Property Destruction, Is it usefull?

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WeTheYouth
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May 24 2004 13:40
Property Destruction, Is it usefull?

The use of property destruction at events big and small, have made us look like thugs to the world, only thanks to the bourgeois media never the less.

Is it about time that tactics changed? or can the dogmatic events of summit demos ever get us anywhere?

The use of property destruction is always portrayed as violence in the media, and never give a clear meaning on why such a tactic is being used, we are portrayed and perceived as violent thugs with nothing better to do than smash shit up. Anarchy is portrayed as Chaos, and the act of property destruction and fighting with the police has to be chaotic therefore only strengthen the misconception of anarchy as a chaotic alternative to this society.

But, property destruction and demonstration such of which we have saw at the G8 summits. Highlights our grievances and ourstruggle which in turn has made peopel think, "what the hell are they doing that for" it has shown the to the world the power that mass organising to harrass and agitate the leaders of the world is a form of resistance, and has brought many people to re-assess there own beleifs and change them.

My opinion on property destructon is that it is effective at the right place at the right time. But we need to move away from the image of violent thuggery and concentrate more on building structures such as autonmous spaces, and organising non-violent protests.

AlexA
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May 24 2004 15:45

I think this post is about 2 years too late Youthie! grin

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Jacques Roux
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May 24 2004 15:59

No generalisations. Depends on the exact situation. Cant treat any different situations the same.

Vaneigemappreci...
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May 24 2004 16:18

Vandalism of property, in the situation of a demonstration, ie smashing store windows is a purely symbolic release of anger and annoyance, a means of showing your frustration at society and those who profit from it.

Whether its worth doing i dont know. I think its definately worth vandalising property outside of demonstrations, ie detourning a billboard, a road sign, attacking banks or fast food outlets in a creative manner etc. The trouble is that vandalism (it isnt violence, we dont use babies to smash store windows) at demos often results in or accentuates existing police violence, resulting in cracked skulls and arrests.

Youre right though we have to move beyond such primitive, albeit highly symbolic forms of demonstration, we need to develop ideas that while drawing attention to the protest go beyond mere sensationalism and attempt to build on the debris of the existing system, eg flash occupations, whereby we could occupy and transform buildings that are along or near the summits, creating temporary but dynamic squats. We should attempt to change the landscape upon which meetings take place, with the aim of moving beyond the meeting place out into other areas.

WeTheYouth
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May 24 2004 16:35
alexa wrote:
I think this post is about 2 years too late Youthie! grin

Damn. I was only into stupid socialist alliance stuff then, so i have to make up for the time wasted on those cunts.

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Vandalism of property, in the situation of a demonstration, ie smashing store windows is a purely symbolic release of anger

But over the mass media it is never shown as that, we are always shown as mindless thugs.

Vaneigemappreci...
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May 24 2004 16:43

we have to expect that kind of reporting from the business press, the vilification of dissent, alternative and resistance is a common practice in the mass media, thats one of its mains roles as a conservative force.

The only way i can think of combatting that image is either to make our own media, which is already being done, or highlight the absurdity of the notion of 'unbiased' reporting in the mass media through detourned papers and other publications. Carry banners on the marches critiqing the media etc.

woofnbark
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May 24 2004 16:49

In my view it has alway worth playing along with the hype that the media whipped up and show them up to what is their worth.

As in Dublin this year the Media portray "Doom." The reality was, as many who had witnested it will tell, "it was vastly peaceful" and we manage to show a"peaceful side" to the public by simply marching around in the Dublin suburbs making a noise, the whistles worked a treat. (It's a must in future demos)

O.K. there was a bit of agro when our path was blocked but who wouldn't at least tried to break through the "thin" (A couple of water cannons, a couple lines of riot polices and god knows what else) blue line.

I think it is important to educate people when it is appropriate to use force after all the Police don't heatate if the route is blocked.

The problem with property destruction in my experience , it is done out of fustration. Understandably as I found out for myself doing things that I wouldn't have considered crossing my mind that day.

You just get hyped up, it a natural human agression. With all honestly if you were to meet me I would probably blink twice and I'll probably end up helping you across the road or something and I'm sure that many "thugs" would do the same I sure.

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Anarchy is portrayed as Chaos, and the act of property destruction and fighting with the police has to be chaotic therefore only strengthen the misconception of anarchy as a chaotic alternative to this society.

You are dead right about that comment, the only weapon we have to counteract the misconception of anarchy is to educate the public. We did that at Dublin by using the good old tried and, tested "leafets." Brilliant they were, I wished that I've could have kept mine but I felt it was important to let the public know what we are about so I gave it away and the other weapon we have is "Public Education." It was good and heart warming to see protesters taking the time to talk to members of the public of whatever their age and be open and willing to asnwer question. I myself couldn't do that, so how I envyed them.

Remember Newspapers Companies are only out to make a quick profit. Ask yourself, which will sell more. "A Roit" or "Peaceful demo."

This is my personal opinion, I think a bit of agro is a good thing at least get us in the newspapers and show that we are still about. After all it was the agro that got me interested in anarchy in the first place.

I must emphasize strongy I'm not a thug. If I wanted to be a thug I would have joined the Nazis. It's a fine line I know.

P.S. sorry it's a bit long

wink

Vaneigemappreci...
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May 24 2004 17:03

Passive demonstrator=lawabiding citizen

Active demonstrator=thug

Those who use overt violence to suppress the active demonstrator=police

Police=thugs

It doesnt work like that because the police in the eyes of the mass media are intinsically good, benevolent and indisposable. Whereas a demonstrator who involves themsleves in action, whether it be in occupying a building, blocakading a street or defending themselves has clearly become an irrational delinguent who needs to be controlled at all costs, therefor legitimisng the action of the police.

These actions are of course all detatched from society, they arent the product of anything, simply a band of boozed fueled delinquents whose actions arent representative of the vast silent majority.

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Spartacus
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May 24 2004 17:59

right, my opinions on this are obviously going to be influenced by the fact that i'm reading old copies of barricada at the moment (if you've never read it, it was a monthly anarchist mag in the us, and full of riot porn), but anyway...

first of all, what the media says about us is pretty much irrelevant. if anarchists are out organising in their communities etc. then people won't believe the bollocks the media spouts. if we're not then we're wasting out time and we may as well have fun fucking shit up...

secondly, it obviously depends on the situation. but the reason there was so much property destruction at anti-capitalist events before was not just out of frustration, it was out of a conscious effort to make holding these big get togethers too costly for the host city, which has actually worked. sometimes that isn't the aim of a demonstration. and obviously if you are vastly outnumbered then breaking some bank windows is just going to give the cops a pretext to charge in (rather than just harass you all day). and there have been some good recent effective non-violent demos, like the san francisco anti-war ones where they pretty much brought the city to a halt by blocking traffic.

but really, it's whether something is effective that should determine what we do. and most of the time peaceful protest is fucking useless. look at the anti-war demos, a million in the streets and nothing changed. if a tenth or even a hundredth of the people on the big demo had rampaged through the city but would have made the state seriously scared. obviously we need to be giving the movement a solid grounding in communities, but violence and property destruction have always been tactics used by anarchists and they always will be.

i don't think we should be organising peaceful protests, or destructive ones, or violent ones (although at least that would give us a bit of an adrenaline release), in fact we shouldn't be protesting really, cos protests are about appealing to the ruling class. we should be coming up with effective tactics of resistance. and to be honest, i think most demos are fairly shit for reaching out to people and spreading info about issues and anarchism and that. caring about what the media says is just struggling on the terms of the ruling class, we should be struggling on our terms. demos are good for stuff like showing solidarity with imprisoned comrades, that sort of thing, but they won't bring down the state no matter how peaceful or violent they are.

dunno what we're gonna do for the g8 in 2005 though, a golf course takes much longer to destroy and isn't nearly as satisfying as a bank wink

Ceannairc
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May 24 2004 23:47

A very encouraging debate, from my point of view. Now, the last thing I want is to try and sell anarchism on an image, but rather to correct the false image that is given to the public. Sad fact is that people are very good at randomly dismissing things without really knowing enough to do so (I include myself in that criticism, of course).

As regards police violence, I think it is quite natural for people to take their side. If someone steals your car, what do you do? If someone rapes you, what do you do? Most people call the police for protection against these and other problems. They don't always see the darker side of the police service cos it isn't out in the open. When it comes down to it, in the current society we have, some form of police is necessary because we live in a culture of greed and corruption. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think that the average person who sees an anarchist laying into someone who they think is there to help them won't side with the anarchist.

As for property destruction, we are still living in a mainly capitalist society. People WANT to own property and be rich. It is drilled into us from our first years: trade, possession, control, etc. Until we can convince people of an alternative, they will associate wealth and glamour with success and property destruction with thuggery.

I know this sounds soft as flowers, but all this agressive activity will have a mainly adverse effect at least until we can give our ideas and theoreys just as much publicity.

WeTheYouth
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May 25 2004 10:02

GT i knew you would pop up in here grin

Quote:
Carry banners on the marches critiqing the media etc.

That sounds like a good idea, maybe there could be a couple at the G8 demos of next year? But it could just get us even worse coverage, but i cant see how it coudl get any worse.

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In my view it has alway worth playing along with the hyper that the media whipped up and show them up to what is their worth.

I disagree, deny them bragging rights of "we told you so" and it will only help people come to the realisation that the media is the tool of the bourgeiosie.

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was good and heart warming to see protesters taking the time to talk to members of the public of whatever their age and be open and willing to asnwer question. I myself couldn't do that, so how I envyed them.

I think that demos need to be more about outreach in that respect, such as on mayday how the informal block was organisied to get our views across was a good idea ( I dunno how it went i never went ) we need to be turning up at even the smallest events which are organised and getting our ideas out there, because most peopel who are on the fringes of left political activity usually only have the trots words for everything.

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Remember Newspapers Companies are only out to make a quick profit. Ask yourself, which will sell more. "A Roit" or "Peaceful demo."

David Beckham?

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first of all, what the media says about us is pretty much irrelevant.

You cannot just disgard the effects of the media, the mass media is a most important aspect of modern capitalist societies, our society is saturated with media, we can never escape it. To disregard what the media portrays us as is ludicrous and absurd. The media is the modern truncheon, instead of physoical control we are under mental control, ideologically the masses are herded by the mass media.

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i think most demos are fairly shit for reaching out to people and spreading info about issues and anarchism and that.

I disagree, out of my own experiances demos are great for outreach. And things like reclaim public places defiantely have the possibility of getting working class peopel to listen.

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dunno what we're gonna do for the g8 in 2005 though, a golf course takes much longer to destroy and isn't nearly as satisfying as a bank

Lol. Maybe so, but where will these banking elites play golf twisted

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Maybe I'm wrong, but I think that the average person who sees an anarchist laying into someone who they think is there to help them won't side with the anarchist.

Very true IMO.

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As for property destruction, we are still living in a mainly capitalist society. People WANT to own property and be rich. It is drilled into us from our first years: trade, possession, control, etc. Until we can convince people of an alternative, they will associate wealth and glamour with success and property destruction with thuggery.

I know this sounds soft as flowers, but all this agressive activity will have a mainly adverse effect at least until we can give our ideas and theoreys just as much publicity.

Precisely, but do the adverse effects outweigh the advantages on what property destruction has achieved, the anti-capitalist movement has grown massively (from what ive read) over the last 10 years, maybe that is down to the end of the cold war, or maybe down to the growth in mass resistance at major events?

The biggest question which arises from this debate has to be in my opinion:

If Violence or peaceful demontrations and activities do not get us victories however minor, what can?

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JoeMaguire
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May 25 2004 12:43

If man is born free but everywhere he his in chains then surely it must stand that the 'urge to destroy is a creative urge', its not the most constructive thing we can be doing but its probably the most empowering to any new activist which has just become radicalised.

Of course taking into account a bad media image be it with reclaim the streets, mayday protests or even the poll tax riots you have to point out when people 'identify' with those events and those political forces which kicked up a fuss and got one over the state or big business or whatever, there really are fewer better experiences you can feel in the absence of any major victory.

But as with most things in anarchism a strength is also a weakness.

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May 25 2004 12:47
Quote:
In my view it has alway worth playing along with the hyper that the media whipped up and show them up to what is their worth.

something amusing i read in barricada (apart from some priceless quotes from greek anarchists in genoa) was that during one of the ftaa protests when the media was saying anarchists were going to trash the city, some anarchists in one city went around in black bloc picking up trash...

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such as on mayday how the informal block was organisied to get our views across was a good idea ( I dunno how it went i never went )

it was shit, the demo had practically no one except stalinist scum fucks on it.

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You cannot just disgard the effects of the media,

we can if we have a solid grounding in communities and produce our own regular and widely distributed information. if the spanish anarchists managed to weather all the bad publicity of the low level warfare of assassinations during the 1910s and 20s when producing non-corporate/state media was far more expensive, then we can in the early 21st century from a few broken windows. and if we don't have that grounding then we're not going to be achieve much more than a few broken windows and burnt banks (and hospitalised coppers), so we may as well do it because people will soon forget about it by the time we decide to do something more useful stuff. also, along with politicians, journalists are the people most people don't trust in all those survey things, so we really shouldn't worry about it.

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People WANT to own property and be rich.

generally the property that is being destroyed is corporate property or that of the very rich. i think most people are intelligent enough to realise that the people trashing a bank are not going to through a brick through their sitting room window.

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reclaim public places

is not a demo, at least not what i mean by a demo. most demos are crap, they involve various radicalise selling papers to each other. or if they are against a particular summit, the hype before and the police presence means that there are hardly anyone except protesters. and all you can do if it is a decent demo where you can reach people is give them a leaflet as you go marching past.

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maybe down to the growth in mass resistance at major events?

or maybe down to the hard work of activists in between times tongue

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If Violence or peaceful demontrations and activities do not get us victories however minor, what can?

well they do. prague forced the imf meeting to close early, that san fransisco demo pretty much stopped the entire business district. it obviously depends on the situation, i don't think there will be many more riots like genoa any time soon, at least not in a city that's expecting it. i should think they obvious answer is lots more hard un glamorous work so we can get the numbers out to thwart the police, and then the army, and then to have global anarchy.... personally i reckon choosing a nice local target like bailiffs would be a good start, and the amount of property destruction that people would agree with that could be done there is mouth watering....

woofnbark
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May 25 2004 16:10
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David Beckham?

Since when David Beckham attended a demo?

tongue

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In my view it has alway worth playing along with the hype that the media whipped up and show them up to what is their worth.

The point that I'm trying to make that there was no "Doom" as portrayed by the media. It was interesting just seeing the public reaction, I manage to lipread one women waving her arms around saying "Is this what all the fuss is about?" she turn briefly back to the crowd and I just nodded back. "Yeah stupid isn't it."

Vaneigemappreci...
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May 25 2004 16:51

I think we have to reasess what we expect from mass demonstrations.

Are they merely symbolic forms of resistance?

Should we start from the stance that we aim to turn each demonstration into a physical conflict with the surroundings and police/ a riot?

Is the demonstration a means of distributing ideas/ cementing solidarity/highlighting problems?

What seems to be generally accepted is that for the large part, demonstrations are a safe and harmless way of voicing discontent, like shouting at a brick wall. They're rarely a vocal point for widespread disturbance nor an effective means of challenging the existing system and its functional apparatus of control and socialisation.

Should we be looking at more direct and effective means of revolt?

If we see demonstrations as a means of highlighting certain issues/ disseminating ideas, then actions such as ad-busting, graffiti and leafleting are just as effective in achieiving such aims, although less spectacular (and therefore more relevant) a proliferation of such tactics is essentially a more active way of expressing ideas and alternatives.

Demonstrations often come across and feel as though they are detetched from reality, particularly the way in which they are reported in the press gives them an air of being a separated occurrence, whereas everyday actions such as those mentioned above, along with occupations, assault the object of critique in its environment and also evade the judgemental gaze of the mass media.

Instances of resistance shouldnt be restricted to large, lifeless spectacles for the countries media to feed upon, we need to operate on an everyday basis. I think that for some people a demonstration is seen as a holiday, an enjoyable day out in the sun, of course the individual may have a perfectly good reason for protesting and may feel strongly enough about something to protest against it, but the logic of protest is fundamentally flawed from an anarchist perspective in that, as stated by someone earlier, you are effectively making a gesture to the countries elite, for the large part about a specific problem or occurence.

Mike Harman
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May 29 2004 13:16

I mate of mine, when all the anti-war protests were occurring, described them as petitioning, which is something I'm increasingly persuaded by - maybe a more visible petition, but still, all you're doing is asking someone not to do something either nicely or not very nicely.

WeTheYouth
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May 29 2004 13:45
Quote:
I mate of mine, when all the anti-war protests were occurring, described them as petitioning, which is something I'm increasingly persuaded by - maybe a more visible petition, but still, all you're doing is asking someone not to do something either nicely or not very nicely.

The stop the war tactics of sign this petition by my paper never really got anywhere.

Mike Harman
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May 29 2004 14:14

Nor did the old-street road block (which I came upon by chance and joined in at the end although most people had been penned in by then). Fair enough, if it had been 1500 or 15000 people instead of 80-150, it would have had a far greater impact (and yes, a lot of traffic was stopped as it was). But it's still only anti-war - not pro-anarchism or pro-anything-else. It's this focus on direct-action _against_ things, as opposed to direct action _for_ things that seems to take a lot of energy without a lot of results.

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Rob Ray
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Jun 20 2004 09:34

A quick addendum to this, seeing as I came to the conversation late. I'd like to make it clear I'm discussing theoretical tactics only later on.

Economic cost:

A big problem with property destruction is the insurance system. If you trash 15 McDonalds, they are reimbursed by their insurers for the damage. This causes premiums to skyrocket as the reinsurers etc try to claw their money back quickly.

In response, McDonalds are not just going to take this threat to their income margins lying down. They thus squeeze both ends of the market for more money, causing small price hikes over here, but far worse, increased misery overseas as they clamp down on wages, working conditions etc in their satellite states. Anyone choosing the path of property destruction should be aware of these consequences before they set out.

Media problems:

Quote:
we can if we have a solid grounding in communities and produce our own regular and widely distributed information.

But we don't, and we don't. The Spanish Anarchs were/are huge and had their own seperate means of undermining the main media message. We have Schnews, Freedom, Catalyst and a few others, whose combined circulation probably doesn't total as much as my local rag. Much of our membership frankly aren't sociable to 'normal' folks, and few of the rest manage effective outreach thanks to the overwhelming cacophony of marketing and apathy that surrounds us.

If you want to get around poor media image it'd need a focused, coherent alternative press, preferably with radio and TV support, who can not only provide a wide enough circulation to beat the mainstream message, but actually persuade people that the respect they've been taught to show big business is wrong enough to justify violent insurrection against it. That's one hell of an uphill struggle in today's post-Thatcherite era.

Tactical problems:

Property destruction can be effective in breaking a corporation if done as a sustained, pinpoint campaign across the entire country, by hundreds, preferably thousands of people willing to risk arrest. We do not as a movement however have the numbers or backing that could make a big nationwide campaign feasible, even if the entire movement was united in that one cause, which it isn't.

Under our current circumstances, trying to do so would be counter-productive as most people see corporations as providing our jobs and wealth. We'd have no lasting impact on the corporation itself (in fact we may even help it get a sympathy vote), and we'd stir up a hornet's nest of media condemnation (and no matter how much it hurts, we've got to face the truth that the media DOES rule the minds of most).

Other thoughts:

Assuming for the sake of argument that such a campaign did begin though, it would need to be done quickly for two reasons.

1. In order to undermine the corporations ability to earn faster than it can recoup, reinvest and profit. Big gaps between actions gives them plenty of time to take the hit and just shrug it off using the aforementioned tactics.

2. Legislation is currently being passed that gives HLS bosses legal protection to their homes, workplaces etc, with protesters breaking the law by coming within 10 miles of either. It looks like it'll take a few years, but once it is passed it sets a precedent for other companies to follow, so once a campaign is started, it needs to have done its damage within maybe a couple of years at the most, before such legislation is passed making such actions vastly more difficult.

Ghost_of_the_re...
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Jun 20 2004 15:11

Destroying stuff is of course the easy part of removing corporates from power. Even if, despite insurance issues, legality etc, property destruction managed to completely destroy a company, you're still left with two huge problems, firstly you give corporate media and the government justification for huge curtails on civil liberties (as with 11th september), and secondly you still have thousands more companies causing as much trouble as the one you managed to get rid of.

The term uphill struggle was used very accurately earlier in reference to the cause of making people realise why McDonalds has to go- not least because companies have been allowed plenty of time to get governments and media on their side. Education campaigns, combined with high-visibility direct actions, are starting to make dents in public conciousness in a few cases (Nestle, Esso etc), but both the scale and the legitimacy of such programmes needs a lot of work.

Anti-capitalists are generally quite content to be grouped as anti-war, so starting a war against companies seems rather silly.