archives of global protests - archives des protestations mondiales - archivio de los protestos globales

Dance Around the G8

Pink Silver, Pink, and Silver - Contested Identities Against the G8

Pink Silver: dancing round the G8

Pink Silver: dancing round the G8

by Linden Farrer

Note to Web version - this was handed in as an anthropology dissertation in 2002. This is why issues of identity, symbols etc are heavily concentrated upon. It is published as html version in the hope that it might be of use to activists planning future Pink Silver blocs, and as a historical document regarding the G8 summit and in particular the Pink or Pink Silver group. The formatting is messed up, and most of the photos are ommitted because of the size of the file. Even worse, the photos only appear in the right place on the screen in internet Explorer - in Netscape Navigator the photos obscure the text - I don't know why this is, but you've been warned. Any comments to


Investigation of anarchist group called Pink Silver at anti-capitalist protest in July 2001 in Genoa, Italy. Introduction to the anti-capitalist movement, the protests against the G8, and an outline of the composition of the protest community in Genoa supply the contextual background information for analysis and narrative of the Pink Silver group, with particular interest paid to the interplay between ideology and forms of organisation, the symbolic construction of community and use of symbols and metaphors to differentiate the individual and the group from other groups and individuals.

Table of Contents

'Anti-Capitalism' and the DIY Movement in Britain

Genoa, the G8 and the Protestors
Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)
Leftist Groups/Trade Unions
Globalise Resistance/ATTAC
Pacificist Groups
No Borders No Nation
Tute Bianche
The Black Block

The Ethnography
War Zone Genoa
An Introduction to Pink Silver and Reclaim the Streets
Pink Silver and Anarchism
Pink Silver Core and Periphery
Pink Silver and Tactical Frivolity
On the Question of Violence
Pink Silver on the Street
Pink Silver and the Day of Direct Actions
Limitations of Decentralised Organisation

Participant Observer: Defending the DIY Approach

Appendix A - Mayday Flier

Appendix B - « Pink » Working Paper




A text version of a dissertation. Special thanks go out to Isabella Hawkings and Starhawk for ideas about Pink Silver, and all those activists that have made this study possible.


In July 2001 I traveled to Genoa to gather information about a movement that has grown in size and influence over  the past couple of years. This movement is known as the « anti-globalisation » or « anti-capitalist » movement which has risen to prominence with a string of angry protests around the world. The demonstrations taking place in Genoa were against the G8 - the Group of Eight industrialised countries (USA, UK, Italy, Germany, France, Japan, Russia and Canada) - whose leaders were to have a summit there.

As an activist involved in the anti-capitalist movement, I engaged in participant observation over the course of a week in Genoa as an activist and as a researcher. I camped in a squatted park in Genoa, joined the « Pink Silver » anarchist group for the duration of the week and witnessed the Italian authorities exact their revenge on protestors when riot police attacked buildings used by protestors as media centres and places to sleep.


police at Diaz
Photo of the police at the Scuola Diaz who who raided and beat protestors in their sleep [1]

Using a range of materials from demonstrator websites and pamphlets to interviews conducted with demonstrators, this project gives an overview of the « anti-capitalist » movement and outlines the ideological motivation and tactics of diverse groups and individuals demonstrating against the G8. This provides the contextual backdrop for a narrative of actions on the streets of Genoa with the « Do-It-Yourself » anarchist group called Pink Silver and analysis of my experiences with this group concerning the interplay between ideology, social form and action, the symbolic construction of community and the formation of group identity. Photographic evidence is used throughout the project to illustrate points and bring experiences to life.

The ethnographic fieldwork lasted from the 17th July to the 24th July 2001. The main demonstrations - or days of action - were the immigrants march on the 19th, the day of direct actions on the 20th which did not involve many of the NGO's, trade unions and charities, and the main rally on the 21st which included all of the groups present in Genoa.

« Anti-Capitalism » and the DIY Movement in Britain

The protests against the G8 and the anti-capitalist movement as a whole need to be seen in the context of growing social movements around the world, in particular, the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) movement which took off from the start of the 1990s [2]. DIY is based on the belief that achieving change for society means taking responsibility and control of ones own actions rather than waiting for action to be taken by someone else: if politicians cannot act on common concerns, then individuals should take action themselves. Commentators have compared the DIY movement with the protests and social movements of the late 1960s. One of the main similarities is the self confidence that both generations share:

« In 1968 we were protesting that the universities were too authoritarian or that the courses were boring... There was a frustration with formal political structures... there was a concern for democracy and mass action involving as many parts of society as possible, which is where there are particularly strong parallels with the DIYers » [3].

Indeed, the DIY movement in Britain is part of long tradition of protest from the bread riots, Luddites, Diggers to the protests against enclosure and mass trespass of Kinder Scout in the 1930s and the anti-Poll Tax movement 1990. It is seen mainly as an environmental and animal rights based movement due to high profile actions such as anti-road protests in Newbury and demonstrations against the export of live animals but issues of concern are far more wide ranging; the imposition of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Acts of 1994 helped unite people with a wide range of concerns from ramblers to revelers, trade unionists to squatters [4].

By the end of the 1990s, the DIY movement had developed a comprehensive analysis of society and the fall of the Berlin Wall and Communism in Eastern Europe opened up new avenues for social movements to exploit and expose the failure of both state-communism and capitalism. May 1998 saw actions around the world being organised to coincide with the G8 meeting that took place in Birmingham and on June 18th 1999 to coincide with the G8 meeting taking place in Cologne, Germany [5]. In Britain, June 18th (or « J18 ») witnessed a « Carnival Against Capitalism » in London's financial centre, as ten-thousand people people shut down the financial district of London - the Square Mile - and turned it into a living party, an example of what the streets of the future might be like. Although £2 million worth of damage was done to a Mercedes garage and the stock exchange itself, the ideals and messages of the demonstrators were largely ignored by the corporate media.

It took hundreds of thousands in the US itself to make an impression on the politicians and media and get the anti-capitalist movement into the limelight. On November the 30th 1999 (« N30 ») tens of thousands of people - young and old, unionised and unemployed, student and activist - took to the streets in Seattle against the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and turned previously peaceful streets and shopping malls into battle zones; the summit was wrecked by militant tactics on the streets which saw a state of emergency declared for the duration of the meeting [6]. The WTO was condemned as the embodiment of all that was wrong with the world: blamed for ignoring the needs of small countries, giving corporations too much power, assisting in the destruction of the environment and the plundering of resources around the world [7]. Protestors recognised that contesting the summits were a way of delegitimising them:

« The big summit meetings are elaborate rituals, ostentatious shows of power that reinforce the entitlement and authority of the bodies they represent. When those bodies are forced to meet behind walls, to fight a pitched battle over every conference, to retreat to isolated locations, the ritual is interrupted and their legitimacy is undercut » [8].

Since Seattle, the « anti-capitalist » movement has been recognised as a powerful and mobile force in world politics.

Anti-capitalist demands encompass a range of issues but generally agree that capitalist economics ride roughshod over the environment, local and national government and human rights. A leaflet produced autonomously - bearing no party or organisational information on it - for the Mayday 2000 protest against capitalism in England gave a number of reasons to turn up and oppose capitalism: these included demonstrating against those who hold the acquisition of profit and material wealth over that of human welfare, protecting civil liberties in the face of growing attacks by politicians, and concluded:

« Mayday will work only if we work together, for the common goal of improving our lives. Don't let the multinationals dictate policy. By being involved in MayDay you show your anger at the system which destroys our environment and our civil rights » [9].

Barth (1978) describes the economically globalised society as one where persons are anonymous, alienated and where

« relations are instrumental, single-stranded, impermanent... To this we add the autocracy and impersonality of bureaucratic administration, the uniformity of mass communication and persuasion, and our own individual powerlessness in the face of centralised political and economic corporations » [10].

This powerlessness, alienation and anomie in conjunction with a damning critique of contemporary society, have given birth to the anti-capitalist movement.

Genoa, the G8 and the Protestors

Genoa was the latest in a long series of worldwide demonstrations against capitalism, the target of the demonstrators this time, the G8 which represents the eight most industrialised nations of the world. As such, it is a potent symbol of capitalism, attacked on the basis of the capitalist economics it represents as much as it is for policies pursued. For example, the G8 stands for the system of economics and government that consigns 19,000 children to die of hunger and disease every day and 1.2 billion people to conditions of severe poverty, just so that Western bankers can receive interest on unpayable debt[11].

Traditional leftist groups attack the G8 as an undemocratic meeting of self-appointed leaders, intent on reducing the power of the nation state to further an unhindered and uncontrolled free market; ecologists and environmentalists see the G8 forcing industrialisation and free-trade onto developing countries, encouraging the destruction of the worlds environments and the plundering of resources in the search for profits; anarchists demand the abolition of all hierarchical and authoritarian structures of oppression including the nation state itself to allow decentralisation and directly democratic local control. Protesting against the G8 is a method of highlighting what is inherently wrong with the principle of power - the power of a tiny minority over the entire world - and the results of this gross maldistribution of power: massive worldwide inequalities, reduced social health and a destruction of the environment we depend upon. Jones D (2001) articulates the feelings of many of the protestors:

« I came to Genoa to be with people, who like me, felt that intense rage against inequality and injustice and also because there were other people there who were my enemies, who were meeting there to discuss how best to serve their interests better and to continue to screw the rest of us over. I wanted to feel that solidarity ... and I also wanted some outlet for my anger, and they as the most powerful politicians in the world seemed a justifiable target. »[12]

Agreeing that the G8 was actually the « G-HATE », protestors diverged on ideological and tactical viewpoints. Protestors can best be split into two groups - the single issue groups, charities and non-governmental organisations, and the anti-liberal ideologically motivated groups and individuals encompassing the Marxists, radical ecologists and anarchists. These groups did not act in a unified manner because sharing ideological viewpoints does not mean that groups necessarily share the same tactics or specific political programme. Indeed, as the anti-capitalist movement has burgeoned, diversity of tactics and participants has increased. This has led to debates over what constitutes violence and whether violence is an acceptable part of protest - the vexed debate between « spikey » and « fluffy » demonstrators[13].

A response to this, first seen in Prague (2000), was to have several different « blocks », each with different tactics, plans and ideological composition[14]. This would in theory allow as many different groups and individuals as possible to demonstrate at these big demonstrations. This arrangement appears to have been taken one step further in Genoa when the NGOs and charities - wanting to assume some level of responsibility for their members - marched as separate blocks too. The groups listed below are those groups which had discernable blocks, and appeared most prominent, at least from my perspective[15].

Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)

A number of NGOs were present in Genoa including Medicins Sans Frontiers (MSF) who campaign for equal access to medicine around the world and Drop the Debt. MSF intended to make the G8 listen so that world leaders would put health before the profits of multinational corporations, show that « health was a human right », and that 15m people dying of disease a year was not acceptable. On the 20th they intended to join another NGO present - Drop the Debt - for a joint contingent on the march.

Leftist Groups/Trade Unions

These included Trotskyite groups like the Socialist Workers Party (pertaining to be « at the heart of the movement »)[16]. The SWP stated that they were present in Genoa to show the growing opposition to capitalism, network with local groups and « take enthusiasm home ». Tactically it was to take part in a mass direct action, which was to be non-violent; when I asked a member about their response to police violence, I was accused of being « sectarian ». Trade Union and leftist groups are noticeable on demonstrations for their mass produced banners and regulated marches. Their attitude to demonstrations, in contrast to anarchist groups, is that demonstrations are a means to an end - revolution or reform - rather than as an opportunity in itself.

Globalise Resistance/ATTAC

Globalise Resistance (GR) and ATTAC (Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens) are anti-capitalist - or at least anti-free market capitalist - groups which unite environmentalists, anarchists, socialists and non-ideologically alligned individuals. ATTAC lobbies and demonstrates against various aspects of the capitalist system such as campaigning for the introduction of a « Tobin Tax » on currency speculation. GR had a prominent role organising a train to Genoa from England dubbed the « anarchist express » that was almost stopped from traveling through France by the French government before French rail workers threatened to strike.

Both groups were aiming to build links with other groups and attack the capitalist system, in conjunction with pacifist blocks, by releasing symbolic balloons. GR stated that it wanted to attempt to pull down the « Wall of Shame » though ATTAC did not seem to favour this line of action. Both groups stated that they would be non-violent, and ended up marching in their own separate contingents on both days; GR's tactical preparation for street situations appeared to be lacking for a group that was intending to engage in direct action[17].


A coalition of grass roots unions with an anarcho-syndicalist style of organisation. These workers had been engaged in long-running industrial disputes and were going to march with Italian anarchists on the 20th. Because these workers were going to have their families marching with them, Italian anarchists promised to stay non-violent; in the event, plans fell apart in chaos.

Pacificist Groups

These included a range of religious and political groups. The pacifist block planned to create a symbolic blockade around the conference centre. Characterised by colourful flags, singing and holding of hands, they had a variety of demands, such as the cancellation of third world debt and greater action against climate change.

No Borders No Nation

Anti-border camps were set up all over Europe during the summer of 2001. One of the G8s discussion sessions concentrated on the problem of refugees and immigration from the « third world » to the « first world ». The No Borders No Nation contingent in Genoa aimed to highlight the contrasts between an increasingly boundaryless system of economics and the increasing impermeability of national and worldwide barriers to human movement.

Tute Bianche

Tute Bianche (or White Overalls) are named after the clothing that supporters dress in - heavily padded white overalls covering layers of protective foam to minimise injury caused by the blows of police truncheons. Symbolically,

« The white suits express the fact that the state ignores us. Look, we say, you do not recognise us but here we are. Many of us are immigrants, unemployed, workers in shit jobs, ecologists and people who work with druggies. But a lot of people are graduates, even teachers and intellectuals. Anyone can choose to put on a white suit. Even British politicians »[18].

Another White Overall recognised that

« there is an importance in symbols and visuals to propagate political ideas »[19].

Both a social movement and a tactic, White Overalls use extensive training that has included simulated sea assault practice in a lake near Milan. They have made a big impact on anti-capitalist demonstrations by providing a highly visible alternative to peaceful protests that the authorities ignore, and attacks on buildings by groups of masked anarchists. The political philosophy they espouse is one which respects

« the right of free immigration, just like the G8 leaders want free movement of capital... We want a baseline income for everyone... We are in solidarity with anarchists, illegal immigrants, communists, Zapatistas, prisoners and everyone else made invisible by the free market »[20].

Twenty-thousand White Overalls came from all over Europe to participate in the White Overall block, including members of Ya Basta[21] and the WOMBLES - the White Overall Movement Building Libertarian Effective Struggle - from the UK[22].

The Black Block

The Black Block is not an organisation as such but a tactic and method of demonstrating. The tactic rose to prominence in Seattle but its roots trace back to the Autonomen movement in Germany in the late 1960s. Black Block tactics involve the use of small affinity groups of friends numbering 2-15 and possibly more depending upon the plan at hand and those involved. These affinity groups are responsible to themselves - not to any leader or organisation - and carry out direct actions. Direct action includes damaging or destroying specific symbols and institutions of capitalism like banks, supermarkets, and institutions of the state such as police stations and prisons, and attacking the defenders of capitalism and the state - the police. Covered from head to toe in black or dark coloured clothing, the authorities find it almost impossible to arrest and target individuals who engage in direct action [23].

The Black Block was blamed for much of the violence and property damage in Genoa [24] but police and far-right organisations were documented as having infiltrated the groups [25]. Many Black Blockers use graffiti as a way of getting their message across. According to literature and material distributed on the internet, people who participate in Black Block actions are mostly female, often vegans and most are anarchists. In Genoa the Black Block sections of the demonstrations numbered perhaps 20,000 (about the same number as in the White Overalls).

The Ethnography

War Zone Genoa

On the 16th of July I arrived in Genoa by plane. I found the city militarised - patrolled by tens of dozens of armoured police jeeps and light tanks driving incessantly up and down the main roads. The Italian authorities had drafted in 20,000 police from every force - Customs men, Forestry Police and the paramilitary Carabineri; there were also lots of rather conspicuous « undercover » police hanging about in improbableplaces. Genoa was a city which was decidedly on edge; the Daily Telegraph reported:

« Genoa awoke yesterday to find itself divided and under siege, looking more like Belfast or Cold War Berlin than a city that has had £150 million spent on smartening it up for the G8 summit. Silvio Burlusconi, Italy's image-conscious Prime Minister, is keen to show the world that he can stop protestors, who could number 100,000, from spoiling the party »[26]

Half of the population appeared to have left for a timely holiday, and - as I was to find when the city « reopened » - most of the shops had shut, avoiding the militarisation of the city and a giant wall (dubbed « the Wall of Shame »,) that had been built to split the city in two. This wall reserved one side of the city for demonstrators (the yellow zone) and the other for the summit and dignitaries (the red zone or zona Rossa). Residents who moved from one zone to another had to show an ID which was carefully checked off against a list.

« This was life in wartime. Talking about civil rights in Genoa was like talking about rope in the house of a hanged man... to say that the atmosphere was tense would be more than an understatement » [27]

Before I left for Genoa I attempted to secure some form of accommodation, but found it difficult because the city had been divided into these two zones. I didn't want to book a hotel or hostel room in the wrong area of town and I wanted to ensure that I was close to the Convergence Centre at Kennedy Plaza. The Convergence Centre was provided by left-leaning Genoa city council for the use of the « Genoa Social Forum », an umbrella group comprising around 700 different NGOs. It was a space reserved for individuals and groups to converge upon: a space to meet people, discuss plans, to sleep and eat. There were communal kitchens provided by a food collective who had bread ovens, free food handouts courtesy of a band called Manu Chau, legal assistance and medical advice plus information points with large public noticeboards. Information on the internet stated that most of the meetings of groups involved in the protests would take place here. It was in effect, a virtual autonomous zone for the duration of the activities against the G8. The accommodation advisors at the centre told me that a park was being squatted within a mile of the convergence centre and it was here that I stayed for a week sharing one tap with hundreds of other activists, enduring the constant presence of military helicopters attempting to deprive us of sleep.

After setting up my tent, I walked back to the Convergence Centre and got to work finding out what groups were present at the centre. Within minutes I located a noticeboard with information about a meeting of a group called « Pink ». Having been involved with a group called « Pink Silver » previously, I was keen to get involved with a group I might share a political outlook with.

An Introduction to Pink Silver and Reclaim the Streets

The first instance of a Pink Silver group forming  was in Prague 2000 when it was part of an international mobilisation against the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, and is now a respected and integral part of anti-capitalist demonstrations [28]. It is a temporary and informal coming-together of people espousing libertarian values of decentralised and « leaderless » organisation with the aim of creating a colourful and libertarian block as part of larger demonstrations. It has no membership, no formal organisation and lasts for the duration of the demonstrations - be that a week as in Genoa or a day as on the recent Anti-War Demonstration (November 18th 2001) in London.

Pink Silver developed out of a movement called « Reclaim the Streets » (RTS) which has held parties - or actions -  in cities including London, Tel Aviv, Sydney, New York and Helsinki. It campaigns against car-culture and has an anti-capitalist ethos and been described as « part rave, part festival, part street theatre and part demonstration » [29]. Since 1995,

« Reclaim the Streets have succeeded in creating acts of resistance which are both powerful poetic gestures and effective political strategies. Art, politics and everyday life have merged into a fluid, shifting and surging spirit of imagination - an imagination which undermines the bland, linear development of corporate capitalist culture » [30]

Street parties reclaim streets from the tedious workings of capitalism, consumerism and private transport and replace them with « temporary autonomous zones »: living, vibrant spaces that were previously forbidden to pedestrians [31]. Indeed, when Toronto police were confronted with an RTS street party as part of the J18 actions, a police radio call was intercepted by activists famously stating

« This is not a protest. Repeat. This is not a protest. This is some kind of artistic expression. Over »[32]


« the road became a stage for a participatory ritual theatre: ritual because it is efficacious, it produces real effects by means of symbolic causes; participatory because the street party has no division between performer and audience, it is created by and for everyone... it is experienced in the immediate moment by all, in the spirit of face-to-face subversive comradeship »[33].

RTS was intended originally as a movement of local collectives which could organise « spontaneous » street parties months in advance, without making the precise location of the street party public. When RTS took part in big anti-capitalist demonstrations it found itself in need of greater differentiation from the other groups which identified with specific colours and required a new set of tactics and organisational apparatus for marching around cities and responding to situations quickly.

Pink Silver combines the ethos of RTS by simulating roving street party carnivals with samba bands instead of sound systems. It utilises a set of colours to differentiate from other groups such as the dangerous tactics of the Black Block, the confrontational but less creative tactics of the White Overalls, the non-participatory marches of the NGO's, the ineffective strategies of the socialist and leftists groups (whose banners and logos are predominantly red) and from the drab and militaristic uniforms of the police. In addition, an internal decision making apparatus has developed that, in theory, copes with dynamic and potentially violent actions on the streets. It allows direct actionists to gather together and demonstrate their membership of a distinguishable group by displaying prominently the colours pink and silver whilst continuing the methods of participatory and impromptu street protest that characterise RTS.

Line of Police very close
Polizia: Drab and militaristic

I got involved as quickly as possible by getting involved in discussion, planning, and practical activities like making props. The first few days were spent in the Convergence Centre and the Independent Media Centre where we made props and used the facilities to write reports to post up on the internet. Most of the participants were young, aged predominantly between late teens and the late twenties. Age did not appear to be important however, since veterans of anti-Vietnam protests and those who fought on the front lines against the Poll Tax were also present. The group appeared to be made up primarily of students, post-graduates, squatters and those with contract or part time jobs. Nationalities represented included Scandinavians, British, German, Dutch, French, Belgian, American, Canadian and Israeli activists. These are primarily « rich » nations: presumably one has to have disposable funds or time to be able to travel across the world to go to a demonstration.

The Pink Silver group was in favour of gender equality; willingness and ability to undertake a task being the only important attribute. Those who were more confident, and took on greater roles appeared to be divided equally along gender lines; group composition as a whole was equally divided between the genders. Although the Pink Silver group was originally conceived by Earth First! UK activists in Prague, I encountered very few in Genoa in the Pink Silver group who had been present there[34].

Pink Silver and Anarchism

On the surface the group espoused no particular ideology. Some participants were unsure of their political ideology or allegiance and wanted a dropping of Third World Debt whilst others did not want to be involved in the hierarchical NGO or socialist blocks, the « scary, and dangerous » Black Block, or the overtly confrontational Ya Basta block, and therefore joined the « Pinks » instead.

However, Pink Silver organisational proposals (which can be found in appendix B) included reqiurements that no « labels » be displayed - later clarified as no political parties or NGO banners and placards -, the use of non-hierarchical assembly processes and a group emphasis on freedom, justice, peace and equality. These propsals are anarchist in nature. Indeed, those I spoke to who did espouse a particular ideology were anarchists [35]; Pink Silver was implicitly rather than overtly anarchist. Although many of the participants were not anarchists, the form of organisation used by Pink Silver was based on anarchist principles, and it was these principles that participants in Pink Silver were thinking about when organising themselves; social forms owe their shape at least partly to the fact that they are inhabited by people thinking about social forms[36].

Anarchism is characterised by a libertarian attitude that rejects dogma and deliberately avoids a rigidly systematic theory. It stresses the primacy of an individuals freedom of choice and individual judgment. Proudhon put it succinctly when he wrote:

« whoever puts his hand on me to govern me is a usurper and a tyrant; I declare him my enemy »[37].

This attitude places anarchism automatically at odds with the will of the masses expressed through the vote, and forms of leadership which negate the freedom of choice and expression of the individual. Anarchists are thus against hierarchical leadership and their groupings have found their expression

« in a succession of loose and impermanent groups and confederations of propagandists who see their duty not to lead the people so much as to enlighten and give example to them »[38].

These groups strive to apply anarchist principles as a form of « propaganda-by-deed », creating a mini-version of an anarchist society. They are

« based on direct individual decisions... of his own free will [the anarchist] become as member of a community... No coercion or delegation of responsibility occurs; the individual comes or goes, acts or declines to act, as he sees fit... they are seen as a collection of sovereign individuals, each of whom must make his own decisions to act »[39]

Thus, Pink Silver organised without leaders and hierarchy, creating and living the society that it strove towards. Preparatory meetings were held in English and Italian using volunteer translators, people sitting in a circlular formation, size of the circle depending upon the number of people present. Because the Convergence Centre was a noisy place, the group tended to form a circle concentrating on the section of the circle where the microphone was present.

The meeting started with the handing round of a sheet of paper on which people could state items to be added to the agenda. A facilitator or chair was then chosen by consensus, the requirements simply being the willingness and the perceived integrity and impartiality of that individual. There was no disagreement about who the facilitator or chair would be because the power they had to sway arguments or disrupt certain ideas was limited. The facilitator or chair managed the meeting with up to 400 present, allowing people to come and make a statement and try to come to a group consensus on decisions[40]. Hand signals were used to show agreement with what had been stated and prevented shouting down or interrupting speakers. These included shaking the hands from side to side to show agreement, making a « T » sign with the hands to declare that a technical point needed to be made, and raising the arm to make a point. The meeting would also end by consensus, when participants decided that the agenda had been covered; consensus was reached when nobody raised a point in disagreement to the consensus (shown by the « in agreement » hand movement made by those present).

Pink Silver drew upon anarchism because ideology

« links particular actions and mundane practices with a wider set of meanings and, by doing so, lends a more honourable and dignified complexion to social conduct... Because it is the link between action and fundamental belief, ideology helps to make more explicit the moral basis for action »[41]

Anarchism supplied legitimacy to decentralised decision making and created the context within which this culture was to operate.

Pink Silver Core and Periphery

The core of the Pink Silver group, numbering perhaps forty people, constituted those who turned up to the majority of the meetings, created banners, wore the colours pink and silver prominently in their clothing (particularly when protesting) and  were more likely to be spokespersons for their respective affinity groups. With her pink hair, experience of demonstrations and attendance of many of the latter meetings, Venus became one of a group of activists that constituted the core of the group. The rest, numbering between two hundred and a thousand, got involved with the group but resided is a more peripheral position[42]. Those on the « periphery » included those who were more likely to flit from one group to another - namely more militant protestors who were prepared for the eventuality of confrontation with the police and could move from Pink Silver to the Black Block if desired. We should assume that those who spent the most time with the Pink Silver group felt most at home and the most committed to the group.

venus and welcome to genoa

Because anarchist groups are fluid and do not rely on hierarchical positions of authority and membership cards, there are no clearly defined group boundaries between the Pink Silver group and other anarchist, ecologist or even pacifist groups depending upon the outlook of the individual. There is also no bar to members of opposing ideologies joining the group if they wish to do so. The fluidity of the Pink Silver boundary allowed it to network to a greater extent with the Black Block, White Overall movement and Pacifist groups. As Barth (1969) notes,

« boundaries persist despite a flow of personnel across them... stable, persisting, and often vitally important social relations are maintained across such boundaries »[43]

During the planning stages, representatives from other groups came to invite Pink Silver to join the Cobas workers march, join the pacifists in their symbolic blockade of the G8 and even to form a colourful section of the Black Block! Thus, the influence that Pink Silver had was due not only to its colourful, noisy and vibrant nature, but because of the links it had with other groups. Being implicitly anarchist, it could communicate with socialist groups who would usually keep a distance from explicitly anarchist groups. The presence of a dockyard worker who joined the group because he remembered the vibrancy and enthusiasm of a link-up between Reclaim the Streets and Liverpool Dockers only emphasises the great number of links that Pink Silver activists had to a number of diverse groups[44].

Pink Silver and Tactical Frivolity

The working document of the group stated that the objectives of the group were to enter the palace and stop the G8 summit. If this was not possible - highly likely considering the authorities preparation for the summit - the group would reclaim the streets and create a place to express creative opposition to the G8. The group was to act collectively throughout the day in a way that enabled the diverse forms of expression within the group to reinforce each other; the creation of the group was a

« step in the progress of convergence of struggles for equality, freedom, world citizenship, respect of different cultures and against all forms of oppression and domination » [45]

The slogan « Dance Around the G8 » represented a tactical form of protest which would allow the aims of the group to be acted out. Methods were to be « diverse », creative, fun and frivolous; these were to be realised by members themselves in a DIY manner - people were to be  responsible for themselves in the creation of the group. Most people were not from Genoa, and traveled from elsewhere to be there, and the group used mostly improvised materials, such as sunflowers, once-only banners, pink flowers attached to long hair, sections of silver foil stuck to jackets and shoes, etc. This allowed people to personalise their messages and propaganda, and empower people to rely on their own initiative rather than waiting or expecting someone else to do it.

Carrying these DIY produced props and costumes, Pink Silver aimed to be a prominent carnivalesque spectacle. It was to be colourful, noticeable, fun to watch and empowering to be a part of. We were to stand in stark contrast to all other groups and blocks. With the world tending towards greater standardisation, conformity and uniformity, where

« modern society is indisputably atomized, drearily homogenous... » and « regional and group differentations are ruthelessly eroded by a standardised style of life and production »[46]

the ethos of « tactical frivolity », fun, diverse and hedonistic « street party » demonstrations can be seen as methods of demonstration diametrically opposed to capitalist economics which force homogeneity on the world. The diverse, spontaneous, self produced, improvised and deliberately different tactics of RTS and Pink Silver should be seen as ritual slaps in the face to the « iron cage of rationalisation » (Ritzer, 1993) that characterise this economically globalised world. The struggle for a radically different society is itself ennobling; tactical frivolity, is a form of protest with which

« people can express genuinely human reason in a world that in virtually all other ways has set up rationalised systems to deny people the ability to behave in such human ways »[47].

On the Question of Violence

Meetings on the 18th exposed the main disagreement within the group, or between different factions of the group; this related to the vexed question of violence. Chan (1995) found that

« there was a clear gap between pacifists and non pacifist respondents when it came to the question of violence... The non-pacifists could barely conceive the defenders of institutional power giving up that power without a fight... The anarcho-pacifist informants believed that obtaining societal rearrangement by violence was either self-evidently wrong, or, indeed, was incapable of bringing about a qualitatively different kind of society at all »[48].

These findings were replicated almost exactly within the Pink Silver group in Genoa, and show that the same ideology can be adopted by different groups and individuals for different purposes (Cohen A, 1974: 82). The working paper produced for the group stated that there should be « no intention to create violent confrontation with the police (no pro-active use of stones, molotovs, etc.) ». This is basically a statement of non-violence - an attempt to prevent violence, but worded in a way that allowed participants to respond to violence as they felt fit and as the situation dictated.

The disagreement over the group's position on violence showed identity formation in an illuminating light. The pacifists appropriated the colour pink and referred to the group as the « Pink » group. Those who wanted to be able to respond to situations as they arose identified with the colour silver and referred to it as « Pink Silver ». The group, which was seen by the majority as a singular « Pink Silver » group, almost split apart when the two factions advocated dividing the entire group along lines dictated by positions in regard to violence. The two positions were mutually exclusive: the Pink's demanded that nobody cause or respond to violence whilst the Silver's argued that getting into the Red Zone would incur violence and that the Pink's demands were authoritarian and against the libertarian ethos of the group.The division between the factions appeared to centre primarily on the level of experience of street demonstrations activists had. The « silvers » had participated in large street mobilisations in the past and were largely from Europe; the « pinks » were made up primarily of North American and Israeli activists. There was no discernable gender divide between the two positions, just a geographical one. This may stem from differences in the traditions of protest around the world.

In the end, the majority view held the two mutually exclusive sides together with the compromise that « silvers » move away from the « pinks » if violent situations arose. The compromise was achieved because the integrity of the group depended upon it preserving the integrity of its members; by allowing the two factions to find their own space when threatened by violence, the integrity of all individuals was respected. By recognising that individuals are more than their membership of and participation in collectivities, and that collectivities are themselves the products of their individual members, Pink Silver stayed united as one group (Cohen A P, 1994: 133). Collective behaviour was revealed as a triumph, rather than merely mechanical (Cohen A P, 1994: 7). Indeed,

« Somehow or other societies manage, despite the contingencies generated by both existential unpredictability and the great diversity of self-consciousness of which they are composed, to find through categorisation process enough consensus to cohere and get work done »[49]

Pink Silver on the Street

By the 20th of July, Pink Silver had reached agreement with other groups to negotiate a space to demonstrate creatively with dancing  and props, banners, and other materials. Italian anarchists were going to march from the west with Cobas, and the White Overalls decided to attack from the east the most fortified section of the Wall of Shame. We were to march from the south of Genoa to the north side of the wall and attempt to breach it, close to where Pacifist groups and Globalise Resistance were going to conduct symbolic blockades. The Black Block and unaffiliated individuals were meeting at a number of different spaces, but inadequate preparation by the Italian anarchists meant their plans were far from finalised [50].

On the morning of the 20th we met up in the Convergence Centre to get ready for the day of « action ». At the last minute it was decided that we should get into affinity groups so that the decision making apparatus would function properly under the strain of street situations. Affinity groups are small groups of people in which every person has a different role, for example, first aid, lookout and representative for the affinity group. These roles were to be decided internally, by consensus, and based on ability to carry out the various roles. Periodically during the march, when decisions had to be made regarding the route to take, regroup, or to share information, the Pink Silver flag was to be waved in a characteristic manner and a « spokescouncil » meeting held. These spokescouncil meetings were to be attended by a representative of every affinity group. Here, representatives shared information received by people with radios, mobile phones and word of mouth and report back to their affinity groups. Representatives would then to confer with their groups, discuss the course of action the group wished to take and finally regroup at the spokecouncil meeting to work out how to best accommodate the affinity group decisions. Many people were unsure of what the procedure really was; it seems the group left this vital part of planning till far too late.

I got into an affinity group with four graduates from Belgium and we swapped details in case anyone was arrested. We also wrote telephone numbers of lawyers and solicitors on parts of our body in case of arrest. I spoke the best English and was the spokesperson for my affinity group - the main requirement for spokesperson being that he or she should be fluent in English, to make the decision-making process as efficient as possible. We set off to collective cheers and dancing and proceeded to weave through the streets of Genoa to reach the designated section of the Wall of Shame. In true Pink Silver fashion, some individuals wore predominantly silver and others predominantly pink. In this way an individual could display how « fluffy » or « spikey » he or she was. The colours and symbols worn by individuals demonstrated allegiance to either of the two factions, pink or silver:

« symbols are malleable... they can be made to « fit » the circumstances of the individual... people of radically opposed views can find their own meanings in what nevertheless remain common symbols » [51].

In addition to the outwardly directed symbols of identity, individuals who had Pink Silver props, clothing and methods of demonstrating - such as dancing, drumming or blowing bubbles - were self-reinforcing the identity of the group by finding ways to distance Pink Silver from other groups. Pink Silver developed because of presence and contact with other groups; Pink Silver identity was defined in relation to these other groups or blocks (Eriksen, 1993:10). By wearing clothes and using props that were identifiably Pink Silver, participants were strengthening and unifying the group.

dance around g8
A banner created by the author and other activists; reinforces group cohesion
and aims and makes use of ideological symbols and colours.

After the death of Carlo Guilliani on the 21st, the shock of the authorities actions led to a wider need to reassert the integrity of the protest community in Genoa. The wearing of black armbands in memory of Carlo provided a means to show respect for a militant activist and a way to re-assert community when the community felt threatened. Symbols of identity, such as the wearing of uniforms, banners and outward signs of group solidarity

« are effective because they are imprecise... ideal media through which people can speak a common language »[52].

As we have seen, the imprecise nature of the symbols of identity that united Pink Silver led to identity being contested within the group itself. The symbols did not impose a meaning on individuals, they simply provided form which individuals could substantiate themselves; these colours became the symbols of identity and exclusivity which provided individuals with the form with which to think - in essence, the capacity and means to make meaning (Cohen A P, 1985: 16-19). These symbols of exclusivity became metaphors representing the internal divisions and opposing ideological positions of « pink » and « silver »:

« metaphors provide a way of making the private public, of externalising the self by providing terms for the expression of sentiments which may otherwise be inexpressible or unintelligible to others »[53]

Pink Silver and the Day of Direct Actions

As the samba band provided the beats and sounds required to dance around the G8, people chanted, sung and danced around the streets. Pink and silver flags, pink writing on T-Shirts, pink and silver balloons and other items utilised and displayed the colours of the group. As it weaved through the streets of Genoa, locals came to their balconies to give support and offered refreshments.

Periodically the Pink Silver flag was waved prominently publicising that a spokescouncil meeting was to take place; presumably the flag holder believed that such a meeting was necessary since there was no decision making apparatus to decide when to hold a meeting. We decided to take a hilly and scenic route to our section of the fence. Just before we got to the fence we reached a junction in the road. Pacifist groups marched past to their allocated sections of the fence, which they were going to « blockade » [54] whilst Pink Silver sat and waited for an opportunity to march down a street leading to the infamous Wall of Shame. It took quite some time - perhaps twenty minutes - for enough space for the other groups to pass by and allow us to go on and try and break through the Red Zone.

As we waited, individuals who were part of the Pink Silver group - particularly those who joined the group for the day only - drifted off in their own fashion; quite a number of those in the Pink Silver group did not know about the spokescouncil system the group operated, or its plan to attack the fence. Despite attempts to tell people of the consensual plan, not all wanted to wait for the opportunity. As soon as we reached the Wall of Shame, Pink Silver activists began to attack it, though by this time the group had lost perhaps a quarter of its participants and pacifist groups seemed confused about our intentions.

As the group attacked the fence with steel wheelie bins and tried to clamber up the fence to attach grappling hooks to pull the fence down or make symbolic attempts to reach the top water cannon sprayed the group at point blank range. Adrenalin, high spirits and alcohol led to a huge collective rise in spirits. The contrast between us - armed with colourful props and enthusiasm -, and the police - armed with guns, water cannon and gas canisters -, instilled a sense of purpose and unity to the group. Here was a struggle over values and claim to status; Pink Silver was opposed to the G8 and the police and Wall of Shame were defenders of the G8.

It was not a surprise when the police fired tear gas at us, which quickly dispersed much of the Pink Silver group. I was one of the few to stay behind, being equiped with a gas mask,  to see what happened. A number of activists erected defensive barricades, and pacifist groups moved towards the section of the fence that Pink Silver had attacked and sat down to create their symbolic blockade. Police vans arrived, and then rapidly departed - due to the imminent arrival of the Black Block - as a clown and others made fun of the police. Soon after, pacifist groups and other individuals previously part of the Pink Silver group demanded that we disperse, because we were being violent; for them, kicking away tear gas canisters, erecting barricades, and tactical frivolity constituted « violence ».

Upon my retreat from the square, I found a Reclaim the Streets activist from New York holding the Pink Silver flag in a state of shock - apparently a common response to CS gas. We walked up a road leading to a park and found that the group had reformed after the initial panic - and apparently despite police helicopters dropping tear gas canisters onto it - into a much smaller group a few hundred metres away from the wall in a small park called Manin Square. Those present were engaged in a spokescouncil meeting, like the ones that took place in the Convergence Centre. Affinity group structure had broken down and Pink Silver was small enough to allow this form of meeting to be undertaken - an indication that the complexity of social organisation is closely associated with size [55]. The coming together of the entire group - rather than just affinity group spokespersons - helped reassert solidarity and provide a space for the group to coalesce. The physical setting of the meeting itself ensured that the group stayed intact; the physical proximity of members of Pink Silver to each other was reassuring. Thus form and group processes were conditioned by scale and by environmental and social constraints placed upon it by the police. The use of these forms of decision making were rituals which helped assert cohesion and solidarity in a group created by the desire of those individuals to converge and demonstrate according to certain principles.

Despite all of the gas, vicious beatings by the police, the confusion of the Black Block arriving and setting fire to cars, banks and supermarkets, Pink Silver was organising and recouping, ready for continued forms of protest on that day and on the 21st when it formed a colourful contingent as part of  a 300,000 strong march against the G8. It was just after a Pink Silver meeting on the evening of the 21st that the police raided the Diaz school; despite even the shock of this, we organised a small but brave procession into town to commemorate the death of fellow protestor, Carlo Guliani on the 22nd.

Image courtesy of Izzy Hawkings
Memorial to Carlo Guliani in piazza Alimonda: activists individually added
their own items of clothing, messages and other items to this memorial.

Limitations of Decentralised Organisation

As with all methods of organisation, there were drawbacks to the « decentralised » or « non-hierarchical » approach. Some people unaccustomed to it found it archaic, lacking the focus and authority that other forms of meeting might entail. Since nobody had official power and everyone had responsibility both to the group and to themselves, those with a socialist background found the idea of reaching consensus, rather than taking a vote pointless.

The spokescouncil system used on the street had greater drawbacks. It worked well when conditions permitted, but was severely strained by tear gas and police attacks. Sections of the group seemed confused as to what the affinity groups were for and how the group might go about making decisions on the street. In fact, some people seemed confused as to whether the group was « Pink » or « Pink Silver » which is a shame considering the importance that the question of violence poses to activists [56]. In hindsight a finalised working document should have been produced which stated the precise aims, philosophy and tactics that the group was to perform on the 20th and 21st.

In addition, there was the question over who was getting and releasing the information; a number of people received information on mobile phones and radios and their integrity had to be taken on trust. This leads us to consider whether the group really was decentralised or leaderless: were there individuals who could be considered an « elite »? An

« elite is an interest group, and its culture develops as a means for the coordination of its corporate activities to enhance and maintain its power »[57].

Certainly there were individuals who assumed more responsibility and greater prominence than others in the group, and these included facilitators, chairs, translators and prolific speakers at meetings. These people were more visible than other Pink Silvers and formed a loose group which might be termed as elite. Individuals who I spoke with generally assumed that chairs and facilitators were acting on universalistic principles with a duty to the group rather than sectional interests; those who argued for certain lines of action such as adherence to principles of pacifism were acting on sectional interests. Very few individuals doubted the integrity of these people though they were seen as threatening to the integrity of the group. In Pink Silver, there were a collectivity of people who occupied more prominent positions and were recognised by others as more important, experienced or charismatic, but they did not act to maintain power; the non-hierarchical and temporary nature of Pink Silver prevented this from occurring.

In spite of the contested identity that divided the group, the cohesion and continuity of the group beyond the 21st and 22nd of July - right up to the dismantling of the Convergence Centre - showed that although Pink Silver recognised important differences amongst its participants, its participants also supposed themselves to be more like each other than like the members of other groups and communities.


Participant Observer: Defending the DIY Approach

This dissertation is an account of the experiences of an activist participating in anthropological research. This position may be a drawback or even a perceived conflict of interest for the purposes of conducting this project, but I believe the strength of this position is that it allows instant and enthusiastic understanding and ability to participate in situations at hand. An activist is someone who is active:

« action means movement, spectacle, confrontation; what it doesn't mean is reflection, history, theory »[58].

It was inevitable that I was going to affect how the group effort went, just like every other participant in the Pink Silver group: this was a demand made by the framework of the Pink Silver group. Pink Silver « creativity » and « frivolity » were to be supplied by active participation; I involved myself in whatever I felt necessary because I was both an activist prior to the study, and a researcher. Total immersion in fieldwork did not make « blowing my cover » as a researcher embarrassing. I was in fact open about my intentions to write a dissertation about the group; this was received with responses ranging from enthusiasm to a complete lack of interest. There was no hostility to my researching role.

I did not pretend to be a member or simply pass as one - I was a member of the group I studied. This role as complete participant allowed me to obtain knowledge with all levels of the other participants and « avoid the trouble of access negotiations » [59]. My understanding of libertarian ideas of organisation meant I did not ask silly questions like « who's in charge », or « who's the leader of the group » which might have opened me up to accusations of being a state infiltrator or journalist. On the other hand, besides normal conversation, my « insider » or « complete participant » position within the group prevented me from questioning people about their backgrounds, asking people who they thought or perceived to be « the leader » or where were they staying; these lines of questioning might have been looked upon as suspicious but could also have yielded interesting insights into the observations of other participants. Indeed, some potentially fruitful lines of enquiry were more difficult  to research because a complete participant has to act in accordance with existing role expectations.

Concentrating almost entirely on one group was a limitation in that I spent no time with the other groups in their planning meetings and actions. Although I have given an overview, photos where possible, background information and analysis based on my own and the accounts of others, I am not able to go into detail about these groups; their presence is detailed purely for contextual reasons. This was unavoidable because I was only in Genoa for a week and the « action » lasted only three days; it was however advantageous, since flitting from one group to another would have resulted in a superficial analysis similar to that of Paul Kingsnorth's, published in the Ecologist [60].


The week's activities created bonds, strengthened existing ties and helped create genuine friendship among individuals involved in the Pink Silver group. In addition, people spoke of incidences of friendship - and more importantly, understanding - arising from shared experience and struggle through crisis:

« One of the best things had been simply spending five days in Genoa living politics, meeting people, discussing ideas, just being there, smelling the tear gas, feeling the adrenalin, watching the banks burn, being part of a militant and huge gathering. And feeling the shock of Carlo's death, the anger at the fascist behavior of the police, the relief of getting away without getting nicked. And lastly a feeling that we are at the centre of what is rising, not at the fringe of what is dying »[61].

Shared experience helped produce a mutual understanding among a group that was - at least temporarily - part of an activist class. These shared experiences created a symmetry between people, an equalisation of status that might not be found outside the context of charged, exciting and frightening situations. These situations were spontaneous, uncontrollable, a

« spontaneous disclosure of the self... hence, a common understanding of... personal spaces »[62].

More generally, the weeks activities brought about a conscious self examination of motives, tactics and strategy by those involved in the anti-capitalist movement. The big demonstrations that the movement engage in periodically are becoming more dangerous as governments crack down on dissent:

« The systematic violent repression of anti-G8 protestors, whatever the tactics of the police, was decided and organised well before the black block smashed the first bank. The attack was orchestrated after J18, after Seattle, after Prague, after Gothenburg by international intelligence and joint police committees of all G8 nations »[63].

The Black Block was criticised by many for causing the chaos and violence; it had no separate space to protest and this meant that it ran into other groups, some sympathetic to their actions, other openly hostile. White Overalls were also criticised for trying to do deals with the police which the police then broke, and then failing to get involved in the demonstrations until late in the day. As we have seen, Pink Silver suffered from a case of contested identity.

Despite these setbacks, Genoa was the largest anti-capitalist demonstration in a long line. It was a turning point for the movement,

« it's sheer scale of 300,000 participants, five times the size of Seattle less than two years ago, is a staggering achievement for such a young movement »[64].

The next big action is against the G8 in Canada, where the authorities have tried to hide away from protestors by holding their summit in the rural ski resort of Kananaskis. Venus sums up her experiences of Genoa, writing that the

« dictators and bullies are feeling threatened, very threatened. They are on the run and all the time they are looking for places out of the way to have their meetings, only highlighting the need for more global action »[65].

The anti-capitalist movement will need to continue to develop its tactics and learn from the lessons of the past. More importantly, it needs to spread its message and become a part of wider society, something that would indeed scare world leaders into action or repression of the communities and people that they claim to represent.

Appendix A - Mayday Flier

A Mayday Flier

Appendix B - « Pink » Working Paper

Pink Working Paper


[1] For information about the Diaz raid see

[2] Sheller M (2000) gives an overview of contemporary social movements, seeing them as « global fluids » that « cross borders with a greater degree of flexibility than ever before »; see

[3] Searle D - Gathering Force: DIY Culture - Radical action for those tired of waiting; The Big Issue Writers, 1997, p16 Quoting Hilary Wainwright editor of Red Pepper magazine.

[4] Ibid., p7-10.

[5] Previous « Days of Action » called by an international umbrella organisation (or « disogranisation ») known as People's Global Action have taken place in thousands of locations around the world on a number of « global days of action ».  See Bircham et al - Anti-Capitalism: A Guide to the Movement; Bookmarks, 2001, p340-341 and for information on past days of action.

[6] See « We Are Winning!: The Battle of Seattle - A personal Account »; London, 2000.

[7] Charlton J - « Action: The Meaning of Seattle », in Bercham et al, op.cit., p343-347.

[8] Starhawk - « Staying on the Streets », in On Fire: The battle of Genoa and the anti-capitalist movement; One Off Press, 2001, p125.

[9] Original underlining from a eaflet titled « May 1st 2000: Global Day of Action - Carnival of Resistance against Capitalism ». Leaflet can be found in Apendix A, p46.

[10] Barth F - « Scale and Network in Urban Western Society », in Barth F (ed.) - Scale and Social Relations; Universitetforlaget, 1978, p163.

[11] Bircham E et al - Anti Capitalism: A Guide to the Movement; Bookmarks Publications, 2001, p1.

[12] Jones D in On Fire: The Battle for Genoa and the Anti-Capitalist Movement; One Off Press, 2001, p9.

[13] The seminal work attacking pacifism as a form of moral smugness is Churchill W - « Pacifism as Pathology: Reflections on the Role of Armed Struggle in North America »; Arbeiter Ring, 1998. An activist critique of « pacifism » has been written by Spade D - « Decoding Non-Violent Rhetoric », and can be found at Lakey G attacks violent forms of protest as results of patriarchy in « Nonviolent Action As The Sword That Heals: Challenging Ward Churchill's Pacifism As Pathology »; it can be found at

[14] In Prague a Yellow Block was represented by Ya Basta that utilised disciplined confrontation, the Blue Bloc was made up mainly of anarchists, punks and radical anti-fascists and used molotov cocktails and stones and the Pink Silver block which was made up of less confrontational anarchists, ecologists and socialists using street theatre, parody and street blockades.

[15] The groups listed exclude many thousands of individuals including radical vegans, primitivists, autonomists and human rights activists who made up a large proportion of the demonstrators in Genoa.

[16] See for SWP homepage and Leeds Earth First! homepage at for criticism of the SWP.

[17] Globalise Resistance ( has a somewhat dubious reputation in the UK. It is alleged that it  is composed of SWP members camouflaged as an anti-capitalist action group, to attempt to coerce and take charge of the movement for the sole purpose of building the « vanguard party » to a level where it can institute revolution. See for an eco-anarchist perspective on the activities of Globalise Resistance. GR is also criticised for trying to undermine People's Global Action (, a global action group composed of thousands of farmers, trade unionists, anarchists, ecologists, students and unemployed around the world.

[18] Gianluca, a member of Ya Basta from Milan, quoted in The Guardian (19/7/01) - « White knights confront the G8 ».

[19] From an email titled « WOMBLES history » to the White Overall mailing list from, dated 21/8/2001.

[20] Giorgio, a member of Ya Basta from Rome, quoted in The Guardian, (19/7/01).

[21] Meaning « enough is enough! » in Italian. Ya Basta - the Italian arm of the White Overall movement -declared war on the G8 prior to the Genoa summit, warning the G8 that « war » « is a choice that 'you' made because we do prefer peace and this decision will mean defying your arrogance and your power, but we have to do it.  It is our duty to try to stop you in order to end injustice.  It is our duty to give voice to our brothers and sisters of the world who are suffering because of you.  It is our duty not to surrender to the fear of your armies and to raise our heads.  It is our duty because we declare wars only when we are obliged to do so.  But if we have to choose between fighting your occupying troops and passive acceptance, we have no doubts. We will fight ». See

[22] See for WOMBLES homepage.

[23] An excellent account of Black Block actions in Genoa can be found at

[24] It has also been suggested that much of the rioting and property damage in Genoa was actually undertaken by communists, members of the Kurdistan Workers Party, members of Basque separatist parties, citizens of Genoa and other individuals who got caught up in the action. See Anonymous - « Being Busy », in On Fire: The battle of Genoa and the anti-capitalist movement; One Off Press, 2001, p45.

[25] The Italian daily paper "Il Secolo XIX" reported on the 1st September 2001 that the ex-chief of Police knew that 600 NAZI infiltrators were present at the Genoa protests. See Jose - Genoa Genoa in On Fire: The battle of Genoa and the anti-capitalist movement; One Off Press, 2001, p38 for an account of police infiltration. Infiltration was also caught on camera and shown at the Genoa Social Forum debriefing on the 22nd July which showed someone dressed in black walking through police lines, chatting to uniformed police and later starting trouble. Police infiltration has also been documented in anti-capitalist demonstrations in Barcelona and suspected in London (see for information about alleged infiltration during the Mayday 2000 demonstration).

[26] The Daily Telegraph, Thursday July 19th 2001.

[27] Hughes J - « Life During Wartime », in On Fire: The battle of Genoa and the anti-capitalist movement; One Off Press, 2001, p25.

[28] This action is known as « S26 » (September 26 2000) and intended to shut down or disrupt meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Information about the demonstrations can be found at: Boris Kagarlitsky has written an article detailing the different blocs present in Prague, including a large section on the Pink Silver block - which he terms the « pink » block; this was originally published in Green Left issue 427, Nov 8th 2000 and can be found at Pictures of the  « Rhythms of Resistance » samba collective can be found at The authors account of the day of action involving the Pink and Silver group can be found at:

[29] Collin M - Altered State: The Story of Ecstacy Culture and Acid House; Serpents Tail, 1997, p239.

[30] Jordan J in McKay G (ed.) - DiY Culture: Party and Protest in Nineties Britain; Verso, 1998, p151.

[31] Smithsimon G (1999) links New York City's local RTS group with the defense of the public space from the forces of private ownership (, very much like Klein (2000).

[32] Klein N - No Logo; Flamingo, 2000, p311.

[33] Jordan J in McKay G (ed.), op.cit., p141.

[34] See Plows A « Earth First! Defending Mother Earth, direct-style » in McKay G, op.cit., p152-173.

[35] Anarchist symbols were rarely displayed by Pink Silver participants on the marches whereas the overtly anarchist Black Block made great use of these anarchist symbols. This may be due to the fact that anarchist symbols might make attack by the police more likely.

[36] Fernandez J quoting Hollis (1985: 232) in Cohen A P & Rapport N (ed.) - Questions of Consciousness: ASA Monographs 33; Routledge, 1995, p30.

[37] Woodcock G - Anarchism; Penguin Books, 1962, quoting Proudhon, p30.

[38] Ibid., p15.

[39] Ibid., p29.

[40] The difference between « facilitators » and « chairs » made quite a difference to the working of the group. Chairs managed who talked, and worked through consensus, facilitators had more power to push an agenda since they were in theory mediating between different demands. Chaired meetings were more decisive and allowed all viewpoints to be expressed whilst facilitated meetings tended to be lop-sided in terms of the arguments.

[41] Aptner D E - Ideology and Discontent; Collier-Macmillan, 1964, p16-17.

[42] I can make only rough estimates for all of the figures in this dissertation using only my own experience of street protest as a guide: there was no formal membership and the boundaries of the group were fluid.

[43] Barth F (1969) in Barth F (ed.) - Process and Form in Social Life: Volume I; Routledge and Kegen Paul, 1981, p198.

[44] For information about the link-up between RTS and Liverpool Dockers see Jordan J in McKay, op.cit., p147.

[45] See « Pink Group Working Paper », Appendix B, p47.

[46] Gellner E - « Scale and Nation », in Barth F - Scale and Social Relations; Universitetforlaget, 1978, p137.

[47] Ritzer G - The Macdonaldization of Society; Pine Forge Press, 1993, p187.

[48] Chan A -« Anarchists, Violence and Social Change »; Anarchist Studies, Vol. 3 No.1, p65-66.

[49] Fernandez J - « Amazing Grace: Meaning deficit, displacement and new consciousness in expressive interaction », in Cohen A P & Rapport N (ed.) - Questions of Consciousness: ASA Monographs 33; Routledge, 1995.

[50] Anonymous - « Being Busy », in On Fire: The battle of Genoa and the anti-capitalist movement; One Off Press, 2001, p44.

[51] Cohen A P - The Symbolic Consutruction of Community; Tavistock Publications, 1985, p18.

[52] Ibid., p21.

[53] Cohen A P - Self Consciousness: An Alternative Anthropology of Identity; Routledge, 1994, p139-140 referring to Fernandez (1986) p25.

[54] This was to be a symbolic blockade. The presence of the fence meant that the G8 and Italian authorities had already - permanently - blockaded themselves away from the protestors.

[55] Berreman G - « Scale and Social Relations: Thoughts and Three Examples », in Barth F (ed.) - Scale and Social Relations; Universitetforlaget, 1978, p74.

[56] On the internet, and in publications, articles refer to the group as Pink and Pink Silver.

[57] Cohen A - The Politics of Elite Culture: Explorations in the Dramaturgy of Power in a Modern African Society; University of California Press, 1981, p126.

[58] McKay G in McKay G, op.cit., p12.

[59] Hammersley M and Atkinson P - Ethnography : Principles in Practice; Routledge, 1995, p105.

[60] See Kingsnorth P - « It's the Democracy, Stupid », in The Ecologist; September 2001, Vol.31, No.7, p40-44 and rebuttal by Farrer L at:

[61] Hughes J, Ibid., p29.

[62] Rezende C in Bell S and Coleman S (ed.) - The Anthropology of Friendship; Berg, 1999, p91.

[63] Becky - « An Italian Job », in On Fire: The battle of Genoa and the anti-capitalist movement; One Off Press, 2001, p70.

[64] Bilal El-Amine, member of « Left Turn' at

[65] Kamura V - « Love Changes Everything », in On Fire: The battle of Genoa and the anti-capitalist movement; One Off Press, 2001, p55.


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