Vilolence, Order, Change

When I watched the national newscasts last night I was pleased that billy-clubs and bloody noses did not overshadow… the celebrities. After the celebrities the blood was still shown, and the largest picture accompanying the G8 articles in my morning newspaper was neither Bono nor George Bush but that of a bloodied protester. In fact, the one and only bloodied protester I saw while watching the news yesterday. I am always amazed that protests of this scale and so diverse in their goals can remain mostly peaceful in spite of the confronting and containing powers (be they police or journalistic) mobilized to maintain order.

Tonight’s newscasts will not feature the bloody-faced protester, tonight there is actual violence to report about. Yesterday dissent seemed almost mainstream. However, as with the September 11 attacks, the politics of violence will not only overshadow, but likely undermine the politics of peaceful protest. “The legitimacy of dissent, and especially dissent that takes the form of street protests, is often a domestic casualty of the ideological climate of war.” Leo Panitch described how this occurred post September 11 in Violence as a Tool for Order and Change: The War on Terrorism and the Antiglobalization Movement. Panitch cites Mark Twain’s take on the French Revolution:

There were two “Reigns of Terror,” if we would but remember it and consider it: the one wrought murder in hot passion, the other in cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other had lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death upon ten thousand persons, the other upon a hundred millions; but our shudders are all for the “horrors” of the minor Terror, so to speak; whereas, what is the horror of swift death by the ax compared with death by slow fire at the stake? A city cemetery could contain the coffins filled by that brief Terror which we have all been so diligently taught to shiver at and mourn over; but all France could hardly contain the coffins filled by that older and real Terror-that unspeakably bitter and awful Terror which none of us has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves.

In the coming days, months, and years pay mind to how the politics of violence, order, and change interact. And remember, even so soon after tragedy, it should still be permitted to condemn both “Reigns of Terror.”



  1. Anonymous said,

    Friday, 8 July 2005 at 11:36 am

    This article echoes some of these thoughts.

    It suggests that the ideology of war is again taking hold and also speaks of the relationship of the western powers, terrorists and those with a more progressive agenda.

    “Yet that simple narrative, “because they hate our freedoms,” constructed carefully by the White House communications team, laid the foundation for the war on Iraq and the expansion of the war on terrorism well beyond the justifiable and proportionate retaliation on the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Americans believed Al Qaeda was targeting the United States because we stood for democracy, when, in reality, they hated us because we massively supported oppressive regimes in the Middle East.

    This time, with that narrative already established, the work of interpreting the London subway bombings through the Bush worldview is a much simpler matter.”

    “So now it is time for progressives to keep the focus on draining the swamp, not on counterproductive military adventures that will only reinforce Al Qaeda propaganda. Aggressive and innovative policies to address climate change and poverty are two of the most powerful ways accomplish this. So is a smart exit strategy from Iraq and a final settlement between Israelis and Palestinians.”

  2. Anonymous said,

    Friday, 8 July 2005 at 12:20 pm

    At least Tom Paine had the good sense and humanity to condemn the violence yesterday, unlike Mannatee. Typical of radical Left-Wing ideologues to ignore what really matters.

  3. Manatee said,

    Friday, 8 July 2005 at 2:10 pm

    Anonymous (2), my name is spelled Manatee. The article cited by Anonymous (1) was, I think, written by Patrick Doherty. In the last sentence of my post appear the words “tragedy” and “condemn”.

    Any event that claims innocent lives is wrong-minded.

  4. O'Smiley said,

    Friday, 8 July 2005 at 2:43 pm

    I’m not sure anonymous 2 fully read your post manatee before shooting off his mouth.

    It’s good to see today that the terror attacks in london did not affect the progress of the G-8. Although I would have like to see the U.S. at least acknowledge climate change as occuring. Even if they did nothing else it would have been a huge step to move forward with some sort of resolutions.

  5. angela said,

    Friday, 8 July 2005 at 3:23 pm

    this is a great post on how liberal democratic norms are being thrown out the window on our home turf while we attempt to export them to the world.

  6. Manatee said,

    Friday, 8 July 2005 at 4:42 pm

    Thanks for commenting Angela. Please come back often.

    O’Smiley, I never thought I’d see the day that you became an advocate for preventing climate change. Has the scientist in you finally killed the Conservative in you? I’m actually encouraged by much of the language coming out of the G8 with respect to climate change. I thought Bush was immovable on this, but the door might be open now for this to become a seious issue in US domestic politics. Or I may be too optimistic.

    I see Italy will be moving out of Iraq. Very interesting.

  7. O'Smiley said,

    Friday, 8 July 2005 at 7:06 pm

    I have to admit that when first heard about global warming I was skeptical. I acknowledged that it was occurring, but did not accept that it was caused by the activities of man, and to be honest I’m still not fully convinced that it is all caused by mankind. The earth has been rolling through cycles of ice age and warm-up for eons well before man was an effect. Nonetheless that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to minimize our impact on the earth or stabilize the climate if we have the ability.

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