Friday's HOT MIC
What the well-dressed blackshirt thugs are wearing to the revolution, courtesy of the New York Times:
This mass of solid black descending upon the park in Berkeley, hunting for fascists, was an intimidating aesthetic. That’s by design.
“Cops wear camouflage when they arrest people in city drug raids,” said Ben, a Bay Area activist. “But they’re in a city. It doesn’t help them, but it makes them look more intimidating.” Ben says he has participated in protests since 2000, including Bush/Gore, Occupy Oakland and Black Lives Matter. (The Times agreed to use only his first name because of the threat of harassment, online or otherwise, by activists.) “A group of people all dressed in black can be intimidating,” he said.
Is that intimidation the motive or just a benefit? Do black bloc practitioners dress up because, as many progressives wonder, they want to commit crimes? What do they get out of “masking up”? Where does uniform merge with tactic?
This from the same newspaper that's been observing, far more in sorrow than in anger, the centenary of Communism. But wait -- there's more!
By now, you know the look. Black work or military boots, pants, balaclavas or ski masks, gloves and jackets, North Face brand or otherwise. Gas masks, goggles and shields may be added as accessories, but the basics have stayed the same since the look’s inception.
It’s impossible to say which anarchist street movement first donned all black. The generally agreed-upon genesis for the bloc’s current incarnation is the Autonomen movement of the 1970s, which grew out of class struggles in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and beyond. (Antifa groups, an overlapping but not at all identical set of people, trace their lineage back further, to those who fought against the rise of Hitler; generally, where there is “fa,” there’s been “antifa.”)