Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

November 3, 2011

Occupy Oakland activists fend off black bloc agents provocateurs

Filed under: black bloc idiots — louisproyect @ 6:47 pm

54 Comments »

  1. I always hated the White Bloc.

    Comment by Binh — November 3, 2011 @ 7:02 pm

  2. Is there positive evidence that these black blocsters are AGENT provocateurs or just some of the too-full-of- themselves young anarchists?

    Comment by uh...clem — November 3, 2011 @ 7:12 pm

  3. I was at the general strike yesterday and while you may call them black-bloc, they were not agent provocateurs in my opinion. While I would not be surprised to find out that some are employed by the State apparatus, I talked to many and found them to be merely what might be called vulgar Marxists. I’m not sure the black bloc is much more than self-styled anarchists influenced more by Crass, than Marx or Bakunin. That said, the police were more than happy to let things accelerate in order to justify more heavy-handed tactics and got what they wanted by 1am when the contingent took the Traveler’s Aid building. Considering the the march to the ports had well over 15,000 participants in my estimation, the small number of protesters seeking violent exchanges were actually much less than I expected after last Tuesday. In the end, they are more muddled-headed thrill seekers more than anything.

    Now I did see a number of plainclothes police working with news teams, for what reason I wasn’t able to tell. It may have been more for security than anything else, but they did seem to be showing them various buildings in the downtown area (where later trouble would start). I saw suspicious men with film crews from FOX, and two different NBC teams in the afternoon during the marches and speeches at Oscar Grant Plaza. I questioned one directly, asking why they would have police with them and they refused to acknowledge my questions; indeed, they failed to even register my existence as they acted like I was invisible. I did take a picture with my phone that I will post along with my impressions and observations on the day on the group page of the SCMS’s caucus on class.

    Jeffrey Masko

    Comment by jeffrey Masko — November 3, 2011 @ 7:12 pm

  4. They are objectively agents provocateurs.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 3, 2011 @ 7:14 pm

  5. The black bloc is more irritating than amusing, sure, but trashing a sacred-to-rich-white-liberals Whole Foods is a beautiful thing to do, and anyone who has a problem with that is, objectively, a petit-bourgeois liberal no matter what their beliefs or circumstances in life.

    Comment by owen white — November 3, 2011 @ 7:27 pm

  6. I have no problem with people breaking a fucking Whole Foods window. In fact, I have trashed its founder here:

    http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2008/08/10/e-coli-and-capitalism/

    But the fucking black bloc only does their bullshit when the masses are mobilized, thus allowing the bourgeois press to write about all the “violence” and turn the criminal into the victim, and the victim into the criminal. These scumbags are parasites. At least the Weathermen had the guts to pull off their “days of rage” bullshit on a day when there was no mass mobilization. The black bloc are a bunch of pussies by comparison.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 3, 2011 @ 7:35 pm

  7. Louis, I agree. I’d be very interested to get your read on “anarcho-liberalism” and where the black bloc fits into that phenomena. Have you read the two posts over at Jacobin on anarcho-liberalism? Part II is up today. It’s easy to see Naomi Klein as a fashionable “anarcho-liberal,” but I’m not sure about the black bloc? Didn’t they start in the 80s well before the Seattle’99/Adbusters incarnation of hipster localist “lifestylization” anarchism? Or were they just a decade early to that scene? Also, have you written anywhere of the street battles between the KKE and the anarchists in Greece? I’d be curious to know your take on a hyper-Stalinist Communist Party combating violent anarchists bent on killing communists. Do you take a side? Is there anything to learn from that mess?

    Comment by owen white — November 3, 2011 @ 8:04 pm

  8. Frankly, no could have cared less about the Whole Foods, but the use of violence in this instance does nothing but play into the hands of the security forces. They are bringing knives to gun fights; while violence is justified in self-defense, at this stage it is just acting out by the children of the petit-bourgeois.

    Comment by jeffrey Masko — November 3, 2011 @ 8:04 pm

  9. But the Black Bloc ARE rich, white liberals, more or less, notwithstanding the Whole Foods window incident, which accomplishes nothing but to damage the potential mass character of the unfolding movement. And of course they are provocateurs, scumbags and parasites as well.

    Comment by dave r — November 3, 2011 @ 8:05 pm

  10. These scum started punching protesters. What’s worse? A cop who is paid to do it, or a fool who does it for free?

    Comment by Binh — November 3, 2011 @ 8:32 pm

  11. It doesn’t matter whether the person behind the mask is paid by the state or profoundly misguided; Black Bloc tactics serve the ruling class by changing the focus from injustice to vandalism.

    Comment by Will Shetterly (@WillShetterly) — November 3, 2011 @ 8:39 pm

  12. Two things:

    One, they are most certainly not provocateurs in any traditionally sense of paid or willing agents of the police. This can be seen in their actions later in the evening. As we occupied the port, the so-called black bloc (no one here recognizes them as such since the black bloc is associated with Eugene anarchists, others are considered juvenile copy-cats) wanted to attempt to take over the bay bridge in the face of well-armed and prepared units of riot police . They had to be voted down before they withdrew; there would be no reason for provocateurs to willingly engage in a battle with the police so far from the center of town. There would be nothing but a violent encounter with the police without the support of the 99%ers and no property to damage in the desolate port area; nothing to gain and yet they had to be persuaded again and again not to engage with the police. They would have gotten promptly stomped with no one watching and no one really caring. They reason they were stopped was because we had our goals achieved; no one cared about “taking the bay bridge” The focus should be on what measures the police are taking to infiltrate the movement and this is something organizers are taking very seriously.

    Secondly, this all takes away from the main purpose of the general strike: to enlarge the movement by addressing issues surrounding labor, organized and non-organized. The battle for the hearts and minds of the working-classes is very much on the agenda for OccupySF and Occupy Oakland so expect to see even more actions that try to include unions in their program. Occupy Oakland requires 20% union representation in their General Assemblies. The recognition by Labor Unions that the game has changed and, with present and future coalitions with elements of OWS, has allowed a direction of growth and maturity by the movement. While union politics is a graveyard for progressive agendas, the presence on union officials last night willing to work with the protesters is welcomed by both sides. It remains to be seen if the Occupy movement can keep from being subsumed by the Labor movement as they quite clearly have eyes to do just that.

    Comment by jeffrey Masko — November 3, 2011 @ 8:52 pm

  13. There is a curious paradox here. The activity shown in the video, the attack upon Whole Foods, as well as the other ones at the banks, did not get much play in the media reports about the general strike, rather the emphasis was upon the marches, especially the one that shut down the Port of Oakland. After leaving Oakland in the late afternoon, I listed to a lot of radio coverage and read a lot of national and international newspaper articles before I went to sleep around 10:30pm, and all of them highlighted the amazing turn out for the strike. The breaking of windows at Whole Foods and the banks was very much secondary. Conversely, the later occupation of the Traveler’s Aid Building, which had a more explicit justification, and a more defensible one, garned all the media attention because of the confrontation with the police. It was that action that were thereafter substituted for earlier narratives about the day. As I posted on my blog today, I believe that it was a mistaken action, primarily because it diverted people away from the possibility of continuing the blockade of the gates at the Port of Oakland. And while that may have been a Black Bloc action, there are accounts that a lot of people initially participated, they were even having an impromptu dance inside the building after it had been seized. Of course, the subsequent resistance of the anarchists and their supporters played into the hands of the police, but to imply that it was solely a Black Bloc action without any other support would appear to be erroneous, and, more importantly, may cause us to miss the emergence of a radicalized group of young people that cannot be easily reduced to the Black Bloc. If so, there are serious implications to this that require a more sophisticated political engagement that just calling those who seized the Travelers Aid Building “scum” and “scumbags”.

    Comment by Richard Estes — November 3, 2011 @ 9:02 pm

  14. Owen: Also, have you written anywhere of the street battles between the KKE and the anarchists in Greece? I’d be curious to know your take on a hyper-Stalinist Communist Party combating violent anarchists bent on killing communists. Do you take a side? Is there anything to learn from that mess?

    This is just a sad commentary on the failure of Marxism to develop a powerful party in Greece. Politics is dominated either by reformism (CP, SP) or ultraleftism of the worst sort. Here’s some soul-searching from the anarchist left in Greece after bank workers were killed in a fire ignited in one of their adventures. Not sure how much further they have advanced.

    http://www.occupiedlondon.org/blog/2010/05/07/what-do-we-honestly-have-to-say-about-wednesdays-events/

    Comment by louisproyect — November 3, 2011 @ 9:07 pm

  15. You might find this indybay discussion of the Traveler’s Aid Building seizure interesting, it includes a statement, purportedly from some of the participants, and, at this time, 18 responses. A number of self-described anarchists provided constructive criticism, with echoes of some of the things that Louis has said here.

    http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/11/03/18697018.php?show_comments=1#18697086

    Comment by Richard Estes — November 3, 2011 @ 9:46 pm

  16. If these “tactics” aren’t condoned and actively opposed by the General Assembly, then they are not just provocateurs but an active menace to the movement. It is one thing for a democratic body to decide on a course of action, it is another for one group to not just undermine that decision but work against the goals of the assembly.

    In this day and age with the universal surveillance state, it is pointless to cover one’s face with a mask or to engage in these infantile shenanigans (meant in the true sense of those words), unless you are in fact serving ulterior goals from the mass movement.

    Comment by ceti — November 3, 2011 @ 10:36 pm

  17. If these “black bloc” idiots aren’t being paid by the 1%, they should be.

    Comment by Paft — November 3, 2011 @ 10:39 pm

  18. They’re certainly not helping the cause by shifting the focus away from the real issue which is the growing resentment of financial inequality and the class struggle.

    All violence and rioting does is give the bourgeois a platform to use as a weapon against the movement to try to convince the public that all of the protesters are just thugs and should be shut down.

    I’m for protesting and am anti-establishment, but feel that violence is only appropriate during a revolutionary uprising.

    This riot would not qualify as that.

    I supported the riots in the UK, but after seeing the fallout from it, I then changed my view when I saw that it failed to accomplish anything.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — November 4, 2011 @ 4:02 am

  19. In response to Richard Estes – continuing the blockade of the ports without the support of the ILWU was and would have been a no go. Things simply were not at that point. When a few protesters tried to maintain the blockade into the morning it started to get ugly between them and the truckers coming in for the morning shift, luckily union officials intervened before anything got out of hand. A long term shut down of the port would need the support of the mass of organized workers at the port, absent that, it would have been adventurism, and counter-productive to building the type of unity that has been developing between elements of the organized working class and the ows movement. Support was given for a day, and it succeeded amazingly well.

    In regards to the Travelers Aid takeover, this was a mistake, hopefully one that can be learned from, but it is worth exploring the nature of this mistake. The first mistake was that general consent was not sought for the tactic of occupying abandoned building and setting up new occupations. In itself there is nothing wrong with this tactic and it might be argued that it actually makes a lot of sense as winter is setting in. If the occupy movement is going to make it, it needs to survive the winter, going inside might not be a bad idea. It also highlights the absurdity of a system which forecloses on people, leaving them homeless only to then leave the property vacant doing nothing with it. In fact I imagine we are going to be seeing a lot more of this kind of stuff. But it is also something the movement needs to agree on, at least in the large and in principle. The second mistake was that the timing was off. They should have waited a day or two rather than risk the stunt backfiring like it did on the strike as a whole. As for the cops attacking? Well they do that. And you are going to have to defend yourself one way or another.

    Overall OWS has illustrated both the vitality and the immaturity of a generation of young radicals more influenced by autonomia than by classical Marxism. I am not an autonomist or an anarchist, but I do think you have to give them some credit for what has happened (both the good and the bad, and overall I think it has been very good). Looking at the Travellers Aid takeover as the result of some isolated black block provocateurs is tempting (and there certainly are some of those types) but mistaken as it misses the way this sort of thing comes directly out of the same rulebook as occupy itself. What remains to be seen is whether experiences like this can be leaned from or whether they will tear the movement apart. A perennial question of social movements in other words.

    Comment by dave x — November 4, 2011 @ 6:38 am

  20. It is also worth posting Boots Riley’s comments, which have been making the rounds on facebook (and if there was any Lenin-like revolutionary figure in Oakland yesterday, it was Boots Riley):

    “Everyone has their opinions about what happened last night, but don’t let the media stoke divisions in the movement.
    I’m addressing this to everyone.
    A huge part of the reason we won yesterday is due to people that you disagree with tactically.

    No other movement has pulled something like this off. This is the time when they will try to minimize and divide.”

    Comment by dave x — November 4, 2011 @ 6:52 am

  21. I think the Traveler’s Aid occupation and the White Bloc in this video are two separate issues and should be treated as such, although it sounds like the latter interfered and really screwed up the former based on Kim Lehmkuhl’s comment in the thread Richard Estes posted. It’s one thing to act prematurely in the heat of the moment — it happens all the time — it’s another to smash windows, set fires, and get into fist fights with protesters as a “matter of principle.” If it weren’t for their antics, perhaps that building would have been successfully occupied.

    Comment by Binh — November 4, 2011 @ 2:37 pm

  22. http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/11/03/18697018.php?show_comments=1#18697297

    Here’s what I saw and heard that instantaneously made it crystal clear that police would HAVE to show up at the scene en masse: (1) While at the 16th Street dance party, I kept hearing loud bangs from the direction of Telegraph/Broadway. After jerking my head around each time and not seeing any signs of movement/destruction/police, and after hanging around long enough to hear three of these bangs, each separated by minutes of quiet, I picked my way through the still-cool crowd out to the corner of Telegraph. This is where (2) I saw a bunch of fucking bullshit so-called “anarchists” in their trademark black skinny jeans/hoodies/face bandannas — where not in full on ninja-wear — who were in the process of dragging in and tipping over dumpsters to form the backbone of a barricade along Telegraph/blocking off 16th. The barricade was roughly waist-high to me and predominantly composed of tipped over shopping carts and wooden crates and pallets (“liberated” from Walgreens or RiteAid on Broadway? I didn’t think it particularly intelligent to stick around to inspect more closely). I then heard one of these douchefuck provocateurs, standing to my left as I paused to take a photo, say to a colleague: “We need to set this shit on fire.” Thinking that being anywhere near any fire would be a terrible idea, lest I get burned or trampled or god forbid any of the surrounding buildings accidentally go up in flames, I immediately left, heading north on Telegraph. Of course, I know now from media photos that multiple fires *were* set shortly thereafter, so that these fuckwads could elevate the utterly pointless and aggressively confrontational — sorry, for these faux-anarchist riot groupies who lack higher-reasoning abilities, aggressively eliciting confrontation IS the point — barricade bullshit into a full-on supplication to riot gear-clad police and sheriffs to hurry up and beat down the totally PEACEABLE Occupy protesters. Congratulations, motherfuckers: it worked.

    The beyond-disingenuous, self-fellating propaganda of the faux-anarchist horde is that any opposition to their destruction and endangerment of others — whether in the form of unlawful use of force by a perpetually inept and corrupt law enforcement agency like the OPD, or even as pleas for nonviolence by “fellow” protestors at Occupy Oakland and all the other countless protests these shitbirds ineluctably invite themselves to and strive to coopt — can be dismissed with a wave of the hand as some kind of pro-capitalist fixation with protecting private property above all else. Read a FUCKING newspaper. The 99% includes and works on behalf of the unemployed, the underemployed, and the working poor; the indebted, the underwater, and the foreclosed-on; the economically marginalized and the financially exploited. We GET why occupying and repurposing an empty building, whose very emptiness is symptomatic and symbolic of our bought-and-paid for government systematically failing the 99%, would be a sensible and pretty awesome goal to pursue. We do NOT get what you are trying to accomplish by continually inciting OPD to engage US with the kind of tactics that are going to get their asses tossed into federal receivership come January 2012. Are you trying to educate us on the finer points of the incredibly complex and sophisticated philosophical tenet that “cops = pigs”? This is OAKLAND. We KNOW. And we know you don’t actually believe that “The city spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect one landlord’s right to earn a few thousand every month….Whereas the blockade of the port – an action which caused millions of dollars of losses – met with no resistance” because OPD (maybe you mean the mayor? Barack Obama? Ben Bernanke? David Koch?) knows and gives two shits about your retarded third-grade understanding of capitalism (much less your reductionist-to-the-point-of-cultural illiteracy characterization of the role and responsibilities of police in our society).

    As everyone with two brain cells has surmised, the port shut-down met with no police resistance because the 10,000-strong participants were entirely peaceful; your firestarter stunt got everybody tear gassed and shot up with “non-lethal” projectiles because you literally set shit on fucking fire. That is not an accident: 10,000 people can hold it together and get through the day, but as soon as 50 of you muster some skull cracking always mysteriously seems to commence? You *planned* for OPD to wild out, you made it happen, and you fucked us all over in the process — repeatedly and deliberately. So do us all a favor and go fuck yourselves. You’re not wanted at Occupy Oakland, and I can’t imagine anyone else who’d have you either. Maybe start up your own, “anarchist”-only protests about whatever it is that really pisses you guys off (we can’t really tell since you pathetically and exhaustingly show up to EVERYTHING, ALL THE TIME), and goad the police to blowing their loads tear-gassing just YOU five times in an hour.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 4, 2011 @ 2:41 pm

  23. dave x: there was a report during the early evening, I don’t whether that was true or not, that the ILWU, in response to the large crowd, wanted to the strike extended 24 hours, if so, that would have required a substantial community presence the following morning to justify the inability of the workers to enter the port, but, with such small numbers, the picket had to be taken down to permit them to enter without risk of losing pay, remember that the point of the march was to support the locked out workers at Longview

    binh: louis has already addressed this with the quote from indybay,but the situation that erupted after the Traveler’s Society Aid building seizure was exponentially worse than the property destruction at the banks and Whole Foods, hundreds of people decided to take the building, and then, after they had it, fight the police, vandalize local businesses and threaten anyone from the occupation who tried to stop them, it seems that people still have not processed the seriousness of this episode and its implications

    Comment by Richard Estes — November 4, 2011 @ 3:25 pm

  24. binh: in regard to remarks about the Traveler’s Aid seizure emerging out of an autonomist motivation, perhaps, that’s true, but this response from Tatiana Madovkin over on indybay really hits the nail on the head for me:

    http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/11/03/18697018.php?show_comments=1#18697361

    “Taking this building was a good idea, but the action was not planned or executed correctly. The public has no idea about the backstory of the building or the intentions behind Occupying the building.

    If your goal is to occupy a building, why would you do it in the public spotlight? If people really wanted to put the building to use, they would quietly, secretly, break into the building, and fill it with people. They could have actually begun USING the building. Then, they could gain public support before an eviction attempt by educating the public about the history of the building and the good use to which an empty building had been turned.

    Instead they made a public statement. That means that this was not a practical action. It was not a real attempt to use the building, it was symbolic. And a symbolic action is designed to send a message. But what was the message?

    There was a banner hung on the building that said “Occupy Everything” I watched the TV live news report and the anchorwoman spoke the words on the banner as part of the report. At the time I thought it was cute. But now that I read the above description of what people were supposedly trying to accomplish, I see that the banner should have carried a specific message about this particular building and action, to educate people about the story that was unfolding.

    As for the “barricades”, give me a break. I squatted in the Lower East Side in the early 90s. Evictions are not a game. The cops rolled a tank onto 13th street when they wanted the squatters out. A TANK.

    Were these “protestors” actually intending to defend the building militarily? Did they think they had a chance? What is the point of barricades? What is the point of burning trash cans? Do you think that will make it possible for you to keep the building? Of course not. You know you can’t win against their military might. We can only win against their limp morality, their shriveled integrity, and their flaccid principles. And we win by being morally strong, impeccable in our integrity and holding fast to wise and courageous principles of service and compassion. Service to the community. We win by expressing our morality, integrity and principles with clarity and grace.

    The people who raged in the street last night were not motivated by an impulse to serve the community, that is clear. What did motivate them, really? Maybe they will do some introspection, look into themselves and ask of themselves what is true. Were they looking to have a good time? Craving excitement and adrenaline? Infatuated with their own egos and sense of identity? Were they swept up in the euphoric feeling that comes with being part of something, part of a group, a club?

    This movement is not about being in a club. This is the 99%. This is for everyone. We show our faces. And when I say this movement is for everyone, I want to feel that this movement is for you too.

    The people who were part of the drama that played out late last night need to look into their hearts. They need to ask themselves who they serve. If they are seeking to serve their own selfish needs, they don’t hold a place of honor in this movement. They are the troublesome relation and we are all wondering how they will reconcile with the rest of the family. Maturity is expressed in a willingness to take responsibility. They should apologize. Publicly. They should work to mend the damage that they have caused to the spirit and reputation of this movement, a movement awash in beauty and humility. The people in this movement are so humble, none of them will claim to have the authority to lead or to speak for the other members. We represent ourselves, and we are all in leadership positions. Decentralized structure means that we are all responsible. You be responsible too, “anarchists”. Be responsible on a spiritual level. Be responsible on an emotional level to the good, trusting people in this movement whom you have hurt. Be responsible on an intellectual level by thinking carefully about your goals and strategy and acting for the good of the whole.

    Taking this building and starting a library and center of operations would have been an action that served the good of the whole. But that is not what you did. You didn’t take a building. You just took a lot of attention and made the conversation center around yourselves. The people in the movement deserve better. The 99% deserve better. They deserve an apology.”

    Comment by Richard Estes — November 4, 2011 @ 5:14 pm

  25. oops, the name of the women who posted the comment is Makovkin not Madovkin

    Comment by Richard Estes — November 4, 2011 @ 5:21 pm

  26. Any proof they were cops? That’s what I thought. I can’t believe I wasted time reading through this reactionary nonsense.
    Stalinists worried about what the bourgeois press thinks = sad, sad, sad.

    Comment by Koukoulofori — November 5, 2011 @ 12:14 am

  27. We will only know who the cops are after capitalism is overthrown in the USA and we have access to the police files. My guess is that the bourgeoisie has spent millions keeping the black block afloat.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 5, 2011 @ 12:19 am

  28. That’s just an unfounded opinion which does nothing but perpetuate fear and paranoia. If I put forward an opinion that your a cop snitchjacketing to create a climate of distrust, I’d have as much a case as you — which is no case at all. Look, I think tactical discussion are important to have, but accusing people of being cops without a shred of evidence to support the claim is just bogus. Again, this is a tactic used by the forces of repression all the time. If we look at what took place in Oakland, what did they really do? They attacked Capital. Whether they should at this moment is irrelevant. They did. Worrying about what Capital and the bourgeois press thinks after the fact is so stupid I don’t know where to begin. Do you think your going to bring down Capital through some dialogic discourse? Are you going to reason with them? Defeat them through electoral politics? Sure, provocateurs exist, but attacking banks that have lost broad support around the country isn’t going to provide them with a strategic advantage. Liberals like Michael Moore might condemn it feeling his lifestyle threatened (incidentally he’s pushing this same baseless provocateur hysteria), but the majority feel no sympathy for the banks. The few cases I’ve seen where provocateurs were dressed up as the Black Bloc and took part in property destruction was against small shops in order to turn public opinion against the protesters. And in those cases there’s no proof the provocateurs are the police themselves (it’s likely, as in the case of Greece, they used fascists from Golden Dawn or other similar groups). Even the cops want to dress up as the Black Bloc (or any generic masked protester) and attack Capital and it’s defenders (in this case their colleagues i.e. police/security services) then not only are they stupid than we could ever hope for, but they’re doing “the good” as Plato would say. All the people calling for using force against comrades attacking Capital, demasking them, circulating their photos to law enforcement, etc. are latent authoritarians acting as auxiliaries for Capital and the State. The Occupy Movement was started and organized by Anarchists; granted not all Anarchists engage in Black Bloc actions, but to claim Direct Action and Illegalism have no place in the broader movement is wrongheaded. Libertad.

    Comment by Koukoulofori — November 5, 2011 @ 12:59 am

  29. Forgive the grammatical errors. I’ve been down with a cold for the past week and the cough medicine has me loopy as fuck.

    Comment by Koukoulofori — November 5, 2011 @ 1:01 am

  30. “We will only know who the cops are after capitalism is overthrown in the USA and we have access to the police files. My guess is that the bourgeoisie has spent millions keeping the black block afloat.”

    Are you serious, Louis? I’ve participated, and know tons of people who engage in these tactics. Whether or not they are effective (I think they often are not), it is a stretch to make that claim. I don’t even know, practically, how the ruling class could spend millions in support of a protest tactic that has been taken up independently by man people. Who accepts the money? How is it arranged? It’s not a serious argument, just an unprincipled critique of a tactic that is wide open for real, stinging criticism.

    Comment by Who? — November 5, 2011 @ 1:15 am

  31. Do you think your going to bring down Capital through some dialogic discourse? Are you going to reason with them?

    What idiotic questions. A tiny band of white boys in masks will not “bring down Capital”. Most of them will be living lives of quiet desperation 10 years from now with nagging housewives and mortgages, remembering back fondly about the time when they were free spirits throwing rocks and starting fires. Many men their age will be remembering their spring vacations in Fort Lauderdale in the same spirit.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 5, 2011 @ 12:46 pm

  32. Right, because there’s no difference between taking risks & making sacrifices for a better world and going on vacation where you can lay on the beach and get skin cancer while some wage slave serves you margaritas. Has anyone ever told you your a funny guy Louis? Well you are. Your very, very funny. hahaha

    Comment by Koukoulofori — November 5, 2011 @ 9:51 pm

  33. Koukoulofori, you are a fool. “They attacked Capital”, indeed. Are you really that immature in your thinking?

    As for the White Boys in Black you lawyer for, I’d be happy to volunteer to “repress” them by any autonomous means necessary.

    Louis is right: They are OBJECTIVELY agents of the police state. No proof of individual police agency is necessary for their condemnation.

    And no further “discussion” with people that only care about themselves, and don’t give a **** what anybody else thinks, who attack demonstrators (just like the cops do!) is possible. I favor organizing a “BlackBloc Watch” from among those interested at Occupy Oakland, to monitor these cretins 24×7.

    It is interesting that no Black Blockheads were to be seen in the march to the Port, the part of the activity I took. No cops either. Utterly peaceful, and successful in its immediate goal.

    Now that is what “attacking Capital” looks like, attacking it where it hurts must, in the pocketbook,the only language the bourgeoisie understand.

    Comment by Matt — November 6, 2011 @ 8:40 pm

  34. This joke has been floating around for a while now:

    Two Greek anarchists are making molotov cocktails. One says to the other: “So who will we throw these at then?” The other replies: “What are you, some kind of fucking intellectual?”

    Comment by Rick Tudor — November 7, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

  35. So, the chant is, “the police are part of the 99%”, but those who participate in the Black Bloc aren’t? Perhaps, a more engaged approach is necessary.

    Comment by Richard Estes — November 8, 2011 @ 1:19 am

  36. So is it okay for occupiers to attack other occupiers who are trying to destroy capitalist property? Is that violence okie-dokie? People who beat up protesters in the name of property protection act a lot more like agents of the state than kids with spraypaint.

    Comment by Patrick — November 8, 2011 @ 10:19 pm

  37. I absolutely advocate attacking provocateurs whether they are on the police payroll or are carrying out the cop’s agenda unconsciously. If this kind of shit was attempted during the antiwar movement, UAW marshals would have grabbed these punks by the scruff of the neck and kicked their ass around the block.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 8, 2011 @ 10:29 pm

  38. “I absolutely advocate attacking provocateurs whether they are on the police payroll or are carrying out the cop’s agenda unconsciously.”
    Isn’t that what they – the police, the ruling class, the 1%, the fascists – want us to do? I think this is a no-win/checkmate situation for the left, and it has been since the beginning of OWS, and will be as long as the movement refuses to institutionalize in such a way that it could mobilize meaningful opposition to the plutocracy. Capital is very, very good at dealing with situations like this, and has been for over a century. Joseph Conrad even wrote a book about it. Here’s an especially relevant paragraph, from “The Secret Agent”: https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/PZuIxZW_fG_CsnoTKMW1UQ?feat=directlink

    Comment by scott sargent — November 9, 2011 @ 3:26 am

  39. Sorry, my link to that photo was bad. This one works: https://picasaweb.google.com/102726876195927288639/August302011?authkey=Gv1sRgCKC0j_btrel8#5646638863833531170

    Comment by scott sargent — November 9, 2011 @ 3:46 am

  40. Patrick, you didn’t really answer my question. So, I ask again, because the Black Bloc was violent, they are outcasts, but we are still going to chant “the police are the 99%” despite their exponentially greater violence, and reports of a planned crackdown next week in Oakland. That makes no sense. It is also worth noting, as I have said here before, that it wasn’t just Black Bloc in the streets on November 2nd and 3rd, a lot of people who weren’t Black Bloc joined them. Are we supposed to beat them up, too? Perhaps, it is time to address why that happened, and what should be done about it beyond expressions of violent gratification in response.

    It is also important to recognize that, despite the stereotype of them elsewhere, the Black Bloc in the Bay Area is multiethnic with lots of female participants. There has been a vibrant, candid effort to deal with this situation in the Bay Area, which holds more promise than what I have heard here. We will see what happens.

    Comment by Richard Estes — November 9, 2011 @ 3:34 pm

  41. All great entertainment for Power. Revolution my ass. Fun & games for the kids till the economy picks up.

    Now the kids may start getting a little fraydie scared when their little revolutionary camps start getting overrun by psychotic and opportunistic homeless. This is happening in zucchini park.

    Comment by smilesberger — November 9, 2011 @ 9:25 pm

  42. Isn’t that what they – the police, the ruling class, the 1%, the fascists – want us to do?

    You are confused. During the Vietnam antiwar movement the demonstrations were marshaled. We never would have let a gang of ultraleftists to hijack a demonstration in order to give cops the excuse to attack everybody. Furthermore, I have no problems with vandalism. Someone bombed a Starbucks from my apartment building a couple of years ago. Who cares? I just don’t want shit going on like this during a mass demonstration. Those 150 black bloc motherfuckers should have attacked Whole Foods on another day if that’s what gets them off. But as I said, they are pussies. They lack the balls to fight the cops the way the Weathermen did back in the day. They are a bunch of snot-nosed middle-class kids blowing off steam until it is time for them to take over daddy’s company.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 9, 2011 @ 10:28 pm

  43. The disdain for young people in these comments is disheartening.

    I agree that Black Bloc tactics, like the ones in Oakland, perhaps should be done outside and away from large marches. In fact, these tactics are constantly happening outside of large peaceful marches, including destruction of bank property.

    There have ALWAYS been people who engage in property destruction and scuffles against the police during demonstrations. Are they all “pussies” who “lack balls”? Are they all undercover cops? Is every single person that gets physical w/ cops or destroys property simply waiting until “they take over daddy’s company”? Or just the ones dressed in black? These are not serious arguments against the BB tactic. And neither is race/privilege jacketing against those who employ the tactic.

    If the BB is objectively acting as agents provocateurs, what about the marchers who physically attack the BB in order to protect banks? How are they not objectively cops?

    Also, regarding the idea that “the police are the 99%”, I was wondering something similar. If people who participate in the Black Bloc are undercover cops as many pacifists say they are, and cops are the a part of the 99% as they also claim, then why don’t pacifists fully embrace the Black Bloc actions of their fellow 99%er cops? Of course, this is absurd and speaks to the need for a deeper analysis, as Richard pointed out.

    Comment by Who? — November 9, 2011 @ 11:46 pm

  44. I don’t have first hand knowledge of this, but I have heard that there is a synergy between the Black Bloc and those who participated in the protests and riots in Oakland in response to the killing of Oscar Grant and the subsequent verdict. If so, it is a development that should be addressed on its own terms, with an engagement with its implications (for example, the schism that exists between radicalized youth, willing to violently challenge the police and the social order in the city, and more traditional forms of leftist and liberal mass protest, which aims to impress through numbers and organization), instead of reflexively ring fencing the Bloc as the problem, as if it is pathogen that can be isolated from body of the protest. It is also worth observing that the breaking of the windows at the banks, as opposed to the confrontation at Whole Foods and the street violence associated with the Traveler’s Aid Society seizure, was the least objectionable action by the Bloc that day. That is not to say that it wasn’t objectionable, merely that the revelation with the potentially gravest implications was the mass participation in the poorly planned Traveler’s Aid Society seizure and the street violence that erupted as a result.

    Comment by Richard Estes — November 10, 2011 @ 12:05 am

  45. Here’s the best argument against the black bloc from Infoshop.org, the highest profile anarchist website. This is truly moronic ultraleftism distilled to its purist essence:

    http://www.infoshop.org/amp/bgp/BlackBlockPapers2.pdf

    The Black Bloc can trace its historical roots all the way back to when- and wherever
    people comprising an oppressed class or group militantly rose up against their
    oppressors. Elements of the particular tactics of the Bloc were previously utilized
    by the Weather faction of Students for a Democratic Society (the SDS) in North
    America during the “Days of Rage” in 1969.1

    Another function of the Black Bloc is to push the protest at hand towards a
    more militant and socially comprehensive direction. Largely this was achieved by
    the Bloc positioning itself at the forefront of the demonstration and subsequently
    forcing an escalation between the State forces and the protesters. Simply by resisting
    arrest, refusing to remain on sanctioned parade routes, challenging police barricades
    and by actively directing its anger at corporate targets, the Bloc ensured that
    such an escalation would ensue.

    The purpose of such escalation in part lies in the belief that such conflict necessarily
    results in the unmasking of the brutal nature of the State. The subsequent
    brutality of the opposing police/military force is revealed. The idea is that by showing
    the larger population the violent means by which the status quo is maintained,
    a significant number of people will become further radicalized by this physical and
    visual demonstration of the nature of the State.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 10, 2011 @ 12:46 am

  46. “If people who participate in the Black Bloc are undercover cops as many pacifists say they are, and cops are the a part of the 99%”

    Although I’m not necessarily enthusiastic about the slogan “The police are part of the 99%!” I do think that you’re obscuring the point here. There are cops whose main job is simply to direct traffic while the children are crossing the road on the way to school. In theory all such cops can be mobilized by a bourgeois state at any time for action against the working class, and that point should be kept in mind by any Marxists. But in practice it is always normal for any rational organizers to draw some deliberate distinction between the cop who directs the traffic at the corner of the school versus an undercover cop who is sent into an activist group for snitchjacketing. If you don’t honestly understand that distinction then I’d say that your stricken with what they call “Ultra-Leftism: An Infantile Disorder.”

    The Occupy slogan about police being part of the 99% is intended above all to strike a note of appeasement towards the one type of cop. Whether or not that is a good idea, or a good way of executing the idea, is something which can be debated. But it should be obvious that this there is no incompatibility between this and beating the crap out of someone who may be acting as an undercover provocateur. Whether or not the Black Bloc actually is specifically made up of real snitch-jacketers is another issue too. I’m inclined to think that they probably just stricken with the infantile disorder, most of them anyway. But it’s just a false argument to invoke the Occupiers’s slogan on this point.

    If you want a more fancy version of the slogan, you can try it this way: “Police who wear their uniform in public without snitching undercover in disguise are part of the 99%!” I’m not even really interested in promoting that as a slogan. But that’s obviously the intended meaning. Make of it what you will, but don’t distort the issue. Many revolutionary parties of the past would execute undercover snitchers whenever they were caught. But that did not mean that the party blindly launched a campaign of assassinations against the ordinary police except in times of civil war. There is a common distinction that always been observed here.

    Comment by PatrickSMcNally — November 10, 2011 @ 12:46 am

  47. Patrick, I wasn’t trying to obscure anything, or really making any arguments in my last comment about the police being the 99% and accusations of agents provacateurs. I was just pointing to the irony of people making both those claims.

    However, through the process of this movement, I think people are drawing their own, new conclusions about the role of the police as an *institution* (not as individuals nor their incomes or class positions).

    Comment by Who? — November 10, 2011 @ 7:37 am

  48. The word “irony” implies a that opposite ideas are somehow being combined without being noted as such. I don’t think that there is any such contradiction between taking a hostile attitude towards any possible undercover agents of the police, while still trying to appeal to those police officers who outwardly wear a badge and uniform. This is a distinction which revolutionary organizations throughout history have always observed and treated very seriously. The undercover infiltrator is hated to a degree to which the average cop in the street whose uniform is easily identifiable is not.

    Father Gapon was executed because of suspicions that he was an Okhrana agent. Though the Russian revolutionaries of that time did not preach “Police are part of the 99%!” it was still apparrent that they gave special importance to an undercover agent like Gapon. There is no irony in that.

    Comment by PatrickSMcNally — November 10, 2011 @ 11:50 am

  49. I think think there is fluidity between cops who act as undercovers during marches and those who don’t. During the DNC in Denver, it was just everyday cops from a neighboring county who were placed as undercover provacateurs in a march, who then went back to ‘normal’ police work after the DNC left town.

    Comment by Who? — November 10, 2011 @ 8:55 pm

  50. I have read all the comments and really think we need to investigate further whether the trouble makers are all just disenfranchised public citizens or some are being sent in to cause trouble. For someone to say they saw the people and didn’t think they were police or hired/inspired inciters is not deductive proof. I have called the Oakland police but since I was not there I cannot even file a request for info like the ACLU is doing. We need to track these “provacateurs” and really identify them so we can get proof one way or another. I already saw video of cops in plainclothes later shown at different events in their police attire. We need evidence to blow Oakland officials out of the water and force them to leave innocent protestors alone. Frankly, I would like to see law suits brought against the city, the mayor and the chief of Police. any ideas people???

    Comment by kathy smith — November 10, 2011 @ 10:10 pm

  51. “there is fluidity between cops who act as undercovers during marches and those who don’t.”

    Of course that’s true. But the distinction still matters and has always been recognized by functioning activist groups everywhere. If it weren’t then one would simply have no choice but to attempt to launch a full-blown rebellion everywhere in a hare-brained way by attacking police wherever they appear.

    Comment by PatrickSMcNally — November 11, 2011 @ 12:42 am

  52. Turns out the cop issue is a lot more complicated: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEUVA9WhIgY

    In Atlanta, a cop actually emailed Occupy for help fighting foreclosure and they responded by supporting him: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BrhGNl4UX4

    Comment by Binh — November 11, 2011 @ 5:26 pm

  53. This are factual questions: In a debate at revleft, the issue came up of the “sanctioning” of the Black Bloc tactics by the Occupy Oakland General Assembly. Defenders of the BB busting of the Whole Foods window and the occupying of the Travelers Aid building claim that when the GA passed a motion approving a “diversity of tactics,” this implicitly (or explicitly) condoned these actions.

    (1) Was a “diversity of tactics” motion actually passed by the Oakland GA?

    (2) If such a motion as passed, did it explicitly or implicitly sanction the BB actions?

    Comment by RED DAVE — November 15, 2011 @ 4:49 am

  54. Louis Proyect @22: “As everyone with two brain cells has surmised, the port shut-down met with no police resistance because the 10,000-strong participants were entirely peaceful;”

    However, anybody with three or more brain cells knows that the port shut-down met with no police resistance because, inter alia:

    (1) There were 10,000 participants.

    (2) The protest was supported by the ILWU.

    (3) The Oakland police were already under severe criticism for their violence against the occupy movement.

    And we, as opposed to the two-brain-cell crowd, know that the Oakland Police have used violence against entirely peaceful demonstrations repeatedly, a most relevant example being at the same port on April 7, 2003:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_Port_of_Oakland_dock_protest

    Comment by Red Snapper — June 7, 2012 @ 7:07 pm


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