[Marxism] Avoiding the black bloc?
quimbywm at gmail.com
Fri Feb 10 11:35:12 MST 2012
Can I add another issue to this Black Bloc discussion? I have been paying attention to
the development of "Total Policing" in England, and if the police here are watching
(and we can safely assume that they are) the day when demonstrators - peaceful or
otherwise - can effect societal or political change may be ending. Opponents of Total
Policing correctly state that the policy criminalizes peaceful protest - but more
importantly it will control and limit protest when it does happen (in spite of legal
permits) making it toothless, easy for the elite to ignore, and demoralizing to the
A google search on "England total policing" will get more information, but I
recommend for a starter the WSWS article below - I have appended a key portion
describing the police preparation and control of a London demo last November.
So I suppose there will be Black Bloc defenders who find in this even more reason for its
existence. Also, there may be a question of scale here, with small demonstrations
easily muted and large demonstration more difficult to police.(Call in the Army,
anyone?) But it would be good to follow up Louis' suggestion that we look at the
Wisconsin success story - I believe that we can categorize those images of the
people inside the State House as having a strong impact on the American psyche.
"Marchers were met at the rail, underground and coach stations and handed an 11-page
brochure, with the capitalised title “TOTAL POLICING” on the front and back. It
warned that police would use section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act
of 1994 to search people and enforce the removal of masks.
The march was dragooned by ranks of police at the front, back and both sides along
the three-mile route. Helicopters circled overhead, making extensive videos of those
In a further provocation, the march was stopped every ten metres, meaning that a
three-mile route took three hours to walk. This periodic kettling enabled the police
to go into the crowd at certain points, pushing and barging people in the hope of
provoking a reaction.
A statement issued on the day warned that the planned rally at the London Wall had to
end in less than an hour and the area had to be completely cleared in two hours. An
attempt to set up a tent camp in Trafalgar Square, in solidarity with the Occupy
protest at St Paul’s Cathedral, was cleared in minutes as police dragged away those
The effort by a group of electricians—striking against management threats to cut
their wages by up to 35 percent—to join up with the student protest was similarly met
with police violence. The electricians’ march was encircled so they were virtually
imprisoned. When some tried to break away, riot police waded in with batons and
knocked workers to the ground. Police were reportedly armed with stun grenades. Names
and addresses were taken under the authority of Section 60 of the Public Order Act.
Before the march, the commander in charge, Simon Pountain, told a press conference
that the use of water cannon was not planned, but plastic bullets had been
authorised—the first time ever in England."
On 2/10/2012 12:03 PM, Louis Proyect wrote:
> Granted the American black bloc types are much smaller and much less of a threat
> than in Greece, we still have a big job in front of us educating the left about
> what a potential threat it represents. When it comes to the point when the
> unemployment rate is 21 percent as it is in Greece today, there will be massive
> resistance. The last thing we need is unaccountable masked people penetrating mass
> actions giving cops the excuse to bust the demo.
> As I just told Paul Buhle offlist, I am anxious to review the book he did on
> Wisconsin because that was an example of a mobilized working class that was NOT
> attacked by cops. In fact, the cops refused to evict trade unionists sitting in at
> the capitol building. Granted there were problems in Wisconsin stemming from the
> DP and AFL-CIO hegemony but the last thing we would have needed is some agent
> provocateurs--either paid or unpaid/unconscious elements--giving the cops the
> excuse they needed to arrest people en masse.
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