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Breakaway march F15 pictures
by Synoeve
Sunday Feb 16th, 2003 9:24 PM
13 photos from the breakaway march on February 16th.
The breakaway march lasted over 3 hours. There were several points with pretty significant escalation.

1. A group of 1000 marchers went near Union square where hundreds of police blocked streets which would have allowed them to get to the square. At one point, a number tried to run between police horses to get through and were pushed back. Some objects4Re thrown in the air.
§smoke by union square
by Synoeve Sunday Feb 16th, 2003 9:24 PM

by Synoeve Sunday Feb 16th, 2003 9:24 PM
3. Someone burned their flag on market street
§Powell mall
by Synoeve Sunday Feb 16th, 2003 9:25 PM
4. People stood by the mall at Powell for a long time. Near this time, police were not on the south side of the street and a few people wrote graffiti on boards, advertisements, and buses. Someone broke the Abercromei Fitch window.
§5. bus
by Synoeve Sunday Feb 16th, 2003 9:25 PM
§6. Police line
by Synoeve Sunday Feb 16th, 2003 9:25 PM
by Synoeve Sunday Feb 16th, 2003 9:25 PM
7-8. After looping around, and watching 5 people stand on a trolley, folks went down Market street, and we found ourselves in a situation where there were police lines not allowing anyone to pass on both sides. This seemed like the classic SF mass arrest situation, but there were a large number of local residents, grannies for peace, people in wheelchairs, tourists, etc. who got trapped in too. A commander type made an announcement at one end that people who didn't want to be arrested should leave to the east, however, on the east line, police weren't letting people through except for a few gaps at one side that you had to dash through. After a minute or two with some shoving, people got into the intersection by BART.
by Synoeve Sunday Feb 16th, 2003 9:25 PM
§horse police
by Synoeve Sunday Feb 16th, 2003 9:25 PM
9. People suddenly acted very enraged at this point, incited by the blockade situation a moment earlier. When a group of police horses came in, some people were throwing objects at the police and walking right up to them with no fear of being hurt. The horses started running around.
by Synoeve Sunday Feb 16th, 2003 9:25 PM
10-12. People were running around, wondering if another mass arrest situation was likely, but lots of people came from the regular march, and others left on BART. As the police on horses and on foot started trying to clear the intersection, many people didn't seem to fear being hurt, and surrounded the horses. Police arrested about 3 people on the south side of the street where the view was blocked. One or two were violently beat by groups of police with batons. Others grouped up onto the sidewalk and surrounding parking lots taking pictures and watching. Then a several hour situation of stasis occurred where people weren't moving anywhere and police guarded the traffic on market street. As a captain showed up, a big group surrounded his car.
by Synoeve Sunday Feb 16th, 2003 9:25 PM
by Synoeve Sunday Feb 16th, 2003 9:25 PM
by Synoeve Sunday Feb 16th, 2003 9:25 PM

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by John Ahearne
Monday Feb 17th, 2003 10:19 AM
I am very much against this war like most everyone else, but I will not tolerate someone burning our flag. It represents not only our government, which I am mad as hell at right now, but us as well - the people of the US as a Nation.

I don't support this war, but I do support this country and would not live anywhere else (done my share of traveling); there is a lot that is wrong with this country, but the benefits out weight the disasters - barely at times, unfortunately. The opportunities here are endless only I wish others would live more responsibly and more of us would vote.

Flag burners, if you don't like here you are more than welcome to leave!
by Mike
Monday Feb 17th, 2003 2:40 PM
People approached the police "without much fear," spooking their horses, and surrounded a captain in his car when he arrived. Yet you want people to believe it was the police who were acting aggressively?

Why not break out the Molotov cocktails like German Foreign Minister Fischer did in his militant past?
by chuck e
Monday Feb 17th, 2003 3:13 PM
as a former boyscout...and i think that this is generally known....a flag must be burned if it is soiled or falls to the ground....

and well call me crazy but i think that bush, rumsfield, poindexter, powell, rice, ashkkkroft, and crew have been pissing on the us flag and using the constitution as toilet paper as of late

so the black block felt that it was our patriotic duty to make the shame of that pissed on flag disappear...they were good patriots

as far as the molotovs....god don't give anyone any more ideas... the smoke bombs are bad enough... its like we are teargassing ourselves

no folks molotovs come after the torches at least...
by Lenny Matthews
(needja2001 [at] Monday Feb 17th, 2003 3:50 PM
it makes me so very sad to see individuals "acting out" in negative ways. That is not what I was marching for yesterday. I was marching for PEACE.
Our Government is doing enough "acting out" for all of us!!!
And to you for the Police Officers, they were doing their job in the protection personal property. And flash to you ALL, they would protect individual life too, many times by giving their own!!
And no I'm not a Cop, I'm a nurse.
But a challenge to anyone who reads this...step into their shoes. What would you do with all those "angry" people surrounding you and your horse!!!!!
The behavior of the individuals involved is not OK . It is not a representation of what WE marched for yesterday.
by cp
Monday Feb 17th, 2003 4:24 PM
working at a hospital, I saw two little boys who had been kicked in the head by horses, who had dented in skulls, and were in a nearly vegetative state, not able to talk or eat by themselves. It's very very sad when something like that happens, and can be avoided. I think it's a rule on farms that you should never walk behind a horse because they can unpredictably kick, so I would always stay in front of the horses, even if they are quickly turning around. They choose those horses for their calm behavior, but horses are supposed to naturally behave like prey animals that have to be skittish of mountain lions and loud noises and other dangers.
by your mother
Monday Feb 17th, 2003 4:29 PM
Actually, John Ahearne, why don't you leave. Apparently you are the one who doesn't like it here. So take your stripy flag, shove it up your ass, and get on the next plane to Iowa.

We'll see how your USA fares without California.
by Navy veteran, teacher and former boy scout
Monday Feb 17th, 2003 5:04 PM
According to the flag code (which is not a law, but a set of guidelines for flag etiquette) if the US flag gets dirty or falls on the ground, it should be cleaned appropriately. The only times a flag should be burned are when it becomes soiled beyond cleaning or tattered beyond repair. Then the burning should be done in a quiet and respectful manner, quickly and with no ceremony.

Of course, burning a flag in protest has been deemed by the Supreme Court as first amendment speech, so the protesters are covered on that front.
by chuckE
Monday Feb 17th, 2003 6:16 PM
I have been thinking a lot about tactics lately and how things have been turning out in breakaway actions in SF, but also beyond that in arguments used by good liberals and apologists. I find a lot of good information and critiques are offered on the infoshop website about war, but there is also good stuff posted to indymedia in general and other good indy sites like the UK and local Guardians.

Anyway, if you feel like what we are currently living in is peace, or even if you thought the US was peaceful before 9-11(much less the world). Well, than you would have problems understanding where we as blockers come from in our analysis of war and peace. Most of us focus quite a bit on the ongoing class war and its implications for workers both locally and abroad. Though this may seem simplistic, it seems to actually be quite revealing about the deeper motives of people like Bush(whose grandpa profited off of the holocaust ), Rice(Chevron tanker named after her), et al.

I will leave it at this for know to try and start discussion..
Since most things have already been said or written by other folks that I am trying to direct other folks to for more depth(if you want).

Solidarity Forever - chuckE
by Berkeley Protestor
Monday Feb 17th, 2003 7:03 PM
So... I was at the breakaway march. I have no problem with DA and with confronting police. I don't go out to protests in black garbm but I am in general sympathetic to the black bloc.

HOWEVER, this was a peace march. I was there to show support of the unpermitted NYC march - not to smash shit.

Problem is, the DA was unfocused. If people had locked down in Market street with an anti-war focus, awesome! Throwing rocks at windows - not awesome. It just looks like an out-of-control, STUPID group of people.

I saw why the police attacked. They were provoked by people trying to break their line, and by some people running into the mall at Powell and Market.

It may be wrong that police beat people for doing that, BUT, t's a totally predicatable response. Given that,
TACTICALLY, it's stupid to set the media up with footage of a "riot at a peace march". The few people who decided to take these actions put many at risk, and also hijacked a peace march in order to express their ideology.

But it's not about anarchist theory. It's about STOPPING THIS FUCKING WAR. So, everyone involved in this, from the Spartacus League to the people trying to make Medical Marijuana legal to the Black Bloc, really should focus.

Yes it's all connected BUT, no-one is going to be making that connection for the millions of people watching "riots" on TV. WE NEED THOSE PEOPLE ON OUR SIDE TO STOP THIS WAR NOW. Alienating people is NOT the answer.

Keep it simple. Keep it focused. Thanks.

By the way, climbing on the trolley and talking to the tourists - that was awesome. I saw smiles on the people's faces in that trolley. Good job.
by Berkeley Protestor
Monday Feb 17th, 2003 7:12 PM
I also want to say that most of the black bloc people there seemed to be on the same page as me. A lot of people tried to keep the march going after it got "stalled" at the mall.

So I guess my message first, to the few people who made a decision that was obviously going to provoke a police response.

Second, it is to all the people who packed themselves up against the mall at prevented the march from continuing. Why? Confusion, or solidarity with a couple of people who made a bad choice? I don't really get showing solidarity to people who totally fucked up the march by going off on their own personal agenda. Anyway, I'd be curious to hear from someone in that crowd. I peeled away to try to get the march going again.
by nate
Monday Feb 17th, 2003 8:12 PM

It's true that private property was being targeted. But lets think about this: If we were targeting personal homes and mom/pop shops then an angry reaction would be necessary. That is private as well as personal property, the outcome can actually devestate the owners.

But when you attack a mass corporate entity like mcdonalds and old navy, which both were vandalized, the reference is no longer on a personal level.

How do you feel about little children making your clothing. Old Navy is well known for its support of sweatshop clothing manufacturers. And do I even need to say anything about mcdonalds. They've only destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres of rainforest in central america, rendering the land uninhabitable for many years.

These are known facts, you cannot argue them. Yes some of you may protest their products but 95% of the population doesn't. They don't listen to reason, they would rather not hear about, just to avoid feeling guilty over unthoughtful support.

So i don't understand how a person can protect or verbally support an entity that knowingly eploits people throughout the planet. as well as keeps the people of the united states near the bottom of the hierarchy.

and I'm not really going to go too deep into the whole peaceful protest thing, in my opinion they do not work. Pacifism in most cases is a joke. I wouldn't say what we do is violent, we never aim to hurt people. That 's the point of our protest, we're tired of people being exploited and pillaged all over the world by our gov't's imperial ways, and corporations, which the two,in my opinion, have a very fine line inbetween.
So don't tell me we should peacefully protest the "bad" corporations by holding signs, because we'd have to hold signs in front of every single big business building in entire county. Which is ridiculous.

and about the us protests agains war, Bush almost surely will go to war. What are you going to do about it, clearly the peaceful protest of millions didn't work, so what now. Your going to hold your signs and sing when they're killing civilians in Iraq.

When people are dying and suffering one must take ACTION against it, not worry about how comfortable we are.

As far as police officers go, I don't have anything against them as human beings, if they weren't police officers. I'm sure most of us there didn't want to hurt them, if they did it was surely from repression of past experiences. and none of them were actually hurt. I understand they're doing there job. But that's the problem, their job. It is fundamentally useless. Who actually need's protection, and from whom. What from serial killers, rampaging murderers. As rare as these are, they are still more/less a product of our society. Without the upper class owning EVERYTHING there would be a considerably smaller lower class. So, less ghettos, less drug infested communities and less homeless people. Of course there are a million arguments about these mentioned generalizations. Such as no help for the repressed black communities. They've only been shit on every single day even after they were "freed".
Do you really think there would be ghetto violence if they had any "real" help at all by the gov't or whites.

DO you really think we need protection from ourselves. Do you actually believe we would all go around killing each other if police weren't here to stop it. IF you do, then you believe people are inherently evil. Which is a fallacy.

The police officers are a complete public nuisance, rather than a protection or help. Brutalizing kids for not reason, I know they do because I've see it happen on numerous occasions. Being completely racist, I've seen this too.

They have WWWAAAAYYYY too much power, they literally can do anything they like. Their word is far more important than any civilians. I've been proded, kicked, hit, and hauled off to jail by police for absolutely no reason at all. If you don't believe me, it simply means your never in the areas in which the police are hostile. They obviously don't act this way in the posh financial districts and shopping centers, though I've been surprised. Go to the poorer areas, or minority communities they're ruthless.

so anyways, that's about the best i can put it without writing a book.

by K-dog
Monday Feb 17th, 2003 8:29 PM
I appreciate Nate's words. Frederick Douglass wisely said, "Those who profess to favor freedom, yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground...Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will." All types of protest tactics are necessarily utilized to make any progress when fighting against the establishment. Those who criticize the more "radical"or unconventional tactics should remember this before condemning these protest strategies.
by nate
Monday Feb 17th, 2003 8:55 PM

I understand that people will think we're terrorists, or just silly ignorant rampaging kids that are on drugs. But you know, the mass-media has ALWAYS been slanted, they've always been more of an entertaining medium than a reliable reporting one. I believe we'll always look bad in their eyes if we do anything out of the norm. Reading the chronicles article made me ill. It's not until your really involved in the reported events that you actualize realize how terribly twisted their reporting is.

and I really don't believe a peaceful protest is the answer to any of these mass scale problems, at least not in the way people have been presenting them.

If you look at the history of hierachal systems in all of recorded history you'll see that any revolution or transformation has been through transgression, not peaceful protesting, it's totally a modern thing to peacefully protest and believe people with power will simply hand it over.

And where has it worked. Your first answer would be Gandhi, well yes it did work but there were other factors involved. For example, at the same time Gandhi was peacefully protesting england had to deal with the two world wars, at the time they retreated from india their national treasury was entirely depleted, so therefore they could not maintain their colonies.
so as you see there were other factors involved not just non-violent protesting.

there are a few failed attempts of peaceful protesting that I can think of, one being the jews in nazi-germany. They protested throughout the genocide, but they still peacefully obeyed the nazi's orders. Convincing themselves they'd be ok. There was one concentration camp in which the jews revolted, and they killed a few hundred guards, of course many more jews died, but they would have anyways.

On the surface some would say the civil rights movement was a victory, but the black communities more/less remained the same. Still to this day.
Many of them were completely non-violent, still they were a prime target for cointelpro. They were harrassed, attacked, and deceived by the FBI's program. For example cointelpro created an fake black newspaper called the "blackboard" and distributed it within the black communities, the contents discredited and lied about all of the leading civil rights protesters, including martin luther king and his org.
all of the things they did were simply because it disturbed the flow of the norm, it was better for the rich white man to keep the blacks opressed and quiet in their ramshackle impoverished towns/communities.

Similar opression exists today, domestically and foreign.

I'm just tired of people suffering,

by fre
Monday Feb 17th, 2003 9:20 PM
I was a part of the bloc yesterday and I would like to say that in all I think it went well. However, somethings that should change. First in my view the tagging of buses is not necessary, for the buses are not there for the well off people, they are generally used by the poor and are one of the few good things that San Francisco has. Also tagging the sidewalks and other random city property is kinda dumb, instead use the paint to cover the ads of huge corporations and their windows. The destruction of corporate entities such as McDonalds and high class clothing stores is encouraged ...I guess I think that certain people need to pick their targets well, which most did.
by Protestor form Berkeley
Monday Feb 17th, 2003 10:45 PM
Nate etc.

I agree with a lot of your points. However throwing a bottle at a Old Navy window does nothing to stop them, whatsoever. Instead (in the context of yesterday) the only effect is to marginalize the peace movement and distract from the very effective message.

By doing this stuff under the "cover" of a much larger march with many people who are not ready to participate in this kind of action you are opening yourself to charges of opportunism.

Would you do the same things if there wasn't an anonymous crowd to run into? If not, why not? Keeping in mind that everyone in the crowd may not be as willing to get arrested or take a beating as you, how can you justify putting others in harms way so that you can get away with the activity that you are choosing?

Finally, I'm sorry, those of you who believe that mass peaceful protests do not make a difference should really rethink that stance. Does the Bush administration care about millions protesting around the world? Probably not.

But think about what message this sends to, say, Diane Feinstein (or any other democrat). Not that democrats act in the people's interests out of goodness of heart. But, when their core constiuencies come out and make a stand in such numbers, they cannot ignore it for simple political reasons.

These protests also embolden other governments - that of Schroder and Chirac for instance - to continue in their opposition to war. It is now clear to the Europeans that a substantial portion of the population here feels that same way about war as they do. That really helps them bolster their position, and they've come right out and said it in the UN security council.

Think about England. Blair just had a million Britons march across his front door. In other words, if he joins with the US, his MPs will probably vote no confidence and his government will fall. That's a big problem for the Bush war machine.

This was the largest mobilization of people in history to oppose a war which has not yet started. It seems rather nieve to write that off glibly by saying that peaceful protest doesn't work.

Recently declassified documents show that during Vietnam, peaceful protests prevented Johnson from using nukes. This was at a time when people felt that their protests were doing no good at all; the war was continuing apparently inevitably. They didn't know it but they saved probably millions of lives.

It is the sheer number of people in the streets which are raising the political costs for these "leaders". A handful of protestors tossing bottles at clothing stores and/or cops is not what is penetrating the conciousness of the world and it's governments. So to say that DA is the only way is rather backwards.

That said, I do support a diversity of tactics. I have nothing against property destruction and I think it is appropriate in many instances.

However, the property destruction I observed was totally unlinked from an antiwar message. How, exactly, does spraying an anarchy symbol on the street or a cop car support peace? At best it promotes anarchism, but that's not why we were there. At worst, it makes anarchists look like idiot hooligans and de-legitimizes the entire peace movement. Neither is constructive in the context of this march.

Really consider doing effective DA. If you hate Old Navy, get a few friends and lock down in their doorway on a Saturday afternoon. Don't use an enormous, orderly, peaceful march as cover for yourself, or as a vehicle to promote your ideology. That's just rude.

I'm not saying people shouldn't keep the heat on corporations, or destroy their assets if they so desire.

I'm saying, do it on your own time and be willing to take the heat. Don't hijack other people's organizing, and don't use other people as shields to run behind.

Finally, I just want to say that what to some may look like anarchism at work looks a lot like facism to others. You know, the imposition of a political doctrine by force or threat of force. What else to you call a black-hooded "anarchist" yelling through a megaphone at an elderly couple stuck in their car, cowing with fear? My girlfriend saw that at the march and felt compelled to tell that person to fuck off. Is there anyone who would like to justify or explain that type of behavior? To me, it seems like out-of-control testesterone more than anything; and I think a lot of the things that bug people about the black bloc fall into this category - however they may be rationalized with "theory". It's something to watch out for. Black bloc people should stop others when they lose their minds like this, not encourage it. The black bloc is going down a very ugly road if people within it do not stand up to hateful behavior. If you do not police yourself, do not be surprised if other people decide to police you.

It bugs me to see all of this energy and anger pissed away in empty actions (throwing bottles at windows; tagging sidewalks with pet symbols; terrorizing people) when it could go towards effective action.

If you are truly willing to be arrested and beaten for this cause, pick your target and strike it creatively without endangering anyone who hasn't decided to take the risk with you. And don't piss on other people's efforts.

by smash the state
Monday Feb 17th, 2003 11:12 PM
Great idea, really. And the best part is the cops sometimes fall asleep from boredom as they are waiting to arrest you...

jesus christ, people. read some goddamn history books and learn what it means to have an effective protest movement. you make those 60s hippies look like einsteins compared to some of the comments i see here.

hit em where it hurts, thats the only thing that works!
by ??
Monday Feb 17th, 2003 11:18 PM
"Think about England. Blair just had a million Britons march across his front door. In other words, if he joins with the US, his MPs will probably vote no confidence and his government will fall. That's a big problem for the Bush war machine. "

One would get that idea by looking at headlines but its misleading. For example the Guardian carries "Casualty of war: in 15 months the prime minister's rating has fallen 62 points " (,9061,897871,00.html) But if you read the fine print it mentions that "Labour voters are by and large standing by him despite his position on Iraq. The fact that 71% of Labour voters think he is still doing a good job ensures that any attempt to remove him as prime minister is likely to prove unsuccessful" So despite the largest protests in British history, Blair will go ahead with the war and the millions who marched peacefully in London will have marched in vain.

Breaking a window is not likely to have an impact but marching alone is equally as pointless.
by Berkeley Protestor
Monday Feb 17th, 2003 11:35 PM
"smash the state" -

How exactly did the actions Sunday "hit 'em where it hurts?"

Maybe you don't like lockdowns, that's cool. Feel free to suggest a better alternative. The people who set the recruitment center on fire, now that's good DA!

You didn't actually address anything I said. You just called me names and put down my suggestion for action.

So, assuming you basically agree with the substance of what I said, what do you suggest? If you disagreed with any of my points, how so and why?
by Berkeley Protestor
Monday Feb 17th, 2003 11:52 PM
As for Blair -

Thanks for the info, that's a good statistic to keep in mind. However, I still feel it's short-sighted to write off peaceful mass movements. One can certainly read history books and get the impression that it doesn't work but y'all should know better than most who writes those history books.

Actually it does work and it has worked many times in modern history. Of course when it does happen there are other contributing causes; huge changes happen when a regime is in a weak position (be it Gahndi's India, Lech Walesa's Poland, etc.) But as with my Vietnam War example, the impact is often not obvious, and not realized until way later.

These huge marches inspire people. For those that participate or watch or read about them, it helps them realize that they are not alone, and they can speak out. They influence public opinion in a real way, and in terms of preventing this particular conflict, public opinion is important. The fact that the Bush administration publicly marginalizes it's influence is proof of that.

Again, by means, do DA. All I'm saying is don't fuck it up for everyone else by doing the Bush administration's dirty work and marginalizing the efforts of 200,000 people.

I can't be any clearer than this. Please do DA and fuck shit up. But do it in another time, another place, and make it fucking bad-ass and unforgettable. Petty vandalism and cop-baiting at this kind of march is short-sighted, opportunisitic, and rude. Calling it direct action merely cheapens the term.
by old punk
Tuesday Feb 18th, 2003 3:48 AM
media coverage of 200,000 people from all parts of the political spectrum marching down market street IS hitting them where it hurts... massive public opinion against the war.

if you actually think that grafitti and vandalism will stop the war, you're either naive or stupid or both. smashing a window at old navy hurts nobody except for the poor working people who buy their clothes there--and the mainstream effort to stop the war.

black bloc tactics are cowardly and opportunistic. if you actually had an ideology, you wouldn't wait until the cops are distracted to protest, you'd organize a movement. and if "anarchy" means a bunch of 20 year old art students running around breaking shit and trashing my city, i'll take capitalism. i hope the cops kick your asses next time.

and by the way, historically, the most effective protests have been non-violent efforts by huge crowds of people over long periods of time.
by hahaha
Tuesday Feb 18th, 2003 7:45 AM
From the looks at photos of the "black bloc" or whatever you call yourselves, you are a bunch of middle class white kids who are angry (for justifiable reasons!). Your movement lacks diversity and it lacks historical perspective. Here's the problem: a friend of mine once explained this to me: the revolution will not be led by a bunch of white middle class college kids. And besides, we already had that revolution-- and everybody smoked a lot of dope and had a lot of sex, oh wait a minute-- that wasnt a revolution either!

Sorry to be so negative, but I think you are doing great harm to the movement by doing stupid things like breaking stores windows. The zapatistas would not do such stupid stuff-- why-- because they have real oppression to fight. Your frustration with not knowing where to spend your money is NOT oppression.

If you want to be a revolutionary-- this is what I recommend-- get away from your insulated punk ass movement-- and get out into the world and WORK in the movement. Find some kind people who are dealing with real issues, who have a history of doing this work and can teach you, and work beside them and learn from them. Let the poor people and people of color take the lead-- be willing to follow their lead and to work to support their organizations.

As for whether or not non-violent resistence works, read a little history-- this movement we are appart of has been ongoing for hundreds of years. To think that you can act in a stupid ass way and expect to have an impact is naive.

We can not dismantle the patriarchy by using patriarchal means like violence. We have to find another way. The means of our revolution, will also be the ends. If you truely want a decentralized, democractic society, then you have to bring it about in a way that respects those values.

by f
Tuesday Feb 18th, 2003 8:11 AM
that is messed up that shouldnt had happened this s a prime example of police brutality
by punks are dead
Tuesday Feb 18th, 2003 8:59 AM
the lazy and incompetent comments by old punk are the #1 reason i am so glad punk is dead. take a bath, old punk. your political analysis is worth shit.
by Berkeley Protestor
Tuesday Feb 18th, 2003 2:26 PM
So...where's YOUR analysis?

It's pretty lame to trash someone else's opinion without responding to it or expressing your own. What's the point?

I think "old punk" is right. The means are the ends. You have to *be* the society you want to live in. I already live in a society with an "us aginst them" mentality. That's the problem more than anything. It is thoughtless to call something "revolutionary" when it is just a reflection of the dominant atmosphere of society.

Ya know who's really revolutionary? Code Pink! I think we can all learn a lesson from them. Great street theater, great DA, positive and radical stance. Their movement is welcoming and inclusive.

By the way - I thought about the "hit 'em where it hurts" statement disparaging an Old Navy lockdown. Think about it though - it probably costs them $5000/hr to have that store closed on a Saturday afternoon. Maybe more. So even if you get *no* media coverage (unlikely), the amount of economic damage that can be done by this totally passive action swamps that of a measly broken window.

But you will get media coverage (especially if you call 'em first). Thousands of people will see the ruckus, just walking down the street.

Of course, you're going to get arrested and at the very least it's going to be an uncomfortable day. Yeah, the cops will be standing around (more money spent) waiting to arrest you. That's the point!

If you are afraid of not having a crowd to hide in , you have no business doing DA. DA isn't just about doing "someting" 'cause you're pissed off. It is inherently political. For this reason it must be approached with a political mentality.

If you go around saying "fuck the world", don't be shocked when the world says "fuck you" back. It applies to George Bush's America, and it applies to the black bloc in San Francisco.
by nate
Tuesday Feb 18th, 2003 6:02 PM

You guys are being rather silly,

few of you were actually there. Pictures are almost useless when trying to understand something. The breakaway march went on for hours. Like 8 hours.
yes some windows were broken, and there was vandalism, but for hours of it we simply wandered the streets blocking traffic, we as people have the right to protest for free. We don't have to follow market street and allow the police to direct us. If you think briefly blocking traffic is "terrorizing" your completely silly. NOBODY was harmed. Most of the time we were simply walking letting everyone notice our protest. The lot of us believe that things are not right, here in the US and what goes on internationally. Everyone at the 200,000 "peaceful" march doesn't agree with us, or else they don't yet know they do. But, to have any sort of "moral" understanding or theory in which we can live, we must reorganize and recreate "ALL" things within this country.

now listen, People are dying, everywhere, WE ARE THE LEADING TERRORIST STATE ON THE PLANET", we have been for many many years, many of you are supporting it, it's not ok. It'll never be ok, ever.

yes people are misinformed, but it's much more than that, people are too comfortable and scared to give up all their worldy possessions just to save lives. They don't have to look at the childrens hands that made their clothing and products.

so to me, it's a fundamental thing, people are dying now, so WE must act now. I know vandalising and playing in the streets doesn't inform anyone of anything. But believe me I go to great lengths to inform the uninformed. Many people I know do as well. We make flyers and zines all the time. We distribute them whereever we can. For now that's all we can do. But that doesn't mean we should be quit.

or just join the regular protest, which "is" better than nothing, of course, but still not nearly enough.Most of us "black blocs" or whatever, do 100 times more than any soccermom, granny, or businessman does in that march. Nearly all of them just live their lives. Sure they protest, but to what extent. Seriously, What will they really do when bush gives the orders. When people are dying. Will they stop paying taxes. Will they stop buying oil every fucking day. What will they do. I myself, don't think they'll do anything more than what they're doing now.

....peacefully telling bush, and our gov't that they won't do anything about it.

and remember, the casualties of this war, I'm sure will be nowhere near the millions that the US has killed in the past. ...........Why's Kissinger still walking about and nobody seems to care.

As for the "Old Punk", you have a silly way of thinking. Do you not believe that our county terrorizes. Why do you think our country is the "greatest" and most wealthy. What, are we self reliant? Ha, we rely on the backbone of the opressed thoughout the world, your a fool for believing capitalism is the way to go. either that or your a heartless person who doesn't care where his products come from, because he doesn't have to hear about it.

And as far as history books, yes I've ready many, and taken many classes. The number one thing I've learned from the last 2000 years of tyrant hierarchal gov't, is that they SUCK. Look at any gov't, any at all, when did it ever work, and when were the people happy. And when did the top of the hierachy not take advantage of their position, it's you people, at the least ones that mentioned, that need to reread these books, and many books that deal with the time period. Columbus was not a great man. Our forfathers should not be great idols.

anyways, I personally don't believe we were using the peace protest for our own agenda. It was simply very convenient, all of us "black bloc" kids were already there to protest the war, it's a much greater effort to randomly organize an event like the one we had. I for one didn't us people. The people I was around were pretty much all friends. As soon as people saw the throwing and vandalizing, the people that didn't want to be a part, left the protest. We didn't coax anyone into coming. That was never intented, I can at least speak for all of my friends.

you know anarchism is not a gov't, or really anything at all, it's only the absence of certain things......very bad things

by Berkeley Protestor
Tuesday Feb 18th, 2003 7:43 PM

I agree with a lot of what you say. Personally, I split from the march when it stopped moving at the mall. After that point, all I have to go on was pictures and narratives. But it had come to the point where the "march" was not something I wanted to participate it. It had become totally unfocused.

Obviously the police blocked in and attacked the protestors; the bloc isn't to blame for that. Except for the fact that it was completely predictable, and again, why give the media a hand job?

Anyway, it's great that you wander in the streets. That's your perogative to do any day or night of the week (but again why that day?)

Also, I think blocking traffic is fine as DA. My objection wasn't to blocking traffic, it was scaring a couple of old people (who may not have even spoken much English) out of their wits. I saw there a total insenstivity to the humanity of those you "oppose". In fact, a lack of recognition that those you think you oppose, (because they happen to be driving down the street that day), might actually agree with you. This includes "soccer moms" and so on.

Not only do I understand a lot about what anarchism is (and isn't) I also understand a lot about what angst can (and can't) accomplish.

Here's the thing about anarchism to me. You can't force it on people. People have to *choose* to disentangle their life from "the system". Now it's interesting to me that only a narrow range of young people even pay lip service to anarchism (the punk variety anyhow). That indicates that as practiced in the punk community, it is not a sustainable ideal.

There's a lot of rhetoric about smashing the state and so on. However that's an inherently negative viewpoint that can lead nowhere, because it does not put forward a vision of the kind of society that is wanted. It's anti-vision and anti-wisdom.

The only way to make anarchism work is to create alternative structures that work the way people want them to work. Those structures have to be stable, inclusive, and sustainable on all levels. I don't see a lot of work coming out of the punk community along these lines. I think the Skillshare is awesome; I think the Bat Cave is awesome; these are the kind of things that need to be done. But it's notable to me that these things are mostly set up and run by older activists who really aren't into running around and smashing things (at least not anymore). Even those things unfortunately don't always create a welcoming environment for all comers.

I think young people who get really into black bloc tactics, as I got excited about Earth First! tactics in my late teens and early twenties, really do need to separate the adrenaline rush from the politics.

Also, Nate, just becuase someone doesn't feel that it's appropriate to throw rocks at windows during a peace demo doesn't make them some sort of capitalist collaborator. It'sa tactical difference and I don't think I have to explain again why I have that opinion.

You've said a lot of things that are true about how fucked up things are. You've also said a lot of things that are true about how the situation is urgent. What you haven't explained is how petty DA does anything to help these situations. You also haven't defended the black bloc tactics of using large, non-participating crowds as cover (other than it's convienient - pretty dehumanizing); or of spoon-feeding the media negative images of protestors.

i wouldn't rush to assume that either myself or other people in this conversation know little about anarchism, history, or political analysis just because we happen to disagree with you on some tactical issues.

There are a lot of people who will come out and say that the black bloc is horrible, that smashing things is violence, and so on. I'm not saying that. Every bloc person I've talked to is really cool. But in a group bloc people tend to get carried away and don't act in helpful ways. At the very least, they don't stop others who are doing stupid things to point out - "hey that's stupid". A lot of people involved in this movement recognize that. I think that's why a lot of self-identified "blockers" get so defensive about even well-meaning criticism and hide behind an argument of essentially "the world's so fucked up, we gotta do it".

But see that's the problem...the attitude is the world's so fucked up, we gotta smash the world. Or the state. But if history teaches anything, it's that a smashed state leads quickly and inevitably to either despotism or a feudal society split amongst warring factions.

Smashing the state isn't the answer. Making the state irrelevant is the answer. *That* is what anarcism is really all about. Coming from a place of fear, anger, and hate, you can only end up with a society that reflects those emotions. Unfortunately that society would be quite similar to what we have now. Perhaps worse.

Finally, What I saw the black bloc start out as - small affinity groups blocking intersections and doing property destruction actions on specific targets, for specific reasons related to the overall theme of the protest (i.e. WTO) is not what I see it do now - a huge black-clad mob provoking the police and vandalizing property without an apparent focus. That's a big difference and it astounds me that people involved in the movement don't see this change as a problem.

Anyway, I hope my points make some sense.
by nate
(natron81 [at] Tuesday Feb 18th, 2003 8:54 PM

I understand what your saying, and I agree with much of it. A lot of my spouting and mild outbursts were because of Old Punks rude comments. Such as " He wished the policed would have brutalized us even more". As disorganized as it was, that's just a mean thing to wish. Especially considering, we were harming noone.

My comments about capitalism were also directed towards him and his, in my opinion, silly comment. Especially considering how ruthless they actually were. Even hitting random pedestrians and kicking reporters etc...

anyways, yes, I think the group should be much more organized. randomly throwing shit is rather useless, that part of the march I'm not so proud of. I admit, at times it was as playful as it was political. Which in many cases, I believe is ok. But my point is, I agree, there really wasn't any "real" strategy on sunday. It is rather difficult to get everyone to listen and act on the same level and understanding.

Though, I personally, don't think attacking/vandalizing a store like Old Navy, or Mcdonalds is a non or bad political move. Solely targeting gov't buildings isn't the answer either. Clearly the class war that we all participate in, whether we like it or not, involves both the gov't institutions and the mass -profit big business.
As petty or silly as it seems to attack old navy/mcdonalds, if done wisely/thoughtfully, it can be very effective. I know people who have trashed entire mcdonalds stores, costing them ridiculous amounts of money. I understand one is measly when we're going up against thousands, but if more people were involved or acted there could be some seriously profound results.

Though again, i agree, it would have to be organized no matter what extent people go to.

and a lot of what I was saying before was to all the people who responded earlier on the comments. Such as the naive nurses. As nice and caring as they seemed they clearly don't understand the seriousness of our protesting and the things we protest.

I agree with your comments about anarchism, I don't believe in smashing everything. Just the institutions that support death and exploitation. I don't believe we should rid of all modern day conventions, there have been many positive developments these last years, they're just not available to the impoverished parts of the world. Such as pharmaceuticals. Need I mention the Al-Shifa incident.
So clearly, all of these modern inventions are not used to better mankind or help people as they should be, but rather to generate more profits for the patricians of modern day. And I'm sure you agree. So, I'm just saying, i understand there are certain things that must be rid of and other things that merely need to be tranformed. Not saying this is an easy task. Nobody actually knows what would happen if the US state was taken back by the people. There can be no prediction. But I do think that if people listen to their deeper callings and stop priding themselves over silly things, as well as begin caring for all people regardless of their own comfort, north america would be a much better place, in every respect.

so anyways, i hope i made myself clear


by nate
Tuesday Feb 18th, 2003 9:17 PM

When I sayed convenient, I merely meant all of us "black bloc" kids, or whatever people want to call us, were already going to the peace-protest. So for us to meet up was simple and convenient. If there was no break-away march I and most of the people I know would still go to the peace-protest, even though most of it is quite silly-in my opinion. <-i viewed my points on this earlier. anyways, that wasn't a dehumanizing statement, for me, the people that came unknowingly simply didn't know what was going on. Or else they had no idea it would get as extreme as it did, which really wasn't all that extreme. But obviously to them.

I suppose next time the people that don't seem to fit, as silly as this sounds, should be told what kind of march it will be. But the truth is, none of us have any idea whats going to happen. I've been in a number of marches that simply walked through the streets etc... with no vandalism. So many of the people may have been assuming it would be similiar to that. So telling anyone anything about the future of the march is entirely useless. Except to assume the possibility of vandalism, and police intervention.

The truth is, I don't know what hell all of us can do. I live my entire life believing these things, so the breakaway marches are not usually a big deal to me. I've been much more productive doing other things. But that's not to say I think they're useless. They can still, and I'm sure you agree, have there place in effective political subversion.

by Berkeley Protestor
Wednesday Feb 19th, 2003 12:06 AM
Yeah, cool. I agree with everything you said. I also agree that the march didn't get too extreme. I personally was aware of what could happen. I was most concerned about outright police aggression. I didn't think marchers would try ot push through their lines. Mainly though, I think the problem was that the march increased greatly in size as it went along, due to people in the main march joining (without perhaps a clear idea of what was going on).

I guess a big part of my objection to the stuff I saw boils down to intention. A lot of the actions I saw weren't that intentional. It was more opportunistic (in a neutral sense) like, there's Old Navy, I've got a bottle, heave-ho! Whereas, outright trashing of a McDonalds is another story 'cause that's action with intent (hopefully coupled with some kind of message).

BTW I totally agree with the idea of taking to the streets just for play. I actually really like taking an intersection for no "reason" other than to create a radical space. Again, if that's the intention, go for it.

I really think intention makes a big difference which is why I got frustrated on Sunday. The intention got muddied and media coverage was usurped; given that positive media coverage was a core strategy element of the larger march, that's lousy. Luckily, at least in the local media they put the "rioting" in a separate context from the larger march, which recieved positive coverage. Unfortunately they all used beating/arrest footage as their leading teaser instead of helicopter shots of market street filled with people. Valuable air time lost!

I think this issue of the black bloc being "opportunistic" in crowds is because of a disconnect between tactics and context. What I mean is that I think this is really only a problem when people act in big groups. The provocative, radical aspect of black bloc actions evolved out of affinity groups where everyone involved has decided what level of risk they are willing to take, and everyone is on the same page. This just can't happen in the context of a big march. I really don't think it's appropriate to do DA in a big group. On a very pragmatic level it increases the risk of getting caught and decreases the impact of the DA, since it can only be DA at targets of opportunity rather than planned DA. Better to do it with small, fast-moving affinity groups. Second, again if the entire mass march is not plugged into what's happening, it's irresponsible to those in march who may not know what's going on (and may be "high risk" - people with priors, transvestites, and so on). The third reason is that I think it increases the chance of bad crowd psychology where people just get all excited and start acting stupid. If people know what is cool and what is not cool, they are less likely to do not cool things.

Just curious - was there any meeting of affinity group reps before the break-away march or was it just a semi-random group of people, as far as you know? When we protested the DNC in LA those meetings were really helpful, but obviously that was a much larger action.

Oh also, I said I liked what "old punk" had to say; actually, he was pretty lame. I liked what the next poster said a lot better but I got 'em mixed up.

Take it easy!
by a
Wednesday Feb 19th, 2003 12:59 AM
> and a lot of what I was saying before was to all the
> people who responded earlier on the comments. Such as
> the naive nurses. As nice and caring as they seemed they
> clearly don't understand the seriousness of our
> protesting and the things we protest.

Just goes to show that more effort could be put into outreach and communication. Were there any flyers at this march? Would have been great to throw out something to passers-by about the politics of an unpermitted march, etc.
by old punk
Wednesday Feb 19th, 2003 2:58 AM
nate, you're right; wishing for more police brutality was a dumb comment, and i apologize for making it. my mom attended the january 18 march and the black bloc kids scared the crap out of her, which was one reason why she did not attend the february 16 march. this (and the general hypocracy of protesting violence with violence) makes me angry but, still, i should know better to wish violence on people...

i essentially agree with berkeley that violent direct action, even directed at property, is a huge tactical mistake because it just serves up a perfect clip of footage to Fox and CNN. Televised footage of kids in black rioting essentially supports the drive towards war by reducing the credibility of the antiwar movement. as berkeley pointed out, direct action is always political; it's not necessarily violent. ask yourselves, "what am i accomplishing by doing this? what are the stakes? what will the short- and long-term consequences of my actions be?" in this case, i don't think aimless vandalism accomplishes much, nothing positive at any rate.

no, i wasn't there. i had my 4 month old daughter with me at the march, and she's not allowed to riot until she's at least 15 years old.

nate, you seem to like claiming the moral high ground, but you live in the world with the rest of us, and your hands are just as dirty. there's grafitti on a billboard on valencia street reading something to the effect of "if you drive, there's blood on your hands." the writer conveniently forgot that petroleum products were involved in the manufacturing and transporting of his/her spray paint. we are ALL part of the problem. i would love to revise that billboard to read "if you ever purchased a commodity that wasn't grown within walking distance of your house, there's blood on your hands." you can't escape your own role in globalism. case in point, some malay woman in singapore was paid nearly nothing to make the computer you're using to post messages denouncing global capitalism, which appears to benefit... you!

don't take me for a naive fool. of course i know the usa terrorizes people and, because we are americans, both you and i assist in exploiting poor people around the world. i was in malaysia for the first gulf war and got to enjoy muslim malays threatening to kill me to my face because i'm american. a few years ago, while in cambodia, i got to meet some villagers who are still very angry about the cluster bombs nixon/kissinger illegally dropped on them, because they still step on those bombs while tapping rubber outside their village. i've spent a fair amount of time in third world countries and have seen plenty of child labor and the results of american political violence first hand.

but i don't think you acknowledge the complexity of the world. have you ever considered that some of those children and their families might prefer sweat shop jobs because it's preferable to entering the sex work industry at 13 years old and getting aids while watching your family waste away from malnutrition and dysentary? this is a very real choice for millions of people in the third world.

does that suck in the biggest way imaginable? of course, but the world is not black and white. getting rid of old navy will not solve global poverty nor will it end the exploitation of the rest by the west. not paying taxes will not end a war effort; it just means my daughter won't be able to take the public bus to public school when she's older and i will lose my public health care at sf general hospital.

i am NOT arguing in favor of global capitalism, nor am i saying that the third world should be thankful for sweat shop jobs. far from it. i said that i would prefer capitalism (ie, the real world as it stands now, flawed as it is) to whatever ideology drives idealistic, middle-class, white kids to run around breaking shit. pretending that you do not also enjoy the priveleges of living in this society and using violence to combat violence is dishonest and threatens my ability to make a difference in the world.

and both nate and berkeley, if you think i'm lame, get off your high horses and join the rest of us in the real world where we have to figure out how to live with ourselves instead of simply denouncing everyone else for our sins. don't scare my mom next time and i won't be so crabby.
by old punk
Wednesday Feb 19th, 2003 4:24 AM
just to clarify a couple things... lest i be accused of arguing against critiques of global capitalism without suggesting anything else, here goes...

revolution doesn't work, either because it doesn't actually solve the problems it set out to solve (ussr, china, vietnam, etc.) or because the usa and world politics won't allow it to work against their interests (sandinistas, allende, biafra, etc.) or because it's far worse than what it replaces (stalin, mao's cultural revolution, pol pot, etc.).

revolution won't happen in the usa because the system DOES actually work for the vast majority of people here and most people do feel enfranchised. we have the highest standard of living in the world and a low quality of life. people enjoy the first and take prozac to deal with the second. american culture is insulated rather than global, thinks in the short-term rather than the long, encourages acting individualistically in one's self-interest rather than considering the big picture of community.

given the conditions, class war is wishful thinking at best and this is why i'm so cynical about messages like nate's that suggest that trashing old navy or mcdonald's is "effective." do you actually think mcdonald's pays for that damage? of course not, they have insurance. it doesn't hurt them in the least. the only thing gained is your false sense of catharsis and having "done something."

if you want to effective, try health education encouraging communities of color not to patronize mcdonald's because their unhealthy food contributes to skyrocketing rates of diabetes and heart disease among african-americans, latinos, and native americans, a problem compounded by our racist health care system. help people in these communities create healthier alternatives that will recycle dollars back into businesses in their own communities. this would be much more expensive to mcdonald's than their tax-deductible insurance bill.

if you want to effectively combat old navy, go to a third world country and help set up income generation projects that operate on cooperative, fair trade principles, offer both education and decent after-school wages to kids, and so on. out compete them with better local jobs. visit sweat shops, take pictures, bring them back home, and show them to americans to illustrate why they shouldn't shop there. again, forcing old navy to lock down does not cost them anything. they'll simply take it out of their laborers' wages or pass the cost along to their customers, most of whom shop there because they're already poor.

i don't defend global capitalism, i live in it, as do we all. i want to change the world, and i'm sorry but i have little patience for people who would rather try to break it and put it back together.
by c.
Wednesday Feb 19th, 2003 3:34 PM
"Just goes to show that more effort could be put into outreach and communication. Were there any flyers at this march? Would have been great to throw out something to passers-by about the politics of an unpermitted march, etc."

the group of kids i was with passed out a bunch of fliers to nearly everyone they saw. the fliers had information on the unpermitted march and some of the reasonings behind it.

also, im sure a large percentage of the people werent sure exactly what was going on, but other people stayed in groups, relayed information to eachother, and basically made decisions on a group scale. "we're going for old navy" so you can see some of these actions were more planned than just sporadically and randomely acted upon moves. of course when the whole mob mentality comes into play, "hey, people smashing things! lets smash EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING!" that's when the more questionable and random acts happen.
by nate
Thursday Feb 20th, 2003 11:13 AM

I understand what your saying Old Punk, and I accept your apology. I also respect your experience in/with 3rd world countries. But....I have heard this argument before, as you have heard mine.

I think you undermine the potential and power of the people. Don't forget, our country has barely existed a few hundred years. Yet our way of life here, seems so fundamentally right to most Americans. People trully cannot imagine living any other way. At least, this is my analysis, of many many subjects. And because of this, i agree, a revolution seems bleak and hopeless. But you only takes a spark to ignite a flame. Once the right people, or right number, are convinced it'll spead like wildfire. And again, i understand what your thinking. People wouldn't give up their entire lives just to help people. And when asked or pushed towards doing it they would resist.

But remember, most people are not happy in our non-existent communities. Working day after day just to spend money on things that are utterly useless and meaningless. Convincing themselves that buying things and consuming will better themselves, imagining themselves looking a certain way, judging themselves with other people, class differences, hierarchy. The problem is that there is a concrete "system". People do not need to be told what is "normal" or good etiquette. People shouldn't be scoffed at for dancing in the street. Nor should they be arrested.

People aren't persuaded to follow their dreams or care.

Our systems within systems upon systems confines us. We don't need layed out rules, a template for our lives is not necessary, nor healthy. we're only convinced that we're helpless. We have all the power in the world, all we have to do is take it back and stop lying to ourselves.

You say because many of us are "middle class" and "white" we're immediately naive or misunderstanding. That's just silly, you can never put anyone within any thinking-class, except people, i know we all do it at times, but all people are way too different. Grouping is another side-effect of "systems". And I'm not saying it is all bad, organization can be quite necessary, but not pre-planned templates with "justifying" rules.

Capitalism, is fundamentally non-caring to the people. Competition is the essence of capitalism. Instead of working together to make things, corporations fight over technology and resources(including people), and squander it. Nearly all corporations spend all of their time and resources shadily creating useless commodities. Quality is always #2, mass-production and profit are always #1. As you know corporations are not people, they are emotionless money making machines, so the working conditions are horrendous worldwide, mentally and physically. And there is no remorse or guilt over it.

As far as sweatshops helping people, that, in my opinion, is a load of crock. It's true that they target certain areas because the people are incredibly impoverished and will take anything they can get. That doesn't make it right, in any sense, -I know you agree with this. but all of this effort and money, and man-power could be put towards actually helping them, not maintaining their poor helpless state, via paying them 10 cents a week for working 60 hours. The problem is built into the foundation of our gov't and constitution. There should be no leaders with power. Organization clearly couldn't be the same witout hierarchy, but its possibility is just as clear.

I recognize and understand you ideas for helping people, creating organizations, etc.... to convince and help. i agree totally, this must be done. But just not in the same way your thinking. Like you said before it is nearly impossible to avoid being a part of the money circulation and consuming. There's pretty much no way of totally escaping it. This is why simply creating groups within this system will basically just support it further. That's why I believe we must start here, in the US. We can't simply form groups, again seperating ourselves, we must all be involved......this would require a revolution. In this state, it won't actually work to go to these sweatshops and impoverished nations and do our bidding. Where will we get the food, and the people in the sweatshops won't openly leave unless promised something better.....which at this time we cannot provide. The source is where we live, and it has to go.

People have successfuly plummeted corporations before. There have been a few medical research corps that have bankrupted because of ALF and other animal rights activists. They use tactics, like harrassing and calling the funders/investors of the research corps that perform illegal animal testing. After doing this the investors feel obligated to back out of their financing agreements. So clearly tactics like this have been successful before towards corps that do things illegally, I'm positive similiar tactics could be successful towards morally unsound corps. Or internationally illegal, just as the us gov't is.

and I know last sundays wasn't all that organized, but just the same, I don't believe people should be all that offended if windows are broken. FOX and CNN will be against out movement no matter how large or convincing it is. Because they're the targets, all of them.

Your examples of revolution don't really mean anything to me. After revolting people assume that another hierarchal regime will make things better, it's endless. Just like how the greeks switched between a republic and an empire a thousand times. Which is the lesser evil? Communism, Capitalism, none of these are the answers, nobody can tell you what you want or what you need. Only you can, you cannot rely on anyone to make decisions for you, that's why capitalism, etc,,, will never far as real freedom and being humanitarian goes.

by old punk
Thursday Feb 20th, 2003 11:49 PM
nate, i agree with much of what you write about capitalism but have problems with the rest of it.

on a general philosophical level, you describe power as though it were a thing that can be held or seized: something that a system, or systems, or leaders hold over other people. i prefer to think of power and "systems" as more as a relationship between people than a thing that can be held centrally. i don't think power allows exploitation, as if people with power exploit others without it, and if only we could remove people from power, they would no longer be able to exploit others. i think the exploitation itself is power, the exercising of it. this is why i'm skeptical of anarchist arguments about "the people taking power back from the system." it's so huge and abstract, and ignores that fact that people exploit each other outside of systems of power because the power is in their relationships with each other, not in some abstractly centralized system.

i'm a cultural anthropologist, so i'd suggest culture as an example of this. one of our government's excuses for invading afghanistan was to supposedly liberate women from the taliban. okay, the taliban aren't there anymore, but women's everyday lives and men's power over women in afghanistan are still pretty much the same. that's because in this case, afghan women's experience of power didn't come from the taliban, it came from cultural conceptions of gender in pashtun cultural values, islamic religious values, etc. there's no more governmental system of oppression of women, but there is still power exercised by men over women. our invasion didn't rewrite their culture overnight, it just used it as justification for war by confusing culure and government.

my point here is that you can't get rid of power or hierarchy because it's not located anywhere. the caste system in india would be another example of power in culture without a political center. when that mob of demonstrators ran through the streets on 2/16, they were exercising power. when the cops dealt with them, they were also exercising power, but they weren't a source of power, as if one could somehow be rid of power by getting rid of cops or politicians who operate them.

more specifically, i'm not convinced that your examples of successful uses of direct action are good comparisons. groups like earth first, alf, and other monkey wrenchers are successful because they do have specificity and focus what what institutions and relationships of power to attack. alf wants to stop the use of animals in research; they're focused and successful. anarchist/black bloc tactics, by comparison, always seem to call for world revolution, which is a bit overly ambitious.

you've written a couple times that the direct action on 2/16 wasn't organized or focused, and i think that's a huge problem. a group of direct action protestors taking aim at the offices of oil companies or military contractors would somehow make sense to me in the context of an antiwar demonstration. splashing buckets of red paint on chevron's offices would make a powerful and appropriate point about blood for oil. blindly lashing out at any corporate business in a mob's path is pointless and self-defeating to the antiwar movement. i'm not offended, i just think it's really dumb. there's 364 other days in the year; go fuck with old navy on may 1 and call it what it is: a violent demonstation against global capitalism, not an antiwar statement. in the meantime, please pick your targets more carefully and make your message more meaningful.
by aaron
Friday Feb 21st, 2003 12:30 AM
<i don't think power allows exploitation, as if people with power exploit others without it, and if only we could remove people from power, they would no longer be able to exploit others. i think the exploitation itself is power, the exercising of it.>

you sound like a PoMo, old punk.

how is it that some have that power to exploit?

capital's power is inextricably linked to human dispossession. surely, as an anthropologist, you've heard of the enclosures in Britain--driving people off the land and in the process making them dependent upon wages for bare sustenance. the power of capital is control of land and resources. capitalism presents itself to us as the pinnacle of freedom because on a formal level we 'volunteer' to work--nobody is forcing us to sell our labor power for wages. it's just that if we don't, we eat shit.

the development of capitalism requires this dispossession. it's said that in China in ten years there will be close to 200,000,000 migrants--people who've been forced off the land or axed from their state-subsidized job. Ever wonder why capital loves China so much?

i agree with you that it's generally not a good idea to personify power, but the alternative isn't to deny it's material basis.

it's wierd--i have so many criticism's of the Blac Bloc, but every time I listen to a liberal attacking the BB, I feel a certain affection for it.

if you think the class war is dead, old punk, you have no idea what's goin' on in this society.

by old punk
Friday Feb 21st, 2003 2:49 AM
i think i do have a pretty good idea of what's going on. class war in your strictly economistic marxist terms IS dead, or more likely, never mattered in the usa. name one example of working people waging a class struggle on their own behalf, on a purely material basis, since the haymarket riots. show me the class war, or even its remote possibility.

you missed my point, i didn't say people don't exploit each other, or that the playing field is even so we can all equally exploit each other. obviously, organized corporate bodies of people can exercise more power than a group of unorganized individuals, and do. and, yes, you're right, there is a material basis there in the sense that the rich exploit the poor. money buys influence, resources, and knowledge with which to ream others.

i was taking issue with the anarchist argument of, "if we can just get rid of the system, there will be no more power or exploitation." my point is that power doesn't come from the system. you can't just knock off the government and, voila, you get egalitarianism. what about race? gender? these sorts of power won't go away because it's not all about capital and government.

i often think that middle-class american proponents of anarchism should go somewhere where anarchism is in effect so they can see how it actually operates. I spent several months in cambodia a few years ago. there's phnom penh, the capitol, and then there's the rest of the country which, for all practical purposes, is in a state of anarchy. even in rural areas where the central government has very little influence, people still continue to exploit each other without restraint. they don't have to worry about selling their labor because there are no jobs; they're subsistence rice farmers or soldiers. most people don't have enough to eat or clean water to drink, don't have any education or medical care, bandits kidnap their children as slaves and prostitutes and they have no legal recourse, everyone steals from each other, political dissidents are tortured and killed, and they die before they're 50 years old. oh, and did i mention that much of this is fallout from a class war in which the khmer rouge killed 1 out of 8 people in the country while attempting to erase the middle class during an extended state of class war?

anarchy is not utopia. i'd rather work. I like being literate, not having malnutrition, having basic medical care, and being fairly certain that the teenagers next door don't have a rocket launcher.

if you're such a big fan of class war, go visit a place where's been one and see how well it worked out. you have no idea how entitled you are and how much you take for granted.
by cp
Friday Feb 21st, 2003 7:28 AM
Please go read 'participatory economics' by Michael Albert. There are not just two or three possible economic systems - communism vs. capitalism, where if you make any criticism of capitalism, you must be in favor of communism. There are dozens of possibilities, including some that have never been tried yet... and no, I'm not one of those people who says 'real communism has never been tried yet".

Communism, fascism, and capitalism are all inherently imperialist because they inevitably want the whole world to join their system. How about trying real democracy for once and accepting a mixed system.
by nate
Friday Feb 21st, 2003 3:54 PM

The reason why you're not understanding the things I'm saying or blatantly disagreeing, is because of your twisted understanding of the term "Anarchism". Anarchism is not a regime, or anything like a gov't. Why do you believe that if there was Anarchy there would be no literacy, and no jobs. HA, do you really believe that if people aren't forced to work, that they won't. People, since the beginning of time have been forced to work to survive. The work just happens to be towards more useless helpless things within modern western culture. Why do you instantly believe capitalism is a requirement for any sort of health care.
Do you think all that we've learned and advanced in, will suddently go away once capitalism falls. And do you really believe there is no way we can live in harmony. Hatred is rendered from the most obvious places. It's built into every religion and blind belief. The people in power and the mass-media further hatred even more. We see people in other countries as abstract "things", rather than humans. Lied to and decieved, we rely on other people to think. We're constantly being seperated, cut into groups, so we're easier to control.

The concept of Anarchy isn't simply the "smashing of the state". that would be silly , I don't believe there is some man or "they" that controls all that we do and all that we think. Clearly there are problems in every area of our organized life, Our gov't, and other gov'ts, simply further it, as well as directly and indirectly murder people. The "revolution" should also be about, changing the way people think. or rather, persuading people from being against other people for trivial reasons. We obviously cannot live together if we hate/resent eachother. That's the fundamental problem, people are persuaded via "our present way of life" to not care, or rather, not really care.

As far as your examples, Cambodia/India, that doesn't mean anything, Like I've said before, Anarchy is not a gov't, It just means there aren't any laws. You cannot compare two anarchy communities like you can compare two capitalist communities, there's nothing to compare, only that their aren't any laws. Through your examples, all that means is that there are serious problems within the country that aren't involved with their gov't, because if there is anarchy there, then there isn'e a gov't. Cambodia and India's present state also has a great deal to do with the financial distribution across the planet. In this world, if your country is not capitalist or similiar in financial dealings, then your utterly screwed. So your either part of the money flow, or else your fucked. There are few communities that this doesn't apply to. And it's really difficult for non-capitalist nations to enter the circle of distribution. Especially while they're being opressed and purposely kept in that state.

Literacy and understanding would be a huge part of the revolution. This may seem "overly ambitious", but hey, it's a hell of a lot better than accepting this way of life, or trying to change things "legally". Legality has never been truthfully legal. The entire concept is silly. It's filled with hypocrisy. Nobody can make up any rules for anyone else. If people begin hurting other people, those people and others should defend themselves and take care of the problem. We don't need to be protected from ourselves. We simply need to learn from each other. That may seem like a hippy, unlikely possibility, but all that proves, is that you've lost faith in your fellow people.

We're very abitious people, we can do anything. Instead of really being productive, our time is squandered in factories and office buildings, furthering our unhappy way of life. Here in the states, and even more so-around the world.

and I'm sorry you think the way you do....

by old punk
Friday Feb 21st, 2003 11:16 PM
okay, i stand corrected. i had seriously misconstrued anarchism and i appreciate the postings pointing out to me that it is not simply an absence of law or government, but something much broader having to do with establishing a way of life critical of imbalances of power, that prevents individuals from exploiting each other (close?). i'm still not quite sure i totally get it, but i think i understand the basic point y'all are making. i'm too much of a pragmatist to agree with it, but thanks for teaching me something.

that said, forgive me while i poke some good natured fun at all this. nate, i was trying to imagine how we could create a world in which free individuals lived harmoniously with each other outside of oppressive social or political constraints and without exploiting each other...

anarchist plan for recreating the world in 7 days

monday: invite world leaders to summit. have them all smoke a few joints together and talk things over. after a couple days and a lot of cross-cultural snacking (hey, saddam likes pretzels, too, whaddaya know!), they will undoubtedly decide to relinquish power and will go home and dissolve their respective nation-states and governments.

tuesday: abolish all forms of money and encourage people to barter so efficiently that there is a fairly equal distribution of natural resources everywhere in the world. nobody will have everything they want, but everybody will have enough to dissuade them from beating up on the community next door and taking their resources. miracle of miracles, americans start taking public transportation and the japanese pledge to drop their fetish of wrapping and boxing everything!

wednesday: convince every religious, cultural, ethnic, and social community in the world to drop their historical grievances against their neighbors, some dating back centuries. serbs will embrace bosnians, israelis and palestinians will find common ground, and people in illinois will agree to stop calling wisconsinites "cheeseheads."

thursday: close all prisons and release the inmates. ask the violent offenders and child molesters to please not commit future offences. throw a kegger for them with the former police officers. after a few beers, they all realize that they essentially share the same personality profile and the only real difference to overcome is the mustache issue.

friday: conduct diversity training and end misogyny, racism, homophobia, and all other forms of inter-society prejudice and oppression. do it in a way that will universally appeal to every culture and religion in the world. role playing activities between former vatican officials and the sisters of perpetual mercy will result in spectacular breakthroughs as the two groups openly discuss what they wear under their habits.

saturday: make all physical environments accessible to people with disabilities and conduct second training session to change social attitudes everywhere towards physical difference. agree to meet again the following saturday to clear all 110 million land mines currently buried.

sunday: hey, we did it! there's no culture, no religion, no societies, no difference we can't resolve, and nothing left to fight for. we have enforced our will for peace and harmony on the world and they all get along, goddammit.
by aaron
Saturday Feb 22nd, 2003 12:55 AM
Reminds me of what my seventh grade english told my class: sarcasm is the lowest form of humor.

I don't have any time right now, but I'll address just a couple of your points, very quickly.

Class struggle since Haymarket? That was 1885, right?

Off the top of my head, class struggle at the point of production--which isn't all the class struggle is, old punk--I'd suggest you read up on:

The 1912 Lawrence, Mass textile strike. Virtually the whole town was involved, multi-ethnic, female.

Look up the "Ludlow Massacre", 1910's

The IWW in the first decades of the 20th century before being smashed.

The 1934 general strike in San Francisco.

The Seattle general strike (can't remember the date off-hand).

The CIO strikes and sit-downs in Detroit auto factories in the 30s.

The CIO strikes in the mines in the 30s.

Check out strikes during WW2 and the burst of strikes in its immediate aftermath.

Agricultural workers organizing and strikes in California in the 60s and 70s.

Wildcat strikes in Detroit in the 70s.

Huge wildcat strikes in the mine-fields in the mid-70s. Carter tried to invoke Taft-Hartley and force miners back to work, with no success.

Hormel strike in Minnesota in the mid-80s.

UPS strike in the 90s.

Verizon strike last year.

Those are just a small sample of class struggle at the point of production.

As to Cambodia: you can't mention Cambodia and not mention the US' bombings in the early 70s that killed tens and tens and tens of thousands and softened it up for the Khmer Rouge. Nor can you fail to mention that the US sabotaged the Vietnamese' attempts to dislodge the KR; that the US offered assistance to the Khmer Rouge (through the Thai military, primarily), and pushed for the KR to retain its seat in the UN even AFTER it had been overthrown. Since when does the US offer support to a class struggle group? Exactly! It doesn't! It has a long historical fondness for massively brutal forces that create conditions conducive to its strategic goals, however.

As to your claim that the class stuggle is the figment of an overheated imagination, here's a few facts and quotes that I just quickly cut and pasted from a file I have. They're put together messily and in no particular order, but they're representative of what's goin' on:

In 1998, the top 1 percent of Americans owned 47.7 percent of all stock, while the bottom 80 percent owned 4.1 percent. Between 1989 and 1998, nearly 35 percent of all stock market gains went to the top 1 percent of shareholders. (NYU Economist Edward N. Wolff, cited by Economic Policy Institute, The State of Working America 2002-03, pp. 286-289)

Since the mid-1970s, the most fortunate one percent of households have doubled their share of the national wealth. They now hold more wealth than the bottom 90 percent of the population. (NYU Economist Edward N. Wolf, Top Heavy)

Between 1983 and 1998, households in the bottom 20 percent of the population saw their net worths decline from -$3,200 to -$8,900 in 1998 dollars. (NYU Economist Edward N. Wolff, cited by Economic Policy Institute, The State of Working America 2002-03, p. 281)

Wall Street Journal, “Economic Squeeze Has More Students Working Overtime,” 11/5/02
After adjusting for inflation, the average tuition at a four-year public university increased 117% between 1981 and 2001. The rise at private universities was 123%.
Nationwide, 74% of all full-time under-grads were working in 99-00 and they averaged 25.5 hours a week. That was up from 92-93, when the numbers were 65% and 23.5 hours. The number of under-grads working at least 35 hours/week rose from 13.5% to 19.7%. A full-time student graduating from a four-year school in 99-00 did so with an average of $16,900 in school-related federal loans, up 69% from 92-93.

Seattle Times, 10/13/02;“Steeped in debt: Good times end; spending doesn’t”
Today the average American household credit-card debt is $8,562, compared with an $2,985 average in 1990, according to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. More significantly, the percentage of a household's disposable income that goes to paying that debt rose from 16 percent in the early 1990s to 22 percent today.

From Dean Baker CEPR “New Economy Recession: Economic Scorecard” 2001 12/20/01:
Non-mortgage debt is now more than 23 percent of disposable income; by comparison it gpeaked in 1990, at the top of the previous expansion, at 18.4 percent of disposable income. Lower interest rates reduce the burden of this debt load, but it doesn’t change the fact that many households are reaching the limits of their ability to borrow. Mortgage debt has also increased at a very rapid pace in this business cycle. In 1989, mortgage debt stood at $3178.8 billion, in 2001 dollars. In the second quarter of 2001, it was at $5,143.2 billion, an increase of 61.8 percent

“Health care costs are rising while the economy is sputtering, and it looks like workers are going to pay the price” -- Drew Altman, Kaiser Foundation President. October, 2001

The Sacramento Bee, 1/27/02, “As more neighborhoods go upscale, tenants with fewer economic resources see disappearing homes”
Gentrification of old neighborhoods is leading to the disappearance of formerly subsidized affordable housing as apartment owners sell buildings making way for raised rents at market levels.
In the years 98-01, 142,000 of 1.3 million privately-owned apartments subsidized by federal dollars have been removed from the nation’s low-income housing stock; more than 20,000 have been lost in California, according to the National Housing Trust.

Washington Post, 6/23/02,
The number of temporary workers more than doubled from 1992 to 2000

San Francisco Chronicle, 5/5/02, “Faith, hope and community”
According to the 2000 Census, 1 in 7 black San Franciscans left the city in the 1990s.

CNNMoney, 5/20/02, “Homes out of reach”:
Reports that “increases in family income over the last decade have trailed the rise in home prices, even though the number of dual-income households has increased. Home prices rose 45 to 52 percent between 1991-2001, forcing families to devote more of their income to housing.”

“We’re pretty much in the drivers seat now” -- James Bastides, GM of the soon-to-open Red Robin Gourmet Burgers. In two months he’s collected 1,700 apps for 165 jobs paying between $6.50 and $9/hour. Applicants have included many college grads and laid-off factory workers. LA Times, 10/23/01

by nate
Saturday Feb 22nd, 2003 4:33 AM

You know, clearly......old punk, you either don't care at all, or else you don't care to understand what we're really doing. I realize now your just a cynical and disheartening individual. Your joke of our efforts is in no way ammusing. You obviously have no faith in any other way of doing things or in people at all. I believe, more than anything, that you simply think it's too much work, whether it's feasible or not. The thought of changing this "reasonable" society is too far fetched and exhausting.
Just keep waving your flag and march proudly on the 1st. But remember, Bush publicly stated that he "personally disagreed with the protests". So your efforts are useless. You might as well give up now and save the bart ride. Because you won't change anything via the common route.
by old punk
Sunday Feb 23rd, 2003 11:40 AM
thank you for the examples of class struggle and strikes. there is a rich history of workers fighting for better working conditions, point taken, but i still don't see the class war. cesar chavez was fighting for better conditions for farm workers, not for class war or revolution. auto workers were fighting for better pay and job security, not for co-operative ownership of gm or some such. while some of these activists were revolutionaries (e.g., harry bridges in the sf strikes), i'm not convinced that this was the overall aim of the activism in your examples. class struggle, yes. but revolutionary class war is your agenda, not that of workers involved in labor struggles. if anything, i believe this backs my point of view that social change comes in increments within the system rather than in full-blown revolutions.

as for my sense of humor, nate has called me heartless, uncaring, cynical, ignorant, ineffectual, etc. if he can dish it out like this, i will assume he can withstand a little teasing. i wasn't trying to be sarcastic, i was using humor to make my point that 1) what y'all are proposing is much more complex and multi-layered than you're willing to admit, and 2) in the absence of mentioning a thought-out plan of action in your postings, y'all appear to be proposing that vandalizing cop cars and mcdonalds and dancing on cable cars will spark world revolution and end the drive toward war on iraq. i don't buy it.

nate: i do care about issues of inequality in the world, i am neither heartless nor cynical, and i do understand what you're saying. you're arguing that people can and should peacefully and co-operatively co-exist without being coerced by externally imposed systems of law, governance, and economic and military oppression.

i respect your idealism, but i believe you are appallingly naive. this isn't personally directed at you; i feel the same way about anyone who is a proponent for "living off the grid" or "fighting the system from the outside," as if that were actually possible. you pay rent, you buy food, you wear clothing, you utilize public services... you are the system! i believe in changing systems of inequality, i just don't think that anarchist revolution is even remotely realistic or feasible because i believe that relationships of power are an integral aspect of human existence.

your bottom line appears to be "the way the world should be." my bottom line is "the world is the way it is and i have no control over most of it. what can i accomplish in spite of this?" i have great faith in human beings and i'm not a cynic, i'm a pragmatist and a proponent of local, incremental change by many people.

look, in the end we all share a basic, common goal: to change systems of inequality and affect positive change in the world, right? and, perhaps more immediately, to prevent a full-blown invasion of iraq. my efforts are not useless because bush doesn't agree with me. he doesn't need to agree with me, he just needs to do what i want. all we need to do (toward the immediate goal) is to prevent an invasion through the month of march; they won't start a war in april because it's too hot.

how can i accomplish this? well, millions of people peacefully taking to the streets seems to be slowing things down so far. i don't think anyone marching has the illusion of persuading bush to agree with us. shit, most of us don't even agree with each other on other matters. the goal is to exert popular political force on the government to prevent them from acting. on the other hand, dancing on cable cars and vandalizing corporate businesses will accomplish nothing and makes you look like a bunch of aimless, angry teenagers acting out.

i will be out there at the next march, and millions of us will accomplish something. good luck with your revolution to make the world "the way it should be." i'm sure capitalism will fall and human nature will change any day now, if we just throw enough rocks...
by Finger Prince
Sunday Feb 23rd, 2003 11:54 AM
What will people throw when the rocks run out?

Hopefully not these things:

That would be terrible.
by pancho
Wednesday Feb 26th, 2003 7:09 PM
I'm proud of the comments made here by old punk, nate and the berkely guy. seems like you all learned something from each other. Old punk you did come off as a dumbass at first so they calle you a dumbass but you turned out to be ok. Nate I'm glad to see there are anarchists like you who actually respond creativlly to criticisms instead of saying "anarchy rules" "you don't know anything liberal hippie" you did over react when he made the joke about 7days of anarchy- i'm an anarchist and I thought it was funny. Berkely you have good ideas about DA and you arn't all close minded about it either.- Id like to see more comments like the ones you guys made coments that are actually constructive
by black flag
Monday Mar 3rd, 2003 3:28 PM
I just really enjoyed all that took place with the breakaway march and hope to see more in the future. I hope to see some direct action the day the war begins.

Also, next time, if they draw a line in the sand and won't permit a breakaway march, I propose that instead of everyone getting arrested on a civil disobedience charge or worse (riding a trolley or hitting a cop with a half empty water bottle) we should take it to the streets that night. There's corporate targets everywhere.

And I happened to be passing through Berkeley the other day and I'd like to thank whoever tagged up that fast food lot on San Pablo. NICE.

Peace and Class War!
by Jane
Monday Mar 3rd, 2003 3:57 PM
What would you morons do if the real peace marchers, who weren't using the rally as cover to march for anarchy, stood in front of police, glass windows as human shields to stop the violence? I am sure the media would love that, and it would help mainstream people who want to stop a war in Iraq distance themselves from the fringe people who are exploiting the situation and the people in Iraq to march for their personal grievances.

The people of Iraq need the support of mainstream, majority America. Black bloc alienates mainstream, majority America.
by 86
Monday Mar 3rd, 2003 6:56 PM
So, the next march is the 15th of this month - it won't be hard to find the black bloc probably. Or alternatively, the war will start around that time - and you've heard the plan. Bring your group of police shields to Powell and Market or the various locations around the cities where people are doing yarn weaving and the intersections and such.
by jane
Monday Mar 3rd, 2003 7:27 PM
Ship of fools.