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June 28

In writing of the death of his friend, the artist Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, at the age of 23 in WWII, poet Ezra Pound writes how the force of new art is thought dangerous by a certain type of person who fear it, think it ugly, or hate it because of the effort it takes to come to an understanding of it. He states, rightly, that there are those who believe “the stability of property is the end and the all” while others believe “the aim of civilization is to keep alive…the intellectually-inventive-creative spirit.” Yesterday, when someone asked if I understood the rage behind the destruction of property in the city during the recent G-20 Summit, I thought of that statement. For those of us who do not believe in wholesale globalisation, who do not believe that more is better, or that the taking of power confers the right to force those beliefs on others, rage is a common reaction. In fact, I would say it’s a natural bi-product in en era of Survivor and Idol mentalities, endless consumerism, and the worship of celebrity, diet and beauty aesthetics.

For surely globalisation means more politics and politics, ultimately, means war in one form or another: political, economic, moral. More people dying for causes they don’t believe in. Would you be willing to die for cheaper oil, for an expanded marketplace? Because that is what it comes down to. Pound saw his friend’s death and the loss of his talent as a tragedy for humankind, and not merely for one person, just as he understood the forces behind the face of war as being largely economic and political. Why did our prime minister, who has openly declared his contempt for artists and his resentment of Toronto, choose to host the summit here, in a city he despises? Why did he not listen to the voices of authority in the city who advised him—strongly—not to host the event downtown?

Just because there are many who don’t want power does not mean we think it’s okay for others to grab it and turn it back on us, but that is what politicians do. Connecting the dots from the Mayan peasants forced off their land so others can raise cheaper beef for McDonalds or cheaper coffee for Starbucks, up through the cheerful looking corporation fronts that appear on our street corners is not always easy to do, but the trail is there to follow if you make the effort. Protests are one means of voicing an opinion about such things. Sadly, in this age, violence speaks louder than peaceful demonstration. It’s the power brokers of the world who have made that fact a truism, which is why the violence was directed at them. Reap what you have sown.

 

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