Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Rally for a Public Inquiry Concerning the Actions at the G20...

Toronto
5:30pm
Thursday July 1 2010
Queen's Park

Over the course of the the G20, police have ignored our civil liberties through illegal searches, detentions, and mass arrests -- with Chief of Police Bill Blair making up the law and misleading the public as he went along. Countless people have been profiled, harassed and many people have been beaten on the streets and in their homes, shot at with rubber bullets and gassed without provocation.

The Toronto 900 are the biggest mass arrest in Canadian history and have been denied basic legal rights of access to lawyers, phone calls, food/water, medications while being kept in cages. There are accounts of detainees being taunted, female prisoners strip-searched by male guards and threatened with sexual assault, a prisoner who is deaf denied an independent sign language interpreter, and specific targeting of Aboriginal, Francophone and Queer prisoners.

The political prisoners need to be released immediately. We need an independent inquiry over the criminalization of dissent. We need to take our city back.

organized by
Canadians Advocating Political Participation (CAPP) Toronto

Since they were most likely not ready to go there...yet...


I cried when I saw this lone mama resisting police with her babe in arms. She was probably killed or seriously harmed along with her child. I mentioned tonight in conversation that the organizers ignored or perhaps vetoed what would have been a useful and most likely effective guerilla tactic. I'm fairly certain that police in Toronto this past weekend weren't prepared to kill or even harm parents with small children. What if organizers had done outreach specifically with strategic resistance in mind? What if elders and parents with young children had been in the lead? I only took toddler boy to one demo on Friday. Things were tense but we stayed. If I had been walking with five hundred families of parents with children, I would have brought both my children everyday and found the strength to not move. I don't think Toronto police are prepared right now to murder, hit, push, traumatize young children. heh. It's probably only a deeply enraged mama who understands that there really is so much at stake, who knows that there is so much more we are all going to lose who would even think about testing that assumed boundary, though. Bad, bad mama. Yup.

Just because I'm living in the twilight zone right now...

happy music for EveryONE!

Street Medics Call for Independent Investigation into Injuries Caused by Police...

For Immediate Release

By Toronto Street Medics; June 28, 2010 - Toronto Media Co-op
http://toronto.mediacoop.ca/newsrelease/3926

Toronto - June 28, 2010 - For Immediate Release

Volunteers who provided first aid at the G20 protests this weekend are calling for an independent investigation into injuries caused by police. “There has been a lot of focus on violence against property, but we are calling attention to violence against people,” said Sarah Reaburn, a nurse.

Toronto Street Medics is an independent organization of volunteers with various levels of health training. They provided preventative health services and emergency first aid to protestors and bystanders.

“During the week, we gave out water and sunscreen, but also dealt with severe injuries. All of the serious injuries were inflicted by the police. From Saturday’s reports alone, we assisted multiple people who had been hit over the head with police batons, trampled by horses and many who were pepper sprayed,” stated Reaburn. The Medics escorted several victims to nearby hospitals who were later diagnosed with concussions and broken bones. Many injuries were captured on camera and have begun to circulate over the Internet(1). Aside from Toronto Street Medics, others were providing first aid, hence these initial reports are an underestimate.

“We saw people seriously injured behind police lines who we could not reach on Saturday and Sunday. We are concerned for these individuals. They require immediate, independent assessment at a hospital,” stated Abeer Majeed, a family physician. “In addition to Amnesty International’s call(2), we demand an investigation into violent police action at these protests. This must be conducted by an independent body without ties to the police and the Integrated Security Unit.” Dr. Majeed went on to assert, “People were beaten simply for exercising their right to demonstrate”.

Street Medics faced barriers in many instances. Several medics were detained by police and intimidated, despite identifying themselves. Medical equipment, such as gauze, bandaids and gloves, was confiscated. In some instances, medics were barred from entering areas where people were injured.

###

Media contacts: Sarah Reaburn or Abeer Majeed
Email: torontomedics[at]gmail.com
Phone: 647-892-4357

Notes:

1.


. Accessed: June 27, 2010.


. Accessed: June 27, 2010.

http://www.thestar.com/videozone/829371--police-fire-muzzle-.... Accessed: June 28, 2010.



. Accessed: June 27, 2010.

2. Amnesty International. “Peaceful protest suffers amidst heavy security measures and acts of vandalism”. June 27, 2010
http://www.amnesty.ca/resource_centre/news/view.php?load=arc.... Accessed: June 27, 2010.

G20 Protests: Fighting Back Against the Police State...

By Alan Sears; Tuesday, 29 June 2010 - New Socialist
http://www.newsocialist.org/index.php?option=com_content&vie...

On Monday, June 28, a large and boisterous demonstration of about 2500 people that snaked through the streets of Toronto continued the movement to rid this city of the police state regime that took over during the G20 summit. The leaders of the G20 had gone. As expected, their gathering had focused on finding new ways to restore corporate profits by taking it out of the workers and the poor. But the movement against the police state regime and the G8/G20 agenda is continuing.

The police prepared for the protests by creating an inside-out prison, in which the inmates were "free" while the rest of us faced a lockdown. Gangs of heavily-equipped police roamed the streets and the subways. People were searched at random. Miles of wall were erected to keep us from Harper and his summit. An extraordinary regulation was adopted by the provincial cabinet in secret to suspend civil rights near the wall.

The demonstrations, actions and teach-ins against the G8/G20 were large, and seemed to draw in new layers of activists. The police presence was heavy-handed. For example, the Toronto Community Mobilization march on Friday, June 25 was penned in by an extremely heavy police presence, suited out in riot gear. The police drove the demo into back streets and away from its intended route.

The largest demonstration was the labour-backed "People First" march on Saturday, June 26, which was the largest protest I have seen in Toronto since the protests against the Harris Tory government in the mid-1990s. There were probably 10 000 participants. The official march was one of those typical "road to nowhere" demonstrations that frustrates many activists by turning away from the site of the target of the protest. Two breakaways to march towards the wall were halted by the overwhelming police presence, and some demonstrators were beaten.

Then a group of people did break away, retracing the route of the original march in reverse. Some people from this group were involved in the fairly limited property damage (some broken windows and trashed police cars) that was very heavily reported in the media. I don't think we can know at this point the real story of the role of the police in this property damage, as we do know that certain activist groups were heavily infiltrated and police provocateurs have in the past used Black Bloc garb as a cover.

What is clear is that the police used that breakaway as a pretext to stage a coup, essentially shutting down the right to dissent in Toronto. Tear gas, rubber bullets and mass arrests became the automatic tool for dealing with any protests. Journalists were roughed up. Activists were arrested at their homes. Places accommodating out-of-town protesters were raided. The Graduate Student Union at the University of Toronto was the site of one of those round-ups, and as I write members of the executive of the GSU are still being detained.

This police response is probably the greatest single assault on political rights in the Canadian state since 1970. In October 1970, using two kidnappings by the Front de Liberation du Quebec (FLQ) as the pretext, the federal government invoked the War Measures Act, sent troops onto the streets of Montreal and had about 500 people arrested, including labour and community activists, journalists and artists (most of whom had no connection to the tiny FLQ).

In Toronto, the excuse for the police state regime was the limited property damage committed by a relatively small number of people on the afternoon of Saturday, June 26. However one assesses the actual events of that day, the police response that followed was completely out of proportion.

The total bill for security for the summit was well over $1 billion. There was nothing spontaneous about the police actions. Police have been planning for months, and that planning clearly included the infiltration of activist groups.

Targeting Anarchism: New McCarthyism

In the week leading up to the summit, the specific targeting of "anarchists" became clearer. The Tories and the security services admitted the terrorist threat was low. But terrorism was not their real target. Cabinet minister Stockwell Day signaled a particular focus on "anarchists" for this security crackdown in speaking about "the unfortunate power that a small group of thugs has. And when I'm talking about thugs... I'm talking about the anarchists and the violent groups who have already indicated that they're going to be there and they're going to cause trouble."

Sadly, others have participated in this targeting of "anarchists." Canadian Labour Congress President Ken Georgetti issued a statement on June 26 that said "Our rally and march were entirely peaceful from start to finish. It appears that a small group of anarchists, who are unknown to us, became involved in some violent and destructive activities as the day progressed."

The police justified their attacks on peaceful demonstrators on Saturday and Sunday and their round-ups of activists from their homes and lodgings on the basis of accusations that Black Bloc activists might be among them. Prominent activists were snatched from the streets and thrown into unmarked vans. It seems that a longer-term strategy of targeting "anarchists" is being brought into play, fueled by lots of prior overt and covert work by police and security organizations. It led to the mass arrests on Saturday and Sunday.

The crucial immediate task is the political defence of those who have been arrested. This huge attack on our protest rights needs to be taken up in a way that pulls the left together and opens up channels for respectful discussion and debate. We specifically need to challenge the targeting of anarchism, which is highly reminiscent of the McCarthyite tactic of labeling any radical a "communist."

As we build a movement against the police state regime and the capitalist agenda it is protecting, we also need to create places to openly discuss and debate the effectiveness of various tactics used in these and other mobilizations. Specifically, activists need to discuss the relationship between tactics and the overall goal of mobilizing, rather than getting stuck on the idea that any specific tactic is always the best, entrenched in principle. We really need good discussions on why we protest.

Every protest (this side of the revolution) involves some combination of demonstrating our insurgent potential in the streets and registering symbolic dissent from the way things are. The precise balance between insurgence and symbolism will vary in specific circumstances, depending particularly on the goals of the specific action and an assessment of the balance of forces.

I come from a political tradition of "socialism from below" that is ultimately rooted in the idea that revolution is about the great mass of the population rising up and taking power with their own hands. Numbers matter, because we want more and more people to join in the project of changing the world. But it also matters that those involved feel that they are accomplishing something through their actions. The feeling of effectiveness will vary in different circumstances. The goal is to build mass militancy, where very large numbers use their power to bring the production of goods and services to a halt and create real democracy in the streets and in workplaces.

The G8/G20 police state regime is not exceptional, but is a warning of the direction Harper, the cops and the security services will go if we do not stop them. Protest against this police state regime is important in challenging this regime and the capitalist order it is protecting. This protest shows both the potential and the need to build a new left with the social weight to make a real difference, both in the streets and in political discussion and debates. We need to be able to mobilize in militant action against those in power and to persuade more people who do not support radical social change that it is possible to challenge this unjust order and their own activity can make a real difference.

Alan Sears is one of the editors of the New Socialist webzine and is active in Faculty for Palestine.

This article was originally published in the New Socialist webzine (www.newsocialist.org)

Prison Planet - Will G20 Police Succeed In Covering Up Reports of Rape and Torture?

Prison Planet - Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Now that Canada is officially the most oppressive and backward dictatorship in the west, will authorities be allowed to cover-up the Abu-Ghraib style incarceration methods Toronto police engaged in during the G20 summit this past weekend, where women were arrested and subsequently raped by male cops?

In the video below, journalist Amy Miller describes how women arrested by Toronto police were threatened with rape, that numerous women were strip-searched by male officers and that one severely traumatized woman was sexually molested by police who stuck their fingers up her vagina.

“I was told I was going to be gang banged. I was told that I was never going to want to act as a journalist again by making sure I was going to be repeatedly raped while I was in jail,” she said.

Sexual penetration of an individual against their will is called rape. If these reports are accurate, and there’s no reason to think otherwise given everything else we’ve witnessed not only over the past few days but over the past several years in Canada, Toronto police officers are not only brutal thugs who like to lie about the law, unlawfully arrest people, snatch and grab protesters using unmarked cars, and beat up journalists from major newspapers, but they are also rapists who prey on innocent women.

We have now learned that Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair engaged in mass public deception by lying about the claim that Toronto’s “Public Works Act” mandated G20 protesters to show their ID. The law doesn’t exist, it was never passed. The police officers who cited this law when arresting Charlie Veitch were knowingly engaging in wrongful arrest and should be sued.

Likewise, the goons who brutally molested women Abu-Ghraib style need to be identified and prosecuted. Miller should seek out the victims and bring charges against those involved, and not allow these monsters to cover-up their shameful behavior.

UPDATE: We have now learned that four journalists, including Miller, have “filed complaints with Ontario’s police watchdog, with allegations that police physically assaulted or threatened to sexually assault the females when they were arrested during the Toronto G20 summit.”

In addition, Guardian journalist Jesse Rosenfeld has spoken publicly of his ordeal at the hands of G20 police.

“I was grabbed on each side and hit in the stomach and back and pounced on by officers. I kept asking them why they were beating me because I wasn’t resisting arrest. But they lifted my leg and twisted my ankle,” said Rosenfield.

How to conduct a kidnapping...

Police kidnapping in Toronto from marsupilami dubitatif on Vimeo.

The weapons to massacre the G20 and Toronto - When the police does politics....

If you had the impression there was a strange tendency to criminalize dissent during the Toronto G20 Summit, well here is your proof.

by Michaƫl Lessard

Le Devoir (June 29, 2010) reported the Toronto Police press conference "presenting to the media objects confiscated from activists. The chief, Bill Blair, called this dozen of objects 'weapons' destined to 'attack the city'."

[ Picture description for those with limited eyesight : picture taken above a table on which stands a black helmet mediacoop.ca, a book Upping The Anti, a thin rope, a stapler, a gas mask, etc. Source: Le Devoir, June 29, 2010.]

If you had the impression there was a strange tendency to criminalize dissent during the Toronto G20 Summit, well here is your proof.

* mediacoop.ca - Visibly, with this presentation, the police chief expresses that independent reporters are a threat for him. We are too difficult to control I presume. Hmm, but why would a reporter want to protect his head from batons ? Oh yes, I almost forgot, because journalists and reporters were assaulted, thrown to the ground, and placed in arbitrary detention.

* Upping The Anti - words such as 'left', 'left-wing' or 'revolutionary' are deemed delinquent by the chief it seems. The problem is the police, in a democracy, have the duty to judge your actions rather than your opinions. Yet police officers who show left-wing books as sign of illegal behaviour is sadly not new (though it remains as pathetic as ever).

* Many dangerous helmets-of-striking, mask-gas-launchers and murderous glasses were also presented - More seriously, it was surprising, in fact, to see so many people, of various ages and styles, including a family, wearing protections in case of an anti-riot charge, tear gas or "non-lethal" projectiles (rubber bullets, etc.). I can't wait to see them before a court of law presenting these "weapons".

Imaginary game : watch the pictures and describe how you would commit a terrorist attack with these objects. There is a small rusted wood handsaw that surely cannot cut a fence, it might cut bread at worse, but I'll let your imagination concoct a diabolical plan !

With this presentation from the chief, we now better understand why agents under his command stopped so many protests and arrested so many members of the Toronto Alter Media Centre. The chief will have to apologize sooner or later, though he does not want to, for criminalizing all the protests outside the official march. The true criminals remain the politicians who gave such unconstitutional powers, with the added free gift of allowing to place on file, with their addresses, hundreds of left-wing people.

The police public relations campaign of domination, veiled threat and lies is terrifying...

As I've always said to my daughter - they are not our friends. Funny how many fully grown adults don't realize that even now.

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair's press conference on Tuesday June 29th is a continuation of the police department's public relations campaign to silence and criminalize the work of those speaking out against the G20 and the Toronto Community Mobilization Network. His attempt to demonize protesters is an attempt to divert attention away from the way police brutalized people and ignored basic human rights during the mass mobilizations of tens of thousands of people last week. As writer Naomi Klein said last night at a jail solidarity rally to the police chief; “Stop playing politics and public relations with our friends’ lives and let them go.”
Thousands of people in Toronto and from other communities came together in the streets because they are angry and frustrated about the G8/G20 policies that inflict violence upon millions of people here and around the world. The G20 and their institutional partners the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have created and implemented harmful economic measures that favour the profit of the rich over the lives of the poor and marginalized. Chief Bill Blair’s labeling of the Toronto Community Mobilization Network as a violent organization cannot hide the way that the Toronto Police Service and their partners in the Integrated Security Unit displayed a gross abuse of power and incompetency.
What the people in Toronto and the people all over the world saw on Saturday and Sunday was unfocused brutality in combination with targeted intimidation at the hands of the police. But this treatment and these tactics will not stop people from speaking out against injustice, whether it is perpetuated by G8/G20 policies or by local police.

The TCMN is a network made up of many people, many of whom are community organizers working with youth, poor, and marginalized communities every day. These people are angry that G8/G20 policies are creating social injustice and environmental destruction in their communities and elsewhere. As a diverse network, the Toronto Community Mobilization Network acknowledges that people have autonomy and will decide for themselves how they show and communicate this frustration.
The police have done everything in their power to criminalize lawful dissent and are engaging in willful misrepresentation of protesters. The Toronto Community Mobilization Network demands that those facing charges must be treated as human beings with the right to due process and released.

G20 Toronto Police Rape Threats + Strip Searched - Amy Miller...

Press Statement - Toronto Community Mobilization Network...

The G8/G20 are anti-democratic illegitimate institutions that inflict daily violence on our communities. Everywhere the G8 and G20 have met to further their exploitative agendas – from London to Pittsburgh to Toronto - they have faced huge opposition from local communities. The kind of mass resistance we have seen in Toronto has and will continue to follow them wherever they go.



For several months, communities across Toronto have been coming together to resist the imposition of austerity measures advanced at the G8/G20 summits. The Harper government spends 1.2 billion taxpayer dollars to host the G8/G20 summits while it cuts social spending in ways that have drastic impacts people in the Toronto area and other parts of Canada. 
 


Since these communities have come together, the police have been using intimidation tactics to repress and silence people in the Toronto community. Police and intelligence officers went to community organizers' homes and harassed them in the streets. Now they have arrested many of these people, many of them young organizers of color, and charged them with conspiracy. 


These people hold the Harper government to account and they speak out against policies that are making ordinary people poorer, sicker and more desperate. As a result, they have been intimidated, harassed, and imprisoned. They are political prisoners in this country, where the police repression shows that its claims of democracy are simply window dressing. 



While police continue to intimidate people, individuals and community members keep going out in the streets to show that they are not afraid and stand with political prisoners as well as oppressed peoples – first nations communities, immigrants and refugees, poor people, people of color, women, trans people, people with disabilities and queer communities. 
 


The police intimidation and repression added to the anger and frustration people have with the G8/G20 policies and leaders that destroy their lives and the lives of people around the world. This is why people targeted banks and multinational corporations, and the property of police. 



Ultimately, 1 billion dollars were spent on beating people who were demonstrating throughout the week, on intimidating community members in the streets, on arresting organizers of color and indigenous solidarity organizers, on sending demonstrators to hospital with broken bones, and on using tear gas on those in the so-called designated “free speech” zone. 1 billion dollars has not been used to protect people and to keep the city safe. Instead it has been used to repress the people who are working to make this city, and planet a fairer, more just, and more humane place.

Toronto Community Mobilization Network

G20 detainees - Amnesty International is being contacted...

June 28, 2010

Conditions at G20 Detention Centre are illegal, immoral and dangerous

Detainees forced in cages with little food and water for up to 35 hours

by Justin GiovannettiLex Gill

WE ARE CALLING AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. IN THE MEANTIME, DISTRIBUTE THIS LINK AS WIDELY AS POSSIBLE.

We (i.e., Justin Giovannetti and Lex Gill) are both able and willing to testify in front of a court of law, tribunal or hearing to attest to the validity of these statements. Much of this is now recorded on video and we have some contact information for the victims. We will NOT consent to contact with any police representatives (municipal, provincial, or federal) nor will we consent to speaking to other security agencies (CSIS, Canadian Forces, etc.). We can be contacted at lex.gill [at] gmail [dot] com, or jackgiovannetti [at] gmail [dot] com.

We just got back to our computers and are frantically writing this message. It is 4:45 a.m. on Monday morning. We are the only people who seem to know the extent of this story. Coffee and adrenaline keeping us going. When we got to Queen and Spadina after leaving the Convergence Centre raid today, we had already been blocked off by police lines. It was pouring rain, and we could hear a confrontation taking place further down the street. The cops didn't care whether or not we were media -- in fact, we heard that media was forced to leave before we arrived. Police acted violently and with sheer disregard for the law, attacking peaceful protesters and civilians unrelated to the protest. Tired, frantic, and feeling defeated, we came home and posted the message before this one.

We then did the only thing left to do, and headed to 629 Eastern Avenue (the G20 Detention Centre, a converted film studio), where detainees from the demonstrations were being taken. We knew people were being released sporadically so we grabbed as many juice boxes and granola bars as we could afford and set off with medical supplies. Journalists were basically absent, showed up only to take a few seconds of video, or simply arrived far too late to be effective.

It is next to impossible to set the scene of what happened at the Detention Centre. Between the two of us we estimate that we spoke to over 120 people, most of whom were released between 9:30 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. Despite not knowing each other, the story they tell is the same. It goes like this. Most were arrested at three locations: the Novotel on Saturday evening where the police arrested hundreds of peaceful protesters (look @spaikan on Twitter); Spadina/Queen's Park all day Saturday and early Sunday, as people were arrested all over the downtown for many different (and often bogus) reasons; and the University of Toronto, where hundreds of Quebecers and others were woken up and arrested at gun point early Saturday morning.

What follows is a list, as detailed as we can make it in a blog post, of what we saw and heard.

People were held for up to 35 hours with a single meal. None seemed to have received food more than twice daily, the meal they did receive was a hamburger bun with processed cheese and margarine described as a centimeter thick. Detainees had to create loud noises for hours to receive any food at all. All reported feeling more ill and dehydrated after eating than before. Some vomited and received no medical attention when they did. Water was not provided with the meal.
Inadequate water, as little as an ounce every 12 hours. Although some people reported receiving approximately an ounce (a small Dixie cup) of water every three hours, most seemed to have received far less than that. They had to create loud noises and continuously demand water, only to receive it up to an hour and a half later. Sometimes rooms with over a dozen people were only given a handful (four or five) cups of water and forced to share. Some reported the water as yellow-coloured and smelling of urine, which they didn't drink.
Facilities over-capacity.There were many reports of "cages" filled with 40 people, though a police officer told one detainee that they were intended for groups of no more than 15 to 20. Each cage had a single bench, with only enough seating for five people. There was only one toilet in each cage and it was without a door. Women were creating barriers with their bodies for others to create some semblance of privacy.
Major delays in processing.Many detainees were told that the only reason they remained at the Centre was due to unexplained delays in processing. Most detainees seemed to go through a three step system whereby they were put in an initial holding cell, only to be moved to a second cell after meeting a Staff Sergeant in a board room. This is where they were told what they were arrested for. Eventually they were moved to a third cell before release. This process seemed to take no less than 10 hours. Others were never told why they were arrested and never signed any documents. A few were released immediately upon arriving at the Centre and were never processed. Some were never brought to a cell, only made to wait in a line to be let out.
Inconsistent charges. Groups arrested at the same time and for the same behaviour were given different charges, with some let out and others given court dates. Many felt the police simply assigned a charge or did not know why they were being arrested. Some charges were changed or dropped before the detainees were released.
People put in solitary confinement. Most of the openly queer detainees reported to have been transferred to a "Segregated Zone." In cages built for one, couples of men and women were held. A lesbian is reported to have spent nearly 10 hours alone. Another woman said she was kept alone in a large cell for hours, asking to be moved the whole time.
No pillows or mattresses to sleep. No bedding was ever provided for detainees, who were told to sleep on bare concrete floors. Detainees were stripped of all but a single shirt and legwear. Many said they could not sleep during their day long detentions.
Unsanitary and unsafe living conditions. Many of the floors of the cages were covered with dirt and the residue from green paintballs used to identify suspects in crowds. Vomit was also on the floor and no cleaning of the cages took place.
Police intimidation of released detainees. With many of the detainees released and standing across the street from the detention centre, getting food and water from community volunteers while waiting for friends, police stood menacingly across the road. Almost all the detainees were frightened by the police presence and feared an attack. The police used the headlights of rental Dodge Caravans to light up the crowd, citing a need to "keep them visible."
Non-stop light exposure/loss of natural light rhythm/sensory deprivation. Detainees emerged with a broken day/night cycle, being deprived of all connection to the outside world or any other time-based events (ie. set eating times). While in their cages, detainees were subject to constant light.
Exposure to extreme cold.Detainees complained of the air conditioning in the building being very high. Many of them said that they were frozen and asked for blankets, a request which was always refused. Due to having only a single layer of shirt and sleeping on concrete floors, the cages were extremely cold.
Sexual harassment of women and Queer people. We heard many first-hand accounts of cat-calls and crude sexual comments directed at women from police officers at the Centre. Some women faced inappropriate sexual contact (including one girl who was forced to endure a police officer covering her body with detainee number stickers in order to touch her), and rough handling from police officers. Openly Queer boys were told to "straighten up," and there was at least one completely nude strip search preformed on a young woman with no reasonable explanation. It is unclear whether the strip searches that took place were consistently conducted by members of the same gender. It is also unclear as to whether any Transpeople, if detained, were put in cells of a gender of their own determination or in cells of a police gender assignment.
Youth as young as 15 in adult cells. Youth (under 18) detainees were held in the same cells as adults, some of whom had not been charged at all (and thus it could not be justified that they were being held on adult charges). A 16-year-old was held in an adult cell for at least 12 hours, the police were fully aware of his age, and his parents were at no point contacted.
Denial of legal counsel. When detainees asked to see lawyers they were told that they would receive legal counsel at a later time or at the time of processing. Often, these times went by and no legal counsel was provided. Those released without charge were told to avoid contacting lawyers. Most detainees said they were never informed of their rights.
No phone call. About only one in ten of the detainees we spoke to had been given access to a phone. Others were promised access at a later time and never received it. There was a father waiting outside for his 20-year old son who had been arrested Saturday afternoon or evening, and had yet to receive a call. Many of the detainees were told that only 20 phones were available in the building, holding over 500 detainees at the time. The offices of legal counsel also had no landlines.
Belonging stolen/damaged.Most detainees reported that at least some of their confiscated belongings were not returned to them, including passports, wallets, credit and debit cards, money, cellphones and clothing. When detainees were escorted outside the Centre, many were made to walk on the street without access to their shoes (sealed in thick plastic bags only returned at the limit of the Centre's property). Some shoes were missing entirely. At least one extremely visually impaired detainee's glasses were put with his belongings and were severely damaged when he recovered them (ie. broken in half).
Threats of assault/harassment.Many detainees, but especially French Canadian detainees (who were not served in French), were taunted and threatened with assault. Homophobic slurs were used by guards and one was told that if he was ever seen again in Toronto the cop would attack him. Other degrading comments were made, including telling detainees that they "looked like dogs."
Obviously illegal civilian arrests. Some civilians who were completely uninvolved in the demonstrations were arrested while exiting subway stations in the downtown core. Some were arrested after illegal searches of cars turned up "dangerous goods" (like books about activism and lemon juice). One fully-uniformed TTC streetcar driver was arrested for hours. He had been ordered out of his streetcar by riot police and was immediately arrested. We wish we were kidding.
No access to medication or medical treatment. While doing medical support, Lex met at least two people who had been denied medication. The first was a woman who said that she was pre-diabetic and needed medication for nausea and dizziness. She was denied access to medical treatment, despite the fact that by the time Lex found her she was extremely faint, barely conscious, and had difficulty sitting up. The second was a young man who was prescribed anti-psychotics and had missed several doses (he did not, however, have an episode at the time Lex met him). We heard stories of at least one person with Type 2 diabetes inside the Centre who had been deprived of insulin and fell unconscious. Many stories of a man handcuffed to a wheelchair, missing a leg (and his prosthetic) came from the released detainees. One recently-released detainee had four extremely poorly done stitches on his chin and was uncertain as to what shots (whether tetanus or anesthetic, or both) he was given. He was given the stitches at the time of his arrest and the wound was still bleeding badly (we had to sterilize it and applied gauze).
AbandonmentDespite all of the above mentioned crimes against detainees, most notably including medical issues, the Toronto Police had no plan for the detainees after they were released. They were simply escorted off the property and told to leave. Many had no idea where they were, had no access to a phone, had not eaten in a day, had no identification or money on their person, and were nowhere near mass transit. Had community volunteers and fellow released detainees not been present to assist them, we fear that some could have faced life-threatening medical emergencies or death.

We will be continually updating this blog over the next few weeks. Please share this with everyone you possibly can. People must know what has happened in Toronto. For those of you attending the Jail Solidarity rally tomorrow, please distribute this link widely.

Thank you.

For Justice,

Justin Giovannetti and Lex Gill

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Oh puLEEZ! Only people with no memory think this hasn't happened here before...

They called community response to what happened to Rodney King in L.A. youth discontent. It sparked a whole wave of youth specific initiatives that did not at all address the issue of race and racism in Toronto where police had been shooting and strip searching and following Black people for quite some time. This past weekend was about something else. I just find it interesting the way people are shaking their heads and saying this has never ever happened before.

Talking to my eight year old over breakfast about the G20 before I left to go protest...

We had a conversation about the presence of evil in the world, about psychopaths, what that word means, about people who take so much from us, too much from us until we have nothing left even to feed our children, about that being tantamount to harming our children. She already knows about the big masters who stole us from Africa, about how people made money off us and about how people are still making money off us today. It wasn't a stretch to explain to her about how important it is to resist, to fight, even if it means getting hurt in the process. It's just the right thing to do.

A look at the Public Works Protection Act...

More police violence...

Snatch squads R Us...

Yes, please move to kkkanada...

"Home" sweet "home"...

The Emergence of The Black Bloc and The Movement Towards Anarchism...

The Emergence of The Black Bloc and The Movement Towards Anarchism
category north america / mexico | anarchist movement | opinion/analysis author Tuesday May 18, 2010 15:31author by David Van Deusen - Green Mountain Anarchist Collectiveauthor address Peoples' Republic of Vermont Report this post to the editors
From the Black Bloc Papers... "Since the Battle of Seattle, the North American Left, and specifically the smaller yet growing revolutionary Anarchist movement, has been invigorated at least as much as it has become a common reality in the consciousness of the public. This has not occurred in a vacuum. Nor has this happened due to a simple, quantifiable reason. The reasons are as much diverse and subjective as they are objective and empirically observable." -David Van Deusen
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From The Black Bloc Papers, full book available free online at: http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=bb-papers

"Get Busy Living, Or Get Busy Dying!"
—The Kings of Nuthin, Boston, Massachusetts

March, 2001, The Peoples’ Republic of Vermont- Since the Battle of Seattle, the North American Left, and specifically the smaller yet growing revolutionary Anarchist movement, has been invigorated at least as much as it has become a common reality in the consciousness of the public. This has not occurred in a vacuum. Nor has this happened due to a simple, quantifiable reason. The reasons are as much diverse and subjective as they are objective and empirically observable.

One facet of this movement (specifically of the revolutionary anarchist movement) is encapsulated and advanced by the militant actions of a group commonly referred to as the Black Bloc. This informal grouping has acted as a necessary radical action wing of the larger social protest movement. Where Liberal inclinations have threatened to stifle large demonstrations under a blanket of acceptability, predictability and boredom, this contingent—numbering anywhere from less than 100 to over 1000 in a typical Bloc—has forced a creative unleashing of popular insurrectionary sentiment.

The following essay is primarily concerned with the Black Bloc. However, in order to more accurately discuss this faction, it will be necessary to paint a picture of the larger contemporary framework within and against which it operates. Towards this end this work will be divided into three sections. The first will deal directly with the Black Bloc; its historical roots, as well as the tactics it commonly employs. The second section will discuss the social, political, psychological and economic macrocosm in which the present movement is situated. The final section will discuss the smaller social context in which the revolutionary anarchist movement as well as the Black Bloc directly exists.

It is the intention of this essay to provide a historical, theoretical and practical base from which a more grounded understanding of the Black Bloc, as well as the revolutionary Anarchist movement generally, can emerge. Such a grounding can and will only lead to a more mature discussion and development of Anarchist praxis and revolutionary progress. It is with this in mind that I here turn towards section one.
Section l
The Emergence of The Black Bloc: History, Tactics and General Constituency
"I wear the black for the poor and beaten down... [And] for the prisoner who has long since served his time."
—Johnny Cash

The Black Bloc can trace its historical roots all the way back to when- and wherever people comprising an oppressed class or group militantly rose up against their oppressors. Elements of the particular tactics of the Bloc were previously utilized by the Weather faction of Students for a Democratic Society (the SDS) in North America during the “Days of Rage” in 1969.1 Specifically, the Bloc’s tactical aesthetic and more refined methods of State confrontation first began to concretely emerge in the 1980s Autonome movement in Germany. There, the seriousness of the anti-nuclear movement as well as the demands of the continuing Anarchist/anti-fascist movement required that mass protests be brought to a higher level of militancy and unanimity. Hence, radical collectives—often from within the anarcho-punk scene and typically of working class composition—began to urge their members and social militants generally to assemble at demonstrations donning uniform black clothes (with masks), and to march as a single protest contingent (among many others). With their identities effectively hidden in temporary uniformity, they were able to more successfully push protest actions in more militant directions while protecting themselves from being singled out for direct State oppression or later legal charges or both. This process matured to the point where the emerging Black Bloc began to develop better self-defense and militant tactics. It must be understood that this formation was not the birth of a formal, or rather continuous organization. It simply acted as a temporary cohesive grouping with the immediate goal of creating a temporally contingent street fighting force, which in practice would dissolve with the conclusion of the action at hand. This is not to say that the sole focus of these included persons and/or collectives revolved around such action. On the contrary, those making up the Bloc commonly were rooted in the social and political organizations and projects which the specifics of their local community demanded. They had their roots.2 In addition, the militance and subsequent actions of the Black Bloc must also be understood as the embodiment of a certain means of struggle amongst many others, a means which are both legitimate and effective.3

As a Black Bloc, this grouping was an alliance of independent persons and/or affinity groups. Collectively, the Bloc acted by directly democratic means whenever possible, and by internal affinity group consensus when situations demanded. Other than that, the grouping conscientiously lacked any formal structure or authoritarian hierarchy.

Typically, the Bloc took positions at the front, rear, or perimeters of the protest march in order to provide a strong defensive presence at normally vulnerable points. In this way, the police were prevented from disrupting the movement of the demonstration without first having to subdue a highly militant, dedicated and prepared section of the protest. In order to strengthen its capacity to achieve these tactical objectives, the Bloc began to carry metal pipes, wooden clubs, and don protective padding and helmets. In addition, other tactical developments included the use of large continuous banners, poles or ropes lining the perimeters of this regiment. The purpose of these tools was to make it more difficult for the police to single out individuals for arrest. The cops would have to pass through a collectively held barrier, while simultaneously contending with blows from clubs in order to carry out arrests.

More than acting as shock troops, or defensive units within the larger protest contingent, the Bloc began to take on an offensive role regarding the conscious destruction of capitalist private property. Here, affinity groups within the Bloc would facilitate the smashing of windows, spray painting of revolutionary messages and trashing of police and/or military vehicles. Of course, all such activity was clearly directed against capitalist targets. Despite the inaccurate assertions of the corporate media, arbitrary vandalism never was, nor is, the goal or practice of the Black Bloc.

Another function of the Black Bloc is to push the protest at hand towards a more militant and socially comprehensive direction. Largely this was achieved by the Bloc positioning itself at the forefront of the demonstration and subsequently forcing an escalation between the State forces and the protesters. Simply by resisting arrest, refusing to remain on sanctioned parade routes, challenging police barricades and by actively directing its anger at corporate targets, the Bloc ensured that such an escalation would ensue.

The purpose of such escalation in part lies in the belief that such conflict necessarily results in the unmasking of the brutal nature of the State. The subsequent brutality of the opposing police/military force is revealed. The idea is that by showing the larger population the violent means by which the status quo is maintained, a significant number of people will become further radicalized by this physical and visual demonstration of the nature of the State. Escalation also has a desired effect of forcing an action to transcend its often Liberal underpinnings and become an actual example of contextually conditioned revolt. Direct action expands past the confines of simple symbolism and then delves into the very real territory of subjective and objective revolutionary insurrection. The demonstration here begins to assume its own identity free of the social spectacle of the commodified-consumer culture, and begins to move in a more fluid, self-defining manner. The role of the demonstration as a social pressure valve, both impotent and non-revolutionary, begins to be inverted into an actual expression of social unrest. In this regards, spontaneity, via militance and violence, becomes an actual expression of the mass action. Hence, the action becomes a free means by which natural human identity is demonstrated through its basic rejection of subjugation, authority, capitalism and status quo.

This element of social clash is necessary by way that it allows the oppressed and alienated person a real experience by which one’s pent up and sheep-like identity and boredom is shattered in a situation of revolt. Here the person begins to feel the future reality that the streets and the city, as a basic creation of the worker, truly do belong to them. Here, possibilities of full revolt and victory are crystallized through the adrenalin of conflict. In short, this conflict is good in that it allows one’s mind to understand real physical struggle, while also allowing one to feel, if only slightly, the possibility of collective self management without the confused abstraction of police and government. The city, in the vicinity of conflict, truly becomes the people’s to be won, lost, held or discarded.

To paraphrase Jean Paul Sartre, “The reason the worker does not revolt... is because [s]he does not imagine what a liberated society would actually be like.”

And further from the anarchist Mikhail Bakunin, “Let us remember, no great step forward in history has ever come to fruition with out first being baptized in blood.”

Therefore, regardless of the particular success of the action at hand, the activity of those within the Black Bloc must be encouraged and understood as both necessary and positive in relation to the subjective requirements necessary in the continual advancement of the revolutionary anarchist struggle.4

The practice of such Blocs are as socially/psychologically healthy as they are real. In this capacity, persons claiming to be of the Left, or even anarchists, which argue against the need for a Black Bloc, or that the Bloc is socially and/or tactically ineffectual, must be understood as persons who either do not understand the subjective dynamic of revolt, or ones who are so weighed down in indecision and tacit acceptance of the status quo that they must be considered ignorant at best, or the enemy at worst. These folk would substitute another generation of ideological debate, meetings and boredom for real action.5 Despite their professed goals, they become the harbingers of defeat and alienation through their inability to understand risk, action, movement and experiential freedom. Thus, the revolutionary would do well to discredit their words through action and, as we are not bloodthirsty neanderthals, the continuing development of legitimate Anarchist theory.

Following the example of the German people, the formation of Black Blocs soon spread across Europe, where they are still practiced with relative ferocity and effectiveness today.6 By the early 1990s, these tactics began to take root in North America. Black Blocs were organized during the 1991 Gulf War, during the Democratic National Convention of 1996, and at a multitude of other demonstrations throughout the decade.

However, the effectiveness of the Black Bloc in North America seems to be just reaching certain levels of maturity in this new decade; a maturity which is paralleled with that of the broader social protest movement as a whole.

During the Battle of Seattle, the Black Bloc (numbering approximately 200) primarily focused its attention upon the destruction of corporate property. At the A16 (April 16, 2000) action8 the Bloc (numbering approximately 1000) focused the bulk of its energies on combating police engaged in violent acts against the Bloc and nonviolent protesters alike. Black Blocs were also present at both the Republican and Democratic national conventions of that year.9 There they again demonstrated their tactics of physical self-defense and the destruction of capitalist private property and/or State property (i.e. police cars). locs were present at a multitude of May Day demonstrations in 2000, the first presidential debate in Boston,10 at the inauguration of now-President Bush,11 as well as at a number of other events.

The particularities of each of these actions resulted in a variety of Bloc tactics. These differences deserve to be evaluated in order to ascertain what specific tactics are effective in certain situations. Such an analysis is required in order for us to better prepare ourselves for future conflicts. However, it is not the focus of this essay to go into such details. The primary concern here is simply to discuss the history of the Black Bloc and to place it within a certain larger social context. Therefore, such particularities, though important, will be omitted for now in order to stay focused at the task at hand. Thus, I will here again turn to the social origins of the North American Black Bloc.
Social Composition Of The North American Black Bloc
The Black Bloc in North America, primarily composed of folk from within the contemporary counterculture, and more often than not coming from a working class background, is a political expression of the developing class conscious social revolution.12 Persons and collectives making up the Black Bloc can be generally described as semi-alienated youth from a poor, declassed or working class background. This is not to imply that a number of Bloc participants don’t come from the upper classes, for they do. However, before someone yells ‘charlatans,’ it should be stated that during this present age of neo-Liberalism (the contemporary mode of Capitalism), the basic strains of alienation run strong even outside of the more oppressed communities. On the other hand, I do not intend to imply that the natural focus of revolutionary potential has been stripped from the more exploited and materially deprived populations. It hasn’t. It is only to say that as society moves in more abstracted and culturally undesirable directions that more and more people across class lines, particularly young people, will begin to seek social alternatives to the status quo. And, it is only reasonable to expect a number of them to side with the social vision of the actively revolutionary poor and working class. Besides, history has proven that while class origins can say much about the general potential and demeanor of large groupings, it also tells us that these generalities are not absolute laws when judged against the real activities of specific persons.13 For example, one of the greatest Anarchist revolutionaries/theoreticians in history was Mikhail Bakunin. Bakunin came from an aristocratic Russian family. He himself was briefly an officer in the Imperial Army. Yet he committed nearly his entire adult life to the emancipation of all people. He stood at the workers’ barricades during the Bavarian insurrection, and for this his former class origins became both transcended and meaningless. Give us ten divisions of Bakunins, regardless of their past economic standing, and our work as revolutionaries would be over in a matter of days.14 So, to all you pretentious class concerned critics, I challenge you to tell me what you’ve done.

This being clarified, I use the prefix ‘semi,’ in describing the Blocs participants as ‘semi-alienated youth,’ to mark the fact that the vast majority of those involved are rooted in counterculture communities wherein degrees of non-alienated social relations are organically facilitated. They may be part of a small democratic worker’s co-operative, an artistically oriented consensus based collective, reside in a group run commune, house or squat, subside off tax-exempt funds from the black market, or simply live as well as their anti-Capitalist logic and intuition impels them to. In short, a good deal of their lives are focused around the living example of more natural and life/creativity affirming Socialist15 modes of existence. They try to be good folk with each other and the poor and working folk around them. They help each other out without expecting profit.

However, this is not to say that they, unlike more mainstream workers, are not alienated. For no matter how ‘counter’ one manages to live within an oppressive authoritarian society, one cannot escape the basic drugging of one’s spirit by the hands of the State. If one lives on a collective farm, that collective is still coerced into paying property tax, or the land will be seized. If one spends their hours working to collectively create a liberating art, food, shelter and art supplies have to be had; and often this is enough cohersion to impel one to sell their labor as a wage slave. Worker co-operatives are no exception. Such operations are driven to continue dealing on a cash basis inasmuch as certain basic supplies (take paint for example, that is if the co-op is centered around that trade) are not easily attainable through barter or other means. All being said, the rat of contemporary Capitalism can be smelled in the best homes. Of course, some homes smell a lot worse then others.

Still, the Anarchist within a counterculture is less alienated from themselves and others as compared to the person squarely within the predominant culture. At least here, radical commodification, consumerism, Capitalism and authoritarianism are viewed as crap yet to be overcome, as opposed to the bedrock of social meaning.

With the above understood, the question still remains as to what the deeper social, political and historical reasons are for the emergence of this revolutionary faction within the Western Nations. For the particularities of their cultural leanings seem to make them somewhat unique as compared to their proletariat ancestors. They are not friendly to the authoritarian analysis of the various communist parties, they are not often motivated by hunger (one can find lots of food in the trash bins of Uncle Sam) and they do not limit their demands and social vision to material equality. They call for a re-thinking and re-organizing of society along lines which challenge the very fundamental basis of contemporary western civilization. They are anarchists! But how did the broader social context give rise to them? Who is their constituency? What exactly is it that they seek to disrupt, and what do they intend to replace it with?

In order to answer some of these underlying questions, as well as to place the Block Bloc within a comprehensive sociological framework, I will now turn to a discourse on the particularities of the present Capitalist reality.
Section II
The New Capitalism And Its System Of Radical Commodification And Consumerism
As Capitalism has moved into the new phase of radical commodification and consumerism, its hold on all aspects of the perceived mass existence has seemingly strengthened. Contemporary Capitalism, by way of its inherent imperialism, has expanded its former material boundaries as to make a quantifiable commodity out of the hollows of one’s private time, internal thoughts, recreation and personal relations. The older forms of classical Capitalism, as found in the pre-WWII Euro-American theater, was primarily concerned with large scale domestic industrial production and the subsequent exploitation of the worker, through relatively staightforward means, for the ends of surplus capital (profit). The new concerns center around the exploitation of leisure, the construction of false needs along with the particular commodities to meet these superfluous and profitable ends, and the advancement of its psychological holds to include the subtle coercion of the worker to actively take part in her/his own oppression. Of course the old industrial modes of exploitation are still present, only now the pallet of oppression and dreariness is more well rounded.

The immediate cause of this shift can be found with the ruling class’s ability to export massive segments of the industries (coal, petroleum, machine/auto production, fabrics, etc.) to poorer, formerly agricultural-based “third world” nations where the worker is subjected by the iron heel of puppet dictators backed financially and militarily by the primary Capitalist States along with their plutocracy.16 Within these countries labor lacks the historical consolidation of organizational strength and past accomplishments such as the eight hour work day and workers’ compensation.17 This of course is in conjunction with the fact that within these boundaries, safety/environmental standards are hardly allotted a whisper of concern, let alone precautionary legislation. Therefore, the primary Capitalist nations, through their respected ruling class, can increase production at a fraction of the former cost while massively increasing profit.18 In turn, the ruling class can then throw a few more peanuts of benefits and wages to the domestic workers, in order to decrease poverty-based insurrectionary sentiment while not experiencing any decrease in profit.

Simultaneously these so called privileged laborers are constantly pressured to utilize their new spending ability through the purchasing of Capitalist controlled gadgets and instruments of supposed enjoyment and/or need, i.e. complicated phone services, large screen t.v.’s, ‘brand name’ garments/sneakers, new top 40 musical CDs written and composed by assholes lacking even a hint of soul and/or creativity, and larger then necessary cars with remote locking devices.

"(They’ll] give you all the hits to play,
to keep you in your place all day. “
—The Clash

In other words, false or unnecessary needs are created within this market, and are then allotted to the populace at the expense of further capital. In this way, the ruling class is able to again accumulate even further surplus capital.

To bring about this trend in popular spending, the masses are bombarded with commercial messages of indoctrination commonly referred to as “advertisements.” This force-fed propaganda meets the eye nearly wherever it may wander, and by subtleties and by sheer immensity, directs the hand of the still alienated, if not still half starved, “first world” worker down the road of unbridled consumerism. Here the role of the worker takes on a bizarre character. On the one hand, the worker continues her/his former role as a person/class subjected to an exploitative economic relation. For s/he still does not own or control the means of production, and s/he is still used by the ruling class as no more then a drone capable (not without prodding) of generating profit earmarked, alone, for the already wealthy. S/he still does not control her/his own life. It is controlled by powers from economically above. And further, the general prosperity of the economy is still unattainable in any equitable manner inasmuch as it still rests with a minority of ruling economic elite, protected by both the laws of the land and the guns of the State.

On the other hand, by transforming the worker into a consumer, the economic system manages to make the worker into an active agent in her/his own social oppression. For here consumption is both subtly and aggressively made out to be the means by which the individual can escape the experiential emptiness of their so- called free, yet serf-like, life.19 The unspoken message that every advertisement carries is that it is only by virtue of consuming that the single individual transcends the loneliness of provincial existence and takes part in the communion of the ‘one’ or at least of something greater and more meaningful. In this case the ‘one’ is capital and the means is the

recognition of the self and other (both animated and unanimated, cognitive and non-cognitive) as facets of the universal representation of all commodities, that is money. And in turn, the individual must her/himself sell one’s labor both as a means of material survival and, as this new social relation demands, as a means of becoming a commodity.20 Furthermore, the worker must now utilize the wages received as a means of again touching the whole through the accumulation/consumption of other commodities. The promise is that as long as this process remains constant, as long as the individual consistently retains an active relation within this process, one can know the universal wholeness of existence, and therefore the additional promise of an ensuing ‘knowledge of a truth’ and ‘sense of well being’ is also granted. This occurs insofar as the ‘one’ or the ‘universal’ has always been described in conjunction with these traits since the beginnings of religion and permanent/city dwellings. Thus, the lie is painted as truth via an implied association.

Here, the worker, drunk on continual advertisements and no longer tethered by hunger and cold, immerses her/himself in a constant state of consumption. S/he becomes convinced that superfluous commodities are necessary elements of a good life, and actively seeks them out for consumption. This, despite the fact that the purchasing of these objects or experiences play an obvious and primary role in maintaining the wealth and therefore power, through continuing profit, of those in the ruling class who control the economic rights to these things. In addition, the consumer-worker is often required to further enslave her/himself to the plutocracy by acquiring these commodities by the means of credit (credit cards, loans, etc.). By doing such, the laborer must perform additional hours at work in order to accrue the necessary capital to pay back the borrowed cash, and subsequently maintain their access to credit and hence adequate levels of material consumption. Of course these hours of labor result in the rich further expanding their profit earnings at the expense of the wage worker.

This dynamic often results in the laborer becoming more docile in her/his capacity in the workplace, in that to be fired translates into being cut off from her/his role as a commodity (wage slave) and full consumer. This is something that the indoctrinated consumer-worker dreads, as such a severing from the perceived ‘one’ would destroy the identity of the self and society which such a neurotic system of relations demand.21 Therefore, where the worker of old would more quickly risk her/his job security in order to bring about positive change for their class (i.e. union organizing) the new consumer-worker is generally more conservative in order to carefully maintain her/his means to communion.22

"The basic tautological character of the spectacle [this system of commodity-consumption] flows from the simple fact that its means are simultaneously its ends. It is the sun which never sets over the empire of modern passivity. It covers the entire surface of the world and bathes endlessly in its own glory."
—Guy Debord23

Where in the religious age ex-communication from the church meant social and perceived spiritual death, now unemployment serves a similar role. For even with such hard earned worker benefits as unemployment compensation, the jobless are still disconnected from half of the perceived process of meaning. In this system it is not enough to consume. A person also must be an object of consumption oneself (a commodified worker). This stands true unless of course you are among the ruling class, in which case you acquire a sort of living sainthood.24

This mode of thought also results in a factioning of class unity. For class no longer becomes the perceived focal point of social meaning. Here, the individual (or more accurately, the believer), along with the Capitalist system of radical commodification, becomes the sole basis of human understanding. Each consumer and commodity demands its own separateness which only the unity of capital (as universal commodity) can bring together.

"What hides under.. [this separateness] is a unity of misery. Behind the masks of total choice, different forms of the same alienation confront each other, all of them built on real contradictions which are repressed."
—Guy Debord25

With this mass foolery intact, the worker is no longer as likely to take personal risks for the benefit of their natural historical whole (that being class). Furthermore, the relationship of the consumer-commodity necessitates an us vs. them mentality. For all those who buy into this and who maintain a full connection to this process begin to recognize themselves in a similar way that insular religious and/or nationalistic ethnic communities tend to view themselves. For those included there is a passive acceptance. For those outside there are misgivings and even hatred. It is for this reason that the Right manages to use those collecting welfare as a scapegoat on which the workers can place misguided anger and resentment. Ironically, the social benefits that such persons collect are the same benefits won by the working class struggle during previous times during classical Capitalism. In short, under these new Capitalist conditions, the economic system becomes a kind of social fundamentalism and/or capital based fascism.

To further undermine poor and working class unity, the ruling elite through the public schools, their paid-for political lackeys and mass media conglomerates aggressively disseminates inaccurate terminologies regarding class categories.

Towards this end the term ‘middle class’ has been reinvented so as to drive a dividing line between what is correctly a single working class. Wherein ‘middle class’ was formally considered to be the lower end of the upper classes (i.e. absentee farmers, owners of multiple chain store outlets) it is now used to describe a certain degree of commodity acquisition amongst laborers. It is not uncommon for a person who labors as a nurse, a construction worker, a low end clerk or even one who cleans gutters at $16 an hour to be considered ‘middle class’ as long as that person is in possession of a new car, home, large television, etc. Of course these items are typically made available to the worker through the development of the credit industry, and as such cannot represent any real notion of equitable or bountiful wealth. In themselves, such commodities acquired by credit represent the very real increase in profit of those in the ruling class who own and/or control both ends of this industry. At the end of the day, if you work for a wage at a profession which is controlled from above, count on each paycheck to make ends meet, and if that job represents your sole livelihood and finally if you often or sometimes (during moments of clarity) wish you did not have to be there at all, then you are most likely of a working class origin. In short, terms such as ‘middle class’ are as meaningless as they are divisive. They do no more then reinforce the relative stability of the plutocratic powers that be.

The stabilizing power of the new Capitalism, that of a functioning process of commodification and consumption, derives from mass belief, and when a belief is misgiven, there is always the likelihood that it can and will be reversed. This is especially the case where error is contrasted with objectively material and intuitive experiential truth. And, it is just such a contrast that the contemporary masses are confronted with whenever breaks of continuity occur in the present oppressive system. These breaks are often fraught with existential fear, anxiety, anger, misgivings and regret. Shit, psychoactive prescription drugs aside26, it’s hard to imagine a person not reflecting on the absurdity, emptiness and lack of social worth of this system when they lay their head on the pillow to sleep at night. Well, before this begins to sound too pessimistic, let’s take comfort in the fact that the world is no longer believed to be flat.

During previous times, when industrial production was primarily based in what is still considered to be the industrial countries, the ‘bottom line’ of the ruling class limited this relation in that the general working population was not allowed the means to adequately consume in order to take part in this process. In short, the greed of the domestic upper class limited the stabilization of the system. They sucked the working class for all that it was worth and threw them pennies so as they might not starve in order to work, and create Capitalist profit again another day. Here the proletariat’s meager purchasing power vastly limited their ability to consume, and hence the worker could not be as easily fooled into believing in the bullshit communion discussed above.

From the earliest times of serious industrialization, Europe and the United States were fraught with a nearly constant state of relative working class unrest for these very reasons. Capitalism lacked an experiential excuse to dull the knife of mass agitation against the obviously degrading circumstances under which the great majority of people were forced to live. It was not until after World War II that the social situation began to apparently stabilize.27 This happened, in conjunction with other subjective reasons, as the above discussed economic strategy began to take hold.

However, this period of relative stability was not accrued without certain costs still to be felt today. By curtailing domestic rebellion by fostering an internationalization of Capitalist oppression, the ruling class must continually pay the price of a greatly intensified mass alienation. This proves to be an expense in that it results in certain profound chinks forming in the armor of the plutocracy at the home front.28 For by domestically decreasing material deprivation (poverty) amongst its domestic laborers, and by setting them upon a course for the nonexistent promised land of happiness within the ‘universal commodity,’ the social framework of society as a whole becomes bogged down in a world of shit, lies and experiential disappointments. In this way alienation becomes a factor which drives society in two directions; one sociopathic,29 the other revolutionary; neither of which bode well for future stability and a continuation of the status quo. This occurs due to the underlying experiential lie of the promise of the universal ability to achieve wholeness with something both greater and more meaningful. There is a reason why people fear death in this society, and it’s not because of fire and brimstone; it is the fear that their whole lives as consumers may have been a waste of time as much as their apparent (forced) happiness was no more then a plastic carrot on a string. That is not a pleasant final thought. In short, “the Jones” died miserable.

“..do you see
now that you see that everything they told us was wrong?

The elephant caught like that
and caged
like that?

The way they kicked us and caged us too?

How sweetly sad it seems how sad and sweet passing lonely people on the street
the skulls beneath the skin
the arteries bravely pumping liquid as they rush to do
all the foolish things that they must do...”
—Bukowski30

With all this being said, it is important to point out that this new Capitalism is still forced to compete with its more backwards internal sentiments. For the ruling class, still being motivated by greed, often finds itself incapable of maintaining the necessary levels of commodity availability for the domestic workers. Wherein it is rational (from the point of view of the Capitalist) to allow the domestic population a certain degree of purchasing/acquisition power in order to guarantee a basic level of material based social stability, and a continuing profit margin based on commodity sales, the underlying greed of this class often acts as a self¬defeating force. Today, certain economic trends seem to indicate that the ruling class has become increasingly concerned with drawing a quick fix of mass profit at the price of steady long term increases. Towards this end, it seems that a substantial number of the plutocracy, as expressed through their political lackeys, has forgotten the weaknesses of classical Capitalism, and therefore has embarked upon a course of streamlining domestic work forces (downsizing/layoffs), cutting back of social benefits (dental, medical, etc.) and facilitated a stagnation of real wages. Therefore, the present social realm is marked not by two competing social visions (one status-quo, one revolutionary), but three; the third being a regressive vision of capitalism. Hence, these more recent trends have motivated certain sectors of the consumer-working class rank and file to take certain basic stands against a perceived cutback in their social positions. While these rumblings in and of themselves are often no more than shortsighted complaints directed against those who would challenge their status quo as consumers, they also are indicative of a developing social uneasiness. For the consumer-worker is increasingly being educated to the authoritarian, abstract and antisocial ways and means of the commodified society. They are more and more aware that the basic foundations of society are not geared for them, but rather directed at them only inasmuch as they are considered objects of manipulation from powers above. It is made more and more obvious that the basic mechanisms of society are not controlled by them; they are directed against them. As such, these realizations become increasingly tangible as this regressive capitalist trend is responsible for numerous lapses in commodity-consumer process. And here, some workers will inevitably reach the logical and emotive conclusion that such an economic process is ultimately not congruent with a more naturally meaningful, beneficial and democratic society. These backslides inevitably act as a kind of social shock therapy, whose outcome will be the delivering of larger sections of the working population to the side of revolution .31 That’s not to say that these anti-worker trends should be encouraged or justified by way of some long term revolutionary program. They hurt laboring people in the here and now, and therefore, working class revolutionaries must lend their hand in resisting these attacks. To do otherwise would result in the revolutionary movement becoming discredited in the eyes of the masses. As such, this is a danger which should be avoided. But still, this trend must be recognized for what it is; ultimately as a condition aiding in the radicalization of the masses.

However, while this is a very meaningful trend, it should not be utilized as a practical means from which to reinvigorate classical theories of revolution which are primarily based on a mass material deprivation. For the fact that these lapses become noticeable, the fact that they become part of a revolutionary equation, point to the reality that they represent breaks with the predominant social process as opposed to its norm. For the modus operandi of contemporary Capitalism is commodification and consumerism. And with such being the case, a greatly intensified alienation, and not poverty (although poverty is still a strong motivating force), becomes the primary motivation towards social revolution. And again, it is this mass alienation which must give rise to certain conditions which inevitably must account for its eventual social transcendence. Alienation creates its own form of revolutionary breaches.
Section III
Counterculture as Social Revolution
Therefore, this necessary increase in mass alienation has opened a new (or rather more mature) social front within the continuing revolutionary struggle. For the rise of radical commodification and consumerism has occurred alongside the rise of counterculture. This is no coincidence. Counterculture (cc) is a natural reaction against this system and is also the living embodiment of the class conscious social revolution.32 It develops as a natural answer to the intensified alienation brought on by this system. Counterculture becomes the living rebel base peopled by those (most often from the poor, working class and declassed population) who become or are made consciously aware of the basic fallacies and oppressive nature of the larger social/economic system.

Mass expressions in counterculture first emerged in North America with the Beats of the late 1940s to early 1960s. Then again counterculture emerged with the hippy/radical movement of the 1960s and 70s. The mid/late-70s brought punk. Today we have a counterculture that is a kind of synthesis of previously dis¬joined branches. There is no snappy name for our community, but it clearly carries within it certain elements of punk, hippy, and other counter-modes of being. This is not surprising as the demarcation of this time as being the end of one century/millennium, and the beginning of a new one, subjectively seems to spark a kind of social re-evaluation of past eras. Here, this age is also is marked by a synthesis of styles, thoughts and dreams. In this we truly are a people in between times; in between the death of an old system and a birth of a new.

Counterculture, as the above indicates, assumes different variations at different times. It dies and then is reborn as a former incarnation is either co-opted or simply no longer aesthetically expresses the particularities of the present age. However, as long as the greater society which it is pitted against still exists, the conditions which demanded its initial emergence will still be present. Hence, the particular death of any one form of counter¬culture is ultimately inconsequential insofar as the emergence of a new particular incarnation necessarily will follow.33

Sociologically, counterculture manifests itself in a conscious and organic unity of all those activities that constitute the natural, life affirming, human identity. Social relations, housing arrangements, economy, recreation, art and finally politics are all incorporated into one united, although diverse, alternative community. As this community matures, specific mores, style and traditions develop. The binding factor lies simply in the conscious recognition of the common rejection of radical commodification, consumerism and authoritarianism. In this a sister/brotherhood is formed which is inherently anarchistic and is that of the counter¬culture.3a

This culture is only counter in relation to the predominant culture of the commodity-consumer which its existence assumes and within whose borders of dominance it functions. Without such an other, it simply is natural, liberated, culture. But, in the context in which we here discuss counterculture, we must understand it as more than simply an opposition with the aim of dominance. For the predominant culture of the post-industrial age is that of an abstract and hierarchical social system. The common form of this system is found in the most contemporary modes of Capitalism (although it is not limited to it) and with it the complete commodification of society. In short, the predominant culture is that of exploitation, oppression and intense alienation. It is a forced totality specifically defined by the commodity and the process of consumption.

In this context counterculture can only live up to its bill if it rejects this totality. It is this totality which necessitates the levels of social alienation which in turn give rise to counterculture. Thus, by virtue of its very existence, counterculture is constituted as an oppositional force posited against its socially dominant other. In this it is a destructive force. However, for it to do so it must creatively construct (or unearth) as well. The basis upon which this creative process must be built is the unity of human dignity and solidarity as implied by the act of rebellion.

“It is for the sake of everyone in the world that the slave asserts himself when he comes to the conclusion that a command has infringed on something in him which does not belong to him alone, but which is common ground where all men—even the man who insults and oppresses him—have a natural community.”
—Albert Camus35

Without committing to such a construction counterculture would fail to challenge the void upon which the all oppressive systems rest. In such, any apparent victory would be false as the death of the particular temporal form of an oppressive system would amount to little more then its reemergence in a new particular form. In short it must posit a constructive claim or fail to address the premises that the system rests upon. Counterculture must be, and in fact is, both destructive and creative at the same time.

“The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.” —Mikhail Bakunin

Counterculture, in our present context, must be understood not only contra the present form of Capitalism, but also for a liberated society free of the arbitrariness of masters and slaves. The counterculture is anti-hierarchical while being for the consecration of a new society of fully actualized human beings.36 Furthermore, as a creative force, it must actually create. If it does no more then postulate, then it is no more then a criticism, and a criticism alone does not qualify as a culture (be it a counterculture or otherwise). In the act of creating, it attempts to realize those new social relations that the fall of the present system will make fully realizable. In this respect counterculture is a liberating social experiment. It is “the formation of a new society from within the shell of the old.”37 It is the formation of the social revolution before that of the political revolution.

However, at this point it is marked with a contradiction, for as long as it is a counterculture, it is limited by the repressive forces of radical commodification, consumerism and the State. In this it is impelled to commit certain internal contradictions for the sake of survival. It must abide by certain oppressive laws or at the very least function semi-underground to escape certain restraints. But even underground it is compromised. The long arm of the commodity extends to all corners (some less than others). In such a society, there is no complete separateness from these restrictive traits. But, these limitations do not relegate the counterculture’s existence to an absurdity. Rather, it is these limitations which light the fire of creativity. For to find dignity and affirmation through the creation of an alternative community despite the dominate opposition is truly dynamic. Such limitations impel the human mind to expand its cognitive ability, and in this consciousness is sharpened. Furthermore, the limitations to its full actualization is the impetus to its destructive aspect. It must necessarily seek the eradication of that opposing force as the condition of its coming into full being. In this it is more than a decision to organize in a particular manner. It is a revolutionary force. Thus counter¬culture can not be judged purely by its contradictions. It must be judged in regards to what it knowingly points to, and to the extent that it stretches the limitations of the predominant culture.

The counterculture is not a sub-culture, as a sub-culture is nothing more then a variant of the dominant culture insofar as it fails to reject the basic tenants of such. It merely rearranges the detail in order to create the desired illusion. A sub-culture stops at establishing its identity as quantitatively different from the present system, but in doing it fails to become qualitatively different from it. At certain times a sub-culture can be mistaken for counterculture in that it may exhibit similar behavior and language to that of the counterculture in relation to the dominant system. But, it is merely exhorting a claim to the throne with out calling the institution of the throne into question. It may compete with the dominant culture, but its victory translates into itself becoming its former enemy. Such changing of the guard does no more then reinvigorate that which is already entrenched.

Sub-cultures which do not seek to transplant themselves to the seats of power, are no more then glorified fan clubs. They are incomplete or escapist at best, and social organs of enemy collaboration at worst. They are not counter.

Likewise, a counterculture which begins to demonstrate these above traits becomes degenerative, and hence must cease to be considered a revolutionary organ. Here, in its diminished state, it becomes just another sub-culture.

On the other hand, a healthy and functioning counter¬culture, represents a legitimate threat to the predominant culture in that the legitimate counterculture’s expansion necessitates a weakening of its enemy’s hold over the social and subjective realm. The enemy system survives first by the common belief in its false unity and second by its repressive institution (i.e. police and army). And history has shown the second of the two to be inadequate in ultimately maintaining dominance with the lack of the other. The present oppressive system recognizes the danger posed by counterculture and is thus impelled to take moves to neutralize it. Its first line of attack is indoctrination through education, media and advertisement. This measure may prolong the day of reckoning but ultimately it is not enough in the face of continuing experiential oppression and alienation. The essential lie of the system and the necessary intensified alienation of the great majority continually results in more persons from the dominated classes becoming disillusioned with the current paradigm. As discussed above, lapses in continuity do occur for numerous reasons, and it is during such lapses that the process of consumerism is unmasked as a process devoid of natural social worth. In short, the regular uneasiness of the subservient and alienated individual/class necessitates a certain anxiety which often impels the affected person to question the ultimate utility of the dominant process/system. At such a point it is only reasonable to expect that person to consider alternative modes of social interaction which appear to offer a more healthy social reality. In that capacity, the actual counterculture is viewed as an option which the affected person can consider. Its appeal will of course lie in its alternative social principals, strengthened by the fact that it stands as a functioning, ostensible and evaluatable example. Here counterculture can be expected to grow in proportion to this ongoing trend. And, the rate of counter-cultural growth must increase as the more persons included in its composition, or at least sympathetic with its revolutionary vision, necessarily results in the dissemination of its basic life affirming message at faster rates and with more prevalence.

This is not to imply that we are headed for a society where the old crew cut and blue collar shirt is altogether substituted for mohawks, ponytails and nipple rings. Shit, it’s not even to say that the odd attraction of Frank Sinatra will completely give way to Joan Baez, The Who, Bad Brains, or Crass. It’s only to say that the emerging culture of life (counterculture) will begin to exert sometimes obvious, sometimes subtle influence over the day to day reality and outlook of the average worker. Ultimately it’s not any more important to the dominant culture if the laborer wears a J. Edgar Hoover button to work and sleeps under an American flag than it is to the revolutionary worker to don tattoos, combat boots and piercings. All that is important is that the mass of workers begin to view themselves as part of a living culture which, though presently situated in a more dominant culture, is inherently contra the basic premises of its would-be master. In other words, it’s a matter of leanings regarding identity. For counterculture does not represent a threat in so much as its counter institutions seek to replace the status quo (although to a lesser degree this is also true). Its real threat is that its very example can challenge the State sanctioned belief system. As already stated, the present system of commodification-consumerism primarily rests upon mass belief. If counterculture can subvert that belief, the present paradigm can be expected to de-stabilize. Hence, counter¬culture, by virtue of its existence, entails within it an element or means of mass liberation.38

This process of mass liberation has already began. How many factory workers already listen to Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, The Clash or Rage Against The Machine? How many already take part in elements of counterculture, all the while desiring more? In a word, counterculture, aside from its more puritanical definitions, is more diverse and subtle then many would like to give it credit for. Its currents, like that of the dominant culture, move through many levels of society. It seeks to help facilitate the freedom of all people, unlike the dominant culture which seeks to make people as docile as they are drone-like.

Here it must be stated that such an expansion of counter¬culture will not take place purely by historically deterministic means. Such a building of popular base must be actively coaxed by persons within counterculture. If counterculture simply was to exist as an isolated community secure in the notion that it would persevere with or without campaigns of concerted outreach, it would die on the vine of passive isolationism. All things being equal, maybe this would not be the case. However, all things are not equal. The predominant culture actively seeks to maintain its psychological dominance, and likewise various sub-cultures rooted in religion, fascism and the like actively seek to divert popular discontent into their bases of support. For these reasons, counterculture can not rest on its laurels. It must seek ways to build inroads into the common experience of the common wo/man. It must maintain a dialectical relation with those masses still not consciously brought over to the social revolution. In this, counterculture must position itself squarely within the larger poor and working class communities. It must support them in their day to day struggles even when those struggles do not take aim at the root of oppression and alienation. All the while, it must provide a sufficient and accessible revolutionary critique of these common problems. It must agitate. However, it is not enough to be immersed in the political field. In fact, the political field must be understood as secondary to that of the social/cultural field. For it will not be through creating things such as a living wage that the masses will be fully brought over to our side (their natural side). It will be through the common identification of art, literature, music, social happenings and real friendship. These are things which touch a person directly and communicate a vision of freedom and camaraderie. And, it is through such a connection that more people will come to identify themselves as persons within a common culture of struggle, creativity and future liberation.

The political field, while necessary in as much as the political holds legitimate importance in one’s life, must be understood as primary to a lesser degree in that such activities often translate into notions of “alliances,” “common fronts,” etc., and these concepts still imply a certain degree of temporariness and separateness and are not generally responsible for ideas of cultural commonality. They are provisional as opposed to communal. On their own they may foster issue by issue victories (which is good), but not an organic concept of unity through co¬operative communities. They are incomplete.

This being said, counterculture, as briefly discussed above, cannot be content to live on the fringes of the more dominant exploitive culture. To do so would be no more then escapism, and hence the perceived counterculture would, in actuality, be no more then a sub-culture with a veneer of angst. Ultimately, there comes a time when this natural enemy of anti¬social structures must attempt to surmount the palisades of oppression. It must seek to destroy that which prevents it from developing in its more mature forms.

Within such a counterculture it is only natural that certain people will carry the ball in this direction. And it is here that specific people and collectives will organically key in on revolutionary political action akin to that presently demonstrated by Earth Liberation Front cells on the one hand and the Anarchist Black Bloc on the other. Here it cannot bide its time and wait for the perfect moment. It must lash out at its other as a basic means of its political expression. It must transcend its relative passivity through the violent resistance of its own repression as well as the repression directed against the poor and working classes as a whole. And in such, it achieves an honesty which progressive impostors can not readily provide. This is one form of its direct political expression. It is different from much of its other political activity which often centers around piecemeal issues and community outreach. It is animated by its own revolutionary aspirations. And here it hardens itself by experiencing portions of direct, unabstracted struggle with facets of its enemy. This and prison support for its jailed comrades become its most direct lines of political expression.

Furthermore, by not limiting itself to Liberal dogmatic tactics, it further reaches into the hearts of the yet included poor and working class, who rarely could dig the horseshit of respectable protest and Pacifism. In essence, it develops its own means, and limits itself to that which proves effective, both in regards to objective goals, and subjective (non-alienated) needs. In short, it becomes an oppositional force by opposing. And, it is honest in its opposition by striking back according to the necessity of struggle, self-defense and victory. It is the physical and political expression of the self conscious poor and working class social revolution. Counterculture in political motion.

In conclusion, it is within the above social context that the North American Black Bloc emerges. In it is an important sphere of conflict between a culture of death (Commodification and consumerism) which increasingly has nowhere to go but down, and one of life which must struggle in order to realize itself in a society of cooperation and creativity.

Of course there are many more tactical, practical and theoretical issues, which have not been addressed in the above work, that we must continue to explore in order to realize the final victory of the revolution. And of course it may be necessary to modify or even disregard or reverse certain claims made throughout the above essay (absolutism is for shitheads). However, it has been my intention throughout the above document to map out a more thorough context within which we can further develop the necessary understandings of social process and transformation that will be required in order to bring a liberated victory within our collective grasp. So I trust the above met this task at least in part, and I look forward to the ongoing conversation. Well, cheers for now, and I’ll be seeing you on the front lines.


David Van Deusen
Green Mountain Anarchist Collective
Vermont, March, 2001


*David Van Deusen
resides in a log cabin in northern Vermont and is a founding member of the Green Mountain Anarchist Collective. In addition he is a rank and file member of the National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981) as well as the Teamsters. He is currently a District Vice President in the Vermont AFL-CIO, and is News Editor of Catamount Tavern News. He is a former member of Anti-Racist Action and the Northeast Federation of Anarcho-Communists. He has marched in numerous Black Blocs, the first being in Chicago in 1996.


Notes
1 During that action, approximately 600 committed Communist youth converged upon the city of Chicago in order to protest the trial of the Chicago 8, as well as the continuing war in Vietnam. Their method of confrontation was that of direct physical conflict with the forces of the State (in this case the police). They organized themselves into small affinity groups, and showed up equipped with clubs, helmets, bricks and other means of low tech hand to hand combat. Once assembled they actively attacked the forming police lines and fought the cops with ferocity. Although the first day was the most effective (in terms of enemy injuries and material destruction of Capitalist private property), a total of three more days of limited conflict ensued. While this action clearly represents a link between the present Bloc and past militant tactics, it differs in many regards. First of all, the Weather contingent organized themselves by strictly hierarchical means. They employed a chain of command that was not congruent with directly democratic processes. Second, their action occurred without the benefit of being part of a larger, more tactically diverse, protest action. In this the police where able to focus their superior resources solely upon them. Third, following the action, the Weather leadership did not believe such forms of protest could be maintained with out resulting in a negative blood bath (during the first night of fighting 10 weather members received wounds from shotguns, and another by pistol).
To paraphrase Weather Central Coordinating Committee member Jeff Jones, ‘We felt that we achieved a level of militancy which we could not surpass using aboveground tactics. Furthermore, the lack of public mobilization following the assassination of Black Panther, Fred Hampton, convicted us that our political role would only be sustainable and effective if we operated as a sort of guerrilla force, underground, behind enemy lines.’ (info gathered by a private interview I conducted with him during the winter of 1997)
Hence the organization soon decided to move its operation underground as an urban guerrilla organization. For these reasons, the Days Of Rage must be understood as no more then a primitive prototype of contemporary Black Bloc actions, and no more.
For a decent first hand account of this action see Albert (ed.), The Sixties Papers. Shin’ya ono: You Don’t Need A Weatherman, Pages 254-263, Praeger, New York, 1984.
2 Such activity at the local level is 100% necessary in the on-going movement towards social revolution. In such, the relative lime light placed on Black Blocs must be subjectively diluted with this necessary fact.
3 Here it is necessary to understand that at this stage of the struggle, the tactics employed by the Bloc are most effective when performed in conjunction with others. This includes non-violent lockdowns, street theater, ‘legal’ marches, etc.. In addition, it also must be clarified that such action, when used in conjunction with more militant tactics, are effective and legitimate. Lastly, it should be noted that many anarchists are involved in these actions as well.
4 *This is not to say that we should not be concerned with achieving certain objective goals regarding the action at hand. We should seek optimal effectiveness by refining our tactical abilities and subjective dedication. However, even when certain objectives are not met, we can often claim ‘victory’ in that this form of direct action translates into subjective advances. A good example of this is the A16 action wear we failed to shut down the Capitalist meetings, but made psychological advances by virtue of our demonstrated abilities in struggle against the forces of the State. In short, each action involving the revolutionary Anarchist movement carries with it a plethora of potential victories and defeats beyond the single major stated objective at hand. Fore, as revolutionaries against boredom and alienation, our means and ends become intermingled in one continues organic demonstration of direct democratic process and struggle.
*This section is not to imply that every Black Bloc must be violent or destructive by definition. In fact, there are times when the Bloc consciously decides not to conduct itself in this manner unless circumstances demand. At these times, the Bloc section is present simply to show movement solidarity within a certain social situation. However, even with out the actual practice of such means, the Bloc still acts as the representation of a certain threat, possibility and idea. The Bloc, through its person to person composition, is freedom and the unfettered human spirit embodied in a situational social form.
5 This is not to say that debate, organizational meetings and other like activities are not necessary. In the contrary, they are. However, they are not desirable or required when they begin to become an end in themselves. This is a tendency which is often played out in ‘Leftists’ organizations by virtue of its Liberal constituencies desiring of a means to feel better about their dominated lives and tacitly oppressive lifestyles with out actually putting their position as a well fed consumer (i.e. their relative social stability) in jeopardy by advocating or taking part in direct revolutionary action. It should be remembered that it is always such Left hesitation and status quo fetishism that is called on by the State to stabilize revolutionary situation (i.e. the French Communist Party in France 1968, the NAACP during the Black Revolt in urban America of that same year).
6 Two recent examples can be found in the Prague actions directed against the WB/IMF meetings starting on September 26, 00’, And the actions in Nice against the European Union meetings on December 6-7th, 00’.
7 Protest against the meeting of the World Trade Organization, Seattle, November, 1999.
8 To protest the meeting of the World Bank, Washington DC, April 16th and 17th, 2000.
9 The Democratic national Convention was held in Los Angeles, California, August 14-17, 2000.

The Republican National Convention was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, August 1-3, 2000.
10 Cambridge, Massachusetts, October 3, 2000.
11 Washington DC, January 20, 2001.
12 Of course it is not here intended that it is the only, or even most important of such political expressions. It is only one, out of a multitude, of such developing trends.
13 To name but a two: Mikhail Bakunin and Karl Marx.
14 Also for the record... Bakunin spent many years in prison, including some time chained up in a tower in St.Petersburg ware he lost all his teeth due to scurvy.
15 Here I use the term ‘Socialist’ in its older and more accurate meaning. It is used simply to denote a more co-operative means of organizing society.
16 This is different than colonialism in that these regimes are no longer exploited for their raw materials alone. Now their indigenous labor is utilized as a means of producing refined goods for general consumption.
17 As I am editing this section of the work, I’m cold (Vermont winter with no gas), annoyed (my roommates wont leave me alone), have a sore throat, and am listening to Frank Zappa’s ‘Hot Rats.’ Good fuckin’ album. In all, it reminds me of the Motherfucker saying, “We are as utopian as Detroit."
18 Here the Capitalists must still contend with armed Communist guerrilla movements as well as the occasional anti-authoritarian uprisings. These are major fascists of the continuing world social revolution, and in such they deserve a great deal of analysis. However, the scope of this text requires that I omit such commentary and this time.
19 The State loves to sing “Land of the Free” while sticking it two the common wo/man from the cradle to the grave. The public schools teach obedience and reverence to the status quo; at one’s job one is subjected to constant top down power structure; in the streets, laws written by the ruling class are enforced by armed pigs intent on tossing you in the can if you cross the line. There as many examples as there are bullshit justifications. As for specifics, I’m sure your personal experiences will here suffice (that is if your not ruling class scum).
20 Where under classical Capitalism one was coerced into being a wage slave in order to materially survive, under the new Capitalism one often becomes a wage slave for both this reason and because one becomes convinced that it is the metaphysically right thing to do. For here work becomes more then a means of survival. It becomes a cornerstone off identity and connectedness with the larger, so called more meaningful, ‘one’ of capital.
21 Let it be noted that this desire for status quo is for the most part skin deep. It is a symptom of mass indoctrination, and in such it can not be understood as natural or necessarily permanent. If one scratches the surface, one will often find an underlying desire to sever the social ties to the world of the commodity. This is played out in childhood instincts by the activity of random vandalism. In the adult life, this natural inclination is often demonstrated at the bar where at folks are known to become a bit destructive towards objects and relationships after a bad week and after a fist or two full of whisky.
In my hometown, the local working class bar (where I did a lot of growing up) had a stockade fence lining its back. A favorite Saturday night pass time was punching holes through it. And I’ll tell you what, this aggression was not simply foolish male aggression. If that’s all it represented, I wonder why I never saw such holes punched in fences at the expensive upper class bars... Well, at least not by those fat bastards who could afford to drink there. 22 Of course this does not occur with out exceptions.
22 See Society of the Spectacle, Section 13, Black & Red Press, Detroit, 1983.
23 This stands true to a large extent even when the traditional idea of work is expanded in order to include certain modes of black market Capitalism, including, but not limited to, the sale of dangerous hard drugs.
24
25 See Society of the Spectacle, Section 63, Black & Red Press, Detroit, 1983.
26 Psycho active prescription drugs are a huge factor and should not be over looked as a tool of social control. The fact is, there is NO normative model for human brain chemistry, and any medical attempt to standardize such will inevitably result in a model which is most conducive to the modes of social interaction which are most prominent in the society in which they are formed. In this case, such approaches most often result in the drugging of a person in order to make them ‘happier’ or at least non-combative in their role as a means of production and consumer of Capitalist controlled commodities.
27 For a well documented historical account of this period within the United States, see, Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of The United States, HarperPerennial, New York, 1999.
28 Inherent weaknesses are not limited to the domestic scene. For this internationalization has also carried the scope of anti-Capitalist struggle to every corner of the globe. However, the form of struggle taken in these “third world” regions can be expected to develop differently from that of the domestic regions. There poverty is a more direct driving force then alienation. Hence, differences should be expected.
29 This sociopathic tendency is a rudimentary reaction against this alienation in the void of no greater hope for a progressive mass paradigm shift and/or a lack of a sufficient social/political vocabulary and underlying understanding. Ostensibly this behavior is often demonstrated by the shooting of ones bosses, simple co-worker, teachers, fellow students, ect.. It is also demonstrated by the fairly common act of mass public shooting sprees.
30 From Open All Night, ‘Running On Empty’, Black Sparrow Press, Santa Rosa, 2000.

31 In the United States this regressive tendency is most often politically expressed by the Republican Party. In turn, the political expression of the new Capitalism is more often voiced by the Democratic Party.
32 For all those who would like to ramble off arguments that counter¬culture is primarily an expression of upper class hedonism, or that it is somehow foreign to poor and working class communities, I would like to pointedly remind you that great numbers of cc social facilitators were historically of a working class origin. Take For example: Neil Cassidy (author of The First Third), Jack Kerouac (author of many books including On The Road), Jimmi Hendrix (who’s live Woodstock rendition of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ is perhaps the musical embodiment of the 60’s movement), Janis Joplin, writer Charles Bukowski (although if he were still alive, and if he had the right amount of booze and was in a shitty mood, he might just hit me in the head with a bottle for putting him in such a grouping), Ozzy Ozbourne (writer/ singer for band Black Sabbath, masterpieces include ‘War Pigs’, a song still barred in the UK during war time) and Joe Strummer (of the band The Clash).
33 Not that we should give one particular cc up to our enemies with out a fight. We must constantly struggle for the integrity of our cultural communities in order to allow them the time in which our modes of struggle and creation can become more mature. We will concede nothing.
34 Here I concede that past incarnations of counterculture, such as the Beats, often failed to adequately develop political modes of expression. In addition, other countercultures, such as during the 60s and early 70s, at least in part, seem to have developed politically along more authoritarian Communist lines. These seeming contradictions have more to do with the greater levels of cc immaturity then they did with natural internal inclinations. Hence, the Beats, being the first major example of a mass North American Counterculture, were locked in a constant search for self affirming identity. Here there politics were little more then exercises in possibilities. Likewise, the 60-70s developed as the second functioning example of such. And to their credit, they realized the need to develop political modes. But, being relative pioneers in this capacity, they often failed to develop between anything more then rudimentary lines. More then not they identified an already established means of anti-Capitalist expressions and tried to force themselves into the cracks. Hence the general friendliness towards Maoism. This mistake was not with out exception (i.e. Black Mask/Up Against The Wall MotherFucker, Free Vermont), and it was not with out a certain logic. In this case, Maoism was seen as the primary ideology of a global grassroots opposition to the predominate paradigm. And correctly understanding the struggle against Capitalism to be both in their intrust and necessarily inter¬national in character, they attempted to barrow from this analysis in order to mesh with a perceived revolutionary whole.
All and all, the short-comings and mistakes of these earlier incarnations of cc must be viewed as almost necessary given the dialectical nature of the progress of struggle. Each particular cc tried and failed or succeeded where the next cc would pick up.
Therefore, if one was to define counterculture in a very strict manner, it would be conceivable that one would term the Beats and the 60s-early 70s folk as a ‘proto-counterculture’, rather then that of the full kind. However, that borderlines on semantics, and seems to me to be a waist of time.
35 See The Rebel, Page 16, Vintage Books, New York, 1956.
36 Old cc had some hierarchy, especially in politics, however, that was forced and represented a general immaturity, not the developing line of internal rogression.
37 An old Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) saying.
38 For one reason or another, I’m here reminded of my friend Jon, who once said, “Sure -when the shit goes down I’ll be on my porch with my shotgun, drinking beer and taking potshots at helicopters."