G20: Capitalism. Anti-capitalism. Idiots.

In extremely late-breaking news, the first person to be arrested and charged over the G20 protest, and the only person to be denied bail, Akin Sari, was released from custody on December 14. The last person to be arrested, David Caldwell, was granted bail on December 19. (Well that’s what some rushing pushing people reckon anyways.) And finally, a lumpen element has decried the anti-capitalism of idiots:

A discussion of the anti-G20 ‘movements’ and in particular of the ways in which the StopG20 collective and/or quasi-spokespeople of StopG20 participated in the reactions to the actions attributed to Arterial Bloc at the recent anti-G20 actions in Melbourne.

The following was a belated comment on the way the StopG20 collective dealt with the media and police attention given to some actions during the recent anti-G20 protests in Melbourne, by one of the people involved in the StopstopG20 affinity group that was active in and against the StopG20 collective and related events.

Anticapitalism is the anticapitalism of idiots I

During and since the events around the G20 conference there have been, apparent to me, manifestations of often quite intense responses to the actions of some people, frequently and reductively identified as the actions of ‘Arterial Bloc’. Quite a few people who identify themelves as critical of the G20 and even as supporters of or participants in anti-G20 activities have gone out of their way to criticise or condemn (the actions attributed to) Arterial Bloc.

By contrast, those articulating positions either defending these actions or just not outright condemning those involved have been largely on the back foot, and have made efforts to be measured and polite in response to aggressive criticisms that did not, on the whole, reflect any parallel efforts. The public remarks of Socialist Alternative‘s Mick Armstrong, happily reproducing seemingly all of the cliches of anti-protester discourse up to and including those concerning a xenophobic construction of ‘outside agitators’, are only the most extreme example of the collapse of the supposedly oppositional into reactionary and conformist choices which can only assist the state in its repressive actions against those being deemed beyond the pale.

Largely absent from all of this is any critique of the actual roles of those claiming the position and authority of ‘organisers’ of anti-G20 protests and activities, the dishonesty, manipulations and slimy interests of not merely most of the socialist groups involved, but also those constantly deploying the rhetoric of anti-hierarchical organisation, of spokescouncils and affinity groups, even [yikes!] of anarchism.

The StopG20 meetings were saturated with this dishonest crap. The media spokespeople that the collective claimed it didn’t have used the authority of their relation to the StopG20 collective to falsify the form of organisation of anti-G20 activities, to outright lie about events in order to distance themselves as official and legitimate protesters from the Arterial Bloc. These creeps — hello, Marcus — acted in mainstream media interviews as if StopG20 had some collective commitment to ‘non-violent’, ‘peaceful’ protest when the discourse of ‘diversity of tactics’ explicitly included acknowledgement that some would quite possibly be intending and/or willing to adopt a different set of political assumptions about what constitutes an acceptable action. In StopG20 spokescouncils people were invited to some of the meetings at which it was clear that this was to be the case: the affinity group/spokescouncil process means that many organising decisions are made at meetings separate from the StopG20 meetings and the separation in this case can only be used to demonstrate some inherent and principled political separation by falsifying the way in which everything was organised, and by attributing to StopG20 decisions that were not made or even, so far as I know, proposed. This being the only way to do it, this is what was done.

The central limit on such discussion at StopG20 spokescouncils, proposed by one of the central figures of StopG20, was that caution should be used because the space might not be safe from the eyes and ears of the state.

The retrospective construction of ‘legitimate protesters’, and of mythical official commitments to non-violence, was the work of people like Marcus who used the StopG20 ‘media collective’ to very loudly and publicly bullshit. Those who identified with StopG20 allowed the creation of media spokespeople despite claiming in meetings that there would be no spokespeople, and did not contest the lies of such spokespeople even as these lies helped to define a public rhetoric of exclusion and demonisation that went well with the arrests, charges, denials of bail, etcetera that are documented on [this blog].

These tendencies were evident in advance, including the use of seemingly radical rhetoric to give a particular political capital and cover to quite other practices, very conventional notions of politics and forms of organising that have distinctly unappealing content and trajectories, as we have seen yet again.

In many ways the kind of repulsive actions we have seen since the G20, by ‘socialists’ and even by ‘anarchists’ [huh?], were the kinds of actions the StopstopG20 affinity group suggested were likely, in comments on the StopG20 spokescouncil which took place on the Wednesday night [November 15] prior to the G20 meeting — comments which appeared on the StopG20 site and on the StopstopG20 site.

Those most active in StopG20, whether ‘media collective’ people or not — those who played these public roles after Saturday’s events or who let others do so when they could have tried to prevent it or publicly contradicted the lies being spewed out, who could have at least publicly and clearly denied the spokesperson status of those involved and not permitted the deliberate lies about StopG20 to go totally unchallenged — those who have been silent since on the politics of these practices — these are people who should not be trusted.

We need an actual analysis of why these people lie and will lie again — the form and content of politics/activism which constitutes material interests in notions of ‘democracy’, ‘representation’, ‘community’, practices of network-building/recruitment and parallel development of political capital and authority — an entire array of assumptions and dynamics, in many ways common to the self-described ‘socialists’, ‘anarchists’, ‘autonomists’, or whatever that make up such scenes (and will try to form them again for ASEAN), that should be deconstructed, or maybe I just mean pulled apart.

Yeah… like a Crassmas present from someone you just know has bought you something crap…

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2020 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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1 Response to G20: Capitalism. Anti-capitalism. Idiots.

  1. @ndy says:

    Oh.

    OK.

    Inre the reaction of anarchists referred to above, I think lumpnboy is referring to this comment by Ablokeimet on Leftwrites:

    ======

    Well. The Anarchist group with which I am associated played no part in the adventurist antics of the so-called “Anarchists” who have attracted so much attention. We have a working class orientation and don’t see any point in setting out for a brawl with the coppers.

    There are a few different strands in the Anarchist movement today. The one on display yesterday generally sees itself as “insurrectionist”. While it claims to be a working class tendency, it is only so to the extent that it identifies capital & the state as the prime enemies and has a rough allegiance to a view of a future libertarian communist society. The working class actually plays no part in its understanding of how to change society. Rather, it sees the Revolution being made by “the working class” (in vast numbers) in armed confrontation with the State and sees smaller-scale confrontations by insurrectionist Anarchists as essential acts of resistance and propaganda.

    This perspective is, of course, complete rubbish. It comes from lumpenised sub-cultures who have no connection to the workplace and no idea of how the real power the working class has to change the world comes from the fact that production stops if we don’t work. The insurrectionist orientation has flourished in Germany and Italy, where the labour movement was for decades sewn up really tightly under the control of social democrats and Stalinists respectively. It now seems to be spreading in Eastern Europe, where the legacy of Stalinism includes discrediting class politics, and neo-liberal shock therapy has created mass unemployment.

    An important feature to be aware of is that many of the adherents to the insurrectionist tendency won’t have thought their position through a lot. Instead, they just identifiy as “Anarchists” in order to give themselves a sense of moral superiority over both the ruling class and the Left. They have no real faith that society can be changed and therefore don’t consider the consequences of their actions. Their activism is a political ritual for their own benefit.

    The Anarchist movement in Australia is very small and wouldn’t be able to round up 100 participants interested in a “black block” type of action without overseas contingents beefing up the numbers. For many years, there has been discussion in the Anarchist press (at least the English-speaking press – my language skills don’t go as far as newspaper reading in other languages) about the problems caused by some “Anarchists” who bowl into town for a demo, get into a brawl with the coppers and then bugger off – leaving the locals to live with the consequences. Unfortunately, these clowns have now come to Australia to indulge themselves here.

    The good news is that we’re unlikely to see this sort of idiocy happen again here for quite a while. Without overseas contingents, there isn’t a critical mass for a “black block”, and it will probably be some time until another event attractive to these show-offs is staged here. And hopefully by then the local Anarchist movement will have developed enough of a working class orientation to tell them to pull their heads in.

    ======

    So there ya have it.

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