Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fly the chopper back to Brooklyn

Counterpoint to Skinny's post, only I substitute hyperbole with arguments

Perhaps the most salient problem with "anarchists" is the way that the bad behavior of certain segments tends to distract from and become the message. I don't agree with the political philosophy of "anarchism" (although I know it's not monolithic) but I largely agree with their idea that the increasing rigidity and entrenchment of bureaucratic structures tends to concentrate the flow of ideas and the processes of democracy at the top.

I don't believe that it is necessary to work through existing or conventional means towards change in order to address problems, nor do I believe that these are the only outlets for dissent or opinion. I also have no problem with people dressing like buffoons, eating cheese from dumpsters or any of the rest of the hallmarks of the stereotypical anarcho-crusty lifestyle whose identity is superimposed externally over the entirety of any broad lefty protest movement.

To digress to the topic at hand - it is nearsighted to conflate street begging trustafarian Steel-Reserve-swigging crusties with a broad gathering of individuals with a wide range of protest issues, just because they are in the same place at the same time. Furthermore, knee jerk reaction of this kind by liberals is at cross-purposes with their own aims.

Let's not forget that the Seattle protests of 1999 were a pivotal moment in the mainstreaming of discussion about all issues related to globalization. The grievances voiced in 1999 were not the unique province of the protesters - many on the left were concerned about issues ranging from climate change to farm subsidies to Third World resource privatization. But the existence of a visible and vibrant protest element on the left has always served to create a middle ground for moderate left individuals like Skinny to actually gain bargaining power with the moderate right.

The logic here is that the moderate left agrees with the radical left on many issues, but has a strong difference of opinion about the means towards an end and the value of compromise which keeps them working at 501(c)3's and not riding freight trains from protest to punk show to protest. The visibility of a leftist protest element provides an opening for the moderate left to say to the rest of the political world, "Well obviously these issues are important if people are getting so irate about them, but you don't want to deal with those guys. Talk to us."

The viability of this model is longstanding. The American government's two party system (and separation of powers) preserves overall systematic stability at the expense of immediate change and thus mainstream politicians and political organizations are slow to action - wary of being wildcards in a slow moving system. But on issues ranging from civil rights to the environment - once characterized by protest movements subject to intense FBI scrutiny, public skepticism and political marginalization - they've come around in time.

The element breaking store windows and bathing in the bathroom at a hardcore show is beyond counterproductive, but let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Without these guys - YOU are the crazy ones.


P.P.S - G20 music post up on

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