Ever since the Genoa demonstrations, the government and "opposition" (including that of certain "revolutionaries") have both been quick to demonise the black bloc in an attempt to restore the constituted order.
The government says: The Genova Social Forum (GSF) assured us that the demonstration would be an absolutely peaceful, albeit critical, dialogue with the G8 – but we found ourselves having to face the violent actions of a small part of the movement that the GSF not only failed to control, but actually objectively covered insofar as it proved to be incapable of isolating and repressing them itself. As a result, the forces of order had no way of distinguishing the two souls of the movement and had no alternative but to strike "responsibly" all of the demonstrators indifferently.
The "opposition" protests: The black bloc was an irrelevant and separate sector that was against the general movement and absolutely isolated by the mass. The "disorders" were therefore entirely the responsibility of the police. Furthermore, this responsibility is even greater because they had all of the preventive means necessary to render these people harmless, for example by controlling them and preventing them from entering the country (seeing that were mainly ill-intentioned foreigners who had nothing to do with the "real" movement guaranteed by the GSF). And this only some days after they had denounced the suspension of the Treaty of Schengen and the vigilance of the preventive controls set up at and inside the country’s borders. Ridicule is not really as deadly as they say…
A certain Curzi made every possible use of the TV to attack the police on the grounds of their irresponsible (and perhaps instrumental) lack of preventive controls. And a top police officer declared that they had done everything they could and had to do (as in the case of the Greeks "repatriated" on the spot as soon as they landed in Ancona), but they could not set up an absolute filter because … (unfortunately) we are not (yet) living in a police state. The type of police state which, if it is good, constitutional and defends democratic order, would perhaps be to the liking of Curzi.
The minority left of Rifondazione Comunista [Communist Refoundation] distributed at Genoa a document saying, among other things, that the so-called "pacifist" sector "makes a dangerous fetish of non-violence that risks legitimising the attempt of the government to divide the movement into the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ and therefore, in the final analysis, legitimising repressive measures against the movement" as a whole. Words that we underwrite in an absolutely… sectarian manner. The danger of repression does not depend on the presence of the "bad" in the movement, but on the State’s need to attack it as a whole and thus force it to separate itself not only from the "bad", but also from each and every other truly antagonistic drive. This is blackmail because it is not a question of separating the "violent" from the "non-violent", but of abandoning every materially "alternative" tendency, and directly and personally placing oneself by the side or at the rear of the forces of order (otherwise everyone will suffer the consequences). Act as a reserve police force or you know what you can expect. Because what they are frightened of is not the intemperance of a few but the eversive potential of the mass, which must be preventively controlled, disarmed and diverted.
As was said in a document issued by some courageous intellectuals in Seattle: "it is becoming practice for animalists and environmentalists to set themselvesup as supreme judges. We should therefore not be surprised to see them at the head of the "great inquisition" concerning what happened in Seattle… The cost of protecting themselves and their identity from the violence of the police is becoming increasingly higher"[*]. The price is that of open collaboration with the State, capital and the famous G8 "always disposed to dialogue". That is what we think. In Seattle, these people set up nothing less than "blocs of order" against the black bloc, debiting them them with the risks of repression that (surprise, surprise!) they did not see in the forces of the police – other than as a "provocation". But as long ago as then "the anti-insurrection troops immediately replaced the ‘advocates of peace’ as if to say ‘We will handle it now. You are only volunteers in property protection, but it’s our job’ "[*]. What was good about Seattle, and subsequently contributed to its continuation and amplificatione, is that a substantial part of the mass of the movement understood the catch and, having no intention to renounce a real struggle against the G8, drew their own conclusions: "They have us in their sights because it is our movement; we can only react against this rifle pointed against us by giving ourselves greater political consistency and developin a better organisation of defence and attack against the violence of capital. The violence of arms and the much more subtle but no less dangerous form of our "democratic involvement" in a dialogue with the oppressors".
"The black bloc increased the level of tension on 30 November to the extent that teargas and other irritants were even fired against non-violent demonstrators," said Agnoletto in his best American style. The reply of The Acme Collective Seattle (the lesson of which can be directly applied to the Italian events today) was: "In answer to this, all we can point out is that the firing of teargas, the gassing of people with pepper spray and the shooting of rubber bullets all began long before the black bloc began destroying property. What’s more we must oppose the tendency to establish a cause and effect relationship between the repression of the police and the different forms of protest, regardless of whether or not they ivolve the destruction of property. The police have the duty of defending the rich minority …"[*]. Exactly. What counts for bourgeois order and what needs to be struck is not any particular form of protest or struggle, but its content and explosive potential (by definition "violent" for capital), which is even worse if it is not extemporary and individualistic. Provided of course that we are talking about a truly anti-capitalist content, whose intrinsic characteristic lies in its fight against the laws of capital and the armies that defend them. Anything else is welcomed provided that its supporters are actually transformed into a voluntary police force on the side of capital, whatever they say to the contrary.
The members of the Democratic Left understand this all too well. After having organised this G8 Summit, after having amiably wined and dined with Clinton, and after having directly participated in the war against Yugoslavia (which can hardly be called "non-violent"), had every intention of taking its troops to Genoa in order to make life a little more uncomfortable for the Berlusconi who had ousted them from power. But they immediately withdrew as soon as the movement threatened to become something more serious that could not easily be driven into a "dialogue" with the enemy. What does the black bloc have to do with all of this? Absolutely nothing. Strong in the support of his troops (?), any Fassino would easily be able to settle things with the "rabble", but the point was that it would be better if also the stamping mass were sent home. And so let’s keep out of the way so that the professionals can do their job better with the remaining few (200,000 or more …, who did not keep out of the way!).
It was a perfectly "reasonable" proposal. What a pity it was not understood by the mass!
In any case, many of the remaining "leaders" of the "opposition" appointed themselves to do the same job by turning up. All in the name of democracy and mutually agreed rules, only to complain afterwards of the "incomprehension" of Berlusconi and the police. But who is to blame if the police were guilty of "indiscriminate" violence? The "baddies" who the police had failed to distinguish and selectively repress in favour of the injured rights of the "goodies". Or at most the baddies "infiltrated" by the police among the mass of goodies in order to find a "pretext". A pretext for striking against the good democrats? And why would they do that? Perhaps (but this they never say!) because the "peaceful" protest in itself represents the main danger precisely because of its antagonistic potential. And so it was no mistake but a reasoned repressive operation against the real anti-capitalist antagonism glowing the ashes of the mass. We are back where we started: what has the black bloc got to do with all this? Nothing. Capitalism aims at the heart of the movement and has no need of any "pretexts", without which the anti-capitalists would be left free to act as anti-capitalists but in a "democratic manner" (with their hands up, or with an anti-insurrection club…that’s it!).
From this point of view, Berlusconi’s government is perfectly clear and consistent: there is no way of really contesting the G8 and no way of really contesting the West or capitalism; and any srious movement in this senseis to be repressed directly if its well-bribed (or even unpaid) guardians are incapable of controlling it. Compliments from the "socialist" Blair and the "socialist" Schroeder, D’Alema’s companions at banquets and "peace-keeping" wars. "Zero tolerance," admonished the leader of the SPD. And zero tolerance it was. With all of the consequences.
Setting aside the obvious positions of Agnoletto & Co., what is worse is that a whole horde of "protestors" (with their hands up as ever!) have started crying over the "provocation" of the black bloc and blaming it as the only cause of the "disorders" – while closing both eyes to the provocation of capital.
The minority of Rifondazione had spoken well. But lo and behold,, immediately afterwards, there was a fly poster of the young communists belonging to it saying that "the so-called ‘black bloc’ is the enemy of this movement from every point of view" and the "appointed authorities" (appointed by whom? Joe Soap? The people?) "did not know how or did not want to isolate the violent and protect the city and the demonstrators" but fell back on "indiscriminate repression". Of course, because a discriminate represion could serve to assure city and "alternative" citizens – it would in fact be an essential precondition!
A "Trotskyist" group without any defects (poor Trotsky!) has written that "the bogey of the "black bloc" or presumed fringe groups of violent demonstrators ready for anything infiltrated into the processions" served as an alibi against "our legitimate dissent" (what a fine word that "dissent"!, and even finer when accompanied by the "legitimate" so dear to democratic constitutionalists!). And so Berlusconi’s government "now has its hands stained with the blood of a young Italian" (Italian above all! But seeing that he did not move exactly like a pacifist – something that we do not hold against him – shouldn’t he be included among the "infiltrators against the movement"?!).
Even a group of purebred "anarchists" has had the nerve to write: "All ordinary people are wondering why the police did not stop the "men in black"… The secret services knew full well what the intentions of the black bloc were, and did everything they could to let them do exactly what they wanted"; they were easily identifiable, these "enfants terribles (almoat all of them foreigners)" with "empty little heads". Foreigners above all – but don’t they say that "our homeland is the world entire"! These intruders "infiltrated" among the mass of Italians with their little heads full… of a visceral love for imperialist democracy.
We have long been used to being considered "provocateurs" ourselves. According to the current word, nourished and spread with particular aggression by certain social centres in North-east Italy, we were "covering" Hussein when we opposed the war against Iraq, we were "covering" Milosevic in the Yugoslavian case (whereas the covered the bombers of NATO); and we will now end up being accused of "covering" the black bloc. Whoever knows us, and above all whoever saw us and heard us in Genoa, knows how things stand, and knows where and who are the real infiltrators – the infiltrators of capital.
We always respond with a piece from from ACME USA in Seattle: "The reaction to the activities of the black bloc has highlighted some of the internal oppression and contradictions lived by the ‘non-violent activists’. Aside from the obvious hypocrisy of those who practice violence against whoever had a covered face and was dressed in black (many of whom were attacked despite the fact that they had never been involved in the activities of property destruction), this is the racism of the privileged activists who can afford to ignore the violence perpetrated against the greater part of society and nature in the name of the right to private property"[*]. Exactly, 100%.
In Seattle, the black bloc had this to say on the matter: "Supporting the ‘free market’ means allowing this process (of exploitation and oppression) to come to its logical conclusion: a network of a few monopolistic companies that completely control the the lives of all of us. Supporting a "fair market" means hoping to see this process mitigated by government laws", but "private property – and therefore capitalism – are intrinsically violent and oppressive and cannot be reformed or mitigated"[*]. Do we want to keep our distance from the black bloc as far as their ways of operating are concerned? Certainly, provided we begin by acknowledging the profound truth contained in these words. The primary question for us is how to defeat unreformable capitalism – let it be known that this is our task, and it has nothing to do with being equitable or sharing power!
With regard to the actions of the black bloc in concrete terms, we would like to return to suggestin the comment made by Mumia Abu Jamal: "Much can be said about the mistreated anarchists who shatterd the centre of the city, attacking the splendid buildings of the Capital. The press has been quick to seize the opportunity to call the ‘delinquents’ or ‘hooligans’ involved in ‘violence’. But what is obviously missing from their articles is that those young people were attacking property, not other human beings. In the meantime, the State, by means of its police, attacked people, they kicked them, gassed them, beat them and imprisoned them. Which, I wonder, is the more serious form of violence? But in a world projected by the corporate media, the violence of the State is not real violence. And so only the individuals that are not integrated in the State can be the truly violent"[*].
Now let us hope that no-one on the left – perhaps even the "revolutionary" left – takes it into his head to ask for the immediate execution of the "infiltrator" Mumia! We are on his side.
[*] Back-translated from Italian version"