Monday, December 1, 2008

Royal Bank Hired Gunman Orders, "GET MOVING!!"

It was almost 10 p.m. on Sunday night when I rushed to the cash machine at the TD Bank in Chinatown. The TD now locks the cash machine at 10 p.m. to prevent the homeless from sleeping in there. I was too late, the door was locked. Another customer arrived also to discover that he was too late.

A homeless guy -- I didn't ask him if he was homeless but he looked frail and had lots of missing teeth so I assumed he was homeless -- was standing there and said, "Don't worry, I'll open it for you." He pulled a card out of his wallet, stuck it in the door and flicked the lock open.

I knew he would hit us up for spare change, and he did. But he wasn't aggressive. As I walked north on Main St., he walked alongside me, chatting.

Suddenly, three armed men came toward us. One said "Excuse me, GET MOVING!!" I realized then that these guys had pulled up in an armoured car (on the right of photo above) and were entering the Royal Bank, presumably to pick up money. Now they owned the sidewalk.

We had been sauntering along and it would have been obvious to the guard that we would be past the Royal Bank in less than a minute.

I told the homelss guy that I felt like telling that guard that this sidewalk was public space. The homeless guy told me not to say anything, "They've got guns." I retorted, "I'm going to go back and take their picture when they come out." "NOOO!", he responded, "They've got guns!" I took a picture of their vehicle, but I stayed well back. They came out of the building about five minutes after verbally abusing us.

Churchill Armoured Car service passes Carnegie Center after picking up bags at RBC across the street.

I thought of the Pivot Legal Society report, "Security before Justice", that has just come out on the problem of homeless people being removed from public spaces by private security. Pivot's Laura Track told the media "They're limiting people's access to public space and relocating the homeless..." I also recall Track telling the media that this discrimination is often based on a person having the 'appearance' of being poor.

Although I would like to see Pivot criticize civil liberties abuses by publicly-funded security guards as much as they do private security, I can see what they mean about, "Security before Justice" in public spaces.

My mood was wrecked for an hour after being told to "GET MOVING!!".


Hair Farmer Joe said...

It sounds like the actions of the security guards were certainly out of line and they need to be educated.

At the same time, I cannot condone anyone - homeless or otherwise, breaking into a locked door or sleeping in the doorways of businesses.

Dag said...

A problem with a uniform is that the person wearing one thinks in terms of uniformity, which is why he's wearing a costume indistinguishable from his peers in the first place. That has a place, sometimes a good one, giving a solidarity to a group of otherwise disparate people a commonality that transcends the individual and allowing them to combine their individual strengths into something "unbreakable."

One sees uniforms in many occupations, from bus drivers and cafe waiters to policemen and soldiers, but also among business men and hippies. A problem arises when their is no disciplined leadership and supervision, when there's no tradition of the honor code created over time to work out the good from the bad. Thus, when security guards are hired off the street by some fly-by-night guy who used to own a car-wash or a corner store or what-have-you, there is the uniformity of thought without the test of time and without the discipline and leadership that makes an effective organ in the world. One gets bullies with guns who, thinking (without thinking)that they are part of a larger machine, that the uniform makes them, the smaller piece, invincible and righteous.

People drawn to this kind of group are drawn to the good of an authoritarian hierarchy and the safety of determined place within it, all things settled by fiat from above, the universe orderly and just, based on a "natural" order.

You just gotta know that at some point I'm going to introduce Ethanol and co. in here, and you won't be disappointed.

First, allow me to point out that often the inarticulate and intuitive tend often to call uniformed authority "fascists." To an extent they are right, if we rely on Adorno's "F Scale," if nothing else. Let's look a the etymology of "fascism." It refers to a Roman symbol of an axe within a bundle of sticks tied round it, the idea being to show the unbreakable strength of unity, a "fasces."

Mussolini wasn't the first to use the term in politics, it originating roughly forty years or more before he adopted it for his movement, used by Italian peasants struggling for land reform. Mussolini used the term to redefine socialism as outside "international class-struggle" and as "national co-operation." All Italians, irrespective of class or ethnicity or other divisive identities, were to be bound to the state alone, and not to class or to internationalism. His reasoning was that an Italian peasant had more in common with an Italian bourgeois than with a Russian intellectual. Italians of all sorts share an Italian identity that transcended the newly emergent idea of "class interest." thus, socialism had a better chance of fulfillment, according to the Fascists, within a national context rather than within an international one based on class alone.

To put an end to class conflict in Italy, and to create "socialism in one country," Mussolini created "corporations," groups of industries and trades run and controlled by the state, (to whatever practical degree it came to.) To explain this concept in a word, Mussolini coined the term "totalitarianism." Rather than the disunity in Italy brought about by class struggle, Mussolini demanded all classes unite as one people under the rule of the supreme state. His slogan: "All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state." Mussolini was not at odds with his previous comrades in the socialist party over that slogan, but because he demanded "national" rather than international socialism. Because Mussolini privileged the Italian state over the international, he went from highly regarded socialist ideologue to pariah within the Comintern, established by Lenin in 1919, (after he and Mussolini lived in Switzerland,) the Comintern being dissolved under Stalin in 1943, after Stalin adopted Bukharin's 1925 thesis of "socialism in one country," which is somehow altogether different from Mussolini's socialism in Italy for Italians.

The unity of the international worker and peasants under the leadership of the Communist Party based in Moscow opposed the unity of the national workers and peasants (and all others) under the leadership of the socialist Fascist Party. given the origins of the terms Left and Right as a seating arrangement in the National assembly in Paris during the beginnings of the French Revolution, where the "Liberals" sat on the right side of the hall and the radicals sat on the Left, the Comintern decided that Mussolini was on the "Right." Thus, today those who don't understand the history of the idea refer to Mussolini as "rightwinger." Yes, to the "right" of Stalin. Mussolini's socialism was as uniform as Stalin's, though localised. Mussolini thought globally, but acted locally. Transcending politics and partisanship, he brought hope and change to Italian government, as well as his part in World War Two, in conjunction with his partner, the National Socialist Party of Germany.

All of these movements, the Comintern, the Fascists, and other national socialist parties, were collectivist, acting from a desire to unite and make uniform all people within the collective, whether the nation state or the International.

One may recall fondly Jean Swanson's refrain, "The individual doesn't matter; only the community is important." Or not so fondly, as the case may be.

It might come as an unhappy understanding to the many who support "unions" and who demand "co-operative" housing, that there is a demand from the collective for uniformity in thought and deed within the collective, and that the individual must conform to the group uniformity, the same as one must do so in uniform as an armored car guard. The conformity, the uniformity of thought, is in the adherence to the ideologies of the ruling clique. One must, whether one likes or no, say the right things in the right way or risk being a "rightwinger" who faces expulsion. Expulsion from, shall we say, the Carnegie Centre?

You knew Ethanol would show up here, and I'm pleased not to have disappointed you, dear reader.

I always have much to say on this subject, and I'm sometimes willing to do so temperately if I'm not busy. If you find it odd that so many are what you might think of as "conformity hippies" and that they are imposing uncomfortable restraints on your freedom to think and speak and act, you might join me some time for coffee and chat about your rights as an individual, and also about your responsiblities as a free person among others as free as you. I'll be waiting. I don't wear a uniform but you'll recognize me anyway. I always seem to stand out in a crowd.