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Busted window

Know why breaking windows is stupid? Because windows are useful. If you break them, they cease to be useful.

Buildings are useful. They give shelter. Why would you destroy what you can use?

Smashing a bank's windows doesn't smash the bank. It just makes a window not work any more. Smashing a window is confusing a symbol with the actual. To paraphrase Adrienne Rich, some people confuse the wreck with the story of the wreck---they confuse the bank with a building. It's like demanding Guantanamo be closed without realizing that closing Guantanamo doesn't end rendition, unlawful imprisonment, and torture, nor does it bring to justice those who perpetrate such cruelty. Closing Guantanamo just means the people who do these things rent a Uhaul and move elsewhere, while everyone buys the world a Coke sure in the knowledge that the end of what is happening at Guantanmo means hanging a closed sign on the door.

Breaking a bank's window gets you nothing but broken glass.

Moving in gets you a roof over your head. Keeping the windows unbusted gets you light and a view of the world. Choosing to not bust a symbol means fewer symbolic excuses to break real heads.

And it means not wasting something useful for some hypothetical symbolic gain.

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DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

and unfortunately it seems that this needs to be said.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

Stated here:

In order to get the elites to release their stranglehold on the rest of humanity, the elites must scared. Yes, scared. That's an ugly truth, but it is truth none the less. And to scare them without committing acts of violence means that they must be afraid of something else, loss of property. And they should be afraid of that. They should be shaking in their boots, unable to sleep at night, haunted by the ghost of Jacob Marley in the wee small hours telling them to repent.

We know what violence looks like at the Occupy sites. It looks like cops pepper spraying young women behind a barricade. It looks like war vets getting skulls crushed and spleens lacerated by "non-lethal" weapons. It looks like douchebags rapists who rape women in tents. Violence causes actual harm to the bodies of actual people and is generally performed by those with power over those with less.

Vandalism is acts of destruction done to pieces of property done by those with less to property owned by those with more.

These things are not the same, and should never, ever be uttered in the same breath as if they were.

Bolds mine. I really don't get the hand wringing over this incident.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

Why is it ok for you (us) to break their windows, but not for "them" to break your (our) windows? This is basically eye for an eye, might makes right philosophy. They are stealing our homes*, so we break their windows or loot their stores. You think they are actually afraid of that? They have entire armies and millions of police, you think they are actually worried about a few dozen, or few hundred or even a few thousand yahoos running around with masks on their faces breaking windows with flag sticks? Violence is their turf.

What a fucking joke.

As for whether or not property damage is violence, well, someone burns a cross on your lawn, or burns your house down, that's not violence? Nobody injured, it's just stuff? Wrong. I love the Red Queen and support her blog often, but this is just nonsense.

* But then again, if "property is theft", then there is no such thing as "our" home.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

"Property is Theft" idea which is why I didn't quote it.

To answer your question, Why is it ok for you (us) to break their windows, but not for "them" to break your (our) windows?

I'll reiterate,

Vandalism is acts of destruction done to pieces of property done by those with less to property owned by those with more.

To quote a famous Vampire Slayer, it's about power, who has it. Just like comedy is only funny if it kicks up or sideways, and mean spirited when it kicks down, how bad an act of property damage is, is in relation to how much property is owned.

I'm also not saying its a good thing, I think we can all agree that its a very bad thing when these options have become our sole recourse. I just don't find it to be THAT objectionable of an act.

Submitted by lefttown on

I agree with a lot of what you wrote. This is from "Dear Occupeiers: A Letter From Anarchists:"

Don’t fetishize obedience to the law. Laws serve to protect the privileges of the wealthy and powerful; obeying them is not necessarily morally right—it may even be immoral. Slavery was legal. The Nazis had laws too. We have to develop the strength of conscience to do what we know is best, regardless of the laws.

To have a diversity of participants, a movement must make space for a diversity of tactics. It’s controlling and self-important to think you know how everyone should act in pursuit of a better world. Denouncing others only equips the authorities to delegitimize, divide, and destroy the movement as a whole. Criticism and debate propel a movement forward, but power grabs cripple it. The goal should not be to compel everyone to adopt one set of tactics, but to discover how different approaches can be mutually beneficial."

Would people call it vandalism if Anonymous hackers forever disabled the drone apparatus? That would also be destruction of property.

Jack Crow's picture
Submitted by Jack Crow on

...nailed it the first time around. It has lost none of it truth in reading it again.

Submitted by lambert on

1. Two wrongs don't make a right. and

2. Just because everybody else is doing it doesn't make it right?

That's the argument the vandalism enablers are making. I'm a little surprised to see you make, though, Jack.

And that's before we get to the tactical stupidity of it all.

This is how the Occupiers show they're fit for dual sovereignty? And isn't that the issue?

Jack Crow's picture
Submitted by Jack Crow on

I'm not sure praising the Red Queen's essay is much in the way of an argument about wrongs and rights.


I'm not a moralist, though, if that's your concern, Lambert. This shouldn't come as a surprise. I've been writing under the photo of Hasan i Sabbah and in defense of retribution for well on three years now. I wrote a paean to the guillotine with which you've already taken umbrage. I think all this non-violence moraline is just holy than thou Christianism dolled up as resistance. And it makes me gag.

I think that abusers should be hurt. Often. You've lamented this already. I'm not hung up on saving everyone, and I don't trust the salvationist impulse of non-violence junkies who are so interested in getting their moral superiority on they forget to survey the actual landscape.

If some dude is about to rape my wife, I'm going to help her kill him. If that same dude is not a rapist, but instead an impoverisher, a poisoner, a degrader and destroyer of mortal and unrepeatable lives, he should be introduced to a rope. Fortwith.

Gandhi (and his ilk, for that matter) is no exemplar. He's an excuse for self-satisfied moralists to pretend that they are above it all. He's a cop out. His India is the same Bharat which preserves the caste system, which maintains the degradation of untouchables, which sought and developed nuclear weapons, and which daily murders indigenous peoples in its quest for stake in the global game of nations.

Non-violence - as a creed - gets you nothing but good feelings about yourself and poor people whose lives don't change except for the faces of their beneficent redeemers.

Non-violence, as a creed, puts its imprint on the status fucking quo. Because the only thing which is going to change the world - for real change it - is for the people with the money and the guns to lose both. And magic peace and harmony ain't going to make that happen.

Non-violence is the consensus of future democratists who will, once they have the seats of power, get about getting back to the business of saving people from theirselves - all in the name of a very propertarian claim to ownership of the public good.

Sod that. Sod that "consensus" until it drowns in its own sanctimony.

The fight may be dirty, and some of us are going to come out of it - gasp! - unclean, but it's better than the perch of the sanctified moralist any day.

Jack Crow's picture
Submitted by Jack Crow on

And just so we're clear, my mother beat me until I was taken away and put into the group home and foster care system. Which was good for some sexual molestation. When I "acted out," I got to be a guest of the state mental health system. Which was good for some involuntary medication and strapping down to tables.

Before you yield to the impulse to psychoanalyze from afar, yes that informs my view of power, abusers and what should be done to them.

And there ain't nothing wrong with that.

Submitted by lambert on

Although since you don't mention anybody on this thread who's a sanctimonious moralist, I can only think this is a general proffer, and therefore a waste of bits.

You write that "I think abusers should be hurt." Well, show some solidarity by going and doing that in a place and in a way where you hurting your abusers doesn't fuck up other people, then.

You write that "non-violence gets you nothing." Then you try to prove that by saying that Ghandi didn't get everything. Being charitable, that thinking is more than a little sloppy.

You adduce the trope of your wife being raped. More sloppiness; the trope is as bad as "government is like a household." In fact, government is nothing like a household, and rentier extraction may have the effect of rape -- I've had similar discussions here -- the rentiers, as a class, are no more like a rapist than the locomotive engineer is like a railroad.

Is it your contention that sloppy analysis and deceptive tropes are essential tools in a revolutionary's kit? From the points you make on this thread, you do.

NOTE I'm sorry if the "mother" trope stung. My point was that anybody over the age of, say, ten knows that just because somebody else does something doesn't mean it's right for you to do it. Yet that is exactly what the claim that "The police are more violent ZOMG!!!!" boils down to. All that gives this point credence is the fact of its endless and vehement repetition. Dealing with Black Block wannabes is really rather like dealing with Obama fans in 2008.....

Submitted by Lex on

How are the black bloc "wannabes"?

Bryan's picture
Submitted by Bryan on

Ever hear of insurance? If you are wealthy, you have it, and the vandalism costs you nothing, relatively speaking. You don't see supermarkets in poor neighborhoods because the insurance companies jack up their prices to the point that it is too expensive to open a business there.

Vandalism is used as justification for police violence, helping the message of the 1%, not the 99%.

I've heard a lot of excuses for the vandalism, but no real reasons that justify the actions. The vandalism doesn't affect the 1% in any meaningful way. It is pointless destruction.

Submitted by Fran on

that it will merely justify a more violent reaction from the POB.

I have a neighbor who has a bad temper and constantly commits petty violence against my property (vandalism) and even once on me. He ups the ante and adds new tactics without my ever even retaliating. I don't retaliate because I know that will just invite a bigger action from him - or that somehow I will end up in trouble - besides which, it is not my nature. Even when I seek non-violent legal recourse, he gets angry, so I only do that selectively.

The thing that makes non-violent activism truly courageous is that you have to be willing to take violence without responding with violence. Participants can be hurt and even killed. But, they can be hurt or killed in any case, and non-violence seems to be more effective. We simply cannot win using the tools of the powerful. We have to win with numbers and the rightful cause.

Submitted by chadwick newsome on

Anybody remember the collapse of the Pinochet regime in Chile? I remember a lot about imprisonment, torture & death and a little bit about grandmothers. One day, in a public square, in a large Chilean city, a bunch of grandmothers of the government's victims, started marching around in a big circle. They were carrying signs but not saying much. They just went around and around.

Apparently, the government thought you couldn't just shoot grandmothers. (They should have taken lessons from the Egyptian security forces and Bashar al Assad.)
Then the rest of the public began to speak out against the government. Eventually, the government fell.

That's how a successful movement works. It isn't clandestine, esoteric, opaque, given to its own rituals & symbols, exclusive of the people for whom it purports to speak. It's about a huge community of people who have in common the fact that they are being screwed. It's about the 99%.