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.
Carley’s work is short and dense, wasting no time in diving into the complexities of radical and critical theory, as well as the tactical dimensions of social movement organizing. This is not a weakness, as it lends a clarity of purpose and significance to Carley’s arguments. As such, it is of interest to scholars concerned with contemporary forms of social protest, as well as activists and organizers doing that work. Given the growing prominence of groups using Black Bloc tactics and those adjacent to them—various antifa groups, as well as the gilet jaunes in France—the number of those interested in such questions is bound to grow.