The Cancer in Occupy?

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NDPP
The Cancer in Occupy?

The Cancer in Occupy  - by Chris Hedges

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/441-occupy/9831-focus-the-cancer...

"The Blac Bloc anarchists, who have been active on the streets of Oakland and other cities, are the cancer of the Occupy movement. The presence of Black Bloc anarchists - so named because they dress in black, obscure their faces, move as a unified mass, seek physical confrontation with police and destroy property - is a gift from heaven to the security and surveillance state..."

 

wage zombie

I agree with this general idea, but don't think that "Black Bloc" is really the best label here.

Based on what I saw in Vancouver, we had very few people wearing "Black Bloc" attire and when any did appear it was very infrequent.

The problem is that the label is based on the clothes.  How do you tell if someone is Black Bloc when they are dressed normally?  It is not about the clothes that people are wearing--it is about the approach and strategy they want to take.

NDPP

I have problems with it as well. As do some others who responded to it in truthdig.

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_cancer_of_occupy_20120206/#457332

"Occupy Wall Street itself was actually started by a bunch of anarchists, and its horizontal, directly democratic organizational structure is anarchic to the bone. Anarchists are not the 'cancer' inside the movement, they are its heart and soul."

I like much of Hedges work but here he's writing like he's back at the New York Times.

The New Anarchy  - by David Graeber

http://newleftreview.org/A2368

wage zombie

Well I don't disagree with Hedges here...in fact I do agree with the general idea.  I just disagree with his labels.

I disagree with his use of the label "black bloc" because it is not wide enough.

I disagree with his use of the label because it is TOO wide, and gives anarchists an undeserved bad name.

In my opinion of the Occupy movement, there is a cancer, it is largely the people Hedges is trying to identify, but they are not anarchists, they are idiots.

Slumberjack

Let's summarize shall we?  Peaceful sit-in's and demonstrations are good enough for us; war, death, maimed bodies and torture belong elsewhere, which needn't stir anyone beyond 'civilized' oppositional gesture here, which could very well involve the occasional arrest for peaceful civil disobedience, but with any serious outburst beyond that described as uncouth and troublesome.  For everyone it seems.

wage zombie

I don't understand the summary.

Slumberjack

I just have to question anything that says certain forms of intensity are ruining things for everyone..ruining the manner by which others have chosen to appeal to power...others who are arrested, beaten, and carried away at any rate for pitching a tent. 

wage zombie

What's ruining things for everyone is the global corporatist agenda.

In terms of building a movement to respond to that, some tactics are better than others.  Some tactics amount to shooting the movement in the foot, IMO.

Slumberjack

If stasis is being billed as movement, perhaps in those instances it might be better if they shoot themselves in the foot.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..here is a description of what took place on the ground.

Occupy Oakland: Are We Being Childish?

http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/02/03/occupy-oakland-are-we-being-child...

eta: Jean Quan’s insinuates that we act like children. I say “we”, because the black bloc is part of us; we cannot disown them. Infuriating as her charge may be, I think it contains something worth looking at. Her version of being grown-up is compromised. If to be a grownup means to live forever within the confines of the system, let us all be Peter Pans. But in our righteous rejection of her version of adulthood there lies a danger. The danger is that without being aware of it, we are unable truly to imagine winning; that we remain heroic “kids,” endlessly reenacting a drama in which we are abused by the authorities.....

Maysie Maysie's picture

If an action challenges the state, the state responds with violence.

Look at Occupy Oakland, one of the more radical Occupy movements. They shut down the Port of Oakland for fuck's sake! These folks got it going on!

There were also over 300 people arrested at Occupy Oakland, one of the largest mass arrests in the North American Occupy Autumn. The police there were also extremely violent, and needless to say, unnecessary, as most police violence is.

If an action doesn't challenge the state, like sitting around in a park, there can of course still be violent police repression. It just plays less well in the media. And as we saw in Toronto, various bullshit stories were made up to manufacture conflict between middle-class users of the park and the occupiers. The poor users of the park still didn't matter. Of course.

How do folks imagine how change in this part of the world will happen? Because we ask nicely? Ask the folks who were at the Oka standoff about that. Or Caledonia.

That said, I love Chris Hedges, and he's wrong this time.

Freedom 55

Apparently Hedges is a pretty smart guy, so I can only assume he's being disingenuous here.

 

I wonder if he recognizes that the following paragraph is just as appliacble - arguably more so - if you swap the words 'Black Bloc' with 'Nonviolence'.

Chris Hedges wrote:
The Black Bloc movement bears the rigidity and dogmatism of all absolutism sects. Its adherents alone possess the truth. They alone understand. They alone arrogate the right, because they are enlightened and we are not, to dismiss and ignore competing points of view as infantile and irrelevant. They hear only their own voices. They heed only their own thoughts. They believe only their own clichés. And this makes them not only deeply intolerant but stupid.

wage zombie

Some ways of challenging the state are more effective than others.  On this we all seem to agree.

I don't understand the false dichotomy being expressed here--thinking that Black Bloc tactics are not effective does not make someone an obediant sheep.

Unionist

Here we go again. And thanks, wage zombie, for introducing some common sense that comes from real life struggle - not adolescent frustration and despair.

 

wage zombie

Slumberjack wrote:

If stasis is being billed as movement, perhaps in those instances it might be better if they shoot themselves in the foot.

This is pure bullshit.  The gains made by the Occupy movement completely came through non-violent tactics.  The movement has been defined as non-violent from the start.

If someone feels that violence is the way forward then they should start their own movement to employ those tactics rather than hijacking a non-violent movement.

There was neglibie black block presense in Vancouver.  But there was much disagreement about tactics, numerous factions, and a lack of solidarity.

radiorahim radiorahim's picture
M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[img]http://www.truthdig.com/images/eartothegrounduploads/AP09120615353-300.j...

Chris Hedges wrote:
Here’s to the Greeks. They know what to do when corporations pillage and loot their country. They know what to do when Goldman Sachs and international bankers collude with their power elite to falsify economic data and then make billions betting that the Greek economy will collapse. They know what to do when they are told their pensions, benefits and jobs have to be cut to pay corporate banks, which screwed them in the first place. Call a general strike. Riot. Shut down the city centers. Toss the bastards out. Do not be afraid of the language of class warfare—the rich versus the poor, the oligarchs versus the citizens, the capitalists versus the proletariat. The Greeks, unlike most of us, get it.

Yeah, it's the same Chris Hedges.

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

A Statement from Occupy Oakland’s Move-In Assembly

quote:

To be sure, many of us are frustrated about the tactical mistakes made throughout the day, and we have to learn from these as we advance. There are many questions and criticisms coming from our broader community, and we welcome your help in transforming these into better strategies for future actions. We have to learn how to takeover buildings in an effective and intelligent manner. We have to learn how to move cohesively through the streets, to take offensive and defensive initiatives, to improve communication in highly charged situations. Critiques are important but we want everyone to understand the difficulty in undertaking such an initiative in the face of such forceful police response. The state fears that one successful building takeover will lead to another. It has nightmares of whole blocks of vacant buildings put to use as social centers and nodes of resistance, inspiring those in other cities to do the same. Despite the knee-deep shit that the OPD is in right now, when it comes to challenging property relations all bets are off and the leashes are cut....

http://occupyoakland.org/2012/02/a-statement-from-occupy-oaklands-move-i...

Fidel

Chris Hedges wrote:
There is a word for this - "criminal."

Who does Hedges think they are protesting against, the statue of liberty? The US Justice Dept is corrupted, and so is Washington corrupt to the bone.

Citibanksters aer criminals. They've used TARP bailout money to bribe US Government members to hand even more taxpayer money to Citibank criminals.

Bank of America is basically a crime gang, and so is Goldman Sachs a crime gang and so on. They are protesting the biggest bank heists in history.

Michael Hudson in 2008 wrote:
This is not industrial capitalism; it is asset stripping. The closest analogy I can think of would be to give the Mafia free reign to start a new crime wave "in the taxpayers' interest" so as to raise enough money to pay its fines to the Justice Department. Imagine how our world would look like if the economy had been turned over to Al Capone as head political capo and to Mafia financial manager Meyer Lansky as Treasury Secretary in the 1930s, with the pyramid schemer Carlo Ponzi heading the Federal Reserve and bank robber Willie Sutton as Attorney General.

Fidel

Okay that's pretty convincing, too. Imperialists couldn't do anything about MLK, Malcolm Little, RFK, or Gandhi except cave-in to the demands of peaceful protesters. African Americans and Hindus are free today as a result. And they say that all of the Occupiers as well as their own NGO-instigated protesters in Middle East and Asia are "leaderless." This leadership thing seems to be an issue for them. I think if Occupy were to have an official leader, he or she probably would not thrive very long above ground.

Freedom 55

Michael Nenonen wrote:

And, frankly, from what I've seen of the Bloc, I think he's spot on in this paragraph, too:

"The Black Bloc movement is infected with a deeply disturbing hypermasculinity. This hypermasculinity, I expect, is its primary appealIt taps into the lust that lurks within us to destroy, not only things but human beings. It offers the godlike power that comes with mob violence. Marching as a uniformed mass, all dressed in black to become part of an anonymous bloc, faces covered, temporarily overcomes alienation, feelings of inadequacy, powerlessness and loneliness. It imparts to those in the mob a sense of comradeship. It permits an inchoate rage to be unleashed on any target. Pity, compassion and tenderness are banished for the intoxication of power. It is the same sickness that fuels the swarms of police who pepper-spray and beat peaceful demonstrators. It is the sickness of soldiers in war. It turns human beings into beasts."

Spot on? Really? I find his characterization offensive, false, and dismissive of a significant number of people who participate in and support black bloc tactics. What's his definition of 'hypermasculinity'? Can women participate in hypermasculinity? And is mansplaining part of it?

NDPP

M. Spector wrote:

Chris Hedges wrote:
Here’s to the Greeks. They know what to do when corporations pillage and loot their country. They know what to do when Goldman Sachs and international bankers collude with their power elite to falsify economic data and then make billions betting that the Greek economy will collapse. They know what to do when they are told their pensions, benefits and jobs have to be cut to pay corporate banks, which screwed them in the first place. Call a general strike. Riot. Shut down the city centers. Toss the bastards out. Do not be afraid of the language of class warfare—the rich versus the poor, the oligarchs versus the citizens, the capitalists versus the proletariat. The Greeks, unlike most of us, get it.

Yeah, it's the same Chris Hedges.

NDPP

Quite an obvious and glaring contradiction it would seem. Hedges seems to have suffered a bout of NIMBYism. Also, Mr Hedges comes dangerously close to sounding as if he speaks FOR the Occupy movement. He doesn't. And someone should perhaps remind him.

Slumberjack

wage zombie wrote:
This is pure bullshit.  The gains made by the Occupy movement completely came through non-violent tactics. 

Thanks.  It's almost effortless these days you know, considering the subject material on hand. 

Well yes, gains made by demonstrating examples of self-organization and how a community can make better decisions for itself with care of those involved, everyone that is, being a paramount concern.  These are gains that just about anyone might identify with.  We see it being practiced at every level of society where they demonstrate an ability to take care of their own.  Of course, certain levels set limits as to who they consider their own, to the exclusion of all others, but I think the point remains valid in saying awareness has been raised that similar, more dynamic, and more inclusive experiments can occur when people put their minds to it.  As for gains or inroads against the Market, I'm afraid we'll need evidence to support such assertions.

Slumberjack

NDPP wrote:
Hedges seems to have suffered a bout of NIMBYism.

Calling All Rebels 

It's difficult to know what to make of what he goes on about in this piece as well.

Quote:
The power structure and its liberal apologists dismiss the rebel as impractical and see the rebel's outsider stance as counterproductive. They condemn the rebel for expressing anger at injustice. The elites and their apologists call for calm and patience. They use the hypocritical language of spirituality, compromise, generosity and compassion to argue that the only alternative is to accept and work with the systems of power. The rebel, however, is beholden to a moral commitment that makes it impossible to stand with the power elite. The rebel refuses to be bought off with foundation grants, invitations to the White House, television appearances, book contracts, academic appointments or empty rhetoric. The rebel is not concerned with self-promotion or public opinion. The rebel knows that, as Augustine wrote, hope has two beautiful daughters, anger and courage-anger at the way things are and the courage to see that they do not remain the way they are. The rebel is aware that virtue is not rewarded. The act of rebellion defines itself.

Quote:
Any boycott or demonstration, any occupation or sit-in, any strike, any act of obstruction or sabotage, any refusal to pay taxes, any fast, any popular movement and any act of civil disobedience ignites the soul of the rebel and exposes the dead hand of authority. "There is beauty and there are the humiliated," Camus wrote. "Whatever difficulties the enterprise may present, I should like never to be unfaithful either to the second or the first."

"There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop," Mario Savio said in 1964. "And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all."

Quote:
Those who do not rebel in our age of totalitarian capitalism and who convince themselves that there is no alternative to collaboration are complicit in their own enslavement. They commit spiritual and moral suicide.

Maysie Maysie's picture

The Black Bloc anarchists I know, who were at Quebec City in 2001, yeah I know, a long time ago, did things like provide food, first aid, rescue remedy in cloths for those hit by pepper spray, blankets, water and baked goods. They proudly and boldly stated they were anarchists. Some threw teddy bears.

Nobody welcomes police brutality, especially not the folks who experience, or expect to experience, police brutality every day. No matter what colour clothing they are wearing. Guess who led the movement in Oakland? People of colour. And guess who led the movement in Toronto? Not so much.

I agree that there are some people (varying ages and genders but working under a particular notion of masculinity) who aren't political, who join to destroy property and cause a ruckus in a "media attention-seeking" way, and who are not aligned with any progressive movement. My response to them is...so? By giving them attention you're giving them what they want, and in the meantime, misunderstanding the tactical and strategic application of physical resistance to oppression which, in my opinion, needs to be a part of any progressive movement.

Non-violent protest absolutely has a role to play in changing the world. But when push comes to shove, literally, who has the legal right to hit whom? The oppression is built right in.

Unionist

Maysie wrote:

I agree that there are some people (varying ages and genders but working under a particular notion of masculinity) who aren't political, who join to destroy property and cause a ruckus in a "media attention-seeking" way, and who are not aligned with any progressive movement. My response to them is...so? By giving them attention you're giving them what they want, and in the meantime, misunderstanding the tactical and strategic application of physical resistance to oppression which, in my opinion, needs to be a part of any progressive movement.

Your response may be "so?" The response of the MSM and the authorities is to put all the focus on the handful of anonymous thugs who torched cars and smashed shop windows on that Saturday in Toronto - and use that to try to convince millions that this is what the movement is about. The movement isn't strong enough yet to expel these provocateurs (and I call them that irrespective of whether they're working for the other side or not). But articles like Hedges', even thought he gives the impression that nonviolence is the be-all and end-all, play an important role in exposing the destructive role of these petty adventurers who strike blows against the movement, never against authority.

Quote:
Non-violent protest absolutely has a role to play in changing the world. But when push comes to shove, literally, who has the legal right to hit whom? The oppression is built right in.

Who decides when "push" comes to "shove"? That's the issue in my view. If it's individuals, committing random acts of violence, then the movement should take action against them before the authorities succeed in using that to crush the movement and discredit it. If the movement decides to use force (which our enemies call "violence"), then force it is. "Diversity of tactics" is a formula for handing power to the adolescent thugs. Workers have long learned the vital importance of decision-making, organization, discipline, and leadership in their struggles. Sometimes the democracy doesn't work all that well. But that's no excuse to hand over power to little groups of saboteurs.

We don't always need to wait for a "war" to use force (as Hedges intimates in part of his article). He himself praises force in more extreme circumstances, and yeah, he sounds very inconsistent. But if we have a picket line, and some picketer torches a cop car, and that results in a court injunction banning picketing and ten workers arrested after the cops riot, I can assure you that individual will not be praised at the union meeting for being so much more radical than the rest of us. I can also assure as to what will happen if we catch that individual before they actually commit the act.

Slumberjack

dp

Slumberjack

Unionist wrote:
And thanks, wage zombie, for introducing some common sense that comes from real life struggle - not adolescent frustration and despair. 

Yeah, just who do these hooligans think they are, and where do they get off disturbing the social peace, along with all of those real life struggles that guide it every step of the way, at $40.00 per hour with vacation packages and pensions thrown in for example, that others have worked so hard to preserve.

Here we see revealed the nearly invisible junction between the organized cop, indeed the organized government employee deployed across all manner of institutions, and the organized factory worker. A beneficiary class in other words. A series of bargains struck between certain elements of the working class, with the expectation that when the chips are down and more people, the ill-favoured working elements that is, along with the out and out poor insist on applying for similar deals, a type of solidarity will mobilize to demand reason and patience...which says trust us, we're diligently working on it for you.

Someone who sweeps the floor at McDonalds and Wal-Mart in between flipping burgers and stocking shelves, and someone who sweeps the floor at the auto plant in between installing dashboards and detailing cars. Huge differences of course, perhaps they use different types of brooms, but not so much when it comes to profitability levels of the corporations in question. It's almost as if the market has a mind of its own, handing out roles that everyone is expected to perform in return for varying favours. In areas where it figures to remunerate people comparatively well for services rendered, from the almost self aware exigency that certain levels of cooperation are required if everyone is to be obliged into cooperation across all sectors, it's ministers in government will provide the necessary tax breaks and loopholes, extracted from everyone's labour and consumption, in order to provide for better wages in the designated industries that have struck the bargain, and certainly the hard face of government security when it comes to it. In this way, a remarkable level of order and solidarity can be achieved, and especially so if it can be made that the lower levels of the workforce will run into all sorts of obstacles when they try and organize. The goal of maintaining and increasing profit is achieved.  And lets spread that model out across the entire globe, and call the beneficiaries and overseers of the global society the Western democracies, the UN Security Council, just NATO if need be, or any willing coalition of chums.

And when the children of the $10.00 per hour sectors come into their own appreciation of things, lets call their resulting behaviours adolescent frustration and despair, and lets have the police deal with them please and thanks.  I don't quite know if we should be referring to this as the 'common' sense.

Unionist

Slumberjack wrote:

Unionist wrote:
And thanks, wage zombie, for introducing some common sense that comes from real life struggle - not adolescent frustration and despair. 

Yeah, just who do these hooligans think they are, and where do they get off disturbing the social peace, along with all of those real life struggles that guide it every step of the way, at $40.00 per hour with vacation packages and pensions thrown in for example, that others have worked so hard to preserve.

What a joke. The impoverished hooligans vs. the fatcat unionized workers. Like those who smash shop windows and torch cop cars, you appear to be forgetting who the enemy is - and what unity means. Hedges was right on. The hooligans are right, and every one else is wrong. That's been the narrative of the defenders of the criminals on this board as well.

Don't worry. When the time comes for organized mass force (and it's not now, o ye of the hormones), the police will flee in disarray. And no one will be masked.

 

Slumberjack

Unionist wrote:

Slumberjack wrote:

Unionist wrote:
And thanks, wage zombie, for introducing some common sense that comes from real life struggle - not adolescent frustration and despair. 

Yeah, just who do these hooligans think they are, and where do they get off disturbing the social peace, along with all of those real life struggles that guide it every step of the way, at $40.00 per hour with vacation packages and pensions thrown in for example, that others have worked so hard to preserve.

What a joke. The impoverished hooligans vs. the fatcat unionized workers. Like those who smash shop windows and torch cop cars, you appear to be forgetting who the enemy is - and what unity means. Hedges was right on. The hooligans are right, and every one else is wrong. That's been the narrative of the defenders of the criminals on this board as well.

Don't worry. When the time comes for organized mass force (and it's not now, o ye of the hormones), the police will flee in disarray. And no one will be masked. 

Could you work a little faster then on everyone's behalf....and secondly...I have to say in all honesty and analysis, such that it is, that when this time comes I seriously doubt it will be the result of any cue from social democratic representation and its union supporters.  Unless things get really bad and things begin to cut in real deep, I just don't see anyone from these categories out on a limb, and when it finally does get that bad, it'll be much worse for everyone else...at which point who would seriously blame them for being unwilling or unable to listen for that cue, because they'll already be in the streets and likely armed by that point.  We'll be asking ourselves how such a thing could have been avoided.

Slumberjack

Michael Nenonen wrote:
 Maysie, I think you have misinterpreted Hedges' position.  He's saying that the goal of non-violent protests is to use the state's violence against it by weakening its constituency.  Consider this paragraph:

"This is a struggle to win the hearts and minds of the wider public and those within the structures of power (including the police) who are possessed of a conscience....."

Hedges is arguing that the Black Bloc completely undermines this struggle: it steals the solvent the Occupy movement needs to dissolve the bonds of loyalty connecting people to the power structure and encourage dissent, whistleblowing, and so forth.  That's what he means when he calls the Bloc a cancer: rather than delegitimizing the system in the eyes of the broader public, it intensely re-legitimizes it.  And, frankly, from what I've seen of the Bloc, I think he's spot on in this paragraph, too:

"....It permits an inchoate rage to be unleashed on any target. Pity, compassion and tenderness are banished for the intoxication of power. It is the same sickness that fuels the swarms of police who pepper-spray and beat peaceful demonstrators. It is the sickness of soldiers in war. It turns human beings into beasts."

Instead, let's have some gullible folks and some willing contributors alike line up to have their chicklets extracted by the police, at such festivities that we contrive where our version of social peace will ultimately reign supreme, if enough people bear witness to their toothless smiling faces being pummeled by the nasties, after which everything will have been worth it because we'll all be in the streets proclaiming victory in the social struggle. But first we'll just need a few volunteer martyrs up front and center.  And big smiles.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..there is no crisis within the occupy re violence. peace and democracy continue to be at the heart of the global movement. i believe hedges article reflects his internal fears rather than provide evidence of his perceived cancer. the occupy movement does not have cancer as far as i can see.

..i understand his knee jerk reaction because that was my first reaction when i learned of the decisions taken by occupy oakland. i would like to emphasize though that oakland is a process and in #18 post it clearly shows that they have recognized the errors made. it is also important to note the feedback they acknowledge was coming from the broader movement. this is a good thing. hedges article may be seen as a warning but it is over the top and negative and it does not include on the ground reality.

..in #9 post quote: “I say “we”, because the black bloc is part of us” is a reality and this needs to be accepted if inclusion is key. before condemning this i suggest watch and see what oakland learns and what it has to teach other occupies. oakland needs to have the room to make mistakes and sort out it's issues. edit

Aalya Aalya's picture

Here's a piece by George Lakey that talks about Hedges' accusations. http://wagingnonviolence.org/2012/02/how-not-to-block-the-black-bloc/

*snip*
I don't, however, recommend Chris Hedges' recent essay, "The Cancer in Occupy," as a model for how to respond to the black blocs. Demonizing, calling people names, using the giveaway metaphor of "cancer" (I've had cancer) is about as far away from effectively opposing a tendency one disagrees with as it's possible to get.

Unionist

The paragraph Aalya quotes is about how to effectively or ineffectively oppose "black bloc" tactics. That in itself is a question of tactics. But the first two paragraphs of the essay look much more important to me:

George Lakey wrote:
The headline in the Philadelphia Inquirer told us last week that, on the other side of the country, a brick hit a police officer in Oakland and sent him to the hospital. Civil Rights organizer Jim Bevel predicted headlines like this in the ’60s when arguing about the then-current version of “diversity of tactics.” He said something like: “We want people to talk about our issues, about the suffering of our people from racism and poverty. When you throw the brick, people don’t talk about our issues, or the thousand black people on the streets that day, they talk about the police officer who was hit by the brick.”

The question for all those, whether using black bloc tactics or not, who consider adding to the Occupy movement tactics of either property destruction or violence: Do you want the issues of injustice to be talked about, or your bricks? In my own definition, property destruction is not the same as violence—there can be very significant differences between the two. But in this historical-political situation, the impact of either is similar; they give an easy out for people who don’t really want to talk about injustice.

Slumberjack

This article includes and extrapolates from Lakey's article:

A Bustle in Hedges Row

Quote:
In many ways this is the essence of nonviolence, as longtime advocate and practitioner George Lakey observed in an email message discussing the implications of Hedges' recent piece:

"Let's decide now not to use Chris Hedges as a model for how to respond to the Black Bloc. Demonizing, calling them names, using the giveaway metaphor ‘cancer' (I've had cancer) is about as far away from effectively opposing a tendency one disagrees with as it's possible to get. We have such good models in our tradition. Dr. King, James Lawson, John Lewis, and so many others in the civil rights movement who had to respond to pro-violence activists showed us how to do it. They were themselves mentored by people like A. J. Muste whose largeness of spirit in dealing with pro-violence forces went all the way back to the 1919 Lawrence, MA, textile strike.... Reducing a group of people who are not monolithic and are themselves frightened and trying to learn how to express their deep convictions in effective ways to a demonic force is beneath us. Hedges writes like someone badly frightened, and is way over the line.... We get enough of the ‘Be very afraid' stuff from the Right Wing."

In case anyone was wondering, the title of the above article was borrowed from Zeppelins's Stairway to Heaven.

NDPP

Hedges appears to be on a roll with this BB thing. Here's more:

Chris Hedges: Occupy's 'Black Bloc' is 'serving' the 1%

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/02/08/chris-hedges-occupys-black-bloc-is...

"Because this is, in essence, a mainstream movement - this is a movement that expresses the will of the mainstream - it can't afford to alienate the mainstream. I have no evidence there are agent provocateurs, but if there are agent provocateurs within the movement, I bet pretty good money they're within the Black Bloc...

In my opinion 'Black Bloc' is merely 'serving the interests of the 1 percent' and they must be stopped at any cost."

As for discussions of 'violence' vs pacifism, Ward Churchill's 'Pacifism as Pathology' may be useful

http://www.kx72.net/Site/bashback/Pacifism_as_Pathology.pdf

"Pacifism, the ideology of nonviolent political action has become axiomatic and all but universal among the more progressive elements of contemporary mainstream North America..."

Unionist

The "violence vs. non-violence" dichotomy is utterly diversionary in this context, as it was in our lengthy discussions about the G20, in particular, about the handful of anonymous car-torchers and window-smashers.

The real issue is control of the movement by the movement, through broad and democratic discussion and decision-making - and isolation of lone adventurers whose effect, if not motive, is to disrupt and alienate and create excuses for ideological and physical repression.

It seems Hedges has fallen into that diversion as well. That gives apologists for the lone adventurers the opportunity to berate pacifism. You don't have to be a pacifist to condemn the provocateurs.

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..have this posted is over at occupy global. it's a must see. I wonder what criticism could hedges have given that could actually be helpful to occupy oakland.

The Story Behind "The Battle Of Oakland": Perspectives From Move-In Day (Video)

"On January 28th, 2012, Occupy Oakland moved to take a vacant building to use as a social center and a new place to continue organizing. This is the story of what happened that day as told by those who were a part of it. Features rare footage and interviews with Boots Riley, David Graeber, Maria Lewis, and several other witnesses to key events."

NDPP

The Surgeons of Occupy  -  by Peter Gelderoos

http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/02/09/the-surgeons-of-occupy/

"..In sum, Chris Hedges deals with the 'Black Block anarchists' with fear-mongering manipulation and without the slightest glimmer of solidarity. It would be useful to debate the appropriate uses of aggressive tactics in demonstrating and anarchists themselves have often encouraged this debate, but Hedges has passed over the critique and gone straight to the smear.

It's proponents in the Occupy movement have generally protected non-violence from an open debate, instead imposing it through manipulation, fear-mongering, and, when all else fails, turning their opponents over to the police. It's election year. Those who still have faith in the system, or those whose paychecks are signed by the major unions, the Democratic Party, progressive NGOs, or the left-wing of the corporate media, know it's their job to forcibly convert any popular movement into a pathetic plea to be made at the ballot box.

The unmediated, experimental politics of the Occupy movement must give way to symbolic protest and dialogue with the existing 'structures of power' where members must be brought 'to our side.' For the Occupy movement to be sanitized and converted into a recruiting tool for the Democratic Party, [or New Democratic Party?], it will have to be neutralized as a space for real debate, experimentation, and conflict with authority. It's more revolutionary elements will have to be surgically removed.

It is an operation the police, the media and some careerist progressives have been engaged in for months, and Hedge's contribution is just the latest drop in the bucket."

wage zombie

NDPP wrote:

The Surgeons of Occupy  -  by Peter Gelderoos

http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/02/09/the-surgeons-of-occupy/

"..In sum, Chris Hedges deals with the 'Black Block anarchists' with fear-mongering manipulation and without the slightest glimmer of solidarity. It would be useful to debate the appropriate uses of aggressive tactics in demonstrating and anarchists themselves have often encouraged this debate, but Hedges has passed over the critique and gone straight to the smear.

For someone promoting solidarity, Peter Gelderoos doesn't seem able to demonstrate much of it.

Quote:

It's proponents in the Occupy movement have generally protected non-violence from an open debate, instead imposing it through manipulation, fear-mongering, and, when all else fails, turning their opponents over to the police. It's election year. Those who still have faith in the system, or those whose paychecks are signed by the major unions, the Democratic Party, progressive NGOs, or the left-wing of the corporate media, know it's their job to forcibly convert any popular movement into a pathetic plea to be made at the ballot box.

The unmediated, experimental politics of the Occupy movement must give way to symbolic protest and dialogue with the existing 'structures of power' where members must be brought 'to our side.' For the Occupy movement to be sanitized and converted into a recruiting tool for the Democratic Party, [or New Democratic Party?], it will have to be neutralized as a space for real debate, experimentation, and conflict with authority. It's more revolutionary elements will have to be surgically removed.

It is an operation the police, the media and some careerist progressives have been engaged in for months, and Hedge's contribution is just the latest drop in the bucket."

Fidel

Slumberjack wrote:
In case anyone was wondering, the title of the above article was borrowed from Zeppelins's Stairway to Heaven.

 

It's just a Spring clean for the May queen.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Gelderloos nails it.

NDPP

The Masked Rebellion  - by Igor Goicovich/Metiendo Ruido

http://wccctoronto.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/the-masked-rebellion

"an interesting analysis regarding the issue of violence. The title may not be fully appropriate in only speaking of those who are 'masked'..Nontheless the text allows for the (de) stigmatizations of violence in various struggles..."

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Unionist wrote:

The real issue is control of the movement by the movement, through broad and democratic discussion and decision-making - and isolation of lone adventurers whose effect, if not motive, is to disrupt and alienate and create excuses for ideological and physical repression.

..glad you brought this up. control has a new meaning within the occupy. i'm not sure if i can explain it because it still in transformation. it's more loose than my union experience and that was with cupw. there are few structures for who will decide, how will they decide, who will enforce, what are the parameters of the enforcement, etc, outside the assembly. this is slowly changing but people are wary of replicating the capitalist disaster. in vancouver such powers are challenged every step of the way and rightly so. sometimes i think even now some people want to speed up when we need to take the time to do it right the first time.

edit some out. did not make sense

Unionist

Thanks for that, Michael. Although I can't share his complete and spiritual (in his words) adherence to nonviolence, there's much to be said about the inappropriate/untimely use of violent tactics in undermining broad-based movements. And whatever else you may say about him, Chris rarely hedges.

 

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Funny:

Hedges writes an article lauding the Greeks for "responding" - getting out in the streets and rising up (which they happened to do in large measure by rioting, but Hedges was prepared to overlook that detail) - and complaining about the passivity of Americans whose situation was "not dissimilar" to that of Greece, but who, unlike the Greeks, were not out in the streets and rising up.

Then when some Americans do in fact rise up and act in the same way as thousands of Greeks did, he suddenly becomes much more picky (to say the least) about tactics than he was with the Greek events.

Therein lies the hypocrisy that so many commentators have noted.

Unionist

From Michael Albert, much cited for crediting Black Blocs with bringing "tactical energy, creativity, and courage" to Seattle and other actions:

[url=http://zcommunications.org/violence-begets-defeat-or-too-much-pacifism-b... Begets Defeat or Too Much Pacifism?[/url]

Quote:
So, on balance, on the question of violence and non violence, such choices are contextual and should be made in light of the whole panoply of effects we can predict. More, choices by a few should not be made in ways that trump choices of the many, imposing violations of non violence on those favoring it by deeds undertaken against agreed norms. Those favoring any tactic that others reject should undertake their own separate efforts, not piggyback on larger ones that do not accept their views. And finally, in any event, at the very least in highly industrialized countries, choices to utilize property damage, much less great violence, have a very high burden of proof, precisely because we know that typically their negative effects are great, and their positive benefits minor, if real at all. 

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Quote:
Now I wanted to say something about the fact that we have lived over these last two or three summers with agony and we have seen our cities going up in flames. And I would be the first to say that I am still committed to militant, powerful, massive, non­-violence as the most potent weapon in grappling with the problem from a direct action point of view. I'm absolutely convinced that a riot merely intensifies the fears of the white community while relieving the guilt. And I feel that we must always work with an effective, powerful weapon and method that brings about tangible results.

But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.

[url=http://www.gphistorical.org/mlk/mlkspeech/index.htm]Martin Luther King Jr.[/url], March 14, 1968

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Michael Nenonen obviously missed the point of my other post. Not only did Hedges express unqualified solidarity with the Greek protests, despite rioting, firebombing, etc., but he also held the Greeks out as an example for Americans to follow. And at the first sign of them doing just that, he suddenly finds that his feelings of solidarity only extend to those who adopt his pacifist tactics. Anyone else is a "cancer".

Hedges even [url=http://www.truth-out.org/interview-chris-hedges-about-black-bloc/1328799... that "the shouting of insulting messages to the police" is violence, and he insists that "there has to be a rigid adherence to nonviolence". Maybe he should go to Greece and see how they like his lecturing there.

NDPP

Should Occupy Use Violence? - by Kevin Carson

http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/02/10/should-occupy-use-violence/

"I dunno, should the cops?"

Slumberjack

Quote:
More, choices by a few should not be made in ways that trump choices of the many, imposing violations of non violence on those favoring it by deeds undertaken against agreed norms. Those favoring any tactic that others reject should undertake their own separate efforts, not piggyback on larger ones that do not accept their views.../...choices to utilize property damage, much less great violence, have a very high burden of proof, precisely because we know that typically their negative effects are great, and their positive benefits minor, if real at all. 

The economic and political system established it's burden of proof many times over, and continues to do so at an accelerated pace.  The fact that it mostly appears to us as a store front doesn't negate the more imposing negative effects experienced elsewhere, which are harsh, unrelenting, murderous, and with words such as genocidal and extinct attached to them. We've mostly only heard of it's various manifestations being opposed elsewhere with violence, or have seen it on TV when they tell us how terrible these places are, the places where they are on our behalf.  The ones violently engaged against it very often find they are mostly on their own in these struggles. The practical implementations being so widespread across many regions also impresses severe limits on the sharing of autonomous practices and tactics.  Ultimately they have no effective means of deterrence because they have no effective means of confronting the levers of control in the places from where the aggression is wielded from; at the source of these miseries where things are left largely undisturbed by stark comparison.  This is proven every day as well.

Opposition in all of its forms is similarly divided locally on the street, and further by community, nation, continent, hemisphere, and by race.  In the meantime we're the factory workers who simultaneously pays for and produces these things.  Some of us might be eventually drawn to describe as peculiar, a consensus which determines that expressing solidarity and opposition is valued, only insofar as it doesn't disturb very much, but which includes as a bottom line vague promises of no further encroachments upon an array of societal comforts, where downward adjustments continue to be processed against them at any rate.

It does at the same time beg the understandable question of confronting a system of violence in these isolated lanes by augmenting it with additional violence, or the question of employing violence at all for that matter; precisely when we know well enough or only too well in certain circumstances, from the example of everything around us, how difficult it is to arrest when acquired as a means.  Even with a wholesale collective decision to resort to violence, we couldn't say with assurance how it would end or that something else wouldn't assume what was displaced.

But it's also clear that the real problem exists in certain latitudes where the 99% is somewhat less than engaged using any approach.  If it's not going to be violence at this time, so says the consensus and quite understandably for the many reasons stated, let there be no doubt here; then what? What possible combination of traditional appeals, selected from decades of such variety, could otherwise promise to turn things in another direction, that can remotely outpace the one we're currently on?  Other than the sharing of ways and means toward a general human strike?

We might begin to consider violent and non-violent confrontational gestures in the street as unpleasant but useful distractions after all; occupying the minds and resources of the system while others explore reclamation of their own lives and surroundings in conjunction with one another, beyond the vision provided by artificial green spaces and other representations, to perhaps recognize that a less direct but no less firm occupation of our own devising has taken hold, and to adjust our behaviours accordingly. Everyone doing their part after all in other words.  But even that is too cruel to contemplate, to just say and leave like that because not nearly enough of the people we care about are convinced of how best to end the respective occupations, and there they are bashed up against something that doesn‘t intend to move.  How to do it from where we are when every cost has already been dearly paid over and over?

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