what to do?

for me it’s weird with these protesters in geneva and lausanne, who seem to be out on a rampage just wanting to break things.
i try to be sympathetic with them. i totally understand their anger and their desire to break things. in a way i have no right to criticize them, since i too had a very destructive militant phase back in the early 80’s.
but something feels completely off here. these guys seem to conciously ignore the context in which they are moving. they start their violent actions just like that, no matter what, not at all considering the context. and the media has a field-day with this, naturally. the rioters deliver them every argument they need. and a whole movement gets discredited.

it seems to me, that earlier radical youth movements, who also got violent at times, basically assumed a non-violent attitude and would only start to break things, after they had been provoked by the police or if the events had escalated to this end. so their violence was in reaction to a concrete situation and therefore contained a certain logic. the media, although they often did not do so, could then convey that.
with the anti-globalisation militants this was somehow lost. they grew up with such a huge fuck-you attitude, that they don’t even care about what other exponents of the same movement want to do. even actions that were clearly planned as non-violent get sabotaged by their destructive interventions.

why that is so is beyond me. i have a few guesses, but it would go to far to elaborate these here.
it’s always easy to blame the police and politics for developments like these. [i do think that the “de-escalation” tactics, that the police has started to apply, are a very smart strategy, in that they frustrate these particular kids, who often have grown up in leftist anti-authoritarian families and schools.]
but i also see a big responsibilty, that the larger polictical movement, and more precisely older radicals, are not assuming.
if you analyse classical revolutionary movements, like the ira or the sandinistas or intifada, when there had been a riot, they would first declare their solidarity with the young rioters, but then they would themselves correct these offenders from within the movement. older activists putting the younger, more enthusiastic and more violence-prone back into their place.
in our context none of the older activists seem to be willing to take on that role. everybody is more interested in appearing cool and easy-going.
but i think, it would be our role to talk with these kids and maybe they would listen to us more than they would to other people.
yet we dont do it.
is it because it would feel like a betrayal of our past?
considering all the bad press, that this generates, and all the good will, that gets lost by these orgies of destruction, i think it is time that this phenomenon of random violence and gratitious destruction gets analysed and that the larger political movement takes a stand.
stop the violence!
it’s alright what you do, but choose your targets well [an alternative bookstore is not a target!] and consider the context.

About Jan Zuppinger

Jan Zuppinger has been writing this blog since 2002. He likes to grow vegetables. He likes to eat them too. He has opinions on everything, but sadly no one cares. Jan Zuppinger is not joking, just joking, he is joking, just joking, he's not joking. *click.