Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The roots of violence


“Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce without morality, Science without humanity, Worship without sacrifice, Politics without principles." - Gandhi



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6 comments:

  1. I wonder if anyone had been drinking ? :) Molsons probably made some good coin prior to the Vancouver riot(s)… and the brewery was far enough away to avoid any of the carnage,

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  2. Wow! Almost can't look away---which is probably one of the features of the phenomenon: motivation to be seen, at least if that seems prudent in the circumstance. Legitimate political protest wants to be seen, not just to impress politicians, but fellow citizens too. The doofuses who posed on crumpled police cruisers wanted to be seen; everybody gets to discover what new technology means: riot police phalanx guards the movie set instead of charging---they'll collect evidence from phone uploads and avoid star billing in yet another police brutality video. Onlookers assume a right to record so powerfully so's to ignore bullhorn warning to stay back (ear-bud deafness, maybe?).

    Moving pictures changed the usually destructive peasant mob into witness and protector of legitimate protest, vicarious reality loutishness, and double-edged evidence featuring cops and perps in reversible roles.

    Of Gandhi's couplets above, pleasure and worship are most easily accessible to the masses. Despite undeniable wealth inequality, the ubiquity of phone cams at the Vancouver riot indicates relative affluence. It doesn't seem these three factor in the event. Students don't protest knowledge, just what it costs to get it. Regards commerce, strikers vs coppers with club and gun changed long ago into union pickets and placards that seek the same kind of video witness of legitimacy as political protest; otherwise it seems commerce suffers crimes of opportunity during riots, self-serving rationales pitting oppressed against profiteers notwithstanding. Scientists have protested Harper's anti-intellectualism but are otherwise included with political protest. All of these types "demonstrations" (in the truest sense) aim for passivity. Only ill-considered thrill seeking (pleasure without conscience) can account for the destructiveness of "sports riots"---and then only roughly. It is tritely called "senseless" but that can hardly be.

    Police have been known to provoke, sometimes covertly as agents provocateur, riots as pretence to bust some heads. Certainly police actions have provoked in Ferguson and Baltimore a mixture of retaliation and opportunism, the inclusion of non-blacks in legitimate protest hinting at a sterotypological difference from "race riot". Police had also been called upon to defend innocent non-partispants in the Detroit "race riot" where rioting blacks were destroying black-owned homes and businesses (and eventually the army was summoned, which risks a Kent State University killing).

    Moving pictures, police, sports, self-entitled phone cam recorders---and of course breakable, burnable stuff at hand---if those are all the ingredients what's the recipe? My guess is cyber culture, at turns vicariously anonymous and trivially exhibitionist, seemingly contradicting but both to do with identity, is sometimes focused by sport, the proxy for war or a type of war game, to yield a pretend or surreal world---palpable to anyone swept up in it, familiar to the gaming generation, and often assisted by good old alcohol---where one can get away with anything and prove it with wanton destruction. Thing is, it's really identity insecurity futilely trying to "break on through to the other side"; question is, is it worth it? Is any kind of mass demonstration worth it in terms of effectiveness?

    The premise of peaceful demonstration is getting results without violence---but when demands aren't met or actively resisted, the purpose of war is presumed, that is, to win. Riots signify the potential to smash stuff is always at hand. To mashup von clausewitz and Randy California, war is natures way of telling you something's wrong with your politics.

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  3. Sadly ..the world as a whole is degenerating into a fools paradise. We are on a collision course with a reality devoid of intellect, a world without a conscience, an illusion created by a few, enabled by the elite, and populated by the disillusioned.

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    Replies
    1. Some might argue that the world has always been as you describe. The difference now is that with the communications tools at hand many more know much more about the good, the bad, the ugly, and who might be responsible for each.

      We therefore now have much less of an excuse for not acting to effect beneficial change rather than wallowing in impotent disillusion.

      Look what Gandhi did; and he didn’t even own an iPhone.

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  4. Good rebuttle..I agree. Gandhi persuaded a huge population through peaceful protest, and intellectual fortitude to rise up and defend their rights as well as their freedoms. Our challenge is to initiate the changes we see as necessary, using a similar method or perhaps a far more focused method and yet enabled by the majority. The education of the populace as to the workings and currently declining democratic mess into something akin to a reverse totalitarianism, must be a beginning. Yes, we now have greater means of communication, and a means of identifying those within the system that create many of the problems, but without leadership, knowledge and the will to act, most people remain powerless.

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  5. Correction..reverse totalitarianism, from an earlier post from Norm, on Canadian elites.

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