On the hypocrisy of ideological protests (*cough* G8/20 protestors…*cough*)

“We can so easily make claims concerning the need to end child labor or look after the environment, and yet we continue to buy the products that employ child labor or damage the eco-system. Our religious or political ideology here functions as that which allows us to continue living in the way to which we have become accustomed with a minimum of guilt. The last thing we really want is to get what we are asking for, because this would cost us so much in terms of how we live. We do not want to sacrifice our comfortable lives, yet we find it hard to acknowledge that distasteful truth, and so we engage in forms of protest that enable us to blame another (the government, big business) while enjoying the benefits that such a corrupt system offers us. It is a little like employees talking about their manager behind her back while at the same time working hard, coming in on time, and seeking approval. The backbiting that goes on in the office is not, contrary to expectation, something that undermines the manager. If anything, it is the very valve that enables the manager to keep the employees from taking their grievances further.”

Peter Rollins.

  1. Bookachov said:


    I get this point, but I have to disagree.
    It is too general and simplistic an explanation. The reasons for ‘it’ being how it is are so complex, and in important ways are rooted in the economic systems of our society(s).

    I would not be surprised if some of those who protest fit this stereotype (or whatever it should be called). But it is unfair to group all who protest in a rich capitalist society as hypocritical. It is how you have to live, to be truly free of hypocrisy would be, dare I say, impossible?

    For example on a different note- I hate plastic. But I find it is impossible to go a day without using it in some way, not because I love convenience, but because it is one of the many wheels that run our way of life. Food safety, tool parts… anything. But nevertheless, I continue to ‘protest’ against it… perhaps in hope that it will become illegal or something… everyone who knows how to make it will die with the ‘recipe’…

    That’s it.

    Peace bro

    (I apologize for not proofreading.. I am really tired)

  2. Andrew said:

    I agree with the sentiment, but it cannot be applied to all individuals, at least not fairly. For example, if Mr Clean really cared about the environment then Procter and Gamble would ditch their all their brands in exchange for biodegradable ones, instead they only produce one or two “eco-friendly” products to appease the “yippies” – there is definatly hippocracy here.

    However it cannot necessarily be applied to ALL “ideological protestors” – such a claim on its own does not stand. Are some people hippocritical? Yes, but thats a criticism of humanity, not ideology. Find any belief, or non-belief, any idea, any group, any person and you will inevitably find hypocrissy.

  3. James Tonn said:

    There is a book by a U of T prof. called The Rebel Sell – which explores this sentiment and it is valid, though I am not sure the purpose of the book in practicality. A couple things to say on this:

    1. I believe everyone in society has a voice and as a few chapters in Isaiah point out (in the 40’s I think)- it is our role as God’s people to make sure the voice of the weak and poor is heard.

    2. I get excited when these people, or people on their behalf take to the streets in protest to show they are not alone and magnify the message through vast numbers of people. This happens all the time in France, and works all the time, the leaders change laws because the people revolt. Similar protests helped in Freedom from Slavery, Malcolm X being freed from jail, etc.

    3. It is valid to easily point out all the times these protests do not work and discourage those at “the pickit line” BUT WHY? What are we afraid of? Why not let their voice be heard?

    Now these three above points are general how I feel. Applied to the G8/G20 I have mixed feelings- a small number of people get violent and make it easy for the media to write off the whole crowd and not even discuss what it is they are protesting. IN CANADA we are known for just taking anything we’re given. Eg. TV Commercial time was increased in the 80’s and the networks had a whole plan in place in order to deal with the riots and protests and backlash – BUT nobody in Canada said a word. EG. When the iphone came to Canada they charged our country the most of all the countries it was released in – because they knew we would not protest, and we did not – people all signed up for 3 year plans.

    The problem I have is that IN CANADA we not only take all this crap, but we (the people/government/media) bash anyone who stands up against the system in protest.

    That is enough of a rant from me – I only have the media’s side of the story of the G-protests BUT I DON’T TRUST THEM ONE BIT!

  4. jt* said:


    You all make very good points that I agree with. The title of the post was “On the hypocrisy of *ideological* protests”. I’m sure you’re already aware of this but the problem with ideologies in general is that they draw a line in the sand between the victims (usually us) and the enemy (usually them). What this does is it enables “us” to take our share of the responsibility and place it on “them” because “they” are the enemy.

    So in the case of ideological protests, protesters fail to realize the part that they play and their responsibility when it comes to the sorts of economic policies being discussed at gatherings like the G8/20. And so many folks who are more interested in being tourists and getting photo-ops with cops in riot gear take to the streets to protest against systems of injustice that they themselves are perpetrating.

    And this is precisely the point of the quote I think. It’s that we’re not only victims but we’re also perpetrators. So to continue with the example of the quote, rather than talking shit about our manager behind her back and yet still working hard and coming in on time we really ought to consider leaving the job all-together. And there-in lies another part of the problem. It’s a lot easier to complain about our boss behind her back because then we are still afforded all of the benefits of the job (pay, benefits, etc). We are able to complain and yet remain comfortable and privileged. In other words, when it comes to ideological protests, we really want to shout about systems changing but when it comes down to it, how many of us want our lives to change?

    In conclusion, I’m all for joining with the poor and oppressed in acting against systems of oppression and protesting just causes (even in the simplicity of our daily lives together). Yet I know that the real battlefield is in our own hearts and minds. Do we really give a shit about the poor and oppressed or do we just want to take to the streets and yell so as to justify our own comfortable and privileged lives that perpetrate oppression?

    • James Tonn said:

      OK I see the point more clearly now, I think I was just venting about the G-protests in general. I suppose I am coming from a different place experientially than the article’s author;s intended audience- Moving from heart and mind (Internal Reform), to actively helping change things (External Reform), to working towards change at the policy level (Systemic Reform).

      • jt* said:

        I like that.

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