Protesters trashed windows at the Oregon State Historical Society and left this graffiti:
I have had no sense of what the persistent demonstrations and violence in Portland have been about. Accounts I have read in the New York Times are unclear. Could you explain?
It is difficult to know what is going on from the protest side: local reportage is weak, and the people out demonstrating are uninterested in either organization or outreach. My perception is that this is fairly standard Black Bloc activity, which I've been seeing for about 50 years or so, even before "Black Bloc" became a thing.It's a certain type of self-understood anarchism which fuses personal self-expression (breaking laws, attacking property, fighting police) and a social philosophy that when "refusal" as they practice it reaches a high enough level, capitalism and the repressive power of the state will collapse, and a free and just society will take its place. It attaches itself to whatever the movement of the day happens to be. The only form of organization it accepts is the affinity group, nothing above that level because that would restrict "freedom".FWIW, I think Black Bloc has little to do with anarchism as a meaningful political orientation, whether you attach value to anarchism or not. It is highly coercive in practice. One reference point, however, might be the frame of mind expressed in the opening pages of Alexander Berkman's Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist. But Berkman was being self-deprecating.I drafted a post about this a while back but decided not to use it.
This group may well be the next target, especially if, as seems likely, these people are confused fans of Sam Cooke
It is difficult to know what is going on from the protest side: local reportage is weak, and the people out demonstrating are uninterested in either organization or outreach. My perception is that this is fairly standard Black Bloc activity, which I've been seeing for about 50 years or so, even before "Black Bloc" became a thing....[ An important and appreciated explanation, which tells me why I have been puzzled and need look for a sociological answer to a seeming persistent "nihilism."Thank you so much. ]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_bloc#:~:text=A%20black%20bloc%20is%20a,concealing%20and%20face%2Dprotecting%20items.A black bloc is a tactic used by protesters who wear black clothing, ski masks, scarves, sunglasses, motorcycle helmets with padding, or other face-concealing and face-protecting items. The clothing is used to conceal wearers' identities and hinder criminal prosecution by making it difficult to distinguish between participants. It is also used to protect their faces and eyes from pepper spray, which is used by police during protests or civil unrest. The tactic allows the group to appear as one large unified mass. Black bloc participants are often associated with anarchism, anarcho-communism, communism, libertarian socialism, antifascism, or the anti-globalization movement.
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/29/style/29china-ban-black-clothing-hong-kong-protests.htmlOctober 29, 2019The Color of ProtestBanning the import of black clothing to Hong Kong misses the point when it comes to clothing and opposition.By Vanessa FriedmanImagine a world where you couldn’t wear black.Where would that leave the beatniks and the goths? The Audrey Hepburn wannabes? Where would it leave the fashion folk, and all the social and cultural groups that have seized on the color as an identifier thanks to its long-term associations with … well, take your pick … darkness, existential angst, artistic endeavor, intimidation, obscurity, rigor, efficiency, mystery, depression and sophistication?Where would it leave the protesters?This is perhaps a more apropos question. After all, it is the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong who have become known most recently for wearing black as they take a stand against the attempts of the Chinese government to make their region less semiautonomous. And it is those protesters who have become the target for a possible ban — at least, that’s the word on the street — on the import of black clothing from mainland China to Hong Kong. This follows an earlier ban, issued by the Hong Kong chief executive, on the wearing of face masks.According to the South China Morning Post, the no-black-imports edict was first issued in July but recently became more all encompassing....
My second daughter and family moved a few months ago from San Francisco to Portland. They do not live downtown and seem to have never seen or know much about the activities there. So we have these groups that get a lot of attention definitely making a lot of noise and causing a lot of trouble, but it is not nearly as big of a deal there as it looks like from farther away.
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