[Marxism] Holding the black bloc up to scrutiny

Matthew Russo russo.matthew9 at gmail.com
Fri Jul 2 12:52:12 MDT 2010

Fair enough, and if I have the time (which I quite likely won't for some
time) I will take a look at Well.  But that doesn't my theses here, one
minor and one major:

1) (minor) The Anti-Vietnam War movement was a strategic failure in its
failure to stop the war, which instead dragged on into its most destructive
phase under Nixon, as the movement lost focus and was subsequently
demoralized in the "McGovern Trap" of the Democratic Party in '72.  The
movement went from confronting and attempting to interfere with the
functions of the ruling class institutions - as with the March on the
Pentagon or more importantly, the 1968 Chicago convention - to joining
them.  It has never left since.

2) (major) The Johnson Admin was correct in its perception since this was
before 1968-72 - it certainly brought down that Administration, one form of
interfering with the smooth functioning of the institutions; if the Nixon
Admin thought the antiwar movement was a major threat, well, so what, my
point is that they were *objectively* wrong in their assessment, and their
own misperceptions themselves stupidly provoked a massive nationwide student
strike in the wake of the Cambodia invasion due to the massacres of students
at Jackson and Kent State as a result of the heavy-handed interventions of
National Guardsmen.  This result could have been easily avoided.  My point
is that the ruling class has since then generally learned that mobilizations
without strategic focus, no matter how massive, can be safely ignored, as
the Iraq War sequence of mobilizations have decisively proven, and as
focused counterexamples prove conversely: Seattle/WTO, the Gaza flotilla,
the recent mobilizations against the Greek parliament, the current events in
Puerto Rico, etc. are met with concentrations of violent repression, all the
while as the ruling class anxiously seeks at every turn to advance
repressive techniques aimed precisely at these kinds of focused

That should tell us something.  One thing for sure: our rulers have no
reason to awaken "white middle class" people who happened to naively amble
out on the street one fine sunny day,  to the harsh realities  of the state
power.  And the antics and media magnification of the BB only serve to
reinforce this aversion and fear of an organized and focused interventions
into the "normal" functions of the ruling class institutions, with the
intent to block those functions. The historical process of learning how to
take and exercise state power will not be a Sunday stroll!

BTW, stay tuned to events in the Bay Area, which is on "full security alert"
in anticipation of the verdict on the Mehserle trial (the BART killer cop)!
If, particularly due to the prevailing economic conditions, these degenerate
into an orgy of looting, then we will have an example of the apparent "polar
opposite" of the peaceful Sunday stroll, but with the same negative result:
an event with little political impact to be ignored and forgotten, as with
South Central.  Lets hope not, but we shall see.


Matthew Russo wrote:
> More to the point though, demonstrations that are *not* attacked by the
> ruling class speaks rather  badly of the composition and direction of the
> demonstrators.  If they are not attacked it is because they are not seen
> a threat by the ruling class.

Matthew, I recommend that you (and everybody else) read Tom Wells's "The
War Within: America's Battle over Vietnam". He is not an SWP partisan,
to say the least, but does not agree with your analysis at all. He
quotes high level officials of the LBJ and Nixon administration to drive
the point home that the mass demonstrations *were* seen as a major
threat. Much of the book is available online at Google/books.

More information about the Marxism mailing list