The G20 Fiasco

Armored police officers, riots, mass hysteria, rampant vandalism and burning police cars. This may sound like a scene out of an apocalyptic movie, but sadly it is a fairly accurate description of the streets of Toronto during the G20 Summit.

The chaos that the G20 protests caused in Toronto and have caused at previous summits often make people ask, “What are they even protesting?” This website, which served to organize the mass amounts of protesters at the Summit, highlights the major issues that they are protesting.

The protesters claim that the G20 Summit is about trying to fix the unfixable system of capitalism, creating unsustainable trading solutions to ecological catastrophe, ensuring continued exploitation of people of color and celebrating war as a means to maintain imperialist power. These are issues worth protesting, but is this really what the G20 Summit is about?

According to this article written by the Halifax Initiative, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper identified four broad issues for the G20 agenda: global economy, climate change, development and democratic governance.

One of the recommendations in the Halifax Initiative’s article was increased transparency pertaining to discussions at the Summit. The G20 Toronto Summit Declaration posted on the Canaian government's Web site accommodates this request. The document reveals that many of the issues discussed by G20 leaders and the solutions that they proposed address the very things that the protestors were claiming the Summit ignores.

Sustainable and balanced growth; financial sector reform; international financial institutions and development; debt relief for Haiti; further supporting the needs of the most vulnerable (seeking to lift 90 million people out of poverty); addressing the issue of corruption; protecting the environment; these issues and more were discussed and plans of action were developed by the G20 leaders to address them.

The G20 Web site says that the summit was about “international economic development that promotes open and constructive discussion between industrial and emerging-market countries on key issues related to global economic stability”. Protestors claim that the G20 is about unsustainable trading solutions, continued exploitation of the poor and the celebration of war. These are all unfounded assumptions bought into by uninformed people.

The accusation that the G20 is about fixing the unfixable system of capitalism is informed by a highly subjective view of capitalism. Perhaps these protesters have a better system in mind like, say, anarchy.

Anarchism is a political philosophy that advocates the absence of a governing authority, arguing that common sense would allow people to form a functional society where the participants can freely develop their own sense of morality and ethics. In this YouTube video, we see the paradoxical hypocrisy of the anarchists (beware of coarse language).

Anarchists must have a twisted sense of logic if they think vandalizing businesses, burning police cars and attacking innocent civilians demonstrates that society does not need a governing authority. The anarchists in Toronto are living evidence against the case for anarchism. The only thing they have proven is their own foolishness.

In Luke 20: 20-26, Jesus commands that we submit to governing authorities. Situations exist where resistance to authority is right and just such as instances of state enforced genocide. However, when the authorities are addressing the very issues that protestors are indecently calling attention to, it is the protestors who are in the wrong. Paul prudently warns that “he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves” (Romans 13: 2).

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  1. BobLoblaw said:

    Mr. Parasar: I was wondering: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? You presume that simply because the G20 Summit leaders claim they are attempting to solve the very problems protesters believe that they cause, this somehow makes the protesters ill-informed. Perhaps the protesters understand that what these leaders say–to gather votes and support–and what they do are two very different things. Oftentimes, these “paragons of the free world” sit down together for days and never really solve anything. The protesters’ methods may be unfounded, but then again, is knocking over trash cans and burning garbage nearly as bad as anything these government officials have signed off on? Anarchist Brad Spangler wrote of the protesters’ actions: “…These kids aren’t out there sniping from rooftops or placing IEDs, and it’s not as if those options are out of reach. Most of them are quite concerned about the ethical considerations regarding their acts. While I view them as mistaken in some cases, there are compelling reasons to say that they were exercising a greater degree of forebearance than the police were. “Apart from complete pacifists, most people recognize that violence is acceptable in self-defense. It’s also rather common to view violence as justifiable in defense of other people suffering unjust attacks. Many extend that view to include defense of property and I’m among them. “Since anarchists view any government as institutionalized violence with no coherent justification, engaged in both ongoing unjustified acts of direct violence and fundamentally criminal coercion, a limited degree of violence in resistance to it is not ethically problematic. My own view is that it’s usually a poor strategy, but those who disagree with me would argue that the deck is so stacked against us that we have to accept the condemnation arising from that as the price to be paid in order to reach others with the message that resistance to unjust authority is even possible.” Personally, I think that property destruction is detrimental to the anarchist cause too and I am an anarchist myself. It only angers the poor working class men and women who have to clean the mess up and it feeds the propagandistic image of the masked anarchist with a lit bomb when most of the anarchists I know are highly intelligent, highly motivated, highly moral, highly practical people. (Remember, every group has its nuts. I don’t need to point out Christianity’s crazies to you as I’m sure you know there are as many of them as there are respectable ones.) Bottom line: these protesters’ actions might be unfounded, but their complaints couldn’t be more valid. The countries these leaders at the Summit head up will still–even after the meeting–drain the productive class with high taxes, exploit workers on behalf of the corporate-government collusiory system every western country follows, arrest and murder peaceful drug users, and fight unjust wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Finally, in regards to your comment about Luke 20: 20-26…Let me first say in all honesty, that I am no longer a Christian, but I was at one time and I have read the entire Bible. I think to say that these verses imply an explicit acceptance of all governing authorities is a bit ridiculous. Christ here never says which things–beyond the implication of the coin–belong to Caesar; His ambiguous words are far from a command to give Caesar whatever he claims, as many governments expect us to do (numerous taxes, consent to monopolistic adjudication, being drafted into war, etc.). And it’s notable that Christ never told His disciples either to establish a state or to engage in politics. They were to preach the Gospel and, if rejected, to move on. He seems never to have imagined the state as something they could or should enlist on their side.

    July 8, 2010
  2. Amit Parasar said:

    Dear respected reader, I apologize for the tardiness of my response. Firstly, thank you for commenting on this post. I’m actually new to blogging and you’re the first commenter I’ve ever had. It’s encouraging to have received such an intelligent response from a self-proclaimed anarchist. In the interests of making my response as short as possible while addressing specific arguments within your comment, I’ve referenced your arguments with very condensed quotes so that you know which paragraph(s) I’m referring to. Also, please call me Amit. It was my birthday yesterday. I don’t need another reason to feel old. “I was wondering: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” For readers that may not know this phrase, it translates to “Who watches the watchmen?” or “Who guards the guardians?” Generally speaking, a democratic government is composed of a system of checks and balances where power is distributed amongst different branches of government so that each branch has the ability to counter the actions of another, ensuring that all power does not reside with one party. I feel that voters are one of these checks in a democracy. The question of how much power voters really have is a valid one, but since you wrote that leaders want “to gather votes and support”, I think you’ll agree that voters do have some power. “You presume……these “paragons of the free world” sit down together for days and never really solve anything.” I believe that the protesters are ill-informed because they claim that the G20 is about creating unsustainable trading solutions, ensuring continued exploitation of people of color and celebrating war when it is about the opposite of all of those things. It’s true that I’m basing my opinion on the information that the G20 puts out (along with some independent sources) which, of course, will not be acceptable sources to someone who believes that these leaders are lying to them. However, I’m not ‘presuming’ that the protesters are uninformed. I’ve based my opinion on qualitative social and analytical research. After listening to several people who had live conversations with many different protesters and watching protesters on the news that were unable to explain the causes they were protesting for, I have concluded that a good portion of the G20 protesters were either uninformed or ill-informed. I suppose that these leaders do discuss issues for days and don’t solve anything, but I think that’s because big problems take more than a few days to solve. I don’t think it means that the leaders aren’t trying to solve the problems or that they’re somehow conspiring to keep the poor working class down especially when they explicitly stated that one of their goals for future development is to lift 90 million people out of poverty. “The protesters’ methods…Anarchist Brad Spangler wrote of the protesters’ actions…” [this is to address your paragraph leading up to and including the entire Spangler quote] I wasn’t debating who’s better or worse, cops or violent protesters. What I’m saying is that the methods of Toronto’s anarchists are counterproductive. Their arguments sound like nihilism to me, justifying bad behavior using the bad behavior of the opposition, like fighting children that are arguing who hit who first. Furthermore, I have two points in defense of the police as Brad says that the protesters/anarchists “were exercising a greater degree of forebearance than the police were”. Firstly, the police are authorized to use force. The protesters are not. I know you guys (anarchists) don’t like that, but that’s reality. Secondly, imagine you’re outnumbered 1000 to one by people who are screaming at you, throwing things at you and generally behaving erratically. Then some members of this mob (dressed in black with their faces covered) decide to set your cars on fire, smash windows and attack your colleagues and civilians. I know I would be nervous in that situation and, in my anxiety, I might use more force on some disruptive people than I normally would. I would admonish a child for aggravating a snake that the child has been taught is dangerous. I wouldn’t waste my breath admonishing the snake for defending itself against a perceived threat. The anarchists/protesters that may have received excessively violent responses from police are the child in that analogy in case I was unclear. “Personally, I think that property destruction is detrimental to the anarchist cause…” I apologize for the beginning of my second last paragraph where I wrote “Anarchists must have a twisted sense of logic…” as it implies that I’m talking about all anarchists. Later on in that paragraph I make it clear that I’m referring specifically to violent anarchists and the anarchists in Toronto. I know that there are many peaceful anarchists. Bill Maher mentioned how the anarchists in Minnesota are very peaceful in his interview with the Governor of Minnesota. I agree that the militants are the nuts of your group just as Christianity, indeed, has its nuts. I also appreciate you and Brad defending the deviant anarchists regardless of whether or not you disagree with their tactics. I would defend some of the Christian “nuts” too. They may be the problem children of our families, but they’re still family. “Bottom line…their complaints couldn’t be more valid.” That’s why I said that the issues they are protesting are worth protesting. I just don’t believe that their claims concerning what the G20 is about are correct. They choose not to believe the information released about the G20. I do. “The countries these leaders at the Summit head up…unjust wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” You and I have different views of taxes. You see them as exploitation. I see them as supporting social programs, many of which support the working class and poor of my country. I know I’ve benefited greatly from the things my government has done for its people. “Finally, in regards to your comment about Luke 20: 20-26…I think to say that these verses imply an explicit acceptance of all governing authorities is a bit ridiculous.” I never claimed that this meant explicit acceptance of ALL governing authorities as I did write “Situations exist where resistance to authority is right and just such as instances of state enforced genocide.” However, several of Christ’s teachings and his actions do suggest that we should submit no matter what. For example, Matthew 5: 38-42 and the example Jesus set with His crucifixion. I should add that the Bible shows time and again that when God is unhappy with a governing authority, He’ll make that very clear and He’ll take measures to rout that government’s authority and power. “Christ here never says…on their side.” I know that there’s nothing in the Biblical record of Jesus telling his disciples to establish a state or engage in politics. I’m not sure where you’re going with that point. I was simply saying that Christians are supposed to submit to governing authorities as much as possible and I supported my argument with Bible passages that are commonly used to support such a stance. If I’m to be honest (and I hope this doesn’t insult you in any way as I’m not trying to be offensive), I don’t think very much of anarchy as a political philosophy. That’s my opinion. It’s a hard one to change. What I saw of anarchy in Toronto only made me hold this opinion more strongly. We have fundamentally opposing viewpoints on government. I’m a firm believer in humanity’s need for law and order. I believe that a structured governing authority is necessary to provide that law and order. I also believe that systematized government is a product of humanity’s social evolution. Whether it’s a small hunter-gatherer society or an urban metropolis, human beings always form some kind of governing authority. This might be a council of village elders, it may be a democracy or it might be a dictatorship. Nevertheless, there’s always some form of government. Humanity needs leadership. I simply can’t imagine what a state of anarchy would even look like, but that’s just me. I would like to touch on Brad Spangler’s claim that government is institutionalized violence. First of all, I don’t agree with this simplistic view of government. My government provides healthcare for me. It provides social programs for those that need them. It taxes me and my fellow Canadians to fund these things. Yes, the government does use the threat of violence to maintain law and order. I subscribe to Hobbes’ philosophy of government in “Leviathan” and the concept of the social contract. We relinquish some of our freedoms in order to receive the benefit of safety that organized government/society offers. The threat of violence is necessary to protect the greater good, that is, the safety of society. This is necessary because of the minority of individuals that would threaten that safety with uncontrolled violence. I’m referring to killers, rapists, thieves, the dangerously deviant of society. Violence is not only a part of human nature, but a part of nature in its entirety. Read the first few chapters of Darwin’s “The Origin of Species” and I’m sure you’ll agree. I don’t believe that this world as it is will ever be without violence. Perhaps we can say that the government is organized violence. I would prefer organized violence to disorganized violence, which is all I think a state of anarchy will lead to. Maybe I need to sit down with an anarchist that can properly explain the theory to me, but I think I’ve read enough about it to claim that I’m sufficiently informed on it. My spiritual beliefs only reaffirm my conviction that humanity needs the law and order that governing authority provides, especially when the Bible says that God has established governing authorities for His own purposes. I believe that sin has distorted humanity’s originally good nature. I believe that Satan is the prince of this world and all he desires is destruction and death [John 10: 10]. To me, this means that, without organized government, humanity will tear itself apart. I think that’s why Jesus and Paul were so adamant about Christians submitting to and supporting their governing authorities. I feel I’ve addressed everything I wanted to address in your post. I look forward to further debates with you if you wish to continue discussions with me. Thank you again for your comment. I take it as a compliment that you would take time not only to read my post, but respond to it as intelligently and thoroughly as you have.

    July 9, 2010

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