On November 30, a loosely organised cluster of affinity groups/individuals in black bloc attacked corporate targets in downtown Seattle. For over five hours, corporate property was strategically and opportunistically destroyed and defaced by a black bloc which remained constantly in motion, avoided engaging with police, buddied up and watched each other's backs (de-arresting those attacked by federal thugs).
Unfortunately, on at least 6 occasions, so-called 'non-violent' activists - AKA peace police - physically attacked individuals targeting corporate property and bodily defended property against the black bloc. These "peace-keepers" posed a greater threat to the black bloc than state-sanctioned "peace-keepers" - highlighting the hypocrisy, privilege and self-policing of the activist community.
Some Myths Dispelled
They escalated situations on N30, leading to tear-gassing of passive, non-violent protesters
Tear-gassing, pepper-spraying and shooting of rubber bullets began before the black bloc engaged in property destruction. We must resist the tendency to establish a causal relationship between police repression and protest in any form: police protect the interests of the wealthy few and blame for their violence cannot be placed upon those who protest those interests.
They're a bunch of angry adolescent boys
Girls and post-adolescents fuck shit up too!
They just want to fight
On N30, the black bloc was perhaps the least interested in confronting the authorities or other anti-WTO activists.
They're a chaotic, disorganised, opportunistic mob
Organisation was fluid, dynamic, and tight. As for opportunism, who didn't take advantage of Seattle to advance their agenda? The question becomes then whether we helped create that opportunity.
They don't know the issues
Most of us have studied the effects of the global economy, genetic engineering, resource extraction, transportation, labor practices, elimination of indigenous autonomy, animal rights and human rights for many years. Hence the corporations targeted on N30: Fidelity Investment, Bank of America, Washington Mutual Bank, Old Navy, Banana Republic, the Gap, Niketown, Levi's, McDonalds, Starbucks, Warner Bros.
Masked anarchists are anti-democratic and secretive because they hide their identities
Let's face it - we aren't living in a democracy, we're living in a police state. Those who pose the greatest threat to the interests of capital and state will be persecuted. To accept incarceration as a form of flattery - as worthy sacrifice - betrays crass 'First World' privilege.
Property destruction isn't a violent activity unless it destroys lives or causes pain. Private (especially corporate) property is thus infinitely more violent than any action taken against it.
Personal property is distinguished from private property. The former is based upon use - each having what s/he needs. The premise of private property is that we have something someone else needs. Those who accrue more of what others need (or want) can wield greater control over others (and what others perceive as needs/desires), thereby increasing profit to themselves.
Advocates of 'free trade' want to push this process to its logical conclusion: a few industry monopolists with ultimate control over everyone else. Advocates of 'fair trade' want to mitigate this process via government regulations which superficially impose 'humanitarian standards'. We despise both positions. Private property - and capitalism, by extension - is intrinsically violent and repressive. It cannot be reformed or mitigated.
When we smash a window, we aim to destroy the thin veneer of legitimacy that surrounds private property rights. At the same time, we exorcise the set of violent and destructive social relationships which has been imbued in almost everything around us. By 'destroying' private property we convert its limited exchange value into an expanded use value. A storefront window becomes a vent to let some fresh air into the oppressive atmosphere of a retail outlet. A newspaper box is a tool for creating such vents or a small blockade for the reclamation of public space. A dumpster becomes an obstruction to a phalanx of rioting cops and a source of heat and light, a building facade becomes a message board to record brainstorm ideas for a better world.
After N30, people will never see a shop window or a hammer the same way again. The potential uses of an entire cityscape have increased a thousand-fold. Along with the broken windows are the broken spells cast by a corporate hegemony to lull us into forgetfulness of all the violence committed in the name of private property rights and of all the potential of a society without them. Broken windows can be boarded up and replaced but the shattering of assumptions will hopefully persist for some time..
Against Capital and State,
The ACME Collective - 4th December 1999