Is direct action ever appropriate?

goodwinVandals have attacked the home of Sir Fred Goodwin, the former Royal Bank of Scotland boss. It’s been reported that a group angry about his record pension have claimed responsibility for the attack. In the UK, Sir Fred has become public enemy number one after refusing to return his massive pension pot, after his bank was bailed out by the tax payer.

Meanwhile in France, workers are holding their boss hostage in a factory outside Paris in a row over job losses.

Newshour will be looking at this issue later today and we’d like to know what you think. These examples are obviously illegal: but is direct action ever appropriate? Is this the only way to get the bosses to listen? Or does it only ever undermine the cause and attract negative attention?

10 Responses to “Is direct action ever appropriate?”

  1. 1 ash
    March 25, 2009 at 19:51

    not appropriate. In this instance Mr Goodwin could be brought back in front of the Treasury Select Committee and requestioned about aspects of the saga that he is involved in.

    The public needs an outlet for their anger and in my view, it will be best channelled via the Parliamentary committee.

    with best wishes.

  2. 2 Jim Newman
    March 25, 2009 at 22:31

    Hello again
    These people who see themselves as being above the society in which they live and consider that they have god given privileges are the proof that in spite of a so called democracy we still live in a feudal society. In feudal times the only action possible is direct action.

  3. 3 Mark
    March 26, 2009 at 04:44

    I heard the program on mar 25th at around 22:45 CET and was astonished to hear that someone would openly say that it’s ok to damage people’s property or hold someone hostage whatever the reason. Unfortunately I do not remember the “gentleman”‘s name but I find it very disturbing. A hostage situation is a very serious one, not to be taken lightly. And property damage is unacceptable. These are crimes and the perpetrators should be punished as such.
    Two wrongs don’t make a right and whatever Mr Goodwin’s faults may be, how can the perpetrators assume the position of judge and jury and executioner?

    I enjoy your programming, keep up the good work.

  4. 4 AL
    March 26, 2009 at 09:27

    I think non-violent action is the best way to protest about social wrongs. But I can understand the frustration and anger that led to the behaviour of the factory workers in France and the vandals in Scotland. Sir fred Goodwin and his ilk have ruthlessly lined their pockets without any care for workers, customers and society in general. The law has allowed this to happen – indeed the economic framework encouraged such greed.

    There needs to be a grassroots social protest against such institutional inequality; but
    non-violent direct action would be more powerful and probably more effective in the long term.

    All that being said, I’m sure the many people who have lots their jobs and homes had little sympathy for Sir Fred’s broken window and vandalised car. Perhaps feeling a little insecure might give him some insight into the plight of his victims.

    I hope that the rich, greedy and powerful begin to understand that they have responsibilities towards others and that their greed is ultimately self defeating.

  5. 5 VictorK
    March 26, 2009 at 10:05

    If direct action is OK then it’s OK in all circumstances: you can’t pick and choose. Lynch mobs, vigilantes, Southern whites defending their traditions of segregation, Serbs teaching their non-Serb neighbours ‘a lesson’, firebombing, angry Somali Muslims putting a bullet in a nun’s head, painting swastikas in Jewish cemetries…these are just as much direct action as the kind of thing the left looks favourably on (attacks on bosses, student occupations, civil rights marches, etc).

    Where there are legal and political processes available for resolving issues there is no justification for the kind of ‘direct action’ which is a euphemism for breaking the law and intimidating others.

  6. 6 Joseph
    March 26, 2009 at 17:41

    All actions, whether direct or indirect, should be considered actions. If one takes matters into their own hands then, it really ought to be a proper investment of time and effort directed towards a proper goal.

    By smashing Fred Goodwins car and home windows, what does this achieve except for terrorising his family for something (in the case of the children) they had no say over? He is just scapegoat of the month, and all he needs to do is now request security from the RBS or the government which shall undoubtedly arrive at the taxpayers expense.

  7. 7 AL
    March 27, 2009 at 08:37

    I would like to pick up on a point made by Victor when he equates civil rights marches to firebombing, vigilantes etc. Surely he cannot seriously think that a peaceful and well controlled march to protest against social wrongs is like ‘putting a bullet in a nun’s head’!!!

    I marched with the 250,000 people in Edinburgh during the G8 summit and saw no violence – just good will and desire to change injustice.

    Victor argues that there is no excuse for ‘direct action’ when there are legal and political processes available for resolving issues. But the legal and political processes in the UK and the USA failed to prevent this economic downturn and failed to bring those who caused it to justice. What Sir Fred and those like him did WAS within the law because the politicians and the bankers set it up that way. Where can justice be found then?

  8. 8 paulmarkj
    March 28, 2009 at 11:53

    If people support directg action, then they also support the idea of direct action against themselves.

    If I find one of those who vandalised Fred Goodwin’s home, can I find fault with him, and vandalise his home? After all, he doesn’t have to have broken the law, just to ahve dones something that offends me!

  9. 9 Jim Newman
    March 29, 2009 at 21:57

    Hello again
    Is direct action ever apropriate? What sort of action is it that puts people out of work, that throws people out of their homes?
    When a nation’s economy is used by a bunch of crooks to line their pockets. What sort of action is that?
    It must seem pretty direct to the victims.
    Where are these famous political and legal processes that ViktorK talks about?
    They don’t exist.
    The politicians treat the people like mushrooms. Keep them in the dark and feed them on bullshit.
    In my opinion some kind of action is needed to redress the balance maybe direct democracy would be more apropriate.

  10. 10 steve
    April 26, 2009 at 18:41

    They’re at it again in DC. World Bank/IMF protestors shattered bank windows here in DC. Huge police presence on PA avenue because they’re also planning on having an organized protest…..

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