Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Antifa in Action again in Rostock!

(above image: Nazi scum in Rostock)
As the anti G8 mobilizations end in Rostock, Antifascists take the streets again to fight back against a new shop selling Nazi style clothes and music.
Read the report.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A. Anti. Anti-Capitalista!

It was the linking of the arms, over 200 hundred rows made up of 8 to 12 people each and a sister from Berlin who whispered ‘because of the snatch squads’ that reawakened my dormant thoughts on ‘the black bloc’.
The Black Bloc is very much alive in Europe. Thanks to the rather successful abilities of these anti capitalists to come together and get angry, there have been riots throughout the ‘vieux continent’ during the last couple years.. Many. And at the anti-G8 protests this past week, riots were the topic of conversation on quite a few people’s lips. Maneuvering nationality, the various communities, collectives, federations and groups of anarchists and autonomists who gathered and lived together in Riddelich-the ‘radical’ camp a couple kilometers away from where the oligarchs of the G8 were meeting- and who presented their experiences and thoughts on the subject.

With pride les ‘totos’ from France shared stories of helping start the spontaneously resistance after Sarkozy’s election leading to over 100 cars burning, the riots that occurred in the banlieues, as well as the fights against the CPE. Folks from Greece told their stories of the fierce battles in Athens from the universities and various blockades they organized against the State. Hordes of fighters that descended from Copenhagen reminded people that street fighting was still on going since Ungdomshuset eviction two months ago and after Rostock, Saturday June 2nd, the Germans had another riot to add to their canon1, as well as the almost had riot of Plan B(erlin) of Friday the 8th. Alas, those of us from the small North American brigades had very little to offer in terms of experience sharing.

Having the occasion to participate in a shock therapy insurrection was obviously enough of a incentive to come together last week against the G8, but there was the underlining pretext of anarchists being able to have a collective report back on their various experiences of the last year or so. To tentatively sketch out conclusions as well as to immediately take action. The first demonstrations and the first ‘upsurges’- came out of an understanding of what methods to use with the German cops, but above all what strategies are used by the various tribes- the British, Italian, French, German, etc. The debate no longer centered around abstract scenarios but rather came out of experiences that were absolutely real.

For some, the riot ended the myth that the German ‘Autonomen’ had disappeared, supposedly gone were the helmeted rebels of the 80’s, while for others, all it took was the impressive cohesion of the ‘German’ bloc and its imposing defensive configuration (that was lacking in many of the other savage teams and who could easily be broken apart from their gaps and holes in their lines). Regardless, they were in the multi hundreds, our German comrades who hadn’t seen such a large masked contingent in a decade. Indisputably there has been a change in what can be a given on the international front between the black bloc and all the various police apparatus’s and those they protect.

What could have possibly caused such a change? If repression (post-911) could have caused in one form or another a reflect rejection of offensive tactics these last few years, how do we understand the sudden determined resurgence? In Europe no less, where the methods of control are being used in ways, that historically, are without precedent? It seems relevant to ask why North America, again, is flailing in its ability to join in this regained enthusiasm for riots?

The last time we went to a ‘black bloc’ demonstration in Canada was a while ago, whether one explicitly called for such in Ottawa during ‘Take the Capital’ (in 2002) or one that implicitly suggested for you to wear black and blend in with your fellow brother and sisters that were pissed off, such as the West mount demonstration in Montreal organized by Clac Logement (may your revival be swift and expedient!) in 2004. Sure there have been the crumbs of riot resistance that have swirled around Canada in the last 6 years-there were punks who smashed some windows after the annual COBP demonstration against police brutality this past March 15th, but there certainly was not an unspoken decision in the minds of anarchists to come together and get angry and use the tactic of ‘striking at the heart of capitalism and making them very scared’, as an impassioned Italian put it during one of the frequent 100+ attended spokes council meetings for autonomist affinity groups. That time has seemed to pass by us, unbeknownst to us as to why. One reason we are assuming, and putting out there is because the discourse has been severed, and the conversations don’t happen because people don’t really believe it is a possibility. Even with the student strike of 2005, nightly barricades at the CEGEP Vieux Montréal and the different blockades and occupations, we cannot recall a premeditated move towards a riot. Burning cars and fighting the cops in Canada? Well there was Queens Park and Quebec City (abit none of us ever called these events Plan Q) but these seem to be distant in memory and out of reach for us to build upon. How do you show, either collectively or individually that capitalism and that the whole system that upholds it is sucking our souls and killing millions of people around the world? The national mythology of Canadians being moral, kind, and above all peaceful people leaves very little room to articulate rage and anger.

After Genoa the perspectives for riots seemed beyond reach for most anti-capitalists around the world. But voilà! a couple years later, with a heavier handed police presence than ever seen before, the movement seems to have refound its abilities to use riots as a tactic. We suggest that the different dispositions in Europe and North America towards the present climate, certainly is impacted by the repression incurred to different forms of organizations.
There is a direct link that must be established between the various modes of organization, the types of relationships we live, and our disposition towards riots.

A riot played out reveals certain types of links which are essential in its mode of operation. The mode of spontaneously organizing into small affinity groups-thus the black bloc being only one possible manifestation- we can find at the heart of each smoky taking over of the streets, whether it be recently in Algeria or in the banlieues of France. No doubt affinity groups (like a gang of friends) never stopped being the central means of organizing aspects of ones daily life for the majority of anarchists in North America, but it seems it has been drained of its content, in terms of a organizational form to launch or elaborate upon a revolutionary strategy. When are we ready to come to terms with the fact that affinity groups don’t really go beyond collective living, leisure time, and for those who are lucky emotional support? Maybe this mode of operation had its strength taken away after the severe blows of repression were given, that were felt by many radicals, creating a condition that got folks favoring models less disposed towards direct confrontation, and more towards organizations and models that are more formal and ‘open’ organizations that have been created after those of the ‘anti glob-militant’ structures in hopes of not getting clobbered. As well, the idealization that often exists towards Assembly structures does not create a disposition for elaborating riot tactics. This reaction within ‘activism’ does not seem to have had the resonance on the continent east of the Atlantic. Maybe it’s from having a longer tradition of autonomous movements, more critiques of radical democracy as well as more mutual aid- cooperative modeled groups (extreme gauche, situationalist).The swift resurgence of black blocs at this recent G8 summit is primarily the result of a strong attempt to reestablish some consistency to the type of relations it functions through, and to give it strength again. It actualizes out of ones point of view towards riots, the war that is being fought and how to fight it. This position requires that one must consider organizing to carry an offensive in the streets that is no longer simply symbolic, to not remain stuck in the standard form of the ‘demonstration’.

Similar to love, a riot can sometimes take us by surprise, when we think we are not prepared, but that if one has an open disposition towards love, like riots, it will allow one to seize the opportunities, and the situations. It would be in vain to say that we can prepare a riot, though we can at least prepare for riots: do what it takes to help ignite the fire.

If the global elites picnics’ continues to be the pretext for meet, greets and confrontations, it seems that there is no longer any possible ambiguity: simple anti-globalization activism is no longer acceptable. One can no longer cling to ‘another world is possible’ but rather must elaborate on ideas and actions for a ‘world that is antagonistic because it wants nothing to do with this destructive system’. No more leftist, hollow indignant demands, but real affirmations. In Québec, we have been feeling this ambiguity from the anarchist movement becoming less blurred. The breakdown of the CLAC is one indicator. We are touching the end of a cycle, and we must find or rediscover forms, and establish new links. We can no longer avoid the questions surrounding taking an offensive position. 2

Recently with blockades in 6 Nations, Tandenagah and Grassy Narrows rightly going up for demands anyone with a basic understanding of colonialism of Turtle Island would view as legitimate, have been of course been portrayed in a racist, non sensical, a-historical barbaric way by the corporate media, and the main stream left by and large continues to be silent on these serious attempts to criticize and curb the on going gobbling of capitalism. There has been a concerted effort by anti-capitalists, radicals and anarchists to develop relationships, links and work in solidarity with these communities but I have not attended a solidarity action where the undercurrent was to take it back and get the establishment more than a little worried.

Plan B(erlin) was the decision to get the heck out of the demobilizing zone of fields and forests that surround Heillingdamm and bring the fight to the city. During the time of the G8 there were 9 helicopters that flew over us at all times, hundreds of tanks, dogs, horses, thousands of police, a jet and an unknown amount of undercover agents that added to the massive fence that made the wall of QC seem like an architecture undergrad class project in comparison. Plan B did not lead to a riot in Hackesche. Markt. But it did lead to the rich tourists, locals and merchants feeling very uncomfortable in this nouveau ultra yuppie area in east Berlin, where only 17 years ago one could find squats and couches to rest on during the on going nightly street parties. Thanks to gentrification one would be hard pressed to realize the rich history of the neighborhood between the now situated Häagen-Daaz shop, Mercedes’ Benz showroom and glitzy clothing stores. Instead of a riot we got a hovering helicopter and hundreds of national and city police. Arguably it would have been a suicide mission to try to ‘start the riot’ as we were practically on a 1:1 ratio of black blockers to cops. And they do have the guns. But from 9pm till 3am, that part of town didn’t have the same ignorant life is beautiful feel of bling bling and consume till you vomit that so many similar upper class neighborhoods around the world carry with them. . No. There was the strong stench of resistance; that this system isn’t working and people are not going to be remain silent. Maybe plan B was not the utopian full scale riot, where the residents and workers came out and ‘the masses’ take to the streets but last night, while watching a little of the old TV, seeing Italian brothers and sisters lighting the match in their city with Bush’s arrival (bravo!) a comrade from Poland let me know that, well, 14 cars burnt on Friday was better than none, a welcomed surprise to me.

There is going to be another student strike in Québec soon. There will be another G8 in Canada in 2010, the same year the Olympics will be in British Colombia. Will radicals and anarchists be talking about organizing riots? Will we be wearing black and linking together to make sure that the police cannot break us and take one of us?

There is still time to reflect, but we can’t hold off forever. The situation is must too critical. New methods are being drawn into our practices, and there are theories and studies that let us peer into the cracks that will be widening soon. In France, what has been heating up, and recently bubbled over could be felt in various texts and actions on a lesser scale beforehand. While not surveying every single new publication, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see there is increasing interest in people like long time forgotten Blanqui, an agitator from the XIXth century who was a riot advocator, who has been recently republished with a new preface, bringing new light to his ideas. As well, there is the bestseller, maybe thanks to the sexy title ‘the Insurrection to come’ that people are buying and talking about.
In Québec, the latest expanded version of ‘Les Black Blocs’ by Francis Dupuis-Déri has just been published by Lux Edition, and in Toronto, A.K Thompson will soon publish ‘Black Bloc, White riot: Anti Gloalization and the genealogy of dissent’ both being books that focus their discussion on tactics within the Canadian context. We very much hope these will encourage debate and discussion of strategy and tactics. We say it often, we are living in the belly of the beast. We must ask ourselves what will it take to get angry and fight? If it is not rioting in the streets, what is it? If the time of the black bloc is dead in Canada, what is to replace it? Or are we to let our sisters and brothers in Europe make the rich and the Establishment nervous without us?

Two companer@s from the Calisse Brigade.
June 10th, 2007

Further reading:
‘Maintenant, If faut des armes’, Auguste Blanqui,
Réédité par la Fabrique Éditions, Paris, Févririer 2007

L’insurrection qui vient, par Le Comité Invisible,
La Fabrique Éditions, Paris, Mars 2007

Les Black Blocs’ par Francis Dupuis-Déri
Lux Edition, Montréal, May 2007

‘Black Bloc, White riot: Anti Globalization and the genealogy of dissent’, by AK Thompson
To be published, Toronto, September 2007

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Greetings from Rostock

Dear Mom,
So much fun we´re having here in Rostock, Germany. Check out our photo albums at de.indymedia.org and g8-tv.org. The people are really nice and the food is good. Well, time to go. But we´ll write more soon, we promise.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Prelude to the G8: Tearing it up in Hamburg

By the Anti-G8 Action Faction

On their way to block the G8 summit in Heiligendamm, anti-capitalists from all over Germany and the world stop in Hamburg to confront the Asian-European Meeting (ASEM).

Finally, something was happening.

We were on the move again. It’s been a while and we’re a bit out of shape, but it’s all coming back now. After linking arms in flanks for five hours straight in a huge, permitted march, we were getting antsy. As the first major demonstration in the lead up to the G8 summit in Heiligendamm, everyone wanted to start it off right. The city of Hamburg needed to send a message to the world that they have the “violent demonstrators” under total control. The cops must maintain discipline and it will all go smoothly. The protestors wanted to tear the city apart, to show the G8 leaders that they are not welcome here, and anyone who tries to host them will have to pay. With a thousand black clad anarchists in the front and thousands of others behind, the tension was thick. Screaming “fight the system, fight the state, fight capitalism, fight G8,” the demonstrators were not willing to comprise either their vision or momentum. But who would provoke who first? Would the cops use the water canons? Would the anarchists break through the lines and go off the script?

Will the G8 2007 be the opening salvo of a new cycle of struggle against capital, perhaps the final one given the scope of the current ecological crisis? For two years the German autonomous movement in general and the Dissent Network in particular has organized across the world, from the USA to Turkey, for this coming week of action. The stakes have never been higher: until now the "War on Terror" has cast a pall over the movement, yet in Germany we anarchists and autonomists could again re-seize the stage of history by scoring a decisive victory against capital.

Move swiftly. Stop. Fight a bit. Grab something. Then Run. Turn around. Watch out for the Snatch Squad. Which ones are they? Wearing all black with red diamonds on their back. Shit, there they are. They’re gonna try and grab us. Move! But who are those ones? Don’t worry, it’s just the green team. Green team? Yeah, green uniforms, they’re like the national guard. They won’t arrest you, they’ll just tussle a bit. And them? Who? The darker green and dark blue. Oh them, well, they’re here to stop you. Be careful.

The modern incarnation of the autonomous movement is distinctly anarchist, mostly young, and quite, quite punk. Even though the movement had been ebbing over the last few years, it appears the arrival of the G8 in Germany, combined with the police raids in early May on anti-G8 centers of activity, have united the often divided and self-critical Autonomen. To the chagrin of the police, the raids also backfired in the popular press, and now it appears that most of the media, and even much of the public, are on the side of the dissidents. Furthermore, in "Red Hamburg," the home of insurrections, pirates, and a famous anti-fascist football league, it is often hard to tell the locals from the Black Bloc while in the streets.

Shhhhhhh. What? Be quiet, they’re looking for us. OK, hold it . . . hold it . . . NOW!

The police are nervous, very nervous. And rightfully so! For months, the cars of the officials have been burned, and now internationals are streaming into the well-run convergence center in Hamburg, the former theatre “Rote Flora” that has been squatted for nearly two decades. The dynamic of the police is Freudian to say the least: the police would like nothing better than to release their inner fascist and ruthlessly clear the streets of all protesters. Due to such factors as public opinion and their brutality backfiring on them in the courts, they simply cannot just beat the protesters without pretext. So, instead, the officers express their frustration with an anal-retentive attention to detail about the smallest of the rules regarding banner size, demonstrators masking-up, and so on; they often stop demonstrations for up to thirty minutes or more for the most minor of infraction of the “rules.”

The bridge was a trap and everyone knew it. That’s exactly where they wanted us to end up and there we were. Yeah some fireworks were shot off, rocks thrown, and a couple arrests, but come on, it was their turf. We had no chance. They’ve surrounded the Rote Flora. What? The convergence center, you know, that huge squat. Are they going in? Not likely, I think they’ll get a beating if they try. Barricades are going up, let’s get behind them. The water canons are coming out. Well, move. Down this alley way! Ok. Wait, are we all together?

This leads almost any march or demonstration to be an exercise in frustration, a chess game where both sides try to bend, but not break, the rules through a strict process of negotiation. Or at least until breaking the rules is advantageous. While marching, German anarchists more or less engage with the police in careful negotiations until the permitted demonstration gets as close to the desired location as possible (such as a financial district, a fascist demonstration, or in this case the EU-ASEM Summit meeting in the town hall), and then, all bets are off. The demonstration will then generally be aggressive towards police lines, attempting to wreck havoc by escaping off the official route as a bloc, or break into small affinity groups to build barricades and attack police cars. There is also an apparent tradition of regrouping the night of the action for even more fun in the streets.

I think I’m trapped. Don’t panic. Look around. They’re gonna do a mass arrest. Ok, black-clad cops over there. Try this. Nope, green cops. Damn, turn around. Fuck, the blue ones. Ok. Surrounded. Where’s my group? Doesn’t matter, I need to find a way out. Option 1: join the bloc and fight your way out. How many of us are there? Not enough. Option 2: act stupid and sneak by. Let’s see if that works.

Police tactics in Germany seem to be a combination of psychological warfare and shows of overwhelming force, with the emphasis on "show," for they seem unable to act unless provoked and do not generally mass arrest protesters, but just surround the march on all sides to maintain “order.” Police can be divided into distinct groups. First, there are the local and federal police, who wear blue and green. Within this group there are inexperienced "barrack-based" police who can be identified by an "A" on their helmets. However, the real reason to be worried is the intensive surveillance done by the police (although unlike the UK, there are few CCTVs anywhere), who send undercovers to demonstrations to identify those who have broken laws, and have uniformed cameramen directly outside to tape protestors and identify them (using rather clever techniques like identifying Black Bloc members by their shoes). There is also a special police snatch-squad unit, dressed all in black like stormtroopers, who will quickly and brutally move in and make arrests like sharks. However bad this sounds, it is important to note that the procedure German police use in crowd control is actually quite predictable, and as long as one stays in tight groups, one is unlikely to be snatched. The German police are far from invincible despite their pretensions, and a victory over them should be possible.

Close, too close. I know. We were gonna go back and get you. What? That’s insane, they would’ve grabbed you too. Hey look, they’re sending in more. Did they declare a state of emergency? I heard that too. Shit, there’s waves and waves of them. Back to the Flora? No, its’ not safe. Ok, then, disappear.

A massive thousand person Black Bloc at ASEM, cop cars destroyed, a skirmish in front of the convergence center - not bad for a day´s work. Now, there are many debates over what exactly to do over the next few days. The demonstrations are so decentralized and yet actively planned, that it is hard for even the German anarchists to predict where the sites of intense struggle will be: there are convergences in three cities, an anti-fascist counter-protest against a thousand fascists in the streets AND a huge rally in Rostock against the G8 on the same day, decentralized blockades of roads and airport blockades, as well as countless marches and demonstrations near Heiligdamm and in Rostock. Regardless of the particulars, the energy amongst anarchists in Europe has been built to a frenzied height, and if one thing can be assured over the next week- there will be a reckoning.

Thousands of us in the march. Hundreds rampaging in the streets. About eighty-five arrested. Not bad for a start. Nope, not bad at all.

Monday, May 28, 2007

EU Summit in Hamburg-Initial Report

1000 strong autonomen march makes its way through Hamburg towards EU summit. Police stop march after brief scuffle protesters take the city. Street fighting and burning barricades throughout the city. Fighting and water cannons around the Rote Flora (autonomous social center/convergence space), a good start.
Read a report of actions today in Hamburg.
Stay tuned for Hate the G8´s own report back coming soon....
This is just a beginning!!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

International Antifascist demonstration in Schwerin

With the slogan, “Against Fascism and Capitalism – For a World without Borders!”, antifascists from Germany and beyond will protest against the planned right-wing extremist march on June 2nd 2007 in Schwerin. On this day, the regional leader of the German Nationalist Party (NPD), Stefan Koester, previously convicted for grievous bodily harm, has registered a march with over 1000 Neonazis from the whole of Germany.
read the call!