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Occupy Draws Strength From the Powerless

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Posted on Feb 13, 2012
AP / Evan Vucci

An Occupy demonstrator sprawls beside a police car in Urbandale, Iowa, during a protest last December outside Republican presidential campaign offices in the Des Moines suburb.

By Chris Hedges

There is a recipe for breaking popular movements. I watched it play out over five years in the war in El Salvador. I now see these familiar patterns in the assault against the Occupy movement. It goes like this. Physically eradicate the insurgents’ logistical base of operations to disrupt communication and organization. Dry up financial and material support. Create rival organizations—the group Stand for Oakland seems to be one of these attempts—to discredit and purge the rebel leadership. Infiltrate the movement to foster internal divisions and rivalries, a tactic carried out consciously, or perhaps unconsciously, by an anonymous West Coast group known as OLAASM—Occupy Los Angeles Anti Social Media. Provoke the movement—or front groups acting in the name of the movement—to carry out actions such as vandalism and physical confrontations with the police that alienate the wider populace from the insurgency. Invent atrocities and repugnant acts supposedly carried out by the movement and plant these stories in the media. Finally, offer up a political alternative. In the war in El Salvador it was Jose Napoleon Duarte. For the Occupy movement it is someone like Van Jones. And use this “reformist” to co-opt the language of the movement and promise to promote the movement’s core aims through the electoral process. 

Counterinsurgency campaigns, although they involve arms and weapons, are primarily about, in the old cliché, hearts and minds. And the tactics employed by our intelligence operatives abroad are not dissimilar to those employed by our intelligence operatives at home. These operatives are, in fact, often the same people. The state has expended external resources to break the movement. It is reasonable to assume it has expended internal resources to break the movement.

The security and surveillance state has a vast arsenal and array of tools at its disposal. It operates in secret. It dissembles and lies. It hides behind phony organizations and individuals who use false histories and false names. It has millions of dollars to spend, the capacity to deny not only its activities but also its existence. Its physical assets honeycomb the country. It can wiretap, eavesdrop and monitor every form of communication. It can hire informants, send in clandestine agents, recruit members within the movement by offering legal immunity, churn out a steady stream of divisive propaganda and amass huge databases and clandestine operations centers. And it is authorized to use deadly force.

How do we fight back? We do not have the tools or the wealth of the state. We cannot beat it at its own game. We cannot ferret out infiltrators. The legal system is almost always on the state’s side. If we attempt to replicate the elaborate security apparatus of our oppressors, even on a small scale, we will unleash widespread paranoia and fracture the movement. If we retreat into anonymity, hiding behind masks, then we provide an opening for agents provocateurs who deny their identities while disrupting the movement. If we fight pitched battles in the streets we give authorities an excuse to fire their weapons. 

All we have, as Vaclav Havel writes, is our own powerlessness. And that powerlessness is our strength. The survival of the movement depends on embracing this powerlessness. It depends on two of our most important assets—utter and complete transparency and a rigid adherence to nonviolence, including respect for private property. This permits us, as Havel puts it in his 1978 essay “The Power of the Powerless,” to live in truth. And by living in truth we expose a corrupt corporate state that perpetrates lies and lives in deceit.

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Havel, who would later become the first president of the Czech Republic, in the essay writes a reflection on the mind of a greengrocer who, as instructed, puts up a poster “among the onions and carrots” that reads: “Workers of the World Unite!” The poster is displayed partly out of habit, partly because everyone else does it, and partly out of fear of the consequences for not following the rules. The greengrocer would not, Havel writes, display a poster saying: “I am afraid and therefore unquestioningly obedient.” And here is the difference between the terror of a Josef Stalin or an Adolf Hitler and the collective charade between the rulers and the ruled that by the 1970s had gripped Czechoslovakia.

“Imagine,” Havel writes, “that one day something in our greengrocer snaps and he stops putting up the slogans merely to ingratiate himself. He stops voting in elections he knows are a farce. He begins to say what he really thinks at political meetings. And he even finds the strength in himself to express solidarity with those whom his conscience commands him to support. In this revolt the greengrocer steps out of living within the lie. He rejects the ritual and breaks the rules of the game. He discovers once more his suppressed identity and dignity. He gives his freedom a concrete significance. His revolt is an attempt to live within the truth.”

This attempt to “live within the truth” brings with it ostracism and retribution. Punishment is imposed in bankrupt systems because of the necessity for compliance, not out of any real conviction. And the real crime committed is not the crime of speaking out or defying the rules, but the crime of exposing the charade.


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redteddy's avatar

By redteddy, February 15, 2012 at 12:14 am Link to this comment

Why on earth is Hedges targeting Van Jones the Occupy movement doesn’t have
ownership rights over language and ideas, Van Jones seems to be reaching out
in his own way that doesn’t seem to interfere or have anything to do with the
Occupy movement at all! And as for this OLAASM group there is nothing but
fear and whispering and allegations of people there “looking like” FBI or some
other such thing.  This is all ridiculous fear mongering.  Meanwhile he didn’t
even touch the 99% Declaration group which actually did grow out of OWS and
then moved on to make its own organization, not that I think they are agents
provocateurs as Hedges now sees crawling in every nook and cranny.  As for
the black bloc tactics he’s now blowing it out of proportion, the Occupy
movement is by and large peaceful and the members of Occupy are having their
own dialogue on diversity tactics.  I would suggest Hedges chill out and wait to
see how the movement conducts itself over the next few weeks or months
before jumping to conclusions on whether they are being co-opted or not or
whether they have indeed switched to being violent, which so far they have not.

What I can tell is that Hedges doesn’t spend too much time at OWS or reading
going on the general assembly website.  If he did he would realize that the
whole horizontal direct democracy that allows so many different kinds of
people a voice, people with so many differing ideas itself allows for a lot of
divisions and bogging down the process for making decisions.  Maybe he
should go down and join some of the working groups and then come back and
tell us about what is really going on within the movement instead of freaking
out about boogie men that hardly presents itself as a problem. 

The movement does have problems but he fails to describe what they really are.

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By OurWorldReport, February 14, 2012 at 10:52 pm Link to this comment

I recently had an internal debate about the issue of violence vs. non-violence. I
read the article by Chris Hedges which described the violent approach as a
“cancer” within the movement. I read the open letter response by a proponent of
Black Bloc tactics declaring that it is a matter of accepting a “diversity of tactics.”

While property damage as a tactic to disrupt corporate and government power
holds some appeal, it seems at most a minor inconvenience to them and at
worst a force they will use against us. The oppressors have already spent
millions of dollars to dismantle Occupy. Destroying something that will cost
thousands (or even tens of thousands) of dollars to repair is a drop in the ocean
of money they are willing to spend to unravel the movement. After all, life as
they know it is at stake.

I realized that my mother and millions just like her have so much empathy for
the core message of Occupy. However, she would never align herself with any
movement that commits random acts of vandalism or property destruction. It
goes against her sense of herself. The images of the police violence on the civil
rights activists made the government oppression obvious. It showed reality in
stark contrast with the arguments decrying the need for civil rights.

We need my mother and the rest of the 99% to buy into the Occupy movement.
This can only be accomplished by showing them the hypocrisy of the 1%. This
won’t happen with random acts of violence. By non-violently sitting and being
pepper spayed, the student protesters at UC Berkley did more to further the
cause than all the random violence combined. I can only hope that Occupy will
survive this small contingent’s ego gratifying diversion into violence.

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OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, February 14, 2012 at 9:16 pm Link to this comment

Please do not push your historical villainous allies over to my side. The anarchists sided with Lenin back then, and they would do so now if he was here. Oh yes indeed, Graeber coughed up just a little truth about the Occupy core group. You might want to read his rebuttal of Hedges a bit more closely.

You also might want to watch more videos of Occupy supporters. Lenin’s admirers are hanging out with you.

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By Joan Donovan, February 14, 2012 at 9:09 pm Link to this comment

For more info on OLAASM at Occupy LA:

http://www.occupythesocial.com/post/16784600720/the-return-of-the-repressed-at-occupyla

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, February 14, 2012 at 9:02 pm Link to this comment

Foucauldian—It seems to me that Hedges and Graeber are operating on different discursive levels.  We already have a lot of people talking past one another, no?

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, February 14, 2012 at 8:39 pm Link to this comment

Ozark Michael—you seem pretty free to me.  Is somebody bothering you?  Also, I think you’re looking for Lenin in all the wrong places.  Old Vladimir, if he were transported to modern America, wouldn’t be bothering with a bunch of scruffy hippies in a park.  He’d be up in an executive suite somewhere.

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By MeAgain, February 14, 2012 at 8:30 pm Link to this comment

“Graeber wants to neutralize Hedges, not educate the masses as to what is really going on.”

Oh come on… you sound like a plant from Truthland Security attempting foment distrust and to undermine the Occupy movement.

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OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, February 14, 2012 at 8:13 pm Link to this comment

Hedges, like all dreamy Occupy supporters, has an idealism about Occupy, and imagines that his idealism is the reality.

By contrast, Graeber knows exactly what Occupy is since he was a core planner. In order to prove that Hedges was wrong about the nature of the original Occupy core group, Graeber had to reveal some things that had previously been kept under wraps about Occupy, including the foundational concepts, and the radical nature of the core group. 

It would be foolish for Graeber to debate Hedges about Occupy, because Graeber would have to give more of that information, including the methodology and goals of Occupy. But Occupy supporters were happy supporting Occupy without knowing its foundational concepts, and those supporters might get scared away if they learn that radicals are in charge. Occupy gets a lot of milage from people joining up without having the foggiest idea what the core planners are up to.

Graeber’s ammunition in a debate would be to explain more core secrets, since Hedges main weakness is that he doesnt know those things. Graeber has a lot more to lose, or I should say that Occupy has a lot more to lose, so a debate isnt going to happen. Graeber wants to neutralize Hedges, not educate the masses as to what is really going on.

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By John G, February 14, 2012 at 7:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Anyone can cite various examples from the past to support one’s opinion, but history is being made now so it is never quite comparable to the past.

Athenians have started to employ destructive tactics that Mr. Hedges disapproves of, and they may be showing us the only effective way to defeat the PTB and their oppression. The Syrians are fighting and dying to overthrow the regime, and they may be headed for civil war.

Many Americans are fed up with “austerity” and I predict that our discontent will eventually explode in the streets. Intellectuals and pacifists: thanks for your inspiration and information, but please step aside.

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By Foucauldian, February 14, 2012 at 6:19 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, February 13 at 6:05 pm

Anarcissie,

Any chance of putting pressure on the editors of
Truthdig to invite Graeber to a dialogue with Hedges?
That should prove good fireworks.

How about a petition?

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By MeAgain, February 14, 2012 at 5:36 pm Link to this comment

Regarding truth… I didn’t realize we would have to dig so deep to find it.

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By gerard, February 14, 2012 at 5:08 pm Link to this comment

A reminder of one very real question, mentioned some time past in this strong: “If we can’t avoid feeding the trolls on an Internet forum when we have plenty of time to think before we reply, how are we going to maintain enough discipline to create a powerful movement?”
  Of course what goes on here is not all troll-feeding.  A good deal of it seems to be a
long-needed search for a way or ways to help effect change without wounding and killing.
  In that respect, those who keep saying “force is inevitable” are not helping. The search for better ways is widely evident all over the world. Nobody has perfect solutions; everybody is trying to learn, think, invent, support.  Why? 
  Because war is completely worn out, dead, has managed to destroy itself by becoming absurd,  has been driven into the ground. War has comitted suicide. The emptiness left behind is a yawning gap of awesome prospects and possibilities waiting to be developed by young creative minds.  It’s the worst of times; it’s the best of times.

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sallysense's avatar

By sallysense, February 14, 2012 at 3:14 pm Link to this comment

truth arrives uninvited at corporate greed headquarters and franchises…
where profit-hungry doorways slam common goodness in the face!...
company-hewn hinges hang on wealthy store-bought strategies…
from bureau-friendly policies to plotting protest disgrace!...

so albeit mayor conferences boast big business memberships!...
while elected officials hike private finances through wall street!...
even as large market-owned media launch most news and shows!...
still these tricks won’t change truth no matter how well they cheat!...

http://occupywallst.org

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UreKismet's avatar

By UreKismet, February 14, 2012 at 2:52 pm Link to this comment

At least many people here realise the impossibility of change without some form of violent revolution.
Othereise all that happens is the same old same old.  The bourgeoise non-violence fanatics always trot out ghandi and MLK as their idols, yet neither achieved any real change.  Sure in some parts of amerika the oppressor has an african american frontman, amerika is currently ‘led’ by a pseudo-african-american frontman, but nothing has changed for most people.

The same thing happened in India; Ghandi made a name for non-violence. India’s independence was delivered on exactly the terms the english occupiers wanted.
In a move that neatly sums up the rewards of non-violence.  Long time Ghandi opponent and ‘pragmatic’ politician Jawaharlal Nehru stitched up the ghandi legend by persuading his daughter Indira to marry a nondescript schoolteacher by the name of ghandi.
Preying upon ill-educated voters with this means Congress Party prefers to keep the Indian proletariat badly educated.

So from then on the extremely violent and corrupt regime of the “Ghandi” nee Nehru clan has run India as a personal fiefdom.  every paean to the Mahatma cements the Ghandi clan crooks further into power.

When socialism was popular among the masses they pretended to be socialist nationalising all assets then turning them over to co-conspirators.  Now that neo-liberalism is the policy du-jour they sold all the nations assets off to the same group of co-conspirators who used the money they stole during the pretend socialist phase to oil the wheels of Ghandi and congress cronies.
In the meantime the lot of the vast majority of Indians hasn’t got 1 iota better, its gotten worse..  The caste system is alive and well. Mega-Landlords, often the same who prospered under the english, drive hundreds of thousands of peasant farmers to suicide every year with tactics reminiscant of feudal europe.

So Hedges trot out yer bullshit about non-violent change, I’m sure you will attract many more ninnies to read yer garbage, but be sure that nothing will change if that view prevails.

You baby-boomers sure changed everything with alla your protesting eh?  Those capitalists really pulled their heads in and stopped stealing and killing….NOT!

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By pwest, February 14, 2012 at 2:47 pm Link to this comment

Ah, now the fierce warrior anarchists are taking their ball and going home. We sure will miss you over here at truthdig.

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By diman, February 14, 2012 at 2:46 pm Link to this comment

By Anarcissie
“As for trolls and provocateurs, there are certainly people here who want to lower the quality of the discussion to personal invective”

I’m wondering why would anybody want to lower the quality of your “discussion”, which is in itself nothing more than a graffiti with punctuation like the majority of blogs found on the internet. So just relax, there are no provocateurs and no undercover trolls, just a bunch of bourgeois middle class armchair warriors stirring hot air because they are bored.

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OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, February 14, 2012 at 2:42 pm Link to this comment

In fact I am so disappointed that I will return my Truthdig T-shirt and request a refund.

If Truthdig wont refund, please send the Truthdig T-shirt to me. I have some false flag operations that i need to run.

I am also grateful that I did not order the hat too.

Sigh. I coulda used that hat too.

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By MeAgain, February 14, 2012 at 2:31 pm Link to this comment

I am also grateful that I did not order the hat too.

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By MeAgain, February 14, 2012 at 2:16 pm Link to this comment

I’m grateful to Chris for publishing this article.  Now I know for certain that both he an Truthdig are controlled trolls. Prior to now I was perplexed.

In fact I am so disappointed that I will return my Truthdig T-shirt and request a refund.

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By ron hansing, February 14, 2012 at 2:04 pm Link to this comment

The The problem with this essay is that the author presents no proof that all these groups are agent provocateurs? It is purely a conspiracy theory. Let’s see, were the weathermen agent provocateurs when they smashed windows on Michigan Avenue?

I goggled” Stand up for Oakland” protesting on the steps of city hall. They looked like middle age, middle class individuals… this was a non-violent protest, not agent provocateurs. I could be wrong of course, but I think reasonable people would agree with my perceptions.

We have way too much hyperbole and hysteria in the media today, and this article only defeats the mission of the OWS movement. Another word for this is brain washing propaganda.

Ron Hansing 02.14.12

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By ron hansing, February 14, 2012 at 2:03 pm Link to this comment

The problem with this essay is that the author presents no proof that all these groups are agent provocateurs? It is purely a conspiracy theory. Let’s see, were the weathermen agent provocateurs when they smashed windows on Michigan Avenue?

I goggled” Stand up for Oakland” protesting on the steps of city hall. They looked like middle age, middle class individuals… this was a non-violent protest, not agent provocateurs. I could be wrong of course, but I think reasonable people would agree with my perceptions.

We have way too much hyperbole and hysteria in the media today, and this article only defeats the mission of the OWS movement. Another word for this is brain washing propaganda.

Ron Hansing 02.14.12

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By Ed Romano, February 14, 2012 at 1:38 pm Link to this comment

HOW TO MAKE A ONE WO/MAN REVOLUTION THAT’S SURE TO
              SUCCEED
  1. Be assured that all widom is contained nowhere else but in your head.
  2. Anyone who espouses an idea that differs from yours should be eliminated or, at least. slandered, vilified and lampooned.
  3. When a resonable argument is presented that exposes yours as erroneous, do not try to argue the merits of your plan since there is usually no sane way to do that. Simply reply by painting the speaker as an alien agent of fascism even if you are not aware of the definition.
  4. Stick to this regimen and you are sure to go places.

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By Brian Routh, February 14, 2012 at 1:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Civil disobedience is the only weapon we have left…...Chris
Hedges….....http://soundcloud.com/brianrouth/civil-disobedience-is-the-only

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By RecoveringCatholic, February 14, 2012 at 12:34 pm Link to this comment

Dear Mr. Hedges,

Your brilliant polemics have attracted their share of infiltrator/detractors right on this very page, apparently oblivious to how this article exposes them.  Isn’t that interesting?  “Malatesta” (Mafioso for “bad head”) immediately below for example sticks out like a sore thumb.  As your most enthusiastic fan I look forward to your continuing clear and forceful work.

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Dolly13's avatar

By Dolly13, February 14, 2012 at 12:28 pm Link to this comment

If we can’t avoid feeding the trolls on an Internet forum when we have plenty of time to think before we reply, how are we going to maintain enough discipline to create a powerful movement?

Let’s focus on what matters.

Hint: Ideological insults and snappy comebacks flying back and forth are not what matters.

What matters is that people can’t earn enough to feed their kids; people are losing their homes; people can’t find jobs; people are bankrupted by medical bills and dying from lack of health insurance; people are torturing and being tortured, killing and being killed, in the service of empire.

This sniping is self-indulgent, and it wastes time and energy better spent elsewhere. I challenge everybody left here reading the discussion (myself included) to get up, walk away from the computer, and do something meaningful today toward “living in truth.”

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By GradyLeeHoward, February 14, 2012 at 12:18 pm Link to this comment

In order to “step out of living within a lie” Chris
Hedges needs to disassociate himself from Truthdig.
He needs to step down from his pontificating to “True
Powerlessness” so that he can be effective against
the State. But he hasn’t the fortitude to do these
things, and he probably won’t.

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By madisolation, February 14, 2012 at 12:09 pm Link to this comment

“For the Occupy movement to be sanitized and converted into a recruiting tool for the Democratic Party, it will have to be neutralized as a space for real debate, experimentation, and conflict with authority. Its 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 Hedges’ contribution is just the latest drop in the bucket.”

“Around the world, people are fighting for their freedom and resisting the depredations of the rich and powerful. In the United States, there is plenty of cause to join this fight, but as long as people continue enact a fear-driven, Not-In-My-Backyard pacifism, and to pander to the corporate media as though they would ever show us in a positive light, the rich and the powerful will have nothing to worry about.”

—Peter Gelderloos, “The Surgeons of Occupy”

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

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By MeAgain, February 14, 2012 at 12:04 pm Link to this comment

Yea… that’s one of the contradictions of which I spoke about below.
By calling anarchists “a cancer” Chris Hedges is dividing the 99%. Is this intentional?

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By fit2carr, February 14, 2012 at 11:55 am Link to this comment

Wow. Talk about the “peace police”...

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By pwest, February 14, 2012 at 11:42 am Link to this comment

You keyboard warrior anarchists are getting out of control. You pretend like you’re prepared to face certain death from the state by rising up in armed rebellion, yet you can’t even handle being called a “cancer” in a Chris Hedges article. Boohoo.

Yeah, you are the ones I want leading the revolution. Please show me the way. Oh, and I haven’t come across enough links to the Graeber article yet, why don’t you post that 500 more times for me as if that validates your call to violence.

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By were all fucked, February 14, 2012 at 11:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

violent peace police.  no room for any recognition of similarities.  our obsession with individualism is why we will be fucked. call it hopelessness if you want.  stand around and wait to be arrested while your comrades fight to keep the police away from you.  the police don’t care if you are blac block or some unmasked protester.  just questioning the system is enough for them to wan to destroy the movement.  constant bickering within the movement will only weaken us.  it sucks that a man who seems so devoted to occupy and has been hoping for a movement like this for years has acted so ignorant.  i know your a busy man but seriously do some other research.  blac block did not break the corporate coffee shop window at 3 in the morning in oakland back in november.  i watched a group of nice people board up the window and leave a note that said sorry.  don’t act like occupy is dying out just because people aren’t sure what to do now!  oakland was just trying to occupy foreclosed upon buildings!  reference that!  or at least give them ideas other than be powerless.  participatory democracy is why most people are out on the streets.  we don’t need your permission to rebel chris hedges.  stop pretending to be the voice of the occupy movement.  david graeber proves to be much more qualified as an organizer of it.  how much organizing have you done?  realize the contradictory nature of the universe and accept it as perfection.  how you adapt to the constantly changing world is how you build the movement and draw people together.  oops i forget most americans are still just capitalists and forget that they too can alienate people. including themselves

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By Ed Romano, February 14, 2012 at 11:26 am Link to this comment

To People Over Greed, This is not meant to get the fur flying, but wouldn’t it be better to try talking to anarchists rather than simply denouncing and isolating them? There are anarchists who believe non-violence is a proper tactic to use when confronting a state that is armed to the teeth and itching to use that power. Shouldn’t the goal be to attempt cooperation with folks whose enemies are the same as ours ? In the end talking may prove futile. But shouldn’t it at least be tried ? It’s nice to be pure but it;s better to win. If those seeking system wide change are already divided and fighting among themselves now- when we are just trying to get the opposition off the ground - how the hell do we expect to overcome a monster that is so well armed and organized ? Everything the state does- we should do the opposite. It proceeds via violence…we should renouince it. It sees enemies everywhere….we should try reconciliation….It beieves war is the way to enforce its will….we should embrace peace. It seeks to indocrinate our children - we should educate them ourselves. This is not simply because we are wimpy. It is because it is the only method that has a chance of success.

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OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, February 14, 2012 at 11:17 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie said:

If you have a number of people who are free to think, feel, speak and act as they wish, you are going to observe a wide variety of opinions and theories.

If only you would have granted that respectful observation(which all humans deserve) to your political opponents, but instead you said:

You are not going to get the smooth (but often insane) efficiencies of authoritarian organization and discipline.

I have pointed out countless times that you cannot expect to achieve so much freedom for yourself while you condemn the rest of us to slavery. It cannot be that you and your friends are independent agents on dry ground, but your opponents are mindlessly swept along by the tide. No. We are all human beings alike. Will you ever realize that by making me less human, that you too are being stripped of your humanity?

Eventually we will all be equal, one way or the other. It is happening right now. Thus at long last you are being placed in the same stew that you have happily cooked me in. And even though you are beginning to feel the heat, you still want to turn the stove up on me some more.

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By fit2carr, February 14, 2012 at 11:16 am Link to this comment

Malatesta_1934, thank you. You took the words out of my mouth.

This is precisely the problem, Mr. Hedges.

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By Malatesta 1934, February 14, 2012 at 10:56 am Link to this comment

Dear Chris Hedges,

To prove my point about what you have started (please see my earlier posts), how you have fanned the flames of division for the corporate state within OWS, I need go no further than to quote one poster here on this board who goes by peopleOVERgreed. He writes:

For example, Occupy would do the following:
- Publically denounce the anarchists
- Identify anarchist tactics early in protests
- Retreat from all anarchist activities
- Isolate the anarchist to the police
- Re-group and immediate continue protest post anarchy
- publically denounce anarchist, again and again

How much clearer do you need it to be that what you have started is a witch hunt against the very people who have provided the ideological and spiritual foundation for the OWS movement, as Graeber so clearly articulated.

This is your legacy. This is how you will be remembered, as the arrogant asshole that sparked a new red scare against anarchists. How many young men and women will be framed, attacked, beaten and arrested because of your willful ignorance and hatred against our brothers and sisters in struggle, no matter out differences of opinion.

Shame on you!

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PeopleOVERgreed's avatar

By PeopleOVERgreed, February 14, 2012 at 10:46 am Link to this comment

The question of what Occupy should do or the strategy of how to prepare for anarchist insurgents is not rocket science.  The solution which is a multi-part senario involves turning the corporate media against itself, using the police state against itself, co-ordinating the occupy protesters, identifying when to react and ahearing to the strategy.

For example, Occupy would do the following:
- Publically denounce the anarchists
- Identify anarchist tactics early in protests
- Retreat from all anarchist activities
- Isolate the anarchist to the police
- Re-group and immediate continue protest post anarchy
- publically denounce anarchist, again and again

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By Malatesta 1934, February 14, 2012 at 10:38 am Link to this comment

FullBlad, you write:

“Malatesta 1934, Hedges didn’t invent this division. Hedges made comment on tactics. Those using BB tactics from within a non violent movement have created something of a divisive topic with their actions.”

When Hedges attacked the BB, he never once used the word “tactic” in his entire piece. Out of ignorance, he used the word “movement”. Not only that, he deliberately misinforms his readership about the alleged politics of the BB by associating it with primitivist anarchists. There is no such association.

Also, regarding the alleged “violence” of the BB, the burden of proof is on Hedges, and now you I might add, to show where this “violence” actually occurred. The only example Hedges sites is a corporate owned coffee shop chain in Oakland that was vandalized (i.e property destruction, not “violence”) by someone that was A) not wearing black and B) not associated with the BB. From my understanding, on January 28th, many people were saved from beatings and arrest because a fence was removed before people were shot. Listen to the folks on the ground in Oakland before trusting Hedges distortions:

http://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/77663

As I said earlier, I am not in favor of the BB tactic, but that is an entirely different discussion than what Hedges is doing here. He is trying to hijack a movement as an outsider, fan the flames of division, of infighting, and handing the corporate state a wedge issue that even the Wall Street Journal has picked up on. How ironic!

Hedges would do well to understand some basic rules of organizing, of solidarity, of leadership by knowing when and how to engage in dialogue about movement building. What we have here is an ego-maniac who thinks it’s Ok to publicly attack our brothers and sisters in struggle. I was not on the ground in Oakland, and it is not my place to armchair quarterback their response to heavily armed and violent police, who just recently gave a young man brain damage. But, for Hedges, the armchair critic, this is no problem.

Lisa Fithian, shame on you for allowing Hedges to continue this manipulation of a movement. Everyone should know the name of Brandon Darby, as surely as Lisa does, the snitch that put two young men in prison for years by setting them up for a crime they never committed. Brandon worked with the FBI to frame two young anarchists headed to the RNC in 2008.

http://anarchistnews.org/?q=node/10919

Hedges reckless and divisive bullshit is only going to give the FBI more informants to setup more young, perhaps naive, anarchists who will be going to jail for crimes they will never commit. Hedges language is the language of reactionary violence, although he is clearly to stupid to understand this.

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By Kenuck, February 14, 2012 at 10:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yeh…carry some signs,pitch a tent,maybe vote next election.This will have Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan quaking in their boots…

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 14, 2012 at 9:15 am Link to this comment

Good points below Federica. 

Among many, “No ethical person equates
violence against people with property damage”.  And I must wonder how this can be said in a very concise and memorable manner.  Real violence is unleashed because we allow peoples reasonable frustration and property damage to be painted as more serious than it is.  I suppose is some perverse value system a store window has greater value than a protesters eyes.

I think in David Graebers article
http://nplusonemag.com/concerning-the-violent-peace-police he points out that the Greeks don’t seem to be as non-discriminating (brainwashed) as to what constitutes violence. 

Warning, I digress….. I once saw a huge, yet elegant luxury yacht, and I am not easy to impress, having been around decent marinas around large cosmopolitan seaports.  This particular yacht stood out in both it’s size and design.  It had been christened ‘The Top 5 Percent’.  The thought occurred that if it were to sink, by ‘violent’ means or not is immaterial.  What would be the consequences?  1. the owner would be reimbursed through insurance, 2. every bodies rates would go up, and 3. in the process of raising rates, the major stockholders returns (or at least the CEO’s) would increase through the various mechanisms the top 1% have of being selective about into who’s accounts the money flows.  Somehow it comes out of the average working Joe’s 401K, or from some social program.

My point?  The American dream, bought and paid for by the 99% over generations is being stolen, and small acts of vandalism aren’t going to get it back.  WE need to invest our capital in truly productive enterprise.  There are more of us, and we must make the pie bigger and legally and culturally stop those who hubristically demand more than they can legitimately claim. 

Just because you can GET the money, doesn’t mean you DESERVED it.  These are the sort of sentiments which must be widely accepted if the disparity of incomes is to be addressed.

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By gregorylkruse, February 14, 2012 at 9:02 am Link to this comment

This is most certainly true. Hiding behind a mask is similar to hiding in your house.  Wearing a mask is like bringing your house into the street with you. Those who wear masks keep the light off their face like those who go out in the late night.  Those who want to keep the light off their faces know that what they are doing is wrong, but like the warmongers and greedsters, they well know how to rationalize the guilt. The police, the politicians, and the soldiers must be able to see the faces in the street.  If everyone who has gone out into the street has been imprisoned, even those who have stayed inside must continue to resist.  The lights should be on and faces bare when they break down your door.

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By Anarcissie, February 14, 2012 at 8:24 am Link to this comment

Ed—I guess I’m not rigorously ignoring the trolls.  Sometimes they write things which are at least rhetorically useful.

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By Federica, February 14, 2012 at 8:24 am Link to this comment

Mr. Hedges in this second Epistle to Occupy casts
himself as its moral compass. Defining the terms of
Occupation is not Mr. Hedges’s job, nor is naming
supposed evildoers, nor is recasting Occupy in images
of movements past.

As Occupiers in Los Angeles and surely elsewhere have
discussed at length, “violence” is not nearly as neat
as it’s cast here. In L.A, the City framed killing
the grass underneath the encampment as violence—
violence sufficient to invoke squadrons of police to
put hundreds in cuffs and jail. Davis cops arrogantly
pepperspraying a nonviolent row of demonstrators
results in two suspensions; broken windows in Oakland
end with felony arrests. No ethical person equates
violence against people with property damage, and
it’s obvious that property damage to the 99% is more
heinous by far than damage to Bank of America, no
matter how the system inverts these plainest of
values. Non-violence is not simple.

Neither is transparency. It’s usually laudable, but
Occupy quickly learned that stealth is valuable too.
Affinity groups, distinct from but allied with
Occupy, arose specifically to operate outside
Occupy’s transparency requirements. These have been
both problematic and sometimes the best strategy.
After all, who wants to put plans for a flash mob in
a bank lobby up for consensus at a General Assembly?

No, Mr. Hedges, the terms of Occupy are more
sophisticated than you would have us believe.

Nor are conflicts within a movement inherently evil.
Yes, the U.S. government has used the tactics you
list to provoke division. Those same tactics have
also been and continue to be legitimate and useful,
especially when a movement stagnates. What you
insinuate are provocations may be a vanguard or
correctives to a movement that has (as you warn in “A
Movement Too Big to Fail”) turned toward “faux
liberalism” and “reformism.” Vandalism can be a
political challenge to the staid, the pretentious,
the precious. And when you say “physical
confrontations with the police,” what are you
referring to? I hope not to the brave and serious
tactic of non-violent intervention in police
brutality, the act of hurling one’s body into the
grinding gears of the machine.

Mr. Hedges, by branding what may be heartfelt,
principled distinctions as provocations and
infiltrations, you are creating precisely the
internal finger-pointing that the government causes
when it ignites divisions and disunity. In the same
breath that you denounce the reactionary Stand for
Oakland protest, you call out the revolutionary
Occupy Los Angeles Anti-Social Media website. Both
groups, now, have to fend off unsubstantiated claims
by _the_ Chris Hedges that they are government
fronts. Really, Mr. Hedges, isn’t your credibility
worth more than to waste it on speculation that only
serves to stir the pot? Or is that your point?

Your argument is that if Occupy is transparent and
eschews violence (and, by implication, roots out
those who disagree, reducing the 99% to a less
confrontational 80% or so), it will bring Havel’s
greengrocer closer to rejecting the ballot box and
speaking truth. You might be right. But you might not
be, in an age and under a regime that moves steadily
closer to drone surveillance, persecution of non-
violence, arrest for thought crimes, and unwarranted
and indefinite secret detention. The lessons of the
past are just that, “lessons” and “past.” Limiting
the tactics, as you insist Occupy do, constrains
Occupiers to the tools of the Prague Spring, and not
what may be necessary for the Arab Spring.

Mr. Hedges, step off your dais. Respect those who are
grappling with accountability, transparency,
disagreement, and the meaning and purpose of property
destruction not as the pat platitudes of a past
generation, but as ideas that must be revived and re-
assigned in/to the dialogue and r/evolution of today.

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By Ed Romano, February 14, 2012 at 8:08 am Link to this comment

Anarcisse. No offense, but you said the trolls and idiots are easy to ignore. But then you didn’t…did you?  Ed R

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By Ed Romano, February 14, 2012 at 8:04 am Link to this comment

Drbehl,  I think you are missing something. You respectfully disagree with what I posted and then go on to give illustrations of exactly what I’m talking about. As a matter of fact we are in total agreement. Ed R

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 14, 2012 at 7:57 am Link to this comment

Again, OM uses the tactic of painting the world as two choices, our team or theirs.

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By Anarcissie, February 14, 2012 at 7:54 am Link to this comment

Ozark Michael and some others—If you have a number of people who are free to think, feel, speak and act as they wish, you are going to observe a wide variety of opinions and theories.  You are not going to get the smooth (but often insane) efficiencies of authoritarian organization and discipline.  Don’t let it throw you.

As for trolls and provocateurs, there are certainly people here who want to lower the quality of the discussion to personal invective.  Whether they’re on their own or working for hire I don’t know, and generally it doesn’t matter.  They are easy enough to ignore.

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By OzarkMichael, February 14, 2012 at 7:37 am Link to this comment

If the posters on these threads are any indication, the number of people in favor of nonviolence is indeed small.

                            -elisalouisa

Yes, if the posters on Truthdig are any indication of the sentiment and philosophy of the Left, we are all in trouble.  You are the first Leftist to step back and see it, so congrats, but I wish this day of came sooner. 

Please allow me to remind you that Leftist radicalism has been my concern for years, and i have pointed it out repeatedly here, noting that the Left’s complaints about ‘fascism’ justify the radical Left, and I have been castigated for pointing it out. If people of good will had talked about it sooner, we might have done something more helpful to advance the Left’s better ideas.

As it is, you are now stuck with the radicals.  Everything worthwhile that you believe in is now chained to them. If you thought you could use them, it seems you were wrong. They are using you.

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By balkas, February 14, 2012 at 7:22 am Link to this comment

let’s further simplify the situation in US and many other countries: there
is a price on your head if you live in those lands. a miner, janitor is worth
$15 per hour, a professor $35, mcdonaldo $7, ceo $1k, large
shareholder $200, crop-sharer $4, and so on.
and your socalled fathers of the confederation knew that and so do your
present fathers; and both fathers of time of yore and of
today/tommorow think exactly the same.
clinton, truman, nixon, adams, obama [ok, may be not bush, eh?!] knew
and know that as well.
so, the question arises, is it all about hourly pay per head even to nader,
CH, OWS, et al? thanks, bozhidar balkas, planet earth

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By drbhelthi, February 14, 2012 at 7:16 am Link to this comment

@Ed Romano, February 13 at 7:35 pm                                                      
“There is no telling what men will do when they travel in a pack and are assured that their actions will have no repercussions.”

I respectfully disagree.  The hundreds of examples of brutality shown in videos over the last six months clarifies all questions. 

The assaulting of individuals and forcefully taking their cameras, video devices,
subsequently molesting them needlessly, are all examples.  For me, one of the worst was pepper-spraying the seated women, doing no one harm, by armed policemen who would pass for guards or line-backers on a professional football team.

Not only do such “American” men have inadequate self-respect so as to feel guilty after a series of such oppressive acts, they congratulate each other for their anti-social behavior.  The awarding of “hero badges” to each other, as Stalinists did years ago, reflects the social decadence of some police departments and presidential-cabinet-level leadership. 

Such American men are sometimes dressed in police uniforms oppressing the citizenry they are paid to protect.  Sometimes dressed in SWAT uniforms, breaking into homes at 02:30, wrong addresses, frightening children into defecating in their pajamas.  Plus an occasional adult.  More recently, we find them dressed in carefully-selected, street attire that fits them into OWS demonstrations they are paid to disrupt.  Are not all this type American men plus an occasional female, the “black bloc”?

How many of us have “children,” grandchildren and nephews who have been brain-washed into such a demented stage of social degradation?

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By balkas, February 14, 2012 at 6:53 am Link to this comment

let’s simplify things? it all starts with the declaration of independence, bill of rights, constitution, and ALL subsequent
‘LAWS’.
the wars on drugs or against a few policemen, politicians, bankers, companies, soldiers, appear built in the system.
this has two functions: one is to convince 98% of americans that the ruling class is doing its best to combat crimes by
individuals and the other one is to convince most americans that US laws, etc., are not only OK, but sacrosanct and if it
wasn’t for a few bad cops, politicians, soldiers, lenders, US would have been by now an ideal region to live in.
so, a few bad apples here and there appear as very useful tools for controlling low and lower classes.
only a few people in usa see that crime by individuals is of the system.
nader, moore, CH; and nearly all ‘liberals’, ‘progressives’, ‘leftists’, posters either see it or pretend not to see it.
and are happy with just a bit of repair. is it any wonder that the ONE PERCENT is not perturbed to a significant degree [only
quite annoyed and righteous] by any protest.
in fact, it had emerged stronger after each protest held to date. how about this new protest? i say, yes, once again the
victor would by the system and the ONE PERCENT and/or 20-30% of americans. thanks

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By diman, February 14, 2012 at 6:49 am Link to this comment

“Non violence” is a cute idea for your bourgeois liberal class Chris, but it doesn’t work, never worked and will never work. You can put up millions of tents and put on millions of stupid masks from the movie “V for Vendetta” (by the way one of the reasons why “occupy” failed, you can not have a hollywood projected mentality of freedom and still win the real life’s struggle, so I say show your real faces, what are you afraid of?) nothing is going to change unless you take up the arms and defend your rights.

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By aacme, February 14, 2012 at 5:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I really don’t understand Hedges comparison of Van Jones to Jose Napolean Duarte.
Hedges is beginning to worry me.
Not pure enough for you Chris? If you feel like explaining this, instead of an offhand reference, I for one am listening.

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By aacme, February 14, 2012 at 5:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The only force that can defeat a far stronger adversary is nonviolence, The only tactic that can prevail against it is the provocation to violence. The 1% controls the military, the money, the industrial power, politics, everything. You people, anarchists, closet “communists”, conservative storm troopers, and other assorted fools are as much the enemy, and a much more immediate threat, than the 1%. If Occupy is to survive, and not fall onto the garbage heap like countless other movements, it must maintain its nonviolent stance, against all comers. Time to get serious, and that means get organized. Or we’ll have to await the next movement, as we sink further into the muck.

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By jsper, February 14, 2012 at 5:27 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges rocks. I will always be his humblest fan even though I am an agnostic! Vivre le difference! The man has a heart and a sincerity as big as the moon!

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By ardee, February 14, 2012 at 4:16 am Link to this comment

By elisalouisa, February 14 at 1:48 am Link to this comment

If the posters on these threads are any indication, the number of people in favor of nonviolence is indeed small

They are not an indication of anything much, Elisalouisa, and the great majority of our electorate certainly is not in favor of violence. Most grownups recognize the fact that violent demonstrations play directly into the hands of the ruling class.

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By Migs, February 14, 2012 at 4:12 am Link to this comment

Spot on Chris. If nonviolence was good enough for great people like Gandhi and Martin Luther King then it’s good enough for the 99%. Your article also reminded of two Dead Kennedys’ songs “I Am The Owl” and “Riot”

“I Am The Owl”

I am your plumber
No I never went away
I still bug your bedrooms
And pick up everything you say
It can be a boring job
To moniter all day your excess talk

I hear when you’re drinking
And cheating on your lonely wife
I play tape recordings
Of you to my friends at night

We’ve got our girl in bed with you
You’re on candid camera
We just un-elected you

[Chorus]
I am the owl
I seek out the foul
Wipe ‘em away
Keep America free
For clean livin’ folks like me

If you demonstrate
Against somebody we like
I’ll slip on my wig
And see if I can start a riot
Transform you to an angry mob
All your leaders go to jail for my job

But we ain’t the Russians
Political trials are taboo
We’ve got our secret
Ways of getting rid of you
Fill you full of LSD
Turn you loose on a freeway

[Chorus]

Send you spinning
Send you spinning
Send you spinning all over the freeway
Spinning on the crowded freeway
Spinning on the freeway
Spinning on the freeway
Spin
Spin
Spin-Lookout

The press, they never even cared
Why a youth leader walked into a speeding car
In ten years we’ll leak the truth
By then it’s only so much papaer

Watergate hurt
But nothing really ever changed
A teeny bit quiter
But we still play our little games

We still play our little games
We still play our little games
We still play our little games
We still play a lot of games

I am the owl


“RIOT”

Rioting-the unbeatable high
Adrenalin shoots your nerves to the sky
Everyone knows this town is gonna blow
And it’s all gonna blow right now:.

Now you can smash all the windows that you want
All you really need are some friends and a rock
Throwing a brick never felt so damn good
Smash more glass
Scream with a laugh
And wallow with the crowds
Watch them kicking peoples’ ass

But you get to the place
Where the real slavedrivers live
It’s walled off by the riot squad
Aiming guns right at your head
So you turn right around
And play right into their hands
And set your own neighbourhood
Burning to the ground instead

[Chorus]
Riot-the unbeatable high
Riot-shoots your nerves to the sky
Riot-playing into their hands
Tomorrow you’re homeless
Tonight it’s a blast

Get your kicks in quick
They’re callin’ the national guard
Now could be your only chance
To torch a police car

Climb the roof, kick the siren in
And jump and yelp for joy
Quickly-dive back in the crowd
Slip away, now don’t get caught

Let’s loot the spiffy hi-fi store
Grab as much as you can hold
Pray your full arms don’t fall off
Here comes the owner with a gun

[Chorus]

The barricades spring up from nowhere
Cops in helmets line the lines
Shotguns prod into your bellies
The trigger fingers want an excuse
Now

The raging mob has lost its nerve
There’s more of us but who goes first
No one dares to cross the line
The cops know that they’ve won

It’s all over but not quite
The pigs have just begun to fight
They club your heads, kick your teeth
Police can riot all that they please

[Chorus]

Tomorrow you’re homeless
Tonight it’s a blast

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By Dolly13, February 14, 2012 at 3:54 am Link to this comment

This week’s column seems like an effort to explain last week’s column, which was already abundantly clear.

It seems to me that the only people who didn’t understand it last week were the people who didn’t want to understand it (for whatever reason).

Those folks went squawking and trolling and running off on tangents. I wonder whether by elaborating this week, my dear Chris Hedges, you kinda-sorta invited them to continue to post a lot more pointless comments.

Let’s say that some of them are intentionally disruptive—Homeland Security / FBI or whatev’. Nothing you can say or do will get them to change their minds or behavior.

Let’s say that others of them are sincere believers that the black bloc stuff is “a different tactic” that has its rightful place. If they don’t understand—even after it’s been painstakingly explained to them, and even though it’s glaringly obvious—that (1) “regular people in the community” will be repelled by this stuff; and (2) we need to ATTRACT “regular people in the community” to join with us, lest the movement be marginalized and easily destroyed…well, your second post on the topic won’t get it through their heads any more than the first one did.

As for the rest of us, you’re preaching to the choir. I’m not going to start bustin’ up windows. 

I grew up very poor and then had the chance to have a very fancy education—literally from Head Start and welfare, to prep school and private college. So I think I’ve had a better-than-average opportunity to see how life works on both sides of the tracks. It’s wonderful that a movement has gotten started, but right now, the demographics are heavily weighted with people with a background of education and privilege. (Everyone considers themselves middle-class—people who grew up with what seem to me amazing privileges and advantages typically think of themselves as “average folks”—but from the vantage point of my upbringing, these are educated, privileged people: a small subsection of our society).

Now see, I’m grateful it’s gotten going, and I have nothing against the movement’s demographics—but Occupy will stall unless it grows and attracts the Avon ladies, the single moms, the unemployed, the underemployed, the chronically-in-fear-of-losing-their-crappy-jobs, the talk radio listeners, the janitors, the public school teachers, the NON-privileged, NON-fancily-educated young people who serve as fodder for the nation’s imperial projects…in short, we’ve got to branch out and quit talking to ourselves (and the infiltrators) so much.

I have the sense that this movement is going to continue to grow, because things have gotten bad enough. I hope we find ways to foster it, to let it grow naturally with a minimum of interference from Homeland Security, the FBI, and people with a strange and unknowable set of priorities. When I see the worsening circumstances of family, friends and neighbors, I don’t think anyone will be fooled much longer.

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By elisalouisa, February 14, 2012 at 2:48 am Link to this comment

If the posters on these threads are any indication, the number of people in favor of nonviolence is indeed small. Yet, that is their choice. A rigid adherence to nonviolence is indeed necessary and that does include respect for property.

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By Litl Bludot, February 14, 2012 at 2:22 am Link to this comment

Nonviolence only works when there are still citizens who can distinguish between police brutality and and heroic, creative nonviolent resistance to it:
between eloquent, amoral handsome frenemies who
charmingly mouth lies on behalf of the one percent and the factual arguments of plain speaking public
servants with proven track records of honesty: a society that collectively, can
distinguish between thugs and peaceful protestors. A society that respects truth
and honesty. A society that is morally repelled by the fascist mentality. So, the
question is,,,,,,?

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By Federica, February 14, 2012 at 2:14 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Hedges in this second Epistle to Occupy casts himself as its moral center. Defining the terms of Occupation is not Mr. Hedges’s job, nor is naming supposed evildoers, nor is recasting Occupy in images of movements past.

As Occupiers in Los Angeles and surely elsewhere have discussed at length, “violence” is not nearly as neat as it’s cast here. In L.A, the City framed killing the grass underneath the encampment as violence—violence sufficient to invoke squadrons of police to put hundreds in cuffs and jail. Davis cops arrogantly pepperspraying a nonviolent row of demonstrators results in two suspensions; broken windows in Oakland end with felony arrests. No ethical person equates violence against people with property damage, and it’s obvious that property damage to the 99% is more heinous by far than damage to Bank of America, no matter how the system inverts these plainest of values. Non-violence is not simple.

Neither is transparency. It’s usually laudable, but Occupy quickly learned that stealth is valuable too. Affinity groups, distinct from but allied with Occupy, arose specifically to operate outside Occupy’s transparency requirements. These have been both problematic and sometimes the best strategy. After all, who wants to put plans for a flash mob in a bank lobby up for consensus at a General Assembly?

No, Mr. Hedges, the terms of Occupy are more sophisticated than you would have us believe.

Nor are conflicts within a movement inherently evil. Yes, the U.S. government has used the tactics you list to provoke division. Those same tactics have also been and continue to be legitimate and useful, especially when a movement stagnates. What you insinuate are provocations may be a vanguard or correctives to a movement that has (as you warn in “A Movement Too Big to Fail”) turned toward “faux liberalism” and “reformism.” Vandalism can be a political challenge to the staid, the pretentious, the precious. And when you say “physical confrontations with the police,” what are you referring to? I hope not to the brave and serious tactic of non-violent intervention in police brutality, the act of hurling one’s body into the grinding gears of the machine.

Mr. Hedges, by branding what may be heartfelt, principled distinctions as provocations and infiltrations, you are creating precisely the internal finger-pointing that the government causes when it ignites divisions and disunity. In the same breath that you denounce the reactionary Stand for Oakland protest, you call out the revolutionary Occupy Los Angeles Anti-Social Media website. Both groups, now, have to fend off unsubstantiated claims by _the_ Chris Hedges that they are government fronts. Really, Mr. Hedges, isn’t your credibility worth more than to waste it on speculation that only serves to stir the pot? Or is that your point?

Your argument is that if Occupy is transparent and eschews violence (and, by implication, roots out those who disagree, reducing the 99% to a less confrontational 80% or so), it will bring Havel’s greengrocer closer to rejecting the ballot box and speaking truth. You might be right. But you might not be, in an age and under a regime that moves steadily closer to drone surveillance, persecution of non-violence, arrest for thought crimes, and unwarranted and indefinite secret detention. The lessons of the past are just that, “lessons” and “past.” Limiting the tactics, as you insist Occupy do, constrains Occupiers to the tools of the Prague Spring, and not what may be necessary for the Arab Spring.

Mr. Hedges, step off your dais. Respect those who are grappling with accountability, transparency, disagreement, and the meaning and purpose of property destruction not as the pat platitudes of a past generation, but as ideas that must be revived and re-assigned in/to the dialogue and r/evolution of today.

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By david tarbuck, February 14, 2012 at 1:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Timely article! 

There are many threats to Occupy and those that get within are worse than the outside attacks. 

Not the least of these are the (neo)Fascists; many of these are financed from outside and they are the VIOLENT ones.

Occupiers need to avoid them; most are easy to identify through black clithes and/or masked faces.

As Gahndi and ML King demonstrated non-violence where possible is the best way to deal with enemies within as without.

Occupy! Stand inclusive! Hang Tough! 

You have a WORLD (of justice) to WIN!!

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By Sue Basko, February 14, 2012 at 12:53 am Link to this comment

TO CHRIS HEDGES: Thank you for another insightful, well-written article on this
topic.  Keep speaking up for truth and reality.

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By kogwonton, February 13, 2012 at 11:03 pm Link to this comment

I can respect Hedges’ desire to avoid violence, and I respect his experience in this regard. It seems to me that he really doesn’t wish to divide the left, or feed into infighting along differences of strategy. He is right to remind us that we can’t win an overt violent struggle against the forces arrayed against us, and to do so will inevitably destroy any popular support. But I think he also understands that a purely meek movement also risks contempt by society and by the police authorized to apply the jack boots.

I think we need everybody in this struggle. Pigs wear masks and don’t want to be video taped. They don’t want their words twisted by the media, or their statements taken out of context. They wish for the public to default to an assumption of trust for the integrity and benevolence of their office and their persons.  These are the rights of citizens, not of public servants acting under color of authority. If police can wear masks, then so can we - for exactly the same reasons.

Functional democratic societies are inherently distrustful of authority and, by definition, do not trust without verification. Police acting under color of authority, in service to the public, have no reasonable expectation of privacy.

The citizen does.

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By afs, February 13, 2012 at 10:06 pm Link to this comment

On claiming the word “prankser” implies promotion of vandalism.

What would Abby Hoffman throwing $1 bills into the traders pit at the NYSE? Sure as hell was NOT vandalism, or even hinting of violence. What do you call “Billionaires for Bush.” I’ll give you a hint. It AIN’T vandals. How about “The Yes Men.” Nope, not vandals either.

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By westcoaster, February 13, 2012 at 9:58 pm Link to this comment

The occupy movement was a success.  It awaken the
sleeping giant known as the middle class that they
are being fleeced. Occupy was kicked out the parks,
which was to be expected, and maybe a good thing.
Occupy is now being taken up by community groups
across America.

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By kogwonton, February 13, 2012 at 9:50 pm Link to this comment

Feral Cat

Thank you for the reading recommendations. I’m nearly finished with ‘Revolutions in Reverse’, and it’s already looking to be the best reading I’ve done in a couple of years. Maintaining a positive outlook is difficult, especially when we can’t see the victories. This piece has shown me that there actually have been victories. There’s nothing like a fresh perspective, and clarity of vision. Thanks again.

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By Palindromedary, February 13, 2012 at 9:36 pm Link to this comment

I wonder if we would even be an independent country, apart from England, if our founders just held hands and sang cumbayah? The British were far superior in weaponry and discipline. All our founders had was what is now often called “terrorist” tactics…and guerrilla hit and run tactics. The 99% already knows that our system is corrupt and being run by criminals that have gotten away with high crimes. And that participating in a corrupt election system where both major parties are owned by the criminal elite…what does it matter whether a Republican or a Democrat wins…even the Democrats are corrupt and will sell out the 99% anyway. They will pretend to be for the 99% but will sell them out as soon as they are elected. You might think you are voting for the least evil choice but there really isn’t any difference. This time, either vote for a party that doesn’t not have a long track record of lies and false promises, and one that will rock the boat for a change…shake up the arrogant, entrenched, and corrupt two party system….or don’t bother to vote at all. A “lowest in history turnout” will help to send a message of extreme distrust and discontent with the system, as it has come to be, and no party will be able to claim that the people are behind them. Mr. Hedges did mention that green grocer who refused to vote yet again in a corrupt political system. So at least in that point I agree.  But history has shown more often than not that real change does not happen until things get really nasty and the powerful begin to fear that they will lose everything if they don’t stop being oppressive and greedy.

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By Fullblad, February 13, 2012 at 8:59 pm Link to this comment

Ed Romano , Yeah you’re right. I forgot for a moment that a large percentage of the police are bullies. I must learn not to let my own moral structures cloud my logic, what there is of it.

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By OzarkMichael, February 13, 2012 at 8:58 pm Link to this comment

We must assume we are targets. And we must fight back by relying on our strength, which in the great paradox of resistance movements is embodied in our weakness. This does not mean we will avoid being repressed or persecuted. It will not keep us safe from slander, lies or jail. But it does offer the capacity to create internal divisions in the apparatus of the oppressors rather than permit the oppressors to create internal divisions within the movement. Divided loyalties create paralysis. And it is our job to paralyze them, not allow them to paralyze us.

                            -Chris Hedges

So reads the great “last advisement” of Chris Hedges. The real headline is who Hedges wishes to blame for the division in Occupy. He says you must not “permit the oppressors to create internal divisions within the movement,” which essentially blames agents provocateurs for the problem. So speaks the non violent(but paranoid just the same) Occupier known as Chris Hedges.

Now we listen to an opinion from the other side of Occupy, and see who they blame for the division inside Occupy Wall Street. Lets pick it up with MeAgain:

This article is full of contradiction.  It appears to be designed to cleverly undermine the Occupy movement.

I sincerely wonder who in fact Chris Hedges is working for!

Wonder no more, Anarcissie will fill in the details:

His use of the term ‘cancer’ suffices to convict him of that charge.  The right-wing media were rife with images of disease, decay and pollution with regard to Occupy Wall Street from the beginning, in a tradition which runs as well through such neighborhoods as the propaganda of the Third Reich.  What do you do with cancer?

I don’t mind Hedges’s hysterics and inability to define and analyze what he’s talking about, but I do find the company he has chosen to join with some of his rhetoric pretty objectionable.

It turns out that Chris Hedges is an agent provocateur. Why didnt I think of that? wink

As a conservative, I am being accused of creating a faction within Occupy…  by both opposing factions! It is our agents who are throwing the rocks to make Occupy look bad, it is also our agents who prevent people from throwing rocks and no rocks makes Occupy look bad too. It is our agents that prompt Hedges to write against anarchists. It is our agents who make the anarchists write against Hedges.

We read in history books that Leftists who begin to gain some power that they suffer from a peculair malady called “spy mania”, and the more powerful they get the worse their paranoia becomes. I never thought I would actually see it in action myself.

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By Angel Gabriel, February 13, 2012 at 8:58 pm Link to this comment

The comments here so far are proof positive of exactly why the American
Spring movement will fail. Calling what is ocurring NOW in the US by the name
“OWS” forces one to accept that what is seen right now today is a divergent
group of People without a true common cause to identify.  OWS with it’s early
presence in NYC / Manhattan / Wall street Occupation has now Morphed into a
Countrywide Movement. It is no longer an OWS Movement but rather a Rage
against the American Corporatist Empire movement of the 99%. The purity of
the OWS movement has been diluted, as Mr. Hedges speaks. It is without any
doubt whatsoever that other interests are at odds now and division caused by
the combination of Ideologies and Moralist Theologies (Religions) mixed with a
Covert element(s) have started to dillute the message of the Original Movement.
There is now a Division of purpose that exists. Division, along with Right versus
left Ideological subscription with the Moralist blend will continue to Polarize the
American People.  Division of purpose will kill any possibility of common
purpose and Solidarity.
A check and balance system is critical for a functioning Democracy to work
effectively to offset opposition, if any movement does NOT have a means of
centering itself around a purpose and a developed consensus of the movements
purpose it is destined to fail. that’s where the American Forefathers foresaw the
basis for success or failure of the New Country. It had to have a consensus and
the overall majority of agreement of purpose. When one “SIDE” outweighs the
other division occurs and the purpose of the majority is lost.
There is FAR to much Division existing within the 99% movement currently.
Tsun Tsu, the greatest Military Strategist (arguably) taught “Dividing your
enemy was the key to conquering them. Cohesion is strength. What America
will end up with on it’s current Revolutionary Movements course toward change
that’s necessary to bring Representation for and by the People back from it’s
grave - is unity of purpose and leaders who are selfless in representing the will
of the majority.  The comments on this thread are so “Telling” of America’s
inability to overcome division and be able to work together in a common cause.
You want change? Create change within yourselves and work together to form a
win-win cohesive future.

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By Amon Drool, February 13, 2012 at 8:57 pm Link to this comment

anarcissie…CONGRATS!!  the Miss Manners of bourgeois
liberalism—IMax—seems to think she has found a like-
minded thinker in you. (but then again, maybe i’m just
snark-challenged tonight)

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By Fullblad, February 13, 2012 at 8:53 pm Link to this comment

It appears that the neccessity for a national GA has become of some importance so that one Occupy community does not act in opposition to others. Solidarity or failure. Diversity of tactics maybe, spontaneous diversity of tactics from within the group no.

Violence might well feel good if your so inclined by frustration or what have you, but to put everything into jeporady for a “feel good” is the ultimate in selfishness. And really if taken to the nth degree of armed insurrection… all I can say is what were you thinking?

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By Fullblad, February 13, 2012 at 8:41 pm Link to this comment

Malatesta 1934, Hedges didn’t invent this division. Hedges made comment on tactics. Those using BB tactics from within a non violent movement have created something of a divisive topic with their actions. Actions, non or violent, have always spoken louder than words. You make many valuable points but by saying you know the inside of Mr Hedges mind and what he does or doesn’t know needs rebuttal

Whatever practices are adopted by the varios GA’s must be strigently adhered to or chaos and disintigration will ensue. Diversity of tactics is not a raeson for some to act one way and the rest another. That is the true divisive juncture. The need for a national GA has now become appearent so that one branch does not act in oppostion to others.

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By S. Wolf Britain, February 13, 2012 at 8:38 pm Link to this comment

Wonderful article! You have nailed it again, Chris
Hedges! I am not surprised. Chris Hedges understands
and never fails to so awesomely articulate the truth
and expose the lies. He doesn’t live the lie(s), or
live “in” the lie(s). Instead he, as a True Patriot,
exposes the lie(s), and fulfills his DUTY not only to
do that, but to also call all of us to do the same.
Bravo, Chris!

I think he is also waking up to the globalization lie
and what it is really all about, too. Thank Goodness
for that!

True Patriots are for True, Full and Complete
Transparency, Liberty, Freedom, Sovereignty,
Independence and Dignity. Thus, True Americans and
True World Citizens are for the same. The problem is
that most of those who think they are “true
Americans” and “true world citizens” are being duped
by the international corporatocracy into falling for
the false “unity”, or false “nationalism” and
“patriotism”, of corporate-fascism, internationalism
and globalism and/or globalization. We must wake up
the majority to this, and to its false “unity” as,
being the biggest, most insidious, most invidious,
most nefarious LIE of them all, and to ONLY embrace
the True Unity AGAINST that LIE; otherwise, we will
all become the slaves and the mass-death-victims of
that false-unity-lie that is so succesfully
prevalent, and more and more so, right now, to our
grave detriment.

We must ONLY join in True Unity against no longer
falling into international corporate-fascism’s traps
such as using violence in reaction to them and their
hideous, brutal and terrorizing repression, as all
the while they fraudulently claim to hold the “moral
high ground” of so-called “peace”, “non-violence” and
“human rights”, which is really what George Orwell
called, in his deliniation of the manipulation and
perversion of language for international, mass-
murderous, Machiavellian political gain, “war is
(supposedly) peace (and peace is supposedly war)”,
“freedom is (supposedly) slavery (and slavery is
supposedly freedom)”, and “ignorance is (supposedly)
strength (and strength is supposedly ignorance or
weakness)”. Man, how they lie; and, Dear God, how we
must wake up and absolutely refuse to fall for ANY of
their lies whatsoever, no matter what evil does to us
as a result!

Very soon, exactly as predicted, the “Mark of the
Beast” will come, which is seeking to get all of us
to bow down to evil and sell our souls to it fully
and finally, through going to a totally cashless
society and the globalists cotrolling everything we
believe and that we can and cannot do, including what
we can and cannot purchase. In other words, those who
do not bow down and sell their souls to evil, will
not be able to buy and sell, and thus will be unable
to survive. And the globalists and their fraudulent
“unification” of the world are already well on the
way to cementing this global enslavement into place
through the banking, credit, education
(indoctrination) and government (anti-freedom and
absolute-control) system(s). In this society of
absolute control, there will be no True Dignity,
Independence, Freedom and Liberty whatsoever, and the
only ones who will have any so-called “liberty”,
“freedom”, “independence” and “dignity” will be those
who have completely soldout to evil, past the point
of no return.

Therefore, the ONLY True Unity is in that unity
against ALL of the extremely evil madness, and mass-
death, that the global corporate-fascists are
foisting upon the entire world!

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By Ed Romano, February 13, 2012 at 8:35 pm Link to this comment

Fullblad, You cannot imagine a policeman usis a baton on a mother holding a child ? Well, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time. This year is the 100th anniversary of the Bread and Roses strike in Lawrence, Ma. During that strike police beat women and children andalso women who were pregnant.There is no telling what men will do when they travel in a pack and are assured that their actions will have no repercussions.

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By IMax, February 13, 2012 at 8:31 pm Link to this comment

Anarc, - “I don’t mind Hedges’s hysterics and inability to define and analyze what he’s talking about, but I do find the company he has chosen to join with some of his rhetoric pretty objectionable.”

-

Again we arrive at common ground.

Consider: Both Chris Hedges and David Graeber are long-time contributing activists with the 120,00 subscriber Newsletter published by ccupywallstreetorg.  The newsletter (for good or bad) has been devoted to challenging consumerism.  This group describes itself as “a global network of artists, activists, writers, “pranksters[1]”, students, educators and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new social activist movement of the information age.”  In short, revolution.

The public debate taking place between Hedges, Graeber, Bill McKibben,[2] and others at the core of occupywallstreetorg, reflects the internal frictions between those at the very conception of ‘Occupy’.

Contrary to what many believe, Occupy demonstrations are not leaderless.  The largest “Occupations” are both concerted and carefully organized.  It seems imperative that everyone understand this so that we’re all talking about the same things.

-

1. Pranksters: Typically described vandalism at WTO, Devos and related demonstrations.

2. Bill McKibbon, according to Wiki, “led the organization of 350.org, which organized what Foreign Policy magazine called “the largest ever global coordinated rally of any kind,” with 5,200 simultaneous demonstrations in 181 countries.”

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By Macresarf1, February 13, 2012 at 8:28 pm Link to this comment

SPECIAL BULLETIN! SPECIAL BULLETIN! SPEC—

And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, in this other corner, we have:  CITIZENS UNITED UNMASKED—Starring Andrew Breitbart and David Horowitz—coming to a theater near you in April:

      http://vimeo.com/36566908 

We all know that they’ll have the REAL FACTS about those behind the “black blocs.” And so, friends, who do you trust?  Them . . . or Chris Hedges?

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By Fullblad, February 13, 2012 at 8:12 pm Link to this comment

Hear, Hear, If we want to give the Occupy movement even the small chance it has of achieving even some modicum of success we would do well to mark and understand what Chris Hedges is saying here.

For this social movement to grow we must be able to attrack the sleepy mainstream. We must be able to attrack women, and through them families. We must be able to have community. Only by having community will our movement have the legitimacy that the people are “living in truth.” Violent acts from within will only be meet with even stronger acts of violence from the state under the guise of protecting the “community.” However, if the community is truly represented by Occupy the states moral bankrupcy will be exposed and begin to crumble.

We will not attrack women and families if violence and counter violence is the order of the day. I cannot imagine a police officer using a baton on a mother with a child in arm surrounded by her community. This is what Ocupy needs to build as it’s strength, people and families supporting a just cause. As it stands now I would not take my eleven year old grandaughter to a rally until community is built and based on non-violent practices, and the oppressors enforcers know it. I long for the day that I will be able to do such, the education for her would be wonderful.

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By OzarkMichael, February 13, 2012 at 8:05 pm Link to this comment

We don’t want to “overthrow the government”’ or “get rid of” capitalism;”

Does this mean that the folks who DO want to “get rid of” capitalism… dont really mean it?

Do you think, gerard, that you are using them? Or are they using you?

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By Anonymorph, February 13, 2012 at 8:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I agree with the others about the XX century “revolution” being in actuality a counterrevolution. Vaclav Havel was a neoliberal capitalist, certainly not someone we want to hold up as a supporter of the working class. 

This article right on the heels of last week’s, shows Hedges for what he really is:  a conformist liberal. I suspect he actually despises working class movements.

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By gerard, February 13, 2012 at 7:47 pm Link to this comment

Chris’s final advisement in this article is that “we” need to ” paralyze” “them”
and not let “them” “paralyze” “us.”  This vocabulary of radical opposites because
it is antithetical to ideas about the meaning and philosophy of non-violence,
has to be consciously guarded against because primarily “we” and “they” are
more alike than different—we are all “Us” whether we easily admit it or not. It
is just the nature of language to divide.
  Actually, “we” (and I’ll drop the quotes in this sentence provided the reader
grants me the truth of the fallacies of language itself) ... Actually, we want not
to paralyze them (the 1%) but to neutralize, counteract their behavior and the
sad results of that behavior.  We don’t expect to win them over, but would
welcome that if it should happen.  We hope to bring about more honest, more
empathetic behavior and reduce the degree and appeal of radical dishonesty
and greed.
  We don’t want to “overthrow the government”’ or “get rid of” capitalism; we
want to bring government officials and “banksters etc”  to a change in thinking
that will change their behavior It follows that if the government/business is
proceeding violently, as it is, and harming millions of fellow human beings, it
must be brought to a realization of its dishonesty and cruelty and we, if we are
good citizens, must demand that it become honest and humane.  It is almost
axiomatic that this must be brought about nonviolently, since what we are
trying to correct is the violent results of present government/business
behavior. Therefore it is counterproductive to adopt that behavior.
  The reason we cannot see this axiomatic relationship is because we have been
trained and educated not to recognize it, to ignore it in favor of violence and
the idea of forcing compliance rather than engaging cooperation. (This error in
perception is apparent in many levels of public life, one of the most painful
being the present horrible prison “system” here and elsewhere. Places like
Guantanamo make it hideously visible, but similar gratuitous and counter-
productive cruelty is evident elsewhere as well.)
  A big part of nonviolence is learning the ability to engage powerful forces in
applying a different and opposite point of view, and joining in the process of
change.  In order to bring this about, we have to open doors that have been
habitually closed by custom or demand.  We have to act out, to make manifest
the possibility of the kind of world we want to inhabit.  This is a fundamental
appeal of non-violence;  it presents the evidence that violence doesn’t really
“overcome” nonviolence; it only suppresses it temporarily and, sadly, the same
battles are hence fought again and again. 
  Occupy’s main problem—as is our own—is to study,  understand and
create ways to “open doors” in order to make a human future possible.

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By OzarkMichael, February 13, 2012 at 7:41 pm Link to this comment

And the real crime committed is not the crime of speaking out or defying the rules, but the crime of exposing the charade.

Well, when it comes to discussing Occupy… yeah, i am guilty of the real crime.

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By Rixar13, February 13, 2012 at 7:31 pm Link to this comment

” And the real crime committed is not the crime of speaking out or defying the rules, but the crime of exposing the charade. “

Excellent for truth… wink wink

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By Malatesta 1934, February 13, 2012 at 7:06 pm Link to this comment

Chris Hedges is weak. His side-stepping Graeber’s intellectual smack-down last week is, well, weak.

http://nplusonemag.com/concerning-the-violent-peace-police

Graeber explicitly explained the purpose of a “diversity of tactics” which was designed to enhance solidarity and movement building, which in practice often works to limit thoughtless militant actions.

Hedges continues to write unfounded polemical nonsense, completely outside the process designed by, yes, anarchist politics (et al) in OWS to ensure everyone has a voice, in each autonomous location.

Instead, we have the divisive ravings of a ‘journalist’ writing from outside of the GAs, imposing a false debate on the movement, as though he were the guiding light of truth.

The truth is that his ravings last week were not even founded in fact, but stereotypes, unfounded accusations of BB participants, borderline racist accusations about how Oakland’s African American leadership had been side-stepped.

The alleged “violence” that took place didn’t even take place. No one dressed in black had smashed the coffee shop windows, but lets blame the black bloc. Who cares, lets call them cancer and imply that it’s ok to engage in it’s eradication from Hedges moralistic standpoint. I can’t think of anything more authoritarian than this.

For what it’s worth, I think the tactic of the black bloc is questionable in so far as it gives cover to cops who engage in property destruction, served neatly up for the capitalist press to justify police repression. But that is a tactical question. Hedges language is the language of violence.

Hedges knows nothing about tactics, about building social movements, about true solidarity, and about focusing on the real enemy. He is the one that needs to step back from his authoritarian platitudes of self-righteousness.

PS. Lisa Fithian, you should know better than to engage in this quite divisive debate.. You have seen what one informer in New Orleans, by the name of Brandon Darby, can do to a movement. How many more Brandon Darby’s will you and Chris Hedges create by stoking the reactions against anarchists and anti-authoritarians? How many more innocent people will get framed because of Hedges sloppy bullshit?

If Graeber is correct, and I think he is, we will see plenty of violence done against anarchists, regardless of their politics due to this reckless bullshit on Hedges part.

I agree with you that building a mass non-violent movement is preferable, in that it is inclusive for people of all ages. But Hedges has provided the police state it’s wedge with his unfounded rhetorical lies, as evidence by the fact that the Wall Street Journal of all places has picked up on this manufactured division delivered exclusively by Mr. Hedges. I urge you to step back and distance yourself here.

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By Anarcissie, February 13, 2012 at 7:05 pm Link to this comment

JDmysticDJ, February 13 at 5:00 pm:

‘... The one thing that stands out the most in the rebuttal is Graeber’s accusation that Hedges is promoting violence against Black Bloc Anarchists. ...’

His use of the term ‘cancer’ suffices to convict him of that charge.  The right-wing media were rife with images of disease, decay and pollution with regard to Occupy Wall Street from the beginning, in a tradition which runs as well through such neighborhoods as the propaganda of the Third Reich.  What do you do with cancer?

I don’t mind Hedges’s hysterics and inability to define and analyze what he’s talking about, but I do find the company he has chosen to join with some of his rhetoric pretty objectionable.

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By ElkoJohn, February 13, 2012 at 6:30 pm Link to this comment

Chris,
I know you are opposed to anything but non-violence,
—however the Greeks seem to be making progress.
If Greece were to suffer a major breakdown of law and order, the government
would need an absolutely loyal police force. Riot police have fought countless
battles with protesters in the past, but its biggest union said the force also had its
limits,
‘‘We refuse to stand against our parents, our brothers, our children,’‘
the Greek Police Federation said.

So, as my hero Malcolm X said, ‘‘I’m for whatever works.’’

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By malatesta1936, February 13, 2012 at 6:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris Hedges is weak. His side-stepping Graeber’s intellectual smack-down last week is weak.

http://nplusonemag.com/concerning-the-violent-peace-police

Graeber explicitly explained the purpose of a “diversity of tactics” which was designed to enhance solidarity and movement building, which in practice often works to limit thoughtless militant actions.

Hedges continues to write unfounded polemical nonsense, completely outside the process designed by, yes, anarchist politics (et al) in OWS to ensure everyone has a voice, in each autonomous location.

Instead, we have the divisive ravings of a ‘journalist’ writing from outside of the GAs, imposing a false debate on the movement, as though he were the guiding light of truth.

The truth is that his ravings last week were not even founded in fact, but stereotypes, unfounded accusations of BB participants, etc. The alleged “violence” that took place didn’t even take place. No one dressed in black had smashed the coffee shop windows, but lets blame the black bloc. Who cares, lets call them cancer and imply that it’s ok to engage in it’s eradication from Hedges moralistic standpoint. I can’t think of anything more authoritarian than this.

For what it’s worth, I think the tactic of the black bloc is questionable in so far as it gives cover to cops who engage in property destruction, served neatly up for the capitalist press to justify police repression. But that is a tactical question. Hedges language is the language of violence.

Hedges knows nothing about tactics, about building social movements, about true solidarity, and about focusing on the real enemy. He is the one that needs to step back from his authoritarian platitudes of self-righteousness.

PS. Lisa Fithian, you should know better than to engage in this quite divisive debate.. You have seen what one informer in New Orleans, by the name of Brandon Darby, can do to a movement. How many more Brandon Darby’s will you and Chris Hedges create by stoking the reactions against anarchists and anti-authoritarians? How many more innocent people will get framed because of Hedges sloppy bullshit?

If Graeber is correct, and I think he is, we will see plenty of violence done against anarchists, regardless of their politics due to this reckless bullshit on Hedges part.

I agree with you that building a mass non-violent movement is preferable, in that it is inclusive for people of all ages. But Hedges has provided the police state it’s wedge with his unfounded rhetorical lies, as evidence by the fact that the Wall Street Journal of all places has picked up on this manufactured division delivered exclusively by Mr. Hedges. I urge you to step back and distance yourself here.

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By Anarcissie, February 13, 2012 at 6:10 pm Link to this comment

If you’re going to advocate non-violence you should at least be able to define it clearly and consistently.

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By JDmysticDJ, February 13, 2012 at 6:00 pm Link to this comment

I was asked to “please read” Graeber’s rebuttal to Chris Hedges’ article “The Cancer in Occupy.” After such a polite plea how could I refuse? Having read Graeber’s rebuttal I’m struck by how weak Graeber’s rebuttal was.

The one thing that stands out the most in the rebuttal is Graeber’s accusation that Hedges is promoting violence against Black Bloc Anarchists. If one is to believe Mr. Graeber, “pacifists” attacking Black Bloc Anarchists and having them arrested is a regular occurrence at Occupy Wall Street occupations.

“David Rolfe Graeber (born 12 February 1961) is an American anthropologist and anarchist who currently holds the position of Reader in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London.He was an associate professor of anthropology at Yale University, although Yale controversially declined to rehire him, and his term there ended in June 2007. Graeber has a history of social and political activism, including his role in protests against the World Economic Forum in New York City in 2002, membership in the labor union Industrial Workers of the World, and an early role in Occupy Wall Street.”

Given Mr. Graeber’s apparent commitment to anarchism his resentment regarding Hedges’ article is to be expected but such does not give validity to his claims. Mr. Graeber was involved with Occupy New York for six weeks and then moved to Austen Texas where he helped to “Organize” Occupy Austen.

Dr David Graeber MA PhD
Position held:
Reader
Department of Anthropology

Goldsmiths, University of London

New Cross
London
SE14 6NW

“David Graeber’s original research project focused on relations between former nobles and former slaves in a rural community in Madagascar; it was about magic as a tool of politics, about the nature of power, character, and the meaning of history. He has also worked extensively on value theory, and has recently completed a major research project on social movements dedicated to principles of direct democracy, direct action, and has written widely on the relation (real and potential) of anthropology and anarchism. He is currently also working on a project on the history of debt.”

Anarchism can not be easily defined and the history of anarchism is fascinating though I would maintain not at all instructive in terms of forming a political philosophy. Anarchists have claimed allegiances from Left to Right the one constant being opposition to government, some anarchists being collectivist others being individualists, objectivists, etc. Ayn Rand has been described as a self hating anarchist.

Based on what I know of anarchists I would describe them as sinister cynics with a propensity for violence. Anarchists were present during the French Revolution. Anarchists first allied themselves with the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution and sometime later fought against Bolsheviks. Anarchists were also evident in the political chaos that preceded the Third Reich. The history of anarchism is marked by violence and iconoclastic rejection of organized political institutions. One might say most succinctly, anarchists have a long history of being trouble makers; characters always involved in dissension and violence. Another characteristic of anarchists by my appraisal would be their dialectic of indecipherable mumbo jumbo; i.e. pseudo-intellectualism where rational clearly defined political objectives are non-existent. Anarchists, by my appraisal, have been constant critics of organized society offering no solutions other than a uniform rejection of everything; bomb throwers who revel in throwing bombs real or metaphorical.

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By IMax, February 13, 2012 at 5:41 pm Link to this comment

It was this time last year that Hedges began writing and ruminating on the idea of taking advantage of high unemployment, distrust of Wall Street/Washington machinations, American anxiety over a bleak and scary financial future to begin a revolution.  Thus occupywallstreetdotorg, of which Hedges is closely associated, came into being in June of 2011. 

It seems important to fully understand how, where, and why these demonstrations began while we listen to Hedges today discussing what has become of “His Movement” thus far.

Hedges is disingenuous in two ways that I can see.  1. He never makes clear his integral role in the concerted effort to organize Occupy demonstrations - instead he leads people to believe these demonstrations are completely organic.  2. The entire practice of “Occupying” sidewalks, doorways, intersections, public and private buildings and property is, by design, intended to rally as many people as possible to physically confront “the establishment”.

Example:  If any individual here goes out tomorrow at 5:00p and stands in the middle of one of the busiest intersections in their city something bad will happen.  There will be a physical confrontation of some sort.  There may be a confrontation with an automobile, several automobiles, one or a number of commuters trying simply to get home from work or, very likely, law enforcement (the ‘oppressive surveillance State’, as Hedges likes to say) will be dispatched.  Either way chances are great someone will be harmed in some way.  Hedges pretends this is never Occupy organizer’s intentions.  If that is true, which I don’t believe, he is none too bright.  Remember, Hedges is fond of often reminding us that he, more than most, understands how revolutions begin.

Occupy has always been intended as a means to gather people with the goal of physical confrontation as a vehicle toward effecting change.  In other words; Occupy physical spaces for extended periods is not merely an intellectual, collaborative, exercise.

-

Troll: “In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory,[2] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community”.

I am a simple troll with a message which differs from Chris Hedges and several others here.  A message which, while not as sexy, is tremendously more powerful and lasting. 

Want to effect real change for an entire generation?  Change which requires no teargas and riot gear?  Change in which you can maintain a semblance of dignity before your children and grandchildren?  Join your local School Board.  Effect the ways in which our children are educated in the coming decades.  If you’re seeking more immediate results consider this:  What a powerful revolution we would see if more than 14% of voting age democrats made their mark in the next issues oriented Primary Election cycle - and the one after that, and the one after that…..  That would be a truly “American style” revolution in an authentic spirit of non-violence.  A democratic megaphone which would be heard from one coast to the other.  Perhaps the entire world.

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By Wikileaks for Nobel, February 13, 2012 at 5:36 pm Link to this comment

Thank you Mr. Hedges.  The notion that nonviolence is merely a “tactic”—to be alternated with violence, depending on “what works”—is a misunderstanding largely fueled by the studied ignorance of people who *could* know otherwise.  The literature on nonviolence is extensive, as is the history of the Civil Rights Movement in this nation.  Until it is grasped that nonviolence entails not *making enemies*, the talk about “tactics” will continue to obscure a basic choice that must be made:  whether to reach out to the 99% who are *not* attracted to violence, or increasingly rely on closed, in-group associations of people intent on “trashing” and more. 

It is already occurring that in Occupy Oakland, some long-time members there are being called “snitches” and “outed” as tools of the police.  This includes an activist very recently a winner of a Shorty award for his dedication and service to the Occupy movement, but he also is unfortunately an advocate of nonviolence—not the “right on” stance at all, it seems.

Well.  For those who aren’t familiar with it, ‘snitching’ is a term originating in the federal penitentiary system, and indicates a prisoner who has told a guard something, usually in order to try gaining some sort of favor.  This is a serious matter, and it is reinforced by the accompanying phrase, “snitches get stitches,” also being bandied about by those who view felons as role models.  We all know that many people are wrongly imprisoned, but to take our cue from the often-violent subculture of that setting further reinforces the divide of Occupation from the real 99%, the vast majority of Americans who have hardly been touched by our fledgling efforts.

Chicago is soon to be the setting for a major series of activities by Occupiers, as NATO and the G8 nations meet there.  Mayor Rahm Emanuel—Obama’s former Chief of Staff—is doing everything he can to suspend all Constitutional protections during those meetings.  It would be the utmost folly to bring untrained, unsuspecting people into such a setting with elements who intend to trash and are already baiting other Occupiers as “pigs.”  Unless this is remedied before the time of these meetings, it would be wise for those who are committed to nonviolence to stay away.  Let those who want to play Street Fighting Man act out their juvenile fantasies.

I am reminded that when the Black Panther leader Fred Hampton met the Weathermen to hear their ideas about their projected “Day of Rage” in Chicago, after listening to them he literally kicked them out of his office, calling them “Custerist.”  Whatever else you think of the road the Panthers took (armed self-defense), they were not fools.  It is a pity the same cannot reliably be said about the “exemplary militants” of no particular class who are about to show us all “how it is done.”  It’s a greater pity that Fred Hampton is not here to set them straight—but he was murdered in his bed by the Chicago police.  Long time passing.

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By PatrickHenry, February 13, 2012 at 4:57 pm Link to this comment

The powerless should fear not as ever vigilant armed and potentially dangerous American veterans sit on the sidelines waiting to see how those who are sworn to defend this nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic, will treat their fellow Americans and justify their actions.

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By caped amigo, February 13, 2012 at 4:45 pm Link to this comment

Chris Hedges is a gift to those people seeking justice and a better world. That so
many in this thread don’t understand his plain language or “it”, is evidence of how
great our challenge is. Very few are digging deep enough for truth and it is
obvious by some of these inane and twisted comments.

Keep the light on Chris….

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By Feral Cat, February 13, 2012 at 4:43 pm Link to this comment

Hedges should read Graeber’s excellent original scholarship in his new book “Debt The First 5000 Years.”  For me, Hedges’ writing has a sermon like quality to it and appeals to emotions ; our indignations.  Graeber is an amazing original thinker and careful scholar and his work appeals both to the mind and to the heart.  I am blown away by him.  Refreshing to see movements and history from an anthropologist and activist point of view rather than a journalist.  And what’s with this powerlessness?  Sounds like an AA meeting. 
Note:  You can download and read Graeber’s excellent “Revolutions in Reverse”.  Lots more original thought that comes from homework.  The essay “Army of Altruists” is amazing.

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By Sombrio, February 13, 2012 at 4:33 pm Link to this comment

Bravo Chris. What we all fail to understand is the persausive historical deciet of principalities and the powers that be. It is simply built upon the lie that we cannot all be kings. That lie is based upon the idea of inheirent inequality and has been perpetuated through out the historical record.
When the statement is made: ‘We don’t need leaders’, it produces the swift and violent reaction Chris Hedges has spent a lifetime so abley documenting.
But cheer up folks. The knowledge of how to conduct a non-violent, non-elite, with a no leadership principal campaign has been widely studied for many centuries. The irony of the historical record is that it provides all then information needed on how the dysfunctional operations of elites manifest themselves. What it doesn’t provide is how it can be overcome. That knowledge is provided in the human spirit.
The happy thing for me is knowing that the cultural tools that the elites have provided can indeed be made to serve this very heretical idea of: ‘We don’t need leaders’, or the elites that support them.
I would suggest that the occupy movement is only very small jab at the jugular of the key ingredient that greases the wheels of the psychopathic rituals of what now passes as governence.
The importance of the occupy movement is that it has demonstrated and suceeded in establishing within many peoples minds the system of governence that any group of people can do regardless of how they have been brought up. By being able to publish this despite all the harrasment is a credit to those who have participated.
Does any one have any idea how or when the principals of the occupy movement will achieve the goal of freedom? Of course not. That’s what scares the bejesus out of elites world wide and appears to be disheartening to observers. So stop observing and join in the demise of the elites. Occupy Wall Street is only one movement of the much larger movement through out mankind that has had millennia to mature. So let’s keep at it. The people part of We the people will win.

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By gerard, February 13, 2012 at 4:09 pm Link to this comment

It appears that a central requirement right now is the need for leadership of two
kinds:  One, leadership to help Occupy as a united movement to decide and set
up some specific and realistic projects addressing deep and long-term national
changes—in other words help in national goal settling and consensus.  Yet
another kind of leadership that might come from within Occupy to spread
outward from local levels might be aimed at education to develop
consciousness of possibilities and the leadership to move toward appropriate
and coherent immediate gains.

The conversation here on TD as well as events going on every day beyond the
blogosphere indicate clearly that a spirit of movement has become active but at
all levels the specifics of what to do and how it might be done are missing, so
everything seems unclear and in danger of collapse into inactivity or chaos.

Advocating for leadership is, however, a two-edged sword as in one way the
plea can be heard as a need for dominance by some charismatic figure or some
clique that can make itself heard above the chaos.  Both these types of
leadership are what is NOT needed, and IMO should be shunned.

The political climate of the country is moving toward change—well thought
out, practical and beneficial or destructive and harmful is the question in the
wings.  No one or no few people have answers. millions are searching.  If
Occupy could invent ways to aid in the search, at the moment that might be the
most significant intervention it could make.  I also think such a direction might
gain wide attention and support.

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By Claudine Grange, February 13, 2012 at 4:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I stand nonviolent for truth and justice.  There’s nothing that can destroy truth and
justice.  Nothing.  Truth is better than illusion.  Compassion is better than hatred. 
Generosity is better than greed.  Nonviolence is better than violence.  Why?  Cause
they are experienced as such.  Illusion, hatred and greed cause unnecessary
suffering that destroy us.  We can put an end to unnecessary suffering and take a
nonviolent stand with the Occupy movement.  The more of us there are the greater
our influence.  Let’s go folks.  The march continues on…

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By Flickford, February 13, 2012 at 3:09 pm Link to this comment

There will be no viable solutions unless there is an overwhelming consensus that
there is a problem to begin with. The real problem for OWS remains overcoming a
state of perpetual corporate brain-washing to deliver truth to the majority.

There are 2 groups within the 99%; those who are informed and the majority who
are not. So the real focus of tactics for OWS should be a massive educational and
message outreach in the simplest and broadest terms or it will fail. At this point all
OWS can say is that they’ve been noticed, they are hardly a populist movement
with enough support to challenge the status quo.

To get down and dirty with the masses of folks required to get OWS powerful
popular support in this country will take genius messaging with patience and
empathy to reach out and win over the uninformed. Demonstrations and protests
are only part of the equation. OWS needs corps to venture into the bluest states of
misery in the country and find the support to be true advocates of the 99%.

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By MeAgain, February 13, 2012 at 3:02 pm Link to this comment

This article is full of contradiction.  It appears to be designed to cleverly undermine the Occupy movement.

I sincerely wonder who in fact Chris Hedges is working for! This Black Box reasoning would be a gift to the 1% who are now trembling in their boots as they attempt to unsuccessfully counter the nonviolent tactics of Occupy.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 13, 2012 at 2:59 pm Link to this comment

Watch: OWS will serve as a tool to tighten the constraints of the coming police state.

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