Breaking a window is violence?

Hitting someone with a club is violence. Funding projects that destroy local economies and ecosystems is violence. Displacing millions of people in order to ravage the countryside to extract resources and build useless consumer products is violence. Denying refugees right of return and bombing their villages when they defy the injustice is violence. Creating social structures that systematically stifle free expression and the ability to peacefully promote legitimate alternative points of view is violence. Maintaining an economic order in which the only way to hold off collapse is perpetual growth at the expense of a finite resource base, which cannibalizes itself in order to produce growth that is mostly based on the creation of new debt to finance paying off the old debt, while blaming people who bought into the system because they believed what it promised them for its failure is violence.

Breaking a window is a symbol of the shattered illusions of people who are sick and tired, and don’t want to take it anymore. Breaking a window is a message to the monsters whose livelihood depends on murder, displacement, and ecocide that the game is up and the ones who got us into this mess have forfeited their moral authority to be the ones who define a “new world order”. Breaking a window is liberation, a sign of life, not violence that destroys it.

Whether or not it’s tactically a good idea in circumstances such as the G-20 demonstrations is another matter entirely.

In response to this blog.


4 Responses

  1. Ok friend… if you broke it you pay it. Don’t come to me with non-sensical excuses.

    Seriously, you give a good response, but I don’t see clear why breaking a window is not violent at all (off course, is not the same type of oppresive violence as the ones you mention at first).

  2. I’m not sure breaking a window is completely “not violent” myself. What I am sure of is that it is not violent in the same way or to a comparable extent to the violence of striking a human being, let alone the systemic violence mentioned in my examples. However, I am not convinced that breaking a window is actually violent either. It is definitely not violent in the sense the blog to which I responded said, though.

    And your flippant remark is actually pretty right on the money – if you break it, you buy it. That is, if you commit an act of disobedience then you have to be willing to face the legal penalty if you are caught. If breaking a window is an act of justice, then it could be that the prosecution for breaking the window is unjust – but that does not mean prosecution can (or should) be avoided as if the action were of no consequence. Indeed, the act has consequence precisely because it is an act against the power the window represents, which is the same power that can prosecute for the breaking of the window.

  3. It is violence if it is done to property that belongs to someone else.

  4. Hi mom!

    If the property has been illegitimately obtained or used in a fashion that is contrary to law, whether that be human law or God’s law, then I would argue that to destroy the property is less violent than letting it be.

    However, like I said, “you break it, you buy it” – if one commits an act it is necessary to live with the consequences of the act. That’s why I have the utmost respect for someone like Martin Smedjeback, who was recently sentenced for vandalism in an action against a Swedish arms manufacturer.

    Ultimately I think what is really needed is to build communities who will not support systems of murder and ecocide, and that people on a wide scale need to begin to live differently, not buying into the consumerist mindset and the culture of death that accompanies it, and so undercut the abilities of purveyors of death to continue their trades, channeling revolutionary energy into creating a new culture instead of breaking stuff, but I have a hard time seeing breaking a window being on the same level as beating someone up or turning their country into a wasteland.

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