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There Can Be No Truce While the People Are Raped: Exorcising the Spirit of the Games

Last week, a co-worker drew my attention to a foundation that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has created.  It is the International Olympic Truce Centre (see here for the official website, and for the sources of the various quotations that follow… also note the way in which the IOC dominates the Board of Directors).  Even thought the Centre was founded in 2000CE, it traces it’s origins back to the first Olympiad (c.776BCE) when a truce (ekecheiria) was established between the various Greek city-states for the sake of the Games, and also roots itself in the events of 1894CE, when the IOC was established “with the goal of contributing to a peaceful future for humankind through the educational value of sport”.   Thus, the Olympic Truce calls “upon humanity to lay down its weapons and to work towards building the foundations of peace, mutual respect, understanding and reconciliation” and calls “for all hostilities to cease during the Olympic Games and beyond”.
Now, in my opinion, this is a fantastic example of ideology at work in the worst possible way.  I’m not just talking about their fascinating historical narrative; rather, this becomes blatantly obvious when one realizes that the Olympics themselves are a fundamentally violent event (a lot of literature and websites exist detailing how this is the case, but you could start here for some easy reference points).  The Olympics are consistently employed to destroy poor communities and environmental safe havens, steal real estate, criminalize poverty, erode civil rights, and place a vast amount of wealth in the hands of the already wealthy, while forcing tax payers to pick up the bills.
So, we notice the extremely narrow definition of violence employed by the Olympic Truce.  Violence is understood as doing things like striking another person, destroying property or pulling down security barriers (erected on public land).  However, things like destroying precious natural habitats, tearing down poor communities, and stealing housing from those with low incomes are not considered violent. Perhaps, an appropriate illustration of this sort of thinking would be to consider a scenario wherein a man is raping a woman and telling her not to fight back because more people should be committed to peace and the cessation of hostilities!  Essentially, the IOC wishes to rape us and our resources, while imposing an ideology upon the public that preempts and counters those who wish to fight back.
Not only this, but the IOC, via the Olympic Truce Centre, is rooted in a position of power and influence so that it can impose its narrow definition of violence upon others.  This is why the Olympic Truce Centre and the IOC can speak the language of peace and nonviolence and call for an end to hostilities during the Games… while simultaneously spending around $900 million on its security budget, bringing in 4500 soldiers, over 5000 private security guards, and masses of police and RCMP from all across Canada (the total number of people on the force is something like 16000+).  Not only this, but the Olympic Security forces are also authorized to use a number of weapons upon civilians — teargas, pepperspray, fists and boots being fairly standard, but the recently developed ‘Long Range Acoustic Device’ has also been cleared for use on protesters.  One might be inclined to take the Olympic Truce Centre more seriously if they were simultaneously disarming the cops — who have a proven track record of employing force in anything but moderation at protests of the sort that are expected to occur in the next week.  But, of course, the rhetorical power play is that these forces and weapons are necessary to maintain our safety and security.  Nobody stops to consider that the protesters themselves are acting out of their concern for the safety and security of the environment, the marginalized, and the general public.  To further the illustration used above, the Olympic Truce Centre is like the man who threatens a woman and tells her she’ll “get it twice as bad” if she fights back while being raped, so best just roll over and take it.
But, thank God, there are many people who will not roll over and take it.  The truth is that there can be no truce while the people are being raped — the precursor to peace is the cessation of the Olympics in their current manifestation (if not altogether).  That is to say, we will stop fighting back when we are no longer being raped.  It’s that simple.  So, this is why I will be participating in some of the mass actions that are taking place by those who wish to disrupt these Games, reveal their true Spirit and, as much as possible, shut them down (see this schedule for more on those).  I encourage anybody in the Vancouver area to come out and show their solidarity with the people — and come not so that you can say you ‘were there’, and not to be more hip than your roommate, and not to engage in some simulacrum of action or some counter-cultural spectacle that eases your conscience; no, come to succeed and be prepared to take some risks and pay a price to get there (although this information might help).  I hope to see you there.

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  1. Great post!! I recently wrote something similar, also inspired by the anarchists. (in swedish, sorry:
    I´ve got two brothers that were among the 1.000 innocent people imprisoned during COP-15 in Copenhagen and handcuffed without information on the cold street or in metal cages for twelve hours. I´m sure things like this won´t prevent people from acting again.
    Please though, I would encourage you as a brother in the Messiah to avoid physically hurting or killing the enemy and the pigs.
    Resist and love. I´ll pray for you. It would be really nice if you could write about what happens here from your perspective.

  2. Dan,
    I just got the new issue of Harper’s in the mail on Saturday. There was an article by Ando Arike entitled The Soft-Kill Solution: New Frontiers in Pain Compliance. Both a short history of protesting and about the new “non-lethal” weapons being tested for use on civilians. A fascinating read, and a sobering one at that.
    Sobering because peaceful demonstrations will become more violent for three reasons. First, the anticipation of increased violence. Second, the actual application of violence. Third, the denial of protest.
    While this is not true of all people protesting, it will become true of some, causing the non-violent to be lumped in with the violent. Could this potentially cause a peaceful protestor to consider violence as an option, even if as a last resort?
    Am I off-base in this line of thought?

  3. Hey Mike,
    There’s a lot more that needs to be said about this whole discussion of ‘violence’. Regarding your second point, it’s worth mentioning that the Vancouver Police were asked to commit to NOT inciting protesters (as security and police forces have a well-documented track record of doing exactly that at events like WTO, IMF, and G8 summits) but the Vancouver Police explicitly refused to make this commitment. I also know for a fact that the Police did employ this tactic at the protest in Vancouver on the weekend — assaulting protesters and inciting them to strike back, which then allowed the Police to engage in further acts of violence and so on. I would be willing to bet that any person who struck a police officer last weekend did so only after being assaulted by that officer or did so only after seeing another person assaulted by that officer (which is why, after so many scuffles, so few charges were laid… the police were at fault and they knew that there was no way that their case would hold up in court).

    • The police become agents provocateurs, without ever going undercover. But I have to wonder what makes a police officer take such an aggressive stance in the first place.
      Thanks for your response, I hope this is a conversation we can continue.
      – mike

  4. Hey Mike,
    It is good to wonder about the aggressive stance taken by the police. The truth is that police culture is pretty massively fucked-up and corrupt (despite the good intentions of many when they enter the force). A few helpful resources in this regard are The Story of Jane Doe: a book about rape by Jane Doe (this was the book the first started waking me up to police culture, although I had also started working with homeless youth at that time and the police brutality that occurs at that level was also waking me up) and Our Enemies in Blue by Kristian Williams.

    • Dan,
      I have seen some of that culture in my local police (attitude and stance), but I also know several state and local police who don’t fit that mould, but then again I’ve never been pushed against them in a crowd either. Considering I live in a small town in WV, I’m white, wear a tie to work and drive a beatup BMW wagon, I’m sure my perspective is limited.
      I guess I see the police (and myself and most others for that matter) on a level best described by George Orwell in The Road to Wigan Pier and Joe Bageant in Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War. Working class who should be in this fight together, not divided and seperated against one another. It seems the police are defending institutions that, if torn down, would benefit them as well.
      I’ll have to look into those books.


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