Are anarchist protests harbingers of fascism? : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Perhaps some of you noticed that last week thousands of young anarchists, protestors, radicals, and assorted malcontents gathered in Prague to protest the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund. According to the Prague Independent Media Center, at one point protesters manged to break into the lobby of the building in which the delegates were meeting and for a few painful moments actually confronted the delgates, who were staring at them with horror from a balcony. The police quickly dispersed the protesters (from the "Yellow Group" -- apparently Italians, Spainards, etc.) from the building. Interestingly, had this been 1911, it seems conceivable that bonafide anarchists might have actually assaulted the delegates. Who knows?

In any case, it strikes me that no one seems very interested or troubled about what occurred in Prague or Seattle amongst "our youth of today." Most of them are protesting peacefully. But several are also donning handkerchiefs and gas masks, throwing rocks at police, breaking into buildings, smashing windows, and shutting down global meetings. On a large scale.

After seeing only a few fleeting images of Prague on the nightly news, a couple of thoughts crossed my mind that I wanted to throw out for discussion.

1. The major media has steadfastly ignored the protests in Philadelphia, L.A., and Prague. The media obviously wishes to keep the "success" of the Prague protests quiet (the IMF meeting closed early, as did the WTO meeting in Seattle). Why do you suppose the Prague protests were bypassed by the mainstream media? (Note: I don't have cable TV, so if the Prague protests were covered extensively on cable, it would be interesting to hear from someone who watched it how they were treated.)

2. If you had to sum up what you thought was the overriding principle behind the protesters' motivation and mentality, how would you do so? In other words, what, in a nutshell, do you think these protests are about?

3. Protests are occurring so frequently and on such a large scale that they seem to represent a genuine "zeitgeist" -- simultaneous occurrences of contemporary phemonmena, or the "spirit of the time." Do you suppose this zeitgeist will mushroom, or is it merely a flash in the pan?

4. If protests grow increasingly frequent, with the levels of violence witnessed in Prague escalating, will this lead inevitably to a fascist response on the part of governments? Civil rights and legal groups have already chronicled and condemned the overdeveloped militarism displayed in Seattle, LA, etc. They have also pointed out that basic constitutional rights were thrown over for the sake of controlling largely peaceful crowds, at least in America.

What are the implications of increasingly violent protests, increasingly militant and heavily militarized police response, and suspension and violation of civil constitutional rights to maintain public order?

5. Before WWI broke out, there were throughout Europe several mass protests of workers and anarchists. Do you suppose contemporary mass uprisings might also serve as a harbinger of some new political or historical epoch? Or, do contemporaneously occurring mass protests invariably point to some brewing global conflict or warfare yet to occur?

-- Celia Thaxter (, October 01, 2000


Gee whiz, Celia, you sure come up with some great questions. Wish I had some answers, but can only answer one. Yes, there was some coverage on TV, but very limited. Putting meaning to all of this is very puzzling.

-- Billiver (, October 01, 2000.

I didn't see anywhere, though, that the hooligans broke into the building. In L.A. and Philadelphia they were kept well away from the convention halls. This is terrible, if police resistence was so passive as to allow this to happen.

-- LillyLP (, October 01, 2000.

You've got a good eye, Celia, for scanning the news and coming up with what is really important. Frankly, until I read your post above, I hadn't given it much th ought - I'd been too preoccuped with energy shortages. That's why I stick with these boards. I get alerted, here, to the behind the scenes stuff every now and then that wakes me up.

Unfortunately, I have no answers either. I'm going to have to start looking for some.

Great post.

-- Wellesley (, October 01, 2000.

I think harbinger is a good word, but a scary word. And, who knows? It might apply under such seemigly growing circumstances.

-- Loner (, October 01, 2000.

I think that, in addition to the Seattle, L.A., Philadelphia, and Prague things, the massive protests that virtually shut down whole countries the size of France and Britain for a week each last month, might also qualify for the descriptive word harbinger.

I saw practically nothing on the France - Britain mutinies in our mainstream media. As recently as twenty years ago, could you imagine these stories being anything short of headline news? That's why I keep coming back to GICC, for meaningful, important news.

-- Chance (, October 01, 2000.

Great questions! I would add to the mix of harbingers the state of our stock market and the precarious state of all the currencies in the rest of the world. Fiat money, massive debt, mania in the markets - it's all adding to the general feeling of unreality. I think there is an underlying notion that we are at the top of a very narrow peak and getting dizzy.

-- poconojo (, October 01, 2000.

Great comment, Poco. You put it all together.

-- LillyLP (, October 01, 2000.

This is one of the best threads I've ever seen on these boards; real food for thought.

-- Nancy7 (, October 01, 2000.

This one deserves a long response, which I'll attempt later, time permitting. The short answer goes something like: "Life is a struggle between the 'haves' and the 'have nots.' The 'haves' will always win, no matter what it takes to do so."

-- Rachel Gibson (, October 01, 2000.

Note that the WTO meeting in Seattle last year and the Prague G-7 meeting both closed early because of these protests.

This is frightening. It shows the participants in the meetings were intimidated, as per intent. The Prague demonstrations were worse than Seattle. This probably means the next one will be even more violent yet.

Mob rule appears to be coming back into vogue.

-- Wayward (, October 01, 2000.

Ceila Great questions.

It was my understanding that the Seattle protests were mainly peaceful except for a very small group of 'thugs' and those thugs were 'planted' -which we'll never know the truth. But the thugs had done 'random' damage away from the real area of interest. And they were never really captured just chased around the city to cause chaos, but not cornered and arrested. Meanwhile the passive folks took the brunt of the punishment.

The harder you squeeze the more stuff gusishes from between your fingers.

I pray that this in not a sign of things to come, it will not be pretty.

-- (, October 01, 2000.

Thanks for the responses. My thought is that the youth are on to something that I might have trouble understanding, but I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Why? Because youth always has a visionary edge. This is from a Randolph Bourne essay:

"There is no scorn as fierce as that of youth for the inertia of older men. The lack of adjustment to the ideas of youth's elders and betters, one of the permanent tragedies of life, is certainly the most sensational aspect of youth. That the inertia of the older people is wisdom, and not impotence, is a theory that you will never induce youth to believe for an instant. The stupidity and cruelties of their management of the world fill youth with an intolerant rage....

"Old men cherish a fond delusion that there is something mystically valuable in mere quanity of experience. Now the fact is, of course, that it is the young people who have all the really valuable experience. It is they who have constantly to face new situations, to react constantly to new aspects of life, who are getting the whole beauty and terror and cruelty of the world in its fresh and undiluted purity. It is only the interpretation of this first collision with life that is worth anything. For the weakness of experience is that it so soon gets sterotyped; without new situations and crises it becomes so conventional as to be practically unconscious. Very few people get any really new experience after they are twenty-five, unless there is a real change of environment. Most older men live only in the experience of their youthful years....

"Therefore, it is perhaps unfair to say that the older generation rules the world. Youth rules the world, but only when it is no longer young. It is a tarnished, travestied youth that is in the saddle in the person of middle age. Old age lives in the delusion that it has improved and rationalized its youthful ideas by experience and stored- up wisdom, when all it has done is to damage them more or less--- usually more. And the tragedy of life is that the world is run by these damaged ideals. That is why our ideas are always a generation behind our acutal social conditions. Press, pulpit, and bar teem with the radicalisms of thirty years ago. The dead hand of opinions formed in their college days clutches our leaders and directs their acitvities in this new and strangely altered physical and spiritual environment. Hence grievous friction, maladjustment, social war. And the faster society moves, the more terrific is the divergence between what is actually going on and what public opinion thinks is actually going on. It is only the young who are actually contemporaneous; they interpret what they see freshly and without prejudice; their vision is always the truest, and their interpretation always the justest.

"Youth does not simply repeat the errors and delusions of the past, as the elder generation with a tolerant cynicism likes to think; it is ever laying the foundations for the future. What it thinks so wildly now will be orthodox gospel thirty years hence. The ideas of the young are the living, the potential ideas; those of the old, the dying or the already dead. This is why it behooves youth to be not less radical, but even more radical, than it would naturally be."

-- Celia Thaxter (, October 02, 2000.


-- poconojo (, October 03, 2000.

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