Thursday, July 07, 2005

Live8, G8, Black Bloc

[Some links added 11 July - scroll to the end of the post]

I want to ensorse completely the points made in this post by Harry about G8, Live8 and the so-called resistance to it.

To add:

1. On the Black Bloc: I was sickened to see 'anti-globalisation' activists smashing the windows of the cars (and not remotely big, expensive, gas-guzzling cars) of residents of the small Scottish town that had the misfortune to host them. How can that further the struggle against capital? The Black Bloc mentality is the purest of gesture politics. It strengthens the worst aspects of the capitalist state, by entering into its futile mirror dance with the police.

As Aufheben say, in 'Anti-Capitalism' as Ideology - and as Movement?:
The problem of the black bloc at these events is the contradiction between its existence as a tactic and as an ideological identity; and the way that the form of the anti-'globalization' 'movement' forces these two aspects to coincide. To counter the leftist propaganda, which portrays the black bloc as a homogenous group that can be easily identified and marginalized (young, male, anarchist, fanatical, nihilistic), others have emphasized its heterogeneity, fluidity and the fact that it is first and foremost 'a tactic'. As such, it is claimed, it has no ideological identity and changes for practical reasons as time and place dictate. However, although there is an element of truth in this (and although certain people within the black bloc see it or wish it this way), there is a definite tendency to conflate radicality with a 'hardcore' fetishism of violence. A defining if not exclusive feature of the black bloc that distinguishes it from simply street-fighting at demonstrations is the existence of a set group committed to a form of action, separate from the rest of the crowd. The black bloc seeks to identify itself as a group of black clad militants who work together, look out for each other, take on the cops and attack property, and as such sees itself as the radical, autonomous wing of the protest. In practice, the black bloc tendency does alter significantly according to local conditions, but doesn't escape the bounds of a militant role.
...
To express its militancy and avoid a losing confrontation with the state the black bloc tends to become a sort of roving, footloose band of casseurs (and a large part of its success has been just that). In doing this, though, its actions become isolated from the immediate aims of the mobilization, whilst not connecting with a broader social movement which might make its militancy useful (or irrelevant!). As such its options are to explain militant action in a way that accords with the basic precepts of liberal-leftist anti-'globalization' ideology (lobbying with molotov cocktails), or to trumpet them as practical, autonomous actions against state and capital (a positive dis-alignment with the mainstream of the movement as far as it goes). However, while it helps the individual's sense of identity, this doesn't hold much water practically. In the long run, without a wider social movement to make it meaningful, such practice can only be mere 'symbolism', 'exorcism'.[My emphases]

In this context, Bob Geldorf has done more to put the complex issues around global capital and Africa into the mainstream public consciousness than any amount of balaclava-ed youths, whatever their sophiticated (or not) understanding of the dynamics of poverty.

2. On the politicians: Much as I hate Blair, I should also give him (and, even more, Brown) credit for pushing this issue when it wasn't something the electorate were interested.

3. On bad music: No amount of good causes can justify putting U2 or Coldplay on stage.

Other Live8 reactions:


AGAINST:

A Cloud In Trousers: Why I didn't watch Live8
How can you organise a musical event to raise consciousness about Africa and issues of development and then ignore African artists?... I'm with Andy Kershaw who described the African event at the Eden Project as "musical apartheid".

The next two are via Daniel

Andy Kershaw in The Independent
"Geldof is a self-appointed champion of the wretched and downtrodden who is, simultaneously and incongruously, mesmerised by the rich, the powerful and those with A-list celebrity status. If Geldof has genuine empathy with the continent he claims to champion, he wouldn't be telling Africa's world-beating performers that they're not worthy to share a stage with himself and his tedious friends.Geldof's arrogance is breathtaking. First, he dismisses the idea of having Africans on his bill since, supposedly, they are not big enough draws. Now, outrageously, he is planning to corral the Africans into Cornwall rather than allow them to appear on the same stage, on equal terms, with their European and American counterparts. And I thought apartheid was dead ...Over the last couple of days, I have spoken to a number of African artists and their managers. They are deeply upset by the arrogance of an event meant to unify the world in support of their nations. They discussed a boycott or an alternative showcase concert on the same day, but, reluctantly, many have agreed to turn up in Cornwall.They feel Geldof is holding a gun to their heads: it's this or nothing. He might as well put up signs around the lanes leading to the Eden Project saying, "Grateful Darkies This Way ...Geldof is deliberately "twisting" his words. "

Lord Steel
"Geldof is displaying slight touches of megalomania."

The wrong side of capitalism:
"i saw some of that shit last night, and frankly it made me want to hang myself. i don’t know if it was madonna dancing with a token ethiopian who had been “saved” 20 years earlier by live aid, or sir bob’s montage of starving children. this latter display was particularly sick, both in its racism and its disempowerment, but mostly in the fact that it isolated the african situation from its political and historical context. i was hoping that the images of starving africans would be interspersed with images of americans overeating, or of offshore oil drilling platforms in nigeria, but no luck… the colonial mindset was also present in spades: in, e.g., the assertion that one million deaths in somalia rendered it “hopeless.” the supreme irony of Eurocentrism in the post-WWII context is, of course, that thirty million dead did not result declarations of the “hopelessness” of Europe (Fanon and Cesaire excepted)."


FOR:

Drink-soaked Trotskyite Popinjays For WAR: Bob Geldof, Irish Revolutionary:
When it comes to writing the history of revolutionary politics at the beginning of the 21st Century, who shall people come to look back upon as the great revolutionary leaders of our time? George Galloway? John Rees? Kitten from Big Brother?

How about Bob Geldof?

If the purpose of a revolutionary is to organise and mobilise the masses, seizing control of the agenda of the day, and thus altering the status quo, then so far Geldof has succeeded admirably.


Also check out: The metal angle from Metal Jew

New links:
Pro-Live8: Where There Were No Doors: Live 8
Ambivalent: Squander Two Blog: Geldof, The Sharpener: G8, The price of protest

Previous: Things I hate, Liberalism - a mental illness, The glitz-based community and the axis of edginess
Tag: live8

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