Why All the Smashy-Smashy? A Beginner's Guide to Targeted Property Destruction.

Comments

104
@71 is correct. Smashing windows and vandalising cars also fits the World Health Organization's definition of violence.
105
I've been turning this over in my head all morning (and haven't had time to wade through 100+ comments, so sorry if I am repeating a point already made), but...

It seems to me that one could just as easily write, "...there are compelling, not-entirely-stupid arguments for [suicide bombing/sawing off the heads of journalists/crashing planes into skyscrapers full of people] as a form of protest, and as a way to force people's attention towards certain problems..." and that this would be just as factually correct as the point Brendan is making here.

But it doesn't make those tactics any more morally defensible. Simply getting people's attention doesn't justify something that would otherwise be clearly not OK.

Sure, there's a bright line between causing physical harm to another human being, and not. But property doesn't materialize out of a vacuum. It represents the labor and livelihoods of real people. To destroy someone's property is to steal the portion of their life that they have invested in it, and the value they stand to derive from it in the future.

I realize that last point won't move any "anarchists" that believe property is itself theft (or impossible) but they can go fuck themselves. I'm talking to the grownups, here.
106
Brendan, your well-written 1500 words here says a lot…but a good point.

You have made the same mistake here about anarchy as did the fools of the early 20th century about communism. 'Perfect' Anarchy; if that was possible, would make a lot of sense. BUT! That's not a reality. Just like communism devolved into a mess, your romantic version of Anarchy as a legitimate means of expression would similarily fail.

Brendan, these so-called Anarchists are just some assholes who are the result of bad parenting. They are NOT some kind of next-step, necessary societal tool.They are violent assholes.

Need y'r perfect Anarchist? You will find him next to your perfect communist.
107
What is this new focus on violence requiring human harm to be classified as such? If I throw my glass to the ground and break it, that's a violent action, it is, by definition, violent. Smashing windows is, by definition, violence. There was no false narrative here. There were douchebags among the protestors who committed acts of violence - regardless of what their reasons may have been, and since they made no statements about it, all this dancing aroundt trying to justify it is pointless. If peaceful protestors don't want to be lumped with these asshats, at some point they'll have to step up and actually do something about it and stop coming up with false-flag narratives and blaming "paid anarchists". Police yourselves, for your OWN good.
108
I'm with Fnarf on this one. None of us in this country have the hit point where vandalism or violence is a legitimate moral option. We might one day soon. We are not close yet.

Anarchism as a social philosophy is a fucking joke and it always been. If actualizing your world view hinges on:

a) everybody on the planet changing their mind about everything they know and suddenly agreeing with you

-or-

b) requires some James Bond villan like destruction of current civilizational models that incubates A New Paradigm in Living

-or-

c) some miraculous new and yet unknown technological advance

Then your philosophy IS BULLSHIT. It's fucking Lord of Rings level delusional fantasy. From Marxism to Anarchism. From Randian Libertarianism to Neo Primitivism. It's all bullshit.

I wish it wasn't. But it is.

I'm sick of what people "feel" or "believe" when it comes to political and social principles. I'm only interested in what you KNOW. It's all that matters. Everything else is merely Point Of View or wishful thinking.

And what we know is civilization saves lives. We know that Neoliberal Democratic civilization, while it has it's faults, has nurtured in just over a century explosive prosperity and, after thousands of years of brutal short lives, allowed world populations quadruple and life expectancies to double. Yes. It's Shakespearian. In that our greatest strengths are also our most deadly flaws. We are choking on our success.

But the beauty is we know how to fix all our problems and merely lack the will. We don't need to blow up the moon and start over. That's a fucking useless myth concocted by lazy dreamers who dont want to do the hard work of fixing things.

Fuck Anarchists.
109
While a fine debate can be had about whether property destruction is ever justified and what / whose property it should be directed against, I think the debate over this point overshadows a much more important issue: a large percentage of people who agree with the message of protests such as yesterday's are afraid or unwilling to join a protest because property destruction and police retaliation have become regular trademarks of these events.

Imagine you are a 40 year old mother of two and you want to take your kids to a protest to learn about democracy and the right to assemble -- all of a sudden you hear breaking glass and two seconds later a masked person in all black comes charging through the crowd with a bunch of cops on his tail. You and your two kids get pushed around or maybe knocked over. Are you going to go home thinking "that was a success, I can't wait to come back?"

At the end of the day, one or two windows are broken and you have hundreds of people who will hear about this experience and think that getting involved in this type of thing isn't for them. Even if you think property destruction is legitimate, do the cost benefit analysis to the movement and tell me that's a good idea.

And if people really, really, really want to vandalize Nike or whatever other place, they can do it, just three days later at 4 in the morning. That way they can have their adrenaline pumping vigilante fun and they don't have to use a giant crowd of people as unwilling human shields / pepper spray absorbers. Make sense?
110
@ Chris Pollina (109) Well said. Anarchists, please take note. Not that I'm telling you what to do. But, you know, if you care.
111
This reminds me of that half-minute after 9/11 when the US had the world's sympathy and then summarily pissed it all away by bombing the shit out of a couple foreign countries, based on half-baked reasoning that no one bought save for the ones who were pushing it. The powerful images of peaceful kids at Cal Davis being peppersprayed by a dispassionate cop are now being overridden by a bunch of cowardly dumb fucks smashing windows. Well played, everyone.

As a culture we don't have a very deep appreciation for soft power, despite having a long and well-studied history of its benefits. We're pretty fucking dumb.
112
@108. Political theory is a lot like porn. It's easy too get everyone laid when the characters are scripted.
113
violence-

1. the exercise or an instance of physical force, usually effecting or intended to effect injuries, destruction, etc

Epic Fucking Fail. Buy a dictionary, it would help you in your profession.
114
FAIL

San Francisco Occupy/May Day protesters throwing bricks at the police and vandalizing a church

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/02…
115
There are so many stupid coments on this and yet there are so many great ones as well . A few things breaking windows is violent just as sitting at home and doing nothing or to alow ppl to get hurt bcuz ur a non violent protester shiiittt eating is violent giving the murder brutality and lil better then slavery brings the food to ur table. Furthermore they have been apart of occupy from the start. So maybe u shouldnt make asumption about how a hole group of ppl feel . Also it was an anti-kkkapitalism march come on wat u expect if not attacks on kkkapital. And dude who was talking about smashing faces for vandilism dont u think its far more likely that u end up thrown through a wendow for atacking people. Ps it was a good article brendon thanks
116
http://seniorsforademocraticsociety.word…

The other half of the equation. Worth a read.
117
excellent piece. thank you brendan.
118
One more thing...

The moral distinction between violence and vandalism is a fair point, though in this context it feels like you're equivocating in order to minimize what happened (*technically* no one was hurt!). Any examples you can point to in history where violence -- sorry, vandalism -- worked can be countered by instances where it failed, or where people found success through non-violent means, so it reads like you're grasping at straws rather than putting this episode into historical context, although in fairness the broken glass was probably still being swept up as you wrote this. I hope you make an honest attempt to answer the question you asked rather than leaving it open like that.
119
Awesome post! I normally loath the strangers reporting, but this was a wonderful, thoughtful, well reasoned piece on a topic of much interest to Seattle residents this May Day. It's interesting to hear - in the face of such ignorance on the part of KOMO or King 5 - such a well researched argument in favor of black bloc tactics. Excellent journalism! Keep it up!
120
@119: "a well researched argument in favor of black bloc tactics"

The thing is, are the tactics still the same tactics devoid of context? What makes these particular lashouts the same as more successful/justifiable uses?

Again, I'm not against resistance, I just don't see how the obsession with middle-class chain stores is smashing the system that we all know is fucked.
121
Yeah, fantastic...if only you were right.

vi·o·lence/ˈvī(ə)ləns/
Noun: Behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.

Like a window, even. Not so excellent journalism after all.
122
@35 - a Porsche Cayenne driver parked on 6th Avenue midday on a Tuesday is not a 99%-er. You are foolish to be more afraid of anarchists than corporations. An anarchist may break your window, but it is the stated goal of a corporation to make profit, no matter what that does to you. That includes abusing workers and destroying the environment, among many other things.
123
The writer seems to be blindingly ignorant of both psychology and ethics. How about some sort of lower animal? Perhaps squirrels? Is hitting a squirrel with a baseball bat violence or vandalism? If hitting something is wrong, it follows that it does not matter the nature of the thing that is hit. Be it person or property, it is still bad. In fact, the outcome could largely be a matter of luck. Consider throwing a rock. You can't wholly control where it lands or what it hits. Does it make sense that if you intended to damage something that your moral culpability is different based simply on the outcome?

Violence is a behavior. It is not defined by the receiver of the violence.
124
Gandhi wept.
125
the article makes a point that I can readily agree on: there can be such a thing as an ethical window smashing. However I believe that there is a significant difference between the ethics of planning an action meant to promote civil disorder by smashing an edifice of capitalism from behind the easy anonymity of a black bloc's deindividuation; and standing publicly to speak truth to power from one's own identity by earnestly pursuing justice beyond what the culture's standard script demands or even allows.

I'm neither condemning the black bloc nor the cops. In my personal experience they are two sides of the same coin. I am fully aware that the decision whether to engage in violent action against a serious social threat is an important part of people's process of individuation. If someone has yet failed to integrate the dualities at that stage of development, they might just as easily end up abusive conservative cops (who do exist) or abusive anarchist members of a black bloc or a militant underground. Radical violent protest tactics do have great effectiveness for promoting social justice in certain contexts, where the populace is disciplined through fear of the power of authority. In that environment it shows that the authority structures are still ultimately subject to social consent. In the Arab spring protests, for example, police frequently were unwilling to attack or arrest protesters. "Chenoweth and Stephan found that nonviolent revolutionary movements are 46 times more likely to succeed when security force defections occur." *

In a stable society, extremist activism produces anxiety about safety and security in the public, including salarymen, tourists, small business owners, parents, homemakers, and workers. its ultimate expression would be terrorism, and historically, to my knowledge, this form of conflict generates a long line of casualties from an unending standoff between violent factions on both sides (individuals with similar developments of consciousnessss, on different sides of that old left/right divide.) This is fighting fire with gasoline; yesterday's conflict was an involutionary process on both sides of the cop/vandal divide. Both sides are dehumanizing the other and each is drawing inward toward a more violent, more severe conflict. This deepening divide can be seen reflected in the media, both radical and popular.

On the other hand, a publicly identifying as an activist, and offering salient critique presents the opportunity for individuals to freely choose whether to stand collectively against a perceived and defined injustice, and hopefully even address the root causes of the issue. My basic criticism of the occupy movement is that by rejecting the opportunity to articulate explicit strategic approaches it is reduced to merely expressing a generalized gestalt of angst and anxiety about resources and unevenly distributed privilege. You can argue that bullet points and strategic plans are an inherently patriarchal approach to mediating conflict, but i have participated in enough intense consensus meetings to understand the power of deadlock and manipulation (also a patriarchal approach), and through that tactic, I think we have seen the movement waylaid by special interest groups who are articulating antisocial strategies (yet another patriarchal approach).

* http://www.ocnus.net/artman2/publish/Ana…
126
the article makes a point that I can readily agree on: there can be such a thing as an ethical window smashing. However I believe that there is a significant difference between the ethics of planning an action meant to promote civil disorder by smashing an edifice of capitalism from behind the easy anonymity of a black bloc's deindividuation; and standing publicly to speak truth to power from one's own identity by earnestly pursuing justice beyond what the culture's standard script demands or even allows.

I'm neither condemning the black bloc nor the cops. In my personal experience they are two sides of the same coin. I am fully aware that the decision whether to engage in violent action against a serious social threat is an important part of people's process of individuation. If someone has yet failed to integrate the dualities at that stage of development, they might just as easily end up abusive conservative cops (who do exist) or abusive anarchist members of a black bloc or a militant underground. Radical violent protest tactics do have great effectiveness for promoting social justice in certain contexts, where the populace is disciplined through fear of the power of authority. In that environment it shows that the authority structures are still ultimately subject to social consent. In the Arab spring protests, for example, police frequently were unwilling to attack or arrest protesters. "Chenoweth and Stephan found that nonviolent revolutionary movements are 46 times more likely to succeed when security force defections occur." *

In a stable society, extremist activism produces anxiety about safety and security in the public, including salarymen, tourists, small business owners, parents, homemakers, and workers. its ultimate expression would be terrorism, and historically, to my knowledge, this form of conflict generates a long line of casualties from an unending standoff between violent factions on both sides (individuals with similar developments of consciousnessss, on different sides of that old left/right divide.) This is fighting fire with gasoline; yesterday's conflict was an involutionary process on both sides of the cop/vandal divide. Both sides are dehumanizing the other and each is drawing inward toward a more violent, more severe conflict. This deepening divide can be seen reflected in the media, both radical and popular.

On the other hand, a publicly identifying as an activist, and offering salient critique presents the opportunity for individuals to freely choose whether to stand collectively against a perceived and defined injustice, and hopefully even address the root causes of the issue. My basic criticism of the occupy movement is that by rejecting the opportunity to articulate explicit strategic approaches it is reduced to merely expressing a generalized gestalt of angst and anxiety about resources and unevenly distributed privilege. You can argue that bullet points and strategic plans are an inherently patriarchal approach to mediating conflict, but i have participated in enough intense consensus meetings to understand the power of deadlock and manipulation (also a patriarchal approach), and through that tactic, I think we have seen the movement waylaid by special interest groups who are articulating antisocial strategies (yet another patriarchal approach).

* http://www.ocnus.net/artman2/publish/Ana…
127
fight? FIGHT?!?!?!
128
So, anarchy and advocating violence are one and the same? I wouldn't have thought so, before reading this thread, but now I'm not so sure.

Can somebody clarify, and explain, if they are one and the same, the relationship between Occupations that have made commitments to non-violence, and participants who are operating without such a commitment?
129
Lots of windows smashing and still no decent suggestion of a viable alternative. I'm listening people. You smashed windows and I'm listening but still you say nothing.
130
If you don't think window smashing is violence, try walking down a riot corridor in LA or Washington DC and see the thriving communities there. Not. Lots of complicated rationalizations from the smashy smashy crowd. Not such a clear picture of what the world will be like if they get what they want, except probably even more fucked up than it already is, which is saying something.
131
this is the best slog post i've seen in years. 90% of the writing here is pseudo-propaganda for the centrist establishment. pathetic counter-cultural posturing that only results in more meter maids, red light cameras and police drones.
132
"But back back to the central question: Why would anyone use targeted vandalism as a means of political expression? It's a very, very old tactic, dating back to Jesus smashing up the moneylenders' kiosks in the temple. And it is still popular among some, but totally anathema to most, today." Really? Anarchists are following the ways of Jesus Christ, a character we cannot prove existed but whom we have to believe did so on the basis of faith? Using Jesus as historical context is not historical. All rationale aside as to why windows of large corporate businesses should be smashed.
133
It's a shame Brendan's very well thought-out and articulate article only can face this drivel of nothing but logical fallacies masquerading as intellectual discourse. The only things I see here disagreeing with Brendan base their arguments off of Straw Men, Red Herrings, Ad Hominems, Slippery Slopes, and imposing traits of the parts upon the whole.

Brendan, as always keep up the good work! I doubt a single person of this peanut gallery has ever so much as heard of one of the authors you mention, let alone read anything by them.
134
All I'm saying is, we are entitled to protest as we see fit, but don't hide behind the brave men, women, and children, who are not committing "vandalism." Be brave, bold, and march as anarchist with your own agenda. Don't mix in with the rest and pretend to support a cause. Even in the example provided, the your man smashed the window and took his lumps. Anarchist should do the same? http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-arg…
135
@128

It's pretty simple, really.

In an anarchist system, all individuals are autonomous, and there can be no hierarchy. Therefore, there can be no police, because the act of policing infringes on autonomy, and any designated police personnel embody a hierarchy. If there can be no internal policing or police, then there can be no internal enforcement of any commitment to nonviolence, and autonomous individuals are entirely free to engage in acts of property destruction during or alongside Actions planned in accordance with perhaps heartfelt yet unenforceable commitments to nonviolence.

It's not entirely accurate to say that targeted property destruction and anarchism are synonymous; it would be more precise to say that a group adhering to anarchist organizational structures can not ethically stamp out targeted property destruction, and that people interested in targeted property destruction are ethically correct when they engage in such activity in the company of any group organized according to anarchist tenets.
136
May Day in NYC looked a whole lot more fun, interesting, and productive (at least on Democracy Now).

It is a shame that Occupy Seattle can't get it together.

Gee, lets discuss whether or not calling "targeted vandalism" violence is linguistically lazy or not, and examine the rationales. That will make for a lively, diverse, inclusive, creative movement. Maybe next May Day we can even more cutting edge Blac Block activity, and have more intellectual discourse about it!!!

If so, count me out. I'll go up to Occupy Everett or something.
137
May Day in NYC looked a whole lot more fun, interesting, and productive (at least on Democracy Now).

It is a shame that Occupy Seattle can't get it together.

Gee, lets discuss whether or not calling "targeted vandalism" violence is linguistically lazy or not, and examine the rationales. That will make for a lively, diverse, inclusive, creative movement. Maybe next May Day we can even more cutting edge Blac Block activity, and have more intellectual discourse about it!!!

If so, count me out. I'll go up to Occupy Everett or something.
138
American Apparel supports apartheid in Palestine. Wether or not this is the reason for the individuals actions, I don't know. But please lets not paint some wholesome picture of American Apparel.
139
"May Day" isn't supposed to look "fun" or "interesting". The real difference between NYC and Seattle is that NYC probably had a much heavier police presence. That place is one giant police state, literally.
140
Thanks to the author for the thoughtful and elucidating opinion piece and to the posters for their responses. This is one of the healthiest and most interesting debates I've seen in the SLOG in a long time, and it actually restores a little bit of my faith in Stranger readers.

I feel like I've been on damage control for the last 24 hours, trying to convince many of my friends of the vast differences between property destruction and violence on one end, and the black bloc as a strategy versus anarchism as a host of theories on the other. I just posted the link to this piece. Hopefully it helps further clear things up for some folks.
141
@139

Ah, so you weren't actually in downtown Seattle on 5/1, then.

I think you're the first person I've seen, on any side of the debate, suggesting that SPD presence around the protesters at any point in the day was anything less than overwhelming.

Also, in countries where the government has officially declared 1 May a national holiday, it's definitely "fun," and not in the least bit "interesting." In fact, it's pretty much exactly like our national observance of organized labor in the US on the first Monday in September; everyone officially gets the day off, people have barbecues, ice cream sales in the parks increase tenfold, and nobody even thinks about smashing the state.
142
People seem to have been paid to board up windows. Suck it, Friedman! I once proposed a column to the Stranger called "Broken Glass Fantasy" that would examine the utility of various petty crimes. Clearly, they have better stuff! This is a fair article

I think even in simply coaxing people toward recognition that the average person has no strong recourse against giant corporations who seem to have forsaken the people who pay and protect them, the bloodless destruction is useful.

Anarchists did participate in Occupy and were very useful. I think their anti-state ambitions are recklessly naive but their hearts seem to be in the right place and their principles seem useful in managing communities small enough for categorical familiarity (but then, a lot of systems work in those circumstances).
143
@142

An honest economic analysis of boarding up windows would have to include not only the cost of boards and window-boarder-uppers, but also average weekly sales before and after, and, crucially, hourly wages saved during the board-up.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if the corporo-fascists actually made money off of the Neo-Smashits, at the end of the month; a good slice of sales would just slip over to the next few days, and the savings from keeping hourly employees off the floor (justified by protests) would more than make up for the loss of impulse buys.

Of course, the Smashists could avoid this unpleasant result by targeting businesses where all or at least most employees are on salary, unlike NikeTown or American Apparel, where the vast majority of workers, the floor staff, are hourly.
144
What would the Black Panthers do? I was in Occupy Oakland when the black bloc contingent invited a much respected Black Panther to come speak about the historical naivete of Gandhian Non-violence - which he did - much to the joy of the small audience who came to hear exactly that. But this Veteran Revolutionary continued, and described what the Panthers would do when people within marches threw things at police, engaged in property destruction or committed vandalism. Unlike the interpretation of 'Diversity of Tactics' that many have used in recent years (i.e. "anything goes!") he said the Panthers would send their own security into the crowd, physically beat down the person who was provoking the police, drag their ass out of the crowd in which they were hiding, and then throw them in front of the police, and say "YOU deal with them!" If they were still active, that is the way the Panthers would have dealth with the these black bloc tactics. The Panthers were serious, strategic revolutionaries who believed in the necessity of Armed Struggle. But they had zero tolerance for foolish, unstrategic provocations that brought nothing but danger to fellow activists and contempt to their movement as a whole.
145
@142: "I think even in simply coaxing people toward recognition that the average person has no strong recourse against giant corporations who seem to have forsaken the people who pay and protect them, the bloodless destruction is useful."

You overestimate the sort of person who gives a shit about Niketown, symbolically or otherwise.
146
Will in Seattle, I love the banks.
I love them the same way I love grocery stores and hospitals and theaters and all the myriad cultural innovations that make life good.
Banks allow us to save money and to borrow money for new ventures. Without banks (or something very much like them) most of what we call civiliation would be impossible, including the very internet we spar across.
I do hate it when people cheat, steal or harm us. That some banks or newspapers or grocers do evil is no reason to smash those enterprises.
No more than we should smash free speech and protestors just because hooligans riot for the sake of riot.
147
I guess I'm not up on the latest euphemisms for violence. It's not "diversity of tactics" any more, but "targeted property destruction"? Did I not get the memo?
148
Where I live there are very few big corporate stores. For one, the NIKE building looks like an eyesore. I live in one of the only states that bans billboards, so the mere extremity of that NIKE building seems strange. What is it, a compound? Do people live in there? I can't even see the point of it. A broken window in the building? Meaningless. It's strange and laughable to see people getting angry as if it were the window of their own mother's home! Were they hatched there in some kind of weird incubator, Brave New World style, coming out the front door wearing Nike shoes? By the way, since corporations put small shoemakers out of business ages ago, where can you buy a shoe that isnt corporate?
149
"Anarchists are not unlike some Republicans I know - they see government as some unapproachable, untamable force for evil when it's really just an extension of society."

But they aren't the Republicans you know, and society is not an appropriate qualifier for government.

"Rather than shaping it to serve their interests they'd just as soon tear it down entirely. Social and political change is difficult and painstakingly slow. Breaking things is quick and easy. After abstaining from the political process and Internet slacktavism, it's probably the easiest form of protest."

Yeah, it's so easy that everyone does it!. Honestly, it's civil disobedience, and the civil authorities step in to take you jail/prison. So, it's not actually easy, just aesthetically unpleasing to your eyes, I guess?

"There is no sense of the long game to the casual observer, i.e., most Americans."

That's because "long game" means keeping the control in the hands of power. Basically, you are advocating the slow, painstaking process of moving away from fucking people over, rather than the ceasing of fucking people over, and ANYONE who is not like you is a stupidhead.

"But I suppose it's foolish to ask a bunch of overzealous, testosterone-fueled guys in their early twenties to think about a long game when smashing windows appeals to their vanity and satisfies their needs for action."

Cool story. How do you know they are men? Is it your x-ray vision that is able to see other peoples' gender through black masks (let alone skin)? Also, what's wrong with testosterone? Women produce more testosterone than men after sex, so I guess women after sex are smashing windows and refusing to think about the long game? Nope, cos testosterone is not a qualifier for badness anymore than gender.

But my favorite part, is your statement about vanity, which so awesome, cos you obviously came to let everyone know that you are smarter than window smashers.
150
"Yeah, fantastic...if only you were right.

vi·o·lence/ˈvī(ə)ləns/
Noun: Behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.

Like a window, even. Not so excellent journalism after all."

LOLZ U R SO RITE! Which was why burning bras and draft cards were considered violent! HAHAHAHA!

151
Perhaps veranasi will eventually understand the difference between burning your own property and another person's property.
152
@141

No I admit I wasn't actually at any of the Occupy events that day. But it just seems to me like the situation in NYC would be a lot tougher and that people who cause "problems" would be dealt penalties that are closer to punishing terrorism than civil disobedience.

I could be off, though.
153
Those windows were not gently cut with a glass cutter and then pried carefully out of their frames. The rock throwers and stick wielding window breakers did not enter the store first and peruse the interior for anyone standing within the area that might have been hit by flying glass and warn them that they should stand back. The rocks were thrown VIOLENTLY. The windows were bashed and broken VIOLENTLY. The burning cartons of flammable contents were thrown haphazardly and VIOLENTLY onto buildings and sidewalks where people oblivious to the potential harm were present. Fortunately, no one that we are aware of was physically hurt by these actions, but don't for one minute delude yourself and others into thinking this was not VIOLENCE!
154
Well, the USA itself invented May Day, if I remember correctly. I was in a May Day demo in London UK once. They merely blew up beach balls and lobbed them around in the crowd. Sort of dorky, but the police nevertheless cracked down on them!
156
How about non-violence.

What is it???

Why is it so effective???

Did MLK smash windows??? After all, smashing shit isn't violence. Or is it???

My dictionary says 1. swift or intense force: the violence of a storm. 2. rough or injurious physical force, action or treatment: to die by violence. 3. an unjust or unwarranted exertion of force or power, as against rights or laws: to take over a government by violence. 4. a violent act or preceeding. 5. rough or immoderate vehemence as of feeling or language: the violence of his hatred 6. damage through distortion or unwarranted alteration: to do editorial violence to a text.

One might even say that this articles assertion that property damage is not violence is in fact doing violence to the word violence.
157
Unfortunately, here in the Bay Area there was NOT "targeted" property destruction, but indiscriminate trashing of mom-and-pop stores, parked cars, etc. Your article does a great job of explaining the ideas, but I'm not sure how it relates to my local reality.
158
Very interesting read and good discussion. I can never, and will never, condone non-strategic and random destruction. I do think there are times when strategic vandalism could have an effect (especially in regards to billboard modification and street art -- because these are more creative than destructive). What tends to bother me is the willy-nilly chaotic approach, and it not even going beyond smashing windows, which is easy and has no real effect. I think the authorities count on this sort of thing to manipulate public opinion against movements. If it was highly symbolic, like with the Boston Tea Party, that's different. I sympathize with the protesters much more than the corporation's windows -- though there is no excuse for vandalizing parked cars. And those questioning American Apparel as a target, should perhaps look into its history of sexual exploitation of women for the answer as to why folks would look at them as a wolf in sheep's clothing.
159
It's so much easier to destroy than to build, isn't it? It's the loser's way out. Or, put another way, violence is the first refuge of the incompetent.

If you want to put a hurt on the system, smashing a couple of windows owned by some corporation doesn't do shit. These attention-grabbing actions are the work of cowards who piggy-back their immature actions onto demonstrations created by hundreds hard-working organizers and activists, the destruction only giving the media one more excuse to gloss over the real issues when they cover these events.

If you really want to make a difference that hits them where it hurts -- organize a general strike. If 50% of the citizens in this country stopped participating and going to work for a week, that would make much bigger difference than smashing up a Nike store. Oh, but that would take a lot more actual work and commitment, wouldn't it.
160
It's so much easier to destroy than to build, isn't it? It's the loser's way out. Or, put another way, violence is the first refuge of the incompetent.

If you want to put a hurt on the system, smashing a couple of windows owned by some corporation doesn't do shit. These attention-grabbing actions are the work of cowards who piggy-back their immature actions onto demonstrations created by hundreds hard-working organizers and activists, the destruction only giving the media one more excuse to gloss over the real issues when they cover these events.

If you really want to make a difference that hits them where it hurts -- organize a general strike. If 50% of the citizens in this country stopped participating and going to work for a week, that would make much bigger difference than smashing up a Nike store. Oh, but that would take a lot more actual work and commitment, wouldn't it.
161
@ 159 & 160

How dare you question our cutting edge coolness.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0QmrbHE6…

162
I will try that again.

@ 159 & 160

How dare you question our cutting edge coolness.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0QmrbHE6…
163
Blah blah blah proves my point about something or other.

Here we go again...

@ 159 & 160

How dare you question our cutting edge coolness.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0QmrbHE6…

if that doesn't work try...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0QmrbHE6…
164
Ok,

The link is...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0QmrbHE6…

165
OK, go to the youtube home page.

Enter in "Zappa Torture Never Stops Zoot Allures" without the quotation marks.

Click on the one at the top posted by GoinToSleepBIATCH

HOW DARE YOU QUESTION OUR CUTTING EDGE COOKIES!!!

That is not what I meant.
166
WhAT IS WIth SLOG.

HOw totALLy DUmb.

167
"Smashing a window is not violence, it's vandalism. There is a difference—unless you think of people as the moral equivalent of property."

People own property. From a moral perspective, damaging someone's property is hurting them.

Moreover, in our world, people are property; we are fortunate enough to own ourselves. This is the basis for the 'price' of 'labor', as it is the basis for all of the rights that we have to our person.

------

"Did today's vandalism detract from the protests?"

I wasn't there, but I can say that if it was anything like Chicago, protests like these feel like reenactments more than anything else. Some people even take this to be the goal (the spectacle).

If they are reenactments--what are they reminding us? If they are meant as something more than a reenactment, what are they trying to achieve?
168
Thank you for your article. I agree completely! I kept getting irritated with the news for constantly crying "violence!!" And now in their self promotional commercials they proudly tout their coverage of the "violent protest." Not that I would go about smashing windows, I'm not unhappy about what was done. The planned marches certainly wouldn't have gotten the coverage had those windows not been broken. Now, everyone is talking about it. I think that's good.
169
@167

Ooh, pick me! I know the answer!

This odd, ritualized costume drama is a reenactment of late-cold-war protests in Western Germany. And the reason neo-smashists are doing reenactment pageants of those anti-nuclear, squatters' rights, and atonomen battles is pretty much the same reason southern whites reenact Civil War battles: they want to return to the last point in history where people like themselves were free to physically express their sense of moral superiority over others.
170
It's a false dichotomy that you're either smashing windows or singing kumbaya. Also - if window smashing isn't violence, does that mean that anarchists condemn violence, and do not support actual revolutions?
171
It's a false dichotomy that you're either singing kumbayah or smashing windows. Also - anarchists insist that smashing windows is not violence. Do they, then, also condemn violence, ie. actual revolutions.

There is much to discuss about all the unsound logic, but the most obvious case is the "vandalized banks help people see state as weak". If that's true, then it means the average citizen will hope to strengthen that state. Otherwise, Occupy support would grow when windows are smashed in its name - instead, it has dwindled. In Oakland, I've heard two working class neighbors say they "understand" the police, because Occupy is so pointless and violent. This is very different from how people saw Occupy in the fall.

The main difference between theory and practice being that in theory, there is no difference.
172
First, there's nothing inherently good or bad about smashing windows, burning cars, etc. It's property destruction (or "vandalism"), not people destruction. A window doesn't have feelings, it doesn't bleed, it doesn't have family or friends or people that care about it. People do, obviously. So while it's outlandish to decry the so-called "violence" of so-called "anarchists" when folks smash windows without condemning the much greater harm to human beings caused by police--or economic or social policies, for that matter--we also shouldn't glorify the act of busting something up. Breaking a window on its own isn't going to the change the world, and anyone who convinces themselves of such things is sadly deluded.

Instead, once we understand trashing as a neutral act, then we enter a discussion of strategy and tactics. The example given about the student smashing a window to get into a meeting is a really good one. In that case, smashing kind of made sense, and I think most people would see it as a reasonable action, which is obvious since all the charges were thrown out, and courts are not exactly the most radical institutions. On the other hand, it's pretty hard to make a case about what smashing accomplishes at an anti-G20 demo like in Toronto, for example. Look at the outcomes: the media and government demonized not just the "thugs" who broke windows, but also the entire movement, while simultaneously using the smashing as an excuse to ignore the protesters' arguments and demands. Plus, the smashing provided a rationale for the police to flex their muscle, and they proceeded to crack down on people who had nothing whatsoever to do with the smashing--because the smashers had all run away, leaving others vulnerable. That, in turn, just created more heat and distrust inside the movements and organizations, which makes activists even more isolated and less effective than we already are. Apart from ideological tap-dancing about "exposing the weakness of the state" and similar arguments, it's really hard to see what good the smashing did. Okay, maybe it "exposed" the state, but to whom? The ones doing the smashing, obviously, not the general public who turned on their TVs or opened the papers and saw/read all the demonizing coverage of the events. And finally, making "smashing" and "anarchism" synonymous just slanders anarchism, which has always been at its core about challenging illegitimate authority so that people can be free to decide their own fate. That's a good principle. Unfortunately, smashing obscures and confuses that and makes anarchism seem like it's about mindless "violence" rather than positive individual and collective freedom. Elites have always tried to portray anarchism as the former, as some dangerous, violent, chaotic ideology. We shouldn't do the work of elites for them.

So, again, it comes back to tactics and strategy. In order to achieve aims, tactics have to be carefully thought through to see if they're going to help achieve those aims. And, in the first place, we need to have an understanding of how aims are won, too. We win with big, powerful, numerous, well-supported, long-term, deeply committed social movements with clear goals and strategies. We always have and we always will. Conversely, we don't win with a random smattering of actions with no specific aim--or if we do, it's pure coincidence. So our first goal should be building and broadening movement participation and support, and that's really what we should evaluate our actions based on: Does X action help grow the movement, or does Y action do it better? Until a movement is large enough to pressure elites to give in, that has to be the primary calculation. So clearly smashing doesn't do much to help in that regard, at least not now. But at a certain point, under certain circumstances, maybe it would, who knows.

Just like we shouldn't take marches and letter writing for granted as supreme tactics, we shouldn't take smashing or burning for granted as supreme tactics. Tactics don't propel change, movements applying them strategically do. We always, in every situation, have to carefully and collectively discuss our aims, our values, what we want to win, the barriers to doing so, and how to overcome those barriers. If we're serious about social change, that is, that's what we'll do.
176
Enjoy your night in jail. Property destruction is violence and you are lazy and stupid.
177
These people are not anarchists. Anarchists seek to live their own life and leave others alone to do the same. These are juvenile drama queens trying to rationalize not having any marketable job skills.
178
It is worth noting that in the dramatic property-destruction campaigns of groups like the Earth Liberation Front—burning SUV lots, ski lodges, and in one of their stupider and more infamous moments, a botanical research facility at the UW—people don't get hurt.


I am willing to go with you as far as smashing windows is not violence. But I am okay with calling arson a violent crime. Much in the way breaking into a house is categorized as a violent crime. The potential for physical harm to people and the disregard for human life is so high that those things can be classified as violent.
179
@ 177 - They are still anarchists. Anarchists don't believe in government. Some of them may seek to live their own life and leave others alone to do the same. And some of them may believe they won't be free to live their own life until they throw off the shackles of government, by force if necessary. And some of them may be juvenile drama queens--but they are still anarchists.
180
Also, if the protesters were doing this to incite a violent response from authority, or if it requires force to stop it, that would be appropriately be called a "violent protest." And, if the police have to respond with force, the protests can't use "but, we weren't being violent!" as some cop-out. They are the ones responsible for the escalation to violence.
181
This post is probably about as good as it could have been. This is not a compliment.
182
I get that vandalism looks like it hurt the target, but we are the ones who pay for the damage done to these buildings. Insurance picks up the tab, and we pay the insurance through rising costs of our own insurance. It creates a miserable inconvenience to the targeted businesses, of course, but it is soon forgotten. Vandalism, in reality, is shooting oneself in the foot. The best form of hurting these businesses is to STOP feeding their pockets with your money.
183
This is the dumbest thing I've read in a while. Violence against property is still violence.
184
This article is nothing more than the supposedly trendy side of tabloid journalism, especially since the punk author only alludes to certain property crimes rather than growing a spine and opening up a dialogue.

When property crimes are targeted at private homes, that's just bullshit homegrown terrorist acts of Swarm Idiocy, they're not anarchists, they're leechest criminals, and detract enormously from any progress made by real anarchists whose work may actually bring about change for the better.

Why does slog employ so many punk tabloid journalists?

PS you don't call the mother of your ex-wife's "Mom"
185
Vandalism is not free speech, and it is not justifiable. If you have something to say, SAY IT. Relying on property destruction as a substitute for lack of a compelling argument is the anarchist equivalent of a temper tantrum. Be a big boy and use your WORDS...
186
It wasn't my house dipshit, and I had absolutely no personal interest in it, but yes, it belonged to a person and not a corporation, when slog decided it wants to not be a tabloid publication, I will quit commenting.

But unless I get banned, I am going to point out every shit story, because some people have no clue the type of bullshit that is knowingly not true, yet gets published, for absolutely no good reason.

how do you feel about the words "Go fuck yourself TJ"