Friday, May 14, 2010
The Riot or the Attack?
Solidarity and questions for US Anarchists after May Day
Since the disruptions in Pittsburgh during the G20, the Portland riots, and the coast to coast May Day smashings of 2010, anarchists in the US have proven they are a force. My beloved Glenn Beck even has to protect his wayward libertarians from us by insisting that we are communists, and that, laugh of laughs, we're working for the trade unions. The rightwing in the United States plays the curious role of recuperating a very popular anti-state sentiment, and as relatively weak as American anarchists are, they are starting to threaten this monopoly. That's the thing about non-vanguardist anarchists: when we speak and act honestly, we tend to have an influence far beyond our numbers.
Because we now have proven to ourselves that we can start shit almost whenever and wherever we want, anarchists in the US no longer need to be so desperate for a riot that they are willing to throw everything away just to get their game on. Less combative anarchists have intuited a weakness in this new direction, a potential for isolation and repression, but unfortunately for everyone they couched it in the tired old terms of a fetishization of violence. Articles like “Are we addicted to rioting” were correct in sensing a danger, but because their authors were not conscious of their own position nor empowered by the confidence that comes with rioting, they sounded the call to retreat.
A much better critique, written after the Strasbourg riots by honest to goodness Black Blockers, is “And After Having Burnt Everything?” The InvCom as well were on to something when they wrote, “the question of pacifism is serious only for those who have the ability to open fire. In this case, pacifism becomes a sign of power, since it's only in an extreme position of strength that we are freed from the need to fire.”
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