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Moving from Social Liberalism To Extra-Leftist Anarchism

This posting aims to explain how I evolved from social liberal centrism to extra-leftist anarchism in context of the historical juncture that ''ended'' the '20th century' and initiated 'the 21st'. It is a sort of political autobiography relative to my activist experiences and reaction to global events the 1998 to 2003 period... some have called this period of tecno-euphoria the ''early-(post-)postmodern'' ...
I will simply try to relate it as I remember it. It was December 13th, 2002. A cold but sunny day in Copenhaguen, Denmark. I was there to attend the anti-globalisation/anti-war demo planned in protest against the ongoing European Union summit and the impending war against Iraq. The ''lattest'' news was that Colin Powell was hustling support from the EU summit as part of his diplomatic charm offensive following the speech he had delivered before the U.N. Security Council a couple of months before. The Right-Liberal Danish government was fully on board with the Bush Administration. They plegded to send a submarine to help in the desert warfare that was to come - this against the overwhelming wishes of the voting public. The rallying point for the demo was the square infront of the Danish Parliament building. There where several truncheon wyelding anti-riot police protecting its gates. The Danish government had issued a decree banning demonstrators from wearing masks (a direct threat to the Black Bloc). There where hundreds of people about: Danish anarchists, Swedish anarcho-syndicalists, German AFA, British left-socialists, the usual troop of anarcha-feminist ''cheerleaders'', the smartly dressed ATTAC social-liberals, the Samba drum squad ... the largest contingent was that associated with the various European anti-war networks. An agitator from the British SWP was rallying it on: ''If you want to send an anti-war message to Bush and Blair then come join the anti-war bloc'', he megaphoned. Something about the passion and conviction in his voice made me follow his summons.

After 30 minutes or so of live agit-prop the march began. I had no placard - only a button. ''Stop The Terror War'' it read, I still keep it. The chant was ''Drop Bush, Not Bombs''. The people of Copenhaguen stood on the sidewalkand watched the stream of protesters. I got the impression they did not know what to think. A glitch in the matrix ? ... the puzzled looks intermingled with smiles. ''No Blair, No war'' the Brits chanted. The samba drummers and anarchist cheerleaders begun to perform their routines. I remember I felt happy to be there. To the locals we were a curious novelty. Very few people from the sidewalks joined, but enough that the demo could have been described as spontanous action. It was like a political street party on the move. The police trailed us at a distance but they did not bother us; to do anything infront of so many people in central Copenhaguen at high noon would have been bad PR.

After an hour or so of street carnival,chants and protest; the demo arrived at the point of what I call THE SPLIT. All of the sudden the members of the black block (the Danish anarchist collective and the German AFA for the most part), donned their black masks in defiance of the police decree prohibiting it. An agitator from AFA stood on top of a car and urged demonstrators in Gernam, Danish and English to NOT march towards the central square (Sankt Hans Torv); but instead to follow the Black Block to the convention center where the summit was taking place. The march had been legally permitted only from the Parliament to the Central Square and demonstrators had been explicitly banned from approaching the vicinity of the convention center. THAT was the moment of truth for me : Should I follow the Black Block anarchists and defy the permit ? Or, should I march with the social-liberal/social-democratic cattle to the pep rally at the Central Square ? I stood pondering the issue for about one minite before it became obvious to me that if I was truly 'anti-capitalist', then I should risk the consequences of defying a permit issued by a capitalist police force. The famous 'permit' and its limits was after all an expression of the laws of capitalism. The SWP-led ''anti-war'' bloc marched towards the square. I was dissapointed that despite their militant sounding rethoric, the agitators of the SWP had decided on this course. The war was being discussed at the Convention Center - not at Sankt Hans Torv ! ... The Black Block wanted to CONFRONT THE SUMMIT IN DEFIANCE OF THE POLICE. The Social-Liberal / Social-Democrat/SWP crowd wanted to POSE OPPOSITION TO THE SUMMIT IN ACCOMODATION TO THE POLICE. The German AFA and the Danish Anarchists stood alone. The Swedish and German ''anarcho''-syndicalists mostly went to the square except for a few renegades. The only non-anarchists to split en toto with the main march where a small contingent belonging to the MLCP-K (Marxist Leninist Communists of Kurdistan) and WPRM (Global Peoples Resistance Movewment); the latter held aloft a large banner that read in English and Arabic ''FREE PALESTINE''. That did it for me. I broke ranks with the ''Socialist Worker'' and followed the Black Block, The few anarcho-syndicalist renegades, and the Arab Marxists towards the convention center. On that moment I ceased to be social-liberal and became anti-capitalist.

We did not get too far. Within five block s of the intersection the split took place, we were surrounded by a large contingent of Danish anti-riot police. They warned us to disband and go peacefully to the square or face arrest. We refused. We sat an occuppied the street. At the center of the circle was the ''FREE PALESTINE'' banner. The police arrested a few Black Block people for refusing to take off their masks. I sat therte for about an hour until the Arab Marxists decided to go. I followed them out of the mileux and afterwards went back to the Youth Camp I was staying at (in the vicinity of the Free City of Christiania). The activist from the MLCP explained to me that to stay would have been adventurist. ''We will get other chances'', he said.

Do I ''regret'' following the Black Block and the Arab Marxists ? NO ! ... Had I not done so I would have never learned the lesson of the day: What is The State ? The State is not the government or the politicians or the bureaucrats that constitute it. The State is THE POLICE and beyond it THE ARMY. The State is the armed fist of capitalism. Bodies of armed men that will act to supress and obstruct those who act out of principle to defy the laws of capitalism. On that steet in Copenhaguen, alongside the Black Block and beside the FREE PALESTINE banner, I saw the true face of Western ''Freedom'' without its 'social' and 'democratic' mask. I was forever cured of all illusions.

- Semper Indomitus !

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