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The Cancer in Occupy?

73 replies [Last post]


Jacob Richter
Joined: Oct 19 2008

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.”

Joined: Aug 8 2005

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.

Joined: Dec 28 2008

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..

Joined: Jun 10 2010

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.





Joined: Dec 13 2009

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.


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.

Lord Palmerston
Joined: Jan 25 2004

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.)

Joined: Jun 10 2010

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.




Kaspar Hauser
Joined: Aug 15 2004



Freedom 55
Joined: Mar 14 2010

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

M. Spector
Joined: Feb 19 2005

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.

Joined: Dec 28 2008

Chris Hedges On Need for Nonviolent Action (and vid)

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

Joined: Dec 13 2009
yikes! wrong thread


Joined: Apr 29 2004

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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