From: Barbara Dudley
Fri, 27 Jul 2001 20:03:54 EDT
Subject: What lessons should be learned?
Kenny Bruno and many others of the elder wing of the global justice movement have written impassioned pleas in the days following the Genoa debacle. Kenny's article for CorpWatch urged, "The black bloc, the more mainstream demonstrators, and local authorities must collectively come to their senses to break the pattern and avoid a repeat of Genoa." I wasn't in Genoa, but something about Kenny's plea, and similar quotations from Kevin Danaher and Dan Seligman in the San Francisco Chronicle (which I concede, probably misquotes more often than not), struck me as a bit ahistorical.
People my age (55 or thereabouts), who were politically involved in the U.S. in the 1970s, must remember the tactics used by the police against the Black Panthers and the Weather Underground as well as the more mainstream civil rights and antiwar movement. I have read reports from Genoa of police provocateurs dressed in black that were frighteningly reminiscent of police activity in this country the last time the Establishment felt threatened by a mass movement. And it would be difficult to find any way to justify the incredibly brutal police raid on hundreds of sleeping activists in a Genoa school building even if there were Black Bloc members sleeping amongst them. I do not believe that any "local authorities" who participated in or condoned those raids should be lumped in the same category with demonstrators, as needing to come to their senses. They need to be exposed and condemned by all who love democracy.
I do not mean to say that the Black Bloc tactics of property destruction and hand to hand engagement with the police are smart. They do drive away the average citizen who might otherwise join our opposition to the corporate globalization agenda, and they open all of us, including those of us who are committed to nonviolence, to retaliation and political isolation. But so far the Black Bloc has seemed capable of thoughtfully analyzing confrontational situations. I would like to hear their analysis of Genoa, of the role they played, and particularly of the dangers of police infiltration and provocation, before I reach conclusions. After all, although we might not want to admit it, it was the media hunger for violence and conflict which brought the massive coverage of Seattle. Would the world have noticed30,000 peaceful demonstrators? I would like to think so, but I have my doubts.
I do agree entirely with Kenny Bruno that we have to "break the pattern" and come up with new tactics for furthering the global justice movement. That applies to all of us, not just the Black Bloc. Every move we make -- from counter summits and counter proposals to mass demonstrations -- eventually will be absorbed, accommodated, co-opted by those who are designing the new globalization. We have to stay one step ahead of them, always questioning and honing our own analysis, always bringing in new allies, always speaking to new constituencies, always pointing out new contradictions. And we must never fall prey to the well-worn tactic of divide and conquer.
Barbara Dudley Portland, Oregon