Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Black Bloc is not part of the Movement, Its actions only help those in Power

The response to the Trump election and his overtly racist and misogynist agenda has been heartening. Mass mobilizations on a scale not seen on a sustained basis since the days of the Vietnam war portend the development of an important mass movement that can fight back against the rightist/anti-democracy forces that have seized the US government. It's not just about the usual suspects of the left getting more support, there is an influx of new people. Many who have not paid attention to politics, or who have never participated in a protest march have been inspired to fight back.

What can derail this movement? The more Trump and his Republican underlings rant and rave, the more people push back. Full-scale repression by the police? Banning of all protests? These are things that the administration wants to do but knows that it would backfire. The more thuggish elements of the Trump coalition would do it anyway, but it doesn't seen in the offing. A spectacular terrorist attack (real or staged) could open the door to mass repression. No one knows what might happen in this regard. But it's important that any justification for repression doesn't come from our side.

Enter the "Black Block." In Washington DC during the huge women's march a small group of self-styled anarchists, dressed in black, who are opposed to the tactics of peaceful protest and mass action, played into the police and right wing politicians desire to smear all protest as destructive. Breaking windows and inflicting other property damage (which is totally irrelevant to the actual protest at hand) they fought with the police and were arrested. These so-called protesters were isolated from the main march and was on such a small scale that it was basically an irrelevant side-show.

Later on, in Berkeley, CA there was a mass protest of students against a Breitbart/alt right neo-fascist who was scheduled to speak on campus. While the peaceful protest was large, it was over-shadowed by black bloc members throwing molotov cocktails and fighting with the police. The lead story in the news was about "violent protesters." Is this a plus? What purpose did it serve? It helped the right and the police who want excuses to repress all protest.

What are the motivations of the Black Bloc? In a way, it's not that relevant. Whatever they think they are doing, the effect of their actions helps the police and right wing. If they didn't exist, then the strategic thinkers among the police and FBI would invent them. In fact this is probably what's happening. Not that the rank and file Black Bloc participants are all cops, but it's a certainty that there are police agent in the group that egg on the most violent actions. This method of operation has been around for a long time. The Black Panther Party of the 1960s was the target of local police and FBI infiltration. The objective was to have undercover police agents provoke violence. In Los Angeles, police agents provoked a shooting war between the Panthers and a Black Nationalists organization US (United Souls) led by Ron Karenga (as he was known then). People from both groups were killed. Documents released to the public under the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) show a long history of illegal undercover disruption of the rights of protest and free speech).

Ultra-radical groups that engage in naive and immature rhetoric about "smashing the state," dress up to look like military combatants and carry hammers and ice picks are not doing anything progressive. They are aiding the police and rightist politicians. They are also parasites; unable to assemble many people themselves, or attract much of a following, they latch on to the legitimate mass protests to try and steal the spotlight. People who want to protest against what is happening in this country will not join protests if they think that fighting the police or any form of violence, or advocacy of violence is part of the protest.

The way to winning victories over Trump's police state agenda is to win over masses of people. Organizing only people who are already leftist, who already agree with you will not succeed. We have to have a realistic understanding of the political level and consciousness of the majority of the people. A movement that defends free speech (with no, repeat, no exceptions, and rejects violence as a tactic (this is NOT ideological pacifism --just common sense) and advances clear, understandable demands (such as no anti-immigrant xenophobia, no to racism, sexism, homophobia, defend basic democratic rights...) can win.

Ultra-radicals say "your demands are not radical enough," or "fascism is here, or around the corner, so only our tactics will work."

The most radical demands, that is to say, effective demands are the ones that motivate large numbers of people. "Smash the State," is not a crowd-pleaser. Defend our democratic rights is a winner. It works. Those who think we have fascism now are hard to answer because they are delusional to the point of not living in this world. If there was fascism right now I couldn't write this article and all of us would be in concentration camps or dead.

What if things were leading toward fascism? It's possible. Not fascism as it played out in Italy or Germany, but, let's say, dictatorship, a totalitarian police state. Are there any special, super anti-fascist tactics or strategy to use? Something super special? I'd say that the best way to combat incipient tyranny or supposed fascism is to use the methods we are already seeing: grass roots organizing, mass actions that are inclusive and able to win over a majority, demands to defend and expand democracy.

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