Anarchists, protests and revolution

Photo via Berkelyside

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.  [==John F. Kennedy]

The Black Lives Matter movement wants to de-fund the police.  So do anarchists.  There’s nothing surprising or hard to believe about anarchists involving themselves in the George Floyd protests.

By all accounts, these anarchists are very different from the peaceful, naive, idealistic Occupy Wall Street demonstrators.   They are revolutionaries.

I have a certain amount of sympathy with anarchist ideals, as expressed by the late Murray Bookchin and David Graeber.  Like James C. Scott, I am not sure a society based entirely on voluntary cooperation, mutual aid and self-reliance is feasible, but I think present-day society is more authoritarian than it needs to be.

But I don’t think that destroying the existing corrupt and oppressive economic and political structure will automatically produce a better result/

I take the possibility of revolution seriously.  I think the USA is on the verge of a social breakdown in which violent revolution is a real possibility.

I am sure most people who take part in the Black Lives Matter protests are ordinary people who want to correct an obvious injustice and do not advocate or practice violent aggression.

Photo via CGTN.

My guess is that the “Black Bloc” and “Antifa” are relatively few.  But a small, determined, purposeful minority can have a greater impact than a confused majority.

As has been said, revolution is not a dinner party. Few revolutions turned out the way the original revolutionaries expected.  Even revolutions that historians say were beneficial to humanity were not something I would want to live through.

Voter turnout among the young is small.  But the protests draw lots of younger people.  They have good reason to give up on politics as usual.

I’m not sure what I would say to them.  I could argue that violent protests are playing into the hands of the Trump Republicans.  I could say that they are doing what provocateurs  and infiltrators want them to do.

I could say that if there is a break-down in social order, the radical right is more likely to pick up the pieces than the radical left,  The right has more guns and more sympathizers in the police and military than the left does.

But I could not say with a straight face that the protesters can accomplish necessary change by working through the two-party system.  I don’t honestly see hope in a third-party campaign.  I see bad years ahead.

LINKS

Blocs, Black and Otherwise on Crimethinc.  A manual of tactics for anarchist protesters.  Important.

Inside the Antifa Riots by J.D. for Seemorerocks.  A report on these tactics in action. Also important.

Antifa: What is behind the masks at Berkeley? by Natalie Orenstein for Berkeleyside.

Who are the extremist outsiders appropriating the Black Lives Matter movement? by Wang Yan for CGT

Inside a Cop-Free Zone by Wes Enzinna for Harper’s Magazine.

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One Response to “Anarchists, protests and revolution”

  1. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    The violence in the protests isn’t what plays into Trump’s hands.

    It is the people who burn down the local CVS pharmacy or looting and destroying retail stores. The people who set up autonomous zones an leave a mess for all the businesses and residents involuntarily included.

    Large legal protests don’t phase most people. The baby boom generation grew up with them and may have participated. But fires and looting tends to piss off older people – people who may have spent a lifetime establishing a business or paying off a mortgage. It could be them next and having been a supporter of the BLM movement won’t matter in the slightest. Never mind all the worker bees who are now unemployed due to their workplace being trashed.

    Like

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