Autonomy, Refusal, and The Black Bloc reinterprets the positioning of critical and radical theory by focusing squarely on the role of class analysis. It also argues that the survivance of The Frankfurt School style of critique is wholly dependent upon the traditions of radical theory that find their same departure point from out of “the great refusals” of the 1960s and 1970s. By linking together the traditions of critical and radical theory through the work of Marcuse and Negri and by demonstrating their conjunctural and historiographical connections, Carley argues that the inventive strategic and organizational contexts that give rise to the black bloc tactic constitute a new political expression of class and, more forcefully, constitute the meaning of class politics for the late 20th and 21st century.
1. Introduction: Marxism, Critical, and Radical Theory
2. Class, Organicity, and Autonomy: A Critique of Post-Autonomist Conceptions of Hegemony and Political Practice
3. Marcuse and Social Protest: Disruption and Continuance of the Radical Tradition in Critical Theory
4. An Analysis of the Black Bloc Tactic: Tactics as a Cultural Practice
About the Author
These are fighting words. Part genealogy of critical theory's strongest sinews, part corrective to the distortions of posers, Carley's mastery of the literature is bested only by his contempt for those who fake it. Every theory must find its limit situation, and Carley makes plain that, at its threshold, "autonomy" demands the repolarization of our one-dimensional world. Read at your own risk!
Contra Antonio Negri’s criticism of the black bloc movement as “solitary” and “individual,” Carley argues powerfully and lucidly that the black bloc movement involves not merely isolated incidents of revolt, but an “affirmative and active” practice of progressive and constructive reconfigurations of social relations. This is an important contribution for anyone attempting to theorize, and support, contemporary social movements, and particularly the urgent issue of their organization or lack thereof.
Robert F. Carley is Assistant Professor of International Studies at Texas A&M University, College Station.