Open Letter From Anarchist Participant In General Strike

<table><tr><td>After the successful national day of action and general strike in Oakland, naturally, we see the topic of violence and non-violence growing within our movement and within the voices of corporate media networks. Obviously this is a result of certain actions that individuals and groups within the movement decided to partake in. Unfortunately we are hearing a great deal of slander, and nonsense at the forefront of this discussion. As someone who has been with the occupation as much as possible, I feel it's necessary to confront this.

Isolating people based on their willingness to engage in self-defense by actively protecting the spaces we’ve all worked so hard to build together, and the symbolic defiance of exploitative property by making absurd claims of them being “Outside agitators” as if it they are some how separate from the many people who have been actively involved in building these spaces of 'direct-democracy' and communal living should not only be considered an attack on solidarity, but an attack on movements of the people. What divides movements of the people, weakens movements of the people.</td><td><img title="We spend all of our time responding to reaction rather than pushing another way of framing this discussion. How about @ infographics? " src="http://anarchistnews.org/files/pictures/2008/stormy_violence.jpg"></td><...
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Many of us out there today and tonight were Anarchists, but many were also not. We are the ones who were in the streets, ready to provide support & solidarity with all of our brothers and sisters. We were ready to brave against the violence of the state arm and arm with you, to protect one another, and provide medic support to anyone who fell victim to the police assaults. We are the ones whom also involved themselves with serving food to the commune, providing sanitation, organizing actions and broadening the movement. We are not separate from the movement. We are not outside agitators. We are a part of the movement, we are involved with the struggle. We stood with the occupation before day one, we stood with the occupation tonight and will continue to do the same in the future. Don’t let age old divide and conquer tactics convince you otherwise, please.

What do I mean when I say “by actively protecting the spaces we’ve worked so hard to build together”? Well I’d like to invoke a quote taken from a statement of solidarity with the occupy movement written by Egyptian activists and rebels, “It is not our desire to participate in violence, but it is even less our desire to lose. If we do not resist, actively, when they come to take what we have won back, then we will surely lose. Do not confuse the tactics that we used when we shouted “peaceful” with fetishizing nonviolence; if the state had given up immediately we would have been overjoyed, but as they sought to abuse us, beat us, kill us, we knew that there was no other option than to fight back. Had we laid down and allowed ourselves to be arrested, tortured, and martyred to “make a point”, we would be no less bloodied, beaten and dead. Be prepared to defend these things you have occupied, that you are building, because, after everything else has been taken from us, these reclaimed spaces are so very precious.” Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, those of us who belong to the community and movement of many Occupations around the globe can relate to this quote all too well. They continue to attack us & our reclaimed communal living spaces with a clear display of intimidating tactics, force, and brutal violence. To only add to this, their militarized presence alone is a form of violent authority.

Is it correct to call defense of our direct-democracy,our autonomy, our communities, and bodies senseless, and violent? Is it OK to attack the legitimacy of the countless struggles that have chosen to do this? Were individuals on the Nile bridge (Egypt) whom, literally, fought off police attacks senseless? Were the Argentinians resisting the ruling classes in 2001 by combating police attempts to violently remove them from the city center by charging down riot squads, senseless? Are the Greek anti-austerity mass gatherings and 'occupy Athens' senseless for doing the same? These are questions we must ask ourselves. I'd quickly respond saying,No,Not at all. Actually the strength of these movements grew and expanded in these moments of resistance. To quell spontaneous and energetic moments many people within the movement take part in, would be to to essentially contribute to extinguishing the collective power we've created. It's important to remember our ability to adapt to situations and repression in necessary but diverse ways is what helps us become unpredictable, and a force to reckon with. This is what we need in order to remain strong under serious repression. It's why we were able reclaim the Plaza, and it's why we had the streets without much trouble from police for most of the day during the strike.

Now onto what I mean when I say “exploitative property”. We all see the sinister nature of most of these large financial institutions & multinational corporations, that’s why we're all coming together to denounce them. Property owned by the 1% is used to exploit the labor of the people for the creation of wealth; The rights of their private property are continuously trumping the rights of the people. We can see this on physical display when veterans are getting shot at in Oakland, or when 3rd world Coca-cola union organizers are being killed by private militias and police enforcing ’property rights’. Hence, the use of the words exploitative property. You may say breaking a window is not largely effective, and I would agree with you 100%. That is not the point I'm implying. We call this violent, yet that very property some people wish to target is property used for the exploitation of the globe. Being starved is violence. Getting your arm cut off in a factory is violence. Development on indigenous lands is violence. Having your home foreclosed by Bank of America is violence. More than thousands of people being incarcerated is violence. The 'rights' of their property is upheld by violence, clearly. If certain people want to take part in acts against “property rights” of corporations as a symbol of defiance towards institutions of private tyranny, then so be it. I’ll send more solidarity their way than the way of the property of a bank. After all, who is more likely to help me set my tent up in the plaza, or to provide me with water as tear gas is launched. Who is anyone to shun, and demonize them blindly and rampantly? Lets not play into the role of the corporate media here, by becoming a mouth-piece of the interests of the "1%".

Everything I've experienced with you all here in Oakland this Wednesday was for the most part exhilarating, amazing, and even inspiring. It’s great to see so many people uniting, and coming together to fight against the economic conditions the people of the world are subjected to. My intention with this letter was to express the need for the solidarity within the movement to remain strong; Diversity needs to be accepted. We are not blind, the situation is escalating and the movement must not devote itself to one approach with senses of dogma. As said before, strength comes from the ability to adapt when under attack. Don’t be fooled, we are under attack. Every single day, directly and indirectly. Do not denounce the courage of those willing to defend themselves and our collective spaces of direct democracy. Just as we shouldn't denounce the courage of comrades who use their bodies in non-violent resistance. Know your friends, and don’t confuse them as your enemies. Support them. We’re all out here together, don’t let anyone change that. We have a beautiful thing happening in Oakland. LETS KEEP IT UP!

Signed,
your friendly occupying Anarchist.

Comments

Solidarity comrade! Thanks for sharing this piece. You may also find this article of interest - "Fuck unity we need solidarity!" http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/blog/dtc/8621

In the spirit toward total freedom!

defending the space = good. smashing windows when the GA (our decision making body, which is incidentally run on anarchist principles) had decided not to endorse property destruction as a tactic for this action = not good. it's very simple.

---that never happened. show us the approved proposal. oh wait, you can't.

k, thanx

WRONG. The General Assembly endorses "autonomous action" and "diversity of tactics".

Autonomous Action = the GA doesn't dictate what happens or doesn't happen

Diversity of Tactics = some people picket, some make destroy.

Get the facts right.

There was never a decision NOT to endorse smashing.

Word.

What the GA decides for its occupation is completely irrelevant to anything that's being done outside. Any belief of the contrary leads straight to totalitarianism, and the defense of the State.

It would be interesting to hear about this discussion where property destruction was not endorsed.

Are there notes? What arguments were made pro & con?

If the GA is an authoritarian institution by which rules for what other people can and cant do are set, then it should be destroyed. it's very simple.

good thing it's not

the issue isn't the legitimacy of any given tactic, the issue is that using tactics like property destruction at this stage is generally viewed as a negative thing by your fellow occupiers - including many anarchists - because of the negative press it brings and because of the way it's used to legitimize police violence. If you disagree that's a tactical discussion you need to have with others BEFORE using those tactics. Consensus is meaningless if people refuse to abide by the group's decisions.

People don't get pissed when you break a window because they see it as an attack on a Bank, they get pissed because they see it as an attack on the movement. That's doubly true when it's a locally owned franchise like the Men's Wearhouse that had shut down for the day and put up signs supporting #Occupy that gets its windows broken.

Stop being childish. "because I really really wanna" is not a good enough reason to violate consensus and undermine the movement by fucking up the public narrative of what we're (Anarchists and Occupiers both) about.

1. the capitalist media will always demonize attacks on capitalist property. This has never been a concern of anarchists and never should be. If the media was making our activity seem desireable, we would have a serious fucking problem in regards to what we're doing.

2. This did not "legitimize" or "provoke" the police. Remember last week when they wantonly shot people and organized a brutal paramilitary force to evict the camp and whoop ass on everyone long before any banks got smashed. You're playing into the state logic and justifying the behavior of oppressors. Police are responsible for their behavior, not those who resist them.

3. Consensus does not need to be reached in regards to autonomous action. Wednesday saw all sorts of actions (flying pickets, barricades, blockades, self-defense, vandalism, arson, occupation, sick-outs) nobody needs consensus from any authority (however horizontal) to act. This type of thinking shows the intense limitations of hyper-formalist thinking.

4. "fucking up the public narrative of what we're about"

narrative = people hate banks, people attack them. people hate capital, people blockade itzz flows. People need buildings, people take them. Not with it? die.


1. the capitalist media will always demonize attacks on capitalist property.

Yes.


This has never been a concern of anarchists and never should be.

No, it should be. We must anticipate and defeat this demonization propaganda. At the very least we must have an answer for our supporters who will be criticized, ideally we'd have offensive arguments legitimizing and necessitating attacks.


If the media was making our activity seem desireable, we would have a serious fucking problem in regards to what we're doing.

Actually, the media has sold images of rebellion for awhile. I don't think property destruction-as-rebellion wouldn't make a nice "reality TV show" maybe "The Anarchy House" on MTV. Tagging is a kind of property destruction that is almost mainstream.


2. This did not "legitimize" or "provoke" the police. Remember last week when they wantonly shot people and organized a brutal paramilitary force to evict the camp and whoop ass on everyone long before any banks got smashed. You're playing into the state logic and justifying the behavior of oppressors. Police are responsible for their behavior, not those who resist them.

Not a bad reply. many of the criticisms of bank window damage are wholly out of context: who ARE these banks? They are "the movement is being hurt by smash, stop smash" or "tent people don't like gas, stop smash". The context justifies the actions. A good reply frames the debate in terms we win.


3. Consensus does not need to be reached in regards to autonomous action. Wednesday saw all sorts of actions (flying pickets, barricades, blockades, self-defense, vandalism, arson, occupation, sick-outs) nobody needs consensus from any authority (however horizontal) to act. This type of thinking shows the intense limitations of hyper-formalist thinking.

Didn't the bloc itself reach a kind of consensus? Aren't there a lot of bloc supporters who consensed? Is GA membership strictly enforced? I think it would be wholly legitimate to say the bloc faction had their own GA and had 100% consensus.


4. "fucking up the public narrative of what we're about"

narrative = people hate banks, people attack them. people hate capital, people blockade itzz flows. People need buildings, people take them. Not with it? die.

"Die"? No, sir. The opposition needs to be politically neutralized or recruited as allies. Die is neither. Killing people who disagree with you tends not to work too well unless you're Pol Pot (and it didn't quite work too swell for him either).

Provide answers for those who disagree. They don't have to accept them, but dismissing critics is not an effective strategy: answer their charges. Hostile contempt doesn't always work 100%, and for when it doesn't a well reasoned (or highly emotive) counter-argument never hurts.

My .02

"recruited as allies"?

There is a direct relationship between the happiness of money (evident when it flows) and the misery of folks (evident when they stand still -- as in linger and languish).

A pig is a predatory subspecies of hominoid ape. Miserable itself, it hunts you down to 1) enslave you (prison labour), 2) return the other slaves from their distraction, 3) make money happy, 4) enjoy fucking over others to make its own misery feel somehow less and/or 5) all of the above. The pig is the most immediate obstacle to one's liberty. This is why so many folks emulate them in their everyday life. It's a matter of mutual mimicry. Should one wish to break free, offing pigs is just good common sense. When folks observe this logic together, it is called consensus.

f.

It was a general strike, not an occupy march. Every general strike should include such action. Secondly, if it had not been done, it would have been a serious missed opportunity. Thirdly, the only people you turn off are the nonviolent collaborationist upper middle class that is not really on your side anyway. The occupy movement does not represent the american public that well.

As to abiding by decisions,
Read Uri Gordon's Anarchy Alive discussion on Plenaries to see why GAs are never "enforce" anything and the concept of enforcement is contrary to anarchism itself.

Specifically, you can
read page 72-77, but if you like you should consider starting at p.68 or
read the whole chapter 3 if you like. You can find the pdf of the book
online here:

Specifically, you can
read page 72-77, but if you like you should consider starting at p.68 or
read the whole chapter 3 if you like. You can find the pdf of the book
online here:

it's on zine library dot info but a news wouldn't let me post the link

This interpretation of consensus is horrifying, and I hope not widely held. Consensus is about finding the places where we agree, and deciding what we will do together, while still leaving us free to act autonomously as individuals. Consensus is definitely not about groupthinking our way to conformity, and consensus isn't intended to prohibit individual action. The best consensus can do is channel individual action. For example, a GA can consent to having smoking and non-smoking areas of camp. But it cannot consent that no one can smoke anywhere ever, because such consent becomes meaningless the minute the smokers show up to block it.

Any GA that tries to use consensus to inhibit the autonomy of individuals has lost its way, and is just acting like the kind of authoritarian political party that we should be trying to make obsolete.

I don't think that's necessarily even all of it, if you want to explain why people got pissed at the vandalism. Despite the fabulous (nonexistent) outreach and explanation of vandalism as a political tool within the camp, the black block responsible for the events at the strike remained predominantly male and white. Many in the camp were already feeling antagonistically gentrified by the influx of white people from surrounding cities following the events Tuesday before last which put the national spotlight on Oakland. Many people don't see it as an attack on a Bank, or an attack on the movement. Oakland is their home. They're at the protest because they want to protect their home. And then at the strike, what do they see? Do they see fellow protesters showing that it's alright to resist their oppressors? No. They see Whitey McSpoiled-a-lot cruising down from Privileged-ville to fuck up their home in poorer, blacker, economically disadvantaged Oakland. And of course, when the media reports it, who takes the blame? Scary black people in Oakland. Again. Because that's what the viewers at want to see.

And without a lot more outreach and explanation and recruitment, or at least choosing actions generate positive rather than negative publicity, that's what they're going to see.

--
I don't think that's necessarily even all of it, if you want to explain why people got pissed at the vandalism. Despite the fabulous (nonexistent) outreach and explanation of vandalism as a political tool within the camp, the black block responsible for the events at the strike remained predominantly male and white. Many in the camp were already feeling antagonistically gentrified by the influx of white people from surrounding cities following the events Tuesday before last which put the national spotlight on Oakland. Many people don't see it as an attack on a Bank, or an attack on the movement. Oakland is their home. They're at the protest because they want to protect their home. And then at the strike, what do they see? Do they see fellow protesters showing that it's alright to resist their oppressors? No. They see Whitey McSpoiled-a-lot cruising down from Privileged-ville to fuck up their home in poorer, blacker, economically disadvantaged Oakland. And of course, when the media reports it, who takes the blame? Scary black people in Oakland. Again. Because that's what the viewers at want to see.

And without a lot more outreach and explanation and recruitment, or at least choosing actions generate positive rather than negative publicity, that's what they're going to see.
--
^
THIS

This really needs to be said and I agree with you. Solidarity motherfuckers !!!

"Were individuals on the Nile bridge (Egypt) whom, literally, fought off police attacks senseless? Were the Argentinians resisting the ruling classes in 2001 by combating police attempts to violently remove them from the city center by charging down riot squads, senseless? Are the Greek anti-austerity mass gatherings and 'occupy Athens' senseless for doing the same? These are questions we must ask ourselves. I'd quickly respond saying,No,Not at all. Actually the strength of these movements grew and expanded in these moments of resistance."

This is exactly the point. These movements grew in these moments of resistance because in every case they already had wide popular support. While the occupy movement is growing it has nowhere near this level of active support yet. The issue should not be about property destruction or not but about good and bad tactics.

At this stage in the struggle property destruction is worse than useless. It alienates and marginalizes instead of building the movement and empowering people. The march to the Port and its shutdown does the latter. Provoking fights with the cops, at this point, only turns people away.

Plus, black blocs have become vanguardist. They are more Leninist than anarchist. They attempt to direct the action in a direction that they deem correct without gaining the consensus of those they march with. This is as coercive, the complete opposite of anarchism, as it is cowardly. And, as we have seen over and over again, the cops easily infiltrate the bloc and use it to their advantage. It's time to retire this tactic or at least wait until it actually is of some use.

All power to the general assemblies!

You almost had me until all power to the general assemblies.


"Were individuals on the Nile bridge (Egypt) whom, literally, fought off police attacks senseless? Were the Argentinians resisting the ruling classes in 2001 by combating police attempts to violently remove them from the city center by charging down riot squads, senseless? Are the Greek anti-austerity mass gatherings and 'occupy Athens' senseless for doing the same? These are questions we must ask ourselves. I'd quickly respond saying,No,Not at all. Actually the strength of these movements grew and expanded in these moments of resistance."


This is exactly the point. These movements grew in these moments of resistance because in every case they already had wide popular support. While the occupy movement is growing it has nowhere near this level of active support yet. The issue should not be about property destruction or not but about good and bad tactics.

I see no reason to exclude an example of a tactic in a discussion of "good and bad" tactics.


At this stage in the struggle property destruction is worse than useless. It alienates and marginalizes instead of building the movement and empowering people. The march to the Port and its shutdown does the latter. Provoking fights with the cops, at this point, only turns people away.

The march to the port was a one-off. If the mayor hadn't fucked the cops they'd have gassed and arrested the protesters. That it was "non-violent" and provoked no opposition was just random (luck?). The police had embarrassed themselves and then were abandoned by the Mayor.

The idea of attracting people immediately goes to: What kind of people? If you want a radical militant movement you want to set the bar towards radical militant action: property destruction kinda works for just that.


Plus, black blocs have become vanguardist. They are more Leninist than anarchist. They attempt to direct the action in a direction that they deem correct without gaining the consensus of those they march with. This is as coercive, the complete opposite of anarchism, as it is cowardly. And, as we have seen over and over again, the cops easily infiltrate the bloc and use it to their advantage. It's time to retire this tactic or at least wait until it actually is of some use.

Would they have likely been able to obtain consensus "approval"? I think the answer is no. Should they have attempted it? I think the answer is possibly yes. This political struggle with the consensus process would have forced the pro-bloc advocates to clearly state their intentions and justify their actions. This would have allowed those who wanted to support them to be able to provide a clear, consistent justification in the onslaught of criticism to be provoked.

Perhaps the pro-bloc forces felt they were "above" the consensus process. Too bad. I think they have a right to autonomous action, without GA approval, but the GA approval process would have been an easy means to disseminate their message and invite support.

Vanguardist and Leninist are nice terms, but a simpler explanation is this: they aren't used to cooperating with others and so are making simple mistakes as a result of a lack of sophistication. Occam's razor says to never attribute to malice what instead can simply be attributed to a simpler explanation (stupidity for example).


All power to the general assemblies!

No idea what this means. "Power"? If you mean political power then perhaps you want a party, or politicians to support. Or military power? If you're against bloc tactics I'm curious how you'd approach outright armed insurrection. Please explain.

Please ignore, if you want, my comment "all power to the general assemblies". My dumb idea of a joke.

I guess what I meant by this is that I would rather submit to an assembly whose "power" is arrived at through a consensus that includes me, than be forced to react to events provoked by a de facto vanguard. I am not saying that the black bloc is maliciously or even intentionally vanguardist and/or Leninist. They may just be stupid, as you suggest, but they function in just this way.

Without trying to build a consensus for their actions they took it upon themselves to direct events. They considered that they could better assess the situation than the rest of their comrades. They became the "experts" of the revolution. This is vanguardist whether it is intentional or not. And it is the antithesis of anarchism.

"The idea of attracting people immediately goes to: What kind of people? If you want a radical militant movement you want to set the bar towards radical militant action: property destruction kinda works for just that."

Agreed in principle, but my concerns here are tactical not ethical. If the present struggle reaches the scale of the Egyptian uprising then property destruction will be a inevitability. But we are not there yet. What kind of people do we want to attract? Anyone, at this point, who is pissed off at the system. They will be educated and radicalized in the course of the struggle. We need everyone we can get.

Black bloc tactics, at this point, only turn people away. People with children, knowing that some people within the march will potentially provoke violence, will avoid these marches. So will disabled people. So will old people. So will pacifists. Do we automatically want to exclude these people because they are not "militant" enough? If we do, again, we are not talking about anarchism here. We are talking about forming some fucking revolutionary vanguard.

At this stage, when the movement is still embryonic, if the aim is the creation of a militant cadre of property vandals, we've already lost. People will turn away. The ones that remain will be marginalized and made ineffectual. This has happened before and the authorities are well on to this. This is why cops have been repeatedly caught infiltrating and directing black bloc groups in Seattle, in Genoa, in Montebello, in Toronto, etc.

This tactic is old and tired and fully compromised. It is not anarchist. It is time to put it to rest.

the discussion on 'tactics' seems to imply that the occupy participants have a common motive, and it is a question of how best to achieve it. but there appear to be two reasons for participating in the ‘occupy’ phenomena; (a) to organize to assert one’s grievances and to pressure the ‘system’ for improved governance that corrects growing imbalances, and/or (b), to opt out of the system, to get out from under the system’s yoke, to renounce one’s confidence in the system, to burn one’s system membership card, to mutiny, and not simply to campaign for ‘improvements’.

the implication of (a) is; ‘i want some of what my better off brothers are getting’, or, 'i want the system to treat us more fairly'.

the implication of (b) is; ‘you central regulatory authorities who have sold us all down the tube to a corrupt global capitalist system may have a lot of brothers in your pocket but don’t expect me to buy into your democratic majority rules stuff; i am no longer a minority because i am burning my membership card in YOUR corrupt system and claim my right to work with others to bring about the sorely needed replacement.

in egypt, the dominant representation was (b); i.e. they weren’t interested in concessions from mubarak, they wanted him gone. or rather, they were declaring that they were no longer ‘members of HIS system’ [they were opting out of HIS system]. of course, there is no guarantee that the same sort of system won’t slip back in again if it becomes a majority-rule democracy. in fact there is every likelihood that it will because changing out majority rule democratic governments doesn’t change out the global capitalist system

if one really believes that the ‘system’ is raping those who are trapped inside the system, then there is no point in trying to make a ‘good impression’ on the press and the public at large. that would be something that an inside-outward asserting ‘group’ does to campaign to get what it wants. one doesn’t march to the capitol to confront the captain to ask for less frequent rapes or a bit more gentility and less violence during the raping, or combinations thereof. one could argue that many of the ‘occupy’ participants have assembled to renounce their loyalty to authorities that would allow rape with impunity, thanks to the backing of the enforcement agencies that hold back those who protest and try to stop it, while allowing the rapes to continue.

the media and the politicians persist in 'framing' the occupy phenomena in (a) terms, speaking as if the participants ‘have a complaint’. so long as everything thinks in these terms, then the group is ‘in a minority’ and therefore ‘they can’t win’. the only way that the group can escape from being a minority is to go with (b), to declare ‘mutiny’. The only grounds for mutiny are that the orders of the captain are not lawful orders; i.e. they go against all common sense or against the Geneva Convention or etc.

in the case of the egyptians, the world-court of global public opinion implicitly affirmed that the captain’s orders went against all common sense and were thus unlawful. to use the public law enforcement agencies [and courts] to hold back those who would try to prevent their brothers and sisters from being raped, at the same time ensuring the uninterrupted continuance of the rapes, would seem to go against all common sense, but when a majority of people are in the employ of the rapine system, it could be a difficult case to prove. jury selection that avoided 'conflict of interest' could be problematic.

so far, the public continues to see the ‘occupy’ movement as a group of complainants rather than a group of mutineers and the attempt by the group to cultivate an appealing image to gain the support of more people; i.e. to move from minority towards majority support, is to declare for the (a) motive which lowers the charges against the system/captaincy from ‘unlawful orders’ to ‘unfair orders’ or ‘needs improvement’ [since the one's that the occupy participants will then be trying to 'bring on board' may agree to the need for improvement but are clearly not going to be 'mutineers', at least not at this point].

the smashy-smashy makes more sense in the case of (a) since the antagonistic fight for rebalancing continues in that case, and lashing out against those who are the alleged sources of imbalance or symbols thereof, underscores the point, and lets face it, the achievement of majority support for rebalancing within the system hasn’t happened in the past and is unlikely to happen. the smashy-smashy makes less sense in the case of (b) since once the group ‘casts off’ or ‘decolonizes itself’, attention must turn to developing one’s own system of cultivating community health and harmony while defending against flank attacks.

my sense is (and i could be dead wrong) that 'occupy oakland' is 90% (b)[mutineers] but that other occupy groups may not have that high a (b) proportion. this note is not to induce division but it would seem that tactics would differ depending on a predominantly (a) or (b) orientation.

"embryonic movement" vs. "Black bloc"

"This tactic (smashy-smash) is old and tired and fully compromised. It is not anarchist. It is time to put it to rest."

First off, the movement dates back to the time when the first thug took the village grain and proceeded to divvy it out for favours. The first anarchist said "fuck this shit...I've no interest in wiping your fat ass" and proceeded to burn down the granary.

Because a "tactic" has never produced peace on earth and good will toward men is a silly excuse to persuade others to refrain from taking a principled stance (or action). Transgression is the only means of breaking out of a storm and going your own way. Emile should back me up here, as this is the very function of sails: transgressing prevailing currents. Hawai'i is the big clue that most anything is possible.

Don't forget, it was also anarchists who coined the phrases: "Do your own thing!" and "If it feels good, do it!" The fat cats also adhere to these sentiments. So what? The only alternative is sacrifice, and we all know where that movement goes.

f.

In addition to a) reform of the existing system and b) "opting out". I would add c) total revolution -- the complete eradication of the status quo.

To do this involves building numbers. There will be time for the "smashy-smash" but it is not now. Now, the emphasis should be on getting people involved. This doesn't mean in any sense that we compromise our principles, but it does mean that we try to be as inclusive as possible in our actions.

I'm tired of sub-cultural spasms of dissent. Who gives a shit? I actually want to overthrow the system. Globally. Let's focus on the most effective strategies to accomplish this. Right now smashing grocery stores is not going to cut it. We all know where this is going to lead -- nowhere.

The question now for anarchists is do you want to continue being an irrelevant sub-cultural "smashy-smash" phenomena or do you want to build a social revolution with the numbers to make it actually happen?

The Bolsheviks applied this same logic 1917-1921 to great effect: the self-annihilating mass revolution.

f.

revolution involves too much conflict and can get very messy. ‘opting out’ has the advantage that is it non-dialectic, non-polar-oppositional. every one of us is involved in [contributes to] both ‘governed’ and ‘non-governed’ activity, and ‘opting out’ shifts resources out of ‘governed activity’ and moves them over into ‘non-governed’ activity, the latter non-governed pool being able to continue to grow and siphon still more resources out of the ‘governed’ into the ‘non-governed’ pool. since these activities draw from the same ‘deck’, the growth of non-governed activity represents, at the same time, the decline of governed activity.

instead of categorizing people in the bins ‘governed activity favoured over non-governed’ and ‘non-governed activity favoured over governed activity’ and lining them up to go to war against each other, ‘opting out’ allows us to work on continually changing the relative proportion of our activity that is ‘governed’ and ‘non-governed’, siphoning from the former to the latter. there is no need for polar opposition and war in the ‘opting out case’, but there is need to defend the right to change that proportion and put more of one’s energies into non-governed activities. the mad captains of capitalist industry may want to hang the mutineers for treason, but defending against that, is not the same as going to war against the incumbent captains [i.e. it is far more 'acceptable' to society at large]; i.e. it merely involves siphoning off from underneath those captains, by a voluntary 'opting out' [without any coercion], of those resources that are the source of their coercive authoritarian powers.

"Black bloc tactics, at this point, only turn people away. People with children, knowing that some people within the march will potentially provoke violence, will avoid these marches. So will disabled people. So will old people. So will pacifists."

You must have missed the part where the person in the wheelchair was throwing tear gas canisters back at the police. And the people who left their children in someone else's care so they could come throw down. And the pacifists who didn't avoid the march but on the contrary came and violently attacked vandals.

Also, vandalism doesn't provoke police violence--as this march shows since the cops were nowhere to be found. And precisely how many examples do you need of cops attacking calm protesters to realize there isn't a strong correlation here?


Please ignore, if you want, my comment "all power to the general assemblies". My dumb idea of a joke.

ok


I guess what I meant by this is that I would rather submit to an assembly whose "power" is arrived at through a consensus that includes me, than be forced to react to events provoked by a de facto vanguard. I am not saying that the black bloc is maliciously or even intentionally vanguardist and/or Leninist. They may just be stupid, as you suggest, but they function in just this way.

Yes, well if they are simply politically unsophisticated or uncoordinated does it make sense to lash out at them an accuse them of vanguardism or leninism? I'm not saying they're not, but even if they were I think they'd do things differently (I see vanguardism as being communicative for one).


Without trying to build a consensus for their actions they took it upon themselves to direct events. They considered that they could better assess the situation than the rest of their comrades. They became the "experts" of the revolution. This is vanguardist whether it is intentional or not. And it is the antithesis of anarchism.

I agree it appeared to be poorly communicated. I suggested political naivete rather than malice. I'm not sure consensus could have been built, but definitely preparatory propaganda and mass education might be have been setup better (or even post-action education/propaganda).

They should have a framed set of statements indicating why their actions are justified. When critics come they should parade those statements out: this is why we acted.

Ideally, they should widely publicize their statement prior to acting: this is who we are acting against.

This sets up the political context for the debate: this is a political action. If it alienates occupiers that shows poor organization (but as I argue, it's not a show stopper).


"The idea of attracting people immediately goes to: What kind of people? If you want a radical militant movement you want to set the bar towards radical militant action: property destruction kinda works for just that."

Agreed in principle, but my concerns here are tactical not ethical. If the present struggle reaches the scale of the Egyptian uprising then property destruction will be a inevitability. But we are not there yet. What kind of people do we want to attract? Anyone, at this point, who is pissed off at the system. They will be educated and radicalized in the course of the struggle. We need everyone we can get.

I don't think some property damage is going to stop the Occupy movement. For one it's the only left/liberal game in town. Where are they going to go? The Democrats? The Greens?

A coalition of the disenfranchised is not precluded by these tactics, in my opinion (I could be wrong).


Black bloc tactics, at this point, only turn people away. People with children, knowing that some people within the march will potentially provoke violence, will avoid these marches. So will disabled people. So will old people. So will pacifists. Do we automatically want to exclude these people because they are not "militant" enough? If we do, again, we are not talking about anarchism here. We are talking about forming some fucking revolutionary vanguard.

As I biked up to the head of the march I passed several people with kids. It didn't discourage the so-called pacifists enough, if some reports are to be believed.

As for attracting the militant over the non-militant I think that this is an anarchist method: free association. There's no registration and membership method for anarchists, so taking a strong stand and seeing who joins you is one clear option. Are you saying that anarchism must accept everyone no matter how conservative or reactionary their idea of anarchism is or they lose their anarchy membership card? I think historical anarchism was far more violent. I'm not sure the Black Bloc would have been considered *violent enough*.

Lots of progressives/radicals/anarchists favor tactics that are essentially easy to swallow (i.e. pacifism) which are not grounded in the principles of, say, Gandhi's ability to provoke the fuck out of the government. Gandhi made violence - by provoking the police and the state. He opted not to initiate or respond violently to utterly destroy their moral authority. If the non-violent crowd wants to destroy the black bloc it needs to come up with methods that make it clearly less effective. Out provoke the status quo. The Occupy movement is a kind of non-violent provocation and that's why I think attacks on it have proven to be politically damaging.


At this stage, when the movement is still embryonic, if the aim is the creation of a militant cadre of property vandals, we've already lost. People will turn away. The ones that

A militant cadre of people willing to fight, who have been vetted by a willing to vandalize property is how I'd put it.

And "lost" what? What people? The Boston Tea Party was an act of property destruction: I'm sure it pissed off some non-violent types.


remain will be marginalized and made ineffectual. This has happened before and the authorities are well on to this. This is why cops have been repeatedly caught infiltrating and directing black bloc groups in Seattle, in Genoa, in Montebello, in Toronto, etc.

I think that people allow themselves to be marginalized and ineffectual: I think a powerful non-violent movement is not being eclipsed by some black bloc tactics: it's suffering from it's own lack of imagination and leadership. I'd love to see some bad ass Gandhi shit go down: in conjunction with violent resistance non-violence is highly effective as a two-punch strike to the status quo.

As for police infiltration they infiltrated the Peace people in Fresno and elsewhere. If anything infiltration is a sign that it's a threat. Police don't infiltrate what is not threatening.


This tactic is old and tired and fully compromised. It is not anarchist. It is time to put it to rest.

You've not convinced me that it's not anarchist unless I accept your allusion that anarchism is somehow totally inclusive (and therefore since this is exclusive it is not anarchism). I don't buy that. Anarchism has been - sadly - a fringe ideology for most of it's history with few exceptions (the fucking crazy Spanish and Italians don't know what the hell they were thinking).

Old and tired don't mean anything: anarchism itself is old and tired is an opinion. Compromised, as I noted, is not unique to bloc tactics but just about all tactics.

If anything I'd like to see black bloc take it up like fifteen notches and really fuck shit up. Windows and an ATM machine isn't much. These banks have ruined lives, thrown people into the streets, made stupid fucks super-rich at the pain and suffering of honest decent people, have enslaved millions with their interest and debt schemes and directly contribute to the poverty of millions bringing disease, despair and death.

When bank managers are dragged into the street that's when it starts to get interesting. Fuck breaking windows (but that'll do for *now*).

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