An Open Letter to Liberals & Progressives from the Black Bloc

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The deep state isn’t coming to save us. Trump isn’t going anywhere and it seems clear that the elites have no desire to remove him. Meanwhile war and another economic collapse lay just on the horizon, as violence, intimidation, and threats from the far-Right seek to attack anyone who isn’t loyal to the billionaire king. As tens of thousands mobilize in Hamburg, Germany against neoliberal capitalism and as both repression and resistance at home heat up, progressives and liberals must ask themselves a simple question: what side are you on? 

In recent days, the mainstream media has been rocked by the story that Donald Trump has yet again shared social media created by the white supremacist Alt-Right, and secondly that neo-Nazis from within that movement have begun to threaten journalists and their family members for reporting on the story.

Only several days before, liberal and progressive groups organized protests to demand that Trump be impeached and were met in numerous cities by Alt-Right counter-demonstrators who used violence in an attempt to push them off the streets. In San Diego, members of the Alt-Right carried flags with racist symbols and attempted to surround protesters, in LA and Philadelphia clashes broke out, and, in Austin, the far-Right attempted to block the march’s route.

The targets of the Alt-Right weren’t just the black bloc, anarchists, or antifa–they were anyone who dared to come out that day and voice their displeasure with the president. Ironically, despite the permitted rallies hardly even being disruptive, in the months leading up to them, far-Right conspiracy theory websites such as InfoWars claimed that they would lead to violent riots backed by the Democratic Party in an effort to play up hysteria.

“The targets of the Alt-Right weren’t just the black bloc, anarchists, or antifa – they were anyone who dared to come out that day and voice their displeasure with the President.”

This fear mongering was then kicked into overdrive with the shooting of Steve Scalise by James Hodgkinson in Virginia, as the Right used it as a vehicle to pump up fears of “left-wing violence.” While at the center of this demonization are anarchists and antifascists, as the recent viral NRA video shows, the target has widened to the entire Left, including liberals and progressives.

All of this is taking place against an immense backdrop of rising far-Right violence, murder, and arson attacks, which have been almost completely ignored by both the media and the Trump administration. This violence is also growing in the midst of a massive campaign attacking the working class, pushing through repressive measures that defile civil liberties and the right to protest, slash taxes on the wealthy and regulations on the environment, and move billions in services and healthcare out of the hands of the poor and most vulnerable and into the pockets of the billionaires, CEOs, and 1%.

At the same time, the Trump administration has launched a campaign to gather voting information from all states in order to launch a countrywide version of Cross Check, the same system that struck millions of mostly Democratic black and brown voters from the rolls in 2016. Heading the campaign is Kris Kobach, who is both the Kansas secretary of state as well as the legal counsel of the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a white nationalist think tank.

All around us, lines are being drawn. Trump and his administration seek to roll back decades of gains won by the working class as well as remove entire sectors of it from the United States, reignite the so-called drug war, push us to the brink of ecological collapse, and bring the US into military conflict with a host of rival governments.

Despite the severity of the situation, much of the Left seems preoccupied with wringing its hands. Despite this, we are entering into a time when we no longer have such luxuries.

Stuck in the Center with You

Since taking office, Trump has lost more and more legitimacy, turning again to the only base that still supports him: the insurgent far-Right. At the same time, the drum of civil war is being beat from the NRA to Fox News against anything even remotely resembling “the Left,” as much of the population turns against the billionaire.

The failure of Trump to hold onto the vast majority of his base and his immense unpopularity has led to massive anxiety from the far-Right, which wholeheartedly supports him. It is also making the situation more and more violent.

“The failure of Trump to hold onto his base has lead to massive anxiety from the far-Right, which wholeheartedly supports him.”

But in the face of this growing threat, the Democrats have shown themselves to be incapable of doing, much less stopping, anything. Likewise, symbolic and passive protests have gotten smaller and smaller, as the political, military, and economic elites find Trump to be either a useful instrument or something to be at times ignored and other times supported.

In response, publications such as the New York Times rally for a coup from the military against Trump and for the “Democrats to return to the center.” In short, the political elites at the head of the Democratic Party have learned nothing from the Sanders campaign and have no interest in representing the people who vote for them, much less confronting the power of capital in this country that has led to disaster after crisis after recession.

Liberals and progressives: your world is on fire. The institutions, “checks and balances”, and very government that you placed your faith in is decaying all around you, and at every turn the state seeks to roll back any assemblage of democratic oversight or accountability. The Democrats openly plan to move to the Right, as standards of living, the environment, and basic entitlements, rights, and freedoms are attacked. This isn’t a time for you to strengthen these institutions, it’s time for desertion. 

“Since taking office, Trump has lost more and more popularity and legitimacy, turning again to the only base that still supports him: the insurgent far-Right.”

For decades, liberal and progressives have sought to be the managers of social struggle, setting both the terms and conditions for action and ideas. Thus, they tried to push people out of the streets and back into politics. They said that rioting and blockades “alienated the middle class”, only to see those very tactics grow in size and popularity. Then, as Trump ascended to power, they attempted to portray themselves as #TheResistance while gaslighting anyone who attempted to fight back.

Yet ironically, who came to the aid of liberals and progressives last weekend as militia members, Alt-Right trolls, and “based stickmen” attempted to attack them at impeachment marches across the US? It wasn’t the Democratic Party, it wasn’t the non-profits, the socialist vanguards, or the heads of unions–it was the black bloc. 

It is time for liberals and progressives to lose their illusions about the anarchist movement and our tactics, because, quite frankly, you have no one else willing to fight for you.

Building the Capacity to Defend Ourselves

Confrontational and disruptive social movements have been the only things that have helped defeat some of Trump’s proposed policies, such as the Muslim Ban 1.0, and it is only mass disruptive action that has the hope of putting a wrench in the gears of everything from the deportation machine to the drive to war.

Furthermore, it was the intense resistance that anarchists and antifascists engaged in after the election, at the Inauguration, and against the far-Right that made it harder for the regime to roll out the totality of their agenda, for fear of full-scale revolt. Is there any doubt that it is the threat of mass upheaval in the wake of the passing of the American Health Care Act in the House that is holding it up in the Senate? Of course not. 

So far, however, #TheResistance has amounted instead to liberals and progressives mocking Trump supporters and sharing clickbait about the latest and more egregious aspects of the Trump administration. What is needed now is not a Left version of Alt-Right meme culture, but a strong and robust movement that reaches out to all sections of the working class and poor people, regardless of race, geography, gender, or sexuality.

And in doing this work, we wholeheartedly believe that our movements and struggles need the capacity to defend ourselves; from the violence of the state and its police to the far-Right, which seeks to act as an auxiliary force to the state.

To stand firm in our class and community interests, to reject patriarchy, colonialism, and white supremacy–that in itself is confrontation. In doing so, we will come up against both the state and its far-Right defenders. With this reality in mind, we must devise ways of protecting ourselves and our movements. From those on the streets, to those behind a keyboard, to those publicly organizing, our first and foremost goal must be to defend ourselves, our struggles, and our movements.

Reaching Out to Vast Sectors of Society

Right-wing pundits boil everything down to culture and claim that “liberal elites” in the coastal cities have forgotten the vast majority of the country that is rural, white, and traditionally conservative. Liberals fire back with attempts at mocking rural people as “uneducated” and “white trash,” as people who are unable to grasp the fact that candidates they elect are screwing them. At the same time, most liberals are also unable to grasp the fact that since the rise of the Clintons in the early 1990s, the Democratic Party has become the party of Silicon Valley, investing its interests not in the working class and poor, but instead with the neoliberal elites in the tech industry.

In reality, both of these positions offer nothing to the vast majority of Americans. Rural America is not all white nor strictly conservative; in fact it’s home to the greatest majority of black, brown, and Native people in the entire country. At the same time, while many whites voted for Trump out of fear and “white anxiety” around changing demographics in the United States, many also were disgusted by neoliberalism that has gutted entire sections of the country to the highest bidder. Behind every fascism, a failed revolution. 

What is needed in the face of the neoliberalism of the Democrats and the proto-fascism of Trump is a project and force that unites people – not around support for the government and its legitimacy to rule, and not around false and manufactured notions of “community,” but instead around the shared interests of the mass majority of Americans whose very labors and existence makes those on the top rich and powerful.

“The Democratic Party has become the party of Silicon Valley, investing its interests not in the working class and poor, but instead with the neoliberal elites in the tech industry.”

This means creating a force that is able to connect the similar interests of people across vastly different walks of life that are directly opposed to the elites who control this system. This means talking with people and passing out literature everywhere from gun shows to hip-hop concerts. It means mobilizing in solidarity with Native communities and those in Flint, Michigan who don’t have access to clean drinking water. It means organizing and fighting in our neighborhoods, communities, workplaces, and schools but, moreover, finding how to link these struggles against common enemies together as we forge bonds that can unite people across racial lines.

But in order to do so, we need a force that doesn’t just talk about creating a movement, nor one that puts all its efforts into selling Bob Avakian DVDs or simply getting as many members as possible. What we don’t need is a bureaucratic force whose power comes through supposedly representing the interests of people, especially in the political process. What we need is a movement that can do and accomplish things. We need a movement that can be a material force across a vast geographical terrain that fights in the interests of everyone who is exploited and excluded from this structure of domination–taking territory, building power, and meeting our needs directly.

But while we must fight and confront Trump and the far-Right, if we have no alternative waiting in its place, then we are simply keeping the seat warm for the next neoliberal government to come in and start all over again.

Creating an Alternative to Capitalism

Across the world, anarchists, autonomists, and anti-authoritarians are organizing, fighting, and building alternatives: from free grocery programs to free clinics, from workplace organizing on the outside to organized groups of prisoners on the inside, from blockades of pipelines to building alternative media centers.

We know that we cannot separate fighting against domination and exploitation without the project of building a different world at the same time.

In the face of everything that the dominant system and the far-Right is throwing at us, we urge you: join us. 


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