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Is the Black Bloc a police tool?

Rioters in Egypt throw back teargas.

Rioters in Egypt throw back teargas.

From the Arab Spring to the student protests in Montreal to the Plaza occupation movement in Spain to the Occupy movement in the US, people are giving up on pacifism.

Now that more people are participating in protests and social movements and seeing for their own eyes that nonviolence doesn’t work, that sitting down and raising your hands doesn’t change anything, and that there’s no dignity in letting yourself get beaten by cops, those who want to hold us down have come up with a new lie to keep us from getting stronger.

The lie is this: that the Black Bloc is full of police infiltrators, even led by cops, and that those who mask up and riot in the streets are state agents, “provocateurs.”

If people give up on pacifism, what’s the next best option, from the perspective of the government?

If they’re going to be doing illegal things in the streets, at least they should be unmasked, so they can all be arrested later on the basis of photos and video evidence. They should be suspicious and distrustful of their fellow protestors, especially those who fight back the hardest. And they should be divided from those who have more experience defending themselves from the cops and taking over the streets.

Egyptian protestors don the V for Vendetta mask

Egyptian protestors don the V for Vendetta mask

In the last few years, there have been more and more rumors and false accusations that the Black Bloc, or masked anarchists in general, are police provocateurs. These rumors have been spread by Hollywood and the mainstream media, they have gotten fellow protestors arrested, they leave us defenseless when we decide to take the streets, and they ignore a history of struggle in which people have commonly masked up to protect themselves.

It’s sad that people have become so pacified and confused that they think fighting back against the system makes the system stronger. Nowadays, people can only think of themselves as victims. Anything more than sitting down in front of a cop to get beaten strikes people as a provocation.

But the fact is, the powerful want us to remain peaceful. They don’t need excuses to repress us, they are perfectly capable of inventing excuses or attacking us without any excuse. What was Columbus’ excuse for invading the Americas and starting centuries of genocide? What was the excuse of European merchants for kidnapping hundreds of thousands of Africans as slaves? What was the US government’s excuse for invading Iraq?

Marginalized youth in Manchester attack the cops.

Marginalized youth in Manchester attack the cops.

By fighting back, we don’t make the system stronger, we make ourselves stronger. The countries with the most peaceful populations (in terms of social movements, riots, and the like) tend to have the strongest systems of social control, the most video surveillance, the most government powers for spying on the population. Look at the UK or the Netherlands. People in those countries are tracked in their every movement from the moment they step out of their house. And in the last twenty years, with few exceptions, those populations have been very peaceful. The greatest advances in police powers and government surveillance did not occur in response to riots and uprisings—they occurred in years when those populations were pacified.

Governments that have to fear their populations are much more cautious about granting themselves new powers or increasing their security measures. In contrast to the UK, people in Greece have been throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at banks and cops for decades, and they have never let their government get strong enough to regulate their powers of protest or implement effective spying and repression.

If governments really wanted us to mask up and riot, why do they dissuade us from doing it? Property destruction is punished more heavily than civil disobedience, sometimes even with anti-terrorist laws, and masking up is illegal in dozens of countries and many parts of the US.

A protestor in Mexico attacks riot police with a homemade blowtorch

A protestor in Mexico attacks riot police with a homemade blowtorch

The purpose of this website is to counteract the manipulation and stop the pacifist ideologues who are working with the cops to get people arrested.

We’re facing serious problems as a society. While more and more of us are coming out into the streets to fight back, we need to learn how to sharpen our struggle, to take back our streets and our cities, and to defend ourselves.

If you like what this website has to say, please spread it among your friends and post the link every time some conspiracy theorist, journalist, blogger, NGO activist, or cop tries to tell you that our friends in masks are working for the system.

Please help. This website has been put together by just a few people who personally participate in the struggle for a better world. We took time off from our jobs, our responsibilities, and our other projects to counter the lie that is being spread about those who fight back. The information in this website comes from our own research, our personal participation in some of the movements and struggles mentioned, our witnessing firsthand the use of this lie, and correspondence with people who have taken part in other struggles around the world. The pacifists, journalists, NGOs, and conspiracy nuts who are spreading these false accusations have way more resources than we do. We don’t want your donations and we don’t want followers like they do, we just want the truth to get out and our struggles to get stronger. Please spread the word and pass this website along to anyone who has been fooled.

3 Responses “About” →
  1. Although I agree with the general thrust of this text, many people criticise the black blockers for a ritualised ideology of violence that’s sometimes inappropriate (this was a critique made of them at one of the demonstrations in Oakland). Violence is not the only tactic, obviously. I certainly prefer some smashed windows etc. on demos to boring peaceful rituals where nothing happens other than people listen passively and applaud speeches and then go home to watch themselves on TV. But if the social movements that are developing now – and will almost certainly increasingly erupt almost everywhere the worse the world becomes – are to make progress against capitalist social relations, then chucking rocks and molotov cocktails can’t be the only tactic by any means, particularly as the state can make such tactics seem like hitting yourself against a brick wall. Here is not the place to suggest specific innovations in violent and/or not mainly violent tactics, but I’m sure people have read of things done or proposed in the past that could be applied to very different situations in th present, or have thought of innovative things to do but haven’t really developed them practically, and just thinking in terms of being part of a black bloc smashing some windows can repress such possible original tactics as much as pacifist ideology can.

    Also – just because pacifists (from Genoa 2001 onwards) have denounced black bloc as agent provocateurs, you can’t automatically rule out the possiblity that in future undercover cops will dress up as a black bloc and commit some horrible outrage in order to discredit violent anti-state tactics. And people should be prepared, theoretically and practically, for a response to such a possibility.

    Anyway, you might be interested in reading this text here: http://dialectical-delinquents.com/?page_id=9 Amongst other things, it talks about the history of the UK cops and recent developments in soft cop tactics.

    – Sam

    PS The UK, with under 1% of the world’s population, has 24% of the world’s CCTV cameras.

    Reply

    • WhySoAngry?

      January 5, 2013

      It’s not either/or. Nearly everyone who engages in or supports black bloc tactics; does other types of work with the vast majority of their time and recognizes that black blocs often get infiltrated.

      If I had a buck for every time I see these arguments. Most militants I know spend about 0.001% of their time fucking shit up. Otherwise they’re leading semi-regular lives like the rest of us. Working for a living or doing other types of community support. They don’t fetishize violence as the only means, YOU assume that because YOU fetishize the images of violence that the black bloc brings to mind.

      As for the vulnerability to infiltration, I’ve only ever seen black blocs get infiltrated as much as every other large demo but people tend to scrutinize pics of black blocs more. There’s also an important distinction between surveillance infiltration (ie EVERY large demo) and the infamous incidents of police provocateurs which are blown all out of proportion by moonbat conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones. Yes, police provocateurs have infiltrated black blocs but it’s rare and you can usually just assume that most of the black bloc militants are legit plus a few undercover cops because again, the cops plant undercovers in almost every large demo for surveillance. It’s a huge leap from surveillance to provoking a riot and you have to wonder just how often it’s tactically advantageous for the cops to instigate riots of their own … and please spare me the moonbat shit about the fucking illuminati!

      Reply
  2. 1. I HAVE spared you that moonbat shit about the illuminati – never even mentioned it. But maybe you were joking…?
    2. It’s obvious I wasn’t saying either/or. Generally I support the black block as should be clear. Caricaturing my attitude the way you do doesn’t deal with the nuances of what I said.
    3. Infiltration is one thing, 60 cops wearing black and having masks and hoods and not simply “provoking a riot” but actually doing something immeasurably worse in order to terrify proletarians into supporting the state is not beyond the bounds of possiblity at all – look at Bologna 1969 and how state manipulated/state run bombers killed loads in order to discredit the movement and justify the arrests of hundreds of anarchists and others. It’s just something we should be on the look out for, and look out for the different ways the state can and will manipulate people’s adherence to it.
    4. You don’t seem to answer the criticisms that were levelled at the black bloc in Oakland (last year, I think – not during the Occupy movement) in trashing some shop or other.

    Reply

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