What if the black bloc have the right idea?

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ArghMonkey ArghMonkey's picture
What if the black bloc have the right idea?

The more I see the failure of the left to change our society and the more I see the destruction caused by conservatives the more I really start to wonder when (and if) the left will ever take control.

At what point do we force our hand?

This is a serious post, despite lots of talk from the left, we arent effecting much change, sure we have official opposition but harper went from a minority to a majority.

Do we have to wait till feudalism sets in completely before we do something? Its doubtful we would have the brains or nerve to stand up even then.

Im not a member of the black bloc but increasingly my thinking is becoming more radical then theirs.

Dont you guys/girls get sick of the insanity going on with conservatives? Whats your tipping point? When your children get indoctrinated? When would you be willing to do anything to get rid of conservatives?

An honest question.

 

Regions: 
Unionist

I honestly think you're on the wrong track. Like, really wrong. 180 degrees in the wrong direction.

Your post exudes frustration and contempt - not for the enemy, but for the leftists (never mind the people in general) who aren't supposedly as sick as you are with the status quo, who don't see the dangers here and on the horizon, who just don't get it. Since all we have to do is "force our hand" and "stand up to them", we must really be either dumb or sold out - otherwise, what the hell are we waiting for?

This is an understandable feeling, one that probably all of us feel from time to time. The point, however, is to suppress it. Sending masked hooligans into the streets to destroy property? These are the assholes who, if not in the pay of the police, are foolishly providing free labour to the enemy.

In the student movement here, Charest and his stormtroopers had seized on the "violence" by a handful of frustrated immature individuals. That's all he talked about. Lots of people believed him. He pushed through Bill 78. The students, in many instances, started "dealing" with the assholes themselves. You can find videos of dozens of students surrounding someone who has just broken a window, chanting against them, making it difficult for them. Remarkably, the cops would always kettle and arrest and fine hundreds of kids who had committed no vandalism - and remarkably, they never seemed to catch the smashers and the few who committed assaults (assault is supposed to be the monopoly of the cops, you see).

The smashing largely stopped toward the end of May I'd say - the casseroles started - the movement broadened - the students showed flexibility of tactics (not that fraudulent diversity of tactics slogan) - and they won.

No revolution yet? Sorry. But it won't come by isolating ourselves from the masses of people who need to make that revolution. And they will never make it just because you (or I) are "becoming radicalized". When you force their hand prematurely, rest assured that it will come down upon you. We don't want that.

 

 

ArghMonkey ArghMonkey's picture

I hear you and I would have said the same thing years ago.

What we are doing isent working and when the democratic process is being ignored I think thats when the gloves come off.

We can only play the game if everyone follows the rules, if someone always cheats then we will always lose.

Im not a communist but who says a violent takeover would be for the worst? Honestly.

I am not a violent person but when the choices, more and more, appear to be "be quiet and grab your ankles" or a radical takeover, what hope is there for anyone on the left?!

Where is any progress? Waiting and the usual outlets arent working.

I hate FEELING divided but I think the non-violent side only works within a certain system, that system has been ignored and trampled on, we will be singing "give peace a chance" while our children starve. 

Tell me something that is working, really working. Quebec is an anomoly btw, the rest of Canada cant come out to vote, let alone serious protest.

ArghMonkey ArghMonkey's picture

Btw your observation that if we fight back they might come down on us, and do what? destroy unions? lower wages? get rid of benefits and pensions? Bring in crime bills designed to throw more Canadians in jail and label activists as terrorists? Will they villianize the left and make claims that universal healthcare is communist or that poor people just dont want to work?

What is it they will do if we really fight that they havent already done to the left and to the people of Canada?

They stole election results, even our vote, the one litte tiny bit of power we had, removed from us.

In another time and place we would have stormed parliament and been in a better situation right now.

6079_Smith_W

I'll bite.

How about some examples of violent attack - particularly in the context of a developed nation like Canada -  which produced lasting change?

(I can think of a few; almost all of them committed BY police and the right wing)

And yes, I have heard the theory that nonviolent protesters are just benefitting from the hard work of brick-chuckers because the authorities are simply terrified by the prospect of broken shop windows. I don't buy it.

And speaking of working within a certain system, what does the black bloc do other than show up at large-scale protests of international events? Do they do anything that isn't within the constraints of that particular stage?

 

 

6079_Smith_W

ArghMonkey wrote:

In another time and place we would have stormed parliament and been in a better situation right now.

They tried that in 1849. Fortunately they did not succeed in their goal. It would not have been a better place.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burning_of_the_Parliament_Buildings_in_Mont...

(edit)

Lord Elgin, the Governor General, left his carriage, which had been smashed in the riots, unrepaired, and he used it on ceremonial occasions just to remind people of what happened.

 

Unionist

ArghMonkey wrote:

Btw your observation that if we fight back they might come down on us, and do what?

I don't think I made my point clearly enough.

If "we fight back" by being vandals and assholes, "they" WILL come down on "us". "They" are my neighbours, friends, and workmates. "They" are the wise people of Canada. "They" hate the black bloc bullshit. The cops luvvv it.

 

ArghMonkey ArghMonkey's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:

I'll bite.

How about some examples of violent attack - particularly in the context of a developed nation like Canada -  which produced lasting change?

(I can think of a few; almost all of them committed BY police)

And yes, I have heard the theory that nonviolent protesters are just benefitting from the hard work of brick-chuckers because the authorities are simply terrified by the prospect of broken shop windows. I don't buy it.

And speaking of working within a certain system, what does the black bloc do other than show up at large-scale protests of international events? Do they do anything that isn't within the constraints of that particular stage?

 

 

 

First off just because most of the western world hasent had a coup that doesnt mean it isent necessary.

Im not just talking about bricks in windows, im talking about storming parliament, at what point does that become a reasonable thing to do.

I want to be optimist and I tell myself that because there is opposition to the idea that maybe things arent that bad yet, but then I remind myself that most Canadians dont bother to even vote, most worry more about being able to watch some new sitcom on their iphones then figure out why they cant afford to buy a home or why their parents are still working into their 70s for less wages then they made in their 30s.

My question is where is the tipping point, clearly for me it was passed years ago, so where is it for people here? never? 

ArghMonkey ArghMonkey's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:

ArghMonkey wrote:

In another time and place we would have stormed parliament and been in a better situation right now.

They tried that in 1849. Fortunately they did not succeed in their goal. It would not have been a better place.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burning_of_the_Parliament_Buildings_in_Mont...

(edit)

Lord Elgin, the Governor General, left his carriage, which had been smashed in the riots, unrepaired, and he used it on ceremonial occasions just to remind people of what happened.

 

 

Sometimes revolution goes well, sometimes it doesnt but so what? whats the alternative?

Tell me honestly your ok with knowing your ideas are subverted at every turn, that we are just a small step away from having creationism taught in schools or that you will never ever be able to retire while your employer makes obscene profits, tell me your ok with being screwed over time after time after time, be honest with me (at the least with yourself) and say "there is never a time when I think we should storm parliament", because then I can understand that you havent thought this out and that I am right *L* 

Revolutionary Russia was a clusterfuck but should they have stuck with the tsar?! better to have stayed subjects? or Cuba, better to have been controlled by the U.S.? resign to their place in life? accept their masters?

 

 

ArghMonkey ArghMonkey's picture

Unionist wrote:

ArghMonkey wrote:

Btw your observation that if we fight back they might come down on us, and do what?

I don't think I made my point clearly enough.

If "we fight back" by being vandals and assholes, "they" WILL come down on "us". "They" are my neighbours, friends, and workmates. "They" are the wise people of Canada. "They" hate the black bloc bullshit. The cops luvvv it.

 

Doctors in Canada originally were against universal healthcare, they threatened all sorts of things and caused some trouble, in the end it worked out for the best for all and it made Canada a better place.

Better if we never offend anyone? better if we allow others to use violence against us but never to defend ourselves or reverse great wrong?

Whats the point of activism period then?

ArghMonkey ArghMonkey's picture

I hate to point out but most ppl will hate change of any kind.

Do we not have an obligation to help even those that dont know any better?

We have the intellectuals, we have the scientists, etc. 

If everyone is ok with an injustice does that mean its not an injustice and should be accepted?!

Come on guys.

6079_Smith_W

I think the revolutions and wars in Russia and Cuba had a bit more broad base of support, and a greater variety of tactics than the black bloc.

I'm not saying there is never a time when force is appropriate. I'm saying I don't see any evidence that it will accomplish anything here and now. I agree with Unionist; all I see is an excuse for bigger and badder crowd control, scapegoating and invasions of privacy, and zero positive change.

 

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

At the risk of sounding like 6079 I agree with both sides simultaneously.  First off I agree that no real fundamental change is possible under our current liberal democracy.  I however also believe that when the guns come out the people's voices get silenced by the bullies on both sides. 

Civil disobedience is an effective tool to stop specific actions like the tuition hikes or logging Clayoquot Sound but it will never overthrow the rule of the 1%.  However all real social change has been enacted in the face of police brutality.  Our union history highlights that all real change must be taken it is never given.

Violence breeds violence and besides for that the capitalists own most of the guns and all the heavy arms and have the cash to buy more legally at the drop of a hat.  Any group that could beat those people in a straight up armed conflict would have to be as brutal as their oppressors. An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind. 

I will however note again that all our social benefits came after WWII when the troops came home and demanded them.  I suspect that the ruling elite took the demands of the battle hardened civilian army seriously and the proof is in the fact that every single political party including the Tories were more left wing on economic issues than the NDP is today. This is the era when "right" wing governments across the land where nationalizing utilities and other essential services. When that generation got older the elite started the claw back.  A 25 year old vet in 1945 was in their early 60's when the elite started to push back hard in the '80's. 

We need to stand in solidarity and not let ourselves be drawn into a violent struggle that good people will never win.

6079_Smith_W

kropotkin1951 wrote:

At the risk of sounding like 6079 I agree with both sides simultaneously.

Haha.. Don't worry; I won't sue for plagiarism.

And good point regarding the pressures of war. After all, war was one of the things which contributed to the revolutions in Russia and Germany.

And in the states, WWII resulted in non-whites getting factory positions they had never had before, and there were riots and increased segregation because of it, but it was also something which fueled the change which came later.

So yes, there are situations where violence happens, sometimes resulting in positive change. I am not so sure that is true in instances of planned chaos from groups like the BB, who pop up only in certain specific situations.

As for Canada, again, most of the situations I can think of - with a very few exceptions - involved violence from the right.

By contrast, people looking for justice don't have to do to much at all to get portrayed as a violent mob:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/cree-win-war-of-words-over-...

 

ArghMonkey ArghMonkey's picture

kropotkin1951 wrote:

At the risk of sounding like 6079 I agree with both sides simultaneously.  First off I agree that no real fundamental change is possible under our current liberal democracy.  I however also believe that when the guns come out the people's voices get silenced by the bullies on both sides. 

Civil disobedience is an effective tool to stop specific actions like the tuition hikes or logging Clayoquot Sound but it will never overthrow the rule of the 1%.  However all real social change has been enacted in the face of police brutality.  Our union history highlights that all real change must be taken it is never given.

Violence breeds violence and besides for that the capitalists own most of the guns and all the heavy arms and have the cash to buy more legally at the drop of a hat.  Any group that could beat those people in a straight up armed conflict would have to be as brutal as their oppressors. An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind. 

I will however note again that all our social benefits came after WWII when the troops came home and demanded them.  I suspect that the ruling elite took the demands of the battle hardened civilian army seriously and the proof is in the fact that every single political party including the Tories were more left wing on economic issues than the NDP is today. This is the era when "right" wing governments across the land where nationalizing utilities and other essential services. When that generation got older the elite started the claw back.  A 25 year old vet in 1945 was in their early 60's when the elite started to push back hard in the '80's. 

We need to stand in solidarity and not let ourselves be drawn into a violent struggle that good people will never win.

 

So we are screwed until the powerful are benevolent or some other event gives us a small opening, which we can push into and occupy before being shoved out and screwed again.

Its a shame but as long as we are "ok" with things as they are (we obviously arent doing enough to change things) then we are slaves.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

We are screwed as long as we accept the capitalist system.  You can start the change by forming a syndicate with a dozen or so of your friends and after determining the skill sets of everyone involved starting to produce goods and services that others require. 

No armed struggle will get me to the goal of a workers cooperative any quicker than just joining together with others and doing it.  Ignoring the "man" is a better strategy than confronting the elites who control the armed might of the police and security forces. 

contrarianna

Both clueless violent activists and agent provocateurs are a reality. 

It is usually impossible to figure out  which is which because the end result is the same.(media/state/public vilification of the action, state violence, suppressing or vilification of the facts of the actual movement and its broader support).T

The agent provocateurs operate by a realistic plan, the others comprise useful idiots doing their job without pay.

A Montreal Paul

ArghMonkey: What do you mean by the left "taking control"? And what do you mean when say "force our hand"? In short, what, if anything, are you proposing?

Our liberal democracy is limited, yes. However, anyone who proposes that "we" should seize power by force to impose ideas that are not supported by the population is no democrat in any sense whatsoever. The only alternative to that, it seems to me, is to work at building a broad-based grassroots movement. But that involves talking to people, and listening to people too. Too many people on the Left prefer to mix only with people who think like them, and value ideological purity above all else. Instead of talking with people, they preach at them. And they get angry at everyone: "Why isn't anyone listening to me!?"

As for the Black Bloc, all they do is theatrical violence to show people how angry they are. It's a show. It does nothing to rally large numbers of people behind progressive ideas.

But I suspect that what you are actually proposing is to throw your arms up in cynical disgust, and say "There's no point in trying to change anything! I would if I could, but all these other people are sheep!". I consider that attitude to be self-indulgent.

 

A Montreal Paul

ArghMonkey: What do you mean by the left "taking control"? And what do you mean when say "force our hand"? In short, what, if anything, are you proposing?

Our liberal democracy is limited, yes. However, anyone who proposes that "we" should seize power by force to impose ideas that are not supported by the population is no democrat in any sense whatsoever. The only alternative to that, it seems to me, is to work at building a broad-based grassroots movement. But that involves talking to people, and listening to people too. Too many people on the Left prefer to mix only with people who think like them, and value ideological purity above all else. Instead of talking with people, they preach at them. And they get angry at everyone: "Why isn't anyone listening to me!?"

As for the Black Bloc, all they do is theatrical violence to show people how angry they are. It's a show. It does nothing to rally large numbers of people behind progressive ideas.

But I suspect that what you are actually proposing is to throw your arms up in cynical disgust, and say "There's no point in trying to change anything! I would if I could, but all these other people are sheep!". I consider that attitude to be self-indulgent.

 

ryanw

suuuuuuuure, I want to give the government a legitimate reason to increase defense and security spending, one hockey riot did wonders for budgets coast to coast.

progress is trench warfare, use the technology; the other team sure does.

find a new group if the one you're with is idle and revels in celebrating stuff they learned ten years ago

 

 

Fidel

contrarianna wrote:

Both clueless violent activists and agent provocateurs are a reality. 

It is usually impossible to figure out  which is which because the end result is the same.(media/state/public vilification of the action, state violence, suppressing or vilification of the facts of the actual movement and its broader support).T

The agent provocateurs operate by a realistic plan, the others comprise useful idiots doing their job without pay.

Yes and everything in between. I believe right-rightists have been making use of a range of violent and non-violent tactics, from what was essentially terrorism and "strategy of tension" employed in Europe and former Soviet republics during the cold war and even today, as well as the non-violent teachings of Jesus, Gandhi etc evident in various NATO Spring uprisings in the Middle East  supported by the western intelligence agencies today.

Caesar Augustus through Hitler were two of the most bloodthirsty dictators of history, but few people revere them today as much as Gandhi and Jesus. Like Gandhi and Jesus I think we should not meet violence with greater violence, but we should not entirely acquiesce to power, either. I don't think they want to be creating martyrs of any of us because imperialists understand that brute force works for so long before a Spartacus, Jesus, or Gandhi demonstrate for people that it's better to die on their feet than to live on their knees. It tends to spell the beginning of the end of empires based on slavery and rule by force.

The Pope gave a speech in Santiago de Chile in 1986 or so, and he spoke about the need for Chileans to rise up and work toward change. Chileans were encouraged by a spark of hope that Pinochet's thugs were unable to extinguish by torture and executions. At some point Chileans no longer feared the army's bullets and began pouring into the streets. I think the right fears non-violent protest more than anything and especially today with world-wide expansion of telecommunications. WHat the left needs today are subversives in the style of Mahatma Gandhi and Jesus Christ. That kind of mass influence could be the last straw for a vicious empire.

Aristotleded24

Chris Hedges, who is no fan of our current system, is also critical of the black bloc. For example, at the [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pelDr04HfJI]fifteen minute mark of this video,[/url] he talks about how the black bloc is used to demonize protest movements, and that the state would win any violent confrontation anyways.

These violent acts really don't hurt the power elites anyways. The big corporations are well insured against such property damage, whereas the smaller store owners would not do so well. It's also the working class staff that risks being injured when a brick is thrown through the window or from the shattering glass.

Besides, for all their bluster about "diversity of tactics," the black bloc has no idea beyond violence and vandalism.

lagatta

I've seen the Black Bloc as very detrimental to protest movements, and I'm certainly not against militant, disciplined contingents that are able to resist police violence. One prominent example of the harm done by Black Bloc type action is the year after year degeneration of the Journée contre la violence policière into a pitched battle between punks and cops, often with mass arrests (well, not a big mass, but big in proportion to the size of the demos). This theatre also means that the racialised people most affected by police brutality never show up at those demos. After Fredy Villanueva was killed, the people in his neighbourhood specifically called for all-ages, non-violent marches against "les bavures", that is, the odd tendency for stray police bullets to hit young men of colour.

That does not go to say I have much regard for bourgeois "liberal" democracy, unlike my fellow Montréal poster Paul (hi, Paul). There is a difference between defending hard-won democratic rights (many of which were won by the labour movement, and other social movements such as the women's movement and struggles for racial equality) and fostering illusions in a system owned and managed by the ruling class.

Building mass movements, such as our student movement and all the other red squares around them, takes time, patience, but also the ability to sense and seize the moment.

And Paul, I think you are very much stereotyping "leftists". All human groups congregate in tribes where they feel comfortable; why should the left be different in that regard? Concrete examples of reaching out to people who may not be particularly politicised or class-conscious include, other than union organising of course, the development of community groups such as tenants' associations and the very dense network of women's groups found in Québec (some of these had old Catholic origins, but broke with misogynist Church dogma over the decades) that made possible la Marche du pain et des roses and the later World Marches of Women.

Aristotle, hurting very small businesses and not really harming well-insured corporations only furthers monopoly capitalism and its monopolisation of the public space.

Fidel, careful with the CIA Spring stuff. Secret police (not only the CIA) are everywhere, but Western powers were quite happy with Ben Ali and Mubarak for decades. Of course the spooks will try to put their spin on the protests (so will the Muslim fundamentalists), but the movement began as a cri du coeur among the peoples of Tunisia and Egypt. Important not to see people as ciphers.

"CIA Spring" or whatever would be better applied to the "colour" revolutions in Eastern Europe. Once again, it isn't the whole picture, but it is somewhat less inaccurate in those cases.

Slumberjack

The building of mass movements, and the laying down of parameters by which they're permitted to function; at bottom, toward the acquisition of status and official recognition by the system being objected to.  Anything else is equally condemned by unanimous consensus of the extreme right, social democracy, the police and the media.  The black bloc is hardly detrimental to any of these symbiotic power arrangements.  After all, it helps in establishing one's legitimacy by pointing out the illegitimate.  In many countries power has only bestowed favours when it felt threatened by diverse examples of social contestation, or when the social agitation managed to wrest control entirely away from an existing power structure, only to replicate what was driven away.  In any case, the credit for change is often given over to the organization of masses of people applying their moral persuasion upon the immoral.  It is only when the feting of martyrs is considered useful in maintaining present circumstances, where the social has acquired a measure of status and power in its own right, would they deign to imply a relationship with the more direct examples of sacrifice and struggle.

I find it curious that many social liberation movements around the world, even where violence is present, are recognized by the North American and European versions of social agitation as the legitimate result of trampled upon aspirations, dependent of course on the nature of the conditions they're confronted with, how many people are being represented by the agitation, parameters laid down from afar in other words.  One can almost detect a vicariousness to it.  In North America of course, such things would only bring ruin upon 'everything,' and so finding solidarity here would be as rare as finding hen's teeth.

In Claire Fontaine's essay "This is Not the Black Bloc," she writes:

Quote:
No speech comes “from inside” the black bloc, because there is no inside or outside. The black bloc, which we name as such with these two impoverished words, is not constituted like groups, corps, institutions. It is a temporary agglomeration without truth or watchwords. It is also what is left in the hands of our discontent, at the stage of society we have reached, despite ourselves: the impossibility of marching together while shouting out phrases so that they can be heard, the incapacity to engage in indirect and representative actions, the urgent need to unload one-thousandth of the cruelty the State, money, and advertisements inject in all our veins every day.

On the other hand as I was saying, it seems clear that the activities of the black bloc and other similar minded persuasions serve as little more than useful adjuncts to power and negation politics, to the extent that where power is concerned, if none of these groups were to ever convene in the streets again, the security services would see a need and simply invent them as they do in fact, judging by the elaborate lengths they go to in cultivating terrorists for the benefit of the public lie.

onlinediscountanvils

Slumberjack wrote:
finding solidarity here would be as rare as finding hen's teeth.

 

You know it's sad but true.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

What I find astounding is that some of the same people who think arming terrorists in Syria is act of democratic solidarity are appalled by a few broken windows.  I think breaking windows is childish even when it is purposefully directed at places like the Bay.

I think though that in the fight for social justice breaking a few windows is a minor sin compared to taking a cushy salary from one's fellow workers and then slowly marching backwards saying its only a tiny cut, its only a little concession and its okay if our children get no pensions and worse benefits and lousy wages. Just don't break any windows.

The strange thing here in Vancouver is the same people who trashed the Bay were also the people that the First Nations elders asked to march with them at the front of the peaceful marches and also helped provide for peace and good order at the Olympic encampment.  Cartoon images of the people involved are fun to play with but have little to do with the people involved.

6079_Smith_W

onlinediscountanvils wrote:

Slumberjack wrote:
finding solidarity here would be as rare as finding hen's teeth.

 

You know it's sad but true.

 

Just because it hasn't happened in ways some recognize, or produced the results that some want doesn't mean that people here don't act in solidarity.

And "a few broken windows", k? Probably not such a big deal for the Bay, but I'm not so sure about places without insurance, or people who might not be so sympathetic with having their public space smashed up and burned. I might be a bit more sympathetic if it actually accomplished anything other than giving some guys a chance to get their testosterone up and pretend they are powerful. But I don't see anything different than those hockey fans tearing up the streets.

Though I have to confess, there are some who did it with a bit more style, like the WImmins Fire Brigade.

 

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

6079 you ignored most of my post and opted for shadow boxing.  In the same vein. I"M RIGHT AND YOUR WRONG.  I love having discussions with you.

6079_Smith_W

Well if you want me to get specific k, "Look over there, someone else is doing something worse" is probably the most worn out argument on these pages. We're talking about violence as a tactic, and it's not just childish.

onlinediscountanvils

6079_Smith_W wrote:

onlinediscountanvils wrote:

Slumberjack wrote:
finding solidarity here would be as rare as finding hen's teeth.

 

You know it's sad but true.

 

Just because it hasn't happened in ways some recognize, or produced the results that some want doesn't mean that people here don't act in solidarity.

 

I was agreeing with SJ (in addition to giving a small nod to his musical tastes) that it's rare - not that it doesn't exist at all. And you're right; there is plenty within the broad scope of 'the Left' that I don't recognize as solidarity.

lagatta

I had a most lovely moment of solidarity this afternoon. I was cycling past a busy corner (of the very busy Jean-Talon métro station) and firefighters were holding out boots, helmets etc to solicit funds for les grands brûlés (severely-burnt people). Alas I had NO cash on me and asked if they would be out again tomorrow. One of the firefighters saw my red square and said they wanted to wear them but management aka the Tremblay administration said they would be severely sanctioned. So I said I understood, and that I had signed their petition against the closing of la Caserne de la Petite-Italie (we won, but must remain wary). I knew one of the firefighters from another mobilisation altogether - something involving Indigenous cultural expression.

And I think we have seen absolutely remarkable demonstrations of solidarity here in the protracted Spring of the Red Squares.

Unionist

lagatta wrote:
And I think we have seen absolutely remarkable demonstrations of solidarity here in the protracted Spring of the Red Squares.

You got that right! What a spring, what an awakening!

And that red square is one of the best conversation-starters I've ever worn.

Left Turn

Our tactics in any given situation need to reflect the conditions of the moment. There are times and places when targeted violence makes sense as part of social movements, and there are times when it doesn't.

An example of when it makes sense would be the torching of the headquarters of the National Democratic Party (Mubarak's party) during the Egyptian uprising of Jan/Feb 2011. People understood why the building was torched, and they by and large supported the action, which also helped to convey to the world that the people of Egypt were determined to get rid of Mubarak.

At the other end of the spectrum, the smashing of windows at The Bay and the TD Bank during the 2010 Heart Attack demo against the Vancouver Olympics, was a serious tactical error. Prior to the demo, somewhere around 64% of Vancouverites were opposed to the 2010 Olympics. 5,000 of us held a rally and march the previous day, and we got largely positive media coverage. After the much smaller Heart Attack demo, opposition to the 2010 Olympics dropped to about 20% of Vancouverites, and a large degree of animosity developed between activists who had worked together in the previous years but found themselves on opposite sides of the Diversity of Tactics debate that raged for a period of time afterwards.

Unionist

lagatta wrote:
One prominent example of the harm done by Black Bloc type action is the year after year degeneration of the Journée contre la violence policière into a pitched battle between punks and cops, often with mass arrests (well, not a big mass, but big in proportion to the size of the demos). This theatre also means that the racialised people most affected by police brutality never show up at those demos. After Fredy Villanueva was killed, the people in his neighbourhood specifically called for all-ages, non-violent marches against "les bavures", that is, the odd tendency for stray police bullets to hit young men of colour.

That's a great example of petit bourgeois pseudo-radicals hijacking and destroying a real mass movement.

The problem with the black bloc and similar hoodlums is that people are too nice. They hate the vandalism and cowardice of hiding your face, but they don't simply say, "listen, if you try this shit in our actions, you will understand the meaning of targeted violence". Left Turn was mentioning the need for targeted violence. When we (workers) are organizing a picket line, or a rally, or a demo, or a sit-in, and someone throws a rock and breaks a window (because they hate capitalism so deeply they just can't help themselves), we ensure that no second rock is thrown.

We don't have "diversity of tactics". We sit together and decide the tactic. Singular. It's so terribly dictatorial, isn't it?

 

Slumberjack

It's as I've been suggesting for some time, that this zeal for policing oneself and others coincides and functions in tandem with the police proper.  Having a 'we' sit together to decide tactics is all well and good, but there are many 'we's' that would prefer and have just as much reason under today's circumstances to determine their own tactics.  Denying agency and freedom of action to others constitutes little more than a reduction to a mutual preference among social democratic politics and corporate governance for maintaining the state and its institutions, where the real decision making takes place.

Meanwhile, the security apparatus knows better than anyone that every peaceful protest carries with it the potential to become something else.  Sustained peaceful protest, where it manages to achieve its narrow victories in rolling back unpopular decisions, or putting a stop to some corporate maneouver, can't very often be counted on to give due consideration to this simmering potential, which may randomly reveal itself here or there against property, toward which government itself gives serious consideration to more than anything else, judging by the spare-no-expense posture it assumes when confronting all forms of civil unrest.  As the rare victories occur, peaceful persuasion covets all accolades onto itself with little or no acknowledgement of this potential for violence, which more or less resonates within every mass assembly in the street.  Instead they'll say that the power of ritual and repetition alone carried away the favours, despite all the hooligans who may have been present in gesture and in spirit all along, but who become universally spat upon as orphans as a reward for their troubles, by the state and by social democratic organizers alike.

Ultimately however, I think a review of the last ten years alone is sufficient in demonstrating the ineffectiveness of both overt violence and traditional forms of protest.

onlinediscountanvils

Brilliantly put, Slumberjack.

6079_Smith_W

@ SJ

Yeah. Pacifism as Pathology. I didn't agree with that line when Ward Churchill spun it because frankly, I think he took a cynical and ignorant view of the concept. And I think that he was wrong. and I don't agree with it now.

While I agree with Unionist in principle, and certainly when it comes to specific people organizing specific actions, I don't think anyone ever can have top-down control in all things. I agree with Left Turn that there are certain times when people are going to resort to violence or tactics I disagree with, right or wrong, and there are degrees of justification and effectiveness. That is not the same as a group whose sole purpose is the calculated use of force and shock.

To get back to the original question - what if the black block are right. Well, I can think of historical situations in which their tactics worked, for a time. But they aren't very flattering comparisons. And just because something has an effect does not make it right or productive.

And besides, once you open the door to real violence, you'll probably find that there are groups that are far better at it, far less inclined to play by any rules (and I presume the BB imagine there are "rules" here, right?) and not at all interested in change for the better.

 

Unionist

SJ, once again we have this confusion about peaceful vs. violent. Violent actions are necessary in various forms all the time, both offensively and defensively. But black bloc tactics, carried out by individuals, without support or consent of the collective, are almost uniformly destructive to the movement and detracting from its support. I don't describe vandalism as "violence". These are provocateurs, whether or not they are intelligent enough to grasp that fact. The really intelligent ones will at least put in an invoices for services rendered. The dummies do it for free.

onlinediscountanvils

6079_Smith_W wrote:

That is not the same as a group whose sole purpose is the calculated use of force and shock.

 

Which group(s) are you thinking of?

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I think it is the cartoon image he is referring to.  Much like a straw person the cartoon version is very easy to vilify and thus in contrast it  highlight's ones personal goodness and morality.

6079_Smith_W

I'm talking about the black bloc, but really any group which uses force as its main gambit.

And if it is a cartoon image it's not mine. What do you imagine was beng put on the table in the OP? Seems to me it was the proposal that we should resort to the use of force and violence, based on an assumption that other methods have not worked. And I'm not the one who mentioned the black bloc in association with that.

Was that not clear?

Or I'm sorry. Am I making the BB look bad because I forgot to mention all the bake sales and puppy and kitten adoptions they organize?

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Or I'm sorry. Am I making the BB look bad because I forgot to mention all the bake sales and puppy and kitten adoptions they organize?

As I said above and you chose to ignore.

The strange thing here in Vancouver is the same people who trashed the Bay were also the people that the First Nations elders asked to march with them at the front of the peaceful marches and also helped provide for peace and good order at the Olympic encampment.  Cartoon images of the people involved are fun to play with but have little to do with the people involved.

You just talk to yourself and never discuss.  Your dismissive of anything except your cartoon image and that is pathetic.  But boy can you ever throw a punch at a shadow.

6079_Smith_W

Cross posted with you, k

And to talk about the other side of it, yes, I know the BB do things like help thwart the cops, first aid, and other battlefield tactics.

But in terms of solving problems, it's rather like the same dilemma that faces cops or armies. If the only situation you are trained to work in is a violent confrontation, what sort of methods are you going to find for accomplishing goals?

And if you do that wearing groovy black outfits and walking around in a powerful gang, and smashing and vandalizing, what sort of message is that going to send to people who are impressionable, and wondering what the best way is to change the world?

I can imagine that looks way more exciting than most of the work involved in improving things, which can often be boring, slow and decidedly un-sexy.

(edit)

k, go back and read the OP. As I just said, near as I can see we are talking about the use of violence because of the presumed failure of peaceful methods of resistance and change.

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

6079 please let me know when we are going to make slow steady progress. In all economic areas we have been going slowly backwards until recently when the pace has quickened.

Thanks for the pep talk but apparently we view the direction of our society very differently.  I believe we are on the slippery slope and picking up speed so this ride is far from boring for me.  I have marched beside the BB in Vancouver and they seemed like nice young people.   They sort of reminded me of the Mohawk Warriors but that is likely because many of them are First Nations and they like to carry the Warriors flag and well as the black flag. 

Next time your in Riversdale tell the folks how great it is that they are making slow and steady progress.

jjuares

One of the problems I see with the BB tactics is the alienation it causes. If I work in a coffee shop and I need the job and some jerk trashes it as part of a demo and it causes my place of employment to shut down, I might not be too kindly disposed to the BB or its message.

6079_Smith_W

@ k #44

Going slowly backwards? Since when? 30 years? 50? 100?

Yes, I know about the current growing gap between rich and poor, but it is not, nor has it ever been a one-way street. Or would anyone here prefer going back to the good old days of 1950?

Thing is though, I can think of many of the changes for the better in our society which have come about through peaceful means.

By contrast, I asked upthread about any lasting positive changes which were accomplished through violence. I haven't heard any response on that one. Usually - here in Canada anyway - it is a case of RESISTING violence.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Since about 1983 if you want to put a time frame on it.  It was in the '50's and '60's that my parents generation fought and won decent wages and pensions and medical benefits.  Often times they were vilified for their illegal activities. I grew up in a mining town where one of the traditions was that before negotiations started large amounts of explosives would go missing from the underground magazines.  In one of the strikes in the '60's the company tried to keep the power on to make it faster to restart operations by flying people in by helicopter and they stopped because people shot at the chopper.

There is no doubt that the generation that is in their twenty's today have it way worse than the people who were in their twenty's in the late '60's and early '70's.  But then no generation has received much from the elite by going cap in hand with head bowed.

onlinediscountanvils

6079_Smith_W wrote:
I'm talking about the black bloc

 

In that case you've misunderstood black blocs.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

The black bloc has always had the worst possible idea(assuming they weren't ALL police academy kids getting "extra credit" by givng the boys'n girls in blue an excuse to break heads).  Destroying things for the sake of destroying things isn't revolution.  A TRULY radical act(using the WTO protests in Seattle, for example)would have been to TAKE OVER all the Starbucks and serve everybody free lattes for a couple of hours, setting up a temporary work committee to make decisions democratically until the cops showed up(if time permitted).

6079_Smith_W

@ k #47

Well at least they had the good sense to shoot in the direction of the helicopters, rather than making a statement against International Globalization by unplugging the freezers and overflowing the toilets at the Northern Store.

There are a lot of reasons why things have changed, for the better and for the worse, since the Second World War. I'm still waiting for an argument explaining why our only option is bricks and spray paint.

 

 

onlinediscountanvils

Ken Burch wrote:
The black bloc has always had the worst possible idea

 

I'm sure if you gave it a bit more thought you could probably think of at least a few ideas that would be worse than a group of folks agreeing to dress in similar looking clothing in order to make it harder for cops, bosses, landlords, etc to identify and target specific individuals... to collectivize the risks associated with public protest... for those with more privilege acting in solidarity with other individuals in the demo with less privilege.

I wish that were the worst idea I had ever heard.

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