Its a convenient truth to blame last week’s Stanley Cup violence in Vancouver of professional anarchists, Black Bloc, little criminals and so on; like Bashar al-Assad blaming outside forces for ruining a pristine and utopic Syrian society. The truth is a little more unsettling. It hits a sensitive nerve when the activities are attributed to children from middle-class taxpaying families, the supposed backbone of Canadian society. Although Canada is the scapegoat here, its a global phenomenon. It seems that the notion of a developed, modern society bringing non-progressive and anti-liberal costs to the fore is rarely discussed. Vancouver was just a middle-class example of polarization on social issues, the same that exists in the U.S. among conservative and democrat elites and their followers.
There is a certain myth, a necessary illusion of tolerant liberal reason in which we want to disguise the impact of any social with a comfortable symbolic semblance. The temptation is always to mask this horror of the real. In the same way as an Otto Dix painting of Weimar gets prettified into a romantic comedy like Cabaret. The middle-class is always the most isolated from direct impact of violence and are generally happy to support it through the prism of their ideology. Its Canadian style violence which distinguishes itself through analytical thinness, and, also this kind of apparent contradiction in the face of this shattering of identity. The violence is really a repository for charged fantasies of its transformative potential. It can be argued that the ideological function of “tolerance” is paralleled by the rationalistic attempt to “understand the Other from within”; the usual attempt at comprehension which actually ends up imputing the most ridiculous beliefs as the true cause of action. Similar to those who adhere to the thesis that suicide bombing is the “rational” choice of those seeking four hundred virgins in paradise .
Gary Mason:The picture of a young man attempting to set a police cruiser on fire by lighting a rag stuffed in its gas tank has received widespread Internet attention. He’s been identified as an academic all-star who was supposed to be heading to the U.S. in fall on a water polo scholarship….The fact is, it’s easier to blame hooligans and professional nihilists for what happened than confront the more disturbing possibility that under unique conditions that wonderful teenaged boy who lives next door is capable of coming unglued….are actually the sons of good solid suburban citizens,” said Prof. Gruneau. “Some of them are likely our students.” For Prof. Gruneau, watching the riot on television was like watching a bizarre reality television show where the performers kick, punch, destroy and attempt to steal as much as they can before police close in. Like Jackass on speed. Read More:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/gary_mason/the-sad-painful-truth-about-the-vancouver-rioters-true-identities/article2066321/
Martin Bentham:AGGRESSIVE middle-class parishioners are abusing and assaulting vicars after losing their tempers in disputes over weddings and christenings, a new study of violence against the clergy will reveal this week. The study, by academics at London University’s Royal Holloway College, blames what it describes as “a significant new trend” on a “pushy, consumerist” attitude among young professionals, who lack respect for authority…Read More:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1362694/Clergy-threatened-by-violent-middle-classes.html
Richard F. Hamilton in his Who Voted for Hitler study, gave a very nuanced examination that ran counter to habitual ideological assertions. One example in this complex analysis was the extent of National Socialist support garnered from middle and upper-middle class society and certainly as Raul Hilberg pointed out, their willingness to appropriate confiscated goods from those deported, almost as an entitlement. …
….First, Pakistanis exhibit negative affect toward all four militant organizations, with those from areas where groups have conducted the most attacks disliking them the most. Second, contrary to conventional expectations poor Pakistanis dislike militant groups more than middle-class citizens. Third, this dislike is strongest among poor urban residents, suggesting that the negative relationship stems from exposure to the externalities of terrorist attacks. Read More:http://www.brownpundits.com/2011/05/11/the-violent-middle-class/
So, on the one hand, we have this safe, “realistic” world of inequality, consumption and false “tolerance”, run by a managerialist elite who dispense charity as they reap the rewards of the system. On the other, there is an authentic subaltern resentment, dreams of impossible equality and the yearning, the desire for “the” transformative Event; something necessarily horrific, which cannot be assuage with empty attempts at incremental progress,wars on poverty , drugs , terror etc. or even properly understood with our faulty ethical categories. The relevant question, so clarified, simply becomes whether to embrace or oppose such these kinds of moments.Hey, Louis Vuitton can afford it. Our foreclosure of other ways of thinking about social change is evident but the shift from a critique of false tolerance to a championing of whauld be seen as acts of revolutionary daring is obviously something for a distant future.
In general, I’d say this conclusion holds up for most time periods and groups. The middle class just seem to be more accepting of violence in the pursuit of broader objectives. For instance, engineers are over-represented both among those engaged in jihad, as well as among Hindu nationalists as Razib has pointed out. Praveen Swami’s book on Kashmir argues that the conflict represents a six-decade long jihad, and many of the members involved have hailed from the bourgeois. It’s not always the guccis that are represented (though there are some, like say bin Laden); but certainly the rising sub-provincial elites. As some commenters at Yglesias’ blog point out; support for the Vietnam war disproportionately came from college students and the educated. Read More:http://www.brownpundits.com/2011/05/11/the-violent-middle-class/
Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno:The quantity of organised amusement changes into the quality of organised cruelty. The self-elected censors of the film industry (with whom it enjoys a close relationship) watch over the unfolding of the crime, which is as drawn-out as a hunt. Fun replaces the pleasure which the sight of an embrace would allegedly afford, and postpones satisfaction till the day of the pogrom. Insofar as cartoons do any more than accustom the senses to the new tempo, they hammer into every brain the old lesson that continuous friction, the breaking down of all individual resistance, is the condition of life in this society. Donald Duck in the cartoons and the unfortunate in real life get their thrashing so that the audience can learn to take their own punishment….
…The enjoyment of the violence suffered by the movie character turns into violence against the spectator, and distraction into exertion. Nothing that the experts have devised as a stimulant must escape the weary eye; no stupidity is allowed in the face of all the trickery; one has to follow everything and even display the smart responses shown and recommended in the film. This raises the question whether the culture industry fulfils the function of diverting minds which it boasts about so loudly. If most of the radio stations and movie theatres were closed down, the consumers would probably not lose so very much. To walk from the street into the movie theatre is no longer to enter a world of dream; as soon as the very existence of these institutions no longer made it obligatory to use them, there would be no great urge to do so. Such closures would not be reactionary machine wrecking. The disappointment would be felt not so much by the enthusiasts as by the slow-witted, who are the ones who suffer for everything anyhow. Read More:http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/adorno/1944/culture-industry.htm
Gary Mason:Many years ago, a study by criminologist Alan Listiak into poor fan behaviour during Grey Cup week suggested that the truly oppressed are often the least likely to exhibit the kind of actions witnessed in Vancouver this week. Rather, time and again in North America, violent behaviour at festivals and sporting events tended to be more accurately identified as “middle class blowouts” than rational political protests. Read More:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/gary_mason/the-sad-painful-truth-about-the-vancouver-rioters-true-identities/article2066321/