The Cancer in Occupy?

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6079_Smith_W

Hedges is right. The question is not whether to use violence or not, but why, and what is behind it. 

And M. Spector, if you want to interpret his comment in that intervew as saying "don't ever yell at the cops", fine, but I think you are taking it out of context, particularly given that Hedge's says in the same interview that he spoke out in favour of actions in Greece although he didn't support all their actions. 

The point of the article is much deeper than which actions he does and does not personally support.

And NDPP, part of what I get out of the article is that the Black Bloc and the violent cops are actually on the same side. Same tactics, same enemies, same results.

 

NDPP

What Prospects for Occupy?  -  by Shamus Cooke

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=29237

"A healthy debate has finally gripped the Occupy Movement: there is now a discussion over strategy. Anyone paying attention can tell that the Occupy Movement has lost momentum. Without struggle there is no movement. If working people do not identify with the issues that Occupy is fighting for they will not join, and Occupy's main issues will remain un-achievable.."

Unionist

NDPP wrote:

Should Occupy Use Violence? - by Kevin Carson

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

"I dunno, should the cops?"

Carson proves that the U.S. state is more violent than the Occupy movement.

Is there a Nobel Prize for stating the obvious?

 

wage zombie

M. Spector wrote:

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.

I don't think I would call it hypocrisy, although I can understand that other people may.

I suspect it is more about Chris Hedges having an emotional investment in the Occupy movement.  Because of this he cares to talk about the tactics.

In contrast, he has no emotional investment in what happens in Greece.  He is not part of that movement, not does he even live on that continent.  So it is not really his place to talk about what tactics the greeks should agree to use together.

He has been involved in the Occupy movement and he has a personal stake.  Criticize the labels and language he is using, or question how productive his approach may be, but this is Chris Hedges having a wide conversation with a large movement, as any member of a movement has a right to do.  Whereas he had no personal connection to the movement in Greece.

So I don't think he is a hypocrite.  It would never have been his place to be critical of their tactics and I doubt he would ever have been unaware of that.

NDPP

Unionist wrote:

Carson proves that the U.S. state is more violent than the Occupy movement.

Is there a Nobel Prize for stating the obvious?

NDPP

There should be. Apparently these and other fundamental truths are still not yet obvious for too many..

6079_Smith_W

Unionist wrote:

Carson proves that the U.S. state is more violent than the Occupy movement.

Is there a Nobel Prize for stating the obvious?

 

I agree that the U.S. state is more violent than the Occupy movement. As for Carson, he says a few things, some of it bullshit:

David Graeber says in response to Chris Hedges’ recent clueless attack, “the US media is simply constitutionally incapable of reporting acts of police repression as ‘violence.’ If the police decide to attack a group of protesters, they will claim to have been provoked, and the media will repeat whatever the police say … as the basic initial facts of what happened. This will happen whether or not anyone at the protest does anything that can be remotely described as violence.”

 

...and though I agree with some of what he says, he doesn't really prove anything, IMO.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

There have been many responses to Chris Hedges' article posted on the internet. Here are excerpts from some of the best:

 

[url=http://www.pacificfreepress.com/news/1-/10919-bb-not-a-cancer-on-occupy-... the Violent Peace-Police: An Open Letter to Chris Hedges[/url]

by David Graeber

Quote:
Successful movements have understood that it’s absolutely essential not to fall into the trap set out by the authorities and spend one’s time condemning and attempting to police other activists. One makes one’s own principles clear. One expresses what solidarity one can with others who share the same struggle, and if one cannot, tries one’s best to ignore or avoid them, but above all, one keeps the focus on the actual source of violence, without doing or saying anything that might seem to justify that violence because of tactical disagreements you have with fellow activists.

I remember my surprise and amusement, the first time I met activists from the April 6 Youth Movement from Egypt, when the issue of non-violence came up. “Of course we were non-violent,” said one of the original organizers, a young man of liberal politics who actually worked at a bank. “No one ever used firearms, or anything like that. We never did anything more militant than throwing rocks!”

Here was a man who understood what it takes to win a non-violent revolution! He knew that if the police start aiming teargas canisters directly at people's heads, beating them with truncheons, arresting and torturing people, and you have thousands of protestors, then some of them will fight back. There's no way to absolutely prevent this. The appropriate response is to keep reminding everyone of the violence of the state authorities, and never, ever, start writing long denunciations of fellow activists, claiming they are part of an insane fanatic malevolent cabal.

 

[url=http://www.alternet.org/occupywallst/154080/what_progressive_criticisms_... Progressive Criticisms of Anarchists in Occupy Don't Understand: A Response to Chris Hedges[/url]

Quote:
Hedges condemns property destruction in political protest by condemning black bloc tactics, regardless of the facts. The "local coffee shop" vandalism Hedges contends was committed by black bloc was in fact one window of a corporate coffee chain smashed in that post-strike fog of war - and by someone not wearing a mask, not wearing black. The people who broke into City Hall on January 28, and many of those who destroyed property there, were also largely unmasked. And both of these acts came immediately after, as in within minutes of, violent mass kettling and arrest actions.

Of course, when Hedges and other critics pointed to Occupy Oakland's failures on January 28, they were not talking about black bloc - those torn fences and an autonomous and unfocused city hall melee were the only property destruction Oakland saw that day. No, they mean Occupy protesters who choose to stand up to the police. And for Hedges and others on the left hoping Occupy makes strides toward national change, standing up to the police is a public relations liability and those who do it should be "purged" from the movement - an arguably violent claim in and of itself.

 

 

[url=http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/02/07/1062450/-Perspectives-On-Hedge-... On Hedge's "Cancer in Occupy"[/url]
by Diane Gee

Quote:
The real Cancer in Occupy is DIVISION. People of Color dividing off from young white Liberals. Anarchists being rejected by Socialists. Native People dividing from Occupy in order to have their colonization addressed. COINTELPRO plants, paid by the CIA and FBI to create discord between the People. It is Move-on trying to make this about Democrats. It is Unionists trying to wake workers versus student worried about loans. The MSM's choice to cover only negative aspects; and not the very functional COMMUNITY-LEVEL co-operation that has successfully fed, clothed, housed, and gave medical care to a once diverse population.

Hedges opines that "Anarchists" do not believe in organization; this is patently false. What they do not believe in is giving personal power away in some subservient form to another human being to be held as superior to you. I am a neophyte in learning about anarchism, yet even I understand this very basic tenet. It was anarchist ideals that created the General Assembly - a true form of Democracy in which EVERY person has equal rights to speak, voice their concerns, give their opinions, and that consensus must be made.

Hedges denounces the group, by calling their actions Criminal, this breaking of Windows, seeks to make it the unthinkable evil... and the fact that a broken window pales in light of all the horrors wrought daily here and abroad sickens me. This is grossly out of perspective.

Considering the amount of very Righteous anger we SHOULD be feeling against our Oligarchs and Abusers, Occupy has done a tremendous job in reining in what could have already become extremely volatile and violent.

Hedges missed the chance to acknowledge that, and missed the opportunity to try and Unite Occupy by talking about the very real Cancer of division. Divide and Conquer is what always kills a movement.

 

 

[url=http://facingreality.tumblr.com/post/17176503032/to-be-fair-he-is-a-jour... Be Fair, He Is a Journalist: A Short Response to Chris Hedges on the Black Bloc[/url]
by Don Gato

Quote:
Hedges also critiques the black bloc for its supposed "hypermasculinity," engaging in a gender essentialism that belies his inability to keep up with contemporary radicalism. In Oakland, part of the militant march on Move-In Day was the "Feminist and Queer Bloc." I'm sure they would be quite surprised to learn that self-defense against violent police thugs and petty vandalism is actually a man's activity! Why, those poor, beleaguered women and queers are probably alienated from such militancy, along with the befuddled masses that Hedges seems to be writing for! Rather than a lengthy critique of this already-disposed-of pseudo objection, I'll let Harsha Walia enlighten Hedges on the problems of wealthy white, men like himself attempting to speak for the alienated and frightened "victims" of such "masculine" activities as building a confrontational and militant movement against capitalism and the state. Check it out:
">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oesjegD1-Vg

 

 

[url=http://truth_addict.blogspot.com/2012/02/reply-to-chris-hedges-cancer-in... Reply to Chris Hedges' 'The Cancer in Occupy': Stop Scapegoating Black Bloc, Look Within[/url]

Quote:
The hyperbole of calling Black Bloc "the cancer," the non sequitur of trying to link their shortcomings to Occupy, and the hypocrisy of saying that "The Greeks" who "riot," and so on, "get it," but not their American counterparts leaves me with a lot of questions on what Hedges hoped to achieve with his article. Does he really think Black Bloc is the reason Occupy is fizzing out? In a society that routinely has no problem with violence are we really to believe that burning cloth and breaking glass offends our sensibilities so much as to be "the cancer"?

 

 

[url=http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2012/02/492191.html]Hedging Our Bets on the Black Bloc: The Impotence of Mere Liberalism[/url]

Quote:
While individual members of the bloc have indeed done damage to multinational banks and other predatory businesses, Hedges, like many members of the mainstream media establishment, ignores the fact that strategic property damage is part and parcel of a long history of nonviolent struggle. From the Suffragettes attempting to gain the right to vote, to environmental activists protecting the rights of nature, property damages inflicts financial costs upon entities that only care about their bottom dollar. Martin Luther King Jr. had this to say about the struggle for human rights against the corrupt system of his time:

“I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

Anarchists don't oppose nonviolent methods of organizing. Hedges is engaging in binary thinking that has him convinced that participants in the black bloc don't do anything else. He ignores years of alternative structures like Food Not Bombs, hundreds of Infoshops that provide literature, bike collectives, food cooperatives, and groups that provide services for marginalized groups. Anarchists, like many others, believe in a diversity of tactics. It is this diversity that is our strength. We cannot allow slander and fear to separate us; sectarianism is the real cancer of Occupy. The enemies that we face-fascism, authoritarianism, militarism, and the like-are legion in their attacks; our response should be equally multifaceted.

Jacob Richter

Unionist wrote:
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.

While Hedges performs his useful idiocy on behalf of liberal forces trying to co-opt Occupy and make it the liberals' Tea Party equialent, you're spot on re. the dichotomy.

Much of the established left tradition is hardly spotless when advocating the crude heuristic of something like “peaceful means where possible, and violent revolution when necessary.”  When considering questions of civil disobedience and resistance towards police brutality, a more useful heuristic would be something along the lines of “legal means where possible, extra-legal and illegal ones when necessary, and with the non-worker authorities themselves determining the level of peace or violence.”

Slumberjack

M. Spector wrote:
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.

Hedges is first and foremost a professional writer working under deadlines.  As with any mass produced scribbling or assembly line product, quality control becomes an issue.  Just like mainstream journalism where they churn out ill-conceived bullshit every day tailored to customer demand.

NDPP

It's too bad really. I think he's kind of screwed himself. Always good to have some half-decent writers in a movement like this. But there's been real damage done. I hope he abandons this tack and doesn't continue it.  Leaving aside the very real difficulties in coordinating disparate elements and moving forward with efficient and effective use of a diversity of tactics, which are very real developmental tasks for this movement, they absolutely cannot permit this kind internecine public attack by an unofficial 'spokesman' with profile going rogue. I hope someone with his confidence takes him aside for a few words. Perhaps he can be made to appreciate the error of his ways and break bread with the attacked, so that this can be salvaged before Hannibal Lector takes a mind to 'run with it'. If he doesn't like anarchists he'd better find himself a different movement, message and pulpit to preach it from..

6079_Smith_W

What was that article M. Spector quoted about dividing and conquering? 

(and as a matter of fact Hedges talked about criticism of others' tactics in his own article) 

I guess that doesn't apply to those of us who understand what the real resistance is all about; we can point out all we want that others are holding the bully's coat or collaborating or useful idiots. 

it's those misquided, uncommitted and traitorous hacks who need to mend their ways and come around to the right way of thinking.

... if they want to be taken seriously, and seen as anything other than one of THEM, that is.

 

 

 

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Santa Rita, I Hate Every Inch of You

Twenty-four hours into my incarceration in Santa Rita Jail, I found myself in yet another tactical conversation, dissecting the numerous failures that had led to the kettling and mass arrests of about 400 Occupy Oakland demonstrators. This is one of the few upsides of a mass arrest. After getting the rowdy activists off the streets, the police find themselves hosting a three-day strategy conference inside the jail. Whenever a conversation begins to get stale, the guards show up and shuffle people into new discussion groups, and the debate begins afresh.

For the most part, the atmosphere in my cell was not one of defeat, but rather of rigorous self-criticism. This is a necessary moment in the growth of any movement – coming up against the limits of the premises that underlie a practice – and it seemed to be getting underway just hours after that practice had collapsed on the streets of Oakland. This was decidedly not the unreflecting group of militants that Chris Hedges has recently accused of a pathological aversion to strategic thought.

Quote:

This logic broke down on Oak Street. Saturday clearly demonstrated the limits of a mode of organizing that has thus far been successful. Up until now, Occupy has involved a contradictory and unstable mixture of liberal and more radical elements held together by a thin tissue of stories of injustice and violated “rights.” This fact has led to endless unproductive disputes about the role of “violence” in our movement, of which Chris Hedges is just the most recent and banal example. The problem is that if our unity can be reduced to our shared victimization, we are reliant on police and civic officials to continually give us these stories. As police tactics adapt, and as the demands we make of the system become more radical, this will become increasingly difficult. The basis of the connections we make within the movement must involve a deeper sort of radicalization. The central antagonism is not between the police state and the people, but between labor and capital. The anti-police repression marches that are now happening weekly in Oakland, while focused on a crucial issue, tend to sideline this larger point. To the extent that this discourse dominates our practice, we are operating with exactly the same limited and moralizing conception of our movement’s unity as our liberal critics. The romanticized picture of the brutal repression of peaceful demonstrators that Hedges fetishizes is on a continuum with the images of victimization in many of our own actions. We need to tell a new story.

After we experienced the material limits of this type of organizing, some very necessary conversations began in Santa Rita in earnest. The focus on the brutality has its uses, but to the extent that it stands in as a substitute for this more substantial self-criticism, it allows the tenuous alliance between adventurism and humanitarian liberalism to persist. While we are all justifiably angry at the Oakland Police Department and the Alameda County Sheriffs, what comes out of this experience needs to be more than simply a strengthened conviction that we hate the cops. If we don’t swiftly move towards the self-criticism that we need, the opportunity will be missed.

http://viewpointmag.com/2012/02/06/santa-rita-i-hate-every-inch-of-you/

6079_Smith_W

No of course. 

Burning buildings down isn't violence, unless someone happens to sprain a wrist throwing the molotov cocktail.

or unles someone dies inside, in which case - poof - it magically becomes violence.

Jesus, you would think some people had never heard of PTSD like old general Patton.

 

 

 

Freedom 55

Thanks for those links, M. Spector. I hope people take the time to read them.

http://rabble.ca/comment/1315761

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

The Comments section under that Shamus Cooke article is more worthwhile reading than the article itself. The majority opinion seems to be that Cooke is muddled and doesn't understand Occupy.

Lord Palmerston

I like that Albert piece that unionist linked.  He makes the important point that the debate over "diversity of tactics" is primarily a tactical debate, not a moral one.  Divinity grad Hedges is horribly sanctimonious and it seems to me that defenders of "diversity of tactics" here accept the idea it's a moral question (i.e. how can you be so squeamish about trashing property, property damage isn't violence, etc.)

Kaspar Hauser

 

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NDPP

Chris Hedges On Need for Nonviolent Action (and vid)

http://warisacrime.org/content/video-chris-hedges-need-nonviolent-action

More warnings by Hedges of 'black bloc anarchism' and discussion

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

yikes! wrong thread

 

Fidel

They've been sabotaging peaceful protests since MLK and civil rights marches in the U.S. And that was in more Liberal northern states.

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