I thought it was weird when the New York Times wrote about anarchism back in February. The Washington Post just followed suit: “What draws Americans to anarchy? It’s more than just smashing windows.” OH GAWD.
Of course the article is actually about smashing windows. First paragraph:
By day, they are graphic designers, legal assistants, nonprofit workers and students. But outside their 9-to-5 jobs, they call themselves anarchists — bucking the system, shunning the government and sometimes even rioting and smashing windows to make a point.
We aren’t going to learn much about this point, don’t worry. You know it’s going to be an inane reminder to hate anarchists as soon as you read the phrase “call themselves anarchists.” Incredible that anyone would, amirite?! That’s not how they’d write about some white guy making racism cool again. “LOL this guy thinks he’s in the KKK can you believe it?” No, they’ll write about that like it’s a new and interesting perspective worth taking seriously.
Dylan Petrohilos, 28, said his family’s struggle with poverty drew him to the movement. Sammi LeMaster, 22, first became involved because of her belief that the country needs a stronger response to shootings by police. Legba Carrefour, 37, has been protesting for well over a decade.
The trio are among a group of Washington-area residents who have been quietly active in gay rights demonstrations, Black Lives Matter and many other causes.
Poor people, niggers, fags, and overgrown children is all you need to know.
But their anarchist community made a fiery entrance into the Trump presidency on Jan. 20, when they organized thousands of people to protest his inauguration by blocking security checkpoints and marching in the streets. Hundreds of them, clad in black clothes and masks, rioted through the downtown.
They used wooden poles and pieces of concrete to break storefronts and smash newspaper boxes, according to an indictment in D.C. Superior Court. More than 200 people were arrested and six police officers were injured. City officials tally the damage from the rioting at about $100,000.
What the court documents call “malicious” and “violent” acts, the anarchists see as a necessary way to draw attention to poverty, racism, educational inequality and other problems.
“Allowing inauguration to proceed as a peaceful unfolding does not reflect that this is not a peaceful country. There is no peace,” said Carrefour, who would not say which inauguration protests he participated in and whether he knew if the violence would occur. “We wanted to make it a clusterf—, and we made it a clusterf—.”
Nah, it’s not like that at all. Real anarchist explanation: You are not the target audience. Read the whole thing.
This may come as a shock. We’re all so used to politicians and lobbying groups trying to win our support that the notion of someone completely uninterested in what you’ll say about them over the proverbial watercooler is a little insulting. Tough. To the serious activist on the street it doesn’t matter how you’re likely to vote or whether you’ll donate money — those are not feasible routes to the sort of social change we’re interested in. Are you going to actively join us in struggle or not? Organize your workplace, start a community garden, retake an abandoned building, code better tools, fight off a cop? Are you likely to seriously commit? In practice some people are quicker and more effective allies than others.
You don’t have to explain the institutional allegiances of the police to certain communities. Many folks already know the score. All that’s holding them back from joining in active resistance is a sense of isolation, weakness, and despair. In this context street fighting and vandalism are not so much proofs of method but statements of commitment and seriousness. There are others like you who are willing to fight, and we can hurt them, or at the very least we can shatter the air of invulnerability that pervades business as usual. It’s hard to overstate the psychological effect this can have on those who feel ground down or fenced in. Riots are especially useful when passive protest is widely acknowledged in certain circles to be laughably useless and indicative of protesters unwilling to commit. It doesn’t matter if a riot is directly successful on the scale of burning down city hall or permanently evicting the police from a neighborhood, what matters more is the change in perceptions. There’s a long history of social struggle skyrocketing after street confrontations — not because folks believe a few busted windows or bruised cops pave the road to a better world, but because it at least demonstrates potential.
That’s why politicians and police consistently go apeshit over things like measly storefront windows. Their control is dependent in no small part on being seen as in control. Certain boundaries to what’s considered feasible must be secured at all cost lest they begin to lose the illusion of invulnerability that dissuades the subjugated from rising up. No one in power gets hysterical when a common thief, for example, breaks a window because thieves are perceived as part of the same ecosystem of exploitation in which cops and CEOs position themselves as apex predators. Political vandalism is potent in part precisely because it risks much for no personal gain. It announces a violation of the established rules of the game, both of power and protest.
To be sure, the tactic of playing a victim in front of TV cameras in hopes of provoking outcry or disenchantment can also be useful in the right situation (when cameras are filming, enough people are listening, and public response is enough of a threat to change the cost-benefit analysis of those in charge). But such protest, even at its most acrimonious, still takes the form of an appeal to power — it assumes certain institutions can be reasoned with. As such it risks effectively bolstering the perceived legitimacy of those institutions.
In contrast, physical resistance challenges not only the state’s appearance of control but also the legitimacy of their monopoly on force. It’s a damned-either-way situation for the state. Any response sufficient to reassert the inviolability of their power will rightly strike anyone who isn’t a total asshole as grossly disproportionate; there’s no equivocating to be had when the state responds to broken windows by breaking skulls. And even if the cameras are off or filtered by ruthless propagandists, when the priorities of the state are laid bare it can still have a huge impact on first-hand witnesses and their friends. Again, what’s more valuable, avoiding a few million people briefly tut-tutting at the ‘violent protesters’ before promptly forgetting us or shattering the worldviews of hundreds and gaining fifty new full-time activists brimming with passion?
It’s worth remembering that all the public outcry in the world won’t win certain battles. There are some concessions those in power will never make. Passive protest negotiates by raising costs to the point where certain trade-offs become acceptable, but it can only succeed on issues where those in power are left room to retreat and regroup. On issues like abolishing borders, prisons, or the police, our demands will never be met because they pose an existential threat to the very premise of the state itself. No matter how limited a sociopath’s options become the total abolition of all positions of power is always going to be dead last on their list of preferences. At some point those in power will have to be physically dragged kicking and screaming out. Part of building a movement should be building the capacity to do precisely that. And that kind of strength doesn’t just spring into existence the moment our leaders cross a line, it must be nurtured and developed as our ranks grow. Demonstrating that we’re at least committed to working on it — that we haven’t forgotten that success on any serious issue will require us to develop and maintain a capacity for physical resistance — is an important part of being taken seriously and building our numbers. Even if we demonstrate that through actions that leave us looking a little juvenile.
Any given tactic is going to alienate some people and draw in others. There is no such thing as a universally well-received action. When critiquing actions what you need to check is whose perspectives you’re prioritizing and precisely why you think they matter more. What are you presupposing about the political landscape?
All the considerations I’ve discussed frequently vary in relevancy and degree. It should really go without saying that every context is going to be different. Sometimes purely passive protest can have a hugely positive impact. A lot of the time — frankly most of the time — busted windows and street scuffles end up serving little to no positive effect whatsoever. But gauging such consequences is never trivial. The point is that “public opinion” is an incredibly complex subject with even more complex strategic considerations. It is not reducible to polling data or the sensibilities of the people you socialize with. There’s plenty of room for productive conversations on what’s a good idea and what isn’t, but everyone has a different slice of the world apparent to them so evaluations of strategy will always have an inescapably subjective component. Someone busting a window at a demonstration may indeed be making an ultimately poor decision, but that doesn’t mean they’re unintelligent or unethical.
I’m pretty sure anyone taking it upon themselves to throw bricks at cops has thought about it harder than someone watching it on TV and shaking their heads. “They just like smashing windows” is the same as “they hate us for our freedoms.”
Anarchists — who are often grouped with the antifascists, or antifa — have been increasingly visible across the country, engaging in high-profile protests that sometimes turn violent. In Berkeley, Calif., they have squared off with far-right and other groups, rioting to stop people they deem to be fascists from speaking on campus — ticking off debates about free speech. In Portland, Ore., the threat of violence between anarchists and far-right groups forced a popular family parade to be shut down.
Note that, in a non-editorial, the Washington Post is taking the position that Milo Yiannopolous, Donald Trump, the Oath Keepers and others making Nazi salutes, and Ann Coulter are not fascists. That’s who people have protested at Berkeley this year. The “neutrality” is actually taking sides.
Note that this kind of Nazi shit is illegal in Germany itself.
The protest wasn’t a surprise to D.C. police. Law enforcement had secretly attended planning meetings and infiltrated a multiday “action camp,” according to D.C. Superior Court documents. At one gathering, attendees were asked to place their cellphones in a microwave, for fear police or opposition groups were trying to listen in.
Carrefour said he knows that some people who are sympathetic to the anarchists’ general beliefs would not approve of the tactics used at the inauguration. But, he said, recruiting more anarchists is never the goal.
“The notion of convincing people is a liberal idea,” Carrefour said. “I also think it’s important to attack the symbols of capitalism. It’s just property at the end of the day.”
If Carrefour isn’t a cop, he’s certainly a dumbass for feeding quotes like that to the Washington Post.
Let’s remember the real victims here: owners of limousine companies whose insurance doesn’t cover the damages 100%.
Muhammad Ashraf, whose 2015 Lincoln super-stretch limousine was burned by rioters while parked downtown, wondered whether the protesters understood the effect the rioting had on him.
Ashraf, 52, owner of Virginia-based Nationwide Chauffeured Services, watched on television as his limo was engulfed in flames. The vehicle was a total loss. After insurance payments, it cost him $60,000 out of pocket to replace, he said.
“When that car becomes a source of your livelihood, it becomes a part of your life. I don’t know if the protesters understand that when they destroy something — the way I felt when I saw my car burning, it really hurt me deeply even though it’s just a car,” he said. “Six months later, I still want to know, did that accomplish anything?”
I read that and think he’s got it made for having $60k laying around to buy a new limo. You can totally go to the website yourself see that it’s not like the man was ever without a source of livelihood. This being the Washington Post, that was probably the most sympathetic victim they could find.
LeMaster said she used to consider herself a far-left Democrat. As a student at American University, she surrounded herself with progressive friends, but grew frustrated with her peers’ politics by her senior year.
They would rant on Facebook about the latest news, then do little to solve the problems that vexed them. When people started rioting in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray in 2015, she recalls some of her classmates being shocked by the violence and saying they could no longer support Black Lives Matter.
“I was like of course they’re breaking windows, they’re mad,” she said. “That’s going to make you stop supporting Black Lives Matter?”
LeMaster graduated in 2016, accepted a job as a legal assistant at a boutique law firm in Washington and knew little about the D.C. anarchy community.
Then a friend dragged her to a DisruptJ20 meeting in the basement of St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church in Mount Pleasant. LeMaster later learned that many people leading the meetings were anarchists. She liked them, but she didn’t consider herself to be as extreme.
On Inauguration Day, she joined a group of LGBT activists and blocked Trump supporters from entering the Mall through a security checkpoint. Later, she said, she saw the brawl between D.C. police and the black-masked protesters and watched as police doused people around her with pepper spray.
The next day, she and dozens of other activists — mostly anarchists — rallied at D.C. Superior Court, offering rides, food and cigarettes to protesters who were arrested and held overnight. LeMaster stood with the group, chanting “anti, anti-capitalista” as each person walked out. It was then she realized this community of anarchists was her own.
“It takes awhile to get used to the label because it comes with a lot of baggage,” LeMaster said. “People assume that anarchism is so extreme. But I associate it with wanting everyone’s needs to be met.”
“Far-left Democrat” is an oxymoron.
From Counterpunch, another place Real Anarchists might go:
To be sure, the whole of Western culture is complicit, but what astounds is the complicity of what defines itself as left. Notably, the complicity of those among the left’s comfortable and intellectual “tendencies,” usually called “liberals.” But in general, a whole language has vanished from the Western left’s vocabulary: class struggle, international solidarity, peace among peoples, social justice, exploitation, poverty. They are so illiterate in left theory and experience that the call the ruling class’s booth on their faces, “the deep state.” This today in the West is an amalgam (rather than a conscious political program) of a loose and dangerous left. It dreams, if it dreams at all, of a revolution without struggle. The answer to that pietism is force. Whole nations wiped off the face of the earth.
We now, on this loose left, trade in our critical faculties at the theatre of propaganda. In return, the propaganda pounds, batters, and sequesters our emotions so that we end up identifying with the narrative of power. The narrative insists that the West has the Holy Grail. It insists that it has a messianic mission to improve the world by sharing the Grail’s liberal values. The old conceit of liberal humanism, thus, returns to occupy our psyche, and it’s the same liberal humanism that in the 19th century enslaved the “lesser breeds” of the planet. Once again, we pick up the “white man’s burden” and his “civilizing mission” to lift up darkling “junior Brothers” from “savagery” and “barbarism” into our magnificent, magnanimous, culturally superior self-image. Massacres, famines, epidemics, and genocides follow.
Who galvanizes the left today against imperialism as Fidel Castro did with his uncompromising demand at the United Nations General Assembly in 1966 that “the exploitation of poor countries by rich countries must stop”? “We hear a lot of talk about human rights,” he said in the 1970s, as Jimmy Carter’s White House launched the rhetoric of human rights, “but we have to talk about the rights of humanity.”
“The rights of humanity,” who remembers them? Chief among them the right to sovereignty, perhaps? The right to foreign non-interference? To living free of threats, sanctions, partition, dismemberment, balkanization, invasion, and occupation? To solving one’s own problems in one’s own country? To choosing one’s economic system? To refusing to become a protectorate of the Big Bully on the Potomac?…
The loose left now calls that grotesque excrescence in the White House a fascist, as if Trump had replaced an administration of enlightened humanitarians. They are calling for virtual presidenticide so that the rule of that enlightened international “vampire,” the Democratic Party, can be restored. But let me tell you: he’s only the last of the “fascists” in a long line since 1945. The loose left just hasn’t noticed because the loose left has no concept of class struggle. It has, therefore, no critical equipment to include imperialism—the war of the class of international imperialist on the class of colonial or semi-colonial peoples—in the catalogue of the crimes of fascism.
Our planners are not stupid. They know how to maintain their minority’s primacy by waging class war. They not only exercise it on the “proletariat” at home but also across the map of the world. In 1948, George Kennan, the architect of the policy of containment, which launched the Cold War, recommended inequality in international relations—that’s war by the imperialist class at the center against whole national peoples at the peripheries. Imperialism, therefore, is just another form of class war.
“We have about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and daydreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world benefaction.” (Memo by George Kennan, Head of the US State Department Policy Planning Staff. Written February 28, 1948, Declassified June 17, 1974)
By “we,” Kennan does not mean the 99% of Americans. He means the 1%. The foreign policy he recommends is class-vested and is kept secret, for practical reasons, from the rest of us for two decades. That’s because the resources to support this policy protecting the elite has to be extracted from the rest of us, and counted in losses to social welfare and progress. Class is a relation of power, in which one class determines the direction of the whole of society. This is one example.
While the Washington Post spreads lazy stereotypes about anarchism, it’s getting harder to find out about the real thing from the internet.
A growing number of leading left-wing websites have confirmed that their search traffic from Google has plunged in recent months, adding to evidence that Google, under the cover of a fraudulent campaign against fake news, is implementing a program of systematic and widespread censorship.
Truthout, a not-for-profit news website that focuses on political, social, and ecological developments from a left progressive standpoint, had its readership plunge by 35 percent since April. The Real News , a nonprofit video news and documentary service, has had its search traffic fall by 37 percent. Another site, Common Dreams , last week told the WSWS that its search traffic had fallen by up to 50 percent.
As extreme as these sudden drops in search traffic are, they do not equal the nearly 70 percent drop in traffic from Google seen by the WSWS.
“This is political censorship of the worst sort; it’s just an excuse to suppress political viewpoints,” said Robert Epstein, a former editor in chief of Psychology Today and noted expert on Google.
Epstein said that at this point, the question was whether the WSWS had been flagged specifically by human evaluators employed by the search giant, or whether those evaluators had influenced the Google Search engine to demote left-wing sites. “What you don’t know is whether this was the human evaluators who are demoting you, or whether it was the new algorithm they are training,” Epstein said.
Another article gets into more detail:
An intensive review of Internet data has established that Google has severed links between the World Socialist Web Site and the 45 most popular search terms that previously directed readers to the WSWS. The physical censorship implemented by Google is so extensive that of the top 150 search terms that, as late as April 2017, connected the WSWS with readers, 145 no longer do so.
These findings make clear that the decline in Google search traffic to the WSWS is not the result of some technical issue, but a deliberate policy of censorship. The fall took place in the three months since Google announced on April 25 plans to promote “authoritative web sites” above those containing “offensive” content and “conspiracy theories.”
Because of these measures, the WSWS’s search traffic from Google has fallen by two-thirds since April.
The WSWS has analyzed tens of thousands of search terms, and identified those key phrases and words that had been most likely to place the WSWS on the first or second page of search results. The top 45 search terms previously included “socialism,” “Russian revolution,” “Flint Michigan,” “proletariat,” and “UAW [United Auto Workers].” The top 150 results included the terms “UAW contract,” “rendition” and “Bolshevik revolution.” All of these terms are now blocked.
In a set of guidelines issued to Google evaluators in March, elaborated in April by Google VP of Engineering Ben Gomes, the company instructed its search evaluators to flag pages returning “conspiracy theories” or “upsetting” content unless “the query clearly indicates the user is seeking an alternative viewpoint.” The changes to the search rankings of WSWS content are consistent with such a mechanism.
Users of Google will be able to find the WSWS if they specifically include “World Socialist Web Site” in their search request. But if their inquiry simply includes term such as “Trotsky,” “Trotskyism,” “Marxism,” “socialism” or “inequality,” they will not find the site.
More than 90 percent of Google search users do not click on results past the first page, and over 99 percent do not click on links past the 10th page. This means that if a result is demoted beyond the first 100 results, it is effectively unreachable...
Terms relating directly to socialism are those that are most heavily manipulated. The terms “socialism vs. capitalism,” “socialist healthcare,” “social class struggle,” and “socialist party manifesto,” which all returned WSWS articles on the first page in the past, now do not return the WSWS in the top 100 results. The terms “socialism,” “socialist,” “socialist movement” and “class conflict,” in which the WSWS previously appeared within the first four pages, all no longer return WSWS articles.
In 2014, the International Committee of the Fourth International vowed to put the struggle against war at the center of its political program, pledging to rebuild an anti-war movement based on the working class. Notably, the terms, “anti-war literature,” “articles against war” and “war socialism,” which used to have WSWS articles within the first page of search results, likewise no longer return WSWS articles at all.
The WSWS has been blacklisted in searches dealing with history, and in particular historical topics related to the revolutionary struggles of the 20th century. These include the terms “Russian revolution,” “Bolshevik revolution” and “October revolution,” all of which returned results in the top 50 in April.
Workers all over the world follow the coverage of the WSWS for its exposure of the anti-working class trade unions. Perhaps for this reason, the WSWS has been removed from the top 100 results for the term “UAW,” the abbreviation of the United Auto Workers. Over 125 search terms, including the word “strike,” have also had the WSWS removed from the top 100 results.
A major element of the WSWS’s coverage relates to social issues, particularly social inequality, which the WSWS identified as a major trend in the US and internationally as early as 1998. Notably, the terms “social inequality in the world,” “poverty and social inequality” and “global inequality articles,” which previously returned results in the top five, now return no results in the top 100. The term “Flint Michigan,” which brought the second-highest amount of traffic to the WSWS of any keyword, likewise had all WSWS articles removed from the first 100 entries.
Finally, there is the expansion of war. Of the 30,000 search terms in which the WSWS appeared in the top 100 results in April, over 1,100 referenced the term “war.” Of those, more than half, or 761, were removed from the first 10 pages of results.
In April, the following search terms would result in an article from the WSWS among the first five entries: “nuclear war with China (1), “is the US going to war with Iran (1),” “China US war scenario, (3),” and “what would happen if a nuclear war happened (5).” All of these terms have been blocked.
Other notable terms in the top 10 included “will Russia start a nuclear war (6),” “war against Russia (8)” and “threat of nuclear war (9),” all of which have been blocked from the first 100 results.
Google argues that it is seeking to implement changes to its search engine in order to “improve” the experience for users. But it is obvious that users who are searching for the word “socialism” or “socialist,” and “Russian revolution” are looking for socialist web sites and a socialist perspective!
People passing around Bernie Sanders stuff on Facebook have no concept of what I’m dealing with. Powerful entities like Google and the police are hard at work directly shutting leftists down, while their army of trolls marches across the internet. While complaining about the leftists taking away their free speech rights because they can’t be Nazis at Berkeley yet and they’re impatient.
They instill a deep distrust of people like me in everyone. My mom has repeated stereotypes about anarchists to me.
WHY DIDN’T THE WASHINGTON POST JUST ASK NOAM CHOMSKY? Oh, right…