Last year I continued my annual “Why I Need Pride” essay series on FreethoughtBlogs–it was one of the works I submitted as a writing sample when I first applied to FTB, an ongoing project that started in 2012. A lot has changed since last year and my approach of Edmonton’s Pride festival has changed accordingly.
My opinions have shifted quite drastically in that time, a process which excites me greatly, but a process which also forces me to confront my relationship to the things around me. Since last year, I’ve become increasingly disenchanted with representative democracy as a system of government. I ended up immersed in Robert Wolff’s In Defense of Anarchy, in which I walked away conceding his points about the tension between the moral autonomy of the individual and the authority of the state. The stock-fare response to the question, “is there any rational justification for the authority of the state?” is “the consent of the governed”–and yet, not a single neoliberal democracy has enjoyed even a basic majority consensus from its voters in decades, in some cases even centuries; to say nothing of how the minority by definition does not consent to the decisions of the majority. It seems to me that the governed have only “consented” if you’re willing to stretch the definition of consent on a rack for a few hours. (If you need convincing on this point, I might consider doing that in another post, just not here).
From there the actions of law enforcement in our various democracies starts to be painted in a much less favourable light. I went down the rabbithole that was the prosecution of Canada’s anarchist organizers during the G20 protests–a mass arrest in which some ~1,100 Canadians were indiscriminately rounded up in Toronto at the 2010 G20 Summit. Following this, organizers from various networks found themselves in court over conspiracy to commit mischief charges because some of the protesters damaged property. The Crown’s argument was that the organizers ought to have plausibly known that some of the people were going to damage property because they had expressed frustration during (what were supposed to be private) meetings, and so they were party to the crime. This “evidence” was acquired through surveillance and police infiltration of activist groups.