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(en) Freedom 6320 19th Oct. 2002 - Readers' Letters

From FreedomCopy@aol.com
Date Sun, 3 Nov 2002 05:09:52 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

Dear Freedom,
Trevor Bark's argument ('Counts defend the
countryside', 5th October) is based, in part, on the
premise that the Countryside Alliance has won the battle
of ideas in the countryside. May I suggest that he and
other readers of Freedom shouldn't fall for the
propaganda put out by the mass media and the Alliance
itself. The battle of ideas in the countryside continues,
and all is still to play for.
One should be aware that the only reason the Alliance
get so many people on their marches is that they give an
opportunity for all those with grievances to air them. This
made for some pretty unusual fellow marchers on 22nd
If we're to think in strategic terms, we need to be
working on splitting the legitimate concerns off from the
hunting lobby, rural aristocracy and their middle class
hangers-on, not lumping them all together. If we're to
have any impact in rural areas, we need to show an
understanding of the problems people there face, and
their causes. And if we can put forward policies that
address these issues without compromising anarchist
politics, so much the better.
R. Schwa

Dear Freedom,
The comments by MH show some misunderstanding of
Car-Free Day ('Reclaim the future', 5th October). It isn't
only European, it's supposed to be worldwide. It wasn't
put on 22nd September this year to reduce its impact on
moneymaking - it's on 22nd September every year. Next
year it will be on a Monday, and MH's comments will
have more relevance. Already there are people saying it
can't be held on a working day and should be moved to
the nearest weekend. Resist that if you hear it, please.
Car-Free Day is organised to make people think about
reducing the rushing around, the dangers and the
pollution from cars. It's too easy to ignore the message at
the weekend, and it should stay on 22nd September to
make people think about how to go about their life
without cars available all the time.
Adrian Williams

Dear Freedom,
Bob Potter misunderstands complex issues by
approaching vandalism with a simplistic 'blame the
perpetrators' view ('Crime and punishment', 21st
September). This ignores the social causes of actions. To
pretend that individuals act on no basis is to suffer from
an illusion. As William Godwin put it, you might as well
blame a knife for stabbing. The model of 'victim' versus
'vandal' is Hollywood-style nonsense.
If Bob manages to catch the 'vandals', his first action
should be to ask them why they do what they do. To
hazard a guess, I'd suggest that they're probably youths
who are denied any space or voice of their own. At least
the 'victims' have homes. The 'vandals' may well live
under the thumb of abusive parents, in children's homes
or even on the streets. They may do graffiti to assert an
autonomous identity, to claim a space as their own or as
a slight against older generations who they blame for
their predicament.
David Matza's classic study reveals that 'delinquents'
usually cause damage because of a 'mood of fatalism'
which arises when those in power make them feel
dehumanised. They act to restore their sense of agency.
In short, this is a land-use conflict with two sides who
both have legitimate claims, not a simplistic
goodie/baddy drama.
Perhaps it can be solved by negotiation (or perhaps the
'vandals' could be redirected towards more legitimate
targets), but not until the socially dominant side - the
'victims' - stop claiming a privileged status.
Beneath this problem, however, is the present
organisation of space. The modern city is over-controlled
and excessively cramped, and too many are left with too
little space in it. To resolve the problems which result
from this situation would need fundamental social
change. Blaming the symptoms only impedes solutions,
and displaces suffering from one group to another.
People have a right to self-defence in cases of substantive
harm such as robbery. But in a case like this, it's unclear
why residents feel so distressed by a basically harmless
activity. If it's because it offends the sense of decency
which arises from within statist ideology - for instance
because their opponents are outside the law - then
supporting them against the 'vandals' is like supporting
America against the Taliban. It reinforces dominant
power structures.
Also, to go beyond situation-specific defence into the
politics of vendettas, revenge and punishment is the
psychological fuel of statism. It's a short step from this to
supporting police, prisons and the whole state apparatus.
An effective anarchism has to be about more than 'not
using the state apparatus' and extend into a rejection of
its social and psychological basis. What's the point in
getting rid of cops if we just end up as cops ourselves?

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