An Open Letter to Liberals & Progressives from the Black Bloc

  • Posted on: 7 July 2017
  • By: thecollective

from https://itsgoingdown.org/open-letter-liberals-progressives-black-bloc/

The deep state isn’t coming to save us. Trump isn’t going anywhere and it seems clear that the elites have no desire to remove him. Meanwhile war and another economic collapse lay just on the horizon, as violence, intimidation, and threats from the far-Right seek to attack anyone that isn’t loyal to the billionaire King. As tens of thousands mobilize in Hamburg, Germany against neoliberal capitalism and both repression and resistance at home heats up, progressives and liberals must ask themselves a simple question: what side are you on?

In recent days, the mainstream media has been rocked by the story that Donald Trump has shared yet again social media created by the white supremacist Alt-Right, and secondly that neo-Nazis from within that movement have begun to threaten journalists and their family members for reporting on the story.

Only several days before, liberal and progressive groups organized protests to demand that Trump be impeached and were met in numerous cities by Alt-Right counter-demonstrators who used violence in an attempt to push them off the streets. In San Diego, members of the Alt-Right carried flags with racist symbols and attempted to surround protesters, in LA and Philadelphia clashes broke out, and in Austin, the far-Right attempted to block the marches’ route.

The targets of the Alt-Right weren’t just the black bloc, anarchists, or antifa – they were anyone who dared to come out that day and voice their displeasure with the President. Ironically, despite the permitted rallies hardly even being disruptive, in the months leading up to them far-Right conspiracy theory websites like InfoWars claimed that they would lead to violent riots backed by the Democratic Party in an effort to play up hysteria.

“The targets of the Alt-Right weren’t just the black bloc, anarchists, or antifa – they were anyone who dared to come out that day and voice their displeasure with the President.”

This fear mongering was then kicked into overdrive with the shooting of Steve Scalise by James Hodgkinson in Virginia, as the Right used it as a vehicle to pump up fears of ‘left-wing violence.” While at the center of this demonization are anarchists and antifascists, as the recent viral NRA video shows, the target has widened to the entire Left, including liberals and progressives.

All of this is taking place against an immense backdrop of rising far-Right violence, murder, and arson attacks which have been almost completely ignored by both the media and the Trump administration. This violence is also growing in the midst of a massive campaign attacking the working-class, pushing through repressive measures which defile civil liberties and the right to protest, slash taxes on the wealthy and regulations on the environment, and move billions in services and healthcare out of the hands of the poor and most vulnerable and into the pockets of the billionaires, CEOs, and 1%.

At the same time, the Trump administration has launched a campaign to gather voting information from all states in order to launch a country wide version of Cross Check, the same system which struck millions of mostly Democratic black and brown voters from the rolls in 2016. Heading the campaign is Kris Kobach, who is both the Kansas secretary of State as well as the legal council of the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a white nationalist think tank.

All around us, lines are being drawn. Trump and his administration seek to roll back decades of gains made won by the working-class as well as remove entire sectors of it from the United States, reignite the drug war, push us to the brink of ecological collapse, and bring the US into military conflict with a host of rival governments.

Despite the severity of the situation, much of the Left seems preoccupied with wringing it’s hands. Despite this, we are entering into a time when we no longer have such luxuries.
Stuck in the Center With You

Since taking office, Trump has lost more and more legitimacy, turning again to the only base that still supports him: the insurgent far-Right. At the same time, the drum of civil war is being beat from the NRA to Fox News against anything even remotely resembling ‘the Left,’ as much of the population turns against the billionaire.

The failure of Trump to hold onto the vast majority of his base and the immense unpopularity of the President has lead to massive anxiety from the far-Right which wholeheartedly supports him. It is also making the situation more and more violent.

“The failure of Trump to hold onto his base has lead to massive anxiety from the far-Right which wholeheartedly supports him.”

But in the face of this growing threat, the Democrats have shown themselves to be incapable of doing, much less stopping, anything. Likewise, symbolic and passive protests have gotten smaller and smaller, as the political, military, and economic elites find Trump to be either a useful instrument or something to be at times ignored and other times supported.

In response, publications such as the New York Times rally for a coup from the military against Trump and for the “Democrats to return to the center.” In short, the political elites at the head of the Democratic Party have learned nothing from the Sanders campaign and have no interest in representing the people that vote for them, much less confronting the power of capital in this country that has led to disaster after crisis after recession.

Liberals and progressives: your world is on fire. The institutions, ‘checks and balances,’ and very government that you placed your faith in is decaying all around you, and at every turn the State seeks to roll back any assemblage of democratic oversight or accountability. The Democrats openly plan to move to the Right, as standards of living, the environment, and basic entitlements, rights, and freedoms are attacked. This isn’t a time for you to strengthen these institutions, it’s time for desertion.

“Since taking office, Trump has lost more and more popularity and legitimacy, turning again to the only base that still supports him: the insurgent far-Right.”

For decades, liberal and progressives have sought to be the managers of social struggle, setting both the terms and conditions for action and ideas. Thus, they tried to push people out of the streets and back into politics. They said that rioting and blockades ‘alienated the middle class,’ only to see those very tactics grow in size and popularity. Then, as Trump ascended to power, they attempted to portray themselves as #TheResistance while gaslighting anyone that attempted to do exactly fight back.

Yet ironically, who came to the aid of liberals and progressives last weekend as militia members, Alt-Right trolls, and ‘Based Stickmen’ attempted to attack them at impeachment marches across the US? It wasn’t the Democratic Party, it wasn’t the non-profits, the socialist vanguards, or the heads of unions – it was the black bloc.

It is time for liberals and progressives to lose their illusions about the anarchist movement and our tactics, because quite frankly, you have no one else willing to fight for you.

Building the Capacity To Defend Ourselves

Confrontational and disruptive social movements have been the only thing which have helped defeat some of Trump’s proposed policies, such as the Muslim Ban 1.0, and it is only mass disruptive action which has the only hope of putting a wrench in the gears of everything from the deportation machine to the drive to war.

Furthermore, it was the intense resistance that anarchists and antifascists engaged in after the election, at the Inauguration, and against the far-Right which made it harder for the regime to roll out the totality of their agenda, for fear of full scale revolt. Is there any doubt that it is the threat of mass upheaval in the wake of the passing of the American Health Care Act in the House that is holding it up in the Senate? Of course not.

So far however, #TheResistance has amounted instead to liberals and progressives mocking Trump supporters and sharing clickbait about the latest and more egregious aspects of the Trump administration. What is needed now is not a Left version of Alt-Right meme culture, but a strong and robust movement that reaches out to all sections of the working and poor people, regardless of race, geography, gender, or sexuality.

And in doing this work, we wholeheartedly believe that our movements and struggles need the capacity to defend ourselves; from the violence of the State and it’s police to the far-Right which seeks to act as an auxiliary force to the State.

To stand firm in our class and community interests; to reject patriarchy, colonialism, and white supremacy – that in itself is confrontation. In doing so, we will come up against both the State and it’s far-Right defenders. With this reality in mind, we must devise ways of protecting ourselves and our movements, from those on the streets, to those behind a keyboard, to those publically organizing, our first and foremost goal must be to defend ourselves, our struggles, and our movements.
Reaching Out to Vast Sectors of Society

Right-wing pundits boil everything down to culture, and claim that ‘liberal elites’ in the coastal cities have forgotten the fast majority of the country which is rural, white, and traditionally conservative. Liberals fire back with attempts at mocking rural people as “uneducated” and “white trash,” who are unable to grasp the fact that candidates they elect are screwing them. At the same time, most liberals are also unable to grasp the fact that since the rise of the Clintons in the early 1990s, the Democratic Party has become the party of Silicon Valley, investing its interests not in the working class and poor, but instead with the neoliberal elites in the tech industry.

In reality, both of these positions offer nothing to the vast majority of Americans. Rural America is not all white nor strictly conservative, in fact it’s home to the greatest majority of black, brown, and Native people in the entire country. At the same time, while many whites voted for Trump out of fear and ‘white anxiety’ around changing demographics in the United States, many also were disgusted by neoliberalism that has gutted entire sections of the country to the highest bidder. Behind every fascism, a failed revolution.

What is needed in the face of the neoliberalism of the Democrats and the proto-fascism of Trump is a project and force that unites people, but not around support for the government and its legitimacy to rule, and not around false and manufactured notions of ‘community,’ but instead around the shared interests of the mass majority of Americans whose very labors and existence makes those on the top rich and powerful.

“The Democratic Party has become the party of Silicon Valley, investing its interests not in the working class and poor, but instead with the neoliberal elites in the tech industry.”

This means creating a force which is able to connect the similar interests of people across vastly different walks of life which are directly opposed to the elites which control this system. This means talking with people and passing out literature at everywhere from guns shows to hip hop concerts. It means mobilizing in solidarity with Native communities and those in Flint, Michigan who don’t have access to clean drinking water. It means organizing and fighting in our neighborhoods, communities, workplaces, and schools but more over, finding how to link these struggles against common enemies together as we forge bonds which can unite people across racial lines.

But in order to do so, we need a force that doesn’t just talk about creating a movement, nor one that puts all it’s efforts into selling Bob Avakian DVD’s or simply getting as many members as possible. What we don’t need is a bureaucratic force whose power comes through supposedly representing the interests of people, especially in the political process. What we need is a movement that can do and accomplish things. We need a movement that can across a vast geographical terrain be a material force which fights in the interests of everyone who is exploited and excluded from this structure of domination; taking territory, building power, and meeting our needs directly.

But while we must fight and confront Trump and the far-Right, if we have no alternative waiting in it’s place, then we are simply keeping the seat warm for the next neoliberal government to come in and start all over again.

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Comments

There are already liberals and progressives who want this. No need for an open letter from an ideological tendency that has no capacity to scale up affection. There's already the likes of Jimmy Dore and Debbie Lusignan and unimpressive anarchists like Cindy Millstein who might as well be a liberal progressive.

SirEinzige should go take a hike. I'm generally not too keen on the Black Bloc, but this statement offers sound analysis and is an excellent step in the right direction.

Jeezus this is so 20th century WTF maybe 20th Century BC throwing rocks like Neanderthals and artificial Piltdown men.

"In reality, both of these positions offer nothing to the vast majority of Americans. Rural America is not all white nor strictly conservative, in fact it’s home to the greatest majority of black, brown, and Native people in the entire country. At the same time, while many whites voted for Trump out of fear and ‘white anxiety’ around changing demographics in the United States, many also were disgusted by neoliberalism that has gutted entire sections of the country to the highest bidder. Behind every fascism, a failed revolution."

This is an important point. Though I wouldn't of used the implication of fascism, the reactionary people fear is not born with a KKK hood strapped to their head. Is the fall into nationalism a loss of hope in a universal together? In some ways, yes. To experience nationalism in the center of a corporatist empire that holds much of the web of power together is a threat to global stability. Donald Trump is the reification of these forces and an attempt to recuperate them. It might make the system a little more racist, but a dash of health care got everyone all dreamy over Obama. History speaks for itself.

The rural outskirts of the country have not been reached primarily because the style of outreach, how anarchists grow, to say, is not through dispersed small towns, but more often in large urban centers. While the author makes a point about people of color existing as a majority in rural America, tackling the hard question of how to connect isn't answered.

are more common in urban areas because they thrive within the distraction of overpopulation. Rural landscapes offer fewer alcoves of ghettoization. Cooperation with infrastructure is a defining characteristic of ruralness which prevents it from becoming a subject of "outreach" by political organizers.

Ultimately anarchism is limited in both the urban and rural context, due to infrastructure imperatives. Roads, transportation tech, housing tech, food & agriculture, telecoms, these are apolitical forces outside the scope of anarchism's analysis. Anarchists may as well appeal to volcanoes as potential allies in their seeking of power projection.

There are several sentences that are repeated in this article.

I give it a 3/10.

because this shit is embarassing. Do they think they are writing for CNN? Fuck journalism and fuck these tired old and sad ideas about what anarchy can look like. Jesus christ, just get a job and married have a kid and read them a little Emma Goldman to sleep and take your vacation to greece every 2 years to throw a molotov or 2, and just stop calling yourself an anarchist. for fucks sake.

"But while we must fight and confront Trump and the far-Right, if we have no alternative waiting in it’s place, then we are simply keeping the seat warm for the next neoliberal government to come in and start all over again."

the article reads like a chronicle of collapse of sovereign state authoritarian control and the two-party system, so isn't this something to celebrate?

why must we fight Trump and the far-Right, and be ready to put in place an 'alternative' as if the collapse of Trump opens things up for something new. it is the collapse of sovereigntist authoritarianism that is needed, not the collapse of Trump and the far Right. The threat of the far-Right comes from having built this powerful sovereigntist authoritarian machinery, a weapon of mass destruction, which could easily fall into the hands of the far-Right.

"Disarmament" [the dismantling of such weapons of mass destruction] is what is needed, not an 'alternative'.

"our first and foremost goal must be to defend ourselves, our struggles, and our movements [from the state and the alt-right]"

sovereigntist, authoritarian states are weapons of mass destruction that stand or fall on collective belief in them.

as indigenous anarchist, taiaiake alfred, says in 'Peace, Power and Righteousness', our first and foremost goal must be the undermining of the intellectual premises of colonialism [the undermining of belief in the sovereigntist authoritarian state]

"The emergence of the sovereign state was ... the necessary instrument of Europe's colonial expansion. -- Joseph Camilleri, 'Rethinking Sovereignty in a Shrinking, Fragmented World'

Indigenous anarchists such as Taiaiake can see their way through the fog put out by science and reason that sovereign states and individuals are independent entities that are fully and solely responsible for their own actions and results. They understand that "it takes a whole a community to raise a child" whether one is speaking of the missile-rattling child-state of Kim Jong Un or Donald Trump or the grenade-tossing 15 year-old by the name of Omar Khadr.

These are not 'independent entities' whose behaviour derives fully and solely from their internal 'genetic agency'. Their behaviours are inductively actualized, orchestrated and shaped by the epigenetic influence of the relational dynamics they are included in; i.e. "it takes a whole community to raise a rogue child".

those with a fundamentalist belief in the 'independent existence' of an Omar Khadr and/or a Kim Jong Un North Korea, sees them as as 'fully and solely responsible for their own actions and results, as if these are not shaped by the relational dynamics of the community they are included in. this belief sets the stage for being able to morally judge the 'actor' for his 'actions'. Meanwhile, our experience-based intuition informs us otherwise, that it takes a whole community to raise a rogue child, undermining the notion of being able to morally judge the actions of the individual or individual sovereign state, out of the context of the relational dynamics it is situationally included in.

The sovereigntist, authoritarian state was developed as an instrument of appropriation and control. It is a weapon of mass destruction that masquerades as a boon to Western civilization. It is outdated like the sadistic paraphernalia of the torture chamber and gives dizzying power to any idiot that manages to get his hands on its 'reins'. We need to be rid of it, rather than spending our lives 'defending against it', and, as taiaike intuits, since it stands or falls on the basis of collective belief in it, that requires undermining its 'credibility' by exposing the flaws in its intellectual premises. To defend against 'it' is to affirm/reinforce its credibility.

The authors of this article, if they really are black bloc, are 'losing their grasp' of their true contribution which is the undermining of belief in the state, not 'defense against it'.

Wow emile … you are way out of your depth on this topic. Stick to writing about what you know, k sweetheart?

Certain topics really reveal the failings of your overwrought and unnecessarily mystified analysis. Defending yourself against the state only "affirms/reinforce[s] its credibility"? Therefore … don't actually defend yourself and rely on magical thinking instead?

You criticize the people taking risks to actually resist, while alluding to a hypothetical situation where huge groups of people "stop believing" in the structures of tyranny until they collapse. This is typical liberal reformist optimism hiding behind a lot of $10 words with a sprinkle of hippy mysticism, at best! At worst, it's a sneaky way to rationalize a counter-insurgency narrative.

Real politics is only abstractly about what large groups of relatively powerless people perceive it to be. Since the beginning, it's mostly about a monopoly on the use of violence, or lack thereof. Therefore, your theory is almost completely irrelevant and what matters is the sum total efforts of capitalist mercenary forces to maintain a social peace for a semi-functional economy, which allows them to continue to project their will, regardless of people's "beliefs".

While it's true that their power hinges upon a certain percentage of the population buying in to their bullshit worldview, I've learned to scoff at any analysis that requires millions of people to magically change their minds. What's the point in pretending you have a genie that grants wishes? You don't. You never will.

"If everyone stopped believing in power - " Let me stop you there, lets assume they won't.

where political organizers come in who want the people to impose on themselves, boundaries, property ownership, laws and regulations and enforcement agencies all administered by a supreme central authority, all of which can only take on a synthetic sort of pseudo-reality providing that people agree to 'believe in it', .... it makes no sense to agree with it. In other words, the physical reality continues to be the dynamic relational diversity, and there is no need to 'buy in' to the politically promoted 'semantic reality' that proclaims the 'independent existence' of the 'sovereign state' and its supreme central control authority.

your strawman demonstrates a remarkable ability to ignore what i am saying and substitute your own constraining semantic reality, putting your word-meanings in my mouth.

natural systems flourish where there is relational diversity (anarchy).

Of course, that leads to conflict as statists attempt to 'make believers out of us' by using the threat of, or imposing of violence.

To continue to live as an anarchist means to continue to ignore the politically promoted semantic reality of statist authoritarian politicans. as far as indigenous peoples are concerned, sovereign states do not exist. There is no need to capitulate to the belief in their existence.

of course, that will put us at odds with the cult of believers who will fight to impose their belief-based hierarchical structures and regulations on us. but if you put that in the context of 'defending against the powerful state, then not only does that put us in mindset where we have to do battle with the state [the EZLN avoided this mindset] where we spend all our time thinking about how we are going to defeat the state [a 'state' that does not exist except in indoctrinated minds], but it takes our orientation away from co-cultivating an anarchist community dynamic in spite of all the statist crazies buzzing around us.

If you want to call our continuing to do our own anarchist thing in spite of statists trying to impose a lot of abstract beliefs on us, 'defending against the power of the state', ... that gives credibility to the EXISTENCE and POWER of the 'state', or the 'existence' and 'power' of the cult of the spotted unicorn or whatever else a group of believers wants to have a collection of people impose on themselves as a 'semantic reality'.

why should we not use our courage and strength to live our lives as we want, and ignore as best we can [as we do wasps, flies and mosquitoes] all the statist buzz and mumbo jumbo of contrived beliefs and regulations?

your strawman demonstrates a remarkable ability to ignore what i am saying and substitute your own constraining semantic reality, putting your word-meanings in my mouth.

natural systems flourish where there is relational diversity (anarchy).

where political organizers come in who want the people to impose on themselves, boundaries, property ownership, laws and regulations and enforcement agencies all administered by a supreme central authority, all of which can only take on a synthetic sort of pseudo-reality providing that people agree to 'believe in it', .... it makes no sense to agree with it. In other words, the physical reality continues to be the dynamic relational diversity, and there is no need to 'buy in' to the politically promoted 'semantic reality' that proclaims the 'independent existence' of the 'sovereign state' and its supreme central control authority.

To continue to live as an anarchist means to continue to ignore the politically promoted semantic reality of statist authoritarian politicans. as far as indigenous peoples are concerned, sovereign states do not exist. There is no need to capitulate to the belief in their existence.

Of course, that leads to conflict as statists attempt to 'make believers out of us' by using the threat of, or imposing of violence.

If you want to call our continuing to do our own anarchist thing in spite of statists trying to impose a lot of abstract beliefs on us, 'defending against the power of the state', ... that gives credibility to the EXISTENCE and POWER of the 'state', or the 'existence' and 'power' of the cult of the spotted unicorn or whatever else a group of believers wants to have a collection of people impose on themselves as a 'semantic reality'.

why should we not use our courage and strength to live our lives as we want, and ignore as best we can [as we do wasps, flies and mosquitoes] all the statist buzz and mumbo jumbo of contrived beliefs and regulations?

of course, that will put us at odds with the cult of believers who will fight to impose their belief-based hierarchical structures and regulations on us. but if you put that in the context of 'defending against the powerful state, then not only does that put us in mindset where we have to do battle with the state [the EZLN avoided this mindset] where we spend all our time thinking about how we are going to defeat the state [a 'state' that does not exist except in indoctrinated minds], but it takes our orientation away from co-cultivating an anarchist community dynamic in spite of all the statist crazies buzzing around us.

sovereigntist, authoritarian states are weapons of mass destruction that stand or fall on collective belief in them.

"our first and foremost goal must be to defend ourselves, our struggles, and our movements [from the state and the alt-right]"

as indigenous anarchist, taiaiake alfred, says in 'Peace, Power and Righteousness', our first and foremost goal must be the undermining of the intellectual premises of colonialism [the undermining of belief in the sovereigntist authoritarian state]

"The emergence of the sovereign state was ... the necessary instrument of Europe's colonial expansion. -- Joseph Camilleri, 'Rethinking Sovereignty in a Shrinking, Fragmented World'

These are not 'independent entities' whose behaviour derives fully and solely from their internal 'genetic agency'. Their behaviours are inductively actualized, orchestrated and shaped by the epigenetic influence of the relational dynamics they are included in; i.e. "it takes a whole community to raise a rogue child".

Indigenous anarchists such as Taiaiake can see their way through the fog put out by science and reason that sovereign states and individuals are independent entities that are fully and solely responsible for their own actions and results. They understand that "it takes a whole a community to raise a child" whether one is speaking of the missile-rattling child-state of Kim Jong Un or Donald Trump or the grenade-tossing 15 year-old by the name of Omar Khadr.

The sovereigntist, authoritarian state was developed as an instrument of appropriation and control. It is a weapon of mass destruction that masquerades as a boon to Western civilization. It is outdated like the sadistic paraphernalia of the torture chamber and gives dizzying power to any idiot that manages to get his hands on its 'reins'. We need to be rid of it, rather than spending our lives 'defending against it', and, as taiaike intuits, since it stands or falls on the basis of collective belief in it, that requires undermining its 'credibility' by exposing the flaws in its intellectual premises. To defend against 'it' is to affirm/reinforce its credibility.

The authors of this article, if they really are black bloc, are 'losing their grasp' of their true contribution which is the undermining of belief in the state, not 'defense against it'.

those with a fundamentalist belief in the 'independent existence' of an Omar Khadr and/or a Kim Jong Un North Korea, sees them as as 'fully and solely responsible for their own actions and results, as if these are not shaped by the relational dynamics of the community they are included in. this belief sets the stage for being able to morally judge the 'actor' for his 'actions'. Meanwhile, our experience-based intuition informs us otherwise, that it takes a whole community to raise a rogue child, undermining the notion of being able to morally judge the actions of the individual or individual sovereign state, out of the context of the relational dynamics it is situationally included in.

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