18 November 2009

Reflections on the G20

Time and space always make for better analysis so I thought it best to take a break after the recent G20 conference here in Pittsburgh. I have to admit that for me the whole thing was a bit of a letdown- both in terms of the protests impact on the global elites and the negative image earned by some of the protestors by their actions. If there was ever a stage set to educate the public about the evils of global fascism, this was certainly it. Unfortunately, that opportunity was squandered by the impact of younger "anarchists" (quotes intended) that seemed to go out of their way to reinforce their nihlist view of the world and lose any hope of support from the local populace.

Two observations stick out in my head. First, it was easier to get in and out of Pittsburgh during the G20 than on any other day except perhaps a holiday. While I fully expected roadblocks, protestors hurling molotov cocktails at barricades and burning tires, I was instead greeted by bored looking Pennsylvania guardsmen wearing what looked like size 4X body armor (seriously fellas, start doing some crunches.) The police and military presence was so overwhelming that it seemed to suck the spirit right out of the opposition. Second, I finally came to the conclusion that I have pondered for many years. Many "anarchists" that have shown up at these types of events are not anarchists in the traditional sense- rather, they are overprivileged little college aged brats intent on breaking things for the hell of it instead of trying to bring the masses to a positive message- namely, the spreading growth and power of the state at the expense of the little guy, the freedom of independent thought and action and the slavery of state dependence.

I'm all for opposing the uncontrolled growth and power of the federal government, the state government and even my local government. I oppose the global economic and political systems that have destroyed the rights of individuals all over this planet and exploited the many for the benefit of the few. Still, I can't figure out how breaking the windows of a local business moves the anarchist message forward. Instead, it galvanizes local resistance against the anarchist message. I warned anarchists for months about this.

I thought two protests were done well. Greenpeace hanging their banner on one of the city bridges won large scale media coverage much of which seemed to carry a message of grudging respect. Even the police interviewed about it had to admit it took balls to scale the bridge and hang a couple of hundred feet above the Ohio River. Many Pittsburghers saw the story on television and probably more than a few took the time to look a little more into the Greenpeace message. The Buddhist monk protests against Chinese oppression in Tibet and against the repression of monks in Myanmar were also extremely effective. The media showed the quiet strength, compassion and stoicism of Buddhism contrasted with the cold depravities of the state. I'm sure that many viewers were taken aback by the images of these protests- unarmed monks walking with serene and absolute focus contrasted against armed police and soldiers.

Pittsburgh is an especially provincial town with extremely tight family and ethnic ties- the absolute worst thing you could do was take actions that impacted the local populace. Sympathetic rioting from Pitt students certainly didn't help either. And what was the end result ? Local business guy cleaning up glass on television while his female employees explained how they hid behind the counter while they were under attack. Way to go guys, way to build public support. And how did this affect the G20 globalists ? It didn't. Perversely, it probably built support for the state and its promise of protection and tranquility (with the unspoken price of personal freedom and liberty.)And so, the struggle continues.

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