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What do you think of "outside agitators in ferguson?

+1 vote
Are the insurrectionist a from outside the community dragging the people of ferguson into a "war" they don't want (Or trying to)? If you support property destruction as a tactic what do you think of these people destroying things they won't have to deal with when it's said and done. What do you think of the usage of the term and stereotype of a "white anarchist" both used by the people of ferguson and in a broader sense. If anyone has anything to say on the subject of letting people speak for their own cause id especially like to hear that.
asked Nov 8, 2014 by DonnieDarko (470 points)

2 Answers

+8 votes
1. Anarchists really don't seem to be escalating anything in Ferguson. Everything I've heard from anarchists around the area (St. Louis specifically) sounds like they view it as something to participate in as people who hate the police, but not as something to 'make an intervention in.'

2. The reason you think this isn't the case is that the forces of order have found that the concept of the 'outside agitator' is the most useful ideological tool to crush rebellion. Divide and Conquer: it's a cliche for a reason. For example, Martin Luther King was called an outside agitator during the Civil Rights movement (read his "Letter From Birmingham Jail.')

3. Outside Agitator works well not only because the obvious forces of power (the state, media, capitalists) want to crush the rebellion, but critically it strengthens local 'community leadership.' In the US this often takes the form of churches, non-profits, and occasionally unions. These groups inhabit have some sort of power and what they say carries some currency amongst marginalized people of revolt. By calling 'outside agitators' they are both rewarded by the former obvious power centers and they solidify themselves as the singular heroes of the situation.

4. Social Justice Warriors on tumblr, twitter, and occasionally real life have adopted this rhetoric, mostly because they're liberals who have, for the first time in decades, been given a rhetoric that sounds remotely sincere (privilege, oppression, etc), and they are going to milk it for all its worth.

5. This is possibly just hearsay, but supposedly many people in Ferugson don't buy the outside agitator stuff. If anything, they're more mad at people like jesse jackson and al sharpton who are usually the leaders of deploying that rhetoric. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYqTCz1-W1s
answered Nov 8, 2014 by flip (3,970 points)
since flip has given a very good straight answer, i will just add the parenthetical--what counts as speech? aren't actions a way of communicating? when people talk about "people talking for themselves" seems to me that usually includes a tacit insistence on a particular KIND of talking as if there's only one acceptable way to communicate.

i am reminded of the university occupations in 2009(?), when some students said they had No Demands (since demands are always used by the status quo to assimilate the demanders).

just a thought.

edited to provide an example.
Well done, flip.

The thought that strikes me, is an interview i saw on a mainstream television channel during the initial strife.  The gist of it was that they went into Ferguson to interview people who lived there.  And they found a middle-aged black man, well-spoken and well-dressed, sitting in a very nice car in front of a very nice suburban home, ...
What he said is irrelevant ('cause i wasn't listening by then), but the gist was that there were two face to Ferguson:  the petit-bourgeoisie in their suburban homes, and the pissed-off welfare peasantry in their public housing, separated by mercenary cops.  It seemed to be a fight about class/poverty more than race, but that got reframed in a hurry (i wonder if that contributed to the looks of confusion on the faces of the local cops?)

Personally, i would've suggested they go into st.lou, find the richest shopping district, and burn the place to the fucking ground.  But then, i'm a bastard at heart.
+2 votes
Flip's answer is spot-on. Just wanted to note some of my thoughts.

The conditions in places like Ferguson are more likely the result of unprecedented changes throughout the world and represent a much more significant burden or obstacle to the maintenance/progression of state power and influence. I mean, really now, the last twenty years or so have brought about massive economic collapse, resource depletion, a massive wave evictions and foreclosures, the widespread use of social media and cellular technologies, as well a wave of growing global civil unrest.... nah it's them outside agitators, right?

Given this, one can see just how vulnerable the state is to a growing influence of anarchist ideas rather than the physical proximity or actual participation of "white anarchist". Shallow debates over such cliches also serve as thinly veiled attempt to drown out, distract, or silence any such discussions. Ironically, the strategy could backfire perhaps in places where anarchists have no significant social or intellectual influence, even if negatively drawing attention to it, this can still spark curiosity among those otherwise not exposed to, or influenced by these concepts.

The question on property "destruction"(?) seems strangely (miss)leading to me in that it locates it as some kind of ultimate goal or a political identity marker. What does it mean to "support" something like that?  Also, who has compiled all the information on all the masked people looting and burning in Ferguson? Did the cops miraculously catch every single one of them and publish stats about their resident address', race, and political ideology? If so are we just supposed to take that all at face value or is there an unbiased study of those demographics somewhere?

What is a "cause" and what does it mean to "own" it? Does it mean the suppression of ideas in defense of the state. Does that suggest or advocate for some sort of racial essentialism?

*Minor edit for grammar and emphasis.
answered Nov 11, 2014 by skitter (4,110 points)
edited Dec 1, 2014 by skitter
Good thoughts skitter.

It reminds me that the first anarchist writers didn't pretend to be creating something new, merely recording the efforts of common people fighting for small freedoms.  These recurring uprisings are simply a lashing-out of people who've suffered more than they can stand.  The powers-that-be should be terrified that the peasants might figure out (by talking to those 'outside agitators') just why they are so pissed off.
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