Monday, September 28, 2009

G20 Pittsburgh


The people's uprising was a brief and hilarious failure, as I expected, although the sweet scent of tear gas now drifts over my garden, suggesting what might have been. It was mostly kids, and while charmingly earnest, they mostly didn't understand the most basic principles of protest or cooperative action, and so they were easily and swiftly dispersed by the police. We may lament the gaudy police state in which we live and chuckle ruefully at the loudspeaker warning, "This is an illegal assembly"--the fuzz no longer even bothers to change the constitutional language in propounding orders that directly contravene the rights that language is meant to guarantee. Puts a man in a mordant mood. Anyway, you know, a great deal more might have been demonstrated if they'd held hands, sat down, and sung spirituals. If you'll pardon me, their problem is just as much aesthetic as it is political. They are not compelling.

While I am not experienced in direct action standoffs with the state; and while I appreciate that there are other factors at play which may justify concealing one's identity under such circumstances; I've never been able to shake the feeling that dressing like a rebel Mexican peasant is not useful when attempting to communicate your concerns to a US audience.

It seems to me that if there are people in American actions who can "afford" simply to be themselves, and not draw so heavily from the "aesthetics" of the Spanish Civil War or the Zapatistas -- or the general predilection for appearing as bizarre as the shock troops they confront -- it might be a very good thing for public relations!

Also, "people's uprisings" -- people's anything, for that matter -- is usually a recipe for anti-climax. A much stronger claim might invoke the defense of constitutional rights, like freedom of speech and assembly. To this end, just holding ground is a real achievement.

For your consideration.

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