Black Bloc

  • Posted on: 12 April 2011
  • By: worker

<table><tr><td>From <a href="">Anti-German (blog)</a>

<p>In the UK, the Black Bloc has gotten a lot of media coverage and blog buzz because of the March 26 anti-cuts march where they appeared. Mostly, of course, it is liberal hand-wringing, conservative hysteria and the rest of the whole usual denunciatory arsenal of the law and order party.</p>
<p>Myself, I think Black Bloc tactics are generally a bad idea for the movement, but the condemnations of them leave something to be desired. Here, though, are a few blog snippets that have an at least semi-intelligent criticism:<span id="more-1472"></span></p>
<p>Moments of Clarity <a href="

<blockquote><p>Defenders of this self-appointed elite should ponder this link. In it we see clear evidence that the Black Bloc has in fact been<a href=" heavily infiltrated by and is under the influence of the police</a>. It’s cheerleaders, sycophants and glorifiers of this group are unwitting tools of the police. How blissfully ironic! On Saturday, the Black Bloc provided just the right context for the Met’s reprehensible and duplicitous attack on the UK Uncut actions and those peacefully protesting in Trafalgar Square to proceed. Incidentally, isn’t it an amazing and fortunate for some that this group started their actions just as Ed Miliband was about to speak; thus providing ample opportunity for the slice and splice merchants at both the BBC and Sky to work their magic. Here division is necessary; these people must be marginalised and defeated politically within this movement, they are a mixture of tools of the state and those easily duped and led astray by these people; put plainly they are poison.</p></blockquote></td><td><img title="by which we mean the fabulous scent from Christian Dior" src="files/pictures/2008/bloc.jpg"></td></tr></table>
<p><a href="
<blockquote><p>My view of the Black Bloc is simple. It is a vipers nest, riddled with state assets whose sole purpose is the destruction and discrediting of this movement. The politics of the Bloc, such as they are, make this easy, as does the age demographic of its more genuine supporters.</p>
<p>Members of the Bloc are explicitly encouraged to conceal their identity which is as they are not an actual organisation but a mere component of a demonstration. At Saturdays demonstration we saw clear evidence that there were police infiltrators within the bloc. Documentary evidence also exists of it on other occasions; Quebec’s <a href="">p... force admitted</a> it had three officers undercover for a summit of North American leaders who operated within the bloc.[...]</p>
<p>The genuine activists within the Bloc are being misled and manipulated. A political struggle against this grouping is necessary if this movement is to survive and succeed.</p></blockquote>

<p><a href=" Jones</a>:</p>
<blockquote><p>Black Bloc tactics strike me as a militant twist on consumer boycotts: the same underlying idea (inflict economic damage), but posing absolutely no threat whatsoever to the capitalist system, however good it might make the participants feel.</p>
<p>Firstly, it provides a pretext for the state to crack down on basic civil liberties. For some, this is desirable: it’s long been a tactic among certain types of anarchist to encourage disproportionate actions on the part of the state in order to expose it. But in practice it just leads to repression that undermines the ability of movements to organise.</p>
<p>Secondly, the tactic alienates the vast majority, including most people who would otherwise be sympathetic to our aims. To me the ‘Black Bloc’ tactic strikes me as an example of what happens when activists are confined to a ghettoised radical milieu, without relating what they are doing to non-politicised people. While a poll has shown 73% in support of peaceful civil disobedience, only 3% <a href=" actions like smashing windows.</a> To me, this is probably the least surprising finding possible. I don’t understand the rationale of a tactic that has no popular support.</p></blockquote>
<p><a href=" Theory:</a></p>
<blockquote><p>The right-wing press and the government play on the public’s fear. They can <em>so easily</em> manipulate the actions of Black Bloc activists, portraying the protests as anarchic riots, scaring off those who want to take part. It has already given<a title="Guardian - Theresa May to review police powers" href=" May</a> an excuse to introduce draconian police powers. This is compounded by the group’s aesthetic. While people in the group are ‘<a title="Guardian - Black Bloc reject thuggery claims" href=" people</a>‘ and they believe themselves to be unintimidating – just a person engaging in legitimate protest tactics – to the untrained eye a large group of people dressed all in black and wearing masks is terrifying. Black Bloc wear masks to protect themselves from the Big-Brother-type surveillance that pervades British cities, but that it doesn’t make it any less intimidating and off-putting to outsiders.</p>

<p>My final reason against the tactic of Black Bloc is, in my view, the most serious and important. It’s a truism that violence begets violence. Someone could have gotten killed at Piccadilly or Trafalgar Square. The police killed <a title="BBC - Ian Tomlinson" href="">Ian Tomlinson</a>, who wasn’t even a protester, and put <a title="Independent - Alfie Meadows" href=" Meadows</a> in hospital. If the rioting continues, this is almost inevitable. If young people have been involved all day in smashing windows and running rings around the police, adrenalin pumping through their veins, they will want revenge. It’s a slippery slope from property damage to violence. Like I said above, there is a strong movement for peaceful direct action at the minute. Property damage is alienating to the majority of people already; if it turns to violence against people, they will all step away – even if it was started by the police.</p>
<p>More fundamentally, I don’t believe violence against people is justified in this struggle. We live in a democracy (albeit a poorly functioning one, run by a tiny self-serving elite); but there are channels for resistance. This is not an oppressive dictatorship where people resort to violence as their only way out. I, personally, don’t support political violence even in these situations (I’m naturally averse to violence as an individual, but also as a product of growing up in Northern Ireland); but I really don’t see any justification for it in our situation now. While I’m sure everyone in Black Bloc on the 26th was entirely committed just to property damage and would find the idea of violence towards people (although, worryingly, maybe not the police) abhorrent; if things continue the way they are, I worry it’s only a matter of time. To reiterate, you don’t know who’s going to mask-up in future, and you don’t know what’s around the corner…</p>
<p>This article will not go down well. Anyone who has tried to give <a title="Laurie Penny - Trafalgar Square What Really Happened" href=" interpretations of March 26</a> so far has been derided by the right for condoning violence, and from the left for denouncing protestors. Everyone else has sided one way or the other. What Black Bloc has done is highlight a grey area in our thinking about protest, property and violence. We need to think deeply and critically about that, not just thoughtlessly denounce or defend.</p></blockquote>
<p><a href=" &amp; Disorderly</a>:</p>

<blockquote><p>There are echoes of this stance in the <a href=" published in <em>The Guardian</em></a> last week, where the self-identified black bloc activists proclaimed that &#8220;Only actions count now&#8221;, and that they were giving &#8220;uncompromising opposition to capitalism an appropriate image on the streets&#8221;. The idea is apparently that smashing a bank window is symbollicaly the same as &#8216;smashing&#8217; the power of the banks. But then, how can the great mass of people learn to literally &#8216;smash&#8217; the power of the banks, except through their own struggle?</p>
<p>Emma Goldman&#8217;s position on propaganda by the deed shifted in the years after her lifelong companion,<a href="">Alexander Berkman</a>, <a href=" tried to kill Henry Frick</a>, the boss of Carnegie Steel. Berkman had dreamed that following the shooting, &#8220;labor would realize the significance of my deed&#8221;, and would &#8220;be roused to strong protest, perhaps to active demand.&#8221; Unfortunately for him and for us, that was not the case. Berkman and Goldman could only watch in despair as the expected uprising failed to materialise, and Berkman was &#8220;buried alive&#8221; in prison for sixteen years.</p>

<p>[...]It is worth applying Berkman&#8217;s quote to the context of the &#8216;violence&#8217; against symbols of wealth in London last month. With class tensions at incendiary levels, it could certainly be argued that the &#8220;social necessity for its performance&#8221; was indeed very clear to large numbers of people in the general public, even despite the mass media&#8217;s attempts at demonisation. But was it &#8220;educational&#8221;? My answer has to be a no. It did not teach anyone anything, because it did not take back any products of working class labour. In that way it differed from the fleeting <a href=" of Tory HQ</a> last year, and does not represent a way forward in the class struggle, even if it were to be taken up on a massive scale. Neither was it an act of genuine resistance. Instead, it polarised opinion along already existing lines.</p></blockquote>
<p><strong>Phil Dickens has an intelligent anarchist response to these sorts of criticisms <a href=" I was going to extract sections of it, but I ended up more or less cutting and pasting the whole thing, so just go and read it.</p>

<p>It takes in the relationship of Black bloc to <a href="">Antifa</a>, something I&#8217;ve <a href=""... on a bit before. Here I tend to half-agree, half-disagree with Phil. In Britain, the militant anti-fascist tradition, in the 1900s, the 1930s, the 1950s, the 1970s and the 1990s, have tended to avoid the Black bloc tactic and found more effective forms to work within. Only now that militant anti-fascism has become ghettoized within the anarchist lifestyle scene have Euro-style Black bloc tactics become prevalent.</p>


Anyone who calls themselves an "anarchist" but doesn't work towards an insurrectional moment - i.e. rioting, people, yes, smashing things - is just a liberal in disguise.

How standing around and listening to Ed Miliband of Tony Blair's party is better than vandalism is completely beyond me.

Anyone who calls themselves an anarchist but won't pierce their nose with a safety pin is a total poseur. Oi! Oi!


no we are anti-caps

Ideology ^^^

I sincerely hope there are more available options in your view. I don't see either of the two you've suggested as being particularly useful in achieving any kind of desirable outcome.

Anarchism is an ideology. Being an adherent to an ideology does not necessitate action. It's all about thoughts. If were to accept your assertion, those people who equate anarchists with criminals would have a point. Rioting and "smashing things" is against the law. A criminal is one who breaks the law. See where that one's going?

And who gave you the universal authority to assign labels in an attempt to dehumanize and, thereby, devalue those with whom you do not agree?

If anarchism were just a set of ideas to play around with and daydream about it would be just another theory, ideology, academic discourse, i.e. system of hypocrisy. Anarchists have always tried to make it something more and something other than that.

We are criminals. We advocate the destruction of the state and private property - there's no way to tone that down and make it sound "legal."

Anarchism looks the same everywhere and forever then, huh? So if I don't perform some prescribed act (prescribed by you I assume), then I'm not an anarchist? That's okay, I've always hated labels for exactly the reason you've illustrated here. I'm not going to pin some label on myself then act according to the directions offered by somebody else just for the privilege of retaining that label. I'll make my own decisions. Thank you. I do have many viewpoints some people would describe as anarchist, though.

Advocacy is not a crime where I live. I'm sorry it is where you live.

Oh yeah, even though many people would describe me as an anarchist (only because of my viewpoints and not because I've asked them to do so), I am not a criminal.

Hate to be the one to break it to you (not that it matters, according to your holier than thou "I don't believe in labels" attitude), but you aren't an anarchist.

criminal or gtfo

no you can be an anarchist - but an unwillingness to break the law is certainly going to make you a lousy one.

Don't jaywalk! Speak negatively about the state!

after reading the first couple paragraphs, i was kind of excited to see a well-thought out critique of the black bloc tactic. but then i kept reading, and noticed that this wasn't that, but rather the same old tired critiques. sorry, the black bloc are not cops. sorry, they don't alienate people, or at least no more so than the holier-than-though stance of professional pacifists.

Did that Phil character really advocate people masking up and going out in groups to beat down people with whom they disagree? There was a group in the u.s. that used to do that - the kkk. It didn't prove to be the cure for any societal ills over here.

Did that Bill character really advocate people masking up and going out in groups to destroy property with which they disagree? There was a group in Germany that did that once - the Nazis. It didn't prove to be the cure for any societal ills over there.

Shut the fuck up. Your analogy doesn't work.

Exactly how does it not work? People roaming the streets looking to beat people up is people roaming the streets to beat people up. Yeah, one group did it because of race and the other is doing it because of opinions, but there still beating people up. I'm guessing they're driven by some belief that they're somehow ordained with the right to do based on some perception of superiority. Now I could understand it if people were going out after the thugs who do the bidding of the ruling class (e.g. the cops or the soldiers), but you really think it's a good idea to run around beating up some disgruntled joe blows who just have really awful ideas? Now only does my analogy work, but these fascist statements are a bit scary. I thought these were the kinds of things we were supposed to oppose.

well, i don't know about everyone else, but I'm better than any nazi. just sayin'

You are using closely similar methods to conflate blatantly different motives. Just because people do the same things does not mean they do it for similar reasons.

I am an anarchist. I want destroy that which seeks to destroy me.

I agree with that sentiment - "I want to destroy that which seeks to destroy me" - to the extent that that which seeks to destroy me is actually capable of destroying me and is attempting, or is likely to attempt, to do so. That's why I am all in favor of destroying the ruling class. However, joe blow running down the street spewing hate, while not something to which I want to be exposed, does not meet this criteria.

I also do not think the means is justified simply because the desired ends are blatantly different. The differing motivations definitely play a part in deciding whether or not the means is justified, but other factors have to be considered as well. For example, I say stomp the shit out of the israeli thugs in an effort to end their genocidal campaign against the Palestinians. The little national whatever front douche bags coming out for a rally around the corner do not pose any kind of immediate, or even near-immediate, threat to anybody. There certainly is no justification for beating them up. Ignore them. Debate them. Flip them off. But to beat them up is to set up a situation like we have now - just with others in the place of "power."

"ignore them"

fuck that

"debate them"

fuck this too.

how much longer will we have to deal with people telling us to ignore things? your conflation of nazi violence and anarchist violence is fucking absurd

Perhaps I'm mistaken, but isn't the whole "Anti-German" movement this blog promotes rejected and attacked by the overwhelming majority of German anarchist/autonomous space?


if more of those black bloc types wrote blogs...winning!

I remember watching that one on submedia. I wish people would note how she didn't resort to calling people names (oh, they're just liberals) or telling people what they are or aren't (they're not really anarchists). It's a great example of the civility needed if meaningful dialogue is going to take place.

This is from an anti-deutch blog, a movement that calls Arabs terrorists for fighting against Israel, and carries American flags to rallies, praising the imperialists for supporting the Israel state. This has no place on this site, these people are enemies, they're "movement" has nothing to do with the anarchist project.

It's their movement, not "they're movement." Sheesh.

But you're right, the anti-deutsch are fucking idiots.

LOL @ publishing anything written by the anti-germans (zionist, pro-US empire, anti-muslim)

The term "anti-German" in the context of the German Marxist milieu is essentially synonymous with support for the US and, especially Israel. Whatever they might claim to oppose, they clear suck for what they defend.

It's a vile position akin to the usual Leninist argument that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend".

It's not surprising that these scum are willing to coble together this hackneyed "critique". I haven't bothered to figuring out what exactly the hidden agenda here is but I'd assume there's something here.

i know this sounds crazy, but actually if you READ the website its not an anti-german site. its actually done by someone who is anti "antigerman" but who wanted a forum for exploring the absurdities and false consciousness of that position. kind of an academic thing. check out the comments and the about section on the site for confirmation - none of the commenters are actual antigermans fact most of them seem to not be german at all.

that doesnt mean , of course, that this trash and rehashed tired old arguments about the black bloc are worth reprinting here. but for the record, the person s not actually an anti-german.

using the example of montebello, quebec, where three surete du quebec officers bloc'd up as an example of heavy police infiltration of the black bloc makes no sense. those three men were successfully identified, isolated, and expelled from the protest by bloc'd up anarchists. it is a classic and highly visible example, for those who actually engage with what happened, of how black blocs deal with police infiltration.

just wanted to address that one specific point. beyond that, harsha walia, 10 points. that.