Fwd: HPN? Burch Re: SEATTLE: 'Healing'...............?

Graeme Bacque (gbacque@idirect.com)
Mon, 06 Dec 1999 21:13:53 -0500

Non-member submission to HPN from ["Brian Burch" <burch@web.net>]

Subject: Re: SEATTLE: 'Healing'...............?
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 1999 13:26:25 -0500


Thanks for bringing this matter up.  You are right---we don't even have a
common definition of violence so examining the
strengths and weaknesses of forms of non-violent protest is very hard to do.

I, for one, do not consider property damage to be violence.  My major
problem with it is if it is done in such a way as to cause injury to people.
It seems what happened in Seattle, from our side, was a minor bit of
property damage.  However, there was a great deal of physical violence
directed against activists.  I have a different problem if there was a
consensus decision taken---that was participated in by those using propery
damage as a tactic---that there should not be property damage.  That's a
matter of process and agreement on tactics---not a moral issue.  That is, if
you agree to a decision to not use property damage
as a tactic you should be bound by your decision.  If you did not agree to
non-property damage and you take care to ensure
people are not going to be physicially harmed by your actions and if
ultimately you are willing to take responsibility for the action, then I
have no problem with economic sabotage.

There is a different matter that you bring up---the matter of use of force
to defend yourself or others.   While I would prefer to not use physical
force to defend myself, I will not make that decision for others.  And I
will not condemn someone who uses force to stop the injuring of a person
unable to defend her/himself---something that (it is rumoured) happened at
the Safe Park protest in Toronto and therefore prevented serious injuries
being inflicted upon a protester by a police officer.

The political and economic powers-that-be do enough work to divide us that
we don't have to do so ourselves.  Our sisters and brothers are treated the
same by the police if they sit on the ground, throw barracades or break
windows.  Perhaps we can learn to accept one another with a similar unifying

In peace,

(Rev.) Brian Burch

----- Original Message -----
From: Graeme Bacque <gbacque@idirect.com>
To: HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK list <HPN@aspin.asu.edu>; Food Not Bombs list
<fnb-l@tao.ca>; <san@tao.ca>
Sent: Monday, December 06, 1999 3:58 AM
Subject: san: SEATTLE: 'Healing'...............?

 > I know this will be taken totally out of its intended context and could
 > well result in a major brouhaha here, but this discussion is long overdue
 > and all I can hope for is that people will listen with an open mind.
 > Before 'nonviolence' can even be properly defined a working analysis of
 > what violence is has to be arrived at.  To date this hasn't happened - the
 > defensiveness I encounter whenever I attempt to raise the issue has made
 > proper discussion impossible. All I can do is ask (once again) that people
 > approach the issue with an open mind.
 > Pertaining to Seattle specifically: I've been hearing much rhetoric about
 > the need for 'healing' in that city in the wake of the WTO. The thing most
 > people seem to forget is that  'healing' can only occur in this situation
 > when the victims of state violence are compensated for their ordeal and
 > those directly responsible (the Mayor, police, etc) are held properly and
 > publicly responsible for their crimes. Or are all the victims supposed to
 > just 'forgive and forget'?
 > The 'healing' proposed by officials in Seattle is worse than worthless
 > because it does nothing to prevent a recurrence or truly address the very
 > real, very serious physical and emotional damage done to thousands of
 > innocent people in the name of maintaining 'public order.'
 > And the main organizers of protest events are far from innocent here -
 > sometimes I have to wonder (and Seattle has more than confirmed this) if
 > so-called advocates of 'nonviolence' don't value the lives of the enemy
 > more than those of their own peers because all I see is a constant bending
 > over backwards to protect the rights of the perpetrator while expecting
 > victims to simply absorb the violence aimed at them, w/o recourse to any
 > means of deflecting or evading it - or for that matter, for even verbally
 > expressing their pain or rage. (I heard of at least one instance of
 > being royally dumped on by his peers for merely raising his voice at the
 > cops, and I'm sure there were plenty of others).
 > This seems to prove that the trauma and agony experienced by their
 > 'disciples' is of no concern to the organizers of such events.
 > My sense is although it was highly successful in accomplishing its stated
 > goals, this action is going to result in serious long-term physical and
 > emotional damage to people who participated (and to more than a few
 > bystanders who were simply trying to go about their lives) who were
 > expected to just humbly submit to state-sanctioned torture, brutality and
 > repression in the name of 'nonviolence'. My own hunch is that many will
 > think twice or more before taking part in anything similar again - they
 > will figure there's no percentage in it. Who in their right mind would
 > willingly submit a second time to a situation where they would face almost
 > certain brutality and torture but are expected by their peers to remain
 > defenseless?
 > My own personal background would have made it impossible for me to
 > participate on the terms the organizers were insisting on because there is
 > simply no way in hell I will merely humbly offer my exposed throat to
 > someone who is clearly bent on hurting me or anyone else. Nor can I remain
 > passive in any situation where people are being threatened with harm. I've
 > already endured enough abuse in my life to make it impossible for me to
 > meekly submit to any more. Or does this not matter in the scenario of
 > 'nonviolence'?
 > We have to develop a true reverence for life which requires a policy of
 > strict zero-tolerance for any form of abuse or violence issuing from the
 > state. Preserving and defending the rights and safety (both physical and
 > emotional) of our peers in resistance must be first and foremost - the
 > oppressors by nature must forfeit this consideration when they embrace the
 > road of violence against the people.
 > --
 > Graeme
 > ICQ #53515294
 > <http://webhome.idirect.com/~gbacque/gbacque.html>
 > *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   *
 > "Your anger is a gift." -- Rage Against The Machine