot, Kuro5hin and FuckedCompany.com

Since nobody really supports these people, they turn to the cheapest possible way to get their message out... message board trolling.

It actually is a pretty intelligent move, they hook alot of young, smart 'geeks' with little or no political thoughts into their movement.



[ Parent ]
Libertarians are not the only other option (none / 0) (#149)
by nostriluu on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 01:30:31 PM EST

I don't consider myself a libertarian at all, though I do notice a lot of "them" on the discussion boards.

The fact is all of our systems are under constant revision, due to ever increasing awareness of individuals in society as well as increasing technological capability. To increase stability, we have all the legacy ways of doing things that are so comprehensible to us, and these are present in politics, business, etc. As these systems become outdated there's a societical push to change or get rid of them. However, the human races' potential (if you consider this to be something like the highest quality living conditions and capabilities for expansion for all humans [and ideally all identifiable species having a concern in "reality"]) is severely limited by the "old boys network" which has a stranglehold on the bulk of humanities' systems and beliefs - which is probably all for the sake of stability, though I'm a bit skeptical of that because humans can cooperate very well when under stress, and there's an awful lot of unexplored potential in having people being "people" rather than cost-efficient accessories to factory machines.

To me the promise of the internet is not a bunch of new millionaires with big swimmin' pools, but instead updates to the political, government, business, societical, etc systems (which are really the same thing, but we live in such a dysfunctional and coarse world that we have to put $$$ on services for each other)... however much the internet "boom" seemed to reach the public's consciousness, many of the most significant effects - open knowledge, finer communications, etc - have not been realized, and in fact in many ways are being supressed by legacy systems calling themselves "business." Yet I don't think people will never be able to get along until this level of communication exists.



[ Parent ]

Argh! (none / 0) (#151)
by nostriluu on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 01:35:40 PM EST

> Yet I don't think people will never be able to get along until this level of communication exists. s/will never/will ever/

[ Parent ]
You are almost saying nothing (none / 0) (#161)
by extrasolar on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 04:17:31 PM EST

You are speaking so abstractly and, if I may, politically that you are almost saying nothing at all.

You start out by saying how we have legacy way of doing things and that as these become outdated, some people try to get rid of them. But what makes doing something a "legacy" and how do they become outdated. My answer would be that they can't. But that depends really on what you are talking about...which you haven't given a clue.

Then you speak of an "old boys network" and stability, which should be defined as well. And your speak about people being "people" is a very flawed metaphor for it doesn't make any sense. If anyone doubted that people are people, then please raise your hand. Didn't think so.

As far as the promise of the internet, you make the beginning of a case about this. Personally, I think that promise of the internet needs more technological change than social change. Its like all them ideas of the space program. We know how to do it...we just haven't yet.

What am I talking about exactly? Well, take Kuro5hin. You speak about open communication of ideas. Well, in essence Kuro5hin is the realization of that. Kuro5hin is also Free Software so others can implement it on their systems also while tailoring it to their needs.

I would love for Kuro5hin to integrate many of the things Yahoo! offers. Much of the assumptions of Kuro5hin is that we are all of the same community. As has been evident to me lately, Kuro5hin has members of many communities. Yahoo! has a feature called "clubs"...each club constitutes a "community" and anyone can set up a club. Each club has a message board, photo gallery, links, chat room etc. In addition, you can see when other members of a club is online with Yahoo! messanger. It would be great if something like Kuro5hin could incorporate this with Jabber.

In addition, I would like to see something Kuro5hin-like available for non-web based clients. The potential for such a system could be phenomenal. gnupg could be used for authentication, etc.

Also a new markup language could be designed. Apparently XML and stylesheets is too complicated for leading browsers to implement correctly. They've been trying for years to get it right and still haven't. Such a markup language should have the ability for marking up mathematical symbols, charts and graphs, simple diagrams, and images of course. Internationalization is a must as well. Hopefully this would make it a good solution for the Academic world.

And we already know how many leading web sites are layed out. We can incorporate navigational and editing components directly into the language...or wherever they are appropriate.

With proper authentication and encryption, voting systems and public debate can be seen with the public online. And of course there is electronic commerce, this can be improved as well but we shouldn't be bombarded with their advertisements. This should be something that can be turned off by the user. Free Software will always allow that.

So I think I addressed your promise of the internet. And we already know how to do all of the above. We just haven't done it yet.

Only then can we complain about people with big swimming pools.

But you post has some good ideas behind I believe. If you expanded it all out and defined your terms and do research and get facts, it could make for a good article on Kuro5hin.

[ Parent ]
more bits (none / 0) (#212)
by nostriluu on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 06:05:27 PM EST

> You are speaking so abstractly and, if I may, politically that you are almost saying nothing at all. It's true I went out on a few tangents after my initial assertation that it's not the "libertarians vs the established system". They were all related though. :> I am speaking in abstract terms beacuse that's what I'm interested in, and I'm trying to avoid getting caught up in another pointless semantics argument. In defense of whether or not I'm saying anything, at least it's only bits. :> > You start out by saying how we have legacy way of doing things and that as these become outdated, some people try to get rid of them. But what makes doing something a "legacy" and how do they become outdated. My answer would be that they can't. But that depends really on what you are talking about...which you haven't given a clue. Everything eventually become obsolete. It's a part of a reality. For example, a 30 year old dishwasher may cost more in terms of material and process to manufacturer, and more environmentally unfriendly. Buildings and processes evolve and often become obsolete, often their only value remaining being historical. Speaking specifically of computers, society and business, there was apparently a "revolution of the computers" in the 50s where it was thought that computers were going to free society. That's didn't really happen (though there were some improvements in quality of life) and things settled down to new set of standard processes involved in trade. > Then you speak of an "old boys network" and stability, which should be defined as well. And your speak about people being "people" is a very flawed metaphor for it doesn't make any sense. If anyone doubted that people are people, then please raise your hand. Didn't think so. Now here we are again, apparently at the tail end of a technological change, except this time it's another "old guard" with their established ways that would like to defend against the "new ways" of using change. For example, patent and copyright laws, FUD and other forms of advertising, buying competitors and other games to control the market and focus on controlled innovation, rather than wholesale adoption of new capabilities, open sharing, etc. Of course, all 6.3 billion people on the planet can't change overnight. This resistance is part of stability because it's easy to follow systems and very hard to make things up as you go along. Imagine if we could though. :> Anyway, people who work in factories are mostly treated as commodities, someone somewhere decided it would be less expensive to have a person pull a level or insert a piece of metal every 5 minutes than to use a computer. You could also say that many people's workday lives are full of pointless exchanges, and most people spend large chunks of their time staring at the wall or surfing irrelvant (to their employer) web sites. The business world is incredibly inefficient and redundant. The quality of people's lives is based on an abstract system mired in the past. You could say this is a form of social welfare where business is made as inefficient as possible so that responsibility is spread out over many people. Yet I think this could be approached more directly and with a bit more respect to the unique individuals involved rather than the charades we must all carry out now. You could say that it is possible for anyone to escape the system, and it's true, but it's largely a matter of perception, believing something can be done, and that is a big contributor to our class-full systems. In fact our societies are often very pessimistic, with bad news stories and slasher movies and people locking into their safest courses whenever possible. It would be nice if those perceptions could be lifted. :> But I'm not going to say this is not wishful thinking. I know it is. Unfortunately (and inevitably) there is a big bias against progressive change, just look at the new US President's mandate, which arguably doesn't seem to be about giving every person on earth equal access to our shared resources, preventing domination, and promoting harmony, and in fact seems kind of conservative and confrontational. Well, I'm not saying it's his or anyone's fault for taking that point of view, and I think there is a lot of thought and sensivity put into the running of our societies, and perhaps even an intrinsic sense of balance. However I think it would be nice if things were more balanced, if instead of hyping up sports and money and cars and assuming we need rigid class systems, people might have a better understanding, and possibility of interacting with the big picture. People's interests might be a bigger part of their jobs instead of their ability to press a button - right now, for most people, the prevailing feeling is your employer is your enemy and it's best to avoid any kind of "trouble." Bringing computers and more importantly systems of trust, open knowledge and communication, with a sustainable hobbyist/geek culture into our culture, and using the benefits to directly and intentionally improve people's quality of life, will be a big part of that. I am impressed and do have a very good feeling about the intentions of many things that are done on the Web. Though lately I've been upping my estimations of when milestones will be reached by orders of magnitude. > As far as the promise of the internet, you make the beginning of a case about this. Personally, I think that promise of the internet needs more technological change than social change. Its like all them ideas of the space program. We know how to do it...we just haven't yet. This is very dangerous though. Would you have computers carry out law? Laws are dynamic, some laws that are only 100 years old are now considered inhumane, and we have to hope this progression continues. And laws are enacted and changed with precedence in every moment. For example, who is to say that one individual should be locked out of our system? Yet if they don't have any financial resources, and they don't trust anyone, then it's very easy using automatic systems to prevent them access to many fundamentals of society, further pushing them out. In effect this happens on different scales right now, from outsider individuals denied access to transportation to reach the one person they trust, to people in countries caught up in adopting a "new economic system," having their land and lifestyles taken away at gunpoint by "capitalists" or "facists"... And there is an equally like chance that the new "Simcity" political rule wouldn't result in neighborhoods kicking out "undesireables" (which could be their own relatives, products of positive change, or anything else that isn't part of their immediate culture). There is a significant amount of effort being made to make sure that true micro voting doesn't happen for this reason - it's evident in the representative rather than direct American poltical design already. > What am I talking about exactly? Well, take Kuro5hin. You speak about open communication of ideas. Well, in essence Kuro5hin is the realization of that. Kuro5hin is also Free Software so others can implement it on their systems also while tailoring it to their needs. > I would love for Kuro5hin to integrate many of the things Yahoo! offers. Much of the assumptions of Kuro5hin is that we are all of the same community. As has been evident to me lately, Kuro5hin has members of many communities. Yahoo! has a feature called "clubs"...each club constitutes a "community" and anyone can set up a club. Each club has a message board, photo gallery, links, chat room etc. In addition, you can see when other members of a club is online with Yahoo! messanger. It would be great if something like Kuro5hin could incorporate this with Jabber. I think there are many issues of signal to noise - which interactive site do you participate in? Google used to be great, now, even there and depending what I'm looking for, I find mostly advertisements instead of FAQs and reviews. And most of the sites seem to be orienting themselves towards being "portals" to sports, weather, and established news - its too dangerous and not profitable (sustainable) to focus and promote anything outside of that. Apparently the Web's only mandate is to sell to as many people as possible. Why aren't we all just participating in an evolved open Usenet or more sophisticated systems based on the original ideas of hypertext? Commercial pollution and lack of fuller understanding. Then there's preaching to the converted (people love to reaffirm themselves), along with attendant self-righteous or elitist feelings that do nothing for anyone except reinforce blame. I don't know how many times I'm going to see a new internet politcal group who is out to save us from the "other people." They just end up alienating a lot of people who could be on their side, then burn out.. Groups go through the same ridiculous motions over and over again.. since time immemorial. I hope XML does enable reliable and consistant exchange of information between sources, that will be signficant if it's not totally hoarded or corrupted by commercial interests. And I am blown away by Open Source, I hope for a corresponding Open Data movement that is even bigger and has more of society's mindshare than the technicians. > In addition, I would like to see something Kuro5hin-like available for non-web based clients. The potential for such a system could be phenomenal. gnupg could be used for authentication, etc. You have a lot of good ideas and I think they are all part of what is "in the works." But I hope the future is very bright instead of very dismally just adapting things to outdated systems. > Also a new markup language could be designed. Apparently XML and stylesheets is too complicated for leading browsers to implement correctly. They've been trying for years to get it right and still haven't. Such a markup language should have the ability for marking up mathematical symbols, charts and graphs, simple diagrams, and images of course. Internationalization is a must as well. Hopefully this would make it a good solution for the Academic world. Well, XML is very general purpose and can be adapted to pretty much any purpose. There are various applications of XML like mathematical languages. As for the Academic world - why not the Whole world? I know a ton of people interested in "academic" topics as hobbies, why not enable them and let them participate like amatuer astronomers are now? > With proper authentication and encryption, voting systems and public debate can be seen with the public online. And of course there is electronic commerce, this can be improved as well but we shouldn't be bombarded with their advertisements. This should be something that can be turned off by the user. Free Software will always allow that. I hope you are right. :> > So I think I addressed your promise of the internet. And we already know how to do all of the above. We just haven't done it yet. There are a zillion ways it could go. Your reality is determined by the direction you choose to go... I'm hoping the humans will use the computers to become more human. :> Thanks for reading all the bits.

[ Parent ]
more bits with better linefeeds (ignore last bits) (none / 0) (#213)
by nostriluu on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 06:06:30 PM EST

> You are speaking so abstractly and, if I may, politically that you are almost saying nothing at all.

It's true I went out on a few tangents after my initial assertation that it's not the "libertarians vs the established system". They were all related though. :> I am speaking in abstract terms beacuse that's what I'm interested in, and I'm trying to avoid getting caught up in another pointless semantics argument. In defense of whether or not I'm saying anything, at least it's only bits. :>

> You start out by saying how we have legacy way of doing things and that as these become outdated, some people try to get rid of them. But what makes doing something a "legacy" and how do they become outdated. My answer would be that they can't. But that depends really on what you are talking about...which you haven't given a clue.

Everything eventually become obsolete. It's a part of a reality. For example, a 30 year old dishwasher may cost more in terms of material and process to manufacturer, and more environmentally unfriendly. Buildings and processes evolve and often become obsolete, often their only value remaining being historical. Speaking specifically of computers, society and business, there was apparently a "revolution of the computers" in the 50s where it was thought that computers were going to free society. That's didn't really happen (though there were some improvements in quality of life) and things settled down to new set of standard processes involved in trade.

> Then you speak of an "old boys network" and stability, which should be defined as well. And your speak about people being "people" is a very flawed metaphor for it doesn't make any sense. If anyone doubted that people are people, then please raise your hand. Didn't think so.

Now here we are again, apparently at the tail end of a technological change, except this time it's another "old guard" with their established ways that would like to defend against the "new ways" of using change. For example, patent and copyright laws, FUD and other forms of advertising, buying competitors and other games to control the market and focus on controlled innovation, rather than wholesale adoption of new capabilities, open sharing, etc.

Of course, all 6.3 billion people on the planet can't change overnight. This resistance is part of stability because it's easy to follow systems and very hard to make things up as you go along. Imagine if we could though. :>

Anyway, people who work in factories are mostly treated as commodities, someone somewhere decided it would be less expensive to have a person pull a level or insert a piece of metal every 5 minutes than to use a computer. You could also say that many people's workday lives are full of pointless exchanges, and most people spend large chunks of their time staring at the wall or surfing irrelvant (to their employer) web sites. The business world is incredibly inefficient and redundant. The quality of people's lives is based on an abstract system mired in the past. You could say this is a form of social welfare where business is made as inefficient as possible so that responsibility is spread out over many people. Yet I think this could be approached more directly and with a bit more respect to the unique individuals involved rather than the charades we must all carry out now.

You could say that it is possible for anyone to escape the system, and it's true, but it's largely a matter of perception, believing something can be done, and that is a big contributor to our class-full systems. In fact our societies are often very pessimistic, with bad news stories and slasher movies and people locking into their safest courses whenever possible. It would be nice if those perceptions could be lifted. :> But I'm not going to say this is not wishful thinking. I know it is.

Unfortunately (and inevitably) there is a big bias against progressive change, just look at the new US President's mandate, which arguably doesn't seem to be about giving every person on earth equal access to our shared resources, preventing domination, and promoting harmony, and in fact seems kind of conservative and confrontational. Well, I'm not saying it's his or anyone's fault for taking that point of view, and I think there is a lot of thought and sensivity put into the running of our societies, and perhaps even an intrinsic sense of balance. However I think it would be nice if things were more balanced, if instead of hyping up sports and money and cars and assuming we need rigid class systems, people might have a better understanding, and possibility of interacting with the big picture. People's interests might be a bigger part of their jobs instead of their ability to press a button - right now, for most people, the prevailing feeling is your employer is your enemy and it's best to avoid any kind of "trouble." Bringing computers and more importantly systems of trust, open knowledge and communication, with a sustainable hobbyist/geek culture into our culture, and using the benefits to directly and intentionally improve people's quality of life, will be a big part of that.

I am impressed and do have a very good feeling about the intentions of many things that are done on the Web. Though lately I've been upping my estimations of when milestones will be reached by orders of magnitude.

> As far as the promise of the internet, you make the beginning of a case about this. Personally, I think that promise of the internet needs more technological change than social change. Its like all them ideas of the space program. We know how to do it...we just haven't yet.

This is very dangerous though. Would you have computers carry out law? Laws are dynamic, some laws that are only 100 years old are now considered inhumane, and we have to hope this progression continues. And laws are enacted and changed with precedence in every moment. For example, who is to say that one individual should be locked out of our system? Yet if they don't have any financial resources, and they don't trust anyone, then it's very easy using automatic systems to prevent them access to many fundamentals of society, further pushing them out. In effect this happens on different scales right now, from outsider individuals denied access to transportation to reach the one person they trust, to people in countries caught up in adopting a "new economic system," having their land and lifestyles taken away at gunpoint by "capitalists" or "facists"...

And there is an equally like chance that the new "Simcity" political rule wouldn't result in neighborhoods kicking out "undesireables" (which could be their own relatives, products of positive change, or anything else that isn't part of their immediate culture). There is a significant amount of effort being made to make sure that true micro voting doesn't happen for this reason - it's evident in the representative rather than direct American poltical design already.

> What am I talking about exactly? Well, take Kuro5hin. You speak about open communication of ideas. Well, in essence Kuro5hin is the realization of that. Kuro5hin is also Free Software so others can implement it on their systems also while tailoring it to their needs.

> I would love for Kuro5hin to integrate many of the things Yahoo! offers. Much of the assumptions of Kuro5hin is that we are all of the same community. As has been evident to me lately, Kuro5hin has members of many communities. Yahoo! has a feature called "clubs"...each club constitutes a "community" and anyone can set up a club. Each club has a message board, photo gallery, links, chat room etc. In addition, you can see when other members of a club is online with Yahoo! messanger. It would be great if something like Kuro5hin could incorporate this with Jabber.

I think there are many issues of signal to noise - which interactive site do you participate in? Google used to be great, now, even there and depending what I'm looking for, I find mostly advertisements instead of FAQs and reviews. And most of the sites seem to be orienting themselves towards being "portals" to sports, weather, and established news - its too dangerous and not profitable (sustainable) to focus and promote anything outside of that. Apparently the Web's only mandate is to sell to as many people as possible. Why aren't we all just participating in an evolved open Usenet or more sophisticated systems based on the original ideas of hypertext? Commercial pollution and lack of fuller understanding.

Then there's preaching to the converted (people love to reaffirm themselves), along with attendant self-righteous or elitist feelings that do nothing for anyone except reinforce blame. I don't know how many times I'm going to see a new internet politcal group who is out to save us from the "other people." They just end up alienating a lot of people who could be on their side, then burn out.. Groups go through the same ridiculous motions over and over again.. since time immemorial.

I hope XML does enable reliable and consistant exchange of information between sources, that will be signficant if it's not totally hoarded or corrupted by commercial interests. And I am blown away by Open Source, I hope for a corresponding Open Data movement that is even bigger and has more of society's mindshare than the technicians.

> In addition, I would like to see something Kuro5hin-like available for non-web based clients. The potential for such a system could be phenomenal. gnupg could be used for authentication, etc.

You have a lot of good ideas and I think they are all part of what is "in the works." But I hope the future is very bright instead of very dismally just adapting things to outdated systems.

> Also a new markup language could be designed. Apparently XML and stylesheets is too complicated for leading browsers to implement correctly. They've been trying for years to get it right and still haven't. Such a markup language should have the ability for marking up mathematical symbols, charts and graphs, simple diagrams, and images of course. Internationalization is a must as well. Hopefully this would make it a good solution for the Academic world.

Well, XML is very general purpose and can be adapted to pretty much any purpose. There are various applications of XML like mathematical languages. As for the Academic world - why not the Whole world? I know a ton of people interested in "academic" topics as hobbies, why not enable them and let them participate like amatuer astronomers are now?

> With proper authentication and encryption, voting systems and public debate can be seen with the public online. And of course there is electronic commerce, this can be improved as well but we shouldn't be bombarded with their advertisements. This should be something that can be turned off by the user. Free Software will always allow that.

I hope you are right. :>

> So I think I addressed your promise of the internet. And we already know how to do all of the above. We just haven't done it yet.

There are a zillion ways it could go. Your reality is determined by the direction you choose to go... I'm hoping the humans will use the computers to become more human. :>

Thanks for reading all the bits.



[ Parent ]
Awesome post (5.00 / 1) (#224)
by extrasolar on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 04:23:01 PM EST

That was an awesome post. You are well on your way to a great op-ed article on Kuro5hin.

I would like to reply to some of your points.

> It's true I went out on a few tangents after my initial assertation that it's not the "libertarians vs the established system". They were all related though. :> I am speaking in abstract terms beacuse that's what I'm interested in, and I'm trying to avoid getting caught up in another pointless semantics argument. In defense of whether or not I'm saying anything, at least it's only bits. :>

Tangents are great...that is how got onto this thread in the first place. And you are saying things...I could tell that you had ideas in mind for every abstract point you made...I just wanted to be sure there was a logical progression involved. I am always more alert when people begin using propaganda terms ("obsolete", "outdated", "old boys network") to make arguments. If this is what you meant by a pointless semantics argument...sorry ;-)

> Now here we are again, apparently at the tail end of a technological change, except this time it's another "old guard" with their established ways that would like to defend against the "new ways" of using change. For example, patent and copyright laws, FUD and other forms of advertising, buying competitors and other games to control the market and focus on controlled innovation, rather than wholesale adoption of new capabilities, open sharing, etc.

> Of course, all 6.3 billion people on the planet can't change overnight. This resistance is part of stability because it's easy to follow systems and very hard to make things up as you go along. Imagine if we could though. :>

I love this. You make an argument and already admit the flaws of it. I've noticed such a pattern in my own writing.

I think that effect is directly from the web and the internet. People are becoming more conscious of those reading their writing. Before, authors would write knowing that it would be published and no one would publish the responses. Now in this age, people start thinking through their arguments to think of how it may be replied to. Because they know that people will read both their article and the replies to it.

As to your point, there is always resistance to change. In addition, there is always tendency to progress. And the balance is in favor to the progression. The proof is in seeing how far we've progressed already. There are always the liberals who believe we haven't changed enough and the conservatives who think we have changed too much. And thus we have politics.

Another thing you are speaking of is money and power. If you own something, you have power over it. If someone else needs to use something you own, you have power over them. But if someone else relenquishes control over it, it no longer brings power. But a vast portion of our economy is propelled by this power. If you loose the power...there may not be anything else.

One of the central thesis of the Free Software movement is removing this power from the software. That is what the GPL does...removes power from software. Critics often argue that Free Software isn't feasable for economic reasons. And for some software and institutions, they are right. Because our economy depends on power. But decreasing power increases free will. I now think that is what you mean by making people "people". So that people have more free will.

I keep bringing up the Free Software Movement because it is an excellent example of the things you are speaking of.

> Unfortunately (and inevitably) there is a big bias against progressive change, just look at the new US President's mandate, which arguably doesn't seem to be about giving every person on earth equal access to our shared resources, preventing domination, and promoting harmony, and in fact seems kind of conservative and confrontational. Well, I'm not saying it's his or anyone's fault for taking that point of view, and I think there is a lot of thought and sensivity put into the running of our societies, and perhaps even an intrinsic sense of balance. However I think it would be nice if things were more balanced, if instead of hyping up sports and money and cars and assuming we need rigid class systems, people might have a better understanding, and possibility of interacting with the big picture. People's interests might be a bigger part of their jobs instead of their ability to press a button - right now, for most people, the prevailing feeling is your employer is your enemy and it's best to avoid any kind of "trouble." Bringing computers and more importantly systems of trust, open knowledge and communication, with a sustainable hobbyist/geek culture into our culture, and using the benefits to directly and intentionally improve people's quality of life, will be a big part of that.

> I am impressed and do have a very good feeling about the intentions of many things that are done on the Web. Though lately I've been upping my estimations of when milestones will be reached by orders of magnitude.

I think the bias against progressive change is in response to the bias for it. Every other gizmo wireless device, every new way of interacting on the web, every computer they want in your refridgerator...all of that is causing the conservatives to say...wait a minute there. Lets slow down a little. And I agree with that. The technology we are using so much hasn't had time to mature yet...it hasn't marinated...if you will. There are no real academic standards for writing on the web or email...there will be if give enough time. The same happened after the first uses of the typewriter and pen...publishing and the printing press. All this technology is waiting for someone give real meaning to...just as we have real meaning to almost everything else.

> I think there are many issues of signal to noise - which interactive site do you participate in? Google used to be great, now, even there and depending what I'm looking for, I find mostly advertisements instead of FAQs and reviews. And most of the sites seem to be orienting themselves towards being "portals" to sports, weather, and established news - its too dangerous and not profitable (sustainable) to focus and promote anything outside of that. Apparently the Web's only mandate is to sell to as many people as possible. Why aren't we all just participating in an evolved open Usenet or more sophisticated systems based on the original ideas of hypertext? Commercial pollution and lack of fuller understanding.

Always. But the arguments of signal to noise are the ratio between what you want to read and what you don't. But every tweak to the system to get more signal will result in someone squeaking 'censorship'. And everything falls dramatically from there. The system is damned either way.

I participate in Kuro5hin sometimes...not much slashdot anymore. Some RPG Yahoo clubs. But I usually find that those already on the forum are more intelligent than I am and I usually try to stay out. Also usenet...heh, usenet is always fun.

> I hope XML does enable reliable and consistant exchange of information between sources, that will be signficant if it's not totally hoarded or corrupted by commercial interests. And I am blown away by Open Source, I hope for a corresponding Open Data movement that is even bigger and has more of society's mindshare than the technicians.

I can almost guarentee that will happen. It is branching off of the Free Software movement...we already have free licenses for it. Soon we may see Academia joining...information about Physics, English, and Mathematics freely posted on the web or downloadable. But the web needs to mature some more for that.

> Well, XML is very general purpose and can be adapted to pretty much any purpose. There are various applications of XML like mathematical languages. As for the Academic world - why not the Whole world? I know a ton of people interested in "academic" topics as hobbies, why not enable them and let them participate like amatuer astronomers are now?

Right...that is what I meant by Academia. Actually, if we want high signal to noise, we need to be assured of the correctness of the information we are recieving. Which may usually mean the reputation of the author. Then we go on to authenticating who wrote what with encryption.

As far as the whole world...I don't know. I don't see much use in that. Academia has always been society's archiver of information.

But there are many opportunities for amatuer astronomers. I would love to see them start some kind of a distributed movement much like the Free Software movement. Tracking astronomical objects all across the world and then contributing that information into an online database that can used to form an accurate depiction of our region of the universe. Astronomical events such as pass bys of coments, solar eclipses and flares, are great for this purpose.

Free Software is a precursor of many great things, I think.

> There are a zillion ways it could go. Your reality is determined by the direction you choose to go... I'm hoping the humans will use the computers to become more human. :>

My ambitions are farther than this. I want humans to become something greater. Is this dangerous? Yes... But we can try.

> Thanks for reading all the bits.

Its been a pleasure.

[ Parent ]
Conspiracy Theory (4.16 / 6) (#101)
by tumeric on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 07:58:49 PM EST

The paranoid cynic in me would suggest that if a goverment or rival group were to disagree with the political stance behind a protest, it could plant people in the crowd to incite violence and discredit the protesters.

Luckily this never happens in Western democracies (if it did, I'd be very worried).

Are you being sarcastic? (3.00 / 3) (#115)
by Estanislao Martínez on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 10:22:03 PM EST

Luckily this never happens in Western democracies (if it did, I'd be very worried).

This, of course, happens all the time...

--em
[ Parent ]

Agents Provocateur (5.00 / 1) (#173)
by holdfast on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:38:10 PM EST

Apparently this method was used very successfully to discredit the miners in the UK during their strike in the 1980s.
Like these guys nowadays, they did pretty well at discrediting themselves too. They protest strongly about things they don't like, offer no real alternative and actually accelerate what they are protesting about!

"Holy war is an oxymoron."
Lazarus Long
[ Parent ]
Being a troll by nature... (3.33 / 9) (#102)
by flash91 on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 08:17:11 PM EST

I lived here in seattle during the wto protests. The protesters had no permits, caused lots of damage. Sure they brought attention to their valid opinion, but when they were done, a lot of people were pissed. We have a democratic system, they can vote. If they don't like the system, fight a revolution, start a party, whatever. This sham "peaceful" protest only hurts those who would like to be able to protest in a non-violent manner. Cow manuer is (mildly) toxic if swallowed. Referring to it as toxic when sprayed is misleading. It is NOT ok to mislead. The protesters have valid points, but all they conveyed is that they are disruptive. Yes, the police beat the crap out of innocent people when under stress (and sometimes for no apparent reason at all). They are human. You attack a human, they fight back. That's why bears and cougars avoid us. Non-violent protest shouldn't put them under any stress. But when protesters start destroying property, they should be able to see their teeth without looking in a mirror. No permit, no tolerance. Those caught with loot should do 10 to 20 years. I sure am intolerant...

So in your world.. (3.00 / 3) (#118)
by thePositron on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 11:21:05 PM EST

So in your world property is worth more than human life?
What about the tea in the Boston Harbor maybe the cops should have cracked their heads?
Also if you didn't notice voting does not work to well in this country.



[ Parent ]
voting (3.00 / 1) (#147)
by flash91 on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 01:24:35 PM EST

Yes, voting does have it's up and down sides. But even when it does get shakey (like in florida) you still get a candidate that is close to 50%.

I would have supported al gore in the recount attempt if:
1) he wanted to recount all florida votes and 2) The florida courts hadn't allowed "dimpled" chads.

The way they ruled opened the door to fraud.

[ Parent ]
Voting (1.50 / 2) (#170)
by thePositron on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:02:49 PM EST

The system itself is fraught with fraud. Case in point: Florida used a private company called Choice Point to cull the voter rolls of felons. This company which is sympathetic to Republicans purged alot more then felons Read this and you will get my point. The voting system in the US was screwed up long before this election.



[ Parent ]
convicted felons (4.00 / 2) (#175)
by kezgin on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:46:05 PM EST

Not only is that story disturbing, if true, but it also speaks of another injustice. Why shouldn't felons, even while serving time, continue to retain the right to vote? Decisions are still being made that affect them, and yet they are not being represented.

[ Parent ]
The story is true (none / 0) (#177)
by thePositron on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:58:06 PM EST

The story is true- it is a matter of public record, and yes it is very disturbing.

[ Parent ]
no permit, no tolerance? (3.00 / 1) (#119)
by kezgin on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 11:36:18 PM EST

So are you implying that in the U.S., one should be required to have a permit to exercise the Constitutional right to peacefully assemble?

[ Parent ]
Law and Constitution. (3.00 / 1) (#125)
by physicsgod on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 12:27:38 AM EST

The right to assemble is not an absolute right. The supreme court has said that government may impose REASONABLE restrictions on assemblies, and that is what the permit system is designed to do, allow those to gather without impairing the rest of us. It is perfectly legal for the police to say "you can only protest between F and H streets." or to say "you don't have a permit, you have to disperse." It is not legal for the police to say "you can protest the meeting on 4th st. at 254th ave." Your right to freedom of expression ends when you keep me from doing my business.

Maybe you should look up "maturity" and "responsibility" in the dictionary.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Re: Law and Constitution (none / 0) (#172)
by kezgin on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:36:11 PM EST

> The right to assemble is not an absolute right. The supreme court has said that government may impose REASONABLE
> restrictions on assemblies, and that is what the permit system is designed to do, allow those to gather without impairing the
> rest of us. It is perfectly legal for the police to say "you can only protest between F and H streets." or to say "you don't have
> a permit, you have to disperse." It is not legal for the police to say "you can protest the meeting on 4th st. at 254th ave."

So what are the restrictions on where the police 'allow' protesting to occur?

>Your right to freedom of expression ends when you keep me from doing my business.

When protestors due things like block traffic(I'm using this only as an example), there are other ways to get around. It may be a slight inconvienance, but it is not completely stopping you from going about your business.

>Maybe you should look up "maturity" and "responsibility" in the dictionary.

I fail to understand what that is supposed to mean. Are you implying that protesting is immature and irresponsible?

[ Parent ]
Re: Law and Constitution (2.00 / 2) (#186)
by physicsgod on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 09:42:52 PM EST

So what are the restrictions on where the police 'allow' protesting to occur?
It varies from area to area. There's no rule from the court, they just have to be reasonable.
When protestors due things like block traffic(I'm using this only as an example), there are other ways to get around. It may be a slight inconvienance, but it is not completely stopping you from going about your business.
You're right, I can drive over them, but most people don't have my morality.
I fail to understand what that is supposed to mean. Are you implying that protesting is immature and irresponsible?
Protesting is not in itself immature, but the recent protests I've seen have been.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
yes (none / 0) (#146)
by flash91 on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 01:21:52 PM EST

When you block public passways/roads etc, yes. Public assemble can be done other places.

The right of public assemble must not be allowed to infringe upon the rights of others.

[ Parent ]
Where? (none / 0) (#164)
by aphrael on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 04:57:01 PM EST

When you block public passways/roads etc, yes. Public assemble can be done other places.

Where, pray tell? On private property over the objections of the property owner?

The *only* legitimate location for public protest is on publically-owned land. In cities, that means streets and sidewalks. If that blocks traffic, the traffic can go around it ...

[ Parent ]

Where (none / 0) (#227)
by flash91 on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 05:46:56 PM EST

Kane hall was available on the UW campus. You can assemble places without bothering people, and yes, preferrably in a place you rent.

[ Parent ]
Is peaceable assembly a right in Switzerland? (3.83 / 6) (#103)
by jet_silver on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 08:28:06 PM EST

An awful lot of comments here assume the right to peaceably assemble - as stated in the US - is also a right in Switzerland. Having been in Switzerland a few times I would be surprised if the people had a right to use the streets at all unless they could prove where they were going. This is the land of robot cameras and sudden huge fines.

Anyone from the EU or more specifically CH want to comment on this?

As for the 'peaceful nation of Switzerland', I refer you to a common saying: kein Kreuzer, kein Schweizer (no money no Swiss), referring to the days when Swiss mercenary pikemen would devastate infantry with their tactic of moving in hollow squares poking holes in all and sundry. The Swiss have -earned- the peace by continuing to bristle with armament.

So 'disproportionate violence' has to be taken in the context of the country in which it's supposed to be happening, not in the country you're in, would like to be in, or the one you'd like to invent.
"What they really fear is machine-gunning politicians becoming a popular sport, like skate-boarding." -Nicolas Freeling

Of course it is (4.00 / 3) (#116)
by Rei Toei on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 10:32:06 PM EST

We like to think of our country as a modern democracy (of course there is the issue of womens' right to vote, but this story is too embarrassing to tell of here). We have certain basic rights, like the right to peaceably assemble, and the freedom to go wherever we like ("Bewegungsfreiheit"). These two rights are exactly why I take issue with how the police acted last weekend.

As for your implication that our culture is more violent than others: The Swiss have followed the doctrine of passive neutrality since 1515 (the saying you quote must date before this). Crime rate is lower than in adjacent countries. Yes, we own guns, and military service is compulsory. But still, there are far fewer crimes that in Germany, for example. In my opinion, our culture is as non-violent as it can get.

[ Parent ]

Some comments from CHeeseland... (5.00 / 4) (#130)
by frenetik on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 03:19:31 AM EST

Anyone from the EU or more specifically CH want to comment on this?

Oh yes I will, and let me say right away that your post is downright ridiculous and ignorant (I'm Swiss).

First of all, of course we have the right to use the streets any damn way we choose to (bound by legality). Contrary to some asian countries throwing a chewing gum or a cigarette away on the street won't land you in jail, our cities all have their fair share of graffities, and we have thriving alternative cultures (like for example the Reithaus in Bern or the Rote Fabrik in Zürich).

There are indeed some police departments with Big Brother style delusions who are trying to introduce video surveillance everywhere, but I'd advise you to look to the UK first for a better example.

What you mean by sudden huge fines I fail to understand. Speeding tickets are not more expensive (to my limited knowledge) than in France, and the police are realtively tolerant with the alcool tests (0.5 mg, as I seem to remember). <sarcasm>We have very "friendly" tax fraud laws as well.</sarcasm> We have lower taxes than most of Europe, and our VAT is quite reasonable at around 7%. Living in Switzerland is expensive but not because of government.

Like in most democracies, Demonstrations are supposed to be announced, but not all are, and those still take place. If you destroy cars or shatter windows, you'll get yourself arrested. We do value private property around here.

We have a constitution, a parliament, and a very interesting form of semi-direct democracy, as opposed to the republican style organization of government in France. The concept of initiative is very important: If a sufficient number of people subscribe to a law proposition which _anyone_ may propose, then the whole country will vote on it. Examples:
- Join the UN, yes/no? We said no, let's stay neutral.
- Join the EU yes/no? We said no, noeconomic incentive.
- Participate in peace enforcement operations along with UN nations, yes/no? We said no, let's stay neutral. etc.

We (at least myself) are not always happy with the results, but at least the people has spoken. Interesting to note as well that Switzerland is a Confederation, meaning an aggregation of states (pretty similar to the US, in a microscopic way). The federal governement is realtively small and does not hold much power. Education, for example, is a prerogative of the states. Indeed, politics in general are relatively insignificant. Our president (which is mostly a honorific role lacking real power) is not elected, but is rotated each year among the government members, who themselves have to stick very much to their executive position, taking care of the daily business of goverment instead of defining policy. Said goverment consists of representatives of the most popular parties in parliament, which means there is strictly speaking no opposition as such... all major political voices control parts of the goverment and share responsibilities for its decisions (but once a decision is reached it has to be defended by all members of goverment, wether they be from the right or from the left. This leads to the amusing situation of a socialist minister defending the privatization of the former state telecom agency)

kein Kreuzer, kein Schweizer (no money no Swiss), referring to the days when Swiss mercenary pikemen would devastate infantry with their tactic of moving in hollow squares poking holes in all and sundry. The Swiss have -earned- the peace by continuing to bristle with armament.

Yes the good old days. It lead to such tragicomical situations were both of the opponents would have a front line of Swiss mercenaries which would thus kill each other for the benefit of a cause foreign to them. Those days are long gone however and are one reason for our neutrality. Swiss activists who went to fight with the Republicans in the spanish civil war were arrested on their return home in 1936.

As much as I enjoy thinking that my obligation to do military service for 2 weeks every year, having an assault rifle with ammo in my locker at home, and 34(!) F-18 (purchased at exorbitant prices from the US) circle in our skies are garanteeing my freedom and liberty, let's be honest here, it's a load of bullshit. We escaped invasion by Hitler because we were doing commerce and providing a safe heaven for his stolen riches (admittedly, the rugged terrain of the alps would have been heavier on the Wehrmacht troups than the flat landascape of Belgium was). That's what neutrality meant at that time, and today we're surrounded by the probably greatest thing to happen to Europe since the French Revolution, the EU. What sense does it make to stay neutral in such a context?

...But I'm rambling at this point.

Back to topic, Davos. There HAS been a public outcry and much controversy surrounding this meeting here. Regarding the right to demonstration, let me remind you that the demonstrators went to court after being denied that right by the local goverment for last years WEF, and they won.

In addition to this many of us disagree strongly with the security of the meeting being paid for by public money (cost being estimated at ~5 mio. CHF). Like you said we value our bucks, and if there is one thing which we Swiss all care about, it's our goverment spending money in ways we disagree with.

A final note, it has become a tradition since the late 60s for the alternative movements (far left) to demonstrate on the 1st of May and cause havoc in Zürichs financial district. So it's not like we've never seen this before.

As I'm writing this, the radio is reporting the destruction of a McDonalds restaurant in Bern...

Now what was my point again ;)

Friends are like plants. They need attention and they need to drink. -- SPYvSPY
[ Parent ]

toxic? (3.71 / 7) (#108)
by goosedaemon on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 08:54:17 PM EST

beasts. Only beasts would plan to spray peaceful protestors with toxic liquid cow manure, a plan thwarted (according to independent reports) only by the unwillingness of Swiss farmers to supply the necessary excrement.

When you say "toxic liquid cow manure", is the "toxic" literal or just embellishment? Because there's a significant difference... toxic shit is bad shit, and bad shit for the government.



toxic! (3.50 / 6) (#113)
by LordEq on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 09:42:44 PM EST

When you say "toxic liquid cow manure", is the "toxic" literal or just embellishment?

Considering that there are things in *our own* intestinal tracts which would be toxic to us with this sort of exposure, it's a fairly safe bet that there are a few poisonous beasties lurking in a cow's gut as well.

toxic shit is bad shit, and bad shit for the government.

At the risk of sounding like a troll, I will -- without reservation -- go so far as to say that any government engaging in biological warfare against its own citizens is an abomination, and should be overthrown at once. Such an utter lack of respect for the citizen is inexcusable.


--LordEq

"That's what K5's about. Hippies and narcs cavorting together." --panck
[ Parent ]
Some forget the innocents (4.50 / 10) (#121)
by amnesiak on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 11:44:12 PM EST

I've kind of been waiting for an article like this to share this story... Although I think the article itself is mighty Katzian, I do think that many people do not tend to think about the power the police has when they want it.

November 30, 2000. I'm sitting in a cafe in downtown seattle that has a laundromat attached to it. My laundry is almost done. It is the one year anniversary of the WTO and I have heard several news reports that all is harmony in the city, so I didn't hesitate to proceed to downtown to wash my clothes. After all, what should I be afraid of?

At a bit after 9, many WTO protesters started rushing into the place. Looking outside, there was a wall of police vehicles and police in riot gear. Let me remind you that to my knowledge, there was no violence or agression in that part of town that night.

Soon after, there were many protesters marching up the street. These were followed by lines of police. For some reason, the police started moving in and trapping all of the protestors on the very same block I was on, which had one of the only open businesses in the area.

The police were incredibly rude and they attempted to arrest the manager for letting protestors/patrons out the back door of the place. They ended up just taking down his info.

They also warned me (and threatened with arrest) when I politely asked if I could leave with my laundry. They blocked and locked the doors, forcing my companion and me to stay at the place until well after 11 (I had an early midterm the next day, and was not pleased).

I can't really relate in words how scared and small a couple hundred riot police can make you feel. I also fail to understand why they chose an area with a large amount of people already there to intimidate and arrest. There were, to my estimation, about 2-3x as many police as there were protesters in the middle of the block that they were surrounding.

I don't understand, in this era of PC, why this kind of thing has to go on. And why noone can really do anything about it.

Thanks for reading my rant.

-amnesiak
The WSF.. an alternative to the WEF.. (4.57 / 7) (#123)
by thePositron on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 12:26:20 AM EST

Another conference that is happening while the WEF is taking place is called the WSF (World Social Forum).The WSF was implemented to discuss alternatives to the current system of Globalization that values money and profit above all else. Many of those who have protested in past actions are at the WSF discussing alternatives and plans.

More info about this forum is HERE and HERE (manuscripts by Chomsky are here)

Also many people who normally protest have finally been invited to participate in the WEF like Dr. Vandana Shiva, who after participating in a WEF confrence was pushed by the swiss police. The police also kept several participants in the conference from participating. Even George Soros decried the heavy handed tactics of the Swiss police.



Correction (4.00 / 1) (#134)
by thePositron on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 04:47:34 AM EST

Correction to the previous post. The conference that Chomsky spoke at was not the WSF it was a forum called the Other Davos.

[ Parent ]
more wsf info at brazil.indymedia.org (none / 0) (#196)
by kellan on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 12:58:16 AM EST

as well as the links mentioned above, you can also find more info about the WSF, activism in port alegre, and a major crop pull that happened this weekend, at brasil.indymedia.org

kellan

[ Parent ]

Davos: Wrong Place at Wrong Time (3.83 / 6) (#129)
by hughk on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 03:07:44 AM EST

Switzerland is a very democratic country, that is, if you are Swiss and follow the rules precisely. If aren't or do not, you will have have trouble.

Switzerland, especially the German speaking part where Davos is located is incredibly conservative. However there are ways. The Swiss protesters can try to force a referendum, they can stand there and peacefully collect signatures and there is very little that the police can do about it.

Switzerland is a very neat little country with snow-covered mountains, chocolate and lots of other-peoples money. People invest there because it is stable, and no protest is going to be allowed to disrupt that.

Indcidentally, the Swiss don't worry too much about globalisation affecting them, their companies often have a share structure that explicitly forbids non-Swiss from gaining control of voting shares. Certain Swiss companies themselves are extremely global, and are so oervasisve that a boycott would be quite difficult. Think Nestle, for example.

Short note (4.00 / 1) (#131)
by frenetik on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 03:26:25 AM EST

However there are ways.

Exactly, and more specifically, the judicial way. Free speech is very much alive in Switzerland and for last years WEF, where the demonstration was prohibited as well, the case went to court. The demonstrators won, but some how this was not reported widely by the media... hmm.

Friends are like plants. They need attention and they need to drink. -- SPYvSPY
[ Parent ]

Law vs. order (none / 0) (#163)
by aphrael on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 04:54:56 PM EST

if you are Swiss and follow the rules precisely

Although note that this may not necessarily be the *law* so much as the rules of social order --- i've been in Swiss villages where everyone is a drug user, for example.

[ Parent ]

Switzerland is definitely unique (none / 0) (#216)
by Nelson on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 09:18:12 PM EST

I've tried to come up with some generalization (in true American fashion ;) to explain the country but I cannot. In ways it seems down right progressive, in other ways it is stuck in time. Money is the only thing I can think of as the constant.

It's shockingly recent that women were given the right to vote there. All along the borders the labor force is made of non-Swiss who are not to be confused with citizens, because they definitely aren't. And then they have some wonderfully progressive laws. The only thing that makes any sense to me is that Switzerland is designed around staying profitable and stable.

[ Parent ]

About our Riot Police and squatters (4.33 / 3) (#155)
by lastwolf on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 03:39:24 PM EST

I remember watching the news with my parents, almost a month ago, on sunday, the 7th of January. The riot police cleared the old Planet Hollywood in Amsterdam, Holland again, after squatters took over the building for the second time. The TV showed a heavy charge of the riot police, in my opinion, using excessive violence. While the TV showed the riot police beating up the squatters, the comments from the news where something along the lines of this: "Four squatters are arrested for violence in public."

I really had to wonder, who is using violence here? Is it the riot police, charging at sqautters and their supporters, or the squatters who threw paintbombs. When I asked my parents to reflect on this, they assumed the police were right, using as much force as they have to. They did not even think about it.

Also, when you listend carefull to what was said, they told the riot police was acting unrighteous. My parents did not pick that line up, surprisingly. I did, and did some more research ont the whole thing. When I confronted them with my results, they had to admit that the police, in this case, acted wrong, using too much violence. But not that they would do anything about it, of course.

To quote Edward Abbey, whose name I've seen in another post too:
"A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government."
Once, when I'm somewhat older, more into politics, etc. I will protest to this type of stuff. Until that, I'll be protesting as much as I can in my school.

LastWOLF
"Take your wings, go out and fly.
Learn, read and soar the sky."


on violence (3.50 / 2) (#160)
by chale on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 04:14:31 PM EST

"violence is the last resort of the incompetent." (can't remember who first said that)

to have the police[ those with the "color" of authority] consider violence to be their primary response is too tragic for words. but, increasingly it appears that too many police agencies use the tactic of pre-emptive violence as a mainstay of their planning.

would say more, but have to get to work.


When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -John Muir

"violence is the last resort of the incompete (4.00 / 1) (#168)
by revenant on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:00:42 PM EST

I take it that this statement would also apply to protestors who rioted in Zurich after being turned back from Davos?
'Dawn-sniffing revenant, / Plodder through midnight rain, / Question me again.' -- Seamus Heaney, "Casualty"
[ Parent ]
it works both ways (4.00 / 1) (#210)
by chale on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 04:21:13 PM EST

when protesters turn to violence to get attention, other options have been ineffective or have not generated an effective response. when police turn to violence, their lack of planning or training shows.

that said, protesters that riot after the fact and away from the area of protest are a different type than the people who organize and attempt to carry out peaceful protest.

the need for protest is becoming a sad fact of life, but this is not a perfect world. that either side turns to violence is an even sadder fact.


When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -John Muir
[ Parent ]

Strange bedfellows (4.75 / 4) (#166)
by revenant on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 04:57:49 PM EST

At least in the US, your right to free speech ends when it interferes with others' (Constitutionally protected) right to peaceful assembly.

How do anti-globalists, who try to block and intimidate people, and ignore or tacitly support their movement's violent fringe, feel about the anti-abortion protestors who use the same tactics?


'Dawn-sniffing revenant, / Plodder through midnight rain, / Question me again.' -- Seamus Heaney, "Casualty"

Balancing Acts (5.00 / 2) (#174)
by Simian on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:38:42 PM EST

Pointed post. Therein lies the rub, as they say. But I don't think this is really an issue about "rights", certainly not about the rights granted by government.

When protesters, of whatever stripe, break the law they shouldn't be surprised that the police decends on them. But neither does lawbreaking automatically make protesters, of whatever stripe, ethically or morally reprehensible. There are obvious cases where it is necessary to break the law, and even to interfere with the legally sanctioned rights of others, and still be behaving ethically. This is even accepted in many legal systems, where juries can find a lawbreaker innocent of the crime for reasons other than those explicitly recognized by the lawbooks.

Obviously it is wrong to block access to a peaceful assembly. However, since a) the protesters have, by the hand of their own governments, been denied effective representation in the assembly and b) this assembly is not simply engaging in free speech but making very significant political decisions--the decision to interfere with the proceedings is fairly justifiable. Wrong, punishable, but not unreasonable.

Now, as for your challenge vis a vis the abortion protesters, they too are acting according to their beliefs. They should be put in jail when they threaten others, or block access to abortion clinics, but I don't think them inherently "violent" or "insane".

Their ethics oppose mine, though, so in the early nineties (during a wave of abortion protests) I (with many, many others) went to Albany, NY and protected women seeking abortions as they entered the building. I also marched on D.C. for women's rights. That was the correct response, for me.

It would be nice if the law was the only metric for justice and ethical action. It will never be, for a variety of reasons. So just because the tactics of two groups may seem superficially similar, from a legal point of view, doesn't mean that they are cut from the same ethical cloth, and certainly doesn't simplify the hard work of making moral choices. Rights conflict all the time, and the most complicated situation of all is when the government itself is seen as trespassing them. That is the view of the protesters, that their governments have betrayed them into the hands of private interests.

What your post ignores is the disproportionate response such dissimilar protest movements (abortion, antiglobalisation) have recieved from government. I don't recall ever seeing a web page with the names, addresses, phone numbers, and daily habits of corporate executives on it, encouraging their assasination. Yet, the dogs of war are unleashed against them, not the manifestly murderous wing of the anti-abortionists.

The nation-state knows when it's real duty, the protection of capital, calls.

jb




"As I would not be a slave, so would I not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy." Abraham Lincoln
[ Parent ]
Here is another one-liner (none / 0) (#179)
by magullo on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 07:12:06 PM EST

<off topic>

Some *pro-life* extremists will go to the point of ending a life - or severely damaging one. Hardly anything comes close to being that bizarre.

</off topic>

[ Parent ]

All human enterprises are just human (4.00 / 3) (#178)
by magullo on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 06:51:05 PM EST

"Switzerland, 500 years of democracy. Result: the cuckoo clock. Italy, 30 years of the Borgias. Result: The Renaissance" - Orson Welles - "The Third Man"

Even in the most democratic of societies, the police will tend to: a) first and foremost, defend themselves; b) then defend who directly pay them; and finally c) defend everyone else according to their (highly subjective) "value". This is only human and it takes solid principles to stay away from it. Principles that not all people have. Certainly not all the members of the police force. And certainly not all the people who are in charge of, say, selecting the members of the anti-riot squads.

If there had been no police... (4.00 / 3) (#180)
by cobaltreyal on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 07:36:59 PM EST

"It is perhaps also nothing new that their government would respond with disproportionate violence in defense of moneyed interests." HOLY COW! The government is protecting people from violence! Oh wait these aren't people, they are *evil corporations*. Considering how much violence and mayhem these protesters have caused for innocent bystanders, one can only image the sort of violence that these protesters would have done to the people *attending* this forum, had their been no police.

Topic aside... (2.50 / 2) (#200)
by communista on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 02:37:28 AM EST

Good to see you post again. I look forward to your stories. In some way I wish you'd comment, but writing intelligent articles and allowing the K5 community to "have their way" with them takes a lot of moxie. Cheers, and happy posting.
~Communista~
/me fucks shit up!!!!
[OT] anne marie and the strange world of k5 (2.50 / 2) (#202)
by kellan on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 04:40:51 AM EST

i went looking for an email address for anne marie after thourghly enjoying this article and discussion.

and what a strange, twisty, underbelly i found to k5. i always had a sense that there was a community pulsing just below the surface on slashdot, one i never quite found. but here, wow, its a soap opera, and intrique, and a granding unfolding play of identities.

fyi, if "Anne Marie" is reading this, thank you for the article you sent a little over 200 refers to the imc network today, not a lots=, but nice to see a new refer crop up on the list.

kellan

Nice Job (2.00 / 2) (#225)
by 348 on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 11:26:51 AM EST

I enjoyed the piece

Logic is a systematic method of coming to the wrong conclusion with confidence.

Four on the Floor in Switzerland | 229 comments (222 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
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