The Rebel Alliance depended on a dead dude, a quixotic Elf who talked like Grover, a wannabe hero with an inferiority complex, an arrogant smuggler, an incomprehensible BigFoot, an annoying and basically useless robot, a super-cool robot who looked like a futuristic garbage can, and a bitchy, bad-ass princess.
So to Jordan, I ask you — who is the most likely to stand up when tyranny has to be challenged? The “good workers” in the system? The ones who have “sorted themselves out”? Who is most likely to have their hearts opened first, so they risk their own safety, even their own lives, to stand up to power? Who has their finger most acutely on the pulse of human suffering and will SEE the need to change, evolve, shake up the system?
The middle-managers working at a good job, with a mortgage and car payments and that upcoming resort vacation? The people who are busily putting their houses in perfect order? The winners? The billionaires? The bank executives and mining company CEOs? The soccer moms and dads trying their best to remember where they have to chauffeur their kids next? The doctors and lawyers and MBAs? The athletes and celebrities? Who do you seriously think is going to first of all SEE and FEEL the reality of suffering in the world with enough OOMPH that they will be willing to stand up and do something about it? Who is going to support those at Standing Rock, protecting their water? Who is going to speak for the animals? The ocean? The imprisoned? The missing and murdered? Who is going to cross the floor and become an ally? Who is going to help transition us to a just world, a new, sustainable economic model? (Or if you don’t believe any of that is necessary, if you still have your feet in the climate “skeptic” camp and think Big Business will care of everything, then ooooh boy…..we gotta set that aside for another time, but believe me, we’ll get to it….)
Clearly, the people who end up forming the bulk of the “protest communities” are not the people at the top of the dominance hierarchy. The people who stand up are more often than not the broken ones, the ones who have Lived the truth of injustice, who have the unshakable conviction of lived experience, the love and the rage to stand up against all odds and shout and sacrifice and sing out their hearts, to work tirelessly for change and not believe in false promises, and be courageous enough to shake people out of their complacency.
In contrast, the Winners, the ones who are most highly rewarded by societal reward structures, the big lobsters — how good are they at behaving ethically, at helping the downtrodden and subjugated? How much empathy DO they have? How open are they to the perspectives of people who disagree with them? How good are they at taking the perspective of the Other? How much value do they place on Beauty, community, spirituality? How much trust do they have in their “fellow man?” How much of their consciousness is devoted to Love, compared to how much of it is devoted to maintaining, extending, and defending the legitimacy of their own power? (Note: there’s lots of good research on the ethical implications of having Power. Almost all of it is negative….just saying…)
To be fair, Jordan continually insists that the Dominance hierarchy is not based on Power, but on Competence. Yet, for a given system, Competence and Power are highly correlated. The cream rises to the top, right? Statistically speaking, the big lobsters are going to, in Jordan’s reasoning, be more likely to be both Competent and Powerful. They are not orthogonal constructs. So if you’re going to argue that people sort themselves out FIRST, before trying to change society, then you are, by necessity, arguing that it is, by and large, the Powerful who will be the ones challenging whatever tyranny needs to be challenged.
But, hmmmmm…..we have a serious problem here. The Powerful, the respectable-seeming people in society, are going to generally want to preserve the status quo and are going to look down on and distrust the dirty rabble-rousers trying to shake things up and change the system.
And the rabble rousers? The oppressed? When they stand up and speak out, how does that work out for them? How do The Established Power Structures, the Dominance Hierarchy, the big lobsters, of the world react to these struggling masses “resisting oppression?”
(That’s a rhetorical question. You already know the answer.)
“Yeah, well if the ‘activists’ wanted to be taken seriously, why do they go break windows and block traffic and shit? That’s not winning you any sympathy, pal. Get a job, vote, don’t just create all these problems for the rest of us….And what’s up with the SJWs, screeching into their microphones, shouting over people just trying to have a civil discussion, like a bunch of brainwashed harpies? Aside from allowing us to laugh at them in YouTube videos where they look like idiots, what do they think they’re accomplishing?”
First of all, before you get too comfortable in your narrative about the craaaaaazy things you hear protesters doing, read up on “police provocateurs”. And don’t kid yourself for a second that this is Alex Jones level conspiracy theory action. Go talk to some cops who have worked in infiltrating the protest communities. They know that police-driven provocation to create a justification for arrests and state-sanctioned use of force, is not the exception; it’s practically the rule. They know that planting extremists, weapons, etc., is a practically invisible and undefeatable strategy; whenever you need to bring the hammer down, all you gotta do is create a justification, and then it’s GAME OVER, and you can worry about the lawsuits later. The police know that the vast majority of “injustice” or abuse of force will never be proven in court, they will never truly be held accountable.
Again, this was clear at the G20. Many of the police covered their ID badges, their faces hidden behind masks, as personally unidentifiable as Darth Vader’s Storm Troopers. I know this for a fact. The police chief at the same said to media that there were “weapons discovered along the planned protest route”. Which is also a flat out lie, and I know this for a fact. Because I was there. And I know a) there was no “planned protest route” at all; it was a spontaneous demonstration. And b) the direction we were actually headed, up Bay street towards Queens Park, only turned into heading west down Queen Street towards Spadina, where the “weapons were found”, BECAUSE THE POLICE BARRICADED BAY STREET AND FORCED US TO GO WEST. The only “planning” that happened on that day, was the police, planning to round up 1000 people, charge us with “Conspiracy”, hold us handcuffed until about midnight when the G20 was over and all the media had gone away, and THEN, let us go, in the dark, bye-bye, have a nice day, here’s all your cameras and phones and shit we broke. Good luck.
The police know that, in the moment of protest-chaos, there are so many things happening in so many places all at once, that the full truth will never come out. History is bearing this out yet again; the class action lawsuits against the police for clear and irrefutable abuse of force way, way back then, haven’t made a lot of headway despite the thousands of pages of testimony and countless videos recorded on phones and cameras.
But sure, it’s not all police provocateurs and setups and ‘false flags’ — Big Brother making the protesters look bad. I’m certainly not claiming that. But I am claiming that not all the burning cars and smashed windows you see on TV are the result of the “Black Bloc” or “AntiFa” or “radicals” or whoever is being officially blamed. It’s not even close to that straightforward.
Now, for many of the other cases, the clips you’ve watched where “SJWs” act unhinged in some way — first, take into account the “Statistics 101 and 201 lessons from a couple posts ago, the “numbers game.”
Then, consider for a moment, the feelings of desperation that members of the protest community likely have, knowing that they are close-to-powerless to stop the harm that they see affecting their loved ones. Consider what YOU would do if someone was attacking your children, or less tangibly, someone was passing laws that you knew would make your children suffer, would increase the suicides in your community, would help sweep under the carpet the very real suffering of people you know who have already suffered too much.
Consider how loudly you would scream if some faceless corporation, whose executives are far away and don’t even know you, was poisoning your mother, father, children, friends and neighbours. Its representatives are just playing roles — lawyers, public relations people. Nobody seems to be Real in “The System.” So you try to engage the system, to “work for change”, but you’re working with a faceless, bloodless entity that literally, does not care.
Consider how emotional you would become if you were ever driven to the point of risking arrest, risking public ridicule, risking everything, in order to throw yourself into harm’s way in a desperate attempt to DO SOMETHING. Of course, this doesn’t account for all the potentially objectionable actions of the “radical left”, or any other group you want to criticize.
But as a starting point, I would ask that we all step back and think for a moment about what it would take, how much suffering it would take, for US to speak out and put ourselves on the line like that. And if you were driven to that point, how “calm and rational” would you be? How much “cool skepticism” would you tolerate before telling people where to stick it? How emotional and unhinged might you appear in your most aroused and pushed-over-the-edge moments?
Hell, parents “lose it” on their two-year old because they CRY TOO LONG at night. Or they ask for a chocolate bar too many times at the grocery store! A lot of people get all worked up just mustering the courage to say “no” to a date who wants to go farther than they are comfortable with. Think of how ANGRY you get in arguing with your spouse, or maybe your ex? Think of the doors you have slammed, the heart-pounding arousal you have felt, the shouting and “fuck you!!!” and all of it.
It’s HARD to stand up and assert yourself, to overcome your fear and guilt and feelings of futility and internalized shame and whatever else is holding you back — it’s HARD to get over this stuff. But sometimes, we have to, we have no choice, or at least that’s how it feels. When injustice is staring you in the face, when you can see the eyes of suffering and hear the cries of pain, then you stand up because you HAVE to. But, it’s terrifying. You probably are a little unhinged…..
Imagine saying “no” to a bank of news cameras? Saying “no” to a famous public intellectual? Saying “no” to armoured police with clubs? The emotional arousal that happens in these moments, is profound.
So, to anybody who wonders why protesters do all the craaaazy things they do, I would seriously challenge you to stop basing your judgement on YouTube clips and comments threads and news-sound-bites and the judgements of talking heads on TV, sitting in their make-up and suits in air-conditioned offices.
I remember this young woman, maybe 21, with her two friends and their Canadian Civil Liberties Union badges, feeling they were Protected Observers, but nevertheless being kettled and terrified like everyone else. I remember this woman standing stoically in the rain for maybe two hours. Then she broke. Weeping, she finally shouted “WHY???? WHY????? We shouldn’t BE here!!!” Then she sobbed for quite a while. It was all she could articulate in that moment. Her fellow CCLU peeps helped her back up. We all hugged each other; she was shaking with cold and fear.
Something changed in that group of about 7 people — the three CCLU reps, myself, this tall dude with an umbrella and a black goatee, a young woman with a tattoo of a panda bear on her back, and a young woman still holding her bicycle. She was a reporter. I had been sitting near her in the intersection of Queen and Spadina when it became clear that nobody was leaving through the impenetrable wall of riot police. I watched her get up and confidently stride towards the line, holding some kind of media badge like it was her ticket outta there. When she wasn’t allowed through the black, shielded wall, she argued at first, angry. Eventually she sat down. And now, hours later her teeth were chattering and her blond curls hung limply on her face. She looked tired. I kind of loved her in that moment. I think the feeling was mutual amongst all of us. I’ve never been so fucking cold in my life, but honestly, I have also never felt so much like I belonged. 7 mostly-strangers. It’s amazing what suffering with others will do to your heart.
Watching people’s courage and conviction come alive is beautiful. Watching people’s fear break them is awful, but what it leads to, is usually beautiful too if they can be guided towards compassion instead of hate.
And sure, all this crazy shit is scary and “too much” sometimes. It is traumatizing. For real. The confrontations between Power and Suffering, between Force and Soul-Force as Martin Luther King might have put it, are —- epic —- in the original, mythic-scale importance of that word. The outcomes of Suffering and Power confronting each other do not always end well, of course. If you believe they do, then I’m sorry, but you need to have those illusions dispelled. Go and read about the rape of Nanking, the Mai Lai massacre, the march at Selma. Go to some museums and bang your head against the impossible puzzle of HOW CAN PEOPLE DO THAT???? When a person feels in their bones the thinness of the civility that separates us from these horrors, then I believe that person will also appreciate the necessity of plugging into That Which Matters. Even if it’s scary. Especially if it’s scary.
If I could choose between people being defeated and ‘civil’ versus empowered and even enraged, it’s totally clear where I cast my lot.
It’s terrifying when the shit comes down and it’s masked police and shields and clubs and rubber bullets, or like Hong Kong protesters are now experiencing in the modern-day Tianamen Square 2.0, real bullets. Real deaths. You will feel Fear right down to your bowels. And you will know that all the people with you, feel the same Fear. When you SEE this through your own unfiltered eyes, you will better understand that the people who come out to do this, the SJWs you so disparagingly turn into a derogatory acronym, are Social Justice WARRIORS. They’re not “Snowflakes”; they are Forces of Nature. Until you face down the same fear and have even a clue of what the protest communities put themselves through in order to speak their truths to power, then honestly, do you have the right to critique them? Or is there maybe some sorting-out that you have neglected?