In researching my last post, I came across a stunning amount of bad press for the ongoing protests in France, revealing a lot of disdain for the goals, tactics, and general “national character” of the French. Nothing new when it comes to the mainstream media, really. But there is one group of Brits who’ve really risen to the challenge.

Crude Awakening, a UK-based anti-petrochemical activist group blockaded the largest oil refinery in the U.K. last week in a literal circus. Not only did they thoroughly confuse cops with their strict secrecy beforehand (something we, here, in Ontario, need more of), but they got away without a single arrest. Using lockdowns and tripods, as well as costumes and stilt-walkers, the protesters proved that classic non-violent tactics can still be cripplingly effective.

Direct action can take many forms, and as much attention as French riot-porn is getting right now, it’s important to remember that not all of them involve burning cars. What is important, though, is not to confuse pacifist tactics with pure passivity – where generally privileged intellectuals and politicos tend to confuse voicing their opinions with actually taking action. At the end of the day, though, there is never really such thing as “inaction”. Going to work, paying taxes, spending money at the mall or simply driving your car all have serious consequences, depending on how you choose to go about them.

Whether it’s the G-20 in Toronto or the protests and strikes in France, the issues always seem to fall behind when the question of nasty, violent protesting comes up. So here’s a challenge to everyone who said that you’d support it if they didn’t burn cars…do you?

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