Democracy, discipline and working class defence

Police violence and anarchist actions raise issues which must be addressed, argues Andy Hannah

Carlo Giuliani lies dead and many more activists have been hospitalised following attacks by paramilitary police on anti-G8 demonstrators in Genoa. The Italian state was clearly ready to respond aggressively to any ?provocation?. From all independent accounts they went for a pre-emptive strike.

The carnival atmosphere of Thursday?s march by migrant workers descended into the street fighting of Friday evening. Across the city paramilitary police and black bloc anarchists fought pitched battles.

While the anarchists were no walk-over, pushing police lines back time and time again, state forces won out with superior weaponry and logistics.

With the death of comrade Giuliani on Friday, Saturday?s march was primed for a major confrontation between police and demonstrators. Eyewitness reports confirm that the police initiated the violence, opening fire with teargas before the black bloc anarchists had donned their goggles and bandannas.

What we witnessed in Genoa points to the necessity of our class being able to physically protect itself - including armed defence of our demonstrations. However, this must not and cannot be the action of a self-appointed ?revolutionary? elite.

So did the black bloc anarchists act to defend the march or did they use the march in order to attack the police? Unfortunately, the latter appears to be the truth.

The black bloc shunned the democracy of Genoa. Acting on their own agenda, they refused throughout to organise with other political and social centres in order to unite our efforts.

One British anarchist interviewed by CNN welcomed this contempt for democracy: no majority decisions; nothing imposed on individuals; everyone free to do what they liked. A recipe for disaster.

This lack of democracy is not something to celebrate - it points to the inherent arrogance of the anarchist movement and the reality of its position outside the organised working class - the revolutionary force which will conquer a new society and truly liberate humanity.

Having come to preside over mayhem, the black block set about the task of achieving it. The demonstrations of Friday degenerated into running street battles between anarchists and the police. In the course of which Carlo Giuliani lost his life.

The ease with which Daily Telegraph journalist Thomas Harding infiltrated the Wombles and video footage of stone-throwing ?anarchists? later relaxing with their police colleagues are clear evidence of this.

In that sense Giuliani was a double victim of the state.

There is no doubting the bravery, inventiveness and shear nerve of many of those involve in clashes with police. Clearly the anarchists have studied and learnt the art of street warfare. However, while they remain separate from the class, and refuse to be subordinated to it politically and democratically, their impact will be entirely negative.

Which brings into question the role of those organisations on the left, most notably the Socialist Workers Party and Workers Power, who uncritically tail the anarchistic elements of the anti-capitalist movement. With the British working class still lacking in confidence, our comrades have latched themselves onto something in movement, something which appears dynamic.

Chris Bambery?s theatrics on Friday?s demonstration were more for the consumption of his members, who lapped it up. Had our small band of SWPers successfully breached the perimeter fence, the result would not have been pretty. Quite frankly, playing at revolution is a dangerous game and shows up the irresponsible nature of the SWP.

Thankfully, our comrades failed - and comrade Bambery ?missed? his opportunity to march into the zona rossa.

Set-piece confrontations by small groups of militants against the overwhelming might of the state will invariably end in total defeat