When tactics become appearance, on the fetishizing of the black bloc.

Hier kun je discussieren over When tactics become appearance, on the fetishizing of the black bloc..
History of the black bloc, blatantly summarized and taken from wikipedia
The tactic of covering yourself up to stay anonymous and thus avoid prosecution is as old as humanity. Watched enough old heist movies to know that this has been a thing for some time now. Wearing specifically black and mask up for political demonstrations seems to have happen first in 1967 in New York City. Later on it was developed in Germany where it became a tactic of dealing with police violence. From that point onwards not a whole lot has changed about the working mechanism of the tactic itself. Except that police got better at what they do. So now not only do we have to deal with the police themselves but also cameras, facial recognition, which shoes you are wearing and in the future they will probably identify you by the specific way of how you walk.

The tactic works, it actually fucking works. Right?
Now that we have a solid complete historical background and lovely future perspective /s. We can talk about the usage of the tactic itself. In short, when does it work? If you are doing something illegal or there is a likelihood of illegal activity happening, if you are in a big group, if you can bloc and debloc safely without being recognized and if the bloc was deemed necessary for the action to be successful or safe. So i just quickly wanna glance over the statements

If you are doing something illegal or there is a likelihood of illegal activity happening
Direct action can be sustainable in a way that by avoiding police repression allows you to do more activist work and reduce physical and psychological trauma. It also gives confidence in getting away with stuff. And might save you some difficult discussions with your boss. Ensuring anonymity during events and thereby getting away with it helps. And we should use tactics for that. However A black bloc can also scare away people and alienate us from people that might be interested in anarchist ideals or that want to speak to us on the demonstrations. To quote a friend seeing the black bloc for the first time; “Are those the good guys?”

If you are in a big group
One solid big black bloc is the most ideal situation to stay anonymous or avoid being singled out by the police. If you do something go back in the bloc they will probably lose track of you pretty quickly. Since you know all clothing is black and people are moving around in such a situation. This however doesn’t really work if you are with a small group like 4 people, because you will still be recognizable be it by height or they spotted your shoes or a brand on your clothing. Which makes a nice bridge to the third point.

If you can bloc and debloc safely without being recognized
Have you seen a group of 4 people walking in black bloc trying to be anonymous and avoiding police? It is a beacon for the police of potential illegal activity and you might as well burn those flares in your pocket cause everybody is already looking at you. The police stops you and if you didn't bring your ID you are probably going straight into the police van on some bullshit APV law. And if you did bring it they got your ID and photo and the whole point of anonymity seems a bit, well pointless. So what to do? Arrive at the demo in normal civilian clothes, bloc there away from the eyes of the state, do your thing, and debloc away from the eyes of the state. Go your way in normal civilian clothes and disappear in the (shopping) crowd.

Speaking of this, if you are not willing to dress or look like a civilian to get away with serious allegations but are willing to do radical actions you need to reconsider your tactics. Cause that's what it about, tactics. Think about it, if you walk away looking like a punk, crust, casual or something else sub-scene how easy it is for a snitching bystander to describe you to the police. As opposed to everyday clothes and disappearing in the crowd. Buy some at the second-hand store or get some at the freeshop, trust me it will be worth the money in the end.

If the bloc is deemed necessary for the action to be successful or safe
If it is not necessary, why do it? It is a way to get away with potential incriminating stuff, but it also spotlights you on a demonstration. It tends to increases police repression and there is a higher likelihood for the demonstration to get out of control. Although we can act tough about it, this will also alienate us further from other non or less politicized people. Which we are trying to engage in the struggle remember? Sometimes we must let demonstrations out of control don’t get me wrong, but this isn’t always the goal. We also need to talk with people, explain our worldview, solutions and expand our message. Believe it or not, but it tends to help if you are not wearing your black bloc outfit with a balaclava.

Pick your moments!
Contrary to popular belief nowadays, if one of those above 4 statements is a No. Then it is not necessary nor effective to form a black bloc. Of course we can hypothesize all these nice “but what if” exceptions that rarely happen. But those exceptions are not what I am trying to talk about here and neither should that be your counterargument. If there is a valid counterargument please say so in the comments.

Most people reading this will remember the encirclement of the black bloc on the Erasmusbrug during the housing demonstration. Soon after it happened images started to circle on the internet of the now infamous black bloc being held by the police. And after a while some were freed by the house on wheels, while the remainders were transported away from the demonstration by the police on the suspicion of carrying weapons. People walking with political party banners showed huge solidarity and support but were swept by the police in the end. In order to justify this form of state repression the police and media went into damage control, blaming the “anarchist and antifa” for being potentially violent. This was in my humble opinion a good black bloc tactic. Multiple people were enclosed, some got freed and the police will have a very difficult time knowing who those people are. We have seen what happened in Amsterdam during the housing demonstration and confrontation with the police was a realistic scenario thus black bloc was justified.

So I am not saying that we shouldn’t do black bloc at all, I am merely pointing out the fact that there are more appropriate moments and more inappropriate moments to do it. And we should consider this for each action, think about this within your affinity group, organizing group and when writing a callout. Don’t go in default mode for every action that we do. Cause the black bloc tactic will backfire if not done properly. Effective direct action, public perception and long term political consequences are way too complex to do stuff just for the sake of doing stuff and we anarchists should know better.

This isn’t supposed to be a deterrent to performing black bloc tactics. It isn't even a criticism, because in the end what you do is up to you. This is an advice to get away with shit without getting arrested, ID checked or in any other way harassed by the cops. While at the same time trying to expand our movement.

Cause in the end it's a tactic, not a fashion statement.

Black blok is for protecting

Black blok is for protecting comrades in demonstation to deminsh the risk of police arrest.

Geschiedenis van het zwarte

Geschiedenis van het zwarte blok, schaamteloos samengevat en overgenomen van wikipedia
De tactiek om jezelf te bedekken om anoniem te blijven en zo vervolging te ontlopen is zo oud als de mensheid. Ik heb genoeg oude rooffilms gezien om te weten dat dit al een hele tijd een ding is. Het dragen van een masker voor politieke demonstraties schijnt voor het eerst gebeurd te zijn in 1967 in New York City. Later werd het ontwikkeld in Duitsland, waar het een tactiek werd om met politiegeweld om te gaan. Vanaf dat moment is er niet veel veranderd aan het werkingsmechanisme van de tactiek zelf. Behalve dat de politie beter is geworden in wat zij doet. Nu hebben we dus niet alleen te maken met de politie zelf, maar ook met camera's, gezichtsherkenning, welke schoenen je draagt en in de toekomst zullen ze je waarschijnlijk identificeren aan de hand van de specifieke manier waarop je loopt.

De tactiek werkt, het werkt echt verdomme. Toch?
Nu we een solide complete historische achtergrond en mooi toekomstperspectief /s hebben. Kunnen we het hebben over het gebruik van de tactiek zelf. In het kort, wanneer werkt het? Als je iets illegaals doet of als er een kans is dat er iets illegaals gebeurt, als je in een grote groep bent, als je veilig kunt blokken en debloceren zonder herkend te worden en als het blok noodzakelijk werd geacht om de actie te laten slagen of veilig te laten verlopen. Dus ik wil even snel de verklaringen doornemen

Als je iets illegaals doet of als er een kans is dat er iets illegaals gebeurt.
Directe actie kan duurzaam zijn op een manier dat door het vermijden van politie-onderdrukking je meer activistisch werk kan doen en fysieke en psychologische trauma's kan verminderen. Het geeft je ook vertrouwen om met dingen weg te komen. En het bespaart je misschien een paar moeilijke discussies met je baas. Zorgen voor anonimiteit tijdens evenementen en daarmee wegkomen helpt. En daar moeten we tactieken voor gebruiken. Maar een zwart blok kan ook mensen afschrikken en ons vervreemden van mensen die misschien geïnteresseerd zijn in anarchistische idealen of die ons op de demonstraties willen spreken. Om met een vriend te spreken die het zwarte blok voor het eerst ziet: "Zijn dat de goeden?"

Als je in een grote groep bent
Eén groot zwart blok is de meest ideale situatie om anoniem te blijven of te voorkomen dat je door de politie wordt uitgekozen. Als u iets doet teruggaan in het blok zullen zij u waarschijnlijk vrij snel uit het oog verliezen. Aangezien u weet dat alle kleding zwart is en de mensen zich in zo'n situatie bewegen. Dit werkt echter niet echt als je met een kleine groep bent, zoals 4 mensen, omdat je dan nog steeds herkenbaar bent, zij het door je lengte of ze hebben je schoenen gezien of een merk op je kleding. Wat een mooi bruggetje maakt naar het derde punt.

Als je veilig kunt blokken en debloceren zonder herkend te worden
Heb je wel eens een groep van 4 mensen in black bloc zien lopen om anoniem te blijven en de politie te ontwijken? Het is een baken voor de politie van mogelijke illegale activiteiten en je kan net zo goed die fakkels in je zak branden want iedereen kijkt al naar je. De politie houdt je aan en als je je ID niet bij je hebt, ga je waarschijnlijk linea recta de politiebus in op grond van een of andere klote APV wet. En als je het wel bij je hebt, hebben ze je ID en foto en is het hele punt van anonimiteit een beetje, nou ja zinloos. Dus wat te doen? Kom aan bij de demonstratie in normale burgerkleding, blok daar weg van de ogen van de staat, doe je ding, en debloc weg van de ogen van de staat. Ga je gang in normale burgerkleding en verdwijn in de (winkel)menigte.

Nu we het daar toch over hebben, als je niet bereid bent om je te kleden of er uit te zien als een burger om weg te komen met ernstige beschuldigingen maar wel bereid bent om radicale acties te ondernemen moet je je tactiek heroverwegen. Want daar gaat het om, tactiek. Denk er eens over na, als je er als een punker, crust, casual of iets anders sub-scene uitziet, hoe makkelijk is het dan voor een verklikkende omstander om je aan de politie te beschrijven. In tegenstelling tot alledaagse kleding en verdwijnen in de menigte. Koop wat bij de tweedehandswinkel of haal wat bij de freeshop, geloof me het zal het geld uiteindelijk waard zijn.

Als het blok noodzakelijk wordt geacht om de actie succesvol of veilig te laten verlopen
Als het niet nodig is, waarom zou je het dan doen? Het is een manier om weg te komen met mogelijk belastende spullen, maar het zet je ook in de schijnwerpers bij een demonstratie. Het verhoogt de repressie van de politie en er is een grotere kans dat de demonstratie uit de hand loopt. Hoewel we er stoer over kunnen doen, zal dit ons ook verder vervreemden van andere niet- of minder gepolitiseerde mensen. En die proberen we toch in de strijd te betrekken, weet je nog? Soms moeten we demonstraties uit de hand laten lopen begrijp me niet verkeerd, maar dit is niet altijd het doel. We moeten ook met mensen praten, ons wereldbeeld en oplossingen uitleggen en onze boodschap uitbreiden. Geloof het of niet, maar het helpt meestal als je niet je zwarte blok outfit met een bivakmuts draagt.

Kies je momenten!
In tegenstelling tot wat tegenwoordig vaak wordt gedacht, is het niet nodig of effectief om een zwart blok te vormen als één van die 4 bovenstaande uitspraken een Nee is. Natuurlijk

Vertaald met www.DeepL.com/Translator (gratis versie)

that is a good take I think,

that is a good take I think, thanks! Certain ways of expressing ourselves in the movement that has different historical reasons are fetishized and appearance takes over the essence at times, which I doubt will help in the long term if we wanna get to somewhere and not just be 'cool kids hanging out together and fighting the system'.

To blackbloc or not to blackbloc

The most important thing when forming a black bloc is to be able to act as one. That means the ability to effectively confront a detachment of riot police of equal numbers without loosing ground immediatly. This also means the ability to defeat undercover police snatch teams right out, forcing the tactical adversary to use uniformed and armoured riot police only instead.

Note that the successful black blocs are ( like in Hamburg or Athens, sometimes Paris ) are not engaged at closed proximity by the police, simply that would be far too dangerous for them.

Not being able or willing to do that, but using the outfit to trash undefenbded objects, is indeed a fshion statement only

When I saw pictures of Black

When I saw pictures of Black Bloc in Rotterdam and Amsterdam, to be honest that didnt really look like a bloc, more like a bunch of punks in black. If you do Black Bloc do it properly, don't show any colors, hair, non black shoes, etc. That's kind of your point as well I guess. In Germany you often see big banners in front and next to the bloc together with umbrellas that will give you more anonymity. The Defend groups in the anti vaxx demos also block up, but have seen arrests lately. Romeos have a lot of experience in Netherlands with hooligans and are kind of acting as rogue cops, they can also block up.

Crimethinc has a good read up on black bloc:


From Hong Kong also came a lot of good material about how to protest effectively. Be Water!


Lets not make the same mistakes

One crucial element that is failing here, is what the actual goal is of the anarchist participation, and if the black block tactic is a productive means to this goal. We have to be clear that one of our main efforts today is popularizing anarchist ideas. Masking up and making one inrecognizable also makes you less accessible and thus potentially forms a barrier between us and other people that are not yet known to the ideas.

Making a block also separates you more from others, especially when you pull up banners and block yourself in. You literally shield yourself off from the outside. In that sense I think its an important question raised on the Black Block.

As the author of this article says, the tactic does serve as a good mean for certain actions. We should however not always take the hammer out of our toolbox, sometimes we also need a screwdriver or plyers.

There do is a fetishation where identification and the need to express a certain identity is more important that political goals, and this is I think something we should collectively question and get over. Where is this need to seem 'different' comming from? Can this also have to do with the capitalist identitarian society that we are living in, where our being different needs to be expressed through consumerism and now also through our political believes?

In my opinion we should develop an anarchism of every day life, an anarchism of workers, an anarchism of mothers and fathers, of students, pupils, teachers and cleaners, an anarchism of the common people and not of a closed of sect. We have had this problem before and it was the dead end street that isolated our movement in the 90s and 2000s which led to its downfall. Now, with the new 'aufschwung' we should not fall for the same easy mistakes.

Black bloc is not a mean to

Black bloc is not a mean to popularize anarchism even though it seems that way since the recent socalled black blocs at demos. Yes it is good to have anarchist blocks at denos but it us a misuse of black bloc, which is s tactic. A anarchist block can be defined by flags and flyers and not necesarily wirh black clothing, it also gets people criminalised because they are in blavk bloc with the implications it has at it is clearly explsined by this piece
It is a tactic not a fashion statement or identifiable means

Yes, that could indeed. Be

Yes, that could indeed. Be concluded from my reply. It seems as if you are refuting but actually you are confirming what I am saying :)

Thanks for your text, though

Thanks for your text, though I'm not from NL, we have similar discussions where I live. I wanted to comment on two points:
- "Don’t go in default mode for every action that we do" This is in my opinion the strongest and most important thought of this text. It wraps the main point up pretty nicely and, more important, tackles the underlying problem: not only do we confuse tactics and appearance, we don't have different tactics at all! There's a political culture of self-isolation and retreat from society that leaves us more or less unable to just have normal conversations with workers on the street, although most people tend to agree with a lot of our political goals (higher wages, fighting against alienation and expolitation, and to lesser degrees also a lot of anti-racist, feminist and even outright anticapitalist ideas). In my experience, we have exactly two modes of operating: agressively shouting from the safety of an anonymous mass/bloc or standing around an info table/at a stationary manifestation, being unsure about our own ideology and afraid of people who don't agree with every word we say. So I think this important text adresses one big part of the problem but also leads to a bigger discussion about our tactics and just ways of doing politics. Thanks for that, comrade!
- the second part is just about a word chosen in the text, that may be down to translation or my understanding, but I think the usage of the word "civilian" for people who don't participate in our events is not a good choice. On the other hand, it shows how we all come from this flawed political culture, even if we criticize it in a constructive way. I think I know what you mean by "civilians" and I definitely felt this relationship to "bystanders" before, but maybe we should try thinking about people not as uninterested outsiders, but as political subjects and in large parts these are people we want to reach with our ideas one day, or maybe some of them are thinking just like us and just didn't participate in this specific event... Like you said, "this will also alienate us further from other non or less politicized people. Which we are trying to engage in the struggle remember?".

TL;DR: it's a good text, very good indeed. Gets to the bottom of a big problem about our political culture.

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