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News Link • Activism

Anarchism and Nonviolence: Time for a ‘Complementarity of Tactics’

• Waging Nonviolence
With the conclusion of the G20 protests in Canada, the inevitable post-mortem dissection has begun in earnest. Activists prepare to file lawsuits, organizers vow to do things differently next time, police pledge to investigate further, the media highlight the purported “destruction” before moving on to the next big story, and world leaders promise to continue their efforts unhampered by the misguided protesters. And, as is by now par for the post-protest course, pretty much everyone seems to cast blame on “the anarchists.”

More recently, in the aftermath of the Oscar Grant verdict in Oakland, the media fan the flames by blaming the few stray acts of window-breaking and looting on “self-described anarchists,” while police officials emphasize that this de facto terrorist segment justifies their conduct vis-à-vis protesters in general. More rifts develop in the streets, and although a tenuous solidarity is at times expressed as well, the lasting images once again are of anarchists acting in seemingly unproductive ways that put the interests and safety of larger movement contingents in jeopardy.

These are but two recent examples of a phenomenon that has been regularly played out in North America since at least the WTO protests in Seattle in 1999. Antipathy toward anarchists seems to have increased steadily since then, not only from corporate elites and law enforcement officials, but from a number of fellow movement participants as well. Ironically, this comes at a time when interest in anarchism among activists has greatly expanded, and likewise when its impact upon American activism in general has seen a strong resurgence in recent years.

1 Comments in Response to

Comment by Tyger Gilbert
Entered on:

The thieves who broke windows of local stores and stole merchandise in protest are simple "looters." If they were violent "anarchists," they would have blown up or burned down the courthouse where the verdict they felt was wrong was handed down. That would have been a protest statement with a meaning the media could not have distorted so easily.

Of course, the media has a habit of using the wrong terms to describe attendees of these events. In the 60's, they kept referring to the "students" who were demonstrating. Yes, there may have been some students in the crowds, but a "student" is someone who studies. There were many older, non-students in those crowds, and the demonstrations were not acts of studying. I suggested to the newspapers at the time that "protesters" or even "rabble" (which would better express the media's and government's contempt) would have been more accurate words to use to describe them in the daily news stories. No one in media paid any attention to the accuracy of their terminologies in those days, either. 

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