The author helps make clear that many BB participants are not dolts bent on destruction or thieving a pair of Jordans; instead, their actions are strongly motivated by politics. Equally important, the author addresses Black Blocs’ gendered and racial nature of Black Blocs, from how labor is divided to how members from more oppressed populations can actively engage without risking additional problems. For example, if people of color or undocumented residents join a BB and then are arrested, what level of risk--financial and physical--do they have compared to a college age white male? The author offers no solutions, but at least acknowledges and addresses these concerns. The book is an enthusiastic engagement with and representation of perhaps one of the most reviled political protest tactics. It is easy to read, well-documented, and has plenty of references to follow up. One of the most important themes that comes to light through the text is the transformative nature of participating in a Black Bloc and how that can impact and empower individual activists as well as their political activities. At least within the framing of the text, many Black Bloc participants--or at least those willing to be interviewed--seem interested and open to having multiple or diverse types of protest from non-violent to property destructive to potentially violent protests. And those choices should be left up to individuals. In sharp contrast, the police, the media, and many other liberal, but not radical, protestors are disinclined to allow or permit individuals to protest, and accept consequences, as they see fit. Whether or not you agree with Black Blocs, property destruction, or a diverse array of protest methodologies, this book is excellent for several reasons. First, rather than relying on hype or interpretation of events by outsiders, or by media seeking flashy conflicts or hits to websites, the author actually interviews multiple participants and he connects and engages with existing research, scholarship, and engagement with the Black Bloc. While it is clear that the author sympathizes with and appears to support, or at least understand, the value of Black Blocs as political tools and methods, he does not offer blind support for them. But he also does not question their importance in some political processes. Finally, and perhaps most important--at least in terms of traditional representations of the Black Blocs in mass media—the author calls into question and compares the relative damage of a Black Bloc trashing a downtown or financial sector, most of which is covered by insurance, when compared to the environmental devastation or economic thrashing that some of these institutions inflict. For example, is smashing a few windows really comparable or more despicable than supporting the DAPL with its ongoing treaty violations and promised future environmental destruction and reinforcement of racism that directs what routes the pipeline is built on? If you want to join a Black Bloc, reading this book would certainly expedite the enculturation process. But if you’re going to critique Blocs, at least have an understanding of them. You don’t have to support or endorse Black Blocs in order to understand them.
Not Year Zero
Forthcoming Anonynmous Questions FAQ Volume 1, Issue 6 Compiled by Luther Blissett, Ph.D. This is yet another issue. I seem to produce these best in batches. Not sure what to think about that, but it seems to be turning out okay. Much of this issue is a review of two books by PM Press. I have also joined Facebook, Twitter, Medium, etc. The contacts are: Check us out on Twitter: https://twitter.com/FAQzine Visit us at Medium: https://medium.com/@FAQzine See our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FAQzine/ Hear us at Spreaker: http://www.spreaker.com/user/faqzine ## Repo Man Duke: The lights are growing dim Otto. I know a life of crime has led me to this sorry fate, and yet, I blame society. Society made me what I am. Otto: That's bullshit. You're a white suburban punk just like me. Duke: Yeah, but it still hurts. ## Chant Down Babylon, Part II
## Part II What’s next? That’s pathetic. It’s sad, really. Linear causation. You think that’s still a thing.
Here’s causation: Sweat. Play Gojira, “Gift of Guilt” or “L’Enfant Sauvage” work well. “Realm of Chaos” by Boltthrower savages data veins, too. One week, four weeks, six weeks later: Data breach, And Oligarchs’ bank account exposed. Systems controls, Page 2
Who’s Afraid of the Black Blocs?: Anarchy in Action Around the World by Francis Dupuis-Deri / PM Press edition, published 2014 Find it here: http://secure.pmpress.org/index.php?l=product_detail&p=685 When you see "Black Bloc," it is usually incredibly negative and disparaging. Whether it's the peace police upset that a group is using the cover of their demonstration to do material damage to corporate enemies (with some innocent collateral usually in the way) or the police using the Black Bloc as an excuse to justify exert force in response to a demonstration, nobody really seems to like the Black Bloc. But does the Black Bloc actually get anything done? What useful or important work do they engage in? This is where **Who’s Afraid of the Black Blocs**? has value: it features interviews with multiple participants from multiple demonstrations and actions globally. As the author points out, a Black Bloc is never the same Bloc twice. Different people attend, participate, and leave, at every site--yet the Bloc is referred to in many discourses as if it is a singular or fixed identity. Perhaps it is like Borg and some join while others leave. Page 7
shooting it out with police--and few sensible people support such approaches--the book helps readers understand the perpetrators’ social backgrounds, tensions, and mindsets when approaching acts that are perceived as being so socially transgressive. This also helps to understand why, when Wall Street can squeeze $1 Trillion out of US taxpayers, the media is seemingly more interested in focusing on moderate property damage at #Occupy or #BLM protests or a few small smashed businesses that are collateral damage at post-election riots. Yes, these lives matter. However, The Bonnot Gang helps understand why and how some members--usually just a few fringe members--turned to armed struggle and expropriation (i.e. Armed robbery and theft). Equally disturbing to many idealistic anarchists will be the discussions of whether or not it's revolutionary to steal to improve your own immediate financial situation. Again, this book posits no answers. Instead, it explores the ongoing tensions that were present then as those same tensions are now. **The Bonnot Gang** is well written. It is easy to become involved with the text. Documentation is solid. The narrative flows. And it's surprising that this is not fiction. The key players are fascinating, friendly, and repulsive. Most intriguing was the seeming blind loyalty to other anarchists, to harbor them no matter what, and to never, ever give any information to the cops. Then, as now, snitches thrived. However, historical portraits and studies like this allow current anarchists to compare and contrast their own culture and values to their own traditions. Similarly, those outside of anarchist cultures, or with a few friends on the edge, would do well to read this book. The Bonnot Gang was hard core, and this book makes it clear why. Most anarchists you will ever meet have no interest in ever being the Bonnot gang. Similarly, few accountants plan to rip off an entire company, and few stock traders want to crash entire markets. But these things happen. But for some reason, a few radical anarchists are more terrifying than the single largest theft of wealth from the working classes to the ruling elite (the bank bail out). Page 6
Illegal arms sales explode. I touch no keyboard. Write no code. Hack no node. I know no operatives. I can’t evade surveillance—don’t even bother. My contacts are irrelevant—normal schmoes. Not a member Anonymous ALF ELF Or any other illegal and/or hunted activist group. I am alone. Alone. Yet devastating you. Devastation made possible On you. What’s my secret sauce: You won’t believe it, And you can’t understand it, So I can tell you Clearly Here and now. I chant down I chant down I chant down Babylon.
Naturally, anarchism is conflated with senseless violence and chaos. It would be nice, comforting, and simplistic to be able to say clearly and finally just what anarchism is. However, there are so many strains with so many self-identified and differentiated practices that there are very few common threads. And we haven't even talked about whether anarchism as a lifestyle is authentic. In the midst of this morass, there are many polemics, claims, assertions, and a slew of people claiming moral high ground. Others assert their definitions are the only ones; just like punk rock, individuals or collectives seek to claim and define just what an anarchist is.
. ## PK Dick “This is a mournful discovery. 1)Those who agree with you are insane 2)Those who do not agree with you are in power.” ― Philip K. Dick, VALIS # Anarchism's Icky Bits A review of two tasty tomes that address some of anarchism’s more controversial aspects. ## The Bonnot Gang: The Story of the French Illegalists, 2nd ed. by Richard Parry /PM Press edition, published 2016 Find it here: https://secure.pmpress.org/index.php?l=product_detail&p=789 Anarchism's multiplicitous nature defies, annoys, offends, and confuses many--including anarchists. Worse, though, is that pundits and peaceniks unfamiliar with what anarchism actually is have no problem labeling any and every behavior or practice they find troubling as "anarchist." Page 4
While such practices may be entertaining or facilitate identity politics or practices, they're actually kind of boring. Tedious, really. That's where these two books from PM Press have some significant contributions for people inside, on the edges of, and outside anarchist practices and communities. The first book deals with the Bonnott Gang. In short, this is a nonfictional representation of one of anarchism’s most noted armed gangs of robbers. Yes, most of them died from gunfire. Yes, they stole from banks and other people. Yes, they had no problem making a living as thieves and counterfeiters and robbing the middle and upper classes. And they were willing to use force to do so. This approach is offensive to peace police and other self appointed guardians of social change who believe that meaningful change will only be peaceful and through massive non-violent resistance. Such folks would do well to read this book. Reading this reprint of **The Bonnott Gang** will not change any minds. Instead, if offers something more useful: an improved understanding of a group dismissed as radical, violent, and thoughtless. Such dismissals are foolish. Whether or not you agree with class war, stealing from the rich, or Page 5