Appetite for Destruction

For five years, Seattle's antigovernment protesters have been breaking shit, injuring people, and getting injured themselves. They can't explain what they want or where they're going with all this—and fuck you for asking.

Comments

1
They are fighting because when you are young, fighting is fun, and being young and white, most of them don't have much to lose, or much they will lose.

Really hilarious though that the cops took all the wind out of their sails with the ingenious and unforeseen strategy of pointing and saying, "nope, you are going this way."
2
@1 they've always herded the black bloc or any other protest. In years past they always just pointed them away from downtown and into Capitol Hill which was fucking dumb as shit. Strange enough, they've been challenged on constitutional ground from ketteling and herding but I guess they don't give a shit anymore.
3
the gal in the photo is fighting for her right to look radical chic. and she does.
4
@3 I'm looking forward to seeing THAT hot new look in the window display at Nordstrom's later this year! Flirty radicalism! With an eye to great style!
5
Great & well written article Eli, but I still don't get it. How do they think buses will be driven and light rail tunnels be dug? How do they think public housing will be built, or low income healthcare be administered?
7
@3 & 4- Yes! She looks great! Legendary photo. Her poor mother is going to recognize her. She'll probably be proud, barf. They look like children having a tantrum.
8
@5

There is, as you might imagine, some variety in the answers academic anarchists would give you to those questions. Here are a few I've encountered, in brief:

>How do they think buses will be driven and light rail tunnels be dug?

One interesting answer to that is "there won't be any helicopters," that is, at a certain point the intensive allocation of resources to single projects is (according to this particular theory) inherently hierarchical, thus society will be adapted to do without such projects.

The more common answer is that everyone will just naturally want to pitch in, digging wherever they feel the tunnels ought to be, and eventually a full transit system will emerge.

> How do they think public housing will be built

All housing will be public, of course. People will naturally gather materials and build new buildings when they feel they need them, which will then be assigned residents or uses via consensus processes. Details to be worked out by committee, continuously.

> or low income healthcare be administered?

Again, all health care will be low-income. Anyone who wants to will be able to study or practice medicine. Procedures requiring complex equipment or high levels of skill and training will be apportioned via consensus processes. Details to be worked out by committee, continuously.
9
I'm curious if any of the arrestees were from our local area, or were they weekending in Seattle for purposes of property destruction?
11
@6

You may not have noticed this, being a sensible old person and all, but the "heavy metal clubs" closed years ago, along with the punk clubs, the indie clubs, or any other clubs for angry or disaffected music.

Look at The Stranger's "Line Out" blog. Or at the dwindling music posts on SLOG by writers who used to post to Line Out. Or flip through the print edition of the paper and tally up the ads by type of business.

In today's Seattle the primary form of entertainment is not music, and hasn't been for many, many years. The primary form of entertainment is today's Seattle is fine dining.
12
Soooo mostly a bunch of entitled white bros who think smashing things will help their cause but I bet can't be bothered to attend a 'black lives matter' rally or even vote.
13
@12

The black-bloc smashists in Seattle and elsewhere did try to appropriate Black Lives Matter events and rhetoric for a while, but that's gone about as well as you might expect.
14
Having been a rebellious and sometimes violent male in my youth I would say this, May Day will stop really quick is these thugs learn how powerless they really are. Then completely publicly humiliated.

The city could always let the cops take the kid's gloves off and let these punks have it. Then out them and then post their mug shots in the local paper with brief stories about the punk "crying for his mom" or "peed his pants when tear gassed". Title the article "The Pussies of May Day"

I would like to formally say that I am very much against the militarization of police and the continuing expansion of the police state. It gives me great pause.

In sixth grade I beat up a bully. When the neighborhood cop heard about it he told me, "you know, sometimes a knucklehead needs to get his bell rung". I think that there are knuckleheads here in need of a bell ringing.

I 100% guarantee that May Day would be done within 2 years.
15
@elisanders , typo I'm guessing in Jaypal's quote "And that's what he have" we**
16
#5

to answer your question, anarchists already do those things. We wash dishes, cook food, dig tunnels and drive buses. As a lifelong anarchist I have done most of those things. This year, in a rash, wildly optimistic impulse I even participated in the electoral caucus, that's how desperate I've become to find a solution to this political stagnation we've been subjected to for.... almost 40 years now.

Just like you we talk out of both sides of our mouth, are bad at risk assessment, easily bored, resourceful, adaptive, creative and vain. In short I am an american, raised in the same culture everyone else has, forced to deal with the world as it exists. As such I take up the tools readily at hand to advance what I believe in( autonomy, solidarity, mutual aid), and fight what attempts to crush those tendencies (authoritarians, oligarchs, greed heads). I make no pretense at being a purist or a saint, I will cheat to win if I have to, you will not shame me with crys of 'but they all are wearing Nikes' as a black bloc kicks out a shop window.

Thank you Eli for bringing this up. As the right wing used the tea-party, red neck armed militants, Klansmen, Birthers to advance their movement for legalized lobotomy, Left liberals like rep. Jaypal seem remarkably at ease throwing potential constituents like anarchists under the bus. Absolutely no creative, adaptive use of these people who obviously are passionate and concerned about the future they are headed into. My brief foray into lobby efforts and candidate endorsement with my Union pretty much told me the story these black bloc toughs are rather inelegantly telling everyone: elected politicians have turned their back on the Union and working people in general. They are forced by circumstances to raise huge amounts of cash controlled by business and cultural elite to participate in the republic, those people really truly don't give a fuck about us.

Left with these options I really don't know what to tell young people who want to dress up and play with the cops, other than please be careful because we need you to get old and smart as you will be running things some day.
17
Nicely written and researched, Eli. Thanks!
18
@14: the term is "kid gloves" as in, "made out of kidskin" AKA made of out of baby goat skin. This may be letting my WASPy upbringing show too much, but I owned kid gloves when I was a youth, they were for my ballroom dancing class.
19
I think that most of the anarchists are simply posers or lumpenproletariats out looking for a wild street party. Some will be hoping a store is raided and in the chaos and confusion they can grab all the loot they can carry. If indeed the true anarchist is ungovernable then it will be the true law of the jungle. You may have a house or an apartment but if an anarchist wants it he'll take; whoever is stronger will get to keep it.
20
@15: Thanks, fixed.
21
@16

There might be good reason for a politician to refrain from seeking "creative, adaptive" uses of the inclination to don ski masks, take up weapons, and destroy without accountability.

As to the soup kitchens and services, governments in the US already offer plenty of opportunities to channel the inclinations of people who want to help in those ways, or by other non-destructive means. The only problem with them, it seems, is that they are not "creative" or "adaptive" to the point where they are in perfect accord your own unbending ideology.
23
@22 - Historically any time anarchists have tried to organize things at nearly any visible level, they are violently opposed by the State with their well-armed military. It's not like the State is going to just simply "let" anarchists create a viable alternative the current order, and then allow people to pick and choose which they would prefer. No, the State is going to ensure there is no other choice, and use that monopoly of order to "prove" that theirs is the only way.(*)

However, Mondragon in Spain remains anarchist at heart, as do many cooperatives worldwide, housing and otherwise. Enric Duran's projects are essentially anarchist without being called as such. Organizer anarchists seems to have universally recognized that using the label 'anarchist' brings unwanted (often violent) attention, and they tend to organize and get things done under other terms. 'Co-operative' is one, 'Economic Democracy' is another.

--
(*) Recall the 'End of History' "victory" that Reaganomic-capitalism declared over "Communism" when the Wall fell and the Soviet Union "collapsed"... (or rather, was intentionally undermined by Saudi Arabia/OPEC's basement-level oil pricing, removing the USSR's major economic income from oil, bankrupting them; which was done in cahoots with the USA of course.)
25
Good article.

Fuck the white bloc and fuck anarchists. There's no fucking message or point.
26
By the way, after reading the city auditor's report on OT expenses and abuses at the SPD, I'm sure the cops look forward to earning extra cash for all of these meaningless marches.

Good work anarchists. Keep putting more cash in SPD's pockets.
27
This story is ok Eli. For your May Day story next year you should do a little more research on the subject's history. You'll learn that May Day is deeply rooted in Anarchism and the Labour Movement. Since the Anarchists and working people who took part in the first May Day were probably white, should their ideas have been dismissed too? Thankfully they weren't so that we can slog (no pun intended) through our 8 hour work schedule instead of a 10 or 12 hour day.

For the last 4 years, the Stranger (along with every other media outlet in the city) has had people walking around with the Anarchists and Anti-Capitalists during THEIR event. All the while belittling and dismissing their cause and purpose for being there. If you think their cause is of no merit, why don't you just go home? The "news" doesn't go home because they hope there is a riot so they can rush back to their office and write the same crappy story they wrote the year before. Instead, it'd be nice to read a story about the militarized police department (or is that only news worthy when it happens in a different city?) How about the amount of money each of the cops are making in OT? Hell, if there wasn't any action, these cops wouldn't be seeing those double time checks every 2nd week of May. It seems the cops come out to play too, so we shouldn't feel bad for them or their minor injuries.

All I'm saying is that there are much larger stories here than the Anarchists breaking 5 windows, lighting fireworks, marching without a permit, or what their message is. It seems their widely considered lame and pointless march brings a lot of really interesting issues to light. Issues that no one will talk or write about because they can't get over the fact that some windows were broken. It'd be nice to read a story that can see through the fog of sensationalism and explore pertinent ideas that might actually get people thinking. And more importantly, talking.

Maybe next year?


28
Interesting, very Thomas More's Utopia. Unfortunately humans suck, and there would be no sharing equally and no pitching in freely for the common good.
30
#24 Ken Melhman is right on. Anarchists only have a plan for destroying, not for building. Therefore, any group that is the slightest bit more organized than the anarchists will always prevail over them after the revolution, as history showed us many times over.

This is where the second failing of anarchy comes in. In the story, protester Orien Summors "went on to describe an anarchist vision for the world in which, when the strong hurt the weak, the strong will be hurt in equal measure." Well, it doesn't work that way because the whole reason the strong can hurt the weak is...because they are stronger! The only way the weak can beat the strong is if enough of them agree that the behavior of the strong should be punished and what the punishment should be, and if they can manage to agree to form an organization that can systematically accumulate enough power to defeat the strong. Eventually somebody is going to have to precisely document all of these social agreements, and that is how we end up with "laws". But if anarchists can't accept organizing their society that far, their weak willl never be able to beat the strong.

I don't like to be pessimistic but I don't think ungoverned humans gravitate toward harmony and cooperation. The natural world shows us that the default mode of existence for every species on Earth is the "circle of life," which is where the entire food chain is constantly engaged in a 24/7 struggle of preying on each other for food and resources, where animals are constantly and literally eating each other alive. The only reason anarchists have the ability to organize over the Internet with their MacBooks and iPhones is because ancient humans decided enough was enough, that if they were going to distinguish themselves from the animals, they were going to have to develop agreements about behavior (laws), and get organized, which aided in all kinds of things including effectively defending themselves from warlike neighbors, and allowing the kind of industry to flourish that eventually produced laptops and smartphones and Nikes and stylish black hoodies, AND giving the weak some actual tools against the strong.
32
"The question," he replied, "is whether it can get any worse."


Oh my god. The entitlement.

Yes little Anarchist. Things can and DO get much worse.

As someone who has spent a significant amount of time helping people in areas of the world where order and the rule of law has broken down-- it can get so much worse. Maybe get off your ass and go work out in the world and see.

This break it to rebuild it theory is for petulant children who confuse tantrums with meaningful action.
33
#22

some crazy shit happened right after all these high points in Anarchist revolutionary activity of which you speak. Like WWI which pretty much got all the really fun people deported or thrown in jail where they ran into anti war activists and religious pacifists, and then WWII which got a whole bunch of hard corps anarchists killed off as you point out, then the implosion of mass movements after the vietnam war. At each stage of the game anarchism adapted, changed from world thumping revolutionaries to collective based strategies: the plowshares activists, latin american sanctuary movement, small businesses modeled as worker collectives, info shops, food not bombs, critical mass, one straw revolution, You get the idea.

I'm really not that interested in creating a nation building experiment in Anarchism, and anybody who thinks about it after their hormones stop raging will probably try something a little more manageable, like a cooperative day care? But it's fun to dream big, and knock a few straw men down.
34
@16: I believe Zach may have been asking how anarchists propose that such large undertakings (public works projects and an efficient public transportation system, for instance) would be accomplished, if they had their way? I don't doubt that anarchists are capable of operating a shovel or even a bus, but that's a very different endeavor than the planning, a task with which anarchists seem entirely disinterested.

@27: Try reading the article next time, newbie. Eli didn't do any belittling or dismissing of anyone. He asked multiple people what the goals of the movement are, and the theme seemed to be "we all speak for ourselves, and have our own goals."

If you really think the Stranger hasn't been reporting on important issues, especially ones that affect Seattle directly, then you clearly haven't ever read the paper before. Google is your friend.
35
#34

Imna go crazy here and say, all that was done in the Seattle general strike of 1919, and if anarcho-syndicalists had been running things, I'd say we would have mass transit a lot sooner than the pace we have today. The point is, that's not how history went, that's not what anarchist are doing now, so why the fuck are people still asking; "if there were no doctors, if there were no nurses, wouldn't people die a lot?, who would drive the hearses?" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1Ez7m7V…
37
Hey Knat #34, whatever. It sounds like like Google is your ONLY friend. Without it, you might actually have to form a thought of your own. It's refreshing that there are still a few people out there willing to put themselves on the line to fight for the causes that are so vehemently brought to light in the Stranger (racial inequality, sexism, bigotry, economic disparity, and general social injustice). That same Black Bloc might keep you from getting clubbed someday if you ever got out from behind your computer and put yourself between the "law" and something you truly believed in. One thing's for sure, they certainly wouldn't be asking you what your goals are or why you were there. And they certainly wouldn't gauge your beliefs on the brand of the fleece vest you wear.

The Stranger is a unique publication in that it's not beholden to the mainstream news cycle. But, more and more they sound exactly like every other news outlet by delivering the obvious tidbits that get glossed over and systematically ingested by readers without having to give it a solitary individualized thought. Just because you can say FUCK in print or online doesn't make a journalistic endeavor new, or fresh. Eli's story on May Day 2016 is the same story we read in The Stranger a year ago, and the three years before that. It's old. No new information. Same boring questions. Same boring 3000+ words. They can do better than this, especially if their readers are hanging on every word as definitive journalism.
38
All I know is that if I was a billionaire with other billionaires, I'd definitely have a some Blac Block agitators on my keep-unfettered-capitalism-alive think tank's payroll. Gotta be the cheapest advertising campaign ever against everyday people considering radical change in the way we do things as a society.
39
@35: Fair enough, I guess I was calling for speculation. (Unfortunately I can't really watch the video you attached right now, it'll have to wait until after work, where I can listen to audio.)

@37: You certainly disproved my implication that you're unable to support your position by not citing a single assertion you made, or by all those strawmen you attacked, newbie. Well done. I'm absolutely convinced in the validity of your arguments.
40
Bail for treeman was $50,000. What is bail for the arrested protestors. Compared to a relatively harmless mentally ill person?
41
Violent change is for the weak minded. They could just as well go help at children's hospital and slowly build a resume of help that inspires other people to change also.But that is too boring for the short attention span. Why we give snowflakes any press is beyond me.
42
I am shocked by this article and the comments in support of it. This piece is completely ignorant and poorly researched. Eli, you cannot equate insurrectionist anarchism, that thinks we should tear everything down and start anew, with anarchism as a whole! What you've written is bigoted and just plain wrong. Do your research before you write such a scathing article on an entire political ideology- an ideology that in truth means so much more than what you've dwindled it down to in your rant. Some of the world's most respected political thinkers are self-described anarchists- like Noam Chomsky and David Graeber. I'd like to see you attempt to write so negatively about anything they have to say.

You don't have to agree with the tactics of some of the (so-called) anarchists that smash things on May Day, but to paint all anarchists with the same brush is a disservice to the public (who already has no idea what anarchism actually is), an offense to journalism as a whole, and is incredibly offensive and bigoted.
43
I read as far as Maj the anarchist asking whether things could possibly be any worse under anarchy and then I threw up my metaphorical hands. Oh honey, you're really just an inexperienced baby, aren't you? Why don't you travel a little bit and live somewhere without the rule of law - you don't have to go far, why don't you try some choice areas of Mexico- and then come back and take another look at your home town? People who think Seattle - Seattle?? - is the worst of all possible worlds are just showcasing how fucking ignorant they are.
44
@22 - Actually the anarchist-controlled Catalonia that Orwell wrote of was quite well organized and operated. The problem was that the capitalist countries of Europe turned a blind eye at right-wing forces aiding the Falange, while nobody was willing to aid the Communist/Social Democrat coalition which together with the Anarchists were fighting the Falange. Except Stalin, whose price of aid to the Republic was that they stab the Anarchists in the back. A united and well-funded right-wing side, and a much less well-funded left-wing side that was fighting amongst itself. No real surprise things ended the way they did.

@30 - That is a mischaracterization of nature, which is full of examples of cooperation in addition to the more well-publicized ones of competition. (See Kropotkin's _Mutual Aid_ for some examples, and Kropotkin got his start as a natural scientist, so he knew of what he wrote.) When hierarchical human systems can create orders that last millions of years (like decentralized, self-organizing natural systems do), instead of collapsing after a few measly centuries and leaving increasingly big ecological disasters behind, then maybe we can talk about the hierarchical systems possibly being superior. Until then, such a premise is beyond laughable. (And before you respond: No, I don't want to go back to living in caves; I want to go onward to something that's neither civilization nor primitive tribalism. And no, I don't think that's going to be simple, easy, and accomplished just by smashing stuff.)
45
@24 - The "logic" (I use the term loosely) that goes "Ideology X failed to stop the Bolsheviks in Russia, therefore X is a failure." can be used to proclaim every non-Bolshevik ideology that existed in Russia at the time a "failure". Monarchists, conservatives, liberals, and social democrats were all forces in Russia, and all failed to stop the Bolsheviks from seizing power.
47
@35: Oh. It was just really bad music put to random images of "capitalism/the government is evil!" imagery. All I could make out through the entire thing was, "if there were no prisons, then well would the robbers go?" then something about no doctors or nurses. Oh, and of course the "fuck off" peppered through it, ending with "shove it up your ass."

Well, that did nothing more than reinforce my prejudices.
48
..."well where would the robbers go" is actually what I meant. Typo in editing.
49
Frankly, these lawless assholes remind me a lot of some of the more violent Sanders supporters at this last week's county conventions who were threatening violence and shouting down speakers they didn't agree with. I bet there's a lot of overlap between anarchists and Sanders support.
50
The stranger takes glee in openly mocking stupid ass right wingers, so why the hell do you guys keep trying to find some justification/reason to stupid ass left wingers. Anarchists are the lefts version of the tea party ass holes, just younger and less politically powerful (smashing windows doesn't affect elections, voting does). I'm with Ansel, fuck all of this. Including these post moterm articles trying to find any reason in it. Its angry men (mostly white and i bet mostly straight) getting angry and smashing shit.
53
Though it should be apolitical, journalism is the same as a protest movement in the way you describe it in your closer. Exhausted to the point of invigoration, hard work that never finishes. Thanks for doing justice to your trade, Eli.
54
All the rhetoric put forward by the "protesters" is meaningless. It's empty sloganeering put forward as an excuse to engage in meaningless acts of violence. These annual exercises in mayhem are simply out-of-control toddler behavior. Participants think they're righteous and justified, when they're actually infantile and self-absorbed.
55
"I asked Maj why he believes an anarchist reconstruction would produce something better than the present.

'The question,' he replied, 'is whether it can get any worse.' "

My suggestion to Maj is to get on an airplane and take a trip to Aleppo. It most certainly can get worse.
58
As a matter of record, it is factually incorrect to say that 'police responded with pepper spray etc.'. Police sprayed down the crowd within minutes of the start of the march, before anyone had thrown anything or hit anyone or any of the other provocations you list happening. Shortly after that, they hosed down the closest people to them, standing 10 feet away from a line they were shouting to keep five feet away from. And later on, after they claimed to have issued a dispersal order (which they make no effort to actually communicate), they refused to let anyone in the area leave, insisting that they had to stay inside the police-line box or be arrested.

As usual, many protesters broke the law at various points, some were violent, and the eventual outcome seems drearily predictable, as you say--but none of that excuses misconduct on the part of the police, or their deliberate tactics to create catch-22 justifications for dispensing extra-judicial punishment on the spot (pepper spray, tear gas, blast balls, etc are being used to punish people for their presence more than to coerce compliance).

Shame on you, Eli, for not calling them out for it, and providing cover for police misbehavior through buying in to the bogus story that authorities only resorted to force in response to violence. You can reasonably be tired of the 'who did what first' game, but that's still a fundamental part of reporting. You cannot misrepresent the facts and then act as though people who still pay attention to the timeline of events are perpetuating the problem.
59
Last year I was assaulted by buy these assholes. It was my birthday and I was walking home and 2 supposed anarchists hit me over the head with something blunt and robbed me of my phone. I was left on the street bleeding and unconscious until a stranger called nine-one-one. I received a traumatic brain injury that I am still dealing with to this day. Thanks hypocrite assholes for nearly ruining my life.
60
@44:

Cooperation among humans and other social animals is beneficial to survival. HOWEVER, that does not imply decentralization(leaderlessness) nor that all members of a group of organisms are treated equally among each other! Civilization has been around for 8,000 years and colonial insects like bees, ants, and termites have practiced it for millions of years so there goes your theory that decentralization is natural. And of course classical liberals and libertarian imbeciles like scream "people are not ants!"....That's because we are sentient and do not cooperate all the time with each other(we have the capacity for cooperation and competition within our own groups).

Anarchy was tried in Somalia from '91 to '06. And it is still in place in Waziristan and most of the Central African Republic and more than 50% of Somalia. And life in an anarchy is nothing like these idiot academic anarchists and 19th century ideologists predicted.....it is NASTY, BRUTISH, and SHORT. If that's what you want you can move there.