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In Egypt (and the West), anarchists carry the revolution forward

Anarchist Movement

When tens of thousands of Egyptians swarmed back into Tahrir Square on Friday to commemorate and continue the revolution that started two years ago, a remarkable and unexpected spectacle began to unfold itself. After two years of broken promises and continued state violence, a group of activists – vowing to protest fellow protesters — positioned themselves at the barricades dressed in black from head to toe, brandishing improvised flamethrowers and clubs, and wearing self-made security force uniforms.

In Egypt (and the West), anarchists carry the revolution forward

by Jerome Roos
Roar Mag
January 28, 2013

The media may be puzzled by the emergence of anarchists in Tahrir, but the truth is that anarchism was behind the insurrectionary impulse from the start.

When tens of thousands of Egyptians swarmed back into Tahrir Square on Friday to commemorate and continue the revolution that started two years ago, a remarkable and unexpected spectacle began to unfold itself. After two years of broken promises and continued state violence, a group of activists – vowing to protest fellow protesters — positioned themselves at the barricades dressed in black from head to toe, brandishing improvised flamethrowers and clubs, and wearing self-made security force uniforms.

When approached by journalists, the masked activists said they refused to talk to the media, but mysteriously “mentioned anarchism” as a source of inspiration for their tactics. A day before, the Associated Press already reported the emergence of a “previously unknown group calling itself the Black Bloc,” who had warned the Muslim Brotherhood not use its “military wing” to crack down on protesters and who claimed responsibility for recent fire-bombings of Muslim Brotherhood offices.

So what is the Black Bloc, and why is it suddenly emerging on the streets of Cairo? While commonly reviled by the liberal and conservative media as a hardcore wing of violent thugs, the Black Bloc is in reality not a clearly defined group but rather a tactic of direct action, whereby (sometimes militant but oftentimes peaceful) activists dress in similar clothing in order to present themselves as a unified front and to not be recognized by security forces. While most participants in Block Bloc actions explicitly oppose violent acts against people, targeted property destruction is one form of direct action that makes up the arsenal of their ‘diversity of tactics’.

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