[Marxism] On the black bloc
lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Feb 10 10:09:35 MST 2017
A comment on my "Vanity of the Bonfires" article by Farans Kalosar:
I am opposed to Black Blocs. It’s only a tactic, as its adherents repeat
nauseam and it is now and always has been a self-defeating one.
I witnessed a few hundred anarchist protesters, as far as one could tell
(BTW) all white, marching down 13th Street in DC before the mini-riots
about which such a convenient and exaggerated fuss was made in the media.
They contingent I saw were followed by a massive police convoy
comprising at least nine brand-new Ford Transit vans packed to the roof
with police as well as a substantial contingent of police cars
containing two or more policepersons. There were anywhere from eighty to
a hundred armed and well-organized police just following the
demonstration. The long procession of police vehicles took longer to
pass than the demonstration itself.
What did the demonstrators do? They marched into a police “kettle” in
which a few more of their comrades were already contained, and then
proceeded to break windows and set fires while completely surrounded.
(It should be noted, by the way, that Black Bloc tactic has now fully
legitimized the police “kettle” tactic which was formerly banned.)
More than half of the protesters were arrested and subjected to felony
charges, as were any journalists unlucky enough to find themselves swept
up in the totally predictable police response.
The DC police, while they love to cultivate a kind and gentle persona
for public consumption, are notoriously absolutely ruthless in attacking
not only spontaneous protest of all kinds but also for their violent
suppression of anyone recording what they are up to inside their
“kettles.” I have witnessed this on more than one occasion. In fact,
while I was attempting to record the events I witnessed, a policemen in
one of the following cars motioned to me to stop. I have no doubt that
if he could have done so without breaking formation, he would have
arrested me and another chap with a better camera who was also recording
the procession–I hope with better results than I got.
The actually illegal tactics used by the police in response to this
provocation are now standard because of it, and represent only the
beginning of the tactics that will soon be deployed against all protests
and mass meetings, peaceful or otherwise.
Now, you can talk all you want about the legitimacy and value of riots,
but you have to understand that even if one could deliberately start a
truly massive riot (I happen to think the real ones are always
spontaneous), it is physically impossible and profoundly stupid to do
attempt this when one is completely surrounded by an enemy possessing
more than enough force to neutralize every single effectif involved in
the action. Such a course has only symbolic value, and very little of
that. A few adventurists may be recruited, but the mass of the people
will not respond.
If the massive and highly popular Women’s March had not followed this
idiotic debacle, largely erasing the sinister impression that it made,
the result would have been a calamity for the forces of resistance in
I confess that I hate Milo Whatsopoulos like the plague. He is an insect
who, in the best of worlds, would be squashed in some place where his
filthy joices would not contaminate the human environment. And I will
concede that at least the Berkeley protests as a whole were massive
enough to qualify as spontaneous.
But the left has to wise up about the use of force and coercion. Working
people, especially people of color, have none of the traditional means
of exerting force that were available during the long-vanished days when
we had a fighting union movement and–yes, for all the errors of
Stalinism–a fighting Communist Party (and IWW).
This means that all of us are naked before the enemy. Never at any time
have the masses of the people been as weak as they are today. Why else
would we be running to the thoroughly discredited Democratic Party as
though there were no alternative?
The answer is that, at present, there is no alternative. The task is to
In this scenario, in order to win support, the only practical tactic is
an essentially nonviolent one. The Left should be organizing among
immigrants, among working people facing job loss, among the least
well-educated and least prestigious of our comrades as well as among the
educated who find the promise that has enslaved them so irrevocably to
crushing debt is a broken one
We should be a disciplined and helpful presence in the lives of those
who suffer most from the declining capitalism that, in its decadence,
wields more power over the live of ordinary people than it has at any
time in the previous history of this country. We should engender trust,
not seek to inspire fear.
We are not in a revolutionary situation in this country, but we are deep
in counter-revolution, and can only neutralize this through highly
disciplined and personally perhaps not very gratifying organization.
This has nothing immediately to do with the Sunday-school moralism so
often asserted in support of non-violence. It is a question of tactics,
which should in turn reflect a strategy.
The fetishization of a self-defeating tactic like Black Bloc merely
signals the absence of an effective strategy and a powerful organization
I can’t imagine the unemployed coal miners who voted for Donald Trump
coalescing in full support of this epicene and contemptible subhuman
piece of shit. But the sort of Black Bloc idiocy on display in
demonstrations across this country–while it will never yield the kind of
truly massive support the left needs to build a new movement–will
certainly make this evil-smelling little bug look like a prince to at
least some people who hadn’t previously heard of him. This will not help
Nor will it enable effective resistance to the waves of violent
repression that are certainly coming and cannot be stopped by a few
trashcan fires and a little pile of black bandages.
This comment was banned on a well-known pseudo-radical blog.
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