Civil disobedience vs. anarchy

Protesting is a way people can express dissatisfaction with something and two protests in particular have caught my eye over the past year or so.

The most recent example of protesting came in Egypt, with people taking to Cairo’s Tahrir Square to voice disapproval of President Hosni Mubarak’s rule.

Judging from various accounts, the protests were for the most part (though not wholly) peaceful, relying on what some call “civil disobedience,” a form of protest made popular by Ghandi, were certain government orders and laws are disregarded.

As the New York Times says, “The popular protest, peaceful and resilient despite numerous effort by Mr. Mubarak’s legendary security apparatus to suppress it . . .”

I found myself siding with the Egyptian people and cheering for them as they sought to have Mubarak step down.

While it seemed like the president wouldn’t be stepping down last Thursday, the protestors got their wish on Friday as Mubarak did resign.

Closer to home, and in stark contrast to Egypt, was a protest during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver where a protest was held in the downtown core and damage was done to The Bay department store.

Some of the protesters used the Black Bloc method of protesting, dressing up in black clothing, including black face masks, and causing damage – similar tactics were used during the G20 protests in Toronto last June.

In that Olympic-time protest, one of the black mob, who of course didn’t want to be named, told the Canadian Press that it was to show their anger of the negative effects of the Olympics on the poor.

I can see where the Olympic Black Blocers are coming from, especially as it looks like the promise of affordable social housing in the Olympic village will be broken, or at the very least fall short.

However, I find it hard to side with anybody who likes to smash windows under the guise of a black mask and feel more sympathetic to someone who disobeys a few laws.

The two are unrelated but I find it quite interesting that the people who used a more peaceful form of protest got what they wanted as opposed to the group that used more violent methods.