Violence against windows and property


As I hinted at it in my previous post, one debate about the appropriateness of the direct action of student protesters in London on 10 November 2010 emerged around the distinction between violence against inanimate objects versus human beings, in this case the police. Some observers though have condemned both forms of violence, such as the NUS president, the UCU’s official spokesman, as well as Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, and Prime Minister David Cameron. However, it appears that Alan Whitaker, national president of the UCU, together with a third of the union’s national executive, has broken ranks with the official line to make yet another distinction, namely that of violence against nonhumans versus the ‘symbolic’ violence of a policy (and the corresponding state apparatus) against humans:

We will not side with those who condemn the violence against windows and property but will not condemn or even name the long-term violence of cuts that will scar the lives of hundreds of thousands by denying them access to the education of their choice.

Many have pointed out the irony that Johnson and Cameron were both members of the Bullingdon Club at Oxford, smashing, among others, shop windows not for political reasons but for mere enjoyment. Here is a video that sums up this point:

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