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Re: [smygo] Anarkids & Hypocrites

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  • David Graeber
    I reposted this to the NYC DAN list and am currently putting together ideas for a response to this rather annoying piece. Myself, I find Ehrenreich s rather
    Message 1 of 2 , May 31, 2000
      I reposted this to the NYC DAN list
      and am currently putting together ideas for a
      response to this rather annoying piece.
      Myself, I find Ehrenreich's rather Olympian
      detachment, and hardly-veiled condescension, annoying
      in the extreme. She obviously knows next to nothing
      about the Black Bloc, or DAN, or their relation, or
      the growing anti-capitalist movement in America today
      (her own aging-lefty malaise seems to great she mistakes
      a nation-wide surge of enthusiasm for depression. Huh?)
      But a few observations:

      DAN is mostly composed of "anarkids" as well:
      it's membership, at Seattle and still today, is quite
      youthful and majority anarchist, though as a broad
      umbrella group it includes pretty much anyone else who
      (unlike B.E.) wishes to actively oppose global capitalism
      as well.

      The purpose of non-violent demonstration is
      not to cause the cops to be nice, but, in part, to
      mobilize public opinion and reveal the genuine violence
      that lies behind state policy. Before N30 and A16 most
      of the public didn't know the WTO or IMF existed, let
      alone that the US government was willing to call up
      thousands of Imperial Storm Troopers to bludgeon
      non-violent teenagers who tried to oppose them. The
      initial frustration with the Black Bloc at Seattle was
      that stone-throwing would help justify the use of such
      police-state tactics in the public's mind.

      Another purpose of such demonstrations is to
      provide participants with occasions for the actual
      practice of democracy - real participatory democracy.
      Affinity groups are a way of creating an actual experience
      of what an anarchist-inspired social order might be like.
      Is B.E. opposed to this? Does she feel that ordinary
      people who have no idea what they will be facing should be
      encouraged to face the brutal DC police she describes
      without being told anything? Of course, DAN never stopped
      anyone from participating who wanted to - there was no
      rule one _had_ to be part of an affinity group at all -
      but it would be incredibly irresponsible to encourage
      people to face plastic bullets and pepper spray and the possibility
      of brutal arrest without at least offering them some
      training in how to deal with the situation beforehand,
      if they want it.

      The gap between DAN and Black Bloc-style anarchists
      was never as great as B.E. seems to think, and in fact most
      of the latter are active participants in DAN in one
      capacity or another. NYC-DAN for instance has loudly denounced
      the recent targeting of Black Bloc anarchists at rallies
      in New York and elsewhere, and in DC, Black Bloc anarchists
      played a highly cooperative and constructive role in the
      demonstrations (though one rather feels that B.E. actual
      sees this as a setback. Or what does she think? Does she even
      know who the respective parties are?)

      Far from running out of creative steam, DANs around
      the country are already dealing with some of the issues
      B.E. sets out. In a couple weeks NYC-DAN for instance will
      be holding a days meetings specifically on how to expand
      the movement, and particularly, how to adopt
      Civil Disobedience tactics to include more working people
      and people of color, who have different constraints,
      experiences and different histories of relation with the
      police. I am going to send the Progressive a letter challenging
      her to show up and see if rather than airy condemnation, she
      actually has something positive to contribute.
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