Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

January 27, 2017

The Politics of a Punch: Richard Spencer and the Black Bloc

Filed under: black bloc idiots,Counterpunch — louisproyect @ 5:59 pm

The Politics of a Punch: Richard Spencer and the Black Bloc

Unless you do not own a computer or have been in a coma for the past week, you are probably aware of alt-right leader Richard Spencer getting punched in the face by a man dressed in black bloc garb. For a beleaguered left, this became as inspirational as the appearance of a silhouette of Jesus on the sidewalk created by bucket of paint dropped accidentally from the top floor of a building under construction would be for Christians. In either case, there is little connection between overcoming the evils of capitalism or Satan but it matters little to those desperately in search of a victory.

One of those believers is Natasha Lennard who wrote an article for The Nation breathlessly announcing “Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer Got Punched—You Can Thank the Black Bloc”. For Lennard, the punch was a “transcendental experience”, akin to watching Roger Federer. Not being a tennis fan, it is a bit hard for me to relate to this. Maybe if she said it was like watching Muhammad Ali deck Joe Frazier, it would have had more resonance but Spencer hardly seemed worse off 15 seconds after the punch.

Lennard was not only a reporter; she was a participant in a black bloc action that consisted of 500 people, the largest she bragged since the antiwar protests ten years ago. I suppose if the USA had the same population as Iceland, this might have been impressive. I admit that if the goal is to run around in black clothes and break windows that number might count for something. Leonard describes the experience as if it were akin to a Sufi ceremony rather than a political protest: “You don’t know who does what in a bloc, you don’t look to find out. If bodies run out of formation to take a rock to a Starbucks window, they melt back to the bloc in as many seconds. Bodies reconciled, kinetic beauty.” Bodies reconciled, kinetic beauty? I hate to sound like an old stick in the mud but knocking over a trash can happens all the time in my neighborhood as drunken 24-year old Ivy League graduates pour out of sports bars late Saturday night.

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14 Comments »

  1. […] via The Politics of a Punch: Richard Spencer and the Black Bloc — Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxi… […]

    Pingback by Good one from Louis Proyect | David McDonald — January 27, 2017 @ 6:22 pm

  2. Simply facsinating

    Comment by Curt Kastens — January 27, 2017 @ 7:21 pm

  3. Reduced from fuehrer to ‘cuck’ with one blow. What’s not to like? But trust cringing reformists like Proyect to take exception (in this he never left the precincts of Barnesville).

    Defend Black Block protestors!

    Comment by Lumpy Lang — January 27, 2017 @ 7:55 pm

  4. Lumpy, you really are a drooling imbecile and a waste of time. Bye-bye.

    Comment by louisproyect — January 27, 2017 @ 7:57 pm

  5. Sorry Lumpy & your ilk. We weed out reformists like we weed out black block nihilists — with our arguments based on history (Marx was no reformist) and we Unrepentants, while perhaps long in tooth, foster no illusions on what it takes to abolish the machinery of decaying finance capital in its agonizing protracted twilight.

    Study all the successful movements where the toilers have organized to defeat oppression and it takes the actual systematic work of organizing, not glomming onto mass marches and spontaneously wrecking shit which just provokes the State into totally counterproductive crackdowns.

    Just look at the history of the Black Block in, say, South American countries like Argentina in the 70’s. Total failure. They managed to get the working class against them. And then the Death Squads “disappeared” the Black Block youth with impunity.

    Keep it up and the Trumpster goon squads will be formed just for you — lurking for the Lumpy’s at future protests to whisk them away in black sedans to rendition rooms like Homan Square in Chicago (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/oct/19/homan-square-chicago-police-disappeared-thousands) where your black ski masks will get replaced with black sacks with no holes in them and electrodes get alligator clipped to your privates until you squeal on your buddies and when you claim you don’t know them because they wear masks you’ll be forced to name your little brother (who was at a little league game that day) just to hope to make them stop. But they won’t stop because they’re a new breed of congenital PTSD sadists schooled in the armed forces overseas who’ve now come home to roost in the local police forces, the only place ex-soldiers can get jobs.

    Foreign policy, don’t you know, is always an extension of domestic policy. When they kick in the doors of an Iraqi home and shoot the dogs 1st and rip everything apart and arrest the males without warrant and whisk them off to dungeons like Abu Ghirab then one thing is crystal clear — the domestic equivalent is sure to follow.

    Another thing is crystal clear. Smashing Starbucks windows & lighting garbage cans on fire won’t ever change Uncle Sam’s policy – foreign or domestic. That fruitless tactic is strictly for lazyass punks unwilling or unable to do the hard work it takes to truly organize the masses.

    You people are the Alchemists of Revolution and your toxic concoctions are bound to blow up in your faces. That would be OK in my book if it only affected you but it doesn’t. Your toxic chemistry fucks up and thoroughly thwarts the work of us hard working organizers who at least have a viable plan to change the world. So fair warning Lumpy. You’re either going to be either crushed under the iron heel of the current State, or the better one that emerges triumphant atop its corpse.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — January 28, 2017 @ 1:45 am

  6. These narcissistic idiots are the very ones to turn the marginal Richard Spencer and the comical “alt right” into a mainstream enemy backed by a fascist government. Spencer and the Blackhead Bloc (aka the Walking Zits) deserve each other. What a bunch of white people.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — January 28, 2017 @ 7:00 am

  7. The intriguing thing that makes black blocs attractive to lazy political souls is the fantastical-looking mirage that it is: it provides them with the means to pretend that there’s some kind of short cut to social transformation.

    It’s a natural kids’ type of fantasy land, where things of great impact can be had with a quick wave of the wand. Abra-cadabra, and viola, you have a new society! It’s just fantasyland and magical thinking in ultras’ universe. Harry Potter must have helped to resuscitate and kept this symbiotic industry going.

    There are no short cuts. Just hard work. And a mountain-load of sacrifices to make from this point on.

    Comment by Reza — January 28, 2017 @ 7:14 am

  8. “lazy political souls”? Indeed, I’ll take your word for it that belly-crawling before law-and-order liberalism is “hard work”; especially when you have to go to the extra bother of trying to dress it up as some kind of Marxism.

    Just note that none of these bloated Sunday-socialist sermons against ultra-leftism contains a word in defense of the Black Block anarchists (however politically misguided they might be) against the cops and courts of the ruling class.

    Comment by Lumpy Lang — January 28, 2017 @ 10:33 pm

  9. “Just note that none of these bloated Sunday-socialist sermons against ultra-leftism contains a word in defense of the Black Block anarchists (however politically misguided they might be) against the cops and courts of the ruling class.”

    There wasn’t any of that in Lenin’s polemics against the Narodniks either. To give credit where credit is due, the Narodniks were serious revolutionaries taking enormous risks to topple the Czar, including Lenin’s brother. Meanwhile, these jackasses are taking about as big a risk as some students at a big ten university running amok after their football team wins a championship.

    Comment by louisproyect — January 28, 2017 @ 10:57 pm

  10. “belly-crawling before law-and-order liberalism”?

    WOW, man, your vocabulary is immense!

    I have had my admittedly small share of running street battles with fascistic goon squads, literally. But, those were during the *revolutionary* days back home. We don’t have a revolutionary situation here in the U.S.; far from it. That’s what makes black bloc tactics stupid and counter-productive. The only thing these tactics do is make the youthful clueless souls feel better about themselves. It’s political masturbation. Most people don’t have time for that, and most likely cannot afford them.

    I defend everybody’s rights to express themselves politically in mass actions. But if some assholes make things worse for everybody else in a movement that is just dusting itself off and arising out of defeat, I also have the right to tell them they’re being assholes and helping nobody. Worse, just like the Narcissist-in-Chief, they just want to make themesvles the center of attention. So, fuck them and you and the horse you guys use to hide behind. As if we’re all blind and have never seen political battles.

    Thousands of socialists and democrats in Iran have been rounded up throughout the years in street battles in Iran, then jailed, tortured and eventually murdered in mass executions, or just tortured to death. Any one of them would have given their lives a second and a third time, just to be able to protest in a society that didn’t jail people, torture them and then summarily execute them just because they expressed a critical opinion of the state.

    All that is accomplished by your beloved anarchist black blocs in a non-revolutionary set of conditions (and incidentally not all anarchists are in awe of such juvenile tactics) is to give legal excuses to the Trump’s of this world to legislate away all freedoms of assembly. You think it’ll be easier to radicalize the people you want to radicalize then?

    Comment by Reza — January 28, 2017 @ 11:37 pm

  11. As an aside,,, I lived with a Motherfucker veteran in Mexico in the 90s. Very interesting character. He was proud to declare he never took Carter’s amnesty, living life in the underground,,, somewhere in Detroit. His memories included commune life in Oregon, having a typographical trade, and in NY kidnapping a delegation of 68 Paris students invited by the SDS: to pick their brains about tactics…

    Comment by seaspan — January 29, 2017 @ 3:05 am

  12. Overly-long and rambling, but you make some good points.

    Can I just suggest that you don’t add some almost-humorous analogy to each sentence? Apart from distracting from your message, it’s very formulaic.

    Comment by Max Power — January 29, 2017 @ 3:54 pm

  13. Sure, I’ll change my prose style when you begin using a real name and email address.

    Comment by louisproyect — January 29, 2017 @ 3:56 pm

  14. It’s a deal! You go first.

    Comment by Max Power — January 30, 2017 @ 11:32 pm


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