Features

You Know a May Day Protest Was Successful When…

The FBI Is Still Following People Around a Year Later

You Know a May Day Protest Was Successful When…

Kelly O

One day last week, two people went jogging in a park in South Seattle. On their way back to their car, they were approached by two FBI agents who asked about last year's May Day protests. As you probably remember, May Day 2012 turned briefly chaotic when some demonstrators in Black Bloc clothes broke from the crowd to smash downtown windows and throw balloons filled with pink pigment at storefronts. (Among the casualties: windows at Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Niketown, and Forever 21, and one door of a federal courthouse.)

The joggers told the agents they had nothing to say, got in their car, and drove away. About 20 minutes later, the agents reportedly turned up at their home. Nobody answered the door.

Over the next few days, federal agents asking similar questions showed up at people's houses, schools, and workplaces, as well as at least one nonprofit (which serves homeless youth on Capitol Hill). According to sources—all of whom asked to remain anonymous—the agents drove SUVs, talked in a chatty manner, and dressed in Northwest business casual: jeans, plaid shirts, polar fleece. "Honestly," one source said, "at first I thought they were salesmen—maybe from a lawn service."

The FBI declined to comment on anything specific. Spokesperson Ayn Dietrich said, "We do all kinds of routine activities throughout the state on a given day."

The agents reportedly wanted to talk about May Day 2012 and, sometimes, the whereabouts of certain individuals. Law-enforcement officers, of course, are in the business of investigating crimes, not the business of trying to make people nervous about attending future protests. But the FBI agents' conspicuous arrival—indiscreetly showing up where people work, sleep, and exercise—just before May Day 2013 does not feel entirely coincidental.

In the United States, May Day has its roots in a famous 1886 Chicago protest—the Haymarket Affair—to standardize the eight-hour workday. After a bomb was supposedly thrown, Chicago police opened fire and killed several activists and (accidentally) several cops. (A subsequent trial failed to identify the bomber, but several activists were hanged anyway.) The holiday spread throughout the world, and in 1955, the Catholic Church dedicated May 1 to Saint Joseph the Worker.

After last year's May Day in Seattle, politicians, cops, journalists, and citizens hastened to dismiss the window-smashers as "idiots" and "thugs" whose acts were ill-informed and meaningless. We still don't know who those window-smashing demonstrators were. Some might have been idiots, some might have been esteemed scholars. It isn't hard to imagine former Yale associate professor David Graeber being among them—an anarchist activist and cofounder of Occupy Wall Street who has taken part in Black Bloc actions. He documents those experiments in a new book called The Democracy Project: A History, A Crisis, A Movement, published by Spiegel & Grau.

Either way, those few chaotic moments on May Day 2012 in Seattle probably achieved more than the window-smashers could've hoped for. The demonstrations kicked open a yearlong, citywide debate about protest and targeted property damage, anarchism and the Occupy movement. They also instigated a series of early-morning raids on "known" anarchists (as described in sealed search warrants later obtained by The Stranger), some of whom were already under surveillance by the FBI. A few people who weren't even in Seattle on May Day were jailed for months—including stints in solitary confinement—for refusing, Bartleby-like, to answer questions about other people's political beliefs. (In Herman Melville's story, Bartleby's quiet refusal to comply—his infamous "I would prefer not to"—also lands him in prison.)

Last year's window-smashing also opened a debate about how far the long arm of the law should be permitted to reach. Who among us, a year ago, would have argued that it was correct—or knew it was even legally possible—for federal agents to imprison people because they might know anarchists or might know people who might know something about a busted door?

Though The Democracy Project doesn't mention Seattle's protest last year, Graeber's rigorous but plainspoken book answers several of the questions that have been roiling Seattle in the past year. He combines decades of scholarship with on-the-ground experience as an activist, elegantly weaving together three major themes.

One: A firsthand account of the origins and progress of the Occupy movement, including explanations of its sometimes-mystifying-from-the-outside way of operating, such as its refusal to issue demands and its insistence on operating "horizontally" (consensus-based decision making, the people's mic, etc.) instead of developing a top-down leadership structure.

Two: A history of democracy, with special emphasis on the United States and the founding fathers, whose idea of "democracy" (many of them thought it was dangerous) is not our idea of "democracy" (which we profess to love so much, we use it as a pretext to invade other countries).

Three: A clearheaded discussion of "direct democracy" and anarchism.

Graeber became seriously interested in anarchism during 1990 fieldwork in an area of Madagascar where the state had basically shrunk to nothing. As he puts it in The Democracy Project:

If you propose the idea of anarchism to a roomful of ordinary people, someone will almost inevitably object: but of course we can't eliminate the police. If we do, people will simply start killing one another. To most, this seems simple common sense. The odd thing about this prediction is that it can be empirically tested; in fact, it frequently has been empirically tested. And it turns out to be false. True, there are one or two cases like Somalia, where the state broke down when people were already in the midst of a bloody civil war, and warlords did not immediately stop killing each other when it happened... But in most cases, as I myself observed in parts of rural Madagascar, very little happens... The police disappear, people stop paying taxes, otherwise they pretty much carry on as they had before. Certainly they do not break into a Hobbesian "war of all on all."

Because real-life functional anarchism is so unremarkable, Graeber says, we hardly think of it at all. In fact, while doing his Madagascar fieldwork, it took him some time to realize that he was living in a place where the state had disappeared. When he returned 20 years later, "the police had returned, taxes were once again being collected, but everyone also felt that violent crime had increased dramatically."

The question, he says, isn't whether a horizontally organized society—that is, one in which people have developed the social muscles to sort out their differences without resorting to guns and prisons—would work. It's why we tend to assume it'd look like Lord of the Flies, Mad Max, or some other pop-fiction parody. "The historical experience of what actually does happen in crisis situations," he writes, "demonstrates that even those who have not grown up in a culture of participatory democracy, if you take away their guns or ability to call their lawyers, can suddenly become extremely reasonable. This is all anarchists are really proposing to do."

It's exciting to read an intelligent person thinking about these ideas in a nonhistrionic way that is based on verifiable evidence, rational argument, and experience, instead of the ridiculous clichés of (a) "anarchists are idiots," or (b) "anyone who isn't an anarchist is an idiot." It's time to think about these issues a little more seriously. The Democracy Project hasn't shown up a moment too soon.

The Occupy movement, for all of its dramatic moments and strong emotions, was another excellent chance to think about—and experiment with—anarchist-inflected ways of group decision making.

Occupy's horizontal mode of organizing was hard-won. As Graeber reports, activists from the creaky Workers World Party tried to hijack Occupy's first "meeting" at Bowling Green Park—announced by, but not in any way organized by, Adbusters magazine—and turn it into a pro-WWP rally.

Graeber made a crack to one of the WWP leaders: "'Hey,' I said to him when he passed my way, 'you know, maybe you shouldn't advertise a General Assembly if you're not actually going to hold one.' I may have put it in a less polite way." The leader suggested that if Graeber didn't like it, he should leave. Which he did. Several other "horizontals" defected as well: young Wobblies, Japanese global- justice activists, anarchists. They held a general meeting, came up with a rough structure and process, and broke into working groups to think about tactics, outreach, and the other basic infrastructure of a protest.

And that was it. A few people sorting out a demonstration against Wall Street in a horizontal way had just kicked off a social movement that was about to go internationally viral.

Two months later, the Council on Foreign Relations would report that Occupy protests against "corporate greed and wealth inequality" had spread to 900 cities around the world. At the very least, the phenomenon guaranteed the reelection of President Barack Obama against the 1 percent caricature of Mitt Romney, and allowed him to explicitly talk about wealth inequality. Much more significantly, Graeber argues, it changed millions of people's ideas about what is politically and socially possible if they quit waiting to be told what to do and organize themselves. The message—"We are the 99 percent"—was strong. But the power of the spontaneous self-organization, without a central committee or blueprint, was even stronger. The question isn't "Where did Occupy go?" It's "How did such a radical experiment, forged on arguably the best-financed and best-policed acre on the planet, even get off the ground?"

Of course, consensus decision making can look both silly and tedious. In The Democracy Project, Graeber argues this is simply because we're not in the habit of collective decision making. We usually do it badly. That kind of process can be done well, efficiently, and entertainingly, but if it's ever going to work, we're going to have to practice.

The Democracy Project covers a lot of other ground: funny as well as chilling anecdotes from Occupy ("Another [woman] screamed and called the policeman fondling her a pervert, whereupon he and his fellow officers dragged her behind police lines and broke her wrists"); an analysis of how politicians and journalists attempted to ignore, discredit, intimidate, and co-opt what remained a stubbornly independent movement; and a tactical field guide for how to deal with police, reporters, and other demonstrators.

Graeber also talks about his experience with Black Bloc protests, including one in London in 2010 shortly before Occupy started. He got involved with a group called UK Uncut, which was indignant that the government's 2010 austerity plan—triple student fees, slash benefits to the sick and ill, close youth centers—would have been totally unnecessary if the government had bothered to collect billions of pounds in back taxes from large campaign contributors, including banks and cell-phone companies.

UK Uncut held classes and gave medical treatment in the lobbies of those businesses, and also decided to vandalize a few to draw attention to its cause. A few demonstrators, including Graeber, took some paint balloons—similar to the ones used last May Day—to Fortnum & Mason, which prided itself on selling the world's most expensive tea and biscuits and, according to Graeber, "had also somehow managed to avoid paying £40 million in taxes."

I arrived just as riot cops were sealing off the entryways and the last occupiers who didn't want to risk arrest were preparing to jump off the department store's vast marquee into the arms of surrounding protesters. The Black Bloc assembled, and after unleashing our few remaining balloons, we linked arms to hold off an advancing line of riot cops trying to clear the street so they could begin mass arrests. A few weeks later, in New York, my legs were still etched with welts and scrapes from being kicked in the shins on that occasion. (I remember thinking at the time that I now understood why ancient warriors wore greaves—if there are two opposing lines of shield-bearing warriors facing each other, the most obvious thing to do is to kick your opponent in the shins.)

So there you have it—your Black Bloc anarchist who used to teach at Yale and now teaches at Goldsmiths, University of London, and lectures at the London School of Economics.

In the past month, the Seattle Police Department and downtown businesses have vowed to prevent this year's May Day march from making a similar impression to last year's. A few weeks ago, interim Seattle police chief Jim Pugel already preordained a confrontation on KIRO News: "It is inevitable that we are going to have to use force. It is inevitable that police are going to have to detain people." A few days ago, the Puget Sound Business Journal reported that members of a downtown business association "will have staffers at the police special operations command post on May 1." Police and business owners are working together to make sure nothing happens.

And, of course, the FBI has been making the rounds, letting suspected activists know that no matter how strenuously our local talking heads try to dismiss them, their actions are all too significant. recommended

 

Comments (56) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
1
As Chris Hedges points out in his Feb 6, 2012 essay, The Cancer in Occupy (on truthdig dot com), the Black Bloc and their support for the use of random violence is a "gift from heaven" for the corporate state.

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_…

Any serious movement must strive to remain in the main-stream to become effective. BB tactics are counterproductive in both the short and long term. Short term, it allows the media to cover a movement as an isolated fringe group. Long term it justifies state use of deadly force. It also opens the movement up to dirty tricks from the state such as false-flag acts of violence perpetrated by infiltrators.

The Panthers embraced guns and violence. How'd it go for them?
Posted by BB is the new SS on May 1, 2013 at 9:39 AM · Report this
2
Anarchy has no practical application for the US, which is full of nuts who would love to engage in a Lord of the Flies fight to the death. Please take this drivel elsewhere. The bad actor's at last year's protest are scumbags who went after innocent people, workers, tourists, among others, and undermined the immigrant rights' protest. Shame on them, and shame on you for trying to enable this foul and unacceptable behavior.
Posted by TheStrangerDoesItAgain on May 1, 2013 at 10:13 AM · Report this
3
Anonymous peeps claim the FBI shadowed them. Sure. This is The Stranger, so it must be so. “The Man” is known to do these sorts of things.

On the other hand, a “reporter” spicing up an editorial with bull shit hyperbole never happens does it?
Posted by Arthur Zifferelli on May 1, 2013 at 10:26 AM · Report this
4
we saw on the news last night, he potential for May Day protests, and we could not figure out why someone protests May Day. Then some braniac anarchist was on the tube saying it was over corporate greed..

When are all of these idiots going to just go away, get hit by a truck or god forbid get a job and be part of the world.

Really?? Corporate greed?? You can't do better than that??

Ya know, I just spent two weeks on the beach in Maui..I work for my money to do that twice a year. Yet you can't even find time to earn a couple bucks and would rather ruin a sunny day or be miserable??

Your parents must be sooooo proud of you..

aloha.. I think we'll go to Kauai next time.
Posted by esp on May 1, 2013 at 10:31 AM · Report this
5
On Tuesday night's NBC affiliate info-tainment news-ness, two video clips of Portland then Seattle 2012 May Day march altercation and vandalism was interesting.

How so? Well, I was in the front of the Portland march and characterized the meyley as a "Keystone Cop" operation. There was only one minor offender who somehow caused a squadron of bicycle cops to fall all over themselves trying to appear forceful.

The entire altercation lasted 15 seconds. Marchers, perhaps 300, realized no need to halt and kept moving. Yet, the video still portrays the entire march according to this 15 second clown act. Half the bicycle cops left, the 3 motorcycle cops left, the paddy wagon with mounted loudspeakers and riot squad standing on its running boards left, doubtless more embarrassed than boistrous or belligerant.

The Portland march continued another few blocks and the silly altercation was repeated; a sole offender was pounced upon by the remaining officers and that delay lasted perhaps 5 minutes before marchers realized no need to stop and finished the planned route maybe 15 minutes later.

Since I'm partial to Portland culture and consider Seattle a virolently, malevolently, misanthropically corrupt city of over-educated twits, sluts and money-grubbing MFers, I wish its good people stand up to its asshole police by making them look like the stinking assholes they are.

Posted by Wells on May 1, 2013 at 11:04 AM · Report this
6
Attention All Anarchists


http://www.privacysos.org/node/1046

Posted by sgt_doom on May 1, 2013 at 11:10 AM · Report this
7
@5

Perhaps you should join the "asshole police" you speak of, as your post clearly demonstrates that you are a ignorant asshole.

I love Portland. But I hate you.
Posted by scratchmaster joe on May 1, 2013 at 11:25 AM · Report this
8
i agree with those calling out the supposed anarchists who vandalize as the dimwitted ne'er-do-wells that they really are. Brendan don't try to romanticized their BS as some kind of needed revelation that Capitalism is what is ruining our country and way of living (I'm pretty sure you boss Dan Savage isn't complaining too much corporate greed-talk about annoying pop up ads-try reading the stranger online sometime!) In my mind there is no difference between these losers and the Boston Bomb Brothers. I thank the FBI for following up on all these knuckleheads! You really want to change things up? Get a law degree and process the needed changes from within the system. If I see one punk vandalizing anything on mayday I will be taking pics and sending it to the police, FBI, and whoever else I can to put an end to this kind of nonsense. I urge all of you to do the same. Terrorism is terrorism. Lets work together to stamp it out!
Posted by rayray on May 1, 2013 at 11:53 AM · Report this
Stewie Griffin 9
Fortunately all the revolutions that have mattered (either for good or ill) have never experienced any property damage or even loss of life. Oh wait..that's not true
Posted by Stewie Griffin on May 1, 2013 at 12:00 PM · Report this
10
@8 Breaking windows is not terrorism, nor is it violence. It is property destruction. No one is planting bombs/injuring people/taking lives at this march. The police are the only people who have been violent during the marches.
Posted by emryselska on May 1, 2013 at 12:03 PM · Report this
11
i can't believe any of you are defending these losers; much less in that great passive agressive NW tone that spews of wimpiness and fear. ask the store owners whose property got damaged, or the many folks who got injured in the confrontation with the police if they don't think their actions are not terrorism! how about an experiment? to all the potential violent protesters out there, keep a lid on it this mayday. just march along peacefully, sing some kum ba ya along the way. maybe even offer the police some cool water to drink...i bet you nothing gets violent then.
Posted by rayray on May 1, 2013 at 12:12 PM · Report this
12
emryselska said:
Breaking windows is not terrorism, nor is it violence. It is property destruction. No one is planting bombs/injuring people/taking lives at this march. The police are the only people who have been violent during the marches.
Mybe they should bust out all the windows of the coffee shop you're a "barista" at, or tip over your cart... Smash and grab from your favorite "leftie" book store... Hey, it's only property damage...
Posted by Arthur Zifferelli on May 1, 2013 at 12:23 PM · Report this
13
My previous comment was an anecdotal perspective of how media exaggerates. If Portland's 2012 May Day was for me obviously exaggerated, so too could Seattle media coverage exaggerate. No smashing of windows happened in Portland like in Seattle, but media manipulated video shots to make the two demonstrations appear the same.

The goal of such marches should be to produce some positive outcome. In that regard, Portland is more successful than Seattle. Today's Seattlers have no accomplishments on which to call themselves friends of labor nor environmentally conscientious. What a cesspool Elliott Bay is allowed to remain. Seattle's progressive community are a gang of twits, easily misled by ruthless business interests.
Posted by Wells on May 1, 2013 at 2:15 PM · Report this
treacle 14
Wow, Brendan was right.. talk about histrionic responses!

Is Corporate Greed a thing we shouldn't address? Microsoft avoids paying Washington State $2.5 BILLION via some Nevada tax dodge...and gets away with it, while the state legislature goes into slash-and-burn mode, destroying social services to balance the budget.

What about that $2.5 Billion it let go? Why take it out of my hide when Microsoft, Boeing and others we allowed to cover their hide with fancy, expensive velvets?

Corporate greed not a problem? You are blind, sir.
Posted by treacle on May 1, 2013 at 2:49 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 15
Pretty good article.
Thank you Brendan.

That said Seattle anarchist still tend to be idiots with half baked political ideals that are more akin to communism.
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on May 1, 2013 at 3:22 PM · Report this
16
Great article! I hope everyone spends their May Day doing at least one thing to promote social justice. A better world is only possible when we work for it together.
Posted by H3ADLINE on May 1, 2013 at 3:28 PM · Report this
17
And #1 is the only one to really get it right. Yes, violence does remove the legitimacy of your claims. Protest away, bring attention and educate about real issues. No banging pots and pants and mindless slogans. As an idealistic college student, I did this, but even at the time I could see the waste of time it was.

There are more effective ways of focusing political momentum and it CAN be done in a protest. Hopefully, this year's attempts will focus on messages that actually resonate and alienate those who undermine the legitimacy of authoritarian structures.
Posted by Xrock on May 1, 2013 at 3:40 PM · Report this
18
@14: i hear you. but smashing windows, attacking police, will not solve the issues you are speaking of. it solves nothing. like i said, you want to change the system, get a law degree, and the change the process from within.
Posted by rayray on May 1, 2013 at 4:16 PM · Report this
mtnlion 19
@18, I think you're missing the point of anarchy. For the record, I also do not believe attacking cops or breaking windows is a good way to change anything.

However, there is no reward in "changing the system" by mostly conforming. The notion that the system can be changed enough from within to make a real difference is a farce. Our government is not part of the solution that many Americans like to see it as. We cannot wait for legislators to place proper restrictions on corporations; it won't happen. A lawyer has nothing on a few multi-billionaires who own our country in terms of employment and resources. Government seeks to placate these people. After all, for most politicians (and upper middle class folks, even), the system is working just fine.

The solution? Stop buying from companies you don't want to have money. Buy as much as you can from real farmers, find goods made in the US, and reduce your overall consumption. The only thing that enables these companies to have so much power is that we give them our money voluntarily, as the government forcibly takes our money to bail them out. It's not easy or even possible in all situations, but having more awareness of the practices we directly support by paying for our things part of the key to real change.

In a capitalist system, you really do vote with your dollar. The government is largely useless.
Posted by mtnlion http://radicalish.wordpress.com on May 1, 2013 at 6:19 PM · Report this
lauramae 20
Anarchy: the ultimate exercise in white privilege.
Posted by lauramae on May 1, 2013 at 7:46 PM · Report this
21
The media's fear bent focus on the May Day on 'black clad anarchist' unravels me. When are we going to have a planned and aggressive legal response to the true vandals of property who use power, means and criminal activity? Take a closer look at McDonald's whose carries out direct VANDALISM and destruction of the Amazon Rain forest in the name of cheap meat, the chronic and fatal destruction imposed by the fossil fuel industry on the natural world and the health and lives of its inhabitants; most recently the tar sand's spill in Arkansas which is spreading destruction and more problems than broken windows, on to the Fisher family, owners of the Gap, who own and are destroying the last of the ancient Redwood forest~vandals, thugs,oh and that makes us, the consumer, accountable for property destruction as well. Personally, I mourn for the bees, the polar bears, the narwhals, America's hungry children, melting ice caps and on and on and not bank windows. I find my conversations with Anarchist friends to be built on humane values bound by anger toward a consumer based society where corporations rule, break laws, control our lives at every breath, vision and sight while too many people and creatures suffer or die. Great article.
Posted by debd on May 1, 2013 at 8:12 PM · Report this
22
Well written article. Hard to find nowadays googling online. I just wanted to see why there were protests and found myself engaged.
Posted by GY on May 1, 2013 at 8:29 PM · Report this
inquiastador 23
Exactly what does unfocused, unsustained property damage and messing up worker's commutes do except harden their minds to silly misguided twits? They need to get smart about what it is they want to accomplish, which is to get people to change their minds and see their side. Mayhem will not accomplish that here. Why? For all it's failures, we have a pretty good thing going in this country. Just the fact that this sort of thing can happen without mass arrests and flatout killing of misguided dips is proof enough. Occupy is dead or on life support. Anarchists will never be happy until their dreams come true and even then, it would an eye-opener for them. Be careful what you wish for.
Posted by inquiastador on May 1, 2013 at 8:39 PM · Report this
lauramae 24
Hey 21, what does smashing the window of a small bar fucking have to do with the gap or your hand wringing "what abouts?"

How will smashing shit up convince anyone to be on your side?

My own causes and political view points agree that the destruction wreaked by capitalism is tragic, and wretched, but this shit makes me want to say to all May Day idiots: You made your bed. Deal with the consequences. Rot for all I care.
Posted by lauramae on May 1, 2013 at 9:14 PM · Report this
25
The "anarchists" I did meet downtown were really just drunk 18 to 23 year olds trying to find out who was in charge, and when the riot was gonna start. Few had signs, and were just loitering around. Yelling fuck the cops doesn't mean much other as a sign of ones lack of purpose for being at the demonstration. It was sad. Doomed to fail from the start. I think vendors made a killing from the thousands of onlookers in the streets, I phones at the ready. Tax dollars got spent paying cops overtime, to do a job they really enjoy anyway. IE macing hippies. Organization missing from the makeshift street party. They accomplished a block party downtown without having to pay to shut down the streets. WOOHOO....Something needs to change.
Posted by TrevorMcbooberson on May 1, 2013 at 9:47 PM · Report this
26
Wow. That was embarrassing. I mean everything after 6pm. Everything before that time was awesome.
Posted by ooppoddoo on May 1, 2013 at 9:59 PM · Report this
RobCrowe9 27
Tracking the movements of left-wing activists is practically why we have an FBI. Hoover began as a special assistant to Attorney General Palmer, for whom the Palmer Raids were named for, and which managed to deport Emma Golfman and Alexander Berkman. Now, the methods of the FBI are not nearly as awful as the KGB or the Stasi (or the Gestapo), but they were intended to disrupt anti-gov't activists. There was a pause after Cointelpro, a time (the 80s) which saw it disrupt the Mafia, but 9/11 changed that. Except since the recession it has been Occupy. Before it was Muslims, whether active or not. (And Quaker anti-war activists.) I can't help but think it might be more constructive to draw up a bill of charges, rather than focus on the what seems to be piddling violence directed at Occuoy, and believing it is unfair. It is what is the case in the US.
Posted by RobCrowe9 http://awidemargin.blogspot.com/ on May 1, 2013 at 10:04 PM · Report this
28
"the destruction wreaked by capitalism" is nothing more than the destruction wreaked by bloated government that steals liberty in the name of security, spends more money than the next 10 generations of middle class workers can ever hope to pay back, and blames all of our nation's problems on the evil capitalist and greedy corporations without which our nation would have long ago drowned in the fiscal tidal wave wrought by our politic. I pray for the day that peaceful anarchy is openly embraced by everyone.
Posted by shamanic on May 1, 2013 at 10:07 PM · Report this
29
I have yet to see any evidence that Anarchism is anything but perversely ideological, having more in common with libertarianism and the far right as opposed to liberalism or socialism. Token examples of people "feeling" that violent crime increased, in Madagascar, are meaningless hearsay about an entirely quantifiable social indicator. As if power structures do not arise in the absence of government; we all know nature abhors a vacuum. In any case, if I am incorrect and Anarchism isn't a bunch of self-righteous, messianic bullshit, will a reasonable person with a shred of pragmatism please educate me? And please spare me vague abstractions about "the system."
Posted by elpablogrande on May 1, 2013 at 11:19 PM · Report this
30
Something most everybody seems to have missed is that "Blac Bloc," while it may have been infiltrated by a college prof, has most often been infiltrated by cops:
http://www.infowars.com/a-familiar-patte…

Here in France, I have personally seen organized provocateurs leaving the scene of a march in a small town where "some protesters became violent." Once you admit the idea that the media, the corporate power, and the police are linked, it's a no-brainer.
Posted by Snake Arbusto on May 2, 2013 at 12:25 AM · Report this
31
Something most everybody seems to have missed is that "Blac Bloc," while it may have been infiltrated by a college prof, has most often been infiltrated by cops:
http://www.infowars.com/a-familiar-patte…

Here in France, I have personally seen organized provocateurs leaving the scene of a march in a small town where "some protesters became violent." Once you admit the idea that the media, the corporate power, and the police are linked, it's a no-brainer.
Posted by Snake Arbusto on May 2, 2013 at 12:29 AM · Report this
32
Sorry for the repetition. Your registration and log-in process is a little too top-down in its organization...
Posted by Snake Arbusto on May 2, 2013 at 12:31 AM · Report this
33
@ 29. The bibliography is no secret. Read a few books.
Posted by Brendan Kiley on May 2, 2013 at 3:21 AM · Report this
34
Wait, is an anarchist movement successful when they drive public opinion away from tolerance and a free, liberal society? I would have thought that would be the opposite of their goals.

Or maybe they're just a bunch of fucking asshats.
Posted by Joel_are on May 2, 2013 at 8:11 AM · Report this
35
Hi elpablogrande,

I am looking forward to responding to your comment above but first I want to make sure that my response will meet your requirements (as close as possible anyway :)). With that in mind, please respond to the following at your earliest convenience:
1. How do you define a reasonable person?
2. How much pragmatism is required for a "shred of pragmatism"? By "shred" do you mean "bare minimum" or were you just being sarcastic to strengthen/emphasize your position?
3. Can you share your evidence of Anachronism as being "perversely ideological", or in lieu of that can you define "perversely ideological"?
4. Can you clarify what you mean by "a bunch of self-righteous, messianic bullshit"? (at first I thought you may have been joking but now I'm having second thoughts)
5. And finally, please provide an example of what you consider to be "vague abstractions about the system", I would like avoid doing this where possible but I need a better idea of exactly what you had in mind when you wrote this.

Kind regards,

Sham
Posted by shamanic on May 2, 2013 at 8:17 AM · Report this
36
@29

^^ unlike the majority of the finely distilled nonsense that passes for informed perspective in the hyper media hive- political awareness is hard won.

some people learn from being on the wrong side of the police line (weather they intended to participate in acts of defiance or not), some people dig into the history of political power, and some are comfortable enough not to care much, and therefore inherit the cynicism of a society fit to sacrifice social well being for a 'free market'.

Anarchy is the basic underpinning of all social organization. it is something we dont recognize because we look at it every day. it is essentially the premise that people cant get along without people; and to further the obvious- that the more responsibility individuals can take for their immediate social organization, the greater the potential for their satisfaction.

just think about the idea of representative government, we have obviously passed a point of it being the most relevant or effective way of organizing the concerns of a participatory population.

so let anarchy at least pose the question, are we seeking more participation- according to our newly developed means- or less participation in the name of a bureaucratic nanny state?
Posted by hew on May 2, 2013 at 8:19 AM · Report this
37
yawwwwn..

I am just pissed because I have to watch Survivor On Demand instead of when I wanted to watch it last night, because of the worthless garbage that were attacking our streets and breaking windows. That said, I did get towatch the Mariners game from a cozy chair in my million dollar home on queen anne while you idiots made it harder for anyone to give a shit about you or your plight.

I mean, really, who gives a shit what you think?? you live like animals, you have no jobs, you dress for shit,(a black hood with a brown jacket?? Really??) and did I say, who gives a shit about what you think?? I mean, i'm 50 years old and there is not one of you idiots that would stand a chance against my pampered ass if it were a one on one duel..

so move along, maybe to mexico or someplace that is used to garbage on the street and make a home/box under a bridge for yourself there.

And next time you want to protest, could you please oh please check the tv listings so i'm not inconvenienced by your shenanigans?? On Demand just sucks.
Posted by esp on May 2, 2013 at 9:51 AM · Report this
38
Next time I wouldn't mind seeing the cops use live ammo :)
Posted by sloopjohnd on May 2, 2013 at 9:55 AM · Report this
Coggie 39
Right on.
Posted by Coggie http://milkineggs.blogspot.com/ on May 2, 2013 at 10:34 AM · Report this
Coggie 40
Isn't anarchist and movement oxymorons? Just wonderin'.
Posted by Coggie http://milkineggs.blogspot.com/ on May 2, 2013 at 10:37 AM · Report this
41
@ the unregistered pampered ass.

your sentiments arent unique, and your faith in your ability to kill is quite repulsive.

now consider what having a ruling class made up of the likes of privileged, white, old and out of touch men means for the young and hungry...

i cant wait till obama rewrites the immigration legislation.

@ Coggie- i think anarchism is more akin to momentum, than a movement. it is the hard work of developing meaningful, and productive relationships. those words might be ambiguous, but if it is a potlach or a small productive cooperative, so long as sympathetic values are at the front- you have the means to bridge the many gaps of reason with an awareness of developing community integrity, and local cohesion.

are you familiar with the term 'atomization'- as in the most sophisticated leap towards total social alienation ever imagined? isnt it funny that we have never been able to communicate more easily, yet we feel more alone than ever?

maybe these are just kinks in a social evolution, but i maintain that unless people get the hint that anything government can do, we can do better- we are looking at a potentially dark transition into a total information awareness- and we will be left on the other side of the two way mirror.

active participation is the only way to assure the greatest social sentiments are being taken into consideration- which is why i can not condemn the extreme behavior of SOME of the progressively minded. it is a symptom of desperation, after all- the left has tried just about everything over the past 50 years... including 'working from the inside'.

Posted by hew on May 2, 2013 at 11:14 AM · Report this
42
hew-

you are forgetting.. nobody cares what you or these infantile sponges say about anything.

you are not listening.. NOBODY CARES..

They are a blight on the way of life that those of us who have worked our whole lives to achieve.

They are grease spots in the larger scheme of things and will be crushed like the bugs that they are.

so what that they get a little press and break a few windows..nobody that has any life really cares as we would rather these cretins just said thank you when they get their welfare checks or bowl of ketchup soup at the shelter and move on down the road to portland.

so how about this.. how about FUCK YOU AND FUCK ALL OF THE WORMS THAT FORCE ME TO PAY MORE TAXES TO REPAIR THE DAMAGE THEY CAUSE. How about that..

Posted by esp on May 2, 2013 at 11:59 AM · Report this
mtnlion 43
I think the historical (and contemporary) effectiveness of nearly every type of government is proof enough that anarchism is an idea worth considering.
Posted by mtnlion http://radicalish.wordpress.com on May 2, 2013 at 12:02 PM · Report this
44
Anarchism is fucking retarded. Get a fucking job.
Posted by OkieDem on May 2, 2013 at 12:17 PM · Report this
45
Or.... we the people can support the police to use deadly force the next time this happens. Let's be pragmatic here....
Their lives are worthless anyways. They're not going to contribute. They're going to overload our entitlement system. They destroy everything they touch
Posted by democratunited on May 2, 2013 at 12:39 PM · Report this
46
Think about the state of so called 'financial instruments' such as hedge funds.

can you explain how they work? or is a small group of well informed and orderly persons creating the rules by which the entire capitalist game is played?

if you have any integrity, you will probably cop to the latter- in which case it might be prudent to realize the 'chaotic' reality of the situation. if anarchy can be equated with an orderly chaos of agreed parties cooperating, than you might as well take the hint that it, indeed, does rule capitalism with its unknowable instruments.

therefore the aspects of anarchism you are refuting (so eloquently) is in fact knowledge. taking the opinion of someone who has labeled themselves a Luddite (in opposition to established knowledge) is harder and harder.

get a fucking book.
Posted by hew on May 2, 2013 at 1:21 PM · Report this
47
also, one of the major reasons i have not felt comfortable trying to 'fit in', or 'contribute' to society is for the very reason that most employers or employees develop a sense of 'justice' that would allow them to call forth a violent police state, so long as their menial interests are protected.

this proves the point that ignoramises will see to the repeating of an atrocious history, because they seek to remain ignorant of some basic humanity.

i dont kow tow to rand, but atlas shrugged seems to have hit pretty close to home. i believe the US is at a point where some of the most creative, and gifted people it produces find participating unconscionable.

furthermore- can you come up with ONE reason that all the municipal codes that have paid homage to some of the most destructive sprawl in human history should remain as a legitimate bastion of development, considering the scope of the issues facing society? (namely hunger, shelter, and social life)

are economics so holy that we can deny millions of people their basic needs?

just because you are so short changed in the 'creativity and problem solving' department, likely due to the mass indoctrination that parades as education, doesnt mean the rest of us have given up. not to mention your job will most likely be made obsolete by someone who took the time to give a shit about people.

Posted by hew on May 2, 2013 at 1:56 PM · Report this
48
actually my job is not going anywhere as long as there are idiots out there getting maced by the cops , overdosing on smack or just living up to their potential of doing nothing but using up valuable oxygen ..
Posted by esp on May 2, 2013 at 2:20 PM · Report this
49
Bunch of 20-somethings freeloading off of mom and dad and their government grants...
Posted by Arthur Zifferelli on May 2, 2013 at 3:18 PM · Report this
50
How many new votes did the anarchists gain and how many voters did they piss off? Maybe 10,000 people pissed off for every vote gained? Hell of a way to win a revolution.

The big difference between the the good old anarchist days and this century is that everyone of you wannabe anarchists are on file and now can legally be made to disappear.
Posted by billwald on May 3, 2013 at 7:05 AM · Report this
51 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
52
mindless damage does not win the hearts and minds (well-thought out damage usually does'nt either). Boycotting does, if large enough. Really!! You are striking at the very soul of capitalism, PROFIT!! I would suggest voting, but in America the centre has been moved so far to the right I truly do not know if there are any real politicians of the left-wing persuasion on the national scene anymore (were there any ever?)
Posted by diz on May 3, 2013 at 8:36 AM · Report this
53
Anarchists talk too much.
Posted by Unbrainwashed on May 3, 2013 at 11:22 AM · Report this
54
Way too much, in fact.
Posted by Unbrainwashed on May 3, 2013 at 11:29 AM · Report this
55
Anarchists FART too much.
Posted by Arthur Zifferelli on May 3, 2013 at 1:30 PM · Report this
56
Violence works:just look at the Fondling Fuckers!!! (And the correct name is "International Workers' Day",Mr. Kiley:"May Day" is already taken (and to grammatically vague anyways). The point it to get attention:did not Mao say that EVERYTHING is propaganda?The Society of the Spectacle,y'all,the Society of the Spectacle . . . ----- http://www.infoshop.org , http://www.ainfos.org ,and ----- http://www.flag.blackened.net
Posted by 5th Columnist on May 9, 2013 at 7:23 PM · Report this

Add a comment