Radical media, politics and culture.

Marc James Léger, On Black Bloc Tactics, Culture and Building the Movement

Protesting Degree Zero:
On Black Bloc Tactics, Culture and Building the Movement
Marc James Léger

[The following considers the use of Black Bloc tactics at anti-capitalist demonstrations with a particular focus on the Toronto 2010 protest marches. My conclusion is that the calculated use of violence, usually the smashing of windows of retail chain stores, can best be understood through an aesthetic appreciation of political action – politics interpreted through the lens of culture. I relate Black Bloc tactics to three works of contemporary art that examine contemporary conflicts in terms of training and role-playing. While anarchist politics typically refuse the logic of representation, mediation could be said to return in the symbolic performance of conflict. The fact that capital feeds on subjective violence, and the fact that systemic violence cannot be attributed to individuals, as Žižek argues, allows us to perceive both the merits of anarchist practice and some of its theoretical limitations.]

Among some of the images of good citizenship generated by the mainstream media following the demonstrations against the meeting of G8 and G20 leaders in Toronto from June 25 to 27, 2010, two particular cases come to mind.[1] The first, broadcast repeatedly on the morning of June 27 by the local Toronto television news station CP24, was an interview with a private security expert who had spotted two demonstrators emerge from an underground sewer. The middle-aged man described them as though they were unwanted vermin that he took pleasure in rooting out.[2] Although there was not much to this story, it aired repeatedly like a mantra for the weekend. A second similar image was of a local banker on his time off, tackling a Black Bloc demonstrator as he emerged from a Bell mobile phone retailer with a stolen package of some sort in his hands. Given a prominent photo spread by the National Post, the man could also be seen in action on YouTube taking a BlackBerry package out of the scrambling protester's hand and exclaiming "Don't steal."[3] Their attitudes were far from what we might expect from people who are violently opposed to anarchist looting or who are hardcore right-wingers. Instead, their opposition to the movement is rather like the attitude of many demonstrators themselves during anti- or alterglobalization protests, somewhat bemused and enthused by the excitement generated by the conflict. If the confrontation of police and demonstrators reflects the opposition of the forces of social justice versus those of obscene exploitation, state power and social inequality, perhaps the face-off between merry-making protesters and bemused mainstream onlookers give an indication of the more subtle and pervasive structures of ideology that structure the social space as a whole.

In his book on violence, the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek suggests that there are three kinds of violence: subjective acting out, the symbolic violence embodied in language and social norms, and the systemic violence that comes about as a result of the smooth functioning of economic and political systems.[4] His argument is that subjective and systemic violence cannot be perceived from the same standpoint, and so, to extrapolate, what in some ways occurs in protest situations is an effort to subjectively embody or instantiate the background, "zero degree" normal state of things that is sustained by objective violence. What counts as violence, what enters the space of our ideological consciousness and what is able to affect social change, depends upon ideologico-political considerations. The problem of violence, Žižek argues, is that it is almost impossible to confront it directly, as it eludes symbolic mediation. The left-liberal humanitarian call to stop this objective, systemic violence, he further suggests, has an anti-theoretical edge, and we find a similar anti-theoreticism in the presuppositions of non-mediation and non-representativity that colour anarchist thought. The pseudo-urgency of radical calls to action, Žižek argues, are premised on a notion of immediacy that is a symptomatic aspect of the liberal focus on subjective violence.

The following considers the use of Black Bloc tactics at anti-capitalist demonstrations with a particular focus on the Toronto 2010 protest marches. My conclusion is that the calculated use of violence, usually the smashing of windows of retail chain stores, can best be understood through an aesthetic appreciation of political action – politics interpreted through the lens of culture. I relate Black Bloc tactics to three works of contemporary art that examine contemporary conflicts in terms of training and role-playing. While anarchist politics typically refuse the logic of representation, mediation could be said to return in the symbolic performance of conflict. The fact that capital feeds on subjective violence, and the fact that systemic violence cannot be attributed to individuals, as Žižek argues, allows us to perceive both the merits of anarchist practice and some of its theoretical limitations. On the one hand, Black Blocers refuse to do harm to individuals during demonstrations, perhaps out of moral sentiment or perhaps due to the basic anarchist principle of non-hierarchy. At the same time, anarchist politics are typically libertarian, asserting not so much class conflict as the autonomy of each and every one of us, either bypassing the socially mediated nature of subjectivity in capitalist society or fetishizing it through a hysterical politics of anti-racism, anti-patriarchy, anti-heteronormativity, anti-etc. Through Black Bloc actions, I argue in this paper, ideology reappears in the politics of unmediated transparency as shattered glass, as a condition for the explosion of subjective violence.


The following provides a cursory look at anti-summit organizing in the days leading up to and following the G8 and G20 summits in Huntsville and Toronto.[5] I rely for the most part on articles published online on the rabble.ca website, a progressive left media source that is supported by individual subscribers, foundations and labour unions. In particular, the journalist Krystalline Kraus maintained a "G8/G20 Communique" with the heading: "This blog is about the anti-G8/G20 lead up events and protests in June 2010. She believes in Diversity of Tactics because that's how the natural world works. Hooray for Diversity!" I myself participated in the demonstrations on June 25 and 26 and traveled to Toronto in the company of some 500 Montrealers who took buses organized by the CLAC, the Convergence des luttes anti-capitalistes/Convergence of anti-capitalist struggles.

In the days leading up to the events, Kraus provided reports on what to do if police come knocking at your door, asking questions about your political activities. Since the Fall of 2009, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) had been paying visits to social justice organizers and activists in order to create divisions between activists, to catalog psychological profiles, to plant misinformation and to intimidate people more generally. A People's Commission Network was established before June by lawyers who gave the recommendation to not talk to police, from then until the weekend of the 26th, when 10,000 police and 5,000 private security personnel would be patrolling the downtown area. A temporary jail was prepared by the police in an old movie studio just five kilometres away from the where the summit was to take place. A security perimeter with a 3.5 km long and 3 m high fence was built around the summit site and was to be guarded by the Integrated Security Unit, comprised of the RCMP, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Toronto Police Service, the Canadian Armed Forces, and the Peel Regional Police. Some 77 CCTV cameras had been added to the downtown area and costs for security were reported to have added up to one billion dollars. LRAD sound cannons and water cannons had been purchased as well as other crowd dispersal weapons. The police would not rule out the use of agents provocateurs and in fact admitted that they would use crowd infiltrators at the G20 summit to take the pulse of the crowd. Richard Fadden, director of CSIS, told the CBC that terrorist attacks were unlikely and that the real threat would come from "anarchist groups" and "multi-issue extremists" who seek media attention.

In the days leading up to the protests, various social movement groups organized events to voice their issues: global justice groups, peace activists, environment and climate change activists (with a People's Assembly on Climate), human rights activists, civil liberties organizers, first nations representatives, women's groups (responding to abortion issues in particular) and queer activists (focusing on the Toronto pride parade and the pro-Palestine issue in particular as well as AIDS activism). Kraus lamented in her June 4 communiqué that not enough had been done to meet the Toronto Community Mobilization Network's "Accessibility Guidelines" and to include persons with disabilities in meetings.

On June 21 a taste of possible police repression came into the news as three individuals were charged by Ottawa police for the firebombing of a branch of the Royal Bank of Canada. The charges of "domestic terrorism" against the three relatively unknown and self-described anarchists cast a chill on activists who almost unanimously dismissed the action as irresponsible. This event prompted a shift in reporting away from the various social movement issues to the business of protesting. Kraus subsequently gave her first report on Black Bloc tactics:

"The Black Bloc: I say 'might' because that person might just be anti-social but you should note that dressing in all black demarks a member of the Black Bloc or anarchist movement. And yes, I've heard the scary claims and hysteria about how the black bloc eats babies but I've also personally seen members of the Black Bloc go out of their way to help other activists in trouble by providing cover and tactical know-how since they are usually well trained, committed and know what to do at a demo."[6]

On June 25, the day of a peaceful march organized by the Toronto Community Mobilization Network, an ad-hoc group of activist organizers, David Coles, who is President of the Communications, Energy and Paperworks Union (CEP), provided the usual labour union position on anarchist direct action, denouncing in advance any possible use of violence by demonstrators. With this Coles indicated that protesters should not be blamed by public opinion for the exorbitant cost of security since social democrats at least condemn such uses of violence. As it turned out, and as expected, the first demonstration by about 5000 protesters was peaceful, with marchers returning to Allan Gardens Park and making plans for the evening.

On Saturday June 26, the march from Queen's Park (the provincial parliament building) toward the downtown and back was divided in advance into two tactical sections: the People First March (the so-called green zone march overseen by labour unions and NGOs) and the Get Off the Fence March (the so-called red zone in which demonstrators would seek to make it to the fence in acts of both civil disobedience and direct action involving Black Bloc tactics. In anticipation of the latter, some twenty or so activists and organizers had been arrested overnight. The well-known feminist activist Judy Rebick advocated for the green Labour/NGO/Peace March while at the same time denouncing the massive police presence designed to vilify those who stand for justice. The demonstration, as things unfolded, marched West on Queen street and turned Northward up Spadina back toward Queen's Park. At this point, red zone demonstrators held back and a Black Bloc was formed that traveled East on Queen and North on Yonge. Whether actual protesters or agents provocateurs, they destroyed a number of police vehicles, a CBC van, and dozens of chain store windows. Such actions were anticipated. For instance, the Southern Ontario Anarchist Resistance declared in the days preceding: "This action will be militant and confrontational, seeking to humiliate the security apparatus and make Toronto's elites regret letting the dang G20 in here." As the smashing took place, police practically ignored the violence, allowing it to happen. Instead, the police turned on demonstrators who had assembled at Queen's Park and began a wave of brutal arrests that lasted into the night, adding up over the weekend to approximately one thousand arrests.

In the evening of June 26, the morning of the 27th and for days after that, the media was awash with images and descriptions of Black Bloc demonstrators. While Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair correctly informed the media public that the Black Bloc was not a group but a tactic, Toronto Mayor David Miller accused Blocers of not being legitimate protesters and being mere criminals. A spokesperson for the Prime Minister described them as thugs that do not represent the Canadian way of life. In contrast, a report in the Toronto Star provided this more glamorous account:

"As suddenly as they burst onto the streets, they vanished into the crowd. The men and women, clad in black clothes, their faces obscured with bandanas, ski goggles and gas masks, had spent the last hour storming through city streets, hurling rock and debris through the windows of banks and big-chain stores."[7]

The reporter goes on to explain the Black Bloc tactic, the use of black clothes to hide individual identities, and the causes its participants support. On Sunday, residents of Toronto assessed the damage and tourists walked around like zombies, confused by police directions. Everyone was a possible suspect.

Activists like Rebick were pressed in the days following the demonstrations to emphasize that the 25,000 protesters had been "overwhelmingly peaceful" and that labour organizers had tried in vain to keep the march from getting rowdy. She denounced the police for letting "the mob" in black clothes destory banks and trash Yonge street:

"Like David [Coles] I believe the cops could have arrested the Black Bloc right at the beginning of the action but they abandoned their police cars and allowed them to burn, not even calling the fire department until the media had lots of time to photograph them. They had a water cannon but they didn't even use a fire extinguisher. Why?"[8]

Rebick and noted journalist Naomi Klein accused the police of playing politics.[9] In her report Rebick added:

"I disagree with torching police cars and breaking windows and I have been debating these tactics for decades with people who think they accomplish something. But the bigger question here is why the police let it happen and make no mistake the police did let it happen. Why did the police let the city get out of control? And they did let it get out of control. The police knew exactly what would happen and how. (...) It was a perfect storm. A massive police presence [that was] primed for "dangerous anarchists" after a week of peaceful protests. No more than one hundred, probably fewer young men who think violent confrontations with the police will create a radicalization and expose the violence of the state."[10]

This article garnered many comments, some of them mentioning the fact that there were women who participated in the Bloc, one of them seen on YouTube twirling an umbrella so that cameras could not capture the image of her mates. Another comment stated that it was ironic that the "left" had been reduced to complaining about the lack of policing.

Fred Wilson, Assistant to the President of the CEP and member of the Board of Directors of the Council of Canadians, asserted that lapdog reporters first responded to police chiefs and conservative ministers without consulting with the organizers of the march, namely, the Canadian Labour Congress, the Council of Canadians, Greenpeace, Oxfam and the Canadian Federation of Students. He stated:

"I don't buy for a moment the argument that media will always take the most dramatic image and that the lack of focus on what actually happened is the fault of a few violent anarchists who discredited the many. Nonsense. A far more compelling image was the sight of many hundreds of young Greenpeace members wearing green hardhats with labels calling for good green jobs. It was a truly stunning image, more interesting than the one we saw over an over again of a lone person smashing a window. No, this is about a hierarchy of images. Choices are made."[11]

Wilson makes the interesting claim that vandalism crosses a line that labour and social movements should deal with but the actual "dealing with" is usually limited to denunciations, comparing Black Blocers, as Wilson did, to sports fans that maraud through streets after a series victory. Wilson adds that trade unionists had come to Toronto from fifty different countries to debate the crisis of economic sustainability and that none of this was reported in the news media. The fact that the largest demonstration since the Québec City Free Trade Area of the Americas actions in 2001 could be reduced to Black Bloc violence, however, should indeed be reason to deal with it in such a way as to overcome the usual split between support for diversity of tactics and social democratic denunciations. I would add, however, and before doing so, that the security costs for the Pittsburgh and London summits had been closer to $100 million than $1 billion. The French President took the opportunity to upstage the Canadian Prime Minister, saying that he could do as well as the US in such matters.

As the days passed, the commentary turned somewhat paranoid. According to a senior editor at rabble, Murray Dobbin, the decision to allow the Black Bloc to do its destructive reactionary work was part of a strategic operation to entrench conservative politics. In this, he argued, the Black Blocers should have to answer for themselves. Activists should perhaps try to stop them, he wrote: "They are the enemies of social change – we should treat all of them as agents provocateurs and plan to deal with them accordingly."[12] Dobbin here reverses the usual argument that since the Black Bloc is likely comprised of undercover police, and there are no limits to police repression, we should simply strategically accept the diversity of tactics so as to not exclude comrades and break ranks. Dobbin says instead that by stopping Blocers we might catch more police in the act of deceiving the public. One cannot build a radical movement, however, by catching police but rather by outnumbering them, and hopefully, eventually, by winning them over to our side – making them in name and in fact "our cops."[13] To conclude, our erstwhile dispatcher, Krystalline Kraus, reported that as of July 3, polls indicated that the vast majority of Canadians believed that police violence against G20 protesters was justified, that the demonstrations were shameful, disgusting and maddening. Interestingly, a majority of Torontonians had watched the protests closely through the mediation of television news.[14]


One of the issues that is not addressed by social movement denunciations of Black Bloc tactics is the specific political philosophy that animates anarchist politics. Social democratic unions misinform the public and members when they ignore that most anarchists who attack summit meetings are producing a direct instantiation of their politics, without the political mediation of elected state officials. Against the CUPE representative who stated that Black Bloc demonstrators felt powerless to "change the direction of their elected leaders," a minimum of political sophistication requires that we recognize the anti-statist politics of most anarchists. In contrast to civil disobedience, which, as David Graeber explains, is designed to sway public opinion, direct action, such as Black Bloc property destruction, is based on the principles of non-representative self-organization and voluntary association. Black Bloc tactics are opposed to coercive authority and are undertaken with the knowledge that collective action can be met with hostile intervention on the part of state police.[15]

In a useful summary of what to say or do about Black Bloc tactics, Graeber considers whether it is legitimate to condemn such principled acts of violence. What strikes many of us in the movement is the serial nature of the media commentary on broken windows at anti-capitalist protests. As Graeber puts it:

"Some will argue that confrontational tactics or property destruction only make activists look bad in the eyes of the public. Others will argue the corporate media wouldn't make us look good whatever we do. Some will argue that if you smash a Starbucks window, that will be the only story on the news, effectively freezing out any consideration of issues; others will reply that if there's no property destruction, there won't be any story at all. Some will claim confrontational tactics deprive activists of the moral high ground; others will accuse those people of being elitist, and insist that the violence of the system is so overwhelming that unless one creates some sort of peace police to physically threaten anyone who spray paints or breaks a window, some will probably do so, and if so, coordinating with the militants rather than isolating them is much safer for all concerned. In the end, it almost always invariably ends up with the same resolution: that as long as no one is actually attacking another human being, the important thing is to maintain solidarity."[16]

Graeber adds that the last thing anyone wants is for pacifists to have to resort to physically attacking their comrades, as happened in Seattle.

The 1999 anti-globalization protest in Seattle is an important event in the spread of Black Bloc tactics in North America. It should be said that there are many "bloc" formations, representing different attitudes and outlooks, including the Silver and Pink Bloc, Green Bloc, Critical Mass Bike Bloc, White Bloc (i.e. Tute Bianche and Ya Basta!), Clown Bloc, Medieval Bloc, Naked Bloc, Raging Grannies, Radical Cheerleaders and Samba Blocs, to name a few, and to not forget the terrifying Zombie Bloc that I witnessed at the Toronto G20. The Black Bloc is therefore only one type of collective action and there is nothing that prevents someone from participating in more than one form of Bloc activity. The idea of a bloc is to provide security for participants as it carries out an action in the midst of a demonstration; it represents the convergence of many affinity groups and is unlike traditional militant formations in terms of its small scale, which allows actors to negotiate amongst themselves the course of action. Given that Black Blocers will often carry out violent forms of property destruction against symbols of corporate and state violence, the black clothing and masks that they wear allows them to avoid police identification. By shedding their dark clothes after an action, they can disappear into the crowd of demonstrators and onlookers.

According to social scientist François Dupuis-Déri, the Black Bloc tactic originated with "autonmous" squatters in Germany in the 1980s.[17] Neither inherently anarchist, nor associated with mainstream left labour organizations, autonomous groups spread throughout Germany to Holland and Denmark, refusing rent payments, organizing university occupations and squats, and fighting neo-Nazi skinheads. When the city of Berlin decided to crack down on squatters, the police named them "schwarzer Bloc" for the black clothing that they wore. The black bloc tactic was used on several occasions in Europe throughout the 1980s and is considered an effective tactic that is useful in the contestation of state power.[18] It was used in 1991 in the US to protest the war against Iraq, to protest Columbus Day and again in April of 1999 to protest the emprisonment of Mumia Abu-Jamal. It was used throughout the 2000s in numerous anti-summit and anti-globalization demonstrations, largely owing to the notoriety of the Seattle protests against the World Trade Organization.

In the aftermath of Seattle, Michael Albert wrote a now popular anti-Black Bloc tract called "On Trashing and Movement Building."[19] In this text Albert begins with the assertion that "as far as violence is concerned," the greatest share of blame and condemnation should be reserved for the state and global capitalist forces. While window smashing fights injustice, he claims, oligarchic forces enlarge it. The issue of tactics within social movements, however, of property damage and civil disobedience, nevertheless requires some kind of mediation since, he argues, such tactics endanger people, dilute the message of the activists, and provide a pretext for police to provoke hostilities. For Albert, breaking windows goes against most protesters' norms and can turn adventurist. Consequently, there can be no unyielding principle of direct action since what is warranted when and where is variable. Here, theory and practice seem to confront one another without Albert providing an adequate theory of practice. Activists of the trashing mindset, he rightfully asserts, don't care to calculate the social outcomes of their actions, but value them in themselves. The only issue then, he says, is what target to hit. The difficulty, as he sees it, is that violent tactics impose an unfair burden on the rest of the demonstrators and usurp those who show a supportive mix of militant creativity and organizational intelligence. He writes:

"Changing society isn't a matter of breaking windows, it is a process of developing consciousness and vehicles of organization and movement, and of then applying these to win gains that benefit deserving constituencies and create conditions for still further victories, leading to permanent institutional change."

Trashing, he concludes, can have no positive effects since it does not win visibility or enlarge democracy but causes onlookers to feel that dissent in general is aberrant. Albert concludes that the emotional turmoil of anticipation, rage and paranoia are useless as agents of change.

As defenders of anti-capitalist anarchist politics, Graeber and Dupuis-Déri argue for a deeper appreciation of the small-scale, decentred and autonomous organizing of anarchist cells and of the philosophical principles of anti-hierarchy. These are principles that allow us to perceive Black Blocers as an important political force rather than juvenile delinquents. One indication of the strength of Black Bloc tactics, according to Dupuis-Déri, is the fact that since Seattle and the successful cancellation of the WTO meetings, global capitalist police forces have resorted to systematic arrests, lies and humiliation directed against the global justice movement. The routine of infiltrations and arrests sends a clear message for those who want to hear it that many are actively opposing state violence. To not know what all the fuss is about, he says, is to really not want to know much about anything.[20] In this the Bloc is also directed at the social movement itself and those within it – most notably social democratic labour unions and non-governmental organizations – who are not prepared to consider a radical critique of the economic and political system.[21] Black Blocers therefore actively invite and may very well scoff at the criticism of reformists. The crisis they also wish to point to is the crisis of representative democracy.

Within the anarchist movement there is a will to a different form of political participation that is informed by the Paris Commune, utopian socialism, workers' councils and Soviets, the May 68 student movement and the new social movements of feminists, ecologists and queer collectives. Respect for the diversity of tactics, the refusal to tell someone else that violence, in any given case, is unwarranted and prohibited, derives from the granting of respect and autonomy to all of those involved. Political elites, in contrast, encourage social democrats to discipline those among the protesters who are likely to cause trouble, leading to a routine, Dupuis-Déri says, wherein union elites, official political elites and the police make demands and negotiate permits that allow protest organizers to discipline their troops so that the police do not have to intervene.[22] In contrast, Black Blocers do not seek to include representatives at meetings or become media spokespeople, but rather look to local participation where deliberative politics are possible. For Graeber, the recent thrust of anarchist organizing is largely an outcome of the ecology movement of the 1970s and principles of organizing that were developed in Quaker communities. The movement has of course a broader history, however, from early twentieth century anarchism and the Wobblies to the New Left and the Zapatistas. Aside from the offensive hygiene, the hippie-punk style and the vegetarian diet (some of it gleaned from dumpsters!), Graeber lists a number of features that can be said to describe both anarchists and Black Blocers: acting for oneself without the mediation of authorities, a readiness to fight and to take power for oneself, self-reliance, mutual aid, voluntary association, collectivity and courage. The goal of anarchist politics is to create change from the ground up, from small temporary communities to permanent, free societies.

Graeber makes the usual claim that, on the one hand, anarchists and Marxists have a potential complementarity (despite bitter and violent disagreements) but that anarchism is not an ideology nor a theory of history. Typically, anarchists decry class inequality but do not provide a class analysis. Moreover, they tend to dispense with ideology critique, positing an unmediated relation between the means of production and the social relations of production, as witnessed in the work of Gilles Deleuze with Félix Guattari and in the Autonomous Marxist line of theorizing. Contemporary anarchism has to a large extent become a progressive politics that suits the lifestyle concerns of North Americans' "classless" view of themselves and is compatible with the identity politics of feminists, queers and racial minorities. The recent wave of interest in anarchism thus has two main historical causes: the decline of the Washington Consensus after the end of the purported New World Order and the return to anti-capitalist politics, on the one hand, and postmodern antifoundationalism, on the other, with its academic post-structuralism which seeks to disperse with, deconstruct, and reject every Master-Signifier, allowing for no rules, no social norms, no binding decisions, and facilitating the commodification of everything. On this issue, I am in agreement with Žižek who argues that leftists need to rethink the tactical alliances and compromises with liberals who generate politics around culture wars.[23]

Graeber addresses this question of culture wars and identity politics versus political orthodoxy through an examining Murray Bookchin's essay on "social anarchism versus lifestyle anarchism," an attempt to keep artists and bohemians distinct from revolutionaries. Graeber argues that such an attempt is futile as people have the need to rebel against alienation as well as oppression.[24] Interestingly, for our purposes here, he expresses the rebellion against alienation in terms of cultural and creativity, alluding to the DIY ethos of punks, the craftperson orientation of hippie culture, and forms of lifestyling that balance the two kinds of revolt. In the section "Representation," Graeber argues that anarchists are typically less interested in post-68 thought, in Deleuze, Foucault and Baudrillard, than in the militant 60s writings of thinkers like Frantz Fanon, Guy Debord and Raoul Vaneigem. The fascination with power/knowledge in academia began in the 70s and 80s. Consequently, academics found themselves increasingly isolated from social movements as they abdicated critique in favour of theory.

Debord and the Situationists, in contrast to postmodernists, advocated revolutionary struggle and, in keeping with the work of Henri Lefebvre, the critique of everyday life (as opposed to its celebration). In his Revolution of Everyday Life, Vaneigem excoriated left liberals: "Look at peace marchers," he wrote,

"aside from an active minority of radicals, most of them are nothing but penitents trying to exorcise their desire to disappear with all the rest of humanity. They would deny it, of course, but their miserable faces give them away. The only real joy is revolutionary."[25]

Vaneigem opposed the pleasure of subversion and a contempt for the future to the general state of survival and the consolations of consumerism. He sought in particular to rescue subjectivity through the pleasure of destroying: "Better to die on our feet than live on our knees."[26] He opposed issue politics in particular, with its piecemeal demands and its reformist acceptance of successive sacrifices. Against socialist ennui, he advocated for a propaganda of the deed. The despairing tactics of the anarchist terrorist should be altered into modern strategy and come to resemble the childishness of teenage gangs who aspire to poetry by wanting more, by wanting to understand revolutionary consciousness. Tactics, her surmised, "are the polemical stage of play. They provide the necessary continuity between poetry in statu nascendi (play) and the organisation of spontaneity (poetry). Essentially technical in nature, they prevent spontaneity burning itself out in the general confusion."[27] The goal of the Situationist International, he concluded after pages that link play with discipline and coherence, is to "kindle the fire of working-class guerilla warfare."[28] While many of Graeber's colleagues, a "post-student" core of activists as he calls them, have in some ways lost the thread of revolutionary thought, he is not far from the truth when he argues that the Black Bloc appear as the latest avatar of the artistic/revolutionary tradition that stretches back to the Dadaists and the Situationists, a tradition that "plays off the contradictions of capitalism by turning its own destructive, leveling forces against it."[29] It is on this Saint-Simonian ideal of the artist as political leader that I turn to some considerations of contemporary art that explores protest space, police tactics and role-playing in contemporary societies of control.


In June of 1984 the National Union of Mineworkers organized a mass picket of 6000 union members from across the UK. Their grievance was against the British Steel coking plant in Orgreave, South Yorkshire, which was allowing scab labour to maintain production levels higher than the union considered sustainable. The NUM, wishing to prevent pit closures and save working communities, saw itself as confronting not only one employer but the government of Margaret Thatcher, which was working to break union power and impose market forces. The "Battle of Orgreave," which took place on June 18, had been preceded by bitter strikes in Toxteth and Brixton. On this occasion, the NUM tried to blockade the Orgreave plant and force a temporary closure. The police, making use of colonial riot tactics, infiltrator moles, shields, foot soldiers, attack dogs and cavalry, deployed some 8000 troops from ten countries. While the battle lasted for up to one year, the events of June 18 are remembered for the scale of the conflict. Ninety-three arrests were made, fifty-one pickets and seventy-two police were injured, and ninety-five pickets were charged with riot and unlawful assembly. In 1987 lawsuits were brought against the police, leading in 1991 to the police having to pay half of one million pounds in damages.

In 2001, the artist Jeremy Deller was awarded a large commission by the art agency Artangel Media to organize a reenactment of the miners' strike. Deller hired Howard Giles, a leading battle re-creator, to research court testimonies, oral accounts and newspaper reports and to prepare through the Historical Films Services a production of the re-enactment. Giles worked with film-maker Mike Figgis to direct 800 people, including 200 local people in Orgreave, some of them ex-miners and some of them former policemen. The hour-long re-enactment was aired on Cannel 4 in October of 2002. It depicted the confrontation between the pickets and police outside the coking plant, the lines of police confronting miners, the police charges and the advance into the heart of the village. In the mélée rocks are hurled, cars are burned, and confrontations take place in front of some 3000 local viewers.[30]

Deller's work is perhaps the most well-known re-enactment project and has been the object of some dismissive criticism. The proponent of dialogical aesthetics, Grant Kester, implied in a critique of Claire Bishop's writings on relational aesthetics that works that have a direct impact on people's lives are more significant that Deller's somewhat agonistic effort. Claire Bishop, however, was not so favourable to the project as she herself wrote: "Deller's event was both politically legible and utterly pointless: It summoned the experimental potency of political demonstrations but only to expose a wrong seventeen years too late."[31] In an online essay, Katie Kitamura argues for a more favourable view of Deller's "relational" work, seeing it as a worthy exercise in collective memory that contains in it not only the possibility of opening old wounds, but an unpredictability that offers the possibility of new outcomes. The recreation thus acts as a possible "uncontainment" of the original events.[32] Whereas historical societies emphasize the permanent closedness of the original events, Deller's collective project emphasizes the language of historicity and a loose melancholia.

What if, in contrast, a work sought to emphasize the openness of outcomes by reducing the historical specificity of the work, by, say, substituting a historical materialism for an art-historical materialism. This is perhaps one way to think of the difference between The Battle of Orgreave and Dutch artist Aernout Mik's contribution to the 2007 Venice Biennial, the video installation Training Ground. For this work, Mik enlisted nonprofessional actors to play out the roles of contemporary "biopolice" in the process of arresting illegal immigrants. It is described by Mik as an imaginary rather than a symbolic training for how to deal with sans-papiers – a staging of the political imaginary. While the cutator, Maria Hlavajova, places his work in the context of a veritable civil war that she considers to be constitutive of the contemporary conditions of (bare) life in the West, emphasizing the Foucauldian idea of biopower and Agamben's writings on Homo Sacer, Mik is somewhat less exacting.[33] "You cannot reduce art to its idea," he says.

"This work is not about immigration, it is not about fear, violence or national security, nor is it about staged fictional scenarios versus documentary footage from real situations (...) [I]f the work contains all these references (...) it is with the intention of over saturating it with unbearably weighty comments on how we can conceive of [sic] the world."[34]

In contrast to Deller and his team of researchers, Mik did not do any research into how police are trained, nor did he provide any training for the actors. "I try to create dialectical images," he says, that "overcome the artificial division between people".[35] Actors can exchange roles and can act out the process as they imagine it – as dramatic, humourous, confusing or terrifying. There is no script for the piece, no rehearsal, and so the artificiality of the action emphasizes relations of mimicry and alterity. Each is interested in knowing how the other will act and react.

While Mik's work and notions about art have the benefit of a kind of non-deterministic openness, Training Ground becomes more curious and interesting than pertinent and challenging. In contrast, The Fittest Survive (2006), a video produced by the Austrian artist Oliver Ressler, combines both the real world gravity of a concrete social situation with the openness and non-determinacy that characterize human action and social processes. According to the statement issued by the artist, the work depicts the training services provided by a privately-owned security enterprise, a "civilian training program" for businessmen preparing for business in Iraq and similar dangerous regions. The video follows participants while on a five-day "Surviving Hostile Regions" course that simulates conflict situations. t has much of the same unscriptedness as Mik's piece. As Ressler explains in an interview:

"The film flirts with the fact that the eight participants are obviously aware that the training scenarios represent simulated realities. However, they take them very seriously and try to behave as if it was reality. There are a few sections in the film that show the different scenarios the participants went through: unexpected shell bombardments, kidnapping by a paramilitary unit, a car accident and crossing a minefield. The course was structured in such a way that the participants never knew exactly what to expect in the next hour. They were just told to walk in a particular direction and to meet a person there, and then something would happen and they had to react to it. Volkmar and I did not have any more information than the participants, so the cameraman had to react very fast and spontaneously to whatever happened, staying as close as possible to the participants, which influenced the visual appearance of the film."[36]

He is unambigous, however, about the work's intent:

"The crisis regions' growth markets make particularly clear that the law of market economics requires hardness and ruthlessness. This warlike character of market economics transforms life into a fight in which specific individuals face ever-higher demands for better performance."[37]

The dishonest discourse of democracy and human rights, he adds, legitimizes the security ideology and the recklessly unsustainable expansion of global markets.

Abstract notions like affect, mimicry and alterity, while certainly real aspects of human interaction, have no privilege as ontological categories and should instead be provided with an epistemological status that is specific to the content and context of the work. What the three projects we have examined have in common is the combination of serious subject matter combined with the potential of fun and enjoyment. Regardless of the intentions of any of the individual works, there is always, as Theodor Adorno said of the film, a gap between intention and actual effect, especially inasmuch as the distance of autonomy is abolished. In the products of the culture industry, he argued, obscene, unofficial models of behaviour overlap with the official ones. In order to capture the consumer, the libido, "repressed by a variety of taboos," responds all the more promptly and allows the communication of whatever ideological content to pass.[38] What this means, minimally, is that affective labour or the libidinal economy, as Žižek says, "can be co-opted by different political orientations".[39] Underlying the playful or perverse role-playing that one finds in these artworks, Žižek might argue, is a fundamental prohibition: what is impossible is an actual takeover of state power in the name of revolution. Everything else is permitted. Because Black Bloc actions literally break laws, they perhaps better than most artworks allow us to consider what Žižek describes as the split law, the fact that our reality and its rules are based partly in fiction, sutured by myths and fantasies. Consequently, what we need to assess is whether Black Bloc protesting can be effective in transforming social laws. As Adorno said about vanguard film, we should guard against taking our optimism too far. After all, the smashing of the police car on Queen Street, as everyone understood, was the perfect opportunity for everyone involved – the police who wanted to discredit the demonstrators, the onlookers hoping to catch some action, the agents provocateurs that some say had instigated the destruction, the media who were at the ready with their cameras, and even those who, after the passage of the Blocers, sat on the crushed roof of the cruiser and placed a copy of the Canadian Charter of Rights on its debris-strewn dashboard. Black Bloc tactics, like the products of the culture industry, may only be promises of something they cannot deliver.


As a final means of representing Black Bloc violence, and to pursue a line of questioning that addresses the relationship between anarchist culture and anarchist politics, I would like to consider the subject of culture in relation to ideology. There is no question that for many anarchists the level of ideology is distinctly that of the capitalist state. The question of ideology does not exist as a theoretical concept as such but is always already instantiated in some way in "the system." This provides anarchists with the conceit of being able to directly address what is wrong with the state of things and to always presume that their actions have immediate practical efficiency, even if they are not necessarily able to bring about the change that is desired. Instead of a theory of the logic of practice, as in the form of a critical dialectical realism, anarchists often resort to the pragmatics of common sense combined with a high-spirited moralism. Such customary sensibilities should not be dismissed, however, as we cannot do without them. They are inadequate, however, to the task of effective critique.

Marxists, in contrast, have emphasized ideology as an aspect of consciousness, as a system of ideas that creates norms of behaviour and constitutes what is taken to be natural. The subjective aspect of ideological struggle is reflected, for instance, in Mao's view that "Ideological struggle is not like other forms of struggle. The only method to be used in this struggle is that of painstaking reasoning and not crude coercion."[40] What this implies is that change can also take place at the level of cognition, or in what anarchists often rebuke as theory. It is perhaps worth remembering that after the failure of the 1848 revolutions, Marx and Engels were considered by frustrated socialists to be nothing more than counter-revolutionary and impractical literati.

On the subject of praxis, I take issue with much contemporary cultural activism that is obsessed with practice, with micro-solutions to social interaction, with every imaginable effort to replace "normal science" with the "weird," and with new models of collectivity that are deemed in every instance to be superior to work made by individual artists. I take, as a case in point, the proceedings of the roundtable conference that was published in 'Critical Strategies: Perspectives on New Cultural Practices'.[41] The discussion among the participants of this conference was premised on a dissatisfaction with the state of art and activism and a sharing of ideas on how to move past what Konrad Becker referred to as bourgeois-bohemian "boutique activism." "Are we in a historical moment", asked Jim Fleming, "where art projects with social agency are really inconsequential?"[42] The fact that these questions have already been deftly analyzed by leftists in the early twentieth century and by the sociology of culture in the postwar years does not prevent them from being posed anew in a context in which capitalist forces find new ways to manage and incite radical cultural production. Perhaps the best response to the concerns of the conference came from Critical Art Ensemble member Steve Kutrz who made the rather commonplace assertion that the superstructural elements of society, like art, actually do matter and have a causal impact on society. Kurtz argued that in a globally developed technosphere culture becomes increasingly significant as a form of struggle and that this is reason enough to carry on with new projects. Most interestingly for us, he added that resistant cultural practices parallel direct action against the corporate-military state. [43] Certainly, in the world of media and communications, of semio-capitalism, the gap between culture and politics is attenuated. Although culture is in no way separable from the economy, it does, as a source of inherent social value, provide a place from which to offer alternatives to the mere objective of economic growth. Culture offers us, in Alain Badiou's phraseology, the possibility of living in a world in which there is concern not only for the quality of life but simply to live and to not be at the mercy of money and signs.

Wanting to live and to live better is at the core of libertarian and socialist politics. It is at the source of the expression of discontent, of actions against exploitation, of strikes, walk-outs and sit-ins. Whereas reformist unions accept endless restrictions and regulations, anarchist direct action outlines, according to Gerald Raunig, the poetry of a fictive sovereignty.[44] In Raunig's account, Black Bloc tactics are an instance of a Deleuzian swarming machine or war machine. Such a machine is opposed to structuralization and is more oriented toward non-identitarian communication, fleeing identity and state-apparatization through creative lines of flight and invention. Although it leaves unresolved the problem of a lasting revolutionary organization, he argues, the war machines seek to escape the violence of the state and the order of representation.[45] He writes:

"In the appropriation of the war machine by the state apparatus, flight and invention ultimately do become war; the war machine becomes a (quasi) military apparatus. Perhaps the development of the phenomenon of the Black Bloc from Seattle 1999 to Rostock 2007 could be interpreted as this kind of process of appropriation."[46]

As Raunig is aware, the first mentions of the Black Bloc began with the mediatization and police criminalization of autonomous activists in Germany. The Bloc as such is a media construction but no less powerful because of this.

Mainstream media images can be affirmed by factions on the left, as was the case with the photographic representation of communards in the nineteenth century. According to British art historian Gen Doy, images of women and men who were active in the years following the Paris Commune were perceived as not being in the interest of the French state. Rejecting theories of disciplinary power/knowledge, Doy argues for the idea that images embody social relations in a dialectical manner. She writes: "The consciousness of being an active subject participating in historical and social change is something that theories positing 'regimes of truth' and 'discourses' of subjectivity do little to elucidate, and much to obscure."[47] Consciousness of one's place in history and in social relations can allow people to intervene in the material conditions they live in. As material traces of the events, portrait photographs of communards were prohibited by the French state and removed from sight. Although those images were taken by photographers with commercial motives, and although they could be purchased for different reasons, communard prisoners cooperated in their manufacture in exchange for photos they could keep for themselves and interpreted them in terms of their political, social and cultural knowledge.

Doy makes the assertion that not only is structural Marxism not enough to ground images in concrete social relations, neither are psychoanalytic theories of castration and fetishism that inform the act of looking. We could remap this onto Raunig's idea that the anarchical quality of the war machine supports capital as well as the fantasy of escape from capital. What then of psychoanalytic notions of subjectivity? If the Starbucks window in some ways represents the Lacanian "name of the father," is a Black Bloc action organized around the desire for or the rejection of an iced cappuccino?[48] Consciousness, according to psychoanalysis, is constructed out of unconscious formations and desires. Does this mean there can be no conscious resistance that is not in some way a capitulation to the laws of language-structured-like-the-unconscious? Can consciousness proceed through symbolization and the transformation of signifiers that are then put into correspondence with objective movements and necessity?[49]

According to Žižek, the subject is not only subject to external desires that are caused by various objects, signs and things that s/he comes into contact with, but in the shift from desire to drive, the subject also cathects desire, produces it in an intersubjective exchange. While the subject may have a goal – say, smashing a window – the way that they go about doing this, their aim, is the actual purpose of the drive. Enjoyment revolves around a partial drive, that is, the social, symbolic and political process of creating actions that can enter the circuit of the subject's biological reproduction.[50] The libidinal impact of an object increases as one attempts to destroy it, as in the case of censored cultural works that gain notoriety and visibility due to their prohibition. The prohibited object thus embodies a surplus enjoyment – the Lacanian plus de jouir, the no-more-enjoyment that is beyond the pleasure principle and is a constituent of the reality principle.

The paradox of Black Bloc protest is its impossible relation to private property. Direct action therefore can be seen as the impossible equivalent to exchange relations and capitalist surplus. Our deliberations in determining the effectivity of Black Bloc tactics should thus be focused on the "real of the drive" of direct action. Such actions are not premised in their immediate fulfillment but in the communication that the desire to smash capitalism can never be satisfied with such limited gestures. The desire is deeper and spreads from one symbol to another, reproducing itself toward infinity. Still, as the broken window affirms, the transgression of the symbolic Law also brings on anxiety. The only way to "tarry with it" is through fantasmatic projection and this can perhaps mitigate against the desire for unmediated representation. What movement activists should do is look indirectly at the smashed windows, aesthetically perhaps, with an attitude that is supported by the desire for a reality that is possible and as though the smashed window does not exist in itself but only as the materialization of capitalist distortion. Direct action, we could say, and to paraphrase Žižek once again, gives positive existence to the unreality of the world, to its incompleteness. The disproportionate irrationality of tactics allows for a surplus of subjective dreaming that retroactively alters the coordinates of the situation. Social democrats and news media are thus not enemies of the movement but rather mediators of the symbolic universe and the guardians of our sleep.


1.The G8, or Group of Eight, is a forum for the member nations of eight of the world's major industrialized economies: France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, the US, the EU and Canada. Alterglobalization critics of the G8 and the larger G20 argue that the member states of the two groups are responsible for major global problems that derive from their promotion of neoliberal market ideology. According to the Marxist social scientist David Harvey, neoliberal institutions like the G8 propose that human well-being must be advanced through property rights, free markets and free trade. State interventions must be kept at a minimum and markets should be allowed to bring into effect the benefits of "creative destruction" and of exchange values regardless of attachments to the land or habits of the heart. Neoliberalism seeks to bring, he writes, "all human interaction into the domain of the market." Harvey adds that unlike the previous welfare state, neoliberal policies have not resulted in higher rates of economic growth but have instead contributed to greater social and class hierarchization. Increasing social inequality, he argues, is structural to the role of neoliberalization. See David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005) 2-13.
2.See Canadian Press, "Suspects arrested after emerging from manhole cover," CP24 (June 27, 2010), available at http://www.cp24.com/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20100627/100627_manhole/201....
3.See Natalie Alcoba, "Banker vs. looter draws a million hits," The National Post (July 3, 2010), available at http://www.nationalpost.com/2010/07/03/banker-vs-looter-draws-a-million-....
4.Slavoj Žižek, Violence: Six Sideways Glances (New York: Picador, 2008) 1-2.
5.The "Toronto weekend" involved overlapping meetings of the G8 in Huntsville, Ontario (one hour or so outside of Toronto), June 25-26, and the G20 in downtown Toronto, June 26-27.
6.Krystalline Kraus, "G8/G20 Communiqué: An activist's guide to the G20 protests, part one," rabble.ca (June 22, 2010).
7.Jesse McLean, "Behind the Black Bloc," Toronto Star (Saturday, June 26, 2010).
8.Judy Rebick, "Toronto Is Burning! Or Is It?" rabble.ca (June 27, 2010).
9.In contrast to Rebick, Klein refused to denounce the "kids in black who smashed windows and burned cop cars," and instead focused on denouncing heads of state. See Naomi Klein, "My City Feels Like a Crime Scene," rabble.ca (June 28, 2010). See also Klein, "Naomi Klein to Police: 'Don't play public relations, do your goddamned job!" rabble.ca (June 29, 2010).
10.Rebick, "Toronto Is Burning." In a later statement, Rebick writes: "In the week leading up to the summit, Conservative Cabinet Minister Stockwell Day signaled a particular focus on 'anarchists' for this security crackdown. This simplistic targeting of a long-standing political tradition was further used by police to justify assaults on all demonstrators as well as the round-up of activists by claiming they were hunting for the 'Black Bloc.' This criminalization of activists aimed to silence attempts to address the real issues presented by the G20." See Rebick, "Toronto Call: No more police state tactics," rabble.ca (July 1, 2010).
11.Fred Wilson, "Toronto and the G20: Two Worlds, Two Realities," rabble.ca (June 28, 2010). A similar denunciation of Black Bloc tactics came from a representative of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (Ontario): "What we have witnessed is nothing short of the abandonment of the rule of law, both by a small group who took part in the protests, and by a massive and heavily armed police force who were charged with overseeing them. (...) And it's a sad day when some of those, who feel powerless to change the direction of their elected leaders, find in that feeling of powerlessness an excuse to break the law and vandalize the property of their fellow citizens and who, in doing so, silence the legitimate voices of so many others whose commitment to protest and dissent is matched by their rejection of violence and vandalism." Cited in Jeff Shantz, "Their Laws – Our Loss," rabble.ca (July 15, 2010).
12.Murray Dobbin, "Is this what a police state looks like?" rabble.ca (June 30, 2010).
13.On the subject of police provocation and the distinction between bourgeois and proletarian law, see the classic text by Victor Serge, What Every Radical Should Know About State Repression (Melbourne: Ocean Press, [1926] 2005).
14.Krystalline Kraus, "G8/G20 Communiqué: Media coverage and public opinion polls," rabble.ca (July 3, 2010).
15.See David Graeber, Direct Action: An Ethnography (Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2009).
16.Graeber, 224.
17.François Dupuis-Déri, Les Black Blocs: La liberté et l'égalité se manifestent (Montreal: Lux, 2003) 10.
18.Dupuis-Déri, 12.
19.Michael Albert, "On Trashing and Movement Building," (December 1999), available at http://www.3communications.org/on-trashing-and-movement-organizing-by-mi....
20.François Dupuis-Déri, "G20: N'attendez plus les barbares, ils sont là!" Le Devoir (June 29, 2010).
21.François Dupuis-Déri, "Penser l'action directe des Black Blocs," Politix 17:68 (2004) 80.
22.Dupuis-Déri, "Penser l'action directe des Black Blocs," 94.
23.Žižek, 36.
24.Graeber, 254.
25.Raoul Vaneigem, The Revolution of Everyday Life, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith (London: Rebel Press, 2001) 47.
26.Vaneigem, 110.
27.Vaneigem, 260.
28.Vaneigem, 278.
29.Graeber, 502.
30.See Historical Film Services, "The Battle of Orgreave: Recreating the Climactic Clash of the 1984 Miners' Strike," available at http://www.historicalfilmservices.com/orgreave.htm.
31.Claire Bishop, "The Social Turn," Artforum (February 2006) 182. Kester's exact statement, in response to Bishop's article, is as follows: "As delightful as it is to hear yet another disquisition on the glories of The Battle of Orgreave, 2001, or Dogville (2003), a more complete account of collaborative art must begin with some measured reflection on the diversity of practices encompassed by that term. Grant Kester, "Another Turn," Artforum (May 2006) 22.
32.Katie Kitamura, "'Recreating Chaos': Jeremy Deller's The Battle of Orgreave," available at: www.anu.edu.au/hrc/research_platforms/RE-Enactment/Papers/kitamura-katie....
33.Maria Hlavajova, "Of Training, Imitation and Fiction: A Conversation with Aernout Mik," in Rosi Braidotti, Charles Esche and Maria Hlavajova, eds. Citizens and Subjects: The Netherlands, for Example (Zürich: JRP Ringier, 2007) 33.
34.Mik cited in Hlavajova, 43.
35.Mik cited in Hlavajova, 36.
36.Oliver Ressler cited in "How Do the Fittest Survive? Interview by Elena Sorokina," Untitled #43 (2007), available at heetp://www.ressler.at/how-do-the-fittest-survive/.
37.Oliver Ressler, statement for The Fittest Survive (2006), video, 23 minutes, available at http://www.ressler.at/the_fittest_survive/.
38.Theodor Adorno, "Transparencies on Film," New German Critique #24/25 (Fall/Winter 1981-82) 199-205.
39.Slavoj Žižek, "Lenin's Choice," in Revolution at the Gates: A Selection of Writings by V.I. Lenin from February to October 1917 (London: Verso, 2002) 227.
40.Mao Zedong cited in John Ellis, "Ideology and Subjectivity," in Stuart Hall et al., eds. Culture, Media, Language (London: Hutchinson Education, 1980) 188.
41.See Konrad Becker and Jim Fleming, eds. Critical Strategies: Perspectives on New Cultural Practices (Brooklyn: Autonomedia, 2010).
42.Jim Fleming in Critical Strategies, 59.
43.Steve Kurtz in Critical Strategies, 25-26.
44.Graeber, 299. Gerald Raunig, A Thousand Machines: A Concise Philosophy of the Machine as Social Movement (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2010) 16.
45.Raunig, 34, 57-58.
46.Raunig, 60.
47.Gen Doy, "Women, Class and Photography: The Paris Commune of 1871," in Seeing and Consciousness: Women, Class and Representation (Oxford: Berg, 1995) 104.
48.It is perhaps worth mentioning that the leader of our bus to Toronto gave instructions while drinking a Coca Cola. Similar ironies were played out on the June 25 march by a leftist group that was chanting, "Down with Capitalism! Long Live Socialism!" Every now and then they sounded as if they were reversing the terms: "Down with Socialism! Long Live capitalism!"
49.Ellis, 190.
50.See Slavoj Žižek, Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1991).