David Graeber's lament

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Feb 21 12:25:18 MST 2002

David Graeber:
>	Ah, I see. And what we're doing is not democratic?
>	You will note for example that no one in the
>Black Bloc threw any rocks during the entire action (though
>if there had been marshalls trying to stop them, it would
>have raised the chances enormously.) That's because if you
>respect people they respect you back.

What can I say, I prefer voting. There are fewer surprises that way.

>	Anyway, what my dad was involved in was a mass
>movement that did _not_ make decisions democratically in
>the least and that's why he eventually dropped out of the
>party and decided that - in other than purely military
>matters, anyway - the anarchists in Spain had been right.
>Are you honestly asserted that '30s Stalinists were more
>democratic than people now trying to practice direct
>democracy? That's just insane!

I think you are being too harsh on the CP. Perhaps you've been reading too
much Ronald Radosh.

>	No, Left Turn is a group of people who broke with
>the ISO around the same time the US ISO split from the UK
>SWP, largely over whether the globalization movement should
>be considered a "movement". Almost all the nicest and most reasonable
>ISO-ers, in my experience, ended up joining Left Turn but none of
>them are disenchanted anarchists to my knowledge. It was created
>by people moving away from the classic Marxist position and
>towards a more direct-action oriented one, though still in
>a rather limited way IMHO.

Thanks for the info. This is very helpful.

>	This just isn't so. Certainly many people are
>justifiably concerned with the danger of a fetishization
>of tactics (hey - and who's using the big words now?) but
>diversity of tactics is a _principle_. You make it sound like
>people are out there smashing windows and attacking cops
>every time there's a big mobilization. But in fact it's just
>not true: at Seattle there was property destruction, in
>A16 the Black Bloc made a conscious decision not to (through that
>direct democracy/consensus process means you seem to hold in
>such contempt), and kept to their decision.

Sorry, I am not so impressed with the Black Bloc's "conscious decision" as
I am with the decisions of the movement as a whole. If back in the 1960s we
had relied the SDS to decide whether or not it was going to fight the cops
at a mass antiwar demonstration, we would have opened ourselves up to
victimization as we know from a study of Cointelpro today.

> In Philly
>they did some property destruction but intentionally away from
>where the lockdown people were, as a diversion. At J20 they
>didn't, but did take over Naval Memorial to hoist their
>flags. During the WEF there was also a decision not to trash
>the town out of respect for peoples' feelings here. And so forth
>and so on.
>	This doesn't mean people won't absolutely insist on
>their _right_ to decide for themselves what sort of tactics
>are appropriate; but if you recognize that right, they are
>willing to sit down and be reasonable about what's appropriate
>when and where. That's the great lesson of anarchism: most
>people are as reasonable as they're allowed to be. If you
>treat them as adults, they'll act that way. If you treat them
>as children, as you seem inclined to, then they'll act like
>children most likely - as keeps happening in LA and other parts
>of the West Coast where they're always trying to stop the
>Black Blockers from doing anything, and then the BB act in
>ways far more disruptive and militant than they ever do over
>on this side in reaction to attempts to physically suppress

Look, whatever you folks did for the anti-WEF protests should be seen as a
step forward. Arrests do not build the movement unless it is something like
the civil disobedience of the 1960s that were respected by the mass
movement as a whole. During the 1980s, the Central American movement always
allowed people to get arrested to heighten awareness and to allow them to
follow their conscience. What we have to move past is the notion that a
small segment of the movement has the right to "do its own thing". Unless
we are talking about libertarianism rather than principled anarchist politics.

Louis Proyect
Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org

PLEASE clip all extraneous text before replying to a message.

More information about the Marxism mailing list