On Being in the Streets: Activism and Herd Mentality

Reading an analysis of May Day 2017 in Olympia made me realize a fundamental problem among anarchists of today. It is this notion that anybody capable of “being in the streets” should be, without any deeper thought about the point of being in the streets in the first place. The beginning of the long piece isn’t interesting or insightful. It’s a retelling of events very similar to an anthropologist’s detachment. They are studying the ancient tribe of the black bloc, fetishizing and creating a mythology around it. On the surface though it is shallow and cold. My own experience with the b.b. was as a spectator. I wanted to be with the angry kids who were mysterious to me at the time. In this sense I’m glad it was a thing in my life, I took a lot from those moments. Eventually I came to see it as a useless exercise in political theater in the U.S, that is why I question it. People who talk about a sustained insurrection don’t understand the temporal nature of this kind of revolt. A sustained insurrection is just another way of saying “revolution.” Don’t justify your actions, rioting is fun, it’s a diversion from the normality of everyday life and a way of releasing pent up frustrations and anger. Ultimately though, it won’t bring an anarchist world into being. After the fun everybody goes on with their mundane lives.

What interests me are the conclusions drawn from the May Day action which are given as “advice.” I suppose to say they are just conclusions taken from May Day would be a mistake (the strategic advice being the exception) because they make it clear that in times like these we cannot be opposed, or even critical of anarchist projects. This is laughable because I believe it is time to have an open war between anarchists and the activist politicians that desperately crave the approval of the masses. The same masses that would turn on them in a second. There is no such thing as a sustained insurrection. An insurrection is by nature a rebellion that cannot be sustained because it is beyond politics. If you think you can find your socialist utopia in the masses you are nothing but a disgusting would-be politician.

The writers take every opportunity to defend militant actions as morally righteous, so as not to offend. They say all the right things, mutual aid, solidarity, oppressors etc. It’s a terribly boring polemic. At least Crimethinc. in its earlier days had a gift of poetic language that moved people beyond political abstractions. This seems to no longer be the case now. Everything seems to be obscenely pragmatic. I’ll take idealistic, romantic and life changing over an analysis of every enemy we can conjure up. Who is really talking about “the beautiful idea” anymore? Now its Antifa slogans, posturing, a constant attempt to steer anarchism into the larger left movement (Bernie supporters becoming “anarchists” was touted as a great thing by some) and attempting in every way to appeal to the idiot masses.

A word on Antifa. I strongly support a culture of self-defense, but also learning offensive skills and strategy (not the strategy of the streets, but if the Oathkeepers have shown me anything its that the left and antifa are in no way prepared to match and exceed their skills, we are talking ex-military, cops etc.). There is a real threat to lots of people, the stabbings in Portland horrifically have made this clear. But that does not mean every moment of our lives should be devoted to rooting out the “bad guys.” I don’t see people being good or bad, I see people living the same miserable existence as me, and by chance I ended up here, and that guy ended up there. This brings up the question, what caused the immense amount of hatred to well up In that guy? Well, it wasn’t just hatred, but fear. We have all been fed lies, but they are different lies. It turns out he changed a lot according to a black friend of his after doing a sting in prison. Yep, this happens all the time, I have seen it with my own eyes. Even a short time in jail can lead some to come out confused about their identity. Its well known how racial divisions are created amongst prisoners, but from my own experience only on the men’s side. The first question my white partner was asked was, “you a peckerwood?”

Getting back to the analysis and back on topic. Towards the end of the analysis they say this; “If we want to have social conditions that lend themselves to anarchy we need to set aside arbitrary divisions and push the fundamental divisions that enforce the ruling order to their breaking point. Let’s come into situations with an intent to actually listen compassionately and come to understandings with people without compromising critical engagement and our anarchist ethics.” I don’t think the divisions among anarchists these days is arbitrary at all, those divisions are just as fundamental as the ones you say you want to push to their breaking points, I’m not sure what this means exactly. The funny thing is, throughout the whole article they compromise what I would call anarchist principles rather than “ethics.”

There’s a lot more to say about this, and I think its worth attacking because its this activist mentality that discourages inward thinking and contemplation that I think is an essential component of anarchy, or at least it should be. The black bloc is dead! Long live the black bloc!

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