Fw: Don't Throw the Radicals Overboard

Michael Pugliese debsian at SPAMpacbell.net
Sat Dec 4 10:00:22 MST 1999


Date: Sat, 4 Dec 1999 12:23:54 +1100
From: "rc-am" <rcollins at netlink.com.au>
Subject: =?Windows-1252?Q?Don=92t_Throw_the_Radicals_Overboard?=

fwd/d from no2WTO:

WTO Protest Organizers:
Don't Throw the Radicals Overboard

Dec. 2, 1999

"The People, United, Will Never Be Defeated," was one of the most commonly
heard chants in the days of marches protesting the WTO summit in Seattle.
However, one of the most striking elements of the WTO protests was the
level of conflict between adherents of a "nonviolent" protest method, and
those who preferred to express more concretely their feelings towards
global capitalism. A tide of reaction has been swelling against the latter,
with great arrogance on the part of the former. As a group of activist
intellectuals, we feel the need to state our support for the group the
media has been calling, only somewhat inaccurately, "the Anarchists from

We-the broad Left, anti-corporate, pro-livable world community-controlled
the streets of downtown Seattle from 7 am on Tuesday to roughly 7 pm. After
that period-with Mayor Schell and Governor Locke's declarations of martial
law and the violent offensive by local, county, state police and the
National Guard-the streets were a war zone, but during that period, they
were a liberated area.

Inside that liberated area a spectrum of protest and resistance activities
took place, many of which warmed our hearts. Violence against property, as
we'll call the attacks against corporate chain stores by activists, was one
of the conscious strategies that was employed. These activities began on
the afternoon of Monday, Nov. 29th, with the smashing of a window at

The next day, Tuesday, Nov. 30th, they started again shortly after 10 am,
at the corner of 6th Ave. and Pike St., when police began shooting tear gas
cannisters and rubber bullets into the crowd. Throughout the day activists,
protecting their identities with hoods and kerchiefs, formed "black locks"
to move en masse to attack unoccupied chain stores such as the Gap,  Nike,
Levi, Disney, and Bank of America. This is a key point that the media and
President Clinton, among others, are trying to obscure: the crowd did not
attack  "mom and pop stores," but the physical manifestations of

Adherents to "non-violent" protest methods preach against targeting
corporate property. We feel that this is an uncritical acceptance of the
dominant value system of American consumer society: private property has a
higher value than life. At this time, we feel that we, as activists, need
to debate these issues further among ourselves. The problem we are
addressing immediately is that these "non-violent" activists used their
numerical advantage to isolate and dominate practitioners of alternate
protest philosophies: most visibly, the black block anarchists.

As a spectrum of protest activities manifested themselves, scenes we
witnessed included "non-violent" activists linking arms to protect the
corporate theme store Nike Town from the aggressive acts of a black block.

Riot police soon replaced the "peace advocates" as if to say, "We'll take
over now. You're only volunteering to protect property, we do it for a
living." Elsewhere throughout the day "non-violent" activists de-masked,
and on at least one occasion beat, an individual who was acting against

Many elements of the broad Left, anti-corporate, pro-livable world
community have been alarmingly willing to distance themselves from the
direct, militant forms of protest. The World Trade Observer, a daily
tabloid published by a network of mainstream environmental and fair trade
organizations, which features the writing of prominent figures such as
Ralph Nader and Norman Solomon, offers one example. In describing the
previous day's festivities in their Wednesday, December 1st issue, they
identified as a "troubling theme" the practice of "the police singling out
peaceful demonstrators for gassing and beating... while ignoring black-clad
hooligans breaking windows and spraying paint." We witnessed other
"non-violent" protesters criticize the police, not for waging chemical
warfare to cleanse the streets of protesters, but for failing to enter into
the crowd and extract the practitioners of militant protest. The
implication of these statements is that the crowd would have handed over
some of its members to the police, if the police had only asked. We
strongly urge progressive activists to reconsider this stance.

There will undoubtedly be repercussions from the fact that we took control
of a major city for twelve  hours, as the leading administrative body of
global capitalism met to brainstorm for the next millennium. It is unfair,
and irresponsible, to offer "the Anarchists from Eugene" to the state as
scapegoats. Without the support of the rest of the WTO protesters, the
direct action practitioners are at great risk. Grand juries have become
common in the militant animal rights and environmental movements: we would
not think it a surprising development for there to be an inquisition
exploring "conspiracy to riot" charges for the day of well-directed rage in
Seattle. Gas-masks have been declared illegal in Seattle under Mayor Schell
's martial law, and the donning of hoods is being explored by prosecutors
in Eugene as a possible excuse for sentence enhancement.  The price of
protecting oneself and one's identity from police violence is rising. As
people who are interested in counteracting the ill effects of globalization
and ensuring a livable new millenium, we need to consciously confront the
criminalization of radical political philosophies.

We feel that those who belittle and distance themselves from the actions of
"the Anarchists from Eugene" have either ignored or simply did not realize
the level of contributions anarchists-black-clad and otherwise-made towards
bringing the N30 Festival of Resistance into reality. These include the
innovative and joyful protest methods of the Direct Action Network, a
sustained consciousness-raising effort from Left Bank Books, alternative
social structures offered by Food Not Bombs and Homes Not Jails, the
Anarchist hotline, housing networks, and so on. It also should not go
unsaid that developing a community able to produced several hundred
predominantly white youths with middle-class backgrounds to take militant
action against their real enemy is no small feat of organization. It has
taken years of sowing and tending to seeds of awareness and resistance, and
we,  at least, appreciate that effort.

If the Left activist community is to be united and strong, more
communication and internal discussion around strategical issues is
necessary. Our contact information is listed below. All of us have
experience with social movements,  and many of us have mapped the
repressive tactics used against them. We encourage media to get in touch
with us as well.

Daniel Burton-Rose, (206) 324-8165, ex. 1. Co-editor, The Celling of
America: An Inside Look  at the U.S. Prison Industry (Common Courage Press,
1998), editor, win: a newsletter on activism at the extremes.

Ward Churchill, (303) 492-5066 (voice mail). Author, Pacifism as Pathology:
Reflections on the Role of Armed Struggle in North America (Arbeiter Ring:

Robin Hahnel, (202) 885-2712, rhahnel at american.edu. Author, Panic Rules:
Everything You Need to Know About the Global Economy (South End Press,
1999); Professor, American University.

Kent Jewell, (206) 324-8165, ex. 3. Former co-owner, Left Bank Books

George Katsiaficas, (617) 989-4384. Author: The Subversion of Politics:
European Autonomous Social Movements and the Decolonization of Everyday
  (Humanities Press,  1997) and The Global Imagination of the New Left
(South End Press, 1987); editor, with Kathleen Cleaver, Liberation,
Imagination, and the Black Panther Party (Routledge, forthcoming); editor,
New Political Science.

Christian Parenti, (415) 626-4034, seapea at juno.com.  Lockdown America:
Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis (Verso, 1999); instructor, New

Robert Perkinson, (203) 772-1600, robert.perkinson at yale.edu. Instructor,
Yale University.


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