Challenging Oppression in Toronto & Ottawa

I was at a solidarity demo in from of the Ottawa Police HQ two nights ago in support of the Toronto 900.

While most of the speakers, who had been in Toronto on the weekend, spoke of the immediate violence they had endured, one courageous young man spoke of the larger issues involved, including the austerity that has now been “sanctioned” by the “leaders” of the G20–a policy that, among others, was championed by my Prime Minister, Stephen Harper.

The issues of power and oppression have been raised; for myself, I am less and less able to see what power is.

Oh I know the incidents described, and all the others that were endured, and many witnessed, both by those on the ground and those watching through media. represent raw power, but, being a student of these things for so many years, I need something more I can engage/understand.

What the leaders did in comfortable secrecy, immune from what they have described as necessary austerity–that will impoverish retirees, women, GLBT/T people, students, workers, in fact everyone who has a stake in the modern, once upon a time welfare state, at least it was in Canada–is not something new, just a new, and even more skeletal mask.

As a concept, oppression is difficult to understand, because it manifests in so many guises, and is not limited to those we might like to hate–myself included–such as the police, especially those in their Blade Runner, cyperpunk futuristic armour, and the politicians.

The overt violence we saw over the weekend–which appalled and shamed me–is a rather rare, though dramatic episode in oppression.

It mostly happens in the ways all of us who are reading this comment are very familiar with: Mullaly refers to them as the aversions that make up our bureaucratic society, both the personal aversions, and the more anonymous ones that are the essence of our society: refusal to hire, refusal to train, refusal to promote, refusal to serve, the many bureaucratic barriers to equal access and treatment, the regulations, the attitudes that don’t end with a fire extinguisher on our head, but may well have the same result, if not quite as dramatically or as quickly.

Violence doesn’t stop, of course.

And few of us are the sources of violence–though when I read of American trans-prefixed persons revelling in their guns, in their fighting–and implicitly killing–techniques, I shudder.

How to continue this thread of logic?

Along with our many overlapped demographic characteristics, trans-prefixed AND female, of colour, working class, Jewish, Muslim, the list is neverending, there is our participation in the oppressive structures, though many of us challenge it in whatever ways are open.

There is no escaping our participation in the oppressive structures; reading–and writing–this comment is participation.

Is it the same as the leaders of the G20, of course not.

Is it the same as the police, of course not.

I do not go out and beat the crap out of someone because I am, well, programed to oppress; my programming is far more subtle than that.

Sometimes, I do avert people; I cannot always engage constructively with others; I certainly do say things that I, on the other end, might well believe to be oppressive.

What I do claim for myself, is that I reflect upon what I say and do–sometimes to the point of inaction.

This is not the best post I have ever made, and I think most will see through my obfuscations.

The point I’m trying to make is that it is less the violence and the personalities we should be pointing at, as easy and as fun as that is.

The oppression at the centre of our lives is not as obvious nor as easy to focus on as what we saw over the weekend, but it is pervasive in our lives–and it is seductive and almost irresistible.

We must see it for what it is–and our complicity in it.

Free the Toronto 900!

Fight back against the police state! We are putting you under surveillance!

Build the resistance against the G20! Build the resistance against austerity!

Build the general strike!


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