Radical media, politics and culture.

The colourless block

"In Porto Allegre, we smelt the tempest in the rooms of the forum and in the street we breather hope. A hope that clashes with the rhetoric of the debates and the official positions.

The black bloc doesn't love all this rhetoric. For example a river of words were spent on the poor countries and poverty. The poverty they were taling about with such rhetoric is the poverty of others, the pooverty which does not belong to themselves, but the poverty of the poor.Each one of them who spoke about povert meant to speak of others poverty you could tell from a thousand miles that they thought themselves rich. To stresss the reasons for others poverty, to exalt your own wealth.Speaking of it with the benign idiocy with which the rich give alms. The process of discourse is one of the reasons for poverty. Whoever hates poverty must begin by destroying their own poverty, that poverty of relations, affections, of a stupid existend that no money can substitute for. This whole attachment to one's own position, one's own group, one's own career, one's own country, one's own power is this not the most pure and radical form of poverty?"


"Only starting from one's own misery can one destroy poverty."



A very strange book. Eager to set out a defining sensibility for the black bloc, immersed in its poetry of acts.Determined and unfaltering in rejecting violence against people, enthusiastic and unapolegetic in endorsing attacks against things, property and especially images. One had the feeling that breaking the spell had run its course, but the success of this book suggests otherwise. Elsewhere the author is keen to dismiss the controversey over violence - and embracing this term over that more neutral and contestational property damage - with the simple claim that the unorganised nature of it all renders such theoertical polemic superfluous. The sourec of the dispute is ascribed to the political struggle within the movement, and the fear of criminalisation. The former is dismissed as futile as the bb does not seek to establish any form of hegemony and thus has little reason to enter into a discopurse. The second is treated more resignedly; the danger of the emergence of organised armed groups is noted and indeed the existence of the bb is posed as one of the means by which such an evolution may be pre-empted.


Other odd aspects are the light touch extended to the self-appointed leadership and the lack of criticism of the ideological components vying for superiority within the circuits of agitation.


For a text that disclaims ideology, there is a strange dissonance with the ideology it itself is the vehicle for. The clear refutation of violence against individuals imputed to the bb flies in the face of any experience with the german autonomen or the area of autonomy in france. Not to mention the bsque country. Not that I have any problem with the expression of unabashed subjectivity, nor in several cases with the authors own view. The issue is the elevation of a personal perspective to the status of rule, and the failure to explain at least that these are contested claims. There is a name for this, and it is ideology.


Once more we encounter the unfortunate Seattle effect, that is the premise that the WTO meeting in December 1999 constitutes year zero for anti-capitalism and is the appropriate platform from which to construct all anew. Materially such scars are visible in the text in that of the four ancilliary accounts provided as forms of appendix two are the descriptions by Americans of Genoa, one is by another US group (Crimethinc) and one is french. Don't mistake this criticism for eurochauvinism, but understanding the specifity of locality and territory which is key to understanding the nature and properties of any given BB requires a certain amount of native nous. Other accounts by italians would have been more illuminating. There is considerable irony in the intense repudiation of the trademarks proliferated by the masss-media and the prostration before the mass medias rendering of the history and attributes of the bb itself (viz. Seattle.) The absence of any accounts from Spanish, German, Nordic and especially (for me personally) of eastern european interpretations and voices is a deep weakness of the book given their heavy numerical engagement and particularly in the latter instance the very different socio-economic context.