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Black bloc: Tactic vs. Identity

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TygrBright Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-04-11 03:40 PM
Original message
Black bloc: Tactic vs. Identity
Edited on Fri Nov-04-11 03:46 PM by TygrBright
The words "black bloc" are onomatopoetically rich. They can be interpreted as "powerful, threatening, secretive, forceful, doom-laden, etc." So, using the term "black bloc" is frequently an attempt to co-opt those qualities for either a tactic, or an identity.

The difference is critical.

As a tactic, black bloc is essentially neutral. It is merely a tool employed by some group, to co-opt those qualities for its actions. Groups from almost every aspect of the left-right spectrum have employed black bloc at some point. Any time there is a need to deploy those qualities, to prevent recognition, to promote a sense of unity or solidarity, to send a particular message of power and/or threat, black bloc can be an effective tactic: People whose recognition-foiling black apparel and unified actions project that strength and/or power and/or threat. The black bloc may be deployed by organizers of an action as protection for other members of the group. It may be a tactic employed by agentes provocateurs to disrupt an action. It is merely a tactic, and has often been effective.

As an identity, however, black bloc takes on a different set of meanings, rooted in the nature and intent of the organizers. "Black blocs" may be splinters or sub-groups of larger groups, assigned or assuming a role both enhanced and cloaked by the apparel. Your perception of the qualities of the black bloc identity becomes based on your perception of its motives and purposes, and will vary based on your own motives and purposes. However, referring to the identity only as "black bloc" promotes confusion and may hinder effective action by or against the particular black bloc identity. This is why the most effective strategy to counter the black bloc identity is to impose an identity onto it by re-naming and framing the identity. Rather than referring to it as merely "the black bloc," then, coin and attach a specific label with the desired semantic connotations.

In the case of the agents provocateurs infiltrating Oakland, therefore, an effective label should be generated and used relentlessly and repeatedly to describe these individuals and their actions. I'd suggest "Bankster Lackeys" or some similar term. The key will be to find a good term, one that sticks, is memorable, and clearly differentiates the nature of the agentes provocateurs and their aims from those of the OWS group. And to refer to them only by that term, thenceforward, depriving them of the threatening connotation inherent in the "black bloc" label.

Some effective counter-tactics for the black bloc tactic:

Isolate/record:
Immediately withdraw from the vicinity of the black bloc member(s), forming as wide a ring as possible around them, and deploying cameras, recorders, etc. to record their actions. Deploy other cameras on a wider angle to testify to the purposeful isolation of the bb-ers by the main group. This tactic becomes more effective the more frequently it is employed. Encysting the bloc-ers, and maintaining a wide band of empty space between them and the actual group members also helps reduce the opportunities for violence. The bb-ers may move in any direction they wish, but cannot make contact with group members. As they approach buildings, the circle may open to make the building wall part of the perimeter. If the bb-ers attempt vandalism, the cameras in the perimeter document it, and the wide space between the isolated bb-ers and the group. There are many constructive uses for the footage obtained.

White bloc:
"White" being a metaphor for a specific counter-group, not an actual description of the group's apparel. The legitimate group may determine to identify this "white bloc" by any type of apparel or accoutrement. In any case, the "white bloc" shadows the bb-ers, documents their actions by recording and interpreting the actions and placing the sanction of the legitimate group on that interpretation. Essentially: "Our white bloc observed these people perpetrating vandalism and documented it. Our white bloc will be putting these recordings and their descriptions of the events into public view as a response to these actions which our group repudiates."

helpfully,
Bright
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easttexaslefty Donating Member (740 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-04-11 03:45 PM
Response to Original message
1. Excellent explanation! Thanks!
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TygrBright Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-04-11 04:05 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. There are some good things about getting old...
...you've seen most of the bullshit human beings can come up with many times before.

wearily,
Bright
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easttexaslefty Donating Member (740 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-04-11 04:09 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Isn't that the truth??. n/t
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applegrove Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-04-11 06:26 PM
Response to Original message
4. They don't help at all. All that violence on the part of 'demonstrators' does is
lose them support for their issues amongst the population in which they are trying to affect change. Black Bloc is just a bunch of narcissists who want to cause trouble and feel important and their followers. Peacefull demonstration works wonders.
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TygrBright Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-04-11 07:55 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Exactly. Fortunately, there are reasonably effective counter-tactics (see above.) n/t
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Rabblevox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-04-11 08:04 PM
Response to Original message
6. I am not at all comfortable with "black bloc = bad/violent, white bloc= peace". I do get your...
main point though.

But how about Blue/Pink/Rainbow bloc, to counter black bloc folks?

The black/white dichotomy has uncomfortable racist overtones for me.

Just sayin'
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TygrBright Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-04-11 11:42 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Excellent point, and I LOVE "rainbow bloc"! n/t
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