'Hijacked by Anarchists!'

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crows's picture
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Mar 28 2011 09:37
blackrainbow wrote:
But we should only do so when the momentum favours our direct action tactics (like the student demos where most of the 'violence' was carried out by the student: the actual oppressed subject as opposed to a vanguard minority).

Not sure your characterisation of actual oppressed subject vs. vanguard minority is particularly helpful. I think the argument that students are "actually oppressed" by education policy (much of which will only affect future generations of students) whereas those on the unruly breakaway march are somehow not directly affected by the cuts is hard to maintain, especially as it seemed that many of those involved in the latter were students who had been radicalised by their struggle over the last few months.

Maybe, you're just talking about perception though.

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Mar 28 2011 10:17
blackrainbow wrote:
Looks like the IWWs made the national press.

I think this is a little mis-leading for anyone that doesnt actually read that article. The author refers to an IWW cartoon from back in the day, not anything to do with IWW on saturday. If anything he is trying to slyly divide the anarchist movement by the way he uses this reference.

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All this has made me recall the favourite cartoon character of the Industrial Workers of the World publications, which, in its heyday 100 years, ago featured a comic-strip figure named "Mr Block", whose head was a giant block of wood. Mr Block, a particularly daft worker, would try to improve his lot in life, but he would invariably go about it in the wrong way. He would refuse to join a union. He would refuse to go out on strike. He would try to please his employer. And he never wised up.

These days Mr Block would be found in the black bloc. Mr Block would wear a bandana for a mask. He would fancy himself a threat to capitalism. His ears would be wide open to the whisperings of provocateurs. He would confuse vandalism with radicalism. He would never wise up.

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Mar 28 2011 10:43

Of course, the IWW were on the radical workers bloc, and comparing anarchists to a cartoon scab is just slander plain and simple. But what do we expect? We're opposed to the system they represent, of course they slander us. I went to a talk by an academic the other day about policing protests. After decrying indiscriminate police violence he produced a flyer from the radical workers bloc circa Millbank and proceeded to advocate using the TSG against anarchists, because they don't believe in lobbying and 'legitimate' protest (i.e. repression based on beliefs alone). We'll be smeared and we'll be beaten. Goes with the territory. That doesn't mean that everything that happened on Saturday was smart and all the tactics were right, but even when - especially when - they are we'll be bloodied and bruised and have our names dragged through the mud.

Samotnaf
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Mar 28 2011 10:50

Joseph Kay:

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I went to a talk by an academic the other day about policing protests. After decrying indiscriminate police violence he produced a flyer from the radical workers bloc circa Millbank and proceeded to advocate using the TSG against anarchists, because they don't believe in lobbying and 'legitimate' protest (i.e. repression based on beliefs alone).

Out of curiosity, did you respond to what he said?

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Mar 28 2011 10:53
Steven. wrote:
I think one thing worth considering is that even if no anarchists had got involved in property destruction or fighting with the police, other people would have done anyway, and anarchists would have still got the blame (like Millbank) so I really don't think there is any need to worry about the PR angle. The media is always going to hate on us!

But the point of the student demos last year was that they tried to blame the 'violence' on anarchists but in the end couldnt because as the movement developed it became clear that the 'violence' emerged from 'ordinary' students. The bourgeois press couldnt contain and dismiss the direct action tactics being used as that originating from a self appointed minority. Sorry I didnt get the same feeling on saturday as I did with the student demos that this will develop into a 'direct action' movement rendering bourgeois press critiques irrelevent (maybe its because I was only marching with my former work mates). Having said all that we will be in a different situation this time next year and who knows there could be a mass working class 'direct action' movement.

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Mar 28 2011 11:04
Samotnaf wrote:
Joseph Kay:
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I went to a talk by an academic the other day about policing protests. After decrying indiscriminate police violence he produced a flyer from the radical workers bloc circa Millbank and proceeded to advocate using the TSG against anarchists, because they don't believe in lobbying and 'legitimate' protest (i.e. repression based on beliefs alone).

Out of curiosity, did you respond to what he said?

No, I bit my tongue. He's a smart guy and has the ear of some senior cops and politicians (but not the rank and file or the media, which frustrates his influence). Last thing I wanted to do was give him a better understanding of anarchist dynamics!

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Mar 28 2011 11:14

Sorry for banging on about this but every time there is a significant workers dispute in Britain (during the dispute I spoke to seasoned visteon shop stewards who where terrified at the prospect of the G20 'anti capitalists' descending near the factory), the capitalist class wheels out the press and uses it with devastating consequences to the workers immediate and revolutionary interests. Dismissing it with the attitude 'they'll always hate us so lets carry on with the same tactics and not think properly about it' is IMHO stupid and fatal to our capability to build a significant libertarian communist tendency in a wider direct action mass workers movement. We do have tactics that allow us to side step the slanders of the national presses: a dedicated focus on grass roots workplace and community struggles federated through rank and file controlled organisations.

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Mar 28 2011 11:22

Right, and who is abandoning "a dedicated focus on grass roots workplace and community struggles federated through rank and file controlled organisations" to go and graffiti the Ritz exactly? SolFed? The AF? The IWW? The students from the various occupations? Tbh I think everyone getting het up over this is letting the agenda be set by the sensationalist press, come the end of the news cycle in a few days nobody will give a shit and the cultural meaning of 'anarchist' will be back to normal, i.e. demonised baby eaters bent on destruction. Same old same old.

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Mar 28 2011 11:31
Joseph Kay wrote:
Right, and who is abandoning "a dedicated focus on grass roots workplace and community struggles federated through rank and file controlled organisations" to go and graffiti the Ritz exactly? SolFed? The AF? The IWW? The students from the various occupations? Tbh I think everyone getting het up over this is letting the agenda be set by the sensationalist press, come the end of the news cycle in a few days nobody will give a shit and the cultural meaning of 'anarchist' will be back to normal, i.e. demonised baby eaters bent on destruction. Same old same old.

exactly. And what you mean, we can sidestep criticism?

As far as I'm aware none of us in this discussion were involved in the property destruction, and either way we have no control over the people who were involved in property destruction, so we just have to deal with it. Like Joseph says, in a couple of days this will all have blown over anyway

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Mar 28 2011 11:34
Joseph Kay wrote:
Right, and who is abandoning "a dedicated focus on grass roots workplace and community struggles federated through rank and file controlled organisations" to go and graffiti the Ritz exactly? SolFed? The AF? The IWW? The students from the various occupations?

Reread my post. I think you'll find that I have not accused SolFed The AF The IWW The students from the various occupations from abandoning "a dedicated focus on grass roots workplace and community struggles federated through rank and file controlled organisations". I simply suggesting a greater emphasis on those tactics by the wider milieu. Personally I think you scrawled that in an angry huff.

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Mar 28 2011 11:36
RedEd wrote:
You know, amazingly, most students haven't read the left communist/anarchist critique of unionism. All the most politically active students vote in student elections

I'm not talking about a left communist critique of unionism though, just the fact that far from having student union elections as the pinnacle of their ambitions, many of the students involved in the recent occupations, days of action etc. see them as a bit of an irrelevance. So using them as a barometer of student militancy is just daft.

Your second claim here is just false.

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Mar 28 2011 11:46
blackrainbow wrote:
Personally I think you scrawled that in an angry huff.

Trying to read the emotions of others through forum posts is rarely productive. My mood is more disinterested procastrination, fwiw. But ok i take your point - but what do you think said groups are doing? They're doing this stuff, encouraging newly radicalised students to organise around every day issues etc. I know London SolFed branches have doubled in size (from a low base, sure) in recent months, and have been e.g. talking to groups of student/workers about workplace organising and the like. We cannot - and should not - control the actions of others. So all we can do is what we're doing; throw ourselves into the anti-cuts fight and as much as possible win people round to class struggle (as opposed to trot, liberal, activist...) practices. But that's happening already, so I don't get what the big deal is over another minor riot.

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Mar 28 2011 12:37
Joseph Kay wrote:
We cannot - and should not - control the actions of others. So all we can do is what we're doing; throw ourselves into the anti-cuts fight and as much as possible win people round to class struggle (as opposed to trot, liberal, activist...) practises. But that's happening already.

I'm not talking about "controlling the actions of others". Libertarian communism is largely a propagandist cause in the hear and now. I am suggesting that we encourage other radicals who mainly spend their time preparing for spectaculars (summits, demos, camps, etc) to commit to "a dedicated focus on grass roots workplace and community struggles federated through rank and file controlled organisations". This has been happening in London for almost 3 years with some good results through the radical london network and autonomous students network. radical london groups are now producing some very good local rags and interacting with working class community groups and campaigns like the save wanstead flats campaign, gainning libertarian communism a working class audience inoculated from the nation bourgeois presses anarchist bogy man. The same is true with groups like autonomy and solidarity and queen mary autonomous group
(of which two solfed comrades were involved and helped to call the first mass meeting of workers and students on campus about the cuts). I not principally against spectaculars I just think they should be seen as part of the mix and not the main focus.

Joseph Kay wrote:
so I don't get what the big deal is over another minor riot.

Because it will leave an incorrect etch on the minds of workers that anarchism is mostly about dressing in a black ninja suit and having a ruck with the cops?

EDIT: fixed link for save wanstead flats campaign

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Mar 28 2011 12:36

But that's already there. Straw poll people on March 25th and again on April 25th and I bet the meaning of 'anarchist' is the same misplaced caricature that's been peddled in the press for a century or so. And for all the worrying about bad media coverage, SolFed had some pretty sympathetic/neutral coverage in the Independent on Sunday, and a follow up comment on police violence in today, so it's not even the case that the media's taking a completely univocal line dismissing anarchists.

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Mar 28 2011 12:43
Joseph Kay wrote:
But that's already there. Straw poll people on March 25th and again on April 25th and I bet the meaning of 'anarchist' is the same misplaced caricature that's been peddled in the press for a century or so.

Well poorly thought out tactics on our behalf will reinforce that predudice. And its' exactly what the TUC and their mates at the MET police want.

Harrison
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Mar 28 2011 13:28
raw wrote:
blackrainbow wrote:
I think it might be worth while for afed and solfed to put together a common press strategy that clearly marks out and defends mass social anarchism from minority vanguardist insurrectionary varieties.

I think this is unadvisable in how it was phrase. What needs to happen is a political justification to what happen rather than splitting the movement. "mass social anarchism" vs "minority vanguardist insurrectionary" is a false division

i'm not sure it is a false division, but i agree with you about not letting it split us.
this happened in Greece between the AK (anti-authoritarian movement) and the insurrectionist squatters. it got so bad a few years ago that the insurrectionists ended up burning down AK's offices in retaliation for AK beating up some insurrectionists for stealing some computers from a university where AK was hosting an event.

you can be sure that any police undercovers (that definitely exist within the UK anarchist groups) will seize upon this potential division (if it emerges) to try and promote a split.

what i like about UK anarchism is that there isn't too much of this division, and Bloccers work in the same groups with those who don't bloc up at demos.

those who don't like insurrectionism (me for example) should promote the alternatives, but should be careful not to condemn it as its too damaging for the libertarian communist movement...

plus there may come a day when we need the insurrectionists

Spikymike
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Mar 28 2011 13:28

Bit bored with this discussion now but just thought I'd mention the liberal Guardian's feature cartoon by MR on page 31 today which puts the supposedly 'mindless minority violence' into some sort of perspective. These are always so much more to the point than all their pages of journalese.

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Mar 28 2011 13:42

500x

Caiman del Barrio
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Mar 28 2011 13:43

SF in the press:

http://twitpic.com/4dy0i4
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/recriminations-fly-after-anticuts-protests-descend-into-violence-2254755.html

I would actually disagree with JK re the bloc's composition. I recognised plenty of squatter punxxx amongst the usual SF/AF/radicalised students. One of them scrawled ACAB over my highly intelligent graffito!

But generally in agreement with the trajectory of posts here from folk who actually went to the demos. Moralism over property damage is liberal shite. The issue is whether it's tactically wise.

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Mar 28 2011 13:49

There's a fairly funny comment in that Independent article where Kit Malthouse (deputy mayor) describes the breakaway march as composed of "fascist agitators" - principally, it seems, because many were wearing black shirts.

GuyDeBord's Optician
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Mar 28 2011 13:49

http://www. thetruthseeker.co.uk/?p=23060

Hilarious article from some Nazi types, just to bring the ire down.

Admin - link to hostile site broken. Even if it is a great article!

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Mar 28 2011 14:02

^ that link has actually made my day, wonder when my mi5 paycheck will get here, i'm getting sick of pasta and rice day-in day-out!

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Mar 28 2011 14:06

Quite enjoyed the way the Truth Seeker's argument goes. They work themselves into a froth with a series of rhetorical questions before declaring

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I've convinced myself
gypsy
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Mar 28 2011 15:17
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Anarchists 'not necessarily violent'

Academic at Swansea University explains(tries to).

http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9438000/9438399.stm

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Mar 28 2011 15:21

I hear that this morning, didn't catch the name of the academic tho, any idea what his specialty is?

gypsy
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Mar 28 2011 15:23
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Dr Alan Finlayson, a reader in politics at Swansea University, whose research interests include protest movements in the UK
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Mar 28 2011 15:34

Haven't read all the posts on this thread but it seems that there is a real discussion here which has a lot of important implications, and which can't be reduced to traditional disagreements between particular categories like (say) anarchists and left communists: different comrades within Solfed, for example, have expressed very different views of the events. I really don't think the issue is whether the Ritz suffered some damage etc. The problem is that a huge amount of energy is being directed towards action of this type, rather than trying to engage with the vast mass of people who still follow the unions and the whole ideology of an 'alternative' such as defending the state sector, taxing the rich etc. The original statement of the radical workers bloc seemed to be going in that direction - showing that there is an alternative form of resistance based on independent class struggle and posing the question of a different society. My impression from Saturday is that the radical workers bloc didn't start off with a clear aim about what it was calling for on the day and that it kind of dispersed among those who wanted to break off and do their own thing rather than putting their energies into discussing with the tens of thousands following the official line, or into initiating actions aimed at demonstrating that there is an self-organised alternative (such as holding 'oppositional' assemblies). I think this is largely because a lot of the comrades who were involved in the bloc (and even more so with those in the 'Militant Worker Bloc') just can't bring themselves to make a firm critique of black bloc ideology for fear of lining up with the TUC and the cops (or of being accused of lining up with them).

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Mar 28 2011 16:09
Alf wrote:
The problem is that a huge amount of energy is being directed towards action of this type

What's your evidence for this? It was minimal effort to organise the 'Radical Workers Bloc', thousands of leaflets and hundreds of papers were distributed, and many of us managed to go off-piste around Oxford Street.

I'm really glad we did, because the IWW's 'alternative rally' didn't happen, and one which did, organised by the NSSN was tedious and poorly attended. I can't imagine many people stopping to listen to me or you on a megaphone tbh, we'd have been talking to ourselves.

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Mar 28 2011 16:09
Alf wrote:
I think this is largely because a lot of the comrades who were involved in the bloc (and even more so with those in the 'Militant Worker Bloc') just can't bring themselves to make a firm critique of black bloc ideology for fear of lining up with the TUC and the cops (or of being accused of lining up with them).

No flaming.

Caiman del Barrio
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Mar 28 2011 16:24

Another excellent post from Alf on yet another excellent thread on Libcom.

Either ban the ICC or delete the forums. Seriously.