"Barefoot Bandit" vs. anarchists, PLEASE help me understand
I'm sorry if the title of this post is confusing, there isn't an actual existing conflict between anarchists and the Barefoot Bandit (aka Colton Harris-Moore) that I know of anyway. What I'm talking about is drastically different public perceptions of the two parties in question, and why they exist.
This following section is for those who don't know the history of our "bandit" and his recent arrest. If you know this already, skip this part.
Back-story: the Barefoot Bandit, or Colton Harris-Moore, who is originally from our neighbor state to the north, Washington (the Puget Sound area) was recently captured in the Bahamas.
From some corporate news: "The 6-foot-5-inch Harris-Moore had been on the run since escaping from a Washington state halfway house in 2008. He is accused of breaking into dozens of homes and committing burglaries across Washington, as well as in British Columbia and Idaho.
He is also suspected of stealing at least five planes — including the aircraft he allegedly lifted in Indiana and flew more than 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) to the Bahamas, despite a lack of formal flight training. [apparently he taught himself how to fly using flight manuals and that flight-simulator computer game!]
Some of his alleged actions appeared intended to taunt police: In February, someone who broke into a grocery store in Washington's San Juan Islands drew cartoonish, chalk-outline feet all over the floor.
Through it all, his ranks of supporters grew. Some of his more than 60,000 Facebook fans posted disappointed messages Sunday, while others promoted T-shirts and tote bags with the words "Free Colton!" and "Let Colton Fly!"
... Witnesses on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera recognized the 19-year-old dubbed the "Barefoot Bandit" and called police, who captured him after a high-speed boat chase, Bahamas Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade said at a celebratory news conference in Nassau, the capital.
Greenslade said shots were fired during the water chase but he did not say who fired them. He also said Harris-Moore was carrying a handgun that he tried to throw away.
Another senior police official, however, said police fired to disable the motor on the suspect's stolen boat, and that Harris-Moore threw his gun in the water..."
END BACK-STORY, now back to my question.
So... why do people love this guy so much? Specifically, why do so many random folks like this guy and mistrust or downright dislike anarchists, especially those anarchists that participate in Black Bloc actions? Why is Colton a "folk-hero" while masked anarchists continue to be "hooligans, insane hoodlums, thugs" etc.?
Obviously there are plenty of authoritarian type folks who don't like either Colton OR masked-up anarchists. But I'm not talking about them. I'm talking about those average folks who span the spectrum of sort-of-lefty to basically-conservative who find Colton's actions to be admirable.
I'm also not saying that I dislike Colton, in fact I find his actions to have been in some cases very inspiring myself. I'm just confused about the situation.
Let's review some facts in this case:
One of Colton Harris' favorite activities was breaking into individuals homes and stealing their stuff.
Granted that was often just a blanket and some food, but he did in fact also use peoples credit cards to buy some very expensive night-vision goggles. He also stole a large number of cars.
As much as I might also want some sweet night-vision goggles, I'm an anarchist, and anarchists often draw a big distinction between stealing from individuals and stealing from corporations.
That is, we tend to find it much more morally acceptable to steal from an organization that makes so much profit that from an economic standpoint it can afford to lose some inventory. Despite the lies of some particularly silly management types, stealing from corporations (like wallmart or fred meyer for example) just doesn't really hurt the average workers, since most stores sell their products at prices much higher than what they bought them for, hence, they make a lot of profit. Profit is an excess of money that they use either for expansion, or more often to pay their owners, higher-up managers, etc, ridiculously and indefensibly high salaries. We'd have to steal a truly HUGE amount of inventory from most stores before they'd even get close to "just" breaking even!
Also even if this stealing really did hurt the corporation as a whole, well we don't like those corporations and think they should go away and be replaced by either some form of co-op system or just a gift and trade economy of basic natural resources. And I haven't yet found a corporation that I think I can get away with stealing some night-vision goggles from.
I've NEVER heard of a whole black-bloc breaking into an individuals home and stealing their personal stuff, or their car, let alone an individual anarchist. In fact the only time I've ever heard of an anarchist stealing a car was when one stole a COP CAR! Sometimes a black-bloc will move people's recycling bins a couple of feet into the street in order to try to slow the police down, but that's hardly 'stealing'. Black-blocks do engage in property destruction to be sure, they break corporate and government windows mostly, which are generally insured against damages. Sometimes they go as far as to really trash a recruitment center... but while Colton gets public praise, black-clad anarchists either get vicious ridicule or at best silent tolerance from the mainstream. The bloack-bloc gets slammed by folks who's personal property it DIDN'T steal or break.
So from a purely materialistic standpoint, Colton is WAY more likely to actually do something that would materially negatively affect you as an individual, i.e. steal your car or your credit card (or your airplane as it might be). If, on the other hand, an anarchist black-bloc accomplishes anything at all, it will be to send a clear message to the cops and the city that it's expensive for THEM to keep KILLING people.
And as far as motivation goes, it seems that Colton was throughout most of this just "looking out for #1," just doing whatever he wanted to do for his own pleasure. That is, he stole or destroyed personal and private property for his own personal ends. Anarchists, on the other hand, mostly destroy property out of a profoundly moral concern: trying to make the world a better place, one where it's less likely for people to be beaten to death by cops because they have a mental condition, or where its less likely for a black man in an emotional crises to be shot dead by the cops, etc.
So what is it? Have the capitalist ideals of this country seriously brainwashed average people to the degree that they identify more with someone who steals and damages things for his own personal ends rather than those who act out of regard for the common good?
Is the mainstream SO hopelessly cynical that it lashes out at people who want to see a better world simply BECAUSE they want to see a better world?
Is it actually that much of a 'virtue' to have no social or political ambition whatsoever? Can our only heroes be those who have no regard for trying to make the world better for others, and not only themselves?
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