Sunday, September 07, 2008

The following report has been copies from the A-Infos website, though it has been widely publishing in the "anarchonet". The Workers' Solidarity Alliance (WSA) is an American anarchosyndicalist group.
Molly has her own opinions about what happened in Minneapolis, mostly centred around its incredible uselessness and how this contrasts with the amount of effort that was put into organizing the protest by anarchists across the USA. I am also quite disturbed by the way that this sort of thing degrades the anarchist concept of "direct action". Nothing that anarchists did at the scene of the convention was "direct action". Direct action, in the anarchist ideology, refers to actions by ordinary people that actually aim to correct an inbalance of power by action by the people themselves who create "new rules" by refusing, en mass, to adhere to old rules and create new ways of living. This may seem "reformist" to those who confuse "militancy" with "direct action", as far too many in the USA do. The classic example of "direct action" in a labour situation is the old IWW tactic of everyone booking off early to change working hours. a work-to-rule action is direct action In our present situation the formation of co-ops is "direct action". Mindless confrontations with the police are not. Real direct action action aims to actually change things by what might be called "collective re-assignment" of the rules of society. Merely expressing your anger by rioting is no such thing.
The best of the anarchist actions, what the majority of the people there wanted to engage in, was "civil disobedience". This sort of tactic preserves the moral high ground, even if it is not direct action. The problem is that there is far too much tolerance for the present catchphrase of "diversity of tactics". This allows the state to depend upon our own thugs (and the agents provocateurs that they send into the groups) to deny the moral high ground to the protesters who,once again, merely want to make a point rather than actually changing anything at all. All this is fine and good, as long as the whole point of "influencing public opinion" is kept in mind and the participants aren't under some psychotic illusion that they are actually disrupting such events as the RNC in any significant way, let alone disrupting the everyday activities of the state. It is a very bad idea to abandon the public perception of the moral high ground just to show off your "militancy". Stupidity would be a mild word to describe it.
All that being said the local authorities in Minneapolis did indeed react in a particularly brutal and repressive way. Here is the statement of the WSM that expresses it all, including thje call for us to reconsider our tactics. Molly may say that "mercifully" these events will soon fade in the public consciousness, but they shouldn't be forgotten amongst us. How to use them in the future is a different matter.
US, Anarchist WSA Statement on the RNC Protest
In the opening days of September 2008 people from all over the country came together in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul to protest the agenda of the Republican National Convention. And in response, police cracked down, hard. And even before the events had begun police responded to mere calls for protest through strong-arm tactics reminiscent of a police state, including infiltration and spying by state agents against protest organizations and preemptive raids with guns drawn against private protest centers. During the event police responded with the indiscriminate arrest of hundreds of protesters, and even journalists recording the event where arrested. Decked out in full military garb masses of police indiscriminately assaulted numerous protesters with batons, pepper spray and other weapons, that though listed under the term "less then lethal" nevertheless inflict great pain and suffering, and have been implicated in serious medical complications and even death. Fortunately no one was killed in the Twin Cities, but the use of tactics befitting a police state should be a cause of grave concern for all people of good conscience.
In response we at the Worker Solidarity Alliance (WSA) call upon all poor and working people everywhere to reach out in support of the 284 protesters that have been jailed by the cops.
Please make a donation to help cover the legal fees of our jailed comrades, and to cover any medical fees that may arise among protesters due to the brutal tactics utilized by police on behalf of the Republican Party. One place you can donate is the web site of the Coldsnap Legal Collective:
Although the Workers Solidarity Alliance extends unconditional solidarity and support to the victims of state repression during the RNC, we also call for a critical evaluation of the approach taken by anti-authoritarians and anarchists. The repression of RNC activism demonstrates that new organizing models will be needed if anticapitalists are to mount a genuine challenge to the power of capital and the state. Specifically, we must avoid playing into the hands of the state by using rhetoric, rituals, and tactics that isolate us from the majority of the world's population that suffers under capitalism. We call for a resistance based not exclusively on the advanced tactics of a jail-ready minority, but the solidarity and militancy of a revolutionary social bloc, organized in workplaces and neighborhoods, fighting for self-determination. As the raids on activists spaces have already shown, anything less is political suicide.
The reasons people protested were varied, as was the political background of the protesters. Some of the protesters came seeking to end the U.S. military occupation of Iraq, some economic justice, others out of criticism of the current Republican administration in Washington. Some protesters came to voice their dissent and in support of Obama. Some came to protest the havoc that the endless pursuit for capitalist profits has wrecked upon the environment. And yet others still came to protest the political rule of the U.S. government, whether under the leadership of Republicans or Democrats, or other would be contenders for the throne.
The "Red & Black Anti-Capitalist" contingent came to protest the war, for economic justice, for a healthy environment, and against white supremacy, nationalism, sexism and homophobia --- and to promote the idea that simply changing office holders does not do away with capitalism and the political state. This contingent called for a new world, a world without bosses, states and bureaucrats.
The Workers Solidarity Alliance (WSA) seeks the self-empowerment of ordinary poor and working class people through democratic self-management of their workplaces and their communities without mediation by elite's from above. Those of the "Red & Black Anti-Capitalist" contingent, and their supporters in the WSA and elsewhere, are sick and tired of living in a society that is dominated by the special interests of wealthy men and the political system that these elites have set in motion to protect their interests at the expense of the genuine interests, the aspirations and collective well being of the vast majority of the population, the working class. As supporters of the "Red & Black Anti-Capitalist" contingent we of the WSA denounce both the Republican and Democratic parties, as we understand that the true motivating cause of all political parties, in every part of the globe, is that of keeping a small elite entrenched firmly in political and economic power over, and to the detriment, of the working class across the earth.
The WSA also denounces the Patriot Act, under which the state has charged eight (RNC-8) prominent protest organizers with "Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism," this despite the fact that the RNC 8 were arrested days prior to the beginning of both the convention and the actual protests and had not carried out any actual protest actions whatsoever. The provisions of the Patriot Act grants the state power to charge people with "conspiracy" for simply planning a nonviolent protest, and in turn to saddle them with a felony for making calls for dissent to state policy. Thus the true purpose of the Patriot Act is to criminalize exercises of the right to free speech, peaceful assembly and protest. In light of the true intentions of the Patriot Act the WSA calls for the working class to get together in solidarity to put pressure upon the state to rescind and abolish the Patriot Act.
Yet despite all of the terror and mayhem unleashed by the police the fact that ordinary people maintained their presence, their solidarity and their dissent against the unjust policies of the political elite for the duration of the convention is in the last analysis a demonstration of the courage of the working class. The protesters that made up the "Red & Black Anti-Capitalist" contingent, and others as well, have a positive vision of a better society. A society in which ordinary folks come together in brotherly solidarity to create a new system based upon the moral value of "Mutual aid" and free from the rule of a lying, scheming and predatory elite. For a society in which "freedom and liberty for all" are not mere sentiments regulated to paper, or simply buzz words to throw about by self-interested politicians looking for your votes, but are instead the overwhelming living reality of society, and not just in the United States but throughout the entire earth.
Workers Solidarity Alliance
339 Lafayette Street - Room 202
New York, NY 10012 USA


Larry Gambone said...

A GOOD statement. also glad you are back. Enjoyed your reporting from Ireland

Renegade Eye said...

I'm from Minneapolis. See my analysis.

It was about 800 arrested total.

I blame the Maoist leadership of the legal demos, as much as the black bloc group. They presented hysterical reformism, fronting for Dems, and being ambiguous about tactics.

mollymew said...

Ah yes, I remember. In my younger days the Maoists os the Internationalists (laterthe CFPC-ML and later still the Marxist Leninist Party, as they are known now since the death oft heir guru 'Hardy-No-Brains')had a "plan". It waws the old "get from behind and push" trick to "radicalize" those mwho did not agree witt the need for "revolution". THIS led to them pushing a whole lot of young Indian kids into the waiting clubs of the RCMP in the early 70s. The LAUDABLE result was that this particular commie sect couldn't show its face in Regina for over a year-we were much more serious then (people's memories are short-I'd like 50 years).
How much do the tactics of our "black blocs" differ from those of the Maoist thugs of my childhood ? I'd say very little,except that they usually don't evoke the "peoples response" that we developed in the 70s to deal with the thuigs thyen.Too bad.