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News ::
Tactics, Reflections on Last Saturday
15 Nov 2000
A reflection on one tactic observed at last Saturday's anti-electoral college protest.
Last Saturday at the protest in Boston Common, Gore supporters, Nader supporters, and people of varying ideologies came together to protest this year's undemocratic election. At one point some kid dressed in a black hooded sweatshirt and black jeans got up and yelled to the crowd.
"Is NAFTA Democracy? NO! Does Al Gore support NAFTA? YES! SMASH THE MOTHER-FUCKING STATE!!!'
This is idiotic, childish, and myopic. Do I agree with him that the candidates are all worthless. Yes. Do I agree that revolution is necessary? Yes. But yelling things like "Smash the mother-fucking state" to a bunch of Gore supporters has the exact opposite effect of what he was apparently trying to accomplish. If you talk reasonably to people, debate with them why Gore isn't all that good and why revolution is necessary, you may get somewhere. But screaming "Smash the state!" serves only to alienate people from our movement. Most revolutionaries are intelligent and reasonable. We have a great deal of excellent points. But when people see this type of display, we are all written off as a bunch of closed minded unreasonable punks. This is exactly what happened, some people screamed back at him, and others just shook their heads in disgust. THESE TACTICS HURT THE MOVEMENT! With friends like this kid, revolutionaries need no enemies!
I plead to all of you to consider the aims and probable outcomes of your tactics before you employ them. You may be pissed off, but displaying that in a loud and unreasonable way to a crowd who disagrees with you at present is counterproductive.
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Tactics, Reflections and Political Arrogance
16 Nov 2000
Modified: 11:35:00 AM
Okay, perhaps yelling "smash the motherfucking state" is not the best means of reaching out to an audience of Democrats, but I don't think that this should warrant a response of "with friends like these who needs enemies". It is sometimes hard for middle class, college educated political activists to reconcile with the fact that not everyone is as well versed and articulate in political debate as themselves, and there needs to be space for this if people are serious about expanding the movement beyond a predominantly educated middle class base.

Yes, not everyone knows the most constructive means for articulating dissent, but this hardly makes them our enemies. People learn, they develop their ideas over time, and gain experience from working with others, but it is a process, and attempting to marginalize someone because they do not have the same level of political consciousness as yourself is hardly the most constructive means for encouraging this process.

To tell you the truth, when I was younger, someone yelling "smash the motherfucking state!" actually did have much more appeal to me than well-versed political argument, because I was angry, and young, and I didn't give a shit about what most educated political activists (who, on the whole, I considered to be privileged middle class brats who, socially, I had little in common with) had to say.

Something to think about....

--MaRK, Sabate Anarchist Collective (NEFAC)
Foolish Tactics makes for Foolish Results
16 Nov 2000
Yes, I understand what you are saying. But the fact remains that this kind of stuff hurts the movement tremendously. Perhaps it may appeal to a few angry young people who fancy themselves revolutionaries, but then we end up with a movement with all emotion and anger, and no real way of succeeding. The system is organized, and if we allow people to keep hurting our movement from the inside, and even encourage it, then we may as well not have a movement, because we'll just be plowed over by the well oiled repression machine we call the state.
Correct me if I'm wrong but anarchists like yourself are against the consumer culture. It seems interesting to me that someone who stands against materialism would have a political theory that values quantity over quality.
I'm not saying that people like that kid should be purged from the movement altogether. But we must comdemn such actions immediately and completely, for if we let things like this slide our movement will turn into a small, disorganized, ineffective group of angry screaming punks. I don't think you need to be well educated to know that a mass political movement requires organization and some type of real goal.
Boring Tactics lead to Nothing Being Done
16 Nov 2000
Are you the same person who didn't want to take a street for that protest because, "the police will arrest us and fighting with the cops is not what this is about."

So instead you paraded in circle, around the fountain, bordering the Common on Tremont Street. The crowd watching numbered 15-20, mostly homeless, some tourists and a few stragglers left over from the veteran's day parade. Many of the "pro-democracy marchers" who I spoke to, had no idea that the system on a whole is not "democracy" and what it means that the System is a Quassi-Capitalist/Constitutional Republic and about the ideas of the Federalists, namely Madison who basically framed the Constitutional ideas himself "the people who own the country ought to govern it.." In fact, most the crowd, say 95 percent where Gore supporters who had no interest in a "social/economic revolution", that we often speak of. And I say that from an Anarchist standpoint. Also, the young gentleman you spoke of, standing on the outskirts of the "pro-democracy" people, across the street from the state-house, while the police, then national guard, then ROTC, Army and air force brigades marched by. While the "pro-democracy" supporters where chanting "thank you vets," no doubt thanking them for doing Uncle Sam's State Terrorist work for him, the young, black-hooded, gentleman was "reminding" the soldiers to "read about their government" and "it's not to late to get out" and "don't BOMB COLUMBIA if they ask you too." etc.... etc.... I saw at least "5 Gore/Pro democracy" verbally attack this person for his "Un-American views." Not for YELLING at the troops and cops and/or making the other "marchers" look bad, but for his "Un-American" views. Judging by the make-up of the crowd, rich looking Cambridge, SUV driving liberals, or desperately wanting that lifestyle types - this type of march is perfectly fine for the State. This supports their brand of "democracy", as seen spread through Latin American and East Asia by the fine veterans of WARS that these people also don't apparantly mind funding with their tax dollars.
Alienation = Disunity = Defeat
17 Nov 2000
Yes, the majority of the protesters were pro-Gore bourgeouis "liberals". That is exactly my point. How do we help people like that see that our society needs a revolution? Does screaming at them help? No. Does screaming at the veterans and military personnel, who are mostly poor, working class people trying to scrape out a living or get money for college the only way they can, really help anything? No. I agree with your politics, but your problem is that you can't make the distinction between principles and tactics. I don't disagree that we should "Smash the Mother Fucking State", I just think alienating people with potential to be radical revolutionaries while accomplishing nothing else is idiotic. Did I want to take the street? Yes I did, but as you just said yourself, that's not the kind of group that does that, yet. You blather on about the fact that many of them had no idea of the reality of the system, but you don't really touch the fact that yelling "Smash the Mother Fucking State!" doesn't teach them. You turn your nose up at those protesters, talking about how they were "rich looking Cambridge, SUV driving liberals", and write them off. And by doing so you only prove my point, you aren't trying to build a movement of the people. You are interested in, and respect only, those who are already like you. Some of us are trying to build a real revolution here, and this requires mobilizing people who do not yet share our views, not alienating them. It seems to me all you really want is a little gang of thugs to play revolutionary with. Grow up and get real, this foolishness only hurts the movement.
i Heard this SATURDAY is going to be CCOLD
17 Nov 2000
Please, read my statements more carefully if you choose to respond to them. I did not say that those weren't the type of people to take a street. I proposed it as an idea to the "leader" of the whole thing as I watch them marched, comically in circles around the fountain, with no one watching or paying attention who didn't already at least partially agree.... How do you know what I am or am not doing? I'll explain it again, as you very carefully did not read my first post before responding... I attempted to engage in very serious discussion with several of the "democracy" protestors and they quickly distanced themselves from my ideas. I suggested a more direct action, I suggested to them what the differences are between this election/Establishment/System and real Democracy, they were mostly not interested. They wanted to talk about the "crisis in democracy" that they were experiencing. I suggested to them there was a larger problem of Democracy. I am an anarchist and most certainly align myself with the black-hooded fellow who descneded and yelled "smash the motherfucking state." I talk to everyone about "politics" and some of them are TOO FUCKING PROPOGANDIZED to see through the thick fog. I am not their enemy and they are not mine, as far as I could tell none of them were agents of any sort.

The protest group was lucky that Food Not Bombs was there serving food to people (unrelated) or there wouldn't have been anyone there at all to see YOUR message, as it was a shitty, rainy, Boston fall day. You missed part of what the "black hooded fellow" yelled. The most important part in fact. "DOES AL GORE SUPPORT NAFTA? YES! Is NAFTA DEMOCRACY? NO! DO YOU PEOPLE KNOW WHAT REAL DEMOCRACY IS? NO! SMASH THE MOTHERFUCKING STATE!" He clearly did not see allies in the group of Cambridge, SUV driving, liberal types that DOMINATED THE CROWD. Again, my own assessment after chatting with upwards of 20-25 people by the monument, across from the State House. One man yelled "Did you PEOPLE DRIVE HEAR and pollute the air, to support Democracy?" None of them said anything, some laughed nervously and most may have been a bit confused. Ask them and most of them will tell you they were there to Support GORE and "democracy, counting all the votes, etc" and it was clearly a Partisan, non-radical, Politically Correct (CHANTING - thank you vets? hahhahahaahhahahahaha), bullshit kind of display. AND YOUR ANGRY because an anarchist yelled at them, pointing out their collective hypocrisy (at least 95% of them) and made them look at each other funny?

Do you see my point?

also...I was a part of the couple of people that were yelling to the soliders that it's not to late to not commit atrocities against other humans for the BULLSHIT national interest. We had nothing to do with the protest, we were there for the veterans day parade.
Want to Sit Down and Discuss This?
17 Nov 2000
Yes, as I said, I see your point. They were being hipocritical. Hell, I think most of them deserve to be booted in the head as well as yelled at, but neither is going to get us anywhere. I understand his frustration, I agree with his message, but the way he sent it not only failed to have any positive effect, but may have had serious negative effects. You didn't talk to every single person there did you? You say 95% or so were Gore supporters, and even if that is so, was it worth the yelling to possibly turn off the 5% which may have otherwise been interested in revolutionary politics, while having no effect on that 95% except entrenching them in their views that any alternative view is unreasonable? As you said, some were silent or laughed uncomfortably at the comment about polluting the air, but by screaming in the way that he did, they can write off his words as unreasonable radical garbage.
Do you live in the city? I would love to sit down with you some time next week and discuss all of this. We are on the same side, and arguing things like tactics only strengthens our movement.
to be honest
17 Nov 2000
I don't think most people are so affected by one person yelling a radical statement... That's our difference of opinion. I bet a lot of them forget it as soon as they had to go to work on Monday or whatever. You know how it is... Yes i live in boston here's my email cobrala_2001 (at)

a cause or a tantrum?
17 Nov 2000
The distinction is not between more or less educated, or between one tactic and another. I think in this case the distinction is between acting for a cause and with a purpose and acting for no purpose other than blowing steam in an ego-trip. The movement is not an excuse for tantrums. It requires dedication and discipline.

I don't think that what the "founding fathers" (just think of the garbage implicit in this phrase) had in back of their minds is of any relevance - this kind of self-serving guessing is what the ruling right calls "strict construction". What seems obvious is that right now we do not have a democracy; we have a corporate oligarchy.
electoral college
17 Nov 2000
I was at the protest and I wasn't particularly bothered by what the kid the yelled there. I was more bothered that some got on the mic and tried to drone him out with some stupid chant. I wish I'd gotten on the mic and said why I was there, and what I think election reform means. That's another thing, there was a definite sentiment of not letting this meeting be anti-electoral college, but just for a florida revote. When people started talking more about the electoral college, somebody got on the mic and said "this is an issue that needs to be debated, but let's move on, some people thinkg the electoral college is good." There is real effort to streamline these protests such that they only ask for a florida revote not real change in the electoral college system. Show up at the protest and see if the anti-electoral college protestors get censored.
See also:
How do you radicalize Boston liberals?
21 Nov 2000
However banal their attempts, I agree with viewpoint that these "demonstrators" are at least collected somewhere in public and could be open to mor radical ideas. These people actually show up at large-scale demonstrations... There were 2 women in an SUV at the IMF protest in Washington, asking us for directions to the rally. Where can you get propaganda and such to distribute them? (I live in Boston and Lowell, was not at the demo last Sat). I think it's funny to scare/confuse them like that dude did. Perhaps he brought some credibility to the thing with the skeptical onlookers and all.
Revolution of the People Requires People
22 Nov 2000
Scaring and confusing people who are showing some sort of interest, however meek, in the movement may be amusing, but it is ineffective and foolish. I realize some people may not have the same "level of political consciousness", and do not realize the harmful effects of tactics like the way that kid yelled, but that is exactly why we must help to guide them. We are trying to build a real movement here, many of us are trying to build a real revolution. There is no A+ for effort in the real world, we are in the midst of a struggle, not a spelling bee. That kid has great potential. We should not marginalize or purge him, but we should help him to find better, more effective tactics. If we do not focus somewhat upon the education of the members of our movement, then we are doomed to failure.
I have to agree with the guy who said a few comments back that the real problem here is many people are using the movement as a way to blow off steam. Many cheer this on because they're pissed too, and rightly so. But whether we let this type of behavior slide or try to correct it is precisely what will make the difference between success and failure.
If the majority of the people are not yet at a revolutionary conciousness, then we must work with them at the point they are at, and help to guide them to a revolutionary position. That means we participate in Florida recount demonstrations, and other less-than-radical actions. That means we are kind and supportive of SUV driving IMF demonstrators. Many cry out to "Smash the State", for a revolution of the people, but do not attempt to connect to the people. Leon Trotsky once said that we must not mistake the fourth month of pregnancy with the ninth, and this seems to be a common mistake among many radicals today.
revolutionary... what happened?
22 Nov 2000
you asked if I wanted to meet and discuss things. I posted my email address for you, and nothing.. cobrala_2001 (at)
Been Busy, Sorry
22 Nov 2000
Sorry about that, I have been quite busy with my organization and participation in the recent School of the Americas demonstration in Fort Benning, Georgia. I will email you today and we can work out a time and place to meet. Again I apologize for the delay.
My two cents
08 Dec 2000
Actually, I don't know what an anarchist was doing at a pro-Gore (er, "democracy") demo anyway, except maybe to throw a metaphorical bomb into the event, which this kid seems to have done. The duty of a revolutionary is to tell the truth to people. Perhaps those folks aren't ready to "Smash the Mother-Fucking State!" but they needed to hear it. If they never hear it they'll never think about it. Are you saying that nobody should have brought up the fact that our so-called "democracy" is a sham and the Al Gore is part of the problem? Or are you just complaining that the kid didn't bring it up in a appropriate fashion? Are only properly trained, professional revolutionaries allowed to speak?

When you quoted Trotsky you let the cat out of the bag. What you really object to is people acting without the permission of one of the 57 varieties of Leninist party.
Allow me to Clarify, again
12 Dec 2000
The problem is the manner in which he presented his "argument". Instead of fighting alongside these people and having a dialogue with them, effectively, intelligently, and in a civil manner, he acted in direct opposition to them. This is what divides the movement. I see no reason why a person cannot correct their tactics without having to be a "professional revolutionary". I am astonished that you see no reason for an anarchist to be at such a demonstration except to yell at people in an offensive and confrontational manner. This demonstrates perfectly to me that you have no interest in building towards an actual revolution, but simply enjoy opportunistically using the demonstrations and actions which others have put hard work into building and promoting, to misplace your aggressions at those who do not yet have a revolutionary consciousness.

You acuse me of wanting everyone to act only under the permission of a Leninist party. This shows that you have most likely heard anti-party rhetoric, but have not had any practical experience with Leninist parties. Allow me to explain to you the tactics and function of such a party. The approach of a Leninist party is the "United Front". This means we support and fight alongside anyone willing to fight against the system, and while we do so we calmly and rationally discuss with them the need for revolution. This shows our support for the people, builds solidarity, and proves to people that revolutionaries are rational and accessible. Screaming at them has the opposite effect. It shows people that revolutionaries are self-righteous, closed minded, and inaccessible. I hate to break it to you, but screaming at a person doesn't "make them think", it alienates them and makes them afraid to approach revolutionaries or take them seriously in the future. In order to have a revolution by the people, not "on behalf" of the people, we need to show people who may not have a revolutionary consciouness, or have not been involved in any activism in the past, that a revolution is necessary, and we must make ourselves accessible to them so that they can easily find information, and get involved. We are fighting alongside the people and personally addressing their questions and concerns and helping them to come to the conclusion by their own experience that revolution is necessary, you are advocating standing outside as a tiny "enlightened" minority trying to wake up the clueless flock by shock tactics. I think you better think hard about which of us is the elitist here.
good point
21 Jan 2001
You're right revolutionary. I think alot of people forget that "the system" isn't just a corrupt government, greedy corporations and a biased media. It is also all the people who look the other way and accept it. The exploiter and the exploited. Protests and actions attacking the government are important but it is just as important to target the other part of the system. We need to try to win more people over and be percieved as more than just trouble makers as the main stream media ofetn portrays. I'd be interested in trying to organize a movement to educate and get more of our causes and ideas out to the public. I live in ME near Bangor. My E-mail address is listed above
As time goes on...
26 Jan 2001
I gotta say, the first time I went to a protest and saw how obviously we were being herded away from the mainstream media, threatened physically and silenced by intimidation, I WAS FURIOUS.

But as time went on, and I became more familiar with the way protesting works - and doesn't work. I realized that taking the step from protesting to taking action isn't something to do out of rage. Control over myslef, and awareness of how much power my voice has or doesn't have are my only strengths.

Organization and planned actions are more effective, by far, than reactionary violence fuelled by outrage.

We are all angry and passionate enough about the various injustices we protest and take action against. It is the nature of it. But, in order for this a movement to grow, I think it needs to be accessable and secure.

Not very punk, i know.


JOn Howard...
See also:
So how many movements are there?
27 Jan 2001
I read the first few posts here, maybe I should have read them all but things seemed to get redundant. Anyway my basic point is (and yes I do have the annoying habit of putting my points in the form of questions) since there are going to be different opinions among those who see a need for a movement why do people see all movements as the same thing? Why is it that if people express opinions in different ways people see it as a lack of unity? If you're embarrassed by the kid screaming, don't worry about it-nobody said you were car pooling with him.
13 Feb 2001
If he is screaming at other protesters, what could you possibly call it except a lack of unity?