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The answer to violence

Written By: - Date published: 8:08 am, July 25th, 2011 - 71 comments
Categories: blogs, International - Tags: , ,

Anyone who takes a gun and starts killing innocent people is fundamentally deranged. Such people will probably always exist, and some of them will act. Not all such cases have political motives, but some do. Timothy McVeigh bombed the Oklahoma City federal building. There’s a roll call of killings of doctors and staff involved with abortions in America. Jared Lee Loughner shot Senator Gabrielle Giffords and many others. And now Anders Breivik in unbelievably horrific attacks in Norway.

Breivik’s attacks were political. An ultra-right, anti-muslim extremist attacked government buildings and members of Young Labour. No doubt I will now be accused of “politicising a tragedy”. But this was a political tragedy from the start. If we are to honour the dead, if we are to take any useful actions as a result of these horrifying events, then the political dimension cannot be ignored.

Extremism breeds violence. Hate speech breeds violence. Violent rhetoric and violent action are tightly interwoven (consider this phenomenal list of incidents in America, and this relevant post at Kiwipolitico). So what are the limits of free speech? Similarly, in Western countries extremist groups and paramilitary organisations (predominantly but not exclusively right wing) are increasingly active. To what extent should we tolerate such organisations? Other relevant factors – what gun laws are appropriate? Has violent political rhetoric gone too far? What level of government surveillance is acceptable, and when should a government act? There are no easy answers.

Some of these debates are playing out in New Zealand right now with the trial of the Urewea 18. America is confronting them in form of the tide of violent rhetoric that opposes Obama’s presidency, in relation to the rise of the Tea Party, and in the aftermath of the Giffords shooting. Of course we’re going to see all of these issues explored in Norway over the coming weeks and months.

Societies decide these issues. Blogs are just one of the many forums where debates can take place. But they are also microcosm of the free speech vs. hate speech trade-offs, and thus living examples of what a society accepts or tolerates. So my particular plea to each of us, especially those who administer blogs, is to make sure that we lead by example. Oppose hate-speech, violence, and the glorification of violence. Make sure that our blogs reflect the kind of society that we want to live in.  Don’t be part of the problem.

In closing, my condolences once again to Norway, and in particular to Norwegian Labour Party members and their families.  Final, brave and brilliant words to Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg: “The answer to violence is even more democracy, even more humanity”.

71 comments on “The answer to violence ”

  1. Tiger Mountain 1

    Salient points all.
    One likely consequence of Breivik claiming to be a fundamentalist Christian and hater of marxists and muslims is that the ‘western’ media response will be muted in comparison to if he was a muslim fundamentalist.

  2. So my particular plea to each of us, especially those who administer blogs, is to make sure that we lead by example. Oppose hate-speech, violence, and the glorification of violence. Make sure that our blogs reflect the kind of society that we want to live in. Don’t be part of the problem.

    Very good comment.

    It goes further than physical violence. It’s also verbal violence, incitement, promoting of political polarities that needs to be considered, by every one of us.

    “The answer to violence is even more democracy, even more humanity”.

    Fortunately we’ve had minimal physical violence here, but there is plenty of scope for more democracy and more humanity.

    “Extremism breeds violence. Hate speech breeds violence. ”

    We should ponder that carefully. And pledge to act against it, and promote a much more positive, reasoned and reasonable way of debating our politics.

    • And our comments should be thoughtful, our analysis accurate and we should not make allegations against individuals or websites when it is clear that what we are saying is not correct.
      And we should also recognise that some postings on what is unashamedly a left wing website should have only respectable comments, and be devoid of comments aimed to imply that the authors on this website are promoting a political polarity.
      And we should agree that the horrific recent events in Norway have provoked outrage amongst the left and we should not try and score petty political points by arguing with them that somehow they are wrong to be outraged.

      • Pete George 2.1.1

        It often takes major awful events to jolt people into realising that all of us can be a part of the problem.

        Especially in this interconnected world. It’s quite feasible (albeit unlikely) that Breivik could have received encouragement from posts or comments in New Zealand, eg from Crusader Rabbit. Possibly even sufficient encouragement that decided him to go ahead and do what he did.

        Micky, I bet I’ve stood up to right wing hate posts a damn sight more than you have. And received venom in return a damn sight more vitriolic than you could muster.

        • mickysavage

          I like to think I do not have a vitriolic bone in my body.  I decline to post there because it is a waste of time.  Debate does not happen.  Opinions are not changed.
          You did not take the hint.  This particular post should be spin free.

        • Colonial Viper

          One thing I do know is that after the bombings in Oslo special forces teams should have been on standby and made it to the island retreat faster than they did.

          Especially in this interconnected world. It’s quite feasible (albeit unlikely) that Breivik could have received encouragement from posts or comments in New Zealand

          No need to be frightened of every butterfly flapping their wings in NZ causing a tornado on the other side of the world.

          There are far more proximal and likely dangers to consider.

      • joe bloggs 2.1.2

        [deleted] bloggers with dissenting opinions [deleted]

        [lprent: Yes – you are still banned for your other handles behavior until the 29th. The only dissenting opinions we’d normally ban on are those that are clearly defamatory, illegal or are outside the bounds of acceptable behavior in society. Mostly I will ban such offenders permanently – you only got weeks]

  3. joe90 3

    Google maps of right wing violence in the US: Aug 2008 – March 2010 and incidents of right wing violence during the health care reform debate beginning March 15th – Sep 15, 2010.

    Also, the right wing terrorism tag of the Pensito Review. The latest entry rings true.

  4. rasman 4

    Interesting you are raising free speech as an issue when what you are really wanting to do is stifle it, so is what you really want is free speech according to what you believe is right or okay?

    Left or right both have valid points and concerns, the problems arise when those concerns are not addressed by the societies in which they live, and through oppression they are forced to the fringes of societies in which they live, and from the fringes they are forced to act in defence of what they believe.

    [lprent: You are completely free to write whatever you want whereever you want across the net. That really isn’t an issue – there are millions of places to leave comments, and it doesn’t take much to set up your own. The question is usually about being able to do whatever you want whenever you want on other peoples sites where people come to share discussions.

    On our site and every other site worth reading (which is practically defined by being moderated) you will conform to the standards of behavior that are required for that site because you are a guest on the site. In our case read the policy. It is your responsibility to conform to local standards. If you are incapable of following those standards of behavior you will get banned and your comments deleted.

    My general view of many ‘free speech’ advocates is that they are happy to claim the ‘right’ without also taking the requisite ‘responsibility’. Like any other spoiled child they whine when they find the limits of other peoples toleration – usually while espousing their own bigotry and lack of toleration. I suspect that you are one of them. ]

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      That ends up being a defence of violence. From the context, right-wing violence.

      If your beliefs don’t match reality then why should anyone listen to you?

  5. weka 5

    “The answer to violence is even more democracy, even more humanity”.
    That’s heartening at a time like this.
    Your post is very good r0b, thanks.
    I think if we are going to talk about violence we need to do so on our own terms, within a NZ context. There may be some use making comparisons with the US, but it’s limited. We are such a different country with different values and histories. Not sure how similar/different we are from Norway.

  6. Bill 6

    This post merely perpetuates the myth that circumstance or situation sits as an irrelevent aside to the individual and that it is the individual who is wholly responsible for actions taken. Such a line legitimises repressive legislation focussed on the individual and leaves problems of the surrounding environment sitting in a convenient blind spot. It is in essence the same argument that would maintain that addiction is a disease suffered by individuals and that then treats individuals in isolation from the situation (political, social and economic) that surrounds them as though such factors are irrelevent.

    Anyone with a serious intention of understanding the underlying dynamics of events in Norway…of the rise of the Tea Party; of the rise of hate groups etc could do worse than make themselves familiar with the writings of Chris Hedges. Although his analysis may not be wholly correct, he is at the very least tackling issues from beyond a cop out “it’s all the individual and they are nuts” perspective.

    I’ve thrown part of the intro to Hedges book below. But consider this. If it is all down to the individual, then how can it be explained that events such as those in Norway or those perpetrated by McVeigh simply didn’t happen in the past? Is the argument going to be one of ‘bent evolution’? Or is it time to place individuals within the wider context that informs their thoughts and actions? If not, why not?

    The liberal class plays a vital role in a democracy. It gives moral legitimacy to the state. It makes limited forms of dissent and incremental change possible. The liberal class posits itself as the conscience of the nation. It permits us, through its appeal to public virtues and the public good, to define ourselves as a good and noble people. Most importantly, on behalf of the power elite the liberal class serves as bulwarks against radical movements by offering a safety valve for popular frustrations and discontentment by discrediting those who talk of profound structural change. Once this class loses its social and political role then the delicate fabric of a democracy breaks down and the liberal class, along with the values it espouses, becomes an object of ridicule and hatred. The door that has been opened to proto-fascists has been opened by a bankrupt liberalism.


    • r0b 6.1

      This post merely perpetuates the myth that circumstance or situation sits as an irrelevent aside to the individual and that it is the individual who is wholly responsible for actions taken.

      That was never the intention. Get past the first sentence, and it’s all about the role and responsibility of society in these violent acts.

      • Bill 6.1.1

        Read and re-read.

        And the ‘role and responsibility’ of society in the post just doesn’t seem to extend beyond ‘containing’ or moderating the thoughts/ideas that would lead to such actions. Which is essentially to maintain that it is the individual at fault and that the individual should be controlled or managed.

        I very much dooubt that Breivik is deranged. Sure, he’s misguided. But his actions are one of a number of possible logical consequences of his situation as he perceives it.

        When people feel their prospects (usually measured in economic terms) diminish, then in the absence of an articulate political/economic alternative (something that was the role of liberalism before it was co-opted) it is usually the identifiable ‘other’ who becomes the focus of blame. Immigrants taking jobs, Chinese store keepers price gouging etc.

        And who or what enabled the ‘other’ to become a problem? Well, (in many minds) the ertswhile but recently sold out champions of liberal causes of course. (Swastikas being waved in the face of the Labour Party? Remember that?)

        Read Hedges. Uncomfortable and gloomy reading, but he definately hits some nails on the head.

  7. We can learn from Norway and from elsewhere (but yes, we have our own uniqueness too).

    Norway killer: many within far-right share Anders Breivik’s ideas

    Make no mistake: Breivik has already become a heroic figure for sections of the ultra far right, much in the same way Timothy McVeigh became a hero for sections of the militia movement in the United States.

    In Britain, his anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-establishment ideas are easily found in a far-right scene that has become fragmented and chaotic.

    The attacks in Norway have clear policy implications. For too long, our efforts to prevent violent extremism and counter radicalisation have focused almost exclusively on Muslim communities.

    While Al Qaeda inspired terrorism remains the dominant threat, the potential for violence within far right groups has been glossed.

    We’re not immune from far right – or left – political violence here either. And we are far from immune from deliberate political provocation.

    • Can you give up with the far left violence bullshit in NZ line?  Either that or come up with actual evidence of indigenous left wing violence before trying to tar kiwi lefties with this line?  And stop trying to denigrate us lefties by suggesting that the “middle” whatever that is has the moral authority in this situation.
      And stop politicising this post.
      Crass, really crass.

      • Pete George 7.1.1

        “And stop politicising this post.”

        political motives
        Oklahoma City federal building
        shot Senator Gabrielle Giffords
        Breivik’s attacks were political.

        No doubt I will now be accused of “politicising a tragedy”. But this was a political tragedy from the start.

        the political dimension cannot be ignored.
        Has violent political rhetoric gone too far?

        the trial of the Urewea 18
        that opposes Obama’s presidency, in relation to the rise of the Tea Party

        “The answer to violence is even more democracy, even more humanity”.

        This post is all about politics. How did you not notice that?
        Or did you really mean you don’t want my politics, just politics you approve of?

        Has violent political rhetoric gone too far?

        Yes, it often does go too far. Here in New Zealand. Across the spectrum.

      • Pete George 7.1.2

        “Either that or come up with actual evidence of indigenous left wing violence”

        That is being tested in our legal system right now.

        “I seem to recall an organised bunch of lefties not just talking about this stuff on blogs but actually running around with real guns in the forest, and making back street exchanges of illegal weapons. ”

        Actually them see pretty similar to Breivik, ie ethnic nationalists.

        • weka

          What, you mean the terror raids that yielded not a single terrorism charge? Please.
          I don’t know why you bothered with those two links because they don’t provide any useful information,  let alone evidence to support your argument that there are left wing extremists in NZ promoting violence.

        • joe90

          Even though the only victims of political violence in this country were trade unionists Fred Evans and Ernie Abbott and conservationist Fernando Pereira PG voices his concern about political violence on a left leaning blog.

          Any evidence of someone other than trade unionists or a conservationist being murdered?

          Not a sausage.

          • Jeff Osborne

            Well said, Joe 90. While reading this strand, I began to write a similar response. NZ has seen political violence and murder directed at unions. The beating to death of Fred Evans, followed very shortly by the sight of Massey’s well -armed “cossacks” on the streets of Wellington. Machine guns and armed soldiers in Buckle Street.

            The murder of Ernie Abbot is particulary instructive. Very recent, and in the context of politically-directed hatred of trade unions, that hatred being promoted by the National Government of the day.

            Someone, never identified, obviously got so excited by that context that he decided to take some direct action – take out a few of these” dirty union traitors” . Ended up killing a caretaker.

            Political rhetoric against the “Other” always runs the risk of bringing out the worst in people.

            Sadly, still seeing that rhetoric today.

        • lprent


          This is a case that has now been in front of the courts for about 4 years now – which tells you a lot on its own. The reason it has not been tested is because the police are frantically attempting to make it so it never gets exposed to the public – and especially to a jury.

          You can understand why. From what I have seen of their case, almost every serious charge made is likely to laughed out of court by either a jury or a judge. Quite simply it looks like some paranoid officers in the police getting wound up about sweet bugger all, sucking in their commanders with inflated exaggerations, and then going on a highly illegal fishing expedition – which yielded nothing.

          FFS: One of the more serious bits of evidence about “conspiracy” is about some fools laughing about catapulting a car. You’ll hear much the same kind of stupidity and ‘threat’ around almost any BBQ. When this case finally gets to a trial and the suppression orders finally get partially lifted, most of the trial will be about what total dorks the police have been. What I want to look at it is exactly how crap the command structure is in the police that allowed this type of operation to go ahead on the flimsiest of suspicions.

          But in the meantime, I guess we’ll have to put up with pompous dickheads like yourself talking about things that they really have no understanding of.

          • Pete George

            Sorry, I forgot that although our legal system is still dealing with this that you would already know everything about it.

            • felix

              Talking out your arse as usual, Pete.

              A lot of people do know a lot about this case, because a lot of people are involved or have friends and family who are involved.

              You wouldn’t know that though Pete, because most of them don’t happen to live in your particular niche of society.

              • Colonial Viper

                don’t happen to live in your particular niche of society.

                Which niche? Stuck up intellectually dishonest self important cowed-twats?

            • lprent

              There has been considerable information published on the nets including some of the judgements on suppression etc. Much of that has be subsequently taken offline for legal reasons – and at least one person is getting done for putting it online. But it isn’t illegal for me to read that – just illegal to hold or publish it.

              The court for the various actions is open and in Auckland and attended by the public. I have friends and family who know a number of people who have been charged or who were arrested. You can read the posts that have been written here on it and those on other sites.

              And of course you can buy or even download a book about it. You can watch a documentary about it.

              Or of course you can just do what you did and pontificate based on nothing more than the sewer commentary – which is what your comment read like. Ill-informed and lazy.

        • mik e

          I thought you were innocent until proven Guilty. The Maori activists aren,t connected to any political party I know of in fact they don,t seem to be much of a threat as Tama Iti was hui ing with Cris Findlayson the other day no armed offenders or any thing like that. This NZ lets keep it that way. Tama iti is more about theatre than threat!

          • Pete George

            I didn’t say anything about guilt, I said it was still being dealt with. I haven’t made any judgement on whether they are likely to or should be found guilty or not. Regardless of guilt or appropriateness of charges or arrests there are still issues with this.

            It might be perfectly legal for groups of people to run around doing some sort of exercises with weapons. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t also be a bit of a concern, whether they have any known political affiliations or not.

            I’d be more than a bit concerned if Kyle Chapman’s group started running around with weapons, legally or not.

    • Hi Pete George,

      I think Charlie Brooker does a good job of highlighting how the dominant, mainstream, middle-of-the-road rhetoric about the omnipresence of Muslim extremism has warped the population’s expectations and what it takes to be seen as a credible ‘expert’ on these sorts of events.

      Very revealing and, sadly, most people would have seen the experts’ pontificating as ‘perfectly reasonable’ when, clearly, it wasn’t. That is what the ‘middle road’ leads to: A road dominated by the rhetoric of the powerful as the default position and to hell with the facts. A true ‘middle of the road’, non-committal approach would have waited for the facts to emerge before pontificating. You see, there’s actually a large gap between a true ‘middle of the road’ position and what most people think is reasonable to assume.

      • Pete George 7.2.1

        Puddlegum, I’m not sure why you keep emphasising middle-of-the-road. I don’t propose “middle-of-the-road” anything – but I certainly go along with “non-committal approach would have waited for the facts to emerge”. For that I often get accused of sitting on the fence, when instead I just don’t jump to conclusions as readily as some.

        I have often argued against “middle-of-the-road” rhetoric about the omnipresence of Muslim extremism – not here because it’s not necessary, but frequently on KB.

        Another point – often “middle-of-the-road” is not the best place to raise and deal with issues, that’s not where most potholes are. By targeting potholes wherever they are I cop flak, wherever I comment.

      • Vicky32 7.2.2

        I think Charlie Brooker does a good job of highlighting how the dominant, mainstream, middle-of-the-road rhetoric about the omnipresence of Muslim extremism has warped the population’s expectations and what it takes to be seen as a credible ‘expert’ on these sorts of events.

        This reminds me of Kathryn Ryan this morning, interviewing someone about the Norway attacks (I didn’t hear the beginning, only the end of the interview) and she took issue with her interview subject calling Anders Breivik’s actions terrorism. By her, it seemed, terrorism is to be defined as ‘actions carried out en masse by (presumably) Muslims. 

  8. Bill 8

    While I’m waiting to come out of moderation, if “anyone who takes a gun and starts killing innocent people is fundamentally deranged” is a fact, then why do we as a society sanction and even reward deranged actions viz a viz the armed forces and the awarding of various medals?

    Or, put another way. Who determines innocence?

    • Vicky32 8.1

      then why do we as a society sanction and even reward deranged actions viz a viz the armed forces and the awarding of various medals?

      Excellent question! I have wondered that myself…

  9. Tom Gould 9

    Interesting the NZ MSM has gone to extraordinary lengths, TVNZ in particular, not to mention “labour” in their coverage? Overseas news outlets, such as the BBC, have had no such reticence, and even reported the murderer was head of the youth wing of their main ‘conservative’ party until recently? What’s with the domestic censorship?

  10. felix 10

    Kathryn Ryan this morning spoke how this terrible event raises concerns about what can be “fomented” on the internet.

    A very appropriate choice of words, I thought.

    [audio src="http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/ntn/ntn-20110725-0944-killing_rampage_in_norway-048.mp3" /]

    (she said some pretty dumb shit about terrorism too, or as Pete calls it, “balance”)

    • “about what can be “fomented” on the internet.”
      Yes, some are open about it, some are not.

      It can depend on what meaning you take from “foment”.
      1. incite, provoke, arouse, inflame, excite, stir up; encourage, stimulate.

      The word history is interesting:
      c.1400 (implied in fomentation), from M.Fr. fomenter, from L.L. fomentare, from L. fomentum “warm application, poultice,” from fovere “to warm, cherish, encourage.” Extended sense of “stimulate, instigate” (1620s) was in the French.

      • felix 10.1.1

        Don’t be dickhead Pete.

        Everyone knows which side of the fence the gun-toting white-pride string-em-up yahoos with the constant stream of violent rhetoric fall on.

        Everyone except you that is. Cos you’re the “balance”.

        • Pete George

          I’m well aware of where much of that comes from. I’ve confronted some of them, numerous times. Sometimes in their own blogs, in amongst it rather than sniping from safety. You may not know about that.

          But to pretend that the potential for violence isn’t present across the spectrum is what’s dickheadish. And to pretend that antagonism and provocation is all one sided is worse.

          • Colonial Viper

            Sometimes in their own blogs, in amongst it rather than sniping from safety.

            A keyboard weekend warrior. What a fraking joke.

            But to pretend that the potential for violence isn’t present across the spectrum is what’s dickheadish. And to pretend that antagonism and provocation is all one sided is worse.

            I’m always fascinated with how Right Wingers can see a terrorist in every cave, a red under every bed, the moral collapse of society in every gesture or item of clothing.

            BTW you have an unhealthy fixation with violence and aggression as well. Should look into that mate.

          • wtl

            No, pretending that we can completely eliminate ‘antagonism and provocation’ from society is what worse. Such things will always exists. People will dislike/hate others for various reasons. And of course the ‘potential’ for violence exists in everyone and everywhere. That is just stating the obvious.

            What is important is to ensure that things do not cross the line. I see nothing wrong with someone saying, for example, “They hate Key and will give him the finger” – that person is free to feel the way he wants about Key as long as he doesn’t threaten to or actually harm him (and showing Key the finger doesn’t count). It is important that people’s emotions are channeled in such a way. That is, when someone dislikes something, they should use non-violent means to try and achieve their aims (e.g. non-violent protest). On the other hand, actually threatening violence is going too far.

            Say what you want about this blog (as an example of a popular NZ leftwing blog), but the rules here pretty much ensure that things stay on the right side of the line, even if you disagree with some of the comments here.

    • Colonial Viper 10.2

      Well every debate needs stupid and irrelevant in order to, you know, provide balance to the smart and the relevant.

  11. I am not opposed to violence. I think people have the right to defend themselves from violence. Self-defence is not offence. People like Breivik are the inevitable product of capitalism which resorts to systematic violence to defend the rights of the ruling class, and unfortunately succeeds in recruiting support from within the petty bourgeois and the working class. For that reason he is not an isolated case that can be written off as an ‘extremist’. The deeper the crisis the more violence used by the ruling class and the more it recruits fascist gangs to attack what it portrays as the real threat to society, communist revolution. We can see this in North Africa right now. The Egyptian army is recruiting thugs to attack the protesters who are now confronting the military high command, the SCAF. The protesters are portrayed as traitors under the influence of ‘outside’ interests – thus the typical fascist rallying cry of the enemy, outside and within.

    Within this context of worsening economic and political crisis political ‘violence’ on the right is systematic violence of mercenaries and paramilitaries that becomes a fascist movement to suppress all mass resistance.

    ‘Violence’ on the left can be ‘individual’ or ‘Red Brigade’ type violence which never represents the interests of the masses since it justifies further ‘official’ state violence from the right. The much more typical ‘violence’ of the left is organised and ‘defensive’ – such as that of the Russian workers against the Tsar, and after the revolution, the Red Army fighting imperialist invasions; the Spanish republicans against Franco; the protesters of Tahrir Square, etc. By far the most organised violence of the left is therefore seen in ‘civil wars’ which are usually class wars, such as the resistance of the Palestinians and the rebels in Libya today. This is the defensive violence of civilian militias, often joined by defecting sections of the army, against an army of mercenaries defending the dictatorial rule of capitalism.

    The best way of stopping the individual acts of far rightists like Breivik, and also the violence of isolated left factions, is for the labour movement to introduce a policy of ‘self-defence is no offence’ and to train the youth in the use of weapons under strict control and discipline for the time when the inevitable attacks from the organised neo-fascists begin. Mass political rallies and retreats like the one attacked by Breivik should as a matter of course be protected by organised and trained defence guards so that as soon as the attack materialises there is an organised response. At the same time organised defence will deter the actions of ‘leftist’ individuals to substitute their extreme actions for that of the collective.

    • Mass political rallies and retreats like the one attacked by Breivik should as a matter of course be protected by organised and trained defence guards so that as soon as the attack materialises there is an organised response.

      It would be very sad if we felt a need to “protect” political events with firearms. We should be staunch against using and involving weapons unless it is really necessary.

      • Draco T Bastard 11.1.1

        Unlike the movies where unarmed people manage to control/defeat the gunman, the person with the gun wins. The only defence against someone with a gun who’s sole intent is to shoot you is to shoot first.

        Of course, the best solution is to change society so that guns are no longer used but that won’t happen overnight.

        • insider

          That defence only works if you have a gun Draco. Are you promoting the right to bear arms?

          The law can’t protect us 100% of the time from nutters with guns, just as it can’t from drunk drivers and burglers. I’m not sure giving more nutters guns is the answer.

          • Draco T Bastard

            Why not just encourage the police to enforce rights and the law?

            The law can’t protect us 100% of the time from nutters with guns,


            Are you promoting the right to bear arms?

            Yes but do take into account my last sentence. I’d much prefer guns to not be available. We can change society so that guns are not used/needed but it means changing society from a competitive model to a cooperative one.

            I’m not sure giving more nutters guns is the answer.

            Nobody has to go around giving the guns to the nutters – they get hold of them anyway.

    • insider 11.2

      Are you really proposing competing groups of politically driven enforcers? Sounds a bit brownshirty to me with the unavoidable endpoint of violent clashes. Why not just encourage the police to enforce rights and the law?

  12. QoT 12

    fundamentally deranged

    Yay, it’s use-ableist-notions-to-demonize-people time again!

    Question, A-Rob: if people like Breivik are [insert slur about mental illness here], then how can societies affect their behaviour by changing discourse or attitudes? I mean, these guys are just crazy, right? Not normal, right? I mean, we’re always so wonderfully quick to say people like this (or the shooter of Gabrielle Giffords, or Cameron Slater when he says things we don’t like) are so irrational and nuts that we can feel nice and toasty-warm and superior.

    But doesn’t that negate the idea that they can be changed?

    For the record, I agree. I think we can stop the culture of violence and extremism. But that’s because I recognise that it is the culture that is at play here, and don’t try to write people off as mentally ill just because I like to pretend “normal” people don’t act that way.

    TLDR: Can’t buy into ableist “this person is a madman” rhetoric cake AND eat “fix society through liberal compassion” too.

    • r0b 12.1

      v.Busy today can’t comment long. But QoT, re your “abelist” spiel – where do you think that I think “derangement” comes from? It’s not inherent (a la “original sin). It comes from the sickness in society.

      • QoT 12.1.1

        Sorry A-Rob, you’re too smart to get away with that kind of semantic wankery. You said, “Anyone who takes a gun and starts killing innocent people is fundamentally deranged“. Which buys directly into the tropes I mentioned about writing off extremists as nutters so we can all feel smug and superior.

        But since you’ve chosen to write off my comment as a “spiel” from the get-go (god, I’m such a nagging bitch, right?) I won’t assume you’re actually interested in engaging with that issue.

        • r0b

          QoT you don’t get to tell me what I do and don’t think. You can deliberately misread my post (which is all about the role and responsibility of society in violence) if you like, but you can’t tell me that the misreading is me.

    • Bill 12.2

      Yup. But can’t ‘fix society through liberal compassion’ if liberalism is dead. And it seems to be dead.

      In country after country ( eg. Spain, Greece) it is so-called socialist governments that are ramming through austerity programmes ‘for the peoples’ own good’.

      In the recent UK elections, Labour and the Torys essentially competed with one another on who would cut social provisions more efficiently.

      And all ‘socialist’ governments jumped into the shameful War on Terror – boots n all – and pushed through a slew of regressive domestic social policies.

      Did any government of the left bail out the social casualties of the wheeling and dealing banks? Or did they all bail out the banks? (I’ll punt that Iceland is the exception that proves the rule)

      And while in the US, the morphing of left and right might be seen as more advanced than elsewhere, the blow back for Liberals and their institutions would seem to progressing on a more even basis across borders and societies.

      It seems that all western ‘democracies’ have a tea party equivalent in some stage of development. And in every single instance and in every single country it is liberalism and its institutional political expressions that are in the firing line. That’s understandable (though misguided). It is the mainstream political left that betrayed the bulk of people afterall. And it is the mainstream political left that continues to act as hand wringing do nothing apologists as our social prospects diminish before the encroachment of financial centers of power into our political and social sphere.

      • Puddleglum 12.2.1

        The only problem with the ‘liberalism is dead’ thesis is that it assumes it was once alive. If it was, I think it died pretty soon after the ink was dry on those great enlightenment tomes of the liberal canon. Ever since, the fine sounding words have been used as rhetorical cover for a strategy of maintenance and prolongation of the particular current arrangements that favoured the elite.

        The liberal class only ever moved into some sought of reform mode once the pressure from below (the ‘masses’) and from radical movements became too much to contain in those current arrangements. Liberals always led from behind. (Interestingly, I remember my first ever comment on this blog was making the same point.) 

        • Bill

          Agree. But in playing the role they did, incremental and sometimes quite profound improvements in the ‘general lot’ of people became possible. I’d be the first to express frustration at the way liberal institutions would limit demands to those deemed ‘acceptable’ (by their own criteria) and effectively curtail demand for real change.

          While that might not have been a state of affairs I found particularily desirable, it was certainly preferable to the situation we have now whereby liberal institutions involve themselves in the roll back of gains they formally played a role in gaining. (dismantling welfare safety nets etc)

          Now they are merely a convenient ‘whipping dog’ for the more corporate aligned elites who have no further use for them. (They have played their part – obsolete now – in the TINA to increased corporatisation/ financialisation of society and social provisions).

          And while many feel rightly betrayed by the likes of the Labour Party for example abandoning its core values in preference to seeking accomodation with larger centers of power, it isn’t good that they, rather than the financial and corporate elites become the sole focus of frustration and anger as per the Tea Party, the McVeighs or the Breiviks of this world.

          btw if you google “2083 A European Declaration of Independence”, Breiviks ‘manifesto’ can be downloaded. I think every liberal should read it and reflect rather than dismiss all its inaccuracies and rantings with a smug toss aside of superiority. Seriously.

          • Colonial Viper

            That ‘manifesto’ is several hundred thousand words long as I understand it. It better be ‘good’ (worth the effort) is all I can say…

            • Bill

              An easy read. Even the ‘headers’ offer an insight into the ideology behind so-called random acts of violence that appear to be getting more common and more consistent with regards the target.

              • Colonial Viper

                Hmmmm I’ve just waded through the contents pages…interesting indeed. I take it the author thought that there was an audience for this material.

                Sadly its an audience which is even more aware of him than ever before, now.

                • Bill

                  Not sure if you’re suggesting I’ve helped propagate his ‘message’ by supplying the link.

                  If so, then consider that :

                  1. you are now armed with first hand material that will allow you to counter any junk coming from the msm with regards motive.

                  2. if the stuff had been out there in the first instance, then the premises of the piece could have been debunked and (possibly) the act in Norway not taken place.

                  3. the link came from a mainstream newspaper. And I’d suggest they have far more readers than this thread on ‘the standard’

                  4. the broad similarities between the material in the link, Wishart types, Tea Party types etc offer the opportunity to understand where a growing number are coming from and develop counter strategies rather than shaking ones head and putting it all in the ‘incomprehensible box’

                  • Colonial Viper

                    It had crossed my mind, but finally I do 100% agree with you – you have got to know what you are up against and what is out there. No head in the sand sentimentality.

    • mik e 12.3

      Well so far all of the psycho analysts have said this Breivik is not mentally ill or deranged.But its funny how the right are trying to set the agenda in this discourse.Maori activists etc when we have Mainstream politicians being racially insensitive. that only ups the anti, cheap vote catching lines only create division and distrust which these sort of fanatics breed on, so far both sides of the argument havn,t gained any political capital out of their out bursts . As a commentator said if they would stick to their Knitting ie Brash Laissez fair Harawira a purer form of socialism they both would probably have more votes and we wouldn,t have this mistrust in either of them.

      • Pete George 12.3.1

        As a commentator said if they would stick to their Knitting ie Brash Laissez fair Harawira a purer form of socialism they both would probably have more votes and we wouldn,t have this mistrust in either of them.

        Agreed, but unfortunately sticking to knitting doesn’t get much attention, and doesn’t get many readers or viewers.

        This thread also illustrates a problem, while eventually there has been some good comment much of the commenting has been trivial attacks. It seems that many people don’t care about finding any answers to our problems with our societal violence.

        • Adele

          Teenaa koe, Peter George

          You earlier attached the Urewera (enter correct number here) to acts of violence. The only violent act perpetrated in this matter were those by the Police in holding a whole community at gun-point and treating them all like enemies of the state, including tamariki.

          The violent acts of government against its Treaty partner has not resulted in acts of warfare. On the contrary, Māori continue to work within the system to effect meaningful progress in its Treaty relationship with a wearisome partner . Hone is a manifestation of this willingness, despite calling the odd stuck up intellectually dishonest self important cowed-twats a motherfucker, he is essentially pacifist in nature.

          If you are serious about dealing with societal violence than begin with honouring the Treaty.

          • Colonial Viper

            He’s not serious about dealing with societal violence because as a Right Winger, certain aspects of societal violence, especially those directed from the powerful to the less powerful, must be enshrined as A-OK.

  13. Afewknowthetruth 13

    Western-style industrial empire is founded on extreme violence and cannot exist without the continuous application of extreme violence. Most of the violence is not reported, of course: the general populace has to be brainwashed into thinking that voelence is unusual and is not part of the cutlure.

    Anglo-American violence began with the Norman invasion of England: the conquerors established their rule via the application of rape and pillage. A little later European nations invaded the Americas and various other parts of the world and carried out genocide in order to steal the land. The last episodes of land theft and genocide occured a little over a century ago. From the mid-1600s good Christian men abducted people from Africa and subjected then to a life of misery as slaves. The apartheid system established in the US, and enforced by extreme violence, only ended around 50 years ago.

    Since then we have had various invasions at the behest of oil companies. Nobody knows how many civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan have been murdered since ‘we don’t bother to count them’; a fair estimate is between half a million and one million. Of course, the killing civilians can be be done as in a video game these days via drones. Then there is the appalling vioelnce that has been ongoing in places like Nigeria, from which Shell steals oil under armed protection. The plan seems to be to exterminate the last remants of native South American populations so that the Amazon can be opened up for oil exploration and industrial farming

    Then there is the extreme violence practiced against animals in the factory farming system. Not content with the necessary violence of the slaughter process, the industrial farming sector subjects animals to contonuous torture throughout theur lives.

    Industrial civilisation is a very sick civilisation, and is getting sicker by the day. Nevertheless, most people in NZ seem to think everything is just as it should be.

    • insider 13.1

      Given the term Anglo comes from the Angles, a tribe who invaded post Romano Britain before the Normans, its seems like you have a slightly skewed view of both British history and empire building.

      • Pete George 13.1.1

        And ironically the Vikings introduced a fair bit of violence (including slaughter, rape and pillage) to Britain before the Normans as well.

      • lprent 13.1.2

        Not to mention the Saxons, Jutes, Picts, various types of Norsemen under the generic name of Vikings, and probably about a half dozen other minor invasions from Europe post the Roman era. Or for that matter the Welsh, Scots, and I seem to remember even the Irish did some faring into what is now England as well.

        I don’t think that the Normans were anything special. They just reduced the effect of the invasions into Britain and started a tradition of invasions from Britain instead.

        The Norman (“north man”) aristocracy were just a set of Vikings that had previously invaded the other side of the Channel and were extending their territory across the channel as they were having difficulties moving inland.

      • Afewknowthetruth 13.1.3

        In attempting the smart you demonstrate your ignorance. The Angles only occupied a small portion of England, as did the Danes, Vikings, Jutes etc.

        The Normans, (descended from Vikings who took over in northwestern France) conquered pretty much all of Engand and subsequently a large portion of Ireland.

        And you seem to have missed the whole point of what I wrote, i.e. that PRESENT industrial empire is founded on extreme violence. (whether it is a consequence of the dominance of Viking genes could be a nice research project, but I suspect extreme violence is more likely cultural than herditary)

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