On the Black Bloc


1. We are alone.
We are told not to act.

2. We want to be together.
We want to act.

3. We want to act together.

4. When we go to mass actions, we look for people with whom to act.
Our attendance is a search not necessarily for those who want to act in the same way and for the same reasons,
but rather for those with whom we can act in harmony.

5. This is not a search for friendship.

O my friends, there is no friend.

We are not necessarily looking for those who want to listen to music with us
(though soundtracks make actions way cooler)
or who want to smoke cigarettes with us
(though that’s fun, too)
or who want to sit in meetings with us
(though planning helps, some times).

6. This is a search for affinity.

7. There are many ways of engaging in this search.
Some of us hold signs.
Some of us bring sign-up sheets.
Some of us wear black.

8. I would like to elaborate on the latter method—that is, the black bloc.

9. To appear in the black bloc serves two general purposes.
The first is a signal:
We are here. This is now.
We are ready.
We will act.

The other is to conceal one’s identity.
This serves two particular purposes.
To negate one’s identity is protection.
To negate one’s identity is, at once, to announce and overcome the divisions perpetuated by the assertion of identity.

The protective purpose of the black bloc is obvious. Action is met with repression. Action cannot continue in the same form when fully repressed. But the bloc’s final purpose, the negation of identity, implies an idea of identity more complex than surveillance cameras allow.
It is here that we find the internal contradiction of the black bloc.

I mean identity in a particular sense, a meaning also referred to as “subjectivity” by people who might be denounced as academics and perhaps as “social roles” by those who do the denouncing. One may be male or female or not; one may be black or brown or white or not; one might be straight or gay or queer or not…One may be a student, a parent, a worker, a prole, an intellectual, an anti-intellectual. The origins of these identities are not our topic here, though I would derive most, if not all, from the State.

To assert one’s identity is to positively identify characteristics of one’s self: brown skin, looks toward the front while sitting in a classroom, prefers women. One possesses one characteristic because one does not possess its opposite.

Each identity is itself because it is distinct, because it is not the other. One is female insofar as one is not male. One is a student insofar as one is not a professor (despite how many times the syllabus swears the professor learns from the students, too).  One is gay insofar as one is not straight. For our purposes, the most useful example is nationalist: One may be American or Irish or Palestinian or Israeli. Nationalism is the assertion of one identity as far as it is not another; the legitimacy of one government lies in the absence of another.

We stand next to one another.
We are alone.
Something lies between us.

We dream, separately, of a different world.
Brown skin no longer signifies poorer or richer.
The chairs in a classroom face one another instead of all facing one.
I prefer women while I’m with women. I prefer men while I’m with men.
There are no governments to except one another.

Gender abolition and the pedagogy of the oppressed are attempts at overcoming these binaries. Our task—in mass actions, in this forum, in our lives—is a similar one.

I need zones of indistinction to reach the Common.

To don black is to become indistinguishable from those beside you. To become indistinguishable is to destroy identity, to overcome distinction. I am at once my self/your self/their self and no self; unrecognizable and the opposite of individual.

We seek affinity. To find affinity is, approximately, to relate to another in the context of action. Affinity is a point of relation that is established through action and never through representation, is ephemeral, and is valuable in itself.

Affinity is not incompatible with but must be the opposite of distinction. To be distinct is to be incapable of relation in some way. The table is the table insofar as it is not the chair; the table is distinct from the chair and the chair is distinct from the table. An identity is not another identity; one is distinct from the other. Brown hair is distinct from blond; the hood is indistinct from the hood and the mask is indistinct from the mask. Those in black move well with those in black.

10.    Those in black do not move well with those in color.
The bloc’s contradiction lies on its border—or, more specifically, in the fact that it has a border. If we seek to find others with whom to act in harmony, we cannot predetermine distinctions between us and them; those prepared and those not.
The problem is the localized negation of identity: The zone of indistinction does not reach far enough. When boundaries are overcome in a limited space (the black bloc), the occupants of that space are further alienated from those outside it.

11.   Black is cemented to a spectacle of black.
One might aspire to be a black hole, but a vortex has entry points.
That is, a vortex is an entry point.

12.  To create entry points!
Proliferate the black bloc.
Bring shit to share.
Communize the fight.

This entry was published on April 2, 2012 at 3:12 am. It’s filed under Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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