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Author Topic: The trouble with violent protest and the equally vexatious issue of peaceful protests
meades
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posted 05 November 2001 12:51 AM      Profile for meades     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
The left and "anti-globalization" movement has come under attack many times for "disrespecting democracy" when violence is often used during protests, such as we saw in Québec City in April, and in Genoa in July.

"Well what are we supposed to do? Our pathetic excuse for democracy limits our representation, often to less than HALF of what we should have! Our MP's usually don't care about what we say, and if we're lucky enough that they do, they're powerless to do anything! The Canadian federal and provincial governments are so centralized, not even a minister can have profound affect on government! The party financing laws are in such a state that corporations are playing the politicians like marionettes! We have been so stripped of our power as citizens that the only thing we have left to do is fight to take our rights back!"

That's an argument you'll often hear, and I'm inclined to agree. Though there are some MAJOR problems with violent protest. I tend to take the "democracy" argument against this type of action with a grain of salt, considering we don't actually have a democracy. I've said before that what we have should be considered a "constitutionally-limited absolutistic ultra-consociational virtual-representative democratic aristocracy". The real trouble with violent protest is that it can be spun to legitimize violent reaction. Also, as a Chilean politician, while reflecting on the anti-Pinochet protests once said, all that is achieved with violence must be defended with violence. Mass violent protests can lead to horrible massacres. Not only that, the majority of the public may even think it was warranted. Let's not kid ourselves- we're not beyond the political stage where propaganda can be used to gain public opinion.

So does that mean we should just march on sidewalks, and stay in our designated quadrats merely waving flags and chanting? That's what the government would like you to think. That's also where many have driven modern political demonstrations. Remember the march to nowhere? What did that accomplish? Certainly, there is something to be said for this. It may get more moderate people on your side and examine the issues you are demonstrating about.

Overall, though, you are ignored by the people who you want to listen. Those who do join your side may help your cause a bit, by say adding a handful of progressive parliamentarians to the mix, but that takes decades. Of course no one said change was going to happen overnight, and it's not rational to expect it to. But these kinds of ultra-passive protests may not yield ANY results, AT ALL!

There's a good chance you'll get a few people honking their horns in support, but other than that, you could be TOTALLY ignored by everyone!

Somehow, Gandhi's non-violent, non-co-operation theory got manipulated into non-violent non-effectuality. Purely violent and purely peaceful protests both have a low rate of attaining their goals. With non-violent non-co-operation, the world has changed. India was released from British rule. South Africa was rejuvenated, and the people themselves eliminated apartheid, and brought down an illegitimate government. The Chileans eroded the Pinochet hold on power. There are many, many examples of how non-violent non-co-operation has resulted in progressive change.

The problem now is, what is non-co-operation? It seems as though we have forgotten. For some reason, many of us were under the impression that we didn't have to give up anything, we just weren't to give to those who we're fighting. Well, in most cases, that's wrong. Take the boycotts in South Africa, for example. Do you really think not buying ANYTHING didn't affect them? They gave up a lot, but got a lot in return. Unfortunately, many people also die, like in Chile, but we aren't faced with that kind of fight- for the most part at least, though we shouldn't forget the death of Carlo Giuliani.

Non-co-operation means a lot. There are several different tactics, and they all require strong solidarity, which is sadly something we lack. These tactics include boycotts, shutting down businesses, massive sit-ins, or occupations. Strikes, huge rallies, blockades even. But all must be done non-violently.

Now, I'm not going to say 100% non-violence is essential, because in all of the cases I've mentioned, there have been violent incidences. But these should be avoided whenever possible, IMHO. The predominant tool which led to the realization of their goals was non-violent non-co-operation.

The there's the issue of what happens when they come to arrest you? Well, overall, I don't know. Let's discuss!

disclaimer: I know a lot of you probably disagree with me, and we can discuss that too. I wasn't trying to come off as arrogant, and I don't think I have all the answers, and once again, I could be wrong about this issue


From: Sault Ste. Marie | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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posted 05 November 2001 01:11 AM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
meades, you brought up an extremely important topic. I agree pretty well with everything you stated, especially with the bit about:
quote:
The problem now is, what is non-co-operation? It seems as though we have forgotten. For some reason, many of us were under the impression that we didn't have to give up anything
This is the key to the dilemma. We can’t have it both ways. We can not continue benefiting from what we are fighting. It is not only hypocrisy but also self-defeating.

Do you remember "Gandhi" (the movie) -- one of the things Gandhi asked his followers was to reject the cheap British imports and use 'home-spun'? It was very effective and British business hurt from it quite seriously.

Yes, non-violent non-cooperation is the solution, but it must extend to rejecting the system we live under by not allowing ourselves to be dependent on it.

I made some suggestions in the “What one person can do” thread I started a while ago. If enough people rejected, in practice, the consumerist ideal, business would start to hurt seriously. If business started to hurt seriously, government would try to help them, but they can not arrest you for not buying stuff. They would have to look for other ways and that might include listening to the people for a change.

[ November 05, 2001: Message edited by: Zatamon ]


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
nonsuch
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posted 05 November 2001 02:48 AM      Profile for nonsuch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Problem:
Gandhi had a lot of Indians against a very few (albeit heavily armed) Englishmen. Something on the order of 100,000 to 1. You have the disadvantage of being 1 to about 10,000. Not only are the robocops heavily armed, but they have the support of most citizens: the citizens haven't started really hurting yet and they're being propagandized with our money.

Protest, peaceful or otherwise, just doesn't look all that viable in these circumstances.
So, i'd advise you against it.

Non-participation is a better idea.
Don't buy the shit.
Don't go to the movies; don't eat at MacAnything's; don't wear the logo; don't attend the game; don't vote for the bastard; don't use the shampoo - just don't buy the shit.
Humour may work. Make them look ridiculous, every chance you get, as publicly as possible.
If you could get somebody with no legs, or six months to live, to cross the country in a wheelbarrow.... I know, that's a horrible thing to say. But you know the kind of thing the media eats up: find a gimmick.

My favourite thing is subversion. Let me sleep on it - i'm sure there must be something worth trying.


From: coming and going | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 05 November 2001 02:56 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
"All your civil rights are belong to us." - George W. Bush and Jean Chrétien.
From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
meades
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posted 05 November 2001 03:06 AM      Profile for meades     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I think you touched on something here. We need a massive public education campaign! ASAP! And I don't mean have a newsconference or discuss it one counterspin. That would be preaching to the choir, more or less.

We need a TOTAL AND FUNDAMENTAL massive education campaign! A campaign like tommorow is the last chance! Leaflets in every mailbox, outlining the horrible effects of neo-liberalism and "liberalized" trade! Conferences in EVERY community! The Cross Country Caravans are a good start, but we've got to escalate this! Find someway to get the media to report at least about us and the issues. Not necesarily taking our side, but at least telling the public who we REALLY are, and whats going on so people don't immediately throw out the leaflets, or so they're at least wondering what we have to say!

I think we should start with massive boycotts, that will at least get the media's attention (hopefully), and give us a stage to work with.

Once we have a bigger chunk of the population on our side (I'm guessing by 2090 at the current rate. Again, let's speed things up!) we can escalate it to massive sit-ins, and strikes.

We should make the issue more than just trade, and bring democracy into the arrangement, because really, that's what's at stake.

Let's get off our asses! This is an INTERNATIONAL issue! Simply getting rid of the Tories provincially and the Liberals federally is NOT going to do ANYTHING. I really hope someone with some influence is reading this, because right now, we still don't have a bottom up structure- even though we share the same goals.


From: Sault Ste. Marie | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
WingNut
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posted 05 November 2001 03:29 AM      Profile for WingNut   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
On another thread I was discussing with relogged the Mountain Equipment Co-op which is a not-for-profit business retailing sporting equipment. Putting aside the various views re: MEC's purchasing practices, it seems to me it provides a useful template or model for being able to have your cake and eat it too.

That is to be able to establish businesses for the purpose of providing retail products, including food, from not-for-profit businesses.

Is this something we could examine? Could we implement it in other areas like food and clothing?

If you think about it, it represents a serious threat to the present state if ordinary people were to jump on the bandwagon. And the most wonderful part is it would require little communication or education. Just a simple sales pitch: cheap!


From: Out There | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
meades
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posted 05 November 2001 03:34 AM      Profile for meades     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
*thump!*

I'm sorry, that was the sound of my eyebrows hitting the roof-

Wingnut- Could you go into further detail? I'm intrigued...


From: Sault Ste. Marie | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
WingNut
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posted 05 November 2001 03:36 AM      Profile for WingNut   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Have a look here:
http://www.mec.ca

Danged Flood Control.


From: Out There | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
nonsuch
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posted 05 November 2001 03:45 AM      Profile for nonsuch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
meades,
without wishing to rain on your parade, my estimate of the last chance to turn things around was April, 1976.
Since the world hasn't actually ended yet, yuo may be right about tomorrow.

I'll have to look at the other thread, but meanwhile...
In my neighbourhood, we have a small but thriving barter group. We hold 4 or 5 market days every year, in a local community hall. These are good social occasions, as well as opportunities to trade. $2 a table for the afternoon; bring your product (organic produce, hand-made and used clothing, herbal remedies, crafts, pies, books, soap, blankets, kittens... or advertise your service - the masseuse is popular with men and the kids are crazy about the piper). Low overhead; volunteer administration; no middlemen.
There is nothing whatever to stop any and all of you from organizing similar associations in your own neighbourhoods.
Not exactly earth-shaking stuff, but a good start on not buying the shit.

Ps. WingNut that's "dam flood-control"
[ November 05, 2001: Message edited by: nonesuch ]

[ November 05, 2001: Message edited by: nonesuch ]


From: coming and going | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 05 November 2001 04:27 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
What happened in April 1976?

(my personal feeling is that the chance to really keep things going in a socially positive direction died on October 5, 1973.)


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
nonsuch
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posted 05 November 2001 05:04 AM      Profile for nonsuch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Nothing happened in April 1976. That's my point exactly.
What didn't happen in '73 may have been more significant, but i was probably partying then and missed it.

From: coming and going | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
JCL
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posted 05 November 2001 06:20 AM      Profile for JCL     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I don't like what the NDP is doing. I'll kick over a few newspaper boxes and chop down a tree with a herring to make my voice heard.

Moral of the story, if one side does it, it's called exercising democratic freedom. If the other side does it, they're being morons. Just depends who sees the morons as who.


From: Winnipeg. 35 days to Christmas yet no snow here. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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posted 05 November 2001 11:16 AM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Meades I am happy you are thinking in terms of “what can we do?” Talk is fine but is there anything we, on Babble, can actually do to help things along in the right direction?

In the excellent thread started by David C. (by the way, where is he? I really liked his posts) -- "Points of leverage. Add your top 3." on Politics, there were very good suggestions by a number of people that gave me the idea of collectively producing a document (I suggested the name: "Babble Think Tank Resolution", or BTTR!) and release it to the media.

It could be fun to do, challenging to accomplish, would require a lot of intelligence, maturity, imagination. We have all the talent on Babble (including superior editing skills), there is no reason we could not do it. And it would be a step in the right direction. We could release it to the media and it may even be picked up if we do it right.

Part of the reason for my depression last week was the fact that nobody seemed interested in the project, nobody seemed to be willing to take the next step and actually do something. So I tried again (with the decision of not to go into a tail-spin if it is just as unpopular as it was the first time)

[ November 05, 2001: Message edited by: Zatamon ]


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
WingNut
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posted 05 November 2001 11:21 AM      Profile for WingNut   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
It occurs to me, suddenly, that if we could establish co-op businesses for retail and and food, we couild then begin to establish not-for-profit businesses in other areas as well. Communications, data, trucking and transportation.

If this method is successful, we would have to acknowledge there would be a period of adjustment as those running for-profit businesses would be displaced in this new economy.

Assistance for these people, in my opinion, should be discouraged as it may diminish the incentive to accept new employment as it becomes available.

[ November 05, 2001: Message edited by: WingNut ]


From: Out There | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
Slick Willy
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posted 05 November 2001 11:23 AM      Profile for Slick Willy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Have a look here:http://www.mec.ca

Ahhh crap! I finally get the monkey off my back to the point of being able to be downtown and not go buy something from MEC and now they have to go and do this. Well I'm sure that just a little something won't hurt.


From: Hog Heaven | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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posted 05 November 2001 12:24 PM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Of course, there is always the "Non-Tactics of the Inactivist" to fall back on. Like...
From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
N.R.KISSED
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posted 05 November 2001 02:40 PM      Profile for N.R.KISSED     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Just depends who sees the morons as who.

You really have to stay away from those mirrors JCL, they'll only confuse you further.

Meades if it's worker's co-operatives that tickle your fancy you might wish to look into Mondragon

My biggest problem with the violence/non-violence thing is when people have difficulty distiquishing people from property. Typical Capitalist mistake but I guess some people were napping during Sesame street; One of these things is not like the other!!! One of these things is not a commodity.


From: Republic of Parkdale | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
agent007
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posted 05 November 2001 02:55 PM      Profile for agent007     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Wingnut, N.R.KISSED (Co-Ops); nonesuch (Barter)... these are topics that offer real answers to our economic woes. But they are off-topic.
I'll start a new topic, Co-Ops & Barter -- in activism.

From: Niagara Falls ON | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
WingNut
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posted 05 November 2001 03:05 PM      Profile for WingNut   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
See you there.

Danged flood control.


From: Out There | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
Slick Willy
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posted 05 November 2001 04:42 PM      Profile for Slick Willy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
My biggest problem with the violence/non-violence thing is when people have difficulty distiquishing people from property.

When it becomes ok to destroy property it becomes ok to blow up a building if it furthers the awareness of the cause. If it is ok to blow up a building then it is ok if a few people get scared by it. If I can get what I want by scareing the shit out of enough people then I don't need government or police, I just need a big enough bomb to really scare some people. So if I blow up your house, as long as you aren't injured it's justified. No matter how may pets are in there or your life savings, or those personal items like the only photograph of your late mother or father. That doesn't matter as long as I can make my point that I don't like something. Does that mean that it should be ok for me and a couple of buddies to take a few 4x4s down to the next tent city and rip it to shreads leaving what little poccesions someone may have left in ruin cause I want to make a point that I don't like the way they use a public park? And further to that, the police should not be able to say one word about it to me because I am just using my right to protest in my own way against what I may happen to think is injustice?
How about burning welfare cheques? It's only property right? Doesn't hurt anyone that doesn't get them on time. So explain to me what the problem with that would be.


From: Hog Heaven | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
JCL
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posted 05 November 2001 05:09 PM      Profile for JCL     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Zatamon - Love the cartoon.

NRKissed - Put it this way. I surmise that you would take part in a anti-globilization protest and you'd think it's your democratic freedom. But if some people oppose gun control laws and are protesting, you'd think they're morons and nobody would take them seriously. It all depends which perspective one looks at it.


From: Winnipeg. 35 days to Christmas yet no snow here. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
JonnyHaggis
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posted 05 November 2001 07:10 PM      Profile for JonnyHaggis   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Gandhi had a lot of Indians against a very few (albeit heavily armed) Englishmen. Something on the order of 100,000 to 1. You have the disadvantage of being 1 to about 10,000. Not only are the robocops heavily armed, but they have the support of most citizens: the citizens haven't started really hurting yet and they're being propagandized with our money.

Actually, I rememember that CBC mentioned about 25% (maybe less, I forget but it was alot) of the population wanted to be in quebec city but couldn't make it.

I actually hate protests, and don't find them very useful, but those peoples' summit things are great, they just need to happen all year round. I think there should be big intercultural parties instead of protests. Everyone is angry, and wallowing in it is futile. What our society needs now is to reach out to eachother and realize that even though we don't have much democracy, we do have plety of freedom, and plenty of potential for democracy, but we have to create the institutions as they don't already exist.

by the way THIS IS NOT A FANTASY IT HAS ACTUALLY HAPPENED SUCCESSFULLY IN THE REAL WORLD.

During the spanish civil war 1936-1939 anarchists took over huge chunks of Spain.

They had been organizing and educating for years and when the war broke out, they took the opportunity to put towns, villages, farms, and big chunks of large cities like Barcelona and Madrid directly into public (and I mean the real public, not government) control. That means the factories and the farms and the barbershops (who wre militant anarchists), not just a very democractic government like in Porto Alegre, but an actual democratic society. No employers or employees, no government. They already had working really democractic institutions through their unions, and federations of little 'affinity groups' (I hate that term) which is like groups of you and your 12 buddies, before the war, so they just put it into action.

There were villages where eveything was free. They faught the war in militias with sexual equality and democracy, meaning you could disobey your commander (who got paid the same salary as you. It worked pretty well, and they were an effective force despite their lack of equipment. This all lasted from 7 months to 2 years depending on the area.

Remember this was in the 30's where there was 10 times more sexism, and much less workers rights, or public education (most of the anarchist areas were peasants) and much more government repression than we have now.

Eventually the soviet controlled communists dismantled everything and the people lost interest, and the fascists ended up taking over.

It kind of got erased from history. Socialist who all just wanted to have the power in their own hands ignored it because it was a threat to their power, and capitalists ignored it for the usual reasons. Orwell wrote Hommage to Catalonia about his experience fighting in the war.

If everyone just knew about this, people would be a lot less depressed and passive about everything.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE read the book ANARCHIST COLLECTIVES by SAM DOLGOFF. It will change your life. I'm sure there are internet links about this stuff.

Also for the first 90% of humanity's existence we were all egalitarians. I see hierarchical culture as a kind of perversion of the human being which results in a whole lot of insanity, and requires alot of psychological manipulations, pressure, crutches and physical brute force to maintain because it's so fucking unnatural.

It happened when we were forced to switch to agriculture, and life became much more difficult than it was as hunter gatherers.

I guess because life was hard some people tried to force others into doing their share of the work. I also think a major component was in really hard times, parents aren't as nurturing, and their alot more forceful and dominating so this fries kids' mind. Anyways this is a whole other topic, but read the book and most importantly GET OUT THERE AND MEET PEOPLE AND PASS ALONG AS MUCH INFORMATION AS YOU CAN. YOu guys always post great links to everything. Doesn't it suck to just share this with people who already know about it, when there's so many people out there who wished they knew what the fuck was happening? Public education exchange and information is the way to go.

[ November 05, 2001: Message edited by: JonnyHaggis ]


From: Montreal | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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posted 05 November 2001 09:37 PM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
JonnyHaggis, you are absolutely right. As I posted yesterday on the “Governments” thread: “…the key is participation. We are just too damn spoiled and lazy to speak up, as long as we have most of our comforts we have become accustomed to.”

Another quote I have been posting the last two months is: “every democratic country has the kind of government it deserves”.

How do you make people move? It is a rope-pulling contest over people’s minds. Reason against Hollywood culture.

I remember a Star Track episode (The Next Generation) in which Ryker brings back a toy from his holiday to the Enterprise. The toy is a device you put on your head and it stimulates the pleasure centre of your brain through your eyes. It turns out to be irresistibly addictive as well as a tool of mind control. Everybody gets addicted except young Wesley.

The rest of the crew is wondering around like zombies, the kind that can’t tolerate dissent. They capture Wesley at the end and force him into a chair and attach the device to his head, but before his mind gets zapped, Data shows up and rescues him, then everyone else.

How many of you remember this episode? I can’t help it, but I can almost see the control device attached to people’s heads when I hear them scream for war and blood.

Or the ‘wire-heads” in the “Ringworld” SF novel by Larry Niven. Wireheads are our future addicts who have surgically implanted electrodes directly stimulating their brains. They often starve to death if nobody turns off the device because they are so happy they don’t wish even to eat.

Our Hollywood culture is doing it to us through our TV sets, pop-culture, five-second sound bites and celebrity circuses. Have you noticed that during commercials pictures are flashing into our eyes at an ever-increasing rate like some insane stroboscope – I have to cover my eyes to avoid a headache (I have been muting the sound during commercials for over a decade now).

So how do we fight it?

Meades will work for Wesley, but where the hell is Data when we need him?


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
JonnyHaggis
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posted 05 November 2001 10:54 PM      Profile for JonnyHaggis   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
“every democratic country has the kind of government it deserves”

I can appreciate the frustration, but I totally disagree with that quote, and most of what you said. We have the power to build democratic societies, but we don't know that, so how could you expect anyone to act on it? Of course we have crapppy government and no real democratic institutions.

People don't know that they don't know, and they don't know that there's any point in getting informed about anything because they don't know you can do anything about it.

I don't think it's people's fault that they spend alot of time on pop culture (whether it's stuff I like or stuff I think is garbage). People don't realize that there's anything more useful to do so they don't and we grow up learning from the media that social problems have no cause and no solution, so you might as well play Sony PlayStation all day.

Until I started finding out abut how the world works, I was totally happy to watch movies and read comics all day.

If people realize that there's something they can do, then reading about politics all day becomes just as much fun as watching footbal, if not more. Peoples' atitudes of passivity and disengagement are pretty entrenched, but there are a whole lot of people out there who would be dying to do something useful if they knew what that was. That's my experience anyways.


From: Montreal | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 05 November 2001 11:03 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Zatamon: As a Trek enthusiast, I know well that episode.
From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
nonsuch
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posted 06 November 2001 01:26 AM      Profile for nonsuch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
A street-party as protest sounds like a good idea.

here is another one:
At Christmas-shopping time, in a chain department store, get a bunch of people to arrive at the cash registers with armfuls of stuff. Then start looking for the "made in" label on each of item and rejecting the ones not made in Canada. Could hold up the store for hours.
Even better in a grocery store: the labels on food are usually tiny and well hidden.

More risky: carry a sheet of labels with the names of countries printed in big, bold, colourful type and stick them on packages on store shelves.


From: coming and going | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
N.R.KISSED
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posted 06 November 2001 01:53 AM      Profile for N.R.KISSED     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
When it becomes ok to destroy property it becomes ok to blow up a building if it furthers the awareness of the cause. If it is ok to blow up a building then it is ok if a few people get scared by it.

Crikey Slick I hope you have a tobogan for that slippery slope. I was hardly advocating blowing up people's homes or frightening their granny into having some kind of fit. I was merely stating that targeting corporate property or turning over a few newspaper box doesn't constitute acts of extreme violence.

The actions of John Clarke or OCAP have never resulted in anyone's death can the same be said for the Ontario Government or the Ontario Police? NO!!!!


From: Republic of Parkdale | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
Slick Willy
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posted 06 November 2001 02:10 AM      Profile for Slick Willy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
I was hardly advocating blowing up people's homes or frightening their granny into having some kind of fit.

Oh now there is some difference. Well I guess it only is cool when it is within your limits. The problem is that everyone has different limits. You have no idea what the outcome of busting up someone's stuff will be. Not to mention that one thing leads to another. If you can break a few windows then you can break them all right? If you can break them all why can't your set it on fire?
So what happens when someone gets killed because a protester went a little to far? Is the collateral damage then justified?


From: Hog Heaven | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
WingNut
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Babbler # 1292

posted 06 November 2001 02:30 AM      Profile for WingNut   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
And what happens when someone gets killed because a cop went a little too far ... oh, wait .. that has occurred. We know what happens. Nothing. Apparently, if you're a cop, the collateral damage, if not worth it, is without any consequences.
From: Out There | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
Slick Willy
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Babbler # 184

posted 06 November 2001 03:24 AM      Profile for Slick Willy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
And what happens when someone gets killed because a cop went a little too far

What was too far about the cop killing the guy in Genoa? He was trying along with others to throw a fire extinguisher at a police officer. That along with 4x4s and 2x6s that were hurled into the car through the windows can indeed kill you if it hits you in the head. So if someone is trying to kill a police officer I understand that it is ok to shoot them. This has been tried and tested through out the world. So what's the crime in that?


From: Hog Heaven | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
WingNut
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posted 06 November 2001 04:15 AM      Profile for WingNut   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Two things:

First, it was reported the protestor had stolen the fire extinguisher from the vehicle and was holding it up as a trophy. He did not intend to throw it. But, of course, that will all come out in the trial. But wait! What trial? He was a cop. He doesn't need to defend himself.

What of all the cops who abused those arrsted? And beat sleeping protestors not associated with the Blac Bloc? How many cops in Genoa were charged? How many? That's what I thought.

Second, I was reffering to here at home not any protest. Can anyone recall when the last time a police officer in Ontario was convicted of excessive force? What year was it? And what happened to that case where a guy was killed outside a 7-11? Anything?

In this town police are free to beat and murder. Much like any other town. But it is the protestors we are watching. Maybe we should start searching all fire fighters before they begin work at a fire scene. Given events in New York and all. I mean, they now have a history of being violent, don't they?


From: Out There | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
clockwork
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posted 06 November 2001 04:58 AM      Profile for clockwork     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post

I'm not convinced... but I've already blown up about violent protesters so I'm biased.


From: Pokaroo! | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
WingNut
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posted 06 November 2001 09:53 AM      Profile for WingNut   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
But that is the point, clockwork, photos can be interpreted many ways. In a court, either a trial or an enquiry, you can be convinced one way or another based on the presentation of evidence as opposed to the slant of media. Is that not desirable?

The other point is that protestors have the same protections, and obligations, under the law as anyone else.

Put another way, you might be a peace loving, committed pacifist, but if you enter a public place where demonstrators are, you are subject to search and seizure. This only applies to protestors. Not cops. Not counter protestors or anyone else.

Now, imagine you are a felon convicted of armed robbery and assault in the commission of a crime, an armed robbery, carried out against a convenience store owner. Once your time is served you can freely enter a conveniece store, even the same one, free from the fear of search and seizure.

Yet people who protest, and have never been charged with anything, never mind convicted, apparently do not have the same freedom of movement.

And this is the kernel of my argument. Slick Willy might be a lost cause. But hopefully you can understand that if one group loses the right to protest, rather by law or through intimidation, then all have lost it. And the right to protest is central to our concept of democracy. Without it, we do not have a democracy. And when police begin to become the gate keepers of our democracy, it is all ready slipping away.

[ November 06, 2001: Message edited by: WingNut ]


From: Out There | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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posted 06 November 2001 10:44 AM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
JonnyHaggis: I can appreciate the frustration, but I totally disagree with that quote, and most of what you said. We have the power to build democratic societies, but we don't know that, so how could you expect anyone to act on it?

Fair enough, so lets examine how I interpret the quote you objected to: “every democratic country has the kind of government it deserves.”

I am not much of a “blame-guy”, you could say I am more like a “cause-and-effect” kind of a person. In the final analysis I believe that actions have consequences and every event is at the top of a long tree-structure of cause and effect chains. I can’t help it, I am a computer consultant, not a new age guru.

In view of the above, how can I interpret the quote?

I interpret it on two levels.

Level 1./ People don’t want to know anything that has the potential of inconveniencing them.
Level 2./ What makes them like that?

Lets look at the two levels in detail.

Level 1./ In my experience people who are comfortable in their lives (no serious deprivations, some luxuries) don’t want to rock the boat. They don’t want to find out what is the source of their comfort. They have heard rumours, disturbing ones at that, about third world poverty, sweat-shops, globalized slave-labour, child-exploitation, brutal dictatorships propped up by western might.

Nevertheless, they don’t want to know details, they don’t want to examine it more closely, because they suspect that their comfort depends on it. They are willing to live a split personality kind of existence with selective blindness, because if they allowed the facts to crash through their defences, then they would have to make a moral stand and a moral stand might endanger their comfort: the electric toothbrushes, the newest marvel in their kitchen (I just heard of a mushroom-peeler!), the top-of-the-line electronic gadgetry they are so proud of, the central air conditioning that guzzles energy hundreds of times above what the average Afghan ever used.

They would have to make a stand against their government, spend time writing to MP-s, going to demonstrations, organize neighbourhood activist groups -- all this time taken away from their comfortable repast in front of the TV set, watching the ball-game or the current episode of “Young and Restless”, while swigging their beer or sipping their lemonade.

You know how many times I was told to “go away”, “I don’t want to know!”, “you are depressing me”, “there is nothing I can do”, etc., etc., etc. These attitudes and arguments are everywhere. Right here on Babble. You know how many champions of the status quo refuse to remember an argument, no matter how many times it was presented? How many times they casually made totally false statements that were immediately refuted by many, quoting historical and statistical facts? Do you think the statement was withdrawn, admitting its falsehood? No, sir, it was glided over, like it never happened and they kept on trucking without any visible difference in their attitude. I don’t want to mention names, we all know who they are.

People don’t want to know the TRUTH because TRUTH is hard, demanding, mercilessly uncomfortable. It is so much easier to live with our inner contradictions, fairy tales, popular myths than it is to make a moral stand and, God forbid, give up anything we are addicted to.

So on level 1, yes “every democratic country has the kind of government it deserves”. Because in a democratic country where at least you are not jailed for telling the truth (not yet anyway) the information is available, in plain view in the bookstores, on the Internet, and even on TV if you bother to look, ask yourself some questions and add two and two together.

No TRUTH can defeat the averted eyes, the plugged ears, the suppressed thoughts the boycotting of the activist neighbour.

Actions have consequences and the consequences of this morally cowardly attitude is a government that cashes in on it, that walks all over the people, that uses the famous Russian “Salami Tactics” to slice away our hard-won social progress one slice at a time, so nobody will be suddenly jolted into too loud protest. So, yes, because of our not wanting to know, we deserve it.

Level 2./ is another topic entirely, and we can examine the causes that make us into moral cowards and there are many of them, most of them Historical, some of them psychological, all of them valid. But it is entirely another topic to deal with another time (after I calmed down).

I hope the above clarifies my quote you objected to.


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Markbo
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Babbler # 124

posted 06 November 2001 11:09 AM      Profile for Markbo     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
They don’t want to find out what is the source of their comfort. They have heard rumours, disturbing ones at that, about third world poverty, sweat-shops, globalized slave-labour, child-exploitation, brutal dictatorships propped up by western might.

Nevertheless, they don’t want to know details, they don’t want to examine it more closely, because they suspect that their comfort depends on it. They are willing to live a split personality kind of existence with selective blindness, because if they allowed the facts to crash through their defences, then they would have to make a moral stand and a moral stand might endanger their comfort:


Have you ever considered that they do know and the current situation, government and system we have is a result of the moral stand that they have taken???

I've never met a person who didn't know that there are sweatshops in the third world who provide goods to North America. Can anyone here honestly say they know people who are unaware of the conditions in the third world???

Democracy to you just means having everybody agree with you. If they don't agree with you they need to be educated. If they still don't agree with you then they're trolls.

You acknowledge that the vast majority of people support the current system and at the same time you say there is no real democracy.

Doesn't sound like you want democracy to me.


From: Windsor | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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Babbler # 1394

posted 06 November 2001 11:18 AM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
JonnyHaggis, do you see what I mean?
From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Pankaj
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Babbler # 1040

posted 06 November 2001 11:23 AM      Profile for Pankaj   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Markbo: I've never met a person who didn't know that there are sweatshops in the third world who provide goods to North America. Can anyone here honestly say they know people who are unaware of the conditions in the third world???

To your question: Yes. I've seen "the third world" with my own eyes in person and have felt the stuckness and despair in my own heart. Watching a few seconds on CNN or visiting a resort/spa is very far away from actual presence in reality. Along the same lines, when I found out how calves were treated so that they could become veal, I could no longer eat veal. I suspect I might move more towards vegetarianism if I were to spend a close-up day in an abbatoir, but that is something I would rather avoid. Makes life easier, I admit. Markbo, you're way, way off-base if you think presence and awareness are the norm in human beings. Way, way off-base. Quite frankly, it makes me wonder about your bearings.


From: London, ON | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Pankaj
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Babbler # 1040

posted 06 November 2001 11:32 AM      Profile for Pankaj   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Zatamon: Level 2./ is another topic entirely, and we can examine the causes that make us into moral cowards and there are many of them, most of them Historical, some of them psychological, all of them valid. But it is entirely another topic to deal with another time (after I calmed down).

I'll stay with the cause-effect explanations. Without practising presence, it is difficult to be present. Many of us think nothing of physical training, training and strengthening the body. How many of us are involved in mental training, by this I do not mean the acquisition of knowledge but rather practising staying in mental stillness and staying with whatever we may be feeling. This is difficult and we would rather distract ourselves with food, chatter, drugs, sex etc. Without such mental training as is afforded by silent meditation practise, it is but natural that we are reflexive, hurried and anxious beings. Its result is the world we live in; its just a mirror of our poorly trained minds.


From: London, ON | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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Babbler # 1394

posted 06 November 2001 11:33 AM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Pankaj, let me tell you the story of how I and my wife became vegetarians.

It happened 12 years ago when we first moved out to the country from Toronto.

We had a conversation about chicken coops.

Mr. Z.: “Honey, where do you want me to build the chicken coop?”
Mrs Z.: “No chicken coop.”
Mr. Z.: “What do you mean? We live in the country, we have to have a chicken coop.”
Mrs Z.: “We don’t eat anyone we know.”
Mr. Z.: “You mean we let others do our dirty work for us? It is hypocrisy!”
Mrs Z.: “Yes, it is.”
Mr.Z.: “Then we should stop eating meat.”
Mrs Z.: “Fine.”
Mr. Z.: “Fine.”

We never ate meat since.

[ November 06, 2001: Message edited by: Zatamon ]


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Slick Willy
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Babbler # 184

posted 06 November 2001 12:04 PM      Profile for Slick Willy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Look at the photos. I think we have a different view altogether on life in general.
I see a guy attacking the police officer inside with a 2x6. Perhaps you see a friendly chap offering his nice 2x6 to someone who needs to board up the windows. How in the world did those windows get smashed anyway?

The majority rules. You have every right to be disgruntled but you can't hurt people or damage property to get your way. Learn to deal with that, or don't it doesn't matter.
Part of what democracy means is that you have the right to speak out. But not riot.


From: Hog Heaven | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Victor Von Mediaboy
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Babbler # 554

posted 06 November 2001 12:09 PM      Profile for Victor Von Mediaboy   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Now, imagine you are a felon convicted of armed robbery and assault in the commission of a crime, an armed robbery, carried out against a convenience store owner. Once your time is served you can freely enter a conveniece store, even the same one, free from the fear of search and seizure.

Yet people who protest, and have never been charged with anything, never mind convicted, apparently do not have the same freedom of movement.



Better analogy: The convicted criminal who has served his/her time openly declares that he/she will break the law once he/she has been freed. The police aren't going to monitor such a person?


From: A thread has merit only if I post to it. So sayeth VVMB! | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
JonnyHaggis
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Babbler # 651

posted 06 November 2001 12:36 PM      Profile for JonnyHaggis   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I think I understood the first time, but I still disagree.

quote:
In my experience people who are comfortable in their lives (no serious deprivations, some luxuries) don’t want to rock the boat. They don’t want to find out what is the source of their comfort. They have heard rumours, disturbing ones at that, about third world poverty, sweat-shops, globalized slave-labour, child-exploitation, brutal dictatorships propped up by western might.

Nevertheless, they don’t want to know details, they don’t want to examine it more closely, because they suspect that their comfort depends on it.


I disagree (sort of). I think that when people are truly comfortable and secure, then they are much more open to helping others and makes some of the sacrifices involved in taking action to do so.

I think the people you are describing, those who don't want to know about anything, or want to convince themselves that we're doing favours to the third world by throwing them off their farms and enslaving them to make nike boingboing boots, are ones who might be considered 'comfortable' in that they have a lot of material things, but they're not really comfortable in that they have a stressful job which they don't get real fulfilment out of, and which they spend 40+ hours a week at and 10hrs a week driving to and from etc, etc and have a pretty unrewarding life in the real sense.

They may have a huge house, and be even millionaires, but the reason they fear any threat to their 'comfort', is that it's hanging by a thread. They take for granted all kinds of shitty aspects of their life, and the only (I'm exaggerating of course) way they can enjoy themselves is by buying things etc.

Helping people in the 3rd world, or p[aying more taxes for the people right here means that they still have to have their shitty life, but now they can't even enjoy the meagre material rewards that prevent them from jumping off a bridge.

Sure I hate pollution, but if I don't drive a car, it's not going to save the environment and plus I'm goping to be totally inconvenienced, and my stressful life is going to be even more stressful for nothing.

Sure I hate sweatshops, but I have no time as it is, I'm not going to waste even more time finding clothes that are made in good conditions, and spending all my money and time on this unrewarding activity.

Much easier to believe that those sweatshops liberate women from oppression and provide jobs to the poor, and play video games, and feel fly in my new hot rod.

Of course most people aren't SO pathetic, but from my own experience, and watching the people around me, there's a pretty strong element of that.

I think this describes alot of middle class people I know, but it applies to rich people, albeit a bit differently. They tend to be more comfortable, and have more vacations and rewarding activitiesm, but the psychology of a lot of rich people is pretty weird. I have some family members who absolutely have to live expensive lifestyles and drive expensivecars or else their life is ruined and they live in misery and shame. Even when their business goes bankrupt, they still borrow (one guy was ripping people off and went to jail) and do whatever it takes to maintain it. It's very cultural.

The next biggest obstacle I think, and this relates more to people who know about all this stuff, and are not in denial, but still don't do anything about it, is our alienating and passivity inducing cultural training which teaches us it's impossible to do anything about anything, and doesn't give us much room to. Most of us have no experience at all in doing anything like that, so it's a huge leap to even consider it.

Culture is so important. Alot of people I know who are activists or involved in social issues, it's always because their parents were also, so they learned from a young age that if you care about an issue, you do A B and C about it. Most of us have no clue, and have no friends involved in anything etc and corresponding do nothing.

.

quote:
They would have to make a stand against their government, spend time writing to MP-s, going to demonstrations, organize neighbourhood activist groups -- all this time taken away from their comfortable repast in front of the TV set, watching the ball-game or the current episode of “Young and Restless”, while swigging their beer or sipping their lemonade.

Part of that is because we have no democratic institutions. Whopee I write my MP. Does she even read the letter. Does she even give a shit. Why waste my time. So I go to a demo and march in circles and chant assenine slogans. 80% of the population doesn't underrstand the issue, and isn't going to pay attention anyways, plus the media is going to make me and my fellow demonstrators look like violent maniacs with no cause or clue.

There needs to be a climate wher you feel like you might actually achieve something, or at least the activism is going to be fulfilling in and of itself in some manner, maybe as a social activity.

If people understand that their actions can have an effect, and if they have an historical understanding of things like past struggles and things like the Spanish revolution, and most importrantly if people are organizing, interesting, and socially fulfilling activities as activism, then people will come out of their shells, I think.

Once a small group of people is doing these things, it creates a whiff of hope and it grows. The number one component is information, and the next step is organizing in a human, social way.

quote:
Actions have consequences and the consequences of this morally cowardly attitude is a government that cashes in on it, that walks all over the people, that uses the famous Russian “Salami Tactics” to slice away our hard-won social progress one slice at a time, so nobody will be suddenly jolted into too loud protest. So, yes, because of our not wanting to know, we deserve it.

That's true to some extent, but it's not very productive at this point. Is running around telling people that they deserve what they have going to make anybody interested in anything, when the reason they don't do anything is cultural alienation and lack of comprehension that doing anything about anything is possible.

Better to see it as a problem of lack of awareness, and lack of institutions for meaningful action, and work to make people aware and help build institutions.


From: Montreal | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Slick Willy
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Babbler # 184

posted 06 November 2001 12:38 PM      Profile for Slick Willy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Once your time is served you can freely enter a conveniece store, even the same one,

Not necessarily. The store owner or clerk could tell you to get the hell out and never come back. should the criminal refuse to leave the police can be called again and level another charge.


From: Hog Heaven | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Pankaj
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Babbler # 1040

posted 06 November 2001 01:06 PM      Profile for Pankaj   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Johhny Haggis: I have to say that your last post is quite correct. The advertised good life is indeed a surface cover underneath which often lies quiet despair, punctuated with the temporary and hollow joys of material acquisition.
From: London, ON | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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Babbler # 1394

posted 06 November 2001 01:23 PM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
JonnyHaggis, I agree with most of what you said even though I could quibble with details. I don’t think we are in any fundamental disagreement. It is your concluding remarks I want to pick on:
quote:
it's not very productive at this point… …running around telling people that they deserve what they have going to make anybody interested in anything, when the reason they don't do anything is cultural alienation and lack of comprehension that doing anything about anything is possible. Better to see it as a problem of lack of awareness, and lack of institutions for meaningful action, and work to make people aware and help build institutions.
Firs of all, here on Babble, I address highly intelligent people who know how to follow logical arguments (with the few exceptions of course). I am appealing to honesty, integrity, decency. I want to point out cause-and-effect relationships to people who are already activists in some sense (wouldn’t be on Babble otherwise) and I want to provide ammunition to them, for their use, when confronting the world outside of Babble.

It may be presumptuous of me to do so, and I am aware of that. Many on Babble have known these things way before I discovered them for myself. Many know a lot more things I have just started learning. However, from feedback on Babble and private email I have been getting I think there are also some who can benefit from my rants and can use them in their own arguments against the ignorant and the morally coward they have to face in their own lives.

My constant worry on Babble is the nagging question: am I doing anything to help make the world a better place? According to many comments I have received from all kinds of people, this appears to be the case. So I am not advising on strategy on how to clobber people with their own guilt (even though shock treatment often works with decent, honest people) but rather describe the world as I see it and hope to raise questions, doubt, awareness inside Babble. These rants are not intended to be blueprint of a comprehensive solution, merely part of one.

Otherwise I agree with most of what you said before.


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
meades
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 625

posted 07 November 2001 12:00 AM      Profile for meades     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I'm sorry, I've been away for a day, didn't read all the posts- Zatamon, should we make that panflet (SP?) soon? Did you want to make a thread for it?
From: Sault Ste. Marie | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
nonsuch
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1402

posted 07 November 2001 01:21 AM      Profile for nonsuch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
pamphlet?
Yes, the sooner, the better.

I'm usually pessimistic on this whole subject of democratic action - though i was not always so: i do sympathize with Pankaj and JohhnyHaggis.
It can't be impossible to wake people up, can it? After all, their own happiness depends on their contribution to other people's happiness, and they can see this in family life and friendships, so why won't they see it in a larger context?

Nature, gentics, history.

Culture, yes.

And concepts, and logic.
And following a thought all the way through from first principles causes and effects.

And... oh, it is a very big project!

PS Read the the essay clockwork posted under 'stupid socialists'. Very much worth your while.

[ November 07, 2001: Message edited by: nonesuch ]


From: coming and going | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
machiavellian
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Babbler # 1365

posted 07 November 2001 03:41 AM      Profile for machiavellian   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Nevertheless, they don’t want to know details, they don’t want to examine it more closely, because they suspect that their comfort depends on it. They are willing to live a split personality kind of existence with selective blindness, because if they allowed the facts to crash through their defences, then they would have to make a moral stand and a moral stand might endanger their comfort: the electric toothbrushes, the newest marvel in their kitchen (I just heard of a mushroom-peeler!), the top-of-the-line electronic gadgetry they are so proud of, the central air conditioning that guzzles energy hundreds of times above what the average Afghan ever used.

They would have to make a stand against their government, spend time writing to MP-s, going to demonstrations, organize neighbourhood activist groups -- all this time taken away from their comfortable repast in front of the TV set, watching the ball-game or the current episode of “Young and Restless”, while swigging their beer or sipping their lemonade.

You know how many times I was told to “go away”, “I don’t want to know!”, “you are depressing me”, “there is nothing I can do”, etc., etc., etc.


To play devil's advocate for a moment...

I feel that I have to mention that many people may not be involved in activism because they are simply too busy trying to make ends meet. They may or may not be aware of issues such as sweatshops, etc. These issues just take a backseat to the immediate concerns of working to make money to buy food and clothing for yourself and your children. You're probably not inclined to form a non-profit collective if you are living hand-to-mouth, trying to support a family on whatever meager earnings you have. You're probably not going to purchase health foods or organic vegetables, which, let's face it, often carry a higher price tag than ground beef, Kraft dinner and minute rice. You're probably not going to take the time to worry about where a piece of clothing was produced when your kid needs shoes and Walmart has the cheapest price. Are we going to label these people as morally degenerate or apathetic for not refusing to buy those shoes, because of who might have made them? What kind of alternative do they have? They're probably the ones more likely to be going to Value Village or the Sally Anne anyway, not because it's trendy or morally preferable, but because they have to. Slagging these people for being apathetic is insensitive and has the aftertaste of youthful arrogance to me. I just want to see an acknowledgement that there are often pressing concerns in many people's lives that may interfere with their desire or ability to contribute to social justice movements. I'm all for being idealistic but perhaps a practical reminder of the reality of many people's lives needs to be added to this thread.

In other words, let's not forget the vast majority of working poor in this country, who are comfortable in that they can afford some luxuries and are not below the poverty line (do these people fit in your definition, Zatamon?), but have little more than an inch of breathing room. These people have large debts, no savings, and need to work 40 hours plus to live. I wouldn't say that their lives are full of despair - they're often very fulfilling, with the joys of family, etc. But they are full of efforts to survive, which are necessary and tiring, and time-consuming enough that all these people can muster the energy for at the end of the day is to sit and watch the Simpsons or the news. How do we appeal to these people (of whom I admit, I am one, albeit one who is making an effort to get more active).

I tend to agree that people who are more than comfortable as far as their material goods go are actually more inclined to do something to help others since they have the time and freedom to do so, and they may feel more of a sense of the obligation to help others who have less than themselves. They also tend to be better educated (because they are better able to afford education) and therefore may be more socially conscious. These are the people who attend high-priced fundraising dinners and donate money regularly to charities. This is not true of every richer or rich person, I know. And certainly they may be simultaneously contributing to the problem, but they are the ones that often shape public opinion since they have more power and influence and the ability to exert it. They are the ones that the non-profit organizations tend to pester, at least in my experience, because their involvement tends to advance the cause of an organization faster than the involvement of a much larger number of ordinary people.

What do you think about this, and how do you suggest we deal with it?

Many ordinary people may agree that something needs to be done about many issues of social justice in the world, but they may not be able to take the time off to travel to attend a protest, because they need that money. They may not have the time to write a letter, because they are working extra hours to afford those piano lessons for their kids, or to pay off their debts to VISA, which were basically unavoidable. They may not have the time to even post to Babble, because they're busy with the baby or the bills. It doesn't mean they don't care. I just think that activism itself may often be somewhat of a luxury, or at least, it may be perceived that way.

I short, I feel it is short-sighted to accuse the general population of being apathetic and blindly committed to the status quo. They might be too busy trying to keep up to the status quo to be able to take much of a moral stance on it. The question, of course, is how to address these people, reasonably, about issues of social justice, without becoming snobby about our moral superiority.

For the record, I do believe that everyone needs to become involved in activism,and that in the end, it may even benefit people such as those I'm trying to describe the most. I just feel that we may need to address this issue in the process of determining how to go about getting people on board and helping.


From: Peace River (no, not actually in the river, silly) | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
nonsuch
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Babbler # 1402

posted 07 November 2001 04:03 AM      Profile for nonsuch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Probably the best approach is to ask questions rather than lecture. I mean, really ask questions and listen - hard - to the answers. This takes a lot of patience, since most people are not terribly articualte (and not used to being asked serious questions in the first place). And then not jump to the next question on the list, but keep at it until both your question and their answer is clear to both persons in the dialogue.
In theory, one could go directly to first principles and moral tenets; in practice, you simply lose the other person's attention and short-circuit the dialogue.
It is a long, slow, painstaking process - and at the end of it, you'll come away disappointed at least half the time.
But, hey! Look what Jehova's Witnesses are up against, and they keep trying.

From: coming and going | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 478

posted 07 November 2001 08:59 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
JonnyHaggis, your analysis resonates for me as well. It seems to me a classic question, why the old strategy of offering the people "bread and circuses" rather than meaningful democracy and justice keeps working so well. So many people are demoralized by their working lives, or at least so stressed and distracted that they have trouble settling long enough to focus on searching analysis.

And I'm not condescending to anyone when I say that: much of the time, it's true of me. As soon as supper's over, it's O TV, please put me to sleep and let me forget.

But this has already worked on me:

quote:
Once a small group of people is doing these things, it creates a whiff of hope and it grows. The number one component is information, and the next step is organizing in a human, social way.

and I hope you're right, JH, that it will spread. I know you're already doing the real work that counts.


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
JonnyHaggis
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Babbler # 651

posted 07 November 2001 09:20 AM      Profile for JonnyHaggis   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:

Many ordinary people may agree that something needs to be done about many issues of social justice in the world, but they may not be able to take the time off to travel to attend a protest, because they need that money. They may not have the time to write a letter, because they are working extra hours to afford those piano lessons for their kids, or to pay off their debts to VISA, which were basically unavoidable. They may not have the time to even post to Babble, because they're busy with the baby or the bills. It doesn't mean they don't care. I just think that activism itself may often be somewhat of a luxury, or at least, it may be perceived that way.

What do you think about this, and how do you suggest we deal with it?


I totally agree with that, I think we were probably talking about people who aren't eating Kraft dinner and struggling to make ends meet, bnecause it's taken for granted that those people don't have the time.

I think it's kind of a cliche those who know the most about oppression, and are the most in need of social change, have the least time and resources to do anything about it.

But it isn't hopeless. Historically, working class people with even less time, and les comfort, facing much more repression, than any of us here and now, achieved great things. It's not just Martin Luther Kind that brought Civil Rights to the U.S. And it's not Lenin or Marx that brought workers rights to Europe and America. Poor people as well as the intellectuals organized and fought hard and won. The difference is that they had some form of living community and we don't, but we're thiirsting for it, so I think we can bring it back to life.

That's why I'm so hung up on making activism something *fun* and social - something that you actually enjoy doing, and instead of taking time to watch simpsons, or football you'd rather be doing activism.

But first I think the most important thing is information. Like have a big street party with lots of cultural events, and where people who are a bit confused and want to know more about current events (I don't mean confused derogatorily, Everyone I know who just reads regular news is confused, because so much of the info is presented in piecemeal fragmented out of context fashion) can have fun and learn about things, and eventually contribute to the activities and organizing.

Until sept 11, I think gays were probably the most discriminated against group around (now it's probably anyone who looks like an arab), nonetheless at the annual gay pride parade in Montreal 750,000 people showed up at the last one, and 400,000 the year before. That's for a really unpopular group of people. Most probably came from Montreal or nearby cities.

Compare that with the 150 - 300, 000 who showed up from all over Europe and the U.S. plus some global NGOs in Genoa, and you realize that anti-globalization, which I think most people whould relate to if they knew more about it; who isn't upset about crumbling social system and corporate power?

And buying plane tickets to fly to Brazil and Quatar is totally prohibitive. Most people probably don't care that much about those events outside of peopel who already care and know about anti-globalization issues (although I think the fact that 50, 000 were going to show up in Quebec City, forced there to be ALOT of press about it, and lots of even good press freom the CBC) To others it just looks like riots.

Local events are the most important. Get people to realize what's happening and that we have the poer to do something about it and that it can even be fun and rewarding.

If people go to Value Village, then why not make an anti-globalization teaching session/party where there's also a street sale of Value Village clothes.
Anti-globalization block parties parties with rap groups. There's so many fun possibilities. We need to remember what it's like to live in a community. Most people are afraid to call up the CBC or even write an email, nevermind do anything.

Activists should contact local community leaders about what kind of activities people would be interested in.

Cheap clothes, different cultural foods and good music, plus you get to learn all about all of these issues you need clarification on. Maybe the Simpsons is kind of boring compared to that.


Too much activism is by and for whiny angry, educated people with identity complexes. The other 98% of the population is just waiting for something they can relate to.

In the summer there's like five week-long sidewalk sales on my block, with all kinds of music and good food and stuff. The Raelians have a booth, the local recycling coop does, but where's the anti-war anti-globalization people? They're to busy being whiny and angry and obsessing over how anarcho-autonomously-affinitous-convergent they are to realize that a fun event is the right atmosphere for organizing.

The whole population is already angry and frustrated. We don't need big angry demos to have a big vomit of anger and frustration. No wonder there's violent riots every time.

We need big parties where we meet eachotehr and learn together, and then we can have demos about how much solidarity we have for eachother, and how much of a community we are. WHo's going to riot at that? The media will not be able to focus on violence because there won't be any.

Yelling angrily at powerful people who think you're all idiots, and who couldn't give a shit about anything you have to say, is pretty unrewarding. Getting together to build a community and feeling of social solidarity that will render the powerful powerless, makes more sense.

**

By the way, what's this pamphlet you guys are talking about?

[ November 07, 2001: Message edited by: JonnyHaggis ]


From: Montreal | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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posted 07 November 2001 09:31 AM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Machiavellian, I appreciate your comments.

I understand perfectly how poor working people are under enormous pressure to make ends meet and have no resources left to get involved in crusades of any kind.

However, I believe you miss the main point of my argument. The main point is the following: In my experience, most people (regardless of wealth, social status, education, etc.) are hostile to ethical considerations. Or at least uncomfortable with them.

I can see the signs: the eyes glazing over, the suspicious looks, the shrugging shoulders, the defiant posture, the bored look. The entire body posture can often be translated into: “What is it going to cost me?”

I talk to people of all kind. Rich and poor, well educated and ignorant. In my experience the majority of people in North America do not want to know that they are directly benefiting from, and contributing to, the enormous suffering of other people much less fortunate than they are.

Yes I know all the hardships you listed. However, those hardships would appear as absolute heaven to most of the people on this Planet. People who often drown in oceans they are trying to cross to get to enjoy those hardships. Two billion people on this planet live on less than $1 a day. Or try to. While often being shot at, mutilated by land mines, poisoned by their environment (thanks to us) and threatened, intimidated or brutalized if they complain. They would love to have our pressures and hardships. Ask anyone who has seen it close up. Pankaj knows about it. I do. Many, many others don’t want to. For crying out loud, lets put things in perspective. Lets step out of our safe little cocoon here in Canada! If only for a moment, for the duration of this debate.

Everything is relative. Any one person, from pauper to billionaire, may feel victimized, hard done by, deprived. Nobody likes to look down, to compare how better he is than those below him. We like to look up and see what those above us have that we don’t.

And most especially nobody likes to know if the source of whatever they do have is those impoverished and exploited masses below them. The fact is a threat, if not a practical, at least a moral one. The millionaires don’t like to face the fact that they are ripping off the middle classes. The middle classes don’t like to be reminded of the working poor. The working poor don’t want to know where the goods in Walmart come from.

The entire point of the post you object to is this “not wanting to know!”

Not that they have no time to protest, that they can’t afford organic, that they have a low level of education – all those are valid points.

Just show me one shopper at Walmart, who would tell you: “I feel terrible shopping here, I know that most of these goods are made in China and Singapore and Malaysia and Korea and I have seen on TV how those people live and my heart goes out for them because I am sure they can not afford anything here even though they are the ones who make them. I know that I am benefiting from their horrible lives and by shopping here I am supporting the system responsible for it. It keeps me awake worrying about this and I often try to find alternatives and believe me, I wouldn’t buy this (fill in the blank) unless my family’s life depended on it.” I exaggerated to make my point.

Instead, when you try to make them see this, they resent you, they get angry, evasive, hostile, many come up with the stupidest excuses, justifications and rationalization to make it morally acceptable and even noble (helping those poor people by providing jobs for them!!!!)

You may have different experience with people, I don’t know. I can only build on my own and my own experience tells me: people of all classes hate moral arguments whenever there is the danger of it costing them anything. And this has nothing to do with charity that many people get involved in. Charity makes you feel noble, guilt makes you feel like shit.

I could go on but I know that even on Babble I am not very popular with raising these ethical concerns. In the “what one person can do“ thread I started a few centuries ago I listed several options I found available to me to cut down on my own personal contribution to, and benefit from, the System of globalized slavery we live under. I am aware that some of them are not available to many. However, it was important to me to find ways to reject this system of evil and so far I have not found many for whom it is just as important. To the point where alternatives would be examined seriously and life-style changes would be considered.

So far I have only found clersal who keeps repeating that "we will have to consider serious changes in our life-styles if we want to solve this". And nonesuch who in her usual condensed style advised: "don't buy the shit"! And Pankaj, who stated above that "I suspect I might move more towards vegetarianism if I were to spend a close-up day in an abbatoir, but that is something I would rather avoid. Makes life easier". At least he knows that he doesn't want to know real close up. There may be others, I don't know.

That is the point I was trying to make. It is not a question of who feels superior to whom. Individual psychology is irrelevent. TRUTH is not. In my experience everything I described above is TRUE. Others may have different experience and I am looking forward to reading about it.

[ November 08, 2001: Message edited by: Zatamon ]


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
statica
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1420

posted 07 November 2001 01:23 PM      Profile for statica   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
"Yelling angrily at powerful people who think you're all idiots, and who couldn't give a shit about anything you have to say, is pretty unrewarding. Getting together to build a community and feeling of social solidarity that will render the powerful powerless, makes more sense."

Well here's the thing, right....i think that when protests are more effective-and by that i mean we don't feel like we're just yelling our heads off at powerful people who we know don't give a shit about what we say, anymore-and we feel we're having some real substantial impact...nd not just an ideological or abstract impact, but a real impact that can be measured in real terms in our real lives-then some of the "violence" at protests will go down. it's right now, we still feel as thot we're not having a "real" impact-or percieve we are-and the public doesn't percieve we are.


From: t-oront-o | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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Babbler # 490

posted 07 November 2001 01:27 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I refuse to go to Walmart for various reasons, one of them being that it's yet another American corporation trying to homogenize the Canadian cultural landscape, plus the fact that it sells cheap crap and treats its employees like dirt.

As for McD's, I gave up on that a year ago. Happened after I felt so bloated after eating one of them McD's meals. Ugh! So now I eat homemade bunwiches and/or eat at little sandwich shops.


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Victor Von Mediaboy
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Babbler # 554

posted 07 November 2001 01:31 PM      Profile for Victor Von Mediaboy   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post
I don't shop at Walmart because big box stores aren't pedestrian-friendly. If you wanna shop there, you gotta drive there and fight for a parking space.

If the quaint downtown Ottawa outlets of Zellers and Canadian Tire ever close down, I'm gonna be very bummed.


From: A thread has merit only if I post to it. So sayeth VVMB! | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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posted 07 November 2001 02:23 PM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Continuing this morning’s rant, I have a couple of more points to make.

What I find difficult to accept is the attitude that we are powerless to change things in the world because, if I spend time on writing letters to MP-s, going on demonstrations, even if I start boycotting unethical business, my action alone will not make any noticeable difference. Which is quite true.

However, in moral issues, I am supposed to do certain things or refrain from doing certain others, not because of the effect it may or may not have on the world, but because those things are right or wrong. The examples are countless, we all have many at hand.

The reason I don’t steal, even if I could get away with it, is that stealing is wrong. The reason I help a little old lady or blind person across the street, even if I am in a hurry to somewhere else, is because it is the right thing to do.

To raise my voice against child abuse next door is a natural act for most people because it is the right thing to do. Not doing business with a fence, selling stolen goods would also seem wrong for most decent people.

These are moral decisions we make, and follow them up regardless whether we get punished or rewarded, whether we have a chance to change the world around us or not.

It is the distance from the immorality that makes it acceptable to most of us when we shop at Walmart or Zellers or Canadian Tire.

If my neighbour kept children in his basement, chained to a bench and forced them to produce widgets much cheaper than anyone else, most people would not buy it from him, but would go to the widget store and buy it for a lot more money instead (except Chretien who is on record saying: "we need business, not sermons!"). However, if my neighbour moved his operation to China and then sold his widgets to Canadian Tire, then I would have no problem buying the same widgets, produced the same way. As long as it is not directly in my face, it seems to be all right.

This is my basic problem. How does distance turn an immoral act into an acceptable one?

We do have tremendous power over corporations. They are terrified of us finding it out. All we need to do is take a moral stand and refuse to buy their products that were produced by semi-slave labour in the global economy. We don’t always have a choice but we often do. If enough people had the moral integrity, courage and consistency to do that, the system we are all bitching about would collapse tomorrow. If not, it will last forever, because we can not defeat what we are benefiting from every day of our lives.

[ November 08, 2001: Message edited by: Zatamon ]


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
statica
rabble-rouser
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posted 07 November 2001 03:52 PM      Profile for statica   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
but here's the thing, right....we know/they know some of us know

but apart from activists and corperations and governments, who else knows about this little shamgame. i mean, i could spend my entire day running around toronto yelling at anyone drinking from a COKE can about seed selling in africa, but does that make a difference to them HERE.

I mean, it would be great if everyone had a generalized sense of solidarity for everyone in the world, but truth is, they don't. so only when i bunch of tires blow up here do we start questions corperations.


From: t-oront-o | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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Babbler # 1394

posted 07 November 2001 04:10 PM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
If we are talking about actual solutions, I have been saying, for two months now, the exact same thing as JonnyHaggis and many others: the key is spreading truth around in as many directions, to as many people, as we know how to reach. But one piece of the message should be: it is immoral to benefit from slave labour and the suffering of human beings, no matter how far from us they are.

Gandhi had no problem convincing millions and millions in India to stop using cheap British imports. His appeal was both moral and practical. People were lining up around the corner to get arrested by the British for inconsequential moral stands like getting salt from the sea. Because it was wrong not to let them use their own salt from their own seas.

Unfortunately, we don't have our Gandhi to mobilize people to do the right thing. We can only try to repeat it over and over again -- maybe if enough times said, some people might start to wonder and... who knows?

[ November 07, 2001: Message edited by: Zatamon ]


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
statica
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1420

posted 07 November 2001 04:40 PM      Profile for statica   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
women have been saying no for centuries and it hasn't been enough to stop people from raping them-even with the help of big budget ad camapigns to get the message out, people still let violence against women slide. and sexism is only one part of the whole machine that oppression is.
From: t-oront-o | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
JCL
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1387

posted 07 November 2001 06:34 PM      Profile for JCL     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
one of them being that it's yet another American corporation trying to homogenize the Canadian cultural landscape

What Canadian culture??? There is no "Canadian culture." There is very little difference between Canadian and American culture. Except in beer, political systems, political parties, and national anthems.

I discussed the issue about protests with a friend of mine who was visiting town this week. He's more of a centrist to slightly left wing. I asked him "What do you think of the aftermath of September 11 will have with anti-globilization protests and so forth?" He said "I don't understand how these people cannot get a few represenatives to sit down with the world leaders and have a rational dialogue with them to discuss their issues with whatever they propose. I don't think they would object to listening to them." He also said "For every protest that goes bad, the issues or concerns raised by these groups is lost to society and these world leaders. They lose credibility with society and leaders as legitimate concerns."

I thought it was interesting view coming from him. He's definitely not a Tory supporter that's for sure. I still remember how he bitched about former Tory premier of Manitoba Gary Filmon "ran this province into the ground." *L*


From: Winnipeg. 35 days to Christmas yet no snow here. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 490

posted 07 November 2001 08:47 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
What Canadian culture??? There is no "Canadian culture." There is very little difference between Canadian and American culture. Except in beer, political systems, political parties, and national anthems.

Welp, North Dakota is just to the south of you. Go on down, there's plenty of room.

Hell, if you move to South Dakota, you know who one of your senators will be? TOM DASCHLE! That's right, folks, Democratic Senator, and Majority Leader.


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Markbo
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 124

posted 09 November 2001 09:49 AM      Profile for Markbo     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
. Along the same lines, when I found out how calves were treated so that they could become veal, I could no longer eat veal.

I know how calves are treated and I still enjoy the occasional veal. I asked everybody I came in contact with if they also knew, they did. THey also still eat veal (except the vegetarians who became vegetarians solely for health reasons). Your view is that no one truly knows unless they spend a day in that calves shoes is unrealistic.

quote:

I suspect I might move more towards vegetarianism if I were to spend a close-up day in an abbatoir, but that is something I would rather avoid.

So you are aware of the conditions inside an abbatoir. Enough to know you want to avoid spending a close-up day in one. Thats a conscious choice. Would you enjoy if the PETA people forced you to spend a close-up day in one. Do they have the right to do that???

quote:
Markbo, you're way, way off-base if you think presence and awareness are the norm in human beings. Way, way off-base. Quite frankly, it makes me wonder about your bearings.

Its just that our definitions of awareness and presence are very different. You think that no one knows anything unless they've experienced your exact experiences. Thats simply not true.


From: Windsor | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1394

posted 09 November 2001 10:03 AM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Markbo: I know how calves are treated and I still enjoy the occasional veal.
Calves are just "collateral damage" right?

[ November 09, 2001: Message edited by: Zatamon ]


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 490

posted 09 November 2001 02:20 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
PETH heartily endorses the humane... er, consumption of plants.

Actually, I need to rewrite this press release. Be right back.


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
JCL
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1387

posted 09 November 2001 02:28 PM      Profile for JCL     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
DrC - Probably better than to live in Bill Gates country. :P
From: Winnipeg. 35 days to Christmas yet no snow here. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged

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