You Are Not Permitted To Speak

“Unlike other Canadians, he’s not allowed to speak to the press.”

You might think that line would part of a joke. But the reality is not funny at all. The quote appears in a Toronto Star article (“‘Staggering’ conditions on accused G20 ringleader,” Oct 15th) about the draconian new bail conditions placed on Alex Hundert. Hundert is charged with conspiracy for his involvement in protests at this year’s G20 summit.

One of Hundert’s original bail terms was that he not participate “in any public demonstration.” Police labeled a university panel discussion he participated in a “public demonstration,” and arrested him. To clarify its tyrannical intentions, the court dictated new bail conditions, including “a restriction on planning, participating in, or attending any public event that expresses views on a political issue” and a ban on speaking to the media.

The authorities are clearly trying to marginalize Hundert. Unlike power-mad politicians or mouthpieces for corporate criminals, he is forbidden to persuade or influence people on any political issue. Any interaction he has, no matter how informal, can lead to his arrest if his persecutors label it “political.”

Perhaps the workings of the court system and the choices its petty tyrants make betray an unconscious crisis of legitimacy. They want people to lay the blame for destruction and violence not on summits of the powerful, openly plotting for world domination, but on “conspiracies” among the activists who protest those summits. Whatever bogus charges they can bring to silence those activists will be used for the purpose.

But if people don’t really believe in the system, then they at least better not believe another world is achievable. Meetings where a handful of politicians decide what is best for the entire world — which in their view means whatever appears to best promote stable power relations — defended by legions of heavily armed paramilitaries is supposed to be how the world has to work. People who speak out against the system must appear helpless before entrenched corporate interests, professional politicians, the conviction-factory court system, and the police who protect and serve those who give them orders.

Resistance may be tough, but it is never futile. A better world can be ours, but only if we work for it. Every information network, organization, or community that operates outside of authority’s control dissolves some measure of authority’s power. Expanding the influence of anti-authoritarian alternatives reveals a viable and attractive alternative to current oppression. The more people oppose the system, the easier opposition can become.

Anarchy and Democracy
Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
The Anatomy of Escape
Organization Theory