The attacks on the black bloc are too often from those who claim they are leftists but have actually given up the struggle. Part of the problem is that marxism has become dysfunctional along with the focus of the working class. That class is an abstraction that disappoints in practice. I am unable to rightly evaluate the black bloc due to never having really encountered them in practice, but they might be in part a distraction leading to wrong thinking in general about tactics.
We have suggested a complete overhaul moving beyond marxism but remaining faithful to its basic thrust. Instead of dealing with the, or ‘a’, working class we should broaden the perspective to what we have called the ‘universal class’ and create movements that are based on individuals, not classes. The options need not be mutually exclusive and a focus on the working class as a segment of the universal class is entirely possible and appropriate. But it is time to examine the dynamics of activist groups: these are run by members of the larger set of classes who enter radical movements based on a larger set of assumptions that what we find in the working class mindset (as imagined on the left).
We confront a situation that is far more complex than merely producing economic gains in the working class. The latter initiative must remain as a central task but the larger question of a whole social spectrum of classes entering a ‘universal class’ and that in the context of political, economic, and cultural, even religious, platforms that amount to a complete constitutional refoundation of a given social sphere, here the US system.
The issue of non-violence has befuddled a whole generation of activists. Non-violence is the appropriate tactic overall in a situation where the powers that be have total control of the means of…violence. But in the end we cannot renounce the use of violence in the generation of social change. In fact, a period of non-violent study and action has actually reinforced its opposite by showing the way that gandhian fancies are vitiating the possibility of correct action. It does not follow that we must rush into ill-conceived actions based on the critique of gandhi. But we forget the peculiar character of that tradition (which is not truly either the christian or even the christological position). We cannot base the question on an imaginary jesus. Last week we reviewed the evidence of Flavian hypothesis, very dubious. But one of the criticisms of that perspective was a reminder that the non-violent jargon in an imaginary jesus was probably interpolated romanization of the gospels. How convenient for the Romans! The suspicion that behind the ‘Jesus’ myth lay a very radical zealot won’t go away. But in the end we can conclude nothing: we have no facts.
Let us recall that the gandhian method springs from jainism, and that non-violence meant sweeping away insects with a brush to preempt violent destruction of that order of life! By that standard MLK wasn’t non-violent!
The whole legacy of non-violence needs to be entirely recast beyond the confusions of gandhi, whose movement accomplished very little in the end. The british granted independence in the end on a different rationale. Many have wondered if gandhi hadn’t delayed independence for whole generation because of his tactics.
We live at a different time now, and belong to a different tradition: the legacy of early modern revolution up to the Civil War does not counsel non-violent methods. We have been put into a box of a set of tactics that are a straightjacket. That said, our point can at first be purely theoretical. We are not involved in a jain path of non-violent sainthood. By the same measure we might well consider the aspect of non-violence and at a minimum concede that is is a useful strategy in many situations. But in the end we must at least in theory be open to revolutionary tactics as history shows them to us. It is true that MLK used non-violence in the civil rights movement. But it is also true that slavery was abolished by a civil war. In its wake came jim crow, a very violent phenomenon. What do we conclude there?
I don’t think that the impulse to violent tactics (witness the black bloc perhaps) is as such fruitful or effective. But we cannot renounce the potential of revolution in the name of that fake saint gandhi at a time when a crisis of humanity has emerged and is confronted by a feckless leftist activism steeped in false virtue. We need to rescue a planet from capitalist destruction, not to increase the gravy train of the working class but as a salvation of a general universal class. We have concluded nothing, as such: we have merely shown that non-violent tactics as considered have a false foundation. They could be given a new foundation or blended with tactics of revolution cured of naivete as to the reality of the social violence institutionalized an militarized that we confront in the pathological State.
A perfectly good objection is that the State is too powerful to overcome and that at least non-violent action might achieve something. A perfectly good non-gandhian argument. But probably false. We should at least in the abstract not fool ourselves on the brink of destruction: if we need a revolutionary change of social politics and economy we can proceed in tandem with evolutionary and revolutionary tactics. We must at least try and can’t just sink into a planetary crisis in despair. Let us not be intimidated. A group of determined revolutionaries (and simply stating this as a virtual potential could go a long way, to start) could bring a system however powerful to the brink. That is because the current system is so corrupt that it has no real validity. And this approach has every chance at the least of inducing evolutionary change.