[Marxism] On the black bloc

Jeffrey Masko j.alan.masko at gmail.com
Fri Feb 10 10:49:45 MST 2017

I agree in many ways with you Louis, but you miss some important points.
What you say may be true in the U.S. at this point in time. But Ultras from
football clubs from Egypt to Turkey to the Ukraine, are no strangers to
what are essentially black block tactics; they have been instrumental in
fighting security forces and keeping people protesting safe. When the left
understanding that the so-called lumpen and laborers are the fighters that
the police state most fears and until we actively recruits them, then the
black block in the U.S. will be composed of people as soft as puppy shit.
No revolutionary actions that forcefully confronts the state will ever be
taken with the PMC in the lead. Of course one can say the so-called lumpen
are counter-revolutionary or reactionary, but perhaps because people are
not organizing in those spaces, they might be surprised. I tutor people who
were incarcerated and the know the score and are waiting for their chance.
But one thing they will not be doing, is following middle class academics
and self-proclaimed activists. And I know the you have seen only white
people, but come to Oakland and see the diversity of those working in black

On Fri, Feb 10, 2017 at 9:09 AM, Louis Proyect via Marxism <
marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:

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> 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 this
> country.
> 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
> build one.
> 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 the cause.
> 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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J.A. Masko
College of Communications
Penn State University
State College, Pa 16801

  "The challenge of modernity is to live without illusions and without
becoming disillusioned."

           Antonio Gramsci.

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