Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Property Destruction Factions in Occupy

SFGate had an okay article on the faction of occupy in Oakland/SF that've been allegedly smashing stores. I appreciate that they were reasonably careful not to paint 「Black Bloc」 as being necessarily typical of all of anarchosocialism. There may be continuity between the anarchosocialist community and these actions though, in that in all my experiences in activism and in what I have read of anarchosocialist theory, their lack of vestment in the existing trappings of civilisation is more total than most other activists on the left; state socialists like me tend to see existing civilisation as a treasure and the many stages of development we've passed through as a progression of improvements; we may want democracy and social interests replacing some of the privilegecurrently allocated through property rights, but we recognise that most state institutions are just not oriented as well as they should be and that things could easily get much worse. Even in revolution, state socialists believe in fixing the state, not demolishing it, and we generally respect rule-of-law (but want better laws) and feel responsibility for society. By theory, anarchosocialists are more diverse in their ethics, and because they see the existing order as being more throughly rotten, there are fewer reasons that they would necessarily be against random property damage (although again: individual inclinations and morals/ethics/tactics differ so it would be a mistake to consider them universally inclined *for* such actions).

All that considered, I consider this quote to be a sign of brain damage at OccupyOakland: 「"The fact that police can single out the Black Bloc as troublemakers just shows that the police are trying to pit us against one another」 -- Lauren Smith, organiser. "This issue is a conspiracy" is effectively what that's saying, and that's not addressing the issue. I condemn direct action that does not have a clear tactical and theoretical justification. I am willing to support even violent direct action, and potential destruction of property or governments, but only when the situation makes such action prudent and ideally effective towards serving some decent social need. Direct action has a heavy cost on society and is not to be entered into lightly. I don't believe this support actually marks me as unusual categorically; most people we know today would, I hope, have been willing to take part in the Underground Railroad were they transplanted into the past, doing what it took for that operation to be successful. The causes and types of progress such devotion might cause me to support might mark my positions as a bit unusual, perhaps.


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