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The Cancer in Occupy

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Posted on Feb 6, 2012
Mr. Fish

By Chris Hedges

The Black Bloc anarchists, who have been active on the streets in Oakland and other cities, are the cancer of the Occupy movement. The presence of Black Bloc anarchists—so named because they dress in black, obscure their faces, move as a unified mass, seek physical confrontations with police and destroy property—is a gift from heaven to the security and surveillance state. The Occupy encampments in various cities were shut down precisely because they were nonviolent. They were shut down because the state realized the potential of their broad appeal even to those within the systems of power. They were shut down because they articulated a truth about our economic and political system that cut across political and cultural lines. And they were shut down because they were places mothers and fathers with strollers felt safe.

Black Bloc adherents detest those of us on the organized left and seek, quite consciously, to take away our tools of empowerment. They confuse acts of petty vandalism and a repellent cynicism with revolution. The real enemies, they argue, are not the corporate capitalists, but their collaborators among the unions, workers’ movements, radical intellectuals, environmental activists and populist movements such as the Zapatistas. Any group that seeks to rebuild social structures, especially through nonviolent acts of civil disobedience, rather than physically destroy, becomes, in the eyes of Black Bloc anarchists, the enemy. Black Bloc anarchists spend most of their fury not on the architects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or globalism, but on those, such as the Zapatistas, who respond to the problem. It is a grotesque inversion of value systems.

Because Black Bloc anarchists do not believe in organization, indeed oppose all organized movements, they ensure their own powerlessness. They can only be obstructionist. And they are primarily obstructionist to those who resist. John Zerzan, one of the principal ideologues of the Black Bloc movement in the United States, defended “Industrial Society and Its Future,” the rambling manifesto by Theodore Kaczynski, known as the Unabomber, although he did not endorse Kaczynski’s bombings. Zerzan is a fierce critic of a long list of supposed sellouts starting with Noam Chomsky. Black Bloc anarchists are an example of what Theodore Roszak in “The Making of a Counter Culture” called the “progressive adolescentization” of the American left.

In Zerzan’s now defunct magazine Green Anarchy (which survives as a website) he published an article by someone named “Venomous Butterfly” that excoriated the Zapatista Army for National Liberation (EZLN). The essay declared that “not only are those [the Zapatistas’] aims not anarchist; they are not even revolutionary.” It also denounced the indigenous movement for “nationalist language,” for asserting the right of people to “alter or modify their form of government” and for having the goals of “work, land, housing, health care, education, independence, freedom, democracy, justice and peace.” The movement, the article stated, was not worthy of support because it called for “nothing concrete that could not be provided by capitalism.”

“Of course,” the article went on, “the social struggles of exploited and oppressed people cannot be expected to conform to some abstract anarchist ideal. These struggles arise in particular situations, sparked by specific events. The question of revolutionary solidarity in these struggles is, therefore, the question of how to intervene in a way that is fitting with one’s aims, in a way that moves one’s revolutionary anarchist project forward.”

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Solidarity becomes the hijacking or destruction of competing movements, which is exactly what the Black Bloc contingents are attempting to do with the Occupy movement.

“The Black Bloc can say they are attacking cops, but what they are really doing is destroying the Occupy movement,” the writer and environmental activist Derrick Jensen told me when I reached him by phone in California. “If their real target actually was the cops and not the Occupy movement, the Black Bloc would make their actions completely separate from Occupy, instead of effectively using these others as a human shield. Their attacks on cops are simply a means to an end, which is to destroy a movement that doesn’t fit their ideological standard.”

“I don’t have a problem with escalating tactics to some sort of militant resistance if it is appropriate morally, strategically and tactically,” Jensen continued. “This is true if one is going to pick up a sign, a rock or a gun. But you need to have thought it through. The Black Bloc spends more time attempting to destroy movements than they do attacking those in power. They hate the left more than they hate capitalists.”

“Their thinking is not only nonstrategic, but actively opposed to strategy,” said Jensen, author of several books, including “The Culture of Make Believe.” “They are unwilling to think critically about whether one is acting appropriately in the moment. I have no problem with someone violating boundaries [when] that violation is the smart, appropriate thing to do. I have a huge problem with people violating boundaries for the sake of violating boundaries. It is a lot easier to pick up a rock and throw it through the nearest window than it is to organize, or at least figure out which window you should throw a rock through if you are going to throw a rock. A lot of it is laziness.” 

Groups of Black Bloc protesters, for example, smashed the windows of a locally owned coffee shop in November in Oakland and looted it. It was not, as Jensen points out, a strategic, moral or tactical act. It was done for its own sake. Random acts of violence, looting and vandalism are justified, in the jargon of the movement, as components of “feral” or “spontaneous insurrection.” These acts, the movement argues, can never be organized. Organization, in the thinking of the movement, implies hierarchy, which must always be opposed. There can be no restraints on “feral” or “spontaneous” acts of insurrection. Whoever gets hurt gets hurt. Whatever gets destroyed gets destroyed.

There is a word for this—“criminal.”


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By Inaru, February 6, 2012 at 8:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Remnants of that religious training, aka “judgement”,
“condemnation”, Chris H? Shall we send anarchists to purgatory, or
straight to hell?

Our movement goal has to be: Make oppression and injustice
unprofitable. Profit is the motive. Break it.

Chris has approved of the radical tactics in Greece. We in America
are now subject to the same IMF that has strangled progress
throughout the developing world on behalf of the 1%. We are now
“them”. If rioting is stupid here, it’s stupid there too.

Violence as a tactic sucks because the weakest always pay. Those
with money, or good strong legs to run like hell, rarely pay the
consequences. Poor people are not stupid. We know our
neighborhoods will be destroyed by military tanks and the national
guard if we riot. It’s happened before. We were left with ghettos
even more unlivable than before.

Anarchists and the Black Bloq are not synonymous. Many of us on
the left have chosen anarchy - as in anti-hierarchy - after being sold
out by every leftist movement in the world. There’s always a bribe at
the ready to co-opt those who choose to delegitimize radical change
- to settle for reform of existing systems that benefit the top. The
non-violent are given more power to become part of the system,
thanks to those who advocate violence! Ironic, isn’t it?

Co-optation is not something to worry about, it’s what to expect.
Non-violent leaders (whether they acknowledge they are leaders or
not) will be co-opted. Violent protesters will be attacked - unless we
can run, or pay good lawyers. But the non-violent as a contrast will
get more respect, at least on the surface.

Movements can only partially succeed. Gandhi did not obliterate the
caste system, nor bring justice to all of India. What did get
accomplished for India was because it cost the powers-that-be
money, lots and lots of money, and the rich were saddled w/a violent
uprising (Pakistan). Developed nations did not stop exploiting India’s
people. They just learned that outright colonization was expensive,
but colonization on-the-down-low is still profitable.

Rev. Dr. King’s non-violent movement did not bring equality to
people of color and poor people. What legalistic machinations we
got from the Civil Rts movement was in response to the Black Power
Movement as an alternative. And the legal wins have been
manipulated to resume the oppression King fought. Our schools
and homes are segregated by income, and our income is
determined by our conformity or non-conformity.

The Labor Movement didn’t get all its gains from being 100% non-
violent. On the contrary. To this day, union organizers are labeled
thugs. You decide if the rights won were worth it. As those rights are
eroded to the detriment of your home/family/community life, I think
you’ll agree they were worth actually fighting for. And workers didn’t
randomly attack power. They occupied their jobs. Pinkertons, police,
armies were sent to destroy them. Workers fought back. Many died.

Let’s examine our own prejudices and hypocrisies. Why do we
ostracize pot-smokers in Occupy, when many are medically reliant,
or use it as harm-reduction so as not to give in to alcoholism or
addiction to truly destructive substances? Why let use of a weed
marginalize would-be protesters, instead of challenge the
criminalization of millions who use it?

Lefties who can head for a secure home in a sheltered enclave after
protests are too damn judgmental of anything that isn’t ‘legal’. To
occupy public spaces and speak out for free has been rendered
illegal - that’s the point! And how many of those “Don’t smoke pot
and make us look illegitimate” nagging-nancies head straight to
their stash and pipe as soon as they close their front doors?!

Get a grip, Chris. Your ecumenical training in judging others is
showing. You want real change. Prepare for the real conflict
necessary to bring it about. Teach, don’t preach.

Report this

By ms. lovegood, February 6, 2012 at 8:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris,

Thank you. Thank you, Derrick, too.
This article is spot on. Although I could understand that it may feel hostile to
anarchists, I think that’s not the goal of this article. I think the goal of this
article is to point out, and hopefully change, the ineffective use of BB tactics in
non-violent movements (occupy) where there may be children, the elderly, and
folks who want to build a social movement that doesn’t use property
destruction and other forms of illegal action as tactics to get it’s point across
(or better yet, make material change).
Whether or not someone agrees with black bloc, and whether or not someone
is an anarchist, or is privileged, or rich, or whatever; these tactics do not
belong in occupy. These tactics are valid, and belong somewhere else.

Someone in these comments, somewhere, said that it’s fine if folks who are
anarchist and want to use black bloc tactics should do it in a place where it
makes sense. It does not make sense to do illegal actions in a movement that
has a lot of publicity. Illegal actions, if done right, are supposed to be effective.
They are not supposed to be gained for shock value, or for personal fulfillment.
Personal fulfillment, usually in the form of “feeling like a man” as Hedges
accurately points out, is not an effective political tactic, or a good way of
keeping friends and gaining solidarity.

It would make more sense that if Black Bloc anarchists have the goal of being
effective and making the changes that they want in the world, they should
support and build solidarity with other movements. Even if they are not
perfectly anarchist. There are plenty of people out in the world who agree with
mutual aid, questioning/abolishing unfair power structures, and making a
better world who may not identify as anarchists.

Are we middleschoolers, pointing our fingers at each other and calling each
other posers? Or are we adults who want to make this world better for those
who come after us?
Do we even care?

Report this

By Craig Daughtrey, February 6, 2012 at 8:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Black Bloc is highly unnecessary with the Occupy
protests. However, Black Bloc should not disappear
entirely. Black Bloc holds the emotion that is lost
from people who care: anger. Protests like Occupy say
that we are dissatisfied with the way things are
going. A black block protests says we won’t tolerate
it. Now, I am not saying that we need to have violent
protests every time we want to get our point across,
I am just saying that non violent protest can only go
so far. Look at England in August, the protest of the
police in favour of the man who was killed was
ignored. They broke out into a riot (I personally
believe the riots that followed were the most ridiculous things in the world, they had no purpose
or motive) but it shows that the protesters would not
just let themselves be ignored. I have digressed. The
thing for me is, the government is only scared of
losing votes, losing support, etc. They should also
be scared of their true owners (We the People)
getting furious and using force.

Report this

By heterochromatic, February 6, 2012 at 7:48 pm Link to this comment

Macresarf1,
Black Blocs, as Chris Hedges identifies, and by my
personal observation, are policier covert
organizations….

———
and your evidence for that pronouncement??????

did you observe looking like police?

did they sound, smell or taste police-like?

or does it just suit you to pull that fudge brownie
out your backpack?

Report this
OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, February 6, 2012 at 7:22 pm Link to this comment

Dear greg-2,

In the past, i have suggested that there is problem within Occupy and it had to do with the anarchists and other radicals.

I was told by Occupy supporters here that there is no real problem within Occupy, because anything bad within Occupy was caused by agents provocateur. These agents are conservatives in disguise, in the pay of fascist overlords. They wear masks so we cant match their faces in the “Young Republicans Yearbook”.

I have also been told that folks who defend the anarchists online are actually expert high ranking operatives within the Republican Party.

You, greg_2, seem to have some authority and I demand to know your real identity. In fact i have already reached over and grabbed your black mask when you least expected it.

I tear your mask away!

Now, as i gaze at your face…

omg…

oh the horror…

its Dick Cheney! greg_2 is really Dick Cheney!

Report this

By Argy F, February 6, 2012 at 7:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

re: Oakland & the black bloc contingency - one couldn’t do better than quote
Gerrude Stein, “there’s no there, there”.

Any rational adult would automatically understand the futility of random
violence as a tactical method - if the results desired are bringing about positive
change. It’s so basic an idea it’s almost silly that we can’t assume it’s
UNIVERSALLY understood.

If -on the other hand- one is seeking high levels of stimulation or one wishes
to play out an internally scripted, narcissistic by definition “anti-hero, hero
journey” then I suppose black bloc could be attractive.

What will the world be like in 10 years because of Occupy? Is anyone naive
enough to believe that if they throw rocks at cops or dump trash - or even if
they burn a building - they will effect the kind of change that makes the world
more humane, moral, representative and empathetic?

The black bloc is nonsense. I also believe Hedges is correct - that it is
dangerous - mostly because of it’s inane, selfish, puerile focus on excitement
and personal risk taking.

For christ sakes if you need that kind of excitement - that’s what parkour is for.

I would hope - and believe I’m representative in believing that Occupy is NOT
about destruction. It’s a movement based on making the world better by uniting
as many of the 100% as possible. This attempt can only be realized if we can
convince the majority to face -honestly- the evil that lurks within every
individual - and we can inspire a collective attempt to resist that natural
selfishness.

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Sue Basko's avatar

By Sue Basko, February 6, 2012 at 7:20 pm Link to this comment

GREAT ARTICLE> I think the so-called Black Bloc people are modern-day Nazis.
They are very right wing and oppressive, masquerading as “revolutionary.” I
write a blog about peaceful protest that is used by Occupy groups worldwide. 
http://occupypeace.blogspot.com

A supposed Black Bloc or “radical” group in Occupy LA is called OLAASM -
Occupy Los Angeles Anti Social Media.  This group has an ongoing campaign of
harassment and coercion against the Occupy LA participants and volunteers. 
Each day is a fresh set of victims.  OLAASM uses Twitter, a list serve, and a blog
to defame and harass anyone giving their efforts to help Occupy LA.  They have
harassed and defamed the social media workers, the website team, the lawyers
(including me), the medics, the livestreamers, the writers, and on and on.

  I was the first one to publicly denounce what the OLAASM gropu is doing —
and then they went on attack viciously harassing me.  The OLAASM trash is
written by an “anonymous” source, but several Occupy LA participants have
stated they support it.  Basically, everyone knows who is in it and supports it. 
AND yes, of course, there is the very strong belief that some some among them
are FBI or DHS agents placed there to start the group, egg it on, control it, and
result in arrests. 

The online harassment engaged in by OLAASM iS NOT legal or ethical .  They
have disseminated private emails -which is a violation of copyright.  They have
disseminated lawyer-client information, which is illegal.  They have engaged in
non-stop Cyberbullying, which violates California law.  When I emailed a young
man saying what was being done was wrong, he emailed back a reply (which he
posted onto a list serve) that he thinks the attacks are fine because they are not
physically attacking. 

In harassing me, OLAASM has mainly built upon nonsense created by other past
harassers.  For example, I help run a website written by a man with autism who
is in prison on a life without parole sentence.  Back in December, my accounts
were hacked by a professional cyberstalker who created a campaign to discredit
me.  OLAASM picked up on that as if it was real.  They also picked up on a
weird website some unknown person made that lists me as a personal injury
attorney.  (I am a lawyer for music, film, websites, media, etc)  That website lists
an address (not mine).  So just 2 mights ago, some clown claiming to be
OLAASM posted onto Twitter that he was doing a countdown before he “doxed”
me, that he had my address, etc.  I made an FBI report of terroristic threatening
and cyberstalking while he was still adding tweets.

The OLAASM group members should realize that if any harm comes to any of
the people they have harassed, they can be held criminally liable.  Also, if any
of the OLAASM people are actual innocents, they should realize that they are
being set up to be arrested on Conspiracy or terrorism charges. 

Same deal up in Oakland.  Yesterday, a new lawyer was online urging
livestreamers to agree to not film destructive acts done by protesters.  The
lawyer proposed an Occupy Oakland press pass, given only to those who agree
not to show protesters’ crime.  He used the word “snitches.”  At the request of
several people on Twitter, I ran a link to my blog post about Agents
Provocateurs. 

When anyone is proposing anything illegal or destructive, you should spend a
whole lot of time questioning who they are and what their motives are.  I do
not deny that there are genuine sociopaths who do wish to lead people in
mindless destruction.  As I started off the comment, I think the Black Bloc
people are wanna-be Nazis.  However, I think MOST of the ardent Black Bloc
leaders present in the Occupy movement are undercover agents.  I think that,
contrary to the DOJ guidelines for infiltration, these undercovers are interfering
terribly with peoples’ rights to peacefully engage in protest.

Report this

By Macresarf1, February 6, 2012 at 7:16 pm Link to this comment

Black Blocs, as Chris Hedges identifies, and by my personal observation, are policier covert organizations and their dupes, either local, national, or international, which encourage criminal acts to discredit whatever movement or subject they are set upon.  As idea fixe, they date back to at least the 19th Century
“communes” (and secret police networks) responsible for acts of increasing violence, culminating in the assassination of several crowned heads of Europe. They are now setting about to discredit the Occupy Movements.

  Do not be taken in.

  When someone in a black balaclava helmet running around with rocks in his/her hand gives one to you and points to the mom and pop coffee shop on the corner, call the police (for what it’s worth), but do not throw the rock.  Smashing windows of small businesses is not a revolutionary act. It’s an act of vandalism and petty
criminality.

  Long term, disciplined, nonviolence is the only philosophy which in the end can defeat the massive influence of Corporatism now dominating our Democracy.

Report this

By greg_2, February 6, 2012 at 7:10 pm Link to this comment

http://facingreality.tumblr.com/post/17176503032/to-be-fair-he-is-a-journalist-a-short-response-to

To Be Fair, He Is a Journalist: A Short Response to Chris Hedges on the Black Bloc

It was a little weird to wake up today to an article by Chris Hedges on a website called “Truth-Out” when “truth” is in such short supply in the piece. Hedges was trained as a journalist and worked for years at such luminaries of lies like the New York Times, so it shouldn’t be a secret where he’s gotten his sensationalism, his tendency to lie, his hyperbole, and, most of all, his seeming inability to do rudimentary research. Nonetheless, when activist celebrities like Hedges (and his friend here, Derrick Jensen) write even complete nonsense like this, it tends to have a certain conceptual currency with people. And though I’d much rather be visiting with friends today (who promised me peanut butter cookies, no less!), I figured I’d take a few minutes to point out some of the more egregious distortions in Hedges’ terrible piece.

Definitions

First, we need to clear up some definitional problems. Now, as a journalist, I really don’t expect Hedges to be able to “research,”—it does seem to go against the prime directives of the profession, but let’s be clear: There’s no such thing as “The Black Bloc movement.” The black bloc is a tactic. It’s also not just a tactic used by anarchists, so “black bloc anarchists” is a bit of a misnomer—particularly because Hedges doesn’t know the identities of the people under those sexy, black masks. In fact, it was autonomists in the 80s who came up with the (often quite brilliant) idea in Germany. Protecting themselves against the repression of what Hedges calls “the security and surveillance state,” squatters, protesters, and other rabble rousers would dress in all black, covering up tattoos, their faces, and any other identifying features so they could act against this miserable world and, with some smarts and a sharp style, not get pinched by the pigs. This was true of resisters who were protecting marches (because the state never needs an excuse to incite violence and police are wont to riot and attack people), destroying property, or sometimes just marching en masse. That is, the black bloc has all kinds of uses. And in Oakland, where Hedges seems particularly upset by people actually having the gall to defend themselves against insane violent police thugs instead of just sit there idly by getting beaten, on Move-In Day the bloc looked mostly defensive—shielding themselves and other protesters from flash grenades and police mob violence with make-shift shields (and even one armchair). So, to be clear: The black bloc is a tactic used by lots of people, not just anarchists, and it has all kinds of uses. It’s not a “movement.”

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By greg_2, February 6, 2012 at 7:04 pm Link to this comment

@heterochromatic

Which will be seen if/when it happens again.

Does not refute the years of violence by the OPD tho.

Report this

By greg_2, February 6, 2012 at 6:56 pm Link to this comment

http://motherjones.com/mojo/2012/01/occupy-oakland-black-panther-roots

Occupy Oakland’s Black Panther Roots

On Sunday night, a day after the mass arrest of some 400 Occupy Oakland protesters—and journalists including one of my Mother Jones colleagues—many of those who’d been released met outside City Hall to let off steam. Broadcasting through a speaker in a bicycle trailer, members of Occupy Oakland’s Anti-Repression Committee denounced the use of “teargas, rubber bullets, and assault grenades.” The crowd chanted, “Fuck the cops!” But anger at those who’d encouraged police violence by throwing rocks, ransacking the inside of City Hall, and burning an American flag was hard to find. A veteran member of Occupy Oakland later told me that proponents of nonviolence had largely quit speaking up at Oakland meetings for fear of being shouted down.

Read more. Hedges should. Was he even in Oakland?

Oakland has deep roots re: violence by the police.

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By heterochromatic, February 6, 2012 at 6:50 pm Link to this comment

greg—-not 2 hard, 2 stupid…...

one time, a black bloc phalanx shield-charge is street
theatre farce. 

second time it’s tragedy.

Report this

By luther blissett, February 6, 2012 at 6:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“The revolution MUST be televised. The Occupy
Movement is no longer in the news. New “Tactics” must
be taken. “Black Bloc” are tactics, not people.”

greg_2, if you are so against the Corporate State,
why do you give one “shit” about whether their
propaganda delivery mechanism (aka “the news”)
ignores “The Movement”?

and is the slogan “FTP”—originally popularized by
a group who pioneered the hiphop sellout to the
Corporate Beast—really a “New Tactic” or just
another replica of the tired & true capitalistic
tendency to fetishize nostalgia for mass consumption?

and oh yeah, for all you attention junkies, the
“Revolution” may not be televised, but it is being
livestreamed.  since you feel it MUST be shown, can
you please explain to us the “tactic” of harassing
livestreamers, both in language (with implicit &
explicit threats recorded on camera) and in action
(e.g. swiping one’s camera in one instance in OAK and
physically attacking another from behind in NYC)? 
seems a bit counterproductive to your stated goal,
no?

anon @3:16 “The pigs started it.” yes, they sure did. 
all the evidence to that fact exists on the ustream
records of OaktownPirate & OccupyYourScreen found
here:

http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/20071282

too bad you fell for the piggybait: hook, line &
sinker.  loved the shields though.

perhaps you could harness that creative angst & anger
(no matter how justified it is) into something a bit
more constructive than destructive next time.  don’t
forget this line from Marx:

“History repeats, the first time as tragedy, the
second as farce.”

how bout this for an idea:
less black bloc and more bubble bloc?

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By greg_2, February 6, 2012 at 6:45 pm Link to this comment

The point is this: so far, non-violent Occupy Protestors have had violence fettered upon them by the state.

Some people are starting to say, enough is enough.

Black Bloc tactics are sometimes needed in light of this.

Is that too hard to understand?

Report this

By greg_2, February 6, 2012 at 6:37 pm Link to this comment

http://www.adbusters.org/blogs/blackspot-blog/what-will-happen-occupychicago.html

Three days after Adbusters put out a call to #OCCUPYCHICAGO for a month during the May G8/NATO summits, spectacular clashes erupted between #OCCUPYOAKLAND militants and armored police. Attempts to occupy an abandoned building were put down with tear gas, less-lethal munitions and baton charges. What was new, and surprising, this time around was that some Oakland occupiers came equipped as altermodern Hoplites with plastic and tin shields. And to everyone’s amazement they performed an eerie quasi-military discipline and phalanx formation that had clearly been worked out beforehand. They came ready and willing to confront police. On a symbolic level, the Oakland street battle struck a chord in the movement because its theatrical staging functioned as an inverted repetition of the Brooklyn Bridge arrests that electrified the first phase of Occupy.

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By heterochromatic, February 6, 2012 at 6:35 pm Link to this comment

raceto= good comment.

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By Urizen o8, February 6, 2012 at 6:29 pm Link to this comment

All good points by Mr Hedges. Just one suggestion: let’s stop referring to the black
boxers as “anarchists” out of respect for the venerable tradition of Anarchists
which, in my opinion, represents the sole hope for survival and harmony of the
planet.

Report this

By gerard, February 6, 2012 at 6:26 pm Link to this comment

Perhaps Chris Hedges’ “cancer” image is too threatening, bearing as it does all the fear of fatal disease, spreading, unstoppable, deadly, impossible to cure etc. etc. Something more moderate might have been less divisive and frightening.  In itself, it may have turned a lot of people off of OW, in Oakland at least.
  Because of past historical misrepresentations, misunderstandings and deliberate calumny, anarchy has an uphill battle on its hands to become even moderately acceptable in the U.S.  It’s past associations with violence(plus intentionally induced misunderstandings of “advocacy of no laws, no order"etc.) make it problematical for most people who hope to see profound political changes without violent confrontations. A further difficulty enters when we consider that the tactics of nonviolence itself are also inadequately if not poorly understood.
  It would seem that the OWS movement is going to have a hard enough time making itself understood without having to justify “divergent tactics” that involve violent confrontation.
  “Radical love” is a truly great-spirited goal, especially if it could possibly involve attitudes toward the police themselves in spite of abuse and misunderstanding.  When, in the beginning, OWS New York identified the police as “you too are the 99%” they came close to the powerful secrets of real nonviolent action.  If the Black Bloc could absorb some of that working philosophy, huge misunderstandings would be eliminated and progress could proceed, IMO.  Tough call, but maybe necessary.
Doesn’t mean not confronting.  Does mean that confrontation must be nonviolent. New. Untried. Creative. Experimental. Requires great courage, composure and sensitivity. Too soon to write it off?
  (I seem to remember an early video of a line-up of police versus students—Berkeley, maybe—where students were responding to forward-thrusting police with shouts of “Don’t beat students! Don’t beat students!” and police were restrained and did not push farther.)
  We are all humans needing “radical love” especially in crisis, and especially when we aren’t quite sure of what we are doing.

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By racetoinfinity, February 6, 2012 at 6:15 pm Link to this comment

Excellent and needed column.  One point about hierarchies—they are a natural feature of the universe, from atoms, to molecules, to organs, to organisms, to mammals to humans, etc.  OPPRESSOR hierarchies are the abuse of hierarchies for power (personal, imperial, etc.), money, sadism, or other nefarious ends.

The idea that there should be no organization or HEALTHY hierarchy (aka leadership) in the #occupy movement will not facilitate its effectiveness.

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By Fullblad, February 6, 2012 at 6:05 pm Link to this comment

Holy crap man you have been asleep haven’t you. Well at least you’re awake now. Better go back and find out what you missed. Start with Ralph Nader and see what his organizations accomplished before his voice was silenced.

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By Kathryn Kantorski, February 6, 2012 at 6:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is absolutely absurd

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By mikerobe, February 6, 2012 at 6:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Liberals: respectful of difference, tolerant, capable of complex analysis, intent on maintaining principle in the face of unprincipled authority… until they run up against anyone who disagrees with them, especially in practice. As many have noted, liberals’ dogmatic insistence on non-violence is precipitated on two main factors: first, the threat that violent resistance might pose for their own class status, and, second, their own cowardice.

Chris Hedges is what people I know in the barrios and ghettos call “a bitch.” Sorry liberals for offending your sensibilities, but it’s true. When the po po shows up with his badge and gun, Hedges puts his hands out and says “yassir.” Anyone who disagrees with that approach and understands the need to meet violent repression with violent reprisal threatens to expose Hedges for what he is: a coward who will do anything to hang onto the advantages that are systematically, ruthless, violently, and forcefully denied to others. Violence is well and good for those who attacked the police and burned down police stations and party headquarters in Egypt; it’s ok for the resistance in Syria or Libya or Bahrain or Yemen. Hell, it’s even ok for Greek anarchists as Hedges himself argued in previous posts. None of it threatens his cowardice and conformity directly. But now that it’s his movement, even minor property destruction is a “cancer.”

Zerzan’s critique of the Zapatistas is nuanced: he recognizes elements of nationalism and vanguardism that are threatening to real liberation. It certainly on no way represents the broad swath of anarhcists, black bloc or otherwise. Anyway, Hedges piece, by contrast, is dogmatic, blunt and statist. “Ocupiers, hear me: assist the state in ferreting out the anarchists. They are not merely criminal but a disease to the body politic, a cancer which must be excised.” If you have read Agamben or Fouault you will see this biopolitics for what it is and the fascistic forces it serves.

I could go on and on about how disgusting this attack is. Why waste more time? Hedges: you are pathetic.

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By AmiBlue, February 6, 2012 at 5:50 pm Link to this comment

This was predictable and one of the reasons I considered occupy useless at best and open to abuse from anarchist groups or even distortion by the radical right - a prime opportunity for o’keefe, breitbart, and their minions. A complete waste of time and money.

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By OzarkMichael, February 6, 2012 at 5:46 pm Link to this comment

Nobody but Ed Romano would quote Hitler in order to justify his quote of Lenin.

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By balance, February 6, 2012 at 5:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

While this article does not directly address J28 in Oakland, the timing and
content of the article seems to be a critique of actions which took place last
weekend in Oakland. In light of that, I would encourage you to take the time to
both read the followup statement from Occupy Oakland’s Move-In Day
Assembly, as well as the video which has a more accurate timeline of January
28th than is being reported on in most media sources. It is worth noting that
many of those who were involved in militant defense against brutal police
violence were neither white men, nor using “black bloc tactics”. Many were
people who have suffered at the hand of police brutality or other forms of
systemic oppression for decades. Regardless of race, gender, politics, and
history with the police, in light of police brutality, everyone in the march that
day held legitimate claim to such self defense, and your conflation of the issues
at hand seems to be a less than thoughtful portrayal of this complex subject.

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

http://vimeo.com/36256273

Chris Hedges (and Derek Jensen), I would encourage you to take the journalistic
responsibility of following up with those in Occupy Oakland involved in this and
other actions, and reconsider some of your statements above. I (and I imagine
many other readers) would be very interested in reading such a follow up piece.
I understand that you, like many of us, are angry and frustrated with a
horrendous system of oppression and injustice, and that it’s easy from this
position of anger and frustration to make statements like those above. It’s easy
to understand a desire to work for a more effective movement. However, from
my perspective, a broad brush condemnation of black bloc tactics doesn’t seem
to be the positive path forward, nor born out of a heart of love. I would instead
encourage critical analysis, discussion, learning from, and continuing to work to
improve this movement’s efficacy.

On the subject of non-violence (which, btw, I agree is the best path where
viable), I would also recommend people watch the following lecture from
Occupy Austin, which speaks to the mythology of Ghandi, non-violence, and
the liberation of India.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NK4LCxyRLg

And with regard to the considerable lack of factual information in this essay, as
a witness of the events in Oakland you cite where a corporate coffee chain
location had its windows broken and some food stolen, it was not a black bloc
action. It was a random group of angry people from a crowd that had just been
beaten, teargassed, and flashbanged by the police. Were their actions effective
tactically? I don’t think so. However, I think that you may wish to find in your
heart some compassion for the understandable rage these people felt, though
misdirected. The misdirection is also understandable, as there is not a viable
mode of recourse, as our militarized police system is not being held
accountable to their brutality. I’ve witnessed your own accounts of misdirected
rage throughout your life, and would hope that you would have more
compassion. I would have actually thought to read from you a call against
police brutality today.

Have there been other actions by people employing black bloc tactics which
broke windows and ATMs in Oakland and elsewhere? Yes. I also don’t think
those actions are particularly effective tactics (nor are those actions or
individuals themselves holistically representative of black bloc tactics).
However, for you to to shift focus away from the more egregious injustices of
the system and demonize a small amount of property damage in the way that
you do, is unfortunate. I am in favor of the critique and discussion of tactics,
but would encourage we do it in a way which can help us move forward. Your
article doesn’t accomplish this, in my opinion.

Thank you for your attention.

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By MarsBot, February 6, 2012 at 5:38 pm Link to this comment

One more thing: before the “battle of Oak street” in Oakland on 1/28, the more
confrontational elements of Occupy announced that they were going away from
the general march up to police lines a block away. They suggested that anyone
who didn’t want to go should remain in the regular march, which a lot of
people did. I was there and heard this myself.

So the idea that there are “Black Bloc” people hiding behind peaceful protesters
to carry out a subversion of all humanity simply wasn’t true in this case. These
were people who wanted to make it clear that police were going to violently
prevent the Occupation of the Kaiser Center. So they advanced on the police
line until the police fired at them. They explicitly explained to the other
marchers what they intended to do and warned us not to participate if we were
uncomfortable with that. Mr. Hedges should go to more Occupy events in
Oakland if he wants to analyze what’s happening there. Simply looking at the
mainstream news (which he acknowledges to be corrupt in his books) will not
give him an accurate picture of this more confrontational side of Occupy which
should not be lumped into his exaggerated “cancerous Black Bloc” category.

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By albion, February 6, 2012 at 5:37 pm Link to this comment

http://viewpointmag.com/2012/02/06/santa-rita-i-hate-every-inch-of-you/
A good response by Jeb Purucker.

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By Ed Romano, February 6, 2012 at 5:36 pm Link to this comment

Dear Arkansas Clem,  If Hitler said one and one is two would he be wrong ?

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By MarsBot, February 6, 2012 at 5:19 pm Link to this comment

I’m an older person who generally believes Occupy should take a policy of non
violence. This last Saturday, a week after the police-initiated violence of the
previous week’s “move-in” day in Oakland, I went to the anti-police brutality
rally Saturday night. I talked to some of the young people wearing black who
had masks. They did not appear to take hard-core anarchist views. They didn’t
destroy anything in their subsequent march or provoke the police. Also, at the
move-in marches they didn’t initiate violence. They are wearing masks because
an Oakland city councilman has said Occupy should be categorized as
“domestic terrorists.” Should the government move to such a categorization,
Obama could legally imprison or kill them without trial. Many people wear
masks at Occupy events now for this very reason, not just the Black Bloc
people.

In every instance during the “move-in” march, the police initiated use of
projectiles. I saw this with my own eyes. Is it really “violence” when you throw a
tear gas canister back at police or wear a shield to prevent being maimed by
rubber bullets? Is it really violence when you advance up to a police line and
then stop? There are some few agent-provocateurs in the Black Bloc who
behave very provocatively and initiate violence. But the young people who take
these self-defense actions or go to the anti-police brutality marches aren’t
acting like the Black Bloc bogeymen Hedges is inflating out of proportion here.
Most of those shields had peace signs on them not anarchy symbols. Look at
the video of the “battle of Oak street.”

I think Occupy can vote down Black Bloc policies and disavow their actions. But
Occupy will be accused of violence regardless of what we actually do. That is
the standard historical script for authorities confronted by masses in the street.
Hedges’ thinking is being determined by mainstream media’s presentation of
Oakland’s move-in march. I was there for the whole thing including the flag-
burning. That was a minor afterthought by one angry person in reaction to the
previous 8 hours of police kettling, teargasing, shooting, beating and mass
arresting. The police INITIATED violence because the march actually had a
purpose: Occupying the Kaiser Center. They couldn’t let that happen. And these
specific goals/actions are what make Occupy different from the pointless,
police-supervised and ineffectual demonstrations against the Iraq War.

Chris . . . start looking at the Occupy media sights and watch their videos
instead of the nightly news channel. The so-called Black Bloc is not a “cancer.”
It’s a pimple on the face of Occupy. We’re going to look bad to some people;
we’re not going to die. The same problems arose during the 60s. Resistance
movements always split between violent and non violent factions. Why should
Occupy be any different? Also, if we get enough people on the streets, the cops
just fade away and confrontations become less likely. The confrontations come
when there are 1,000-2,0000 people at an event. If we get to even 3,000 on a
regular basis, it will be very difficult for the confrontationalists (cops or Black
Bloc) to pursue that agenda.

Everyone wants to argue about strategies, but Occupy is the STREET expression
of political anger. It will follow a trajectory similar to movements of this type
throughout history. It will find street strategies that work. The political
strategies and their expression will be inspired by Occupy but will come in
other ways.

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By pissedoffpeacenik, February 6, 2012 at 5:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris Hedges was a war correspondent, was a first hand witness of violence most
Americans see only on the silver screen. He earned his pulitzer prize in the combat
zone. He certainly does not need to apologize to any so called arm chair anarchist
for his views. I have two words to say regarding the cowardly behavior of these
Black blockers: agent provocateurs.

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By heterochromatic, February 6, 2012 at 5:16 pm Link to this comment

Zing,


a game of red-hot poker

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By katsteevns, February 6, 2012 at 5:10 pm Link to this comment

My question is, do we have time enough to carry out Chris Hedges’ idea of a long drawn out struggle that nonviolently mends the system incrementally?

It seems like a long shot in the dark to me.

But, in the mean time, most of those who are giving THEIR lives for OUR freedom are citizens of other nations. Lives taken by OUR military and its client states and other formations loyal to the crusade of total capitalist encirclement.

Not to mention the lives exploited by our corporations, just as Steve Jobs methods of capital accumulation are being put under the microscope. Not a pretty picture.

And thanks to the Federal Judiciary, Vermont Yankee is free to leach radioactive waste into the ground leaving no recourse for those who live in the state.

This is our Vietnam.

This is our Civil Rights Movement.

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By Fullblad, February 6, 2012 at 5:08 pm Link to this comment

After reading many of the comments here I have to address the general mood and words and contrast them with the actual actions of the bloc.

The actual espousing of armed rebellion against the strongest military on the planet shows clearly the greatest act of stupidity of thought I’ve ever encountered. This U.S. military is but one of all the militaries internationally at the behest of the world wide ruling oligarch. If Gandhi had anarchist leanings the bloc should take a look at the actions he prescribed as a way of ousting the colonial oppressors.

If the current acts in NYC by the anarchists are their modus operendi they are a failed lot unless they also have abducated their humanity in an end justifies means scenario. To throw bottles at the oppressors dupes from inside a group of actual living people carring out non-violent actions is the height of cowardess,no matter what their reasoning in trying to advance their belief of actions neccessary.

The anarchists will not subvert the non-violent Occupy movement by this type of action or bring the movement over to their ways. They may however drive the Occupiers to do the work of the oligarch to hand over to the police those involved in violent acts. This may happen because the rank and file Occupiers need to draw the police over to their cause of non-violent action against the oligarch and all who assist it like these anarchists. The police will be seen as closer to the cause than the black bloc. I for one will now document those in black for future reference.

If the anarchists want to try violent rebellion go ahead, just don’t use those trying non-violent methods as your human shields. Do your hit and run tactics on your own, See if you can gather people to your ways of action on your own. Stop trying to co-opt the Occupy movement by thinking you can force it over to a violent form of action by acting violently from within it’s midst. You also will become the enemy if you are not already.Grow up and become resposible for your actions or be prepared to face the consequences. Take this as a warning we are not about to let you undue the good works that has been done and will be done. Actions have always spoken louder than words and I’m very tried of your semantics trying to justify your stupidity. So F.O. and leave us alone while we try to mobilize the people to a just cause.

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By OzarkMichael, February 6, 2012 at 5:08 pm Link to this comment

Power, as Lenin famously said, is lying in the streets and nobody knows how to pick it up.

                            -Ed Romano

and nobody cheerfully picks up quotes by the evil genius Lenin… better than Ed Romano.

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By drifter, February 6, 2012 at 5:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Any body who saw the videos of the Occupy Oakland protest saw black clad youth randomly smashing windows and ganging up to supress Occupy protesters who tried to stop their vandalism. Video footage even shows private business owners standing off black clad youth with sticks who were breaking windows in a seeming random fashion. Not many in the videos were in agreement with the actions of these youth.
The age and inexperience of these youth also show that they are not yet ready to understand how non-violent protest works. They get lost in the idealism with out understanding how it plays out in real life or the consequences of their own actions and the suffering these actions cause. Also, these Black Bloc Anarchists know very little of what the Native American Movement is about or what they have been through and have no experience in dealing with direct physical force or the consequences of such confrontations. When these BBY act out, other people end up suffering for their idealistic beliefs. Beliefs they refuse understand are rooted in the Man’s Plan. If you use violence to achieve change then YOU have endorsed the system of the Man.  (Essentially YOU BECOME THE MAN) and the whole thing starts all over again. They trade off non-violent change for confrontation with violence. Which is what the police want. The police are geared and trained for just such violent unrest. And while these youth have their hay day in the street filled with memeories and fun, the protesters and their movement falters and the police and beureacrats lever more corruption and install more moles to root out the movement.
I’m a non-violent person but, if I see you guys causing any more problems at a march or protest I may just turn you over to the cops, trussed and bound.

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By shift shaper, February 6, 2012 at 5:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

These aren’t anarchists. What we have in these so-called “black bloc” groups are provocateurs. On-third of them are FBI, another 1/3 Israeli-trained cops, the other third just lovers of chaos who get off on vandalism.
Only dictators love anarchism. It brings them business.
And there’s no such thing as an anarchist, really. Not among these “black bloc” people anyway. If you want to see anarchy played out in a country, look at Somalia.
I can’t see the black-blockers lasting there for very long.

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By IMax, February 6, 2012 at 5:01 pm Link to this comment

It’s wonderful to see so many unregistered people commenting.  Obviously the subject brings out a good deal of passion.

Lumpenproletarier,

You are absolutely correct about Hedges and his originally published piece “Where Were You When They Crucified My Movement” - His movement.

At the time I tried in vein to point out Hedges’ integral involvement in devising and implementing OWS, Occupywallstdotorg, and adbusters beginning in February of last year (obtaining the occupywallstdotorg and occupywallstreetdotcom domains later in June of last year.  I was excoriated for simply pointing toward what most here did not see.

I have several problems with Mr. Hedges’ view of the world.  My problem at the moment is in how Hedges has never made clear in his “reporting” his own personal role at the root of OWS and the original call to occupy Zuccotti Park.  - Occupy/OWS is by no means leaderless.  There’s an hierarchy to the organization.

With the knowledge of Hedges integral roll in the inception of ‘Occupy’, along with the tactic of “Occupying” public and private spaces, one can witness Hedges’ unrestrained pride in Nov. of last year in This Is What Revolution Looks Like.

In this latest piece, however, Mr. Hedges is obviously less than prideful.  He appears unhappy in regards to how these demonstrations, which he and his conceived, have manifest in the eyes of his fellow journalists and their reporting.  I am left with the sense that Hedges is desperately trying to stand up all things positive about his small group’s tactics, while simultaneously distancing themselves from the myriad of inherent problems in these particular tactics.

-

In November of last year, only weeks after ‘Occupations’ begain, I began to point out the violence that would always accompany every large Occupy gathering.  I began to suggest the tactic of physically “occupying” spaces must end, to be replaced with an actual plan for real change.  I suggested ‘Occupy’ begin “Occupying” local school boards, City Councils, State Houses and the U.S. Congress.  Again I was resoundingly excoriated for dropping my support for the tactic of occupation.

Anyhow, Chris Hedges and his small group of activists and investors, the apex of the Occupy movement, need to take ownership of the very tactics which has created much violence wherever their tactics have been employed.

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By Ed Romano, February 6, 2012 at 4:57 pm Link to this comment

Does anyone think ( ?) that these loonies claiming to be anarchists can bring about the slightest….I mean the slightest… change in the way this society proceeds?...The answer should be obvious. So why don’t we have a discussion of possible ways change might be brought about ?  Ed R

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By VoxFox, February 6, 2012 at 4:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

it is likely that these ‘Black Anarchists’ are agents provocateurs - thugs secretly
financed by the authorities to justify the heavy response to these rioters by the
police.  This technique was used in Montreal, when people noticed these masked
thugs were all wearing the same kind of boots - the ones used by the Montreal
police.
Hitler started his political career as a secret agent of the German army.

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By Roy, February 6, 2012 at 4:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Unfortunately, the juvenile, violent, anti-social behavior of anarchists is precisely why we need police, to enforce law and order in the interest of public safety. The more the anarchists take over the movement, the less sympathy that the public at large will have for the OWS movement.

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By AmericanPlutocracy, February 6, 2012 at 4:45 pm Link to this comment

Some of the postings/comments disturb me not so much
for what you might advocate but the sheer naivette’
that suggests violence will facilitate a changing of
course in this country.

OWS has not even begun to see the weight, the power,
the influence that can be thrown in opposition to the
movement. The likes of the Koch Brothers, the
Nordquists & and Frank Luntz’ were caught off guard -
failing to gauge how upset people are about
inequality and a system of capitalism in its current
iteration that does not work.

They will not be caught off-guard again and I assure
you there are think-tanks working diligently to
shape, shift, and corrupt the movements message.
Sure, this is happening now via police enforcement
strategies, media ‘cherry picking’ sensationalistic
stories (the broken window here, the drug user there)
etceteras but the way through this toward capturing
the hearts and minds of the majority of Americans who
have consumed the Kool-aid for far too long - those
who continually vote against their own best interests
is not found via violence of any kind. it is Naive to
think so.

Why? Our countries ethos was built upon a foundation
of not questioning authority, of making psychological
assumptions that innure against the violent
(irrespective of the justifications or reasons)
except in say instances that the gun lobby has
succeeded in selling (someone shooting a person in
their home etceteras) expression against the status
quo irrespective of the reason. OWS (or any movement)
will not get past acts of violence and this will not
change until the country reaches a depth and despair
you have never seen and I dare say cannot imagine.

We are not there yet but we will be if people
continually destroy any chance of enlisting the
majority of Americans via the condoning of violence
(tacit or otherwise). For those who advocate violence
- are you prepared via your own actions to drag us
further into despair (perhaps for decades) before
change occurs?

Lastly, this notion of ‘anarchy’ is nothing but a
fanciful fiction. There is, in the history of
mankind, no documented evidence of an anarchistic
society -not one. Why? Because of the same reason
free-market economies do not work. People are
inherently greedy and if they are not they will be
taken advantage of by those who are-preyed upon. Do
you really think those who have legally stolen from
the working class for decades could care about a
anarchism? I assure you they are quite insulated from
any change you might forsee.

As hightower talks about - I am in support of fixing
our government via getting corporate control out of
it completely. A maturing OWS that enlisted ‘main
street America’ could do this via various mechanisms-
agendas-we could enact that assure those who ran as
OWS stuck to what they were committed to do or else
we’d get rid of them. But, to advocate for violence
against person or property will negate this ever
happening.

It is unfortunate that we have to contend with the
pathology of those who advocate violence at the
expense of their fellow man. Those people are flip-
sides of the same Romney vulture capitalist
coin…meeting their individual desires and wishes at
the expense of the many. Cowards behind violent
expression.

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By greg_2, February 6, 2012 at 4:45 pm Link to this comment

The revolution MUST be televised. The Occupy Movement is no longer in the news. New “Tactics” must be taken. “Black Bloc” are tactics, not people.

People like Hedges are doing nothing but writing about shit.

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By JoelBG, February 6, 2012 at 4:28 pm Link to this comment

Can’t all of us begin a REAL discussion of revolutionary opposition strategy and tactics instead of engaging in name calling?

Non-violence as well, unfortunately, as violence are BOTH sometime essential in defense of life and liberty. The only adult question is that of TIMING.

If current U.S. anarchists really had a workable strategy of ethically justifiable violence to affect real liberation from our current corporate state, I would listen and potentially prepare to join them.

Since they DON’T, their immature, emotion-driven “mass actions” are NOW totally counter-revolutionary, not revolutionary, just as Hedges says.

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By D.R. Zing, February 6, 2012 at 4:26 pm Link to this comment

Excision.
Radiation.
Chemo.
Rid the body of the cancer.

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By Donna Fritz, February 6, 2012 at 4:21 pm Link to this comment

@Donna we have been clear in this recent communique -
no more questions will be answered concerning the
Hedges/Jensen leak of ACAB666/Anarcancer information. -
Anarcancerist

IOW you don’t have an answer for my question. That’s
exactly what I figured.

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By Anonymous, February 6, 2012 at 4:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Clearly Chris Hedges and a lot of others dont understand black bloc, or
knew y they were there.  Anarchists love Occupy and were there for the
protection of the peaceful protesters.  The pigs started it!

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By JoelBG, February 6, 2012 at 4:12 pm Link to this comment

Can’t we all of us have a real discussion of revolutionary opposition strategy and tactics instead of name calling?

Non-violence as well as violence are BOTH sometime essential in defense of life and liberty. The only adult question is “what time is THIS”?

If anarchists really had a workable strategy of fully justifiable, ethical violence to affect real liberation from the corporate state, I would listen and possibly participate.

Since they don’t, their immature, emotion-driven behavior is now totally counter-revolutionary, not revolutionary just as Hedges says it is.

You can’t know the weather without a weatherman!

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By mdhess, February 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm Link to this comment

Good for Chris Hedges for defending the honor of OWS. As one who greatly admires the fortitude of the actual “occupiers” I am terrified that the mainstream media and financial elites will be able to leverage the bad behavior of a few to turn the general public away from supporting the overall movement. The OWS movement could result in an “American Spring” and is probably our best hope for addressing the social and economic injustices devestating our lives so it would be a shame if this fringe element was able to derail that magnificent possibilty.

I am reminded of our recent past when it was revealed that the U.S. was engaging in the terror tactics of kidnapping, rendering and torturing suspects. That moment in history was when America squandered its moral authority in the “war on terror” because we, ourselves, had resorted to the very thing we professed to despise.

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By Anarcancerist, February 6, 2012 at 4:06 pm Link to this comment

@Donna we have been clear in this recent communique - no more questions will be answered concerning the Hedges/Jensen leak of ACAB666/Anarcancer information.

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By Cancer the Crab, February 6, 2012 at 3:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Hedges you just lost my respect. Hack. You took the
easy way out here. I thought you were better than that.
You just lost a reader.

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By Donna Fritz, February 6, 2012 at 3:50 pm Link to this comment

“... our anarchy is actually effective.” -
Anarcancerist

In what way(s) has your anarchy been effective? What’s
your measuring stick?

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By Fullblad, February 6, 2012 at 3:49 pm Link to this comment

This one by Chris Hedges has certainly garnered responce.
While Occupy has some rudiments in it’s structure that are anarchistic, it’s method for obtaining results are not. Occupy means to effect results by exposing the moral bankrupy of the corportists structures, including the faux government they have left in place after their de facto takeover, by non-violent actions building to critical mass effecting change.

Durrutix,in his comment validates many of Hedges statements. Hedges says the Black Bloc by doing acts of violence are playing into the hands of the rulers in their wish to discredit Occupy. Durrutix says while the Bloc acts in this fashion, infiltrators sent by the rulers are the real provocatuers and so makes absolutly no argument.
Hedges says that the Black Bloc/ anarchists are trying to discredit Occupy as a non pure anarchist movement which needs destroying more so than the oppressive rulers. I don’t think the so called anarchists put that much thought into it. My feeling is that the anarchists membership is basically young males who haven’t thought it all through and like the idea of acting out as barbarians under the guise of a philosophy most do not fully understand. That is why they piggyback on the Occupy movement under God knows what convoluted misconstrued reasoning, using Occupy as a smoke screen for their immaturity of thought and actions.

Maybe this question should be put to the great anarchist leaders Durrutix cites. Let’s ask Chomsky to comment. Unfortunately Tolstoy, Gandhi and Zinn are unavailable.

Mr.Chomsky,what in your opinion has the activism of the anarchists acting on the perifery of the Occupy movement had as an effect on the general movement to rid the peoples of the current oppressive state?

While we all wait I’ll have my say. Anarchistism makes for an interesting philosophy but a highly dubious movement in actual practice as it becomes blinding to all other thoughts and confusing in it’s own religousity. If the Black Bloc wants to change society don’t start with Occupy. Grow up a whole lot and re-do your reasoning or else go f… yourselves as the majority probably don’t like your actions, or agree with you, or want anything to do with you. Get the picture or will you somehow in your twisted reasoning misunderstand. People must order their affairs. Yes the status quo must be challenged or rebuilt from time to time, often with blood spilt. However, other than a retreat into a tribal past, you have very little to offer the present day world and can be written off as a small continuing footnote as a movement of bombast and incoherant immaturity.

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By PatrickHenry, February 6, 2012 at 3:49 pm Link to this comment

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

Phase one of the occupy movement is close to being over with the eviction of the squatters, begin phase two.

Americans, known for their resourcefullness will soon find new means and methods of civil disobedience towards Wall Sreet and the banking community stepping up acts which will soon border on outright vandalism.

Then phase three…

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By Ed Romano, February 6, 2012 at 3:46 pm Link to this comment

I’m catching more heat than light from these posts and certainly no one is being converted or even made to stop and think. I don’t have a clue what the Occupy demands are other than that they seem to be decrying the economic gulf between the 1% and themselves,but a lifetime of banging my head against the wall of capitalism has taught me one thing - Capitalism cannot be reformed. Reform movements have been going on in the U.S. for well over a hundred years,and when the smoke clears the same Vampires who caused the grievances are still sitting across the table grinning at us…..The Occupiers need to toss out the provocateurs, if nercessary offer to help the police to do it. Then they need to sit down and develop a political organization that can stand over and against the interests of the corporations…Difficult ? Impossible ? Maybe. But if we think we can bring about any kind of justice and equity in this country by appealing to those who represent the system as it is….we’re just whistling Dixie. Millions of Americans are in a pre- revolutionary frame of mind. They are waiting to see which way the wind blows. Power, as Lenin famously said, is lying in the streets and nobody knows how to pick it up. So far the Occupiers don ‘t seem so inclined….  Ed R

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By Fullblad, February 6, 2012 at 3:44 pm Link to this comment

This one by Chris Hedges has certainly garnered responce.
While Occupy has some rudiments in it’s structure that are anarchistic, it’s method for obtaining results are not. Occupy means to effect results by exposing the moral bankrupy of the corportists structures, including the faux government they have left in place after their de facto takeover, by non-violent actions building to critical mass effecting change.

Durrutix,in his comment validates many of Hedges statements. Hedges says the Black Bloc by doing acts of violence are playing into the hands of the rulers in their wish to discredit Occupy. Durrutix says while the Bloc acts in this fashion, infiltrators sent by the rulers are the real provocetuers and so makes absolutly no argument.
Hedges says that the Black Bloc/ anarchists are trying to discredit Occupy as a non pure anarchist movement which needs destroying more so than the oppressive rulers. I don’t think the so called anarchists put that much thought into it. My feeling is that the anarchists membership is basically young males who haven’t thought it all through and like the idea of acting out as barbarians under the guise of a philosophy most do not fully understand. That is why they piggyback on the Occupy movement under God knows what convoluted misconstrued reasoning, using Occupy as a smoke screen for their immaturity of thought and actions.

Maybe this question should be put to the great anarchist leaders Durrutix cites. Let’s ask Chomsky to comment. Unfortunately Tolstoy, Gandhi and Zinn are unavailable.

Mr.Chomsky,what in your opinion has the activism of the anarchists acting on the perifery of the Occupy movement had as an effect on the general movement to rid the peoples of the current oppressive state?

While we all wait I’ll have my say. Anarchistism makes for an interesting philosophy but a highly dubious movement in actual practice as it becomes blinding to all other thoughts and confusing in it’s own religousity. If the Black Bloc wants to change society don’t start with Occupy. Grow up a whole lot and re-do your reasoning or else go f… yourselves as the majority probably don’t like your actions, or agree with you, or want anything to do with you. Get the picture or will you somehow in your twisted reasoning misunderstand. People must order their affairs. Yes the status quo must be challenged or rebuilt from time to time, often with blood spilt. However, other than a retreat into a tribal past, you have very little to offer the present day world and can be written off as a small continuing footnote as a movement of bombast and incoherant immaturity.

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By Anarcancerist, February 6, 2012 at 3:41 pm Link to this comment

Concerning Hedges, Jensen, and the Occupypulation

Hedges has been coughing up hair balls for a while now, but he hadn’t yet been so hypocritical and foolish as to throw together such a pathetic piece attempting to condemn “Black Bloc Anarchists” for the spread of anarcancer. This article would be worth nothing if it wasn’t for the snitching of Derrick Jensen, who is the only sack of shit we can assume knows about what we have been behind since the first days of Occupy Wall St. Unlike Jensen, we don’t scoff at the efficiencies of chemistry and unlike Axe (the odor pimps), our anarchy is actually effective. We decided to get a head start, knowing that the occupypulation would be a muck with all sorts of contestable fucks: Leftists Organizationalists, Traditional Liberals, Progressive Liberals, Democratic Party front groups, People who like Tie-Dye, and all the rest of the scum who are pro-life ...literally. From the darkness of our underground labratories, we were able to co-develop ACAB666; otherwise known as “anarcancer”. After testing anarcancer on a few subjects who later went on to riot after a well known sporting event, we knew that it was ready.

What Hedges and Jensen don’t realize is that it isn’t the FBI, the CIA, the ID-1075, or even Anarchists behind the recent Black Bloc actions. Indeed, it was anarcancer ...brought to you by the true DGR. It would only be fair if we warned Hedges, Jensen, and the Occupypulation of anarcancer’s affects:

- Aggression towards reflective objects (usually windows)
- Black Outs
- Heightened Sense of Smell (this is how the anarcancerists can find each other through the mere presence of “less lethal” police chemicals)
- Profanity
- Disorganization
- Affection for black clothing (the most important)

Unfortunately, ACAB666 doesn’t affect all targets equally and it has a relatively short half-life compared to some of the other chemical agents we have perfected in the past. Regardless, let it be clear what our intentions are! Violence to all those that hold power above ground. Death to all those who retaliate. A ban on ugly sweaters with animals on them. The destruction of Deep Green Resistance (not so deep when you’re up in the trees all day… I mean your high horse). An end to the impact of Zapatismo. Permanent cloud cover so we never have to deal with sunny fucking stooges again!

For a world without light!

-Anarcancerist Cells of the Deep Goth Resistance

Deep Goth Resistance formed after a fall out with Derrick Jenson over self-commodification, the color Green, and the formation of Deep Green Resistance with the wretched Lierre Kieth.

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By red emma, February 6, 2012 at 3:41 pm Link to this comment
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What a disgusting, intellectually dishonest piece of 21st century red baiting. You know nothing of the people behind those masks. They are the organizers, the prime movers and shakers, of the movement you claim to support… until it reaches a point of confrontation. Without them occupy would collapse. Getting constantly liberal-arrested is the privilege of a bourgeois few. That is not to say it is ineffective, but it is suicide for the young and precarious. It saddens me to see such wedge driving from someone who might be considered radical. Do you mention any of the many times blocs were used tactically, and the obvious tactical advantage of masking up for the young and precarious? Without both civil disobedience and confrontation the movement will die. I suppose then we’ll have plenty of time to argue about diversity of tactics in the same concentration camp…

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By Cuthred, February 6, 2012 at 3:29 pm Link to this comment

I’d like to second the notion brought up below that mostly upper middle class types can afford protest arrests. For a miniumum wage earner, a mask is a damn sensible way to avoid identification and the semi-permanent institutionalization that surely follows when a poor kid does something like trespass on Goldman Sach property, or throw a trash can (the horror!) after years of wage slavery.

Chris is a Pulitzer prize winning Nation Institute Fellow, and his legal fees from sit-ins will not be cripping. I’m not criticizing him, rather pointing out that not everyone has the flexibility of tactical choices that pulitzer prize winners enjoy.

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By Cuthred, February 6, 2012 at 3:23 pm Link to this comment

Donna,
I get it, Hedges dislikes violence and he writes very eloquently about the horrors of violence. I have read almost everything he’s written. I’m just pointing out that the other commenter you took issue with had a point about this kind of disingenuous bemoaning of criminality having precedent in the liberal movement, specifically re: the lunch counter sit ins, which were probably described by many people at the time in similar terms as…“there is a word for this - criminal”. If some property being destroyed in a notoriously brutal police-state bastion like Oakland earns this kind of condemnation from Hedges, it just seems disproportionate given the state of the world.

Aside from this, it’s just sloppy history by CH, citing Zerzan and defunct journals, which are totally out of this picture. Sounds like a high school report on anarchy from 2002.

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By Jeff Tea Now, February 6, 2012 at 3:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well ... wow ... We all need to remember that there will be “tactics” and behaviors that we don’t like ... and that we think are counterproductive. So, when we want to critique these - we need to remain respectful and stay focused on the behavior and avoid the name calling. It is really disappointing that Chris chose to call the Black Bloc a Cancer. That is sad. It’s OK, to say that we need more coordination and respect within the movement. It’s OK to ask people to get in the spirit of organized events and to not always disrupt them. As with everything - timing is important. So, it is fair to ask ourselves, when is a good time for black bloc tactics and when should they be avoided. That is fair. But, to call names and blame them (or the tactic) for all the failures and shortcomings of the “movement” or the “Left” is naive and misguided. Be polite and respectful people - especially with those you disagree with. ... Be Attitudes ... So, if you think that Christianity is a top-down, hierarchical travesty of violence and repressive to women - keep that to yourselves if you meet an African-American organizer who happens to be inspired by the better aspects of Christianity. If you meet and “anti-authoritarian” whose loud insults of the police are turning you off, ask them not to do that around the children ... or say, that you appreciate them, but, right now, we’d like to enjoy the music ... or whatever ... in other words, respect them, treat them like humans that you share a common struggle with ... Be critical of what they do, but not them. We all need to do this better. We need to be able to act together at times ... so we have to be able to talk amongst ourselves in constructive ways ...

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By Lumpenproletarier, February 6, 2012 at 3:10 pm Link to this comment

Recall Hedges column “Where Were You When They Crucified My Lord”. When that column was first posted, the title was “Where Were You When They Crucified My Movement”.

The day I read the original title, it caused me to pause. This was not the Hedges I thought I knew; perhaps his pompous evil twin had hijacked his column? Since then, I have been a little more skeptical about what Hedges has been bringing down to us from the Mountain Top.

I would prefer to wander in the desert for forty years than be duped by the writings of this clown any longer.

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By William P. Homans, February 6, 2012 at 3:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To John Penley (though I would respond to many more
than he if I could touch-type):
You are mistaken, dead wrong, when you say Chris
Hedges has never faced the police lines. I’ve been
arrested with him twice, at the White House, and his
arrest record is longer than mine. AND he was a
front-lines war correspondent.
I’ve been with Hedges at Quantico, where veterans
were denied the right to lay flowers at the Iwo Jima
Memorial. I am a veteran and an Occupier. I am sure
many Occupiers of good will will vote for Obama in
November because of the alternative. No one wants to
have to say, if a Republican is somehow elected
president, that they stayed home.
The Democrats are bad enough. The term Republicrat
applies to most of them. Case in point: 16 Democratic
Senators—DINOs like Manchin and Nelson and
Lieberman—basically challenged a President of their
own Party to veto the NDAA! The President, seeing
that his side had so caved, did not veto the bill,
after having warned that he would before the
Feinstein amendment went down.
In fact, there are a small number of radicals who
have decided to stop voting, at least for presidents
and other national offices. But the vast majority,
even of Occupiers, are going to vote.
And we are committed to non-violence as a tactic. I
am a Life Member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War
(VVAW), and work with Veterans for Peace and others.
We in VVAW are surely the most conscious of any in
the assembly of Occupiers of agents provocateurs
because of the government’s continuing attempt to
discredit and imprison us in 1972-73, culminating in
the last great show trial of the Vietnam era, the
Gainesville Eight Conspiracy.
An FBI-paid agent provocateur fabricated testimony
that a grand jury used to indict 7 vets and a
supporter on charges of conspiring to disrupt the
Republican Convention with “slingshots, crossbows,
fried marbles and automatic weapons.” The GOP used us
as justification for the Watergate break-in! We were
the “radical group” the Democratic National Committee
was in touch with.
The brothers were acquitted of all charges, after
half an hour of jury deliberation following a 13
month prosecution.
We are watching for them. I will not go to the length
of saying that ALL the Black Bloc anarchists are
provocateurs. However, what they are doing as a bloc
is exactly what the authorities NEED someone to do to
discredit the entire Occupiers Movement.
I am dead sure that among the few hundred of them who
have actually done the rock-throwing and vandalism,
there are individuals paid by the US government both
to foment unseemly street violence and to keep watch
on those who join.
Some poster above said that the Movement must police
itself. Well, we are. It pains me, a 40-year antiwar
activist (I returned from Vietnam in 1970, and joined
VVAW in 1971) that we have to learn the same lessons
over and over again. Iraq and Afghanistan are the
proof that this nation forgot anything it ever
learned from the Vietnam War.
The Movement must again remember that agents
provocateurs are a tried-and-true government weapon.
Whether or not there are one or two influential
characters, or this affinity-based non-organization
is shot through with them, they are acting at worse
than cross purposes with those who are trying to save
small-d democracy in the USA.
I will tell you that it will be the veterans who
organize to neutralize the deleterious effect of
“adolescentization”, as Hedges noted, of the
Movement.
I am an independent democratic socialist, and I
indeed feel marginalized, though not disenfranchised,
by the American political process. I can and do still
vote for the sheriff, local judges, and county and
municipal representatives, my neighbors.
But I’m voting for Obama again in November. And I
declare that the Black Bloc is helping the GOP
discredit us, whether they intend to or not, and that
point remains in dispute.

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By Palindromedary, February 6, 2012 at 3:01 pm Link to this comment

“Any group that seeks to rebuild social structures, especially through nonviolent acts of civil disobedience…”

I’m afraid it is way too late to “rebuild social structures through nonviolent acts of civil disobedience”.

We are dealing with a corrupt system so well entrenched in our government, military, and financial institutions that they have chains on any normal paths of “rebuilding social structures”. Would most people not believe, or even sanction, that a violent overthrow of Nazi Germany by it’s own citizens would have been a fantastic idea? No, we have not yet, entirely, attained the evilness that Nazi Germany had to deal with.  But we are well on the way. With several decades of collapse of our infrastructure at the hands of the criminal ruling elite that have gamed our system…that they eventually resorted to mass murder, not only in the Middle East, but even here at home where they engineered a new Pearl Harbor (911), preceded by a failed plot called Operation Northwoods, preceded by the real Pearl Harbor, preceded by the 1933 coupe plot that Gen. Smedley Butler rebuked. The false flag that was 911 was used not only to cover up and destroy decades of crime by banksters and corporations and the bribing of political figures but it also allowed them to take away many constitutional rights of American citizens. The only reason why “peaceful” demonstrations would matter is to influence the majority of voters.  But since elections are a farce because there is no difference between Democrat and Republican…and that most people have been blinded by the meme that they had better choose one or the other because of the political propaganda that they have been brainwashed with. The ruling elite controls them both, Democrat and Republican. They are both useful idiots for the ruling elite that cannot get elected without getting big bucks from those ruling elite that control them.  So the only way to make a real change is to scrare the bejesus out of the ruling elite…scare some sense into them….they will not come around if you continue to play THEIR game…as they have rigged it.  So, if the majority of people start realizing this…the ruling elite will stage another Pearl Harbor to scare the bejesus out of the people…again. So, what does it matter that “the People” “the voters” are wooed into a nice touchy-feely cumbaya moment just before election time? They are going to lose no matter who they vote for. (disclaimer: I don’t advocate violence and would never be violent myself (not brave enough..I guess..and I am not yet starving or in dire straights) but believe that many people do…and I can understand why.

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By Mike Butler, February 6, 2012 at 3:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is Brandon Darby inspired Trash…

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By Gata Blanca, February 6, 2012 at 3:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There’s been many a time where i wanted to kick a cop in the balls.
i have been pushed by them and handcuffed and arrested by them
(and so has chris hedges btw).
i have been sexually harassed by them.  many of them are disgusting.
i believe that some of them aren’t, however, and do try to reason with us.
i don’t believe that every cop is a pig.  that is a narrow minded belief
which is rigid and rigidity gets you nowhere.  it is stagnant.

i do jail support for OWS(NYC) and last monday we had a long list of arrestees
who were accused of throwing bottles and other objects at cops.
all denied it and say that they were picked out of the crowd after some
people using black bloc tactics ran away.  nobody(the so called bb tactic users) “pulled our people
out of police custody”.  These guys using bb tactics in nyc last sunday night
LEFT their COMRADES behind.
i know because i helped bail 14 of them out.

just as you support bb as a tactic, i support non-violence as it has been proven to be EFFECTIVE.  we both want to expose the corruption and greed, right?
so why can’t the people using bb as a tactic respect OUR principles and stay away from our marches?  to me, it’s because they are cowardly hiding behind us. 


Non-violent tactics are what we are committed to using in OWS, and in order to change the world we must stay committed to that as a MOVEMENT. This takes a lot of discipline and training because it is human nature to fight back.  Pulling people away from cops is NOT violent. Kicking and punching cops is.  2 different things.  we go limp while hopefully our comrades pull us away from danger.  if they don’t they don’t.  we just go peacefully. this is how we gained so much support to begin with.  we don’t win over support by smashing windows and throwing bottles. why bother?  that one act will be the only piece on the news. 

we all have different PERSONAL opinions but we have joined a non-violent movement and these principles are what we agreed to. we wrote these principles together.

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By Jay Lindberg, February 6, 2012 at 2:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When democracy becomes a threat to ruling class
power, you will find out that you have none. 

This non-violence crap that this author espouses is
so effective that the two leading presidential
contenders will be the Banksters and corporate powers
real choice. 

What this writer fails to address is that these
anarchists have enough personal experience with the
government and their enforcers to realize that non-
violence is no longer an option. It simply will not
provide meaningful change.

  It’s also about time the yuppie scum that wrote
this article admitted that they just might be right
and revolution is the only option left that will
provide any type of real reform.

It is time to learn a few lessons from our founding
fathers and start a real rebellion.

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By Rixar13, February 6, 2012 at 2:49 pm Link to this comment

“Solidarity becomes the hijacking or destruction of competing movements, which is exactly what the Black Bloc contingents are attempting to do with the Occupy movement.”

They will not hijack our movement…

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By Anarcancerist, February 6, 2012 at 2:49 pm Link to this comment

/me starts writing the Anarcancerist Manifesto

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By T, February 6, 2012 at 2:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Wow. All I can say is wow. This article is so chock full of complete fabrications. I don’t even know where to begin. Hedges states that the Black Bloc “anarchists” see “the real enemies, they argue, are not the corporate capitalists, but their collaborators among the unions, workers’ movements, radical intellectuals, environmental activists and populist movements such as the Zapatistas.” Really the black bloc sees the zapatistas as their enemies. This statement makes my stomach churn. First off the Zapitistas and the EZLN were an armed military and guerrilla organization that engaged in open combat with the Mexican military. They are hardly advocates for the non violent dogmatism that Hedges is a proponent of. The Zapatists share a key understanding with the black bloc that Hedges is missing out on. While hoping and wishing for a change of heart within the ranks of the states oppressive forces, ultimately there comes a time when you must utilize a “diversity” of tactics in self defense. Most anarchists look to the Zapatistas as a super inspirational story of resistance and look to them for advice on horizontally structured resistance. What Hedges is saying is that violent struggle, resistance and self defense is only acceptable for those third world other. Here in the west Hedges likes to think we are more civilized than those third world others and naively that our “democracy” and state is somehow less brutal than others across the world. Long before the Occupy movement started anarchists waving the black flag were occupying buildings in Berkly during the student resistance to the budget cuts. Anarchists under the blackflag have been occupying spaces for decades creating horizontally structured social centers with the squaters movements. Anarchists with Earth First have been on the forefront of nonviolent tree sits and other forms of resistance in defense of the earth. Anarchists with the wobblies IWW won us the 8 hour workday in the early 1900’s. Anarchists suchas David Graeber where among the original planers of OWS. To call them a cancer in the occupy movement is completely absurd. What Hedges is afraid of is violent confrontation in the west because Hedges is afraid of the possible loss of his material and class status in such a possible conflict. What is preventing people from joining OWS is the fact that their complete non violence dogmatism has prevented them from being able to hold space anylonger. Police simply have to move in and make some easy arrests, with no fear that the people might fight back. And then the visible dissent is removed. OWS needs to hold visible space. This is what boasted its numbers so much compared to other movmeents in the past several years.

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By Donna Fritz, February 6, 2012 at 2:43 pm Link to this comment

Cuthred - If you read Hedges’ volume of works, you’d
understand that he opposes VIOLENCE (except in self
defense), not direct action which he supports and has
engaged in himself even to the point of getting
arrested in front of Goldman Sachs a couple of months
ago. So he’s not opposed to all criminal acts, just
violent ones. So his choice of the word “CRIMINALS”
there wasn’t the best word in that it didn’t accurately
reflect views he has espoused. He should have just
called them what they are: PUNKS.

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By John G, February 6, 2012 at 2:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Contrary to Mr. Hedges’ view, there is no simple “black and white” judgment that I can make. In fact, I’m surprised that he is lashing out in this way, knowing his experience reporting on a wide range of conflicts and what I thought was his awareness of how the fight for justice is often bloody. I doubt that his insistence that Occupy condemn those who choose to fight dirty will work. These “angry young men” represent a natural and spontaneous eruption of revolt.

The violent protesters in the streets of Oakland (and vast numbers of convicted criminals languishing in the prison system) are a manifestation of advanced disease in a society that deprives and oppresses an ever-increasing segment of the population. The Black Bloc tactics are obviously a reaction to the violent suppression of protest by the police (security state), and both are causing the Occupy Movement to re-examine the effectiveness of its purely passive resistance. The question of whether non-violence is an effective way (or the “only” effective way) to protest against an oppressive system, depends on the level of violence used by the state to suppress protest, maintain its control and prevent change.

Current events in Syria have demonstrated that no amount of non-violent protest could affect significant change there. The same was true of Nazi Germany and its allies. Some believe that our Civil War had to happen in order to force change in the South. In the way that Rachel Corrie was crushed by an Israeli tank, pacifist ideals are hopeless against a monstrous regime. I don’t know how relevant these examples are to our situation now, because much of the apparatus/command structure of the U.S. security state is hidden and the political reality is obscured by a massive propaganda machine. Most people just “lie down and take it”. I often wonder whether Occupy is just beating our heads against the wall.

Through non-violent protest, citizens of the U.S. appear to have been somewhat successful in the past, in affecting the redress of grievances and the reform of injustices. But there’s no denying that sometimes violence has also worked. As we look at the continuing wars, the terrible living conditions of so many, and the exoneration of the criminal elite, I don’t think we can escape the conclusion that there has been a resurgence of militarism, slavery, and fascist domination in a different disguise. This year’s election will not turn that around, unless there’s a repeat of the Chicago Dem Convention’s massive protest.

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By JDmysticDJ, February 6, 2012 at 2:40 pm Link to this comment

Based on comments here it would appear that the cancer of which Hedges writes is malignant, inoperable, and incurable. It appears that nothing short of a miracle will put the cancerous cells into remission and that the already dying Occupy Movement will not escape its inevitable and painful fate.

Cancer is a fearsome and loathsome disease, is it not? The body harbors and feeds the unremitting disease leading to its own end having no defense against the disease, or affect on the cause of the disease. Perhaps the only good that can result from this sad and tragic event will be a rejuvenation of the endeavor to determine the cause of the disease and develop a cure for the disease.

Does the disease have the ability to think and reason? Apparently not!

“Black Bloc adherents detest those of us on the organized left and seek, quite consciously, to take away our tools of empowerment. They confuse acts of petty vandalism and a ‘repellent cynicism’ with revolution. The real enemies, they argue, are not the corporate capitalists, but their collaborators among the unions, workers’ movements, radical intellectuals, environmental activists and populist movements…” and, I will add, the more left leaning representatives of our government and politics who are the only viable obstacles to corporate capitalists. Hedges is the pot calling the kettle black. Has it occurred to Hedges that unions, workers’ movements, college professors, left leaning politicians and political intellectuals, etc. are the very liberal elite that he so stridently condemns with his hyperbolic diatribes of demagoguery? I hope so.

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By Donna Fritz, February 6, 2012 at 2:35 pm Link to this comment

“Call a general strike. Riot… The Greeks, unlike most
of us, get it.” Chris Hedges via Lumpen

Good catch. Not sure why Chris legitimizes rioting as a
tactic in Greece and then turns around and condemns
rioting as a tactic here. That does seem like a
contradiction.

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By Cuthred, February 6, 2012 at 2:27 pm Link to this comment

Donna Fritz.

Sitting it at Woolworth’s lunch counter was “CRIMINAL” as it was trespassing at a
private business under the law at the time. 

The point is, Chris’ hand-wringing over criminality is a bit rich, and fits into a
pattern by our learned liberal elders.

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By NolaAnarcha, February 6, 2012 at 2:25 pm Link to this comment

For a better introduction of black bloc tactics, I recommend this debate with Harsha Walia: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oesjegD1-Vg

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By lawdog, February 6, 2012 at 2:25 pm Link to this comment

So Donna… Are you the mouse in Chris Hedges’ pocket or
what?

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By NABNYC, February 6, 2012 at 2:23 pm Link to this comment

I read two similar articles at Counterpunch this week-end talking about the problems with Occupy in SF and Oakland.  Both writers noted the lack of organization and the rise of irrational acts of violence.  Perhaps related? 

There is energy but not necessarily clear political thinking.  One of the best people I’ve heard speak about political organizing, tactics, strategy, is David Hilliard of the Black Panther Party.  I don’t know where he is right now – I think he teaches in New Mexico? – but when he speaks (I’ve seen him on cspan books, for example, and a video on you tube at a European Marxist event) he always emphasizes that the “power comes from a gun” slogan was misinterpreted and was never intended to be the centerpiece of the BPP.  Instead, the true organizing efforts involved helping people at a local level to organize themselves, take on something where they can likely achieve a success, which attracts more people and inspires those already involved.  He’s a great strategist and obviously has tremendous historical perspective from his leadership position in the BPP.

It could be a great idea to try to set up an occupy conference in the SF bay area (maybe one in Boston, Atlanta, NYC, other cities) to take place on the same week-end, connected electronically so that one speaker could be televised to each of the locations. 

Invite other occupy groups from surrounding areas to attend, do it like the old anti-war days where people organized ride-shares for those who will be driving up, hopefully people can make room on their living room floor available to out of town attendees.  Charge a conference fee for space, coffee, clean-up.  Find a space to use.  Organize a series of speakers then break down after lunch for committee formation. 

The goal would be to try to coordinate going forward in the spring.

We need goals [short and long-term], strategy, tactics. 

Focus on Wall Street:  demand prosecutions, seizures of assets, eliminate the special tax rate for capital gains, and raise the taxes on the rich.  Prosecute Wall Street, and get Elliot Spitzer to coordinate the litigation.  Pass a usury law that caps the interest that can be charged at 10%, with no other fees, including no late fees.

We need a full employment law to be passed by Congress, make it a constitutional right.  Anybody who is out of work is automatically entitled to 40 hours a week of work with the government at a living wage, $15/hour. End all hb1 visas and other programs to import foreign labor until we have full employment. 

We also need enforcement of the anti-trust laws. Since the federal government won’t do it, private counsel should be organized to file suits to bust up all the big firms on Wall Street, the banks, and the other major corporate dictators.

Rescind every WTO trade and other treaty on the grounds of fraud on the public. Stop the exporting of jobs or importing of products made with child or slave labor. The next time somebody says globalization is good, tell them to kiss your ass.

Walter Mosley would be a great speaker.  Chris Hedges would be my numero uno guy, and Naomi Klein, Amy Goodman, Katrina VandenHeuvel, Laura Flanders, Bill Moyers.  Robert Scheer.  We’ve got lots of terrific people on our side. 

Ideas, energy, decency, and eager working people and citizens are on our side.  Now we just need a plan.

There must be security with a specific plan about how to restrain, isolate, identify the provocateurs:  take their picture with a cell phone, transmit with their location to the police.  They likely are acting on behalf of the police or the right wing, so don’t feel bad about getting them busted.

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By Lumpenproletarier, February 6, 2012 at 2:23 pm Link to this comment

By Chris Hedges

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

read more….

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_greeks_get_it_20100524/

No, don’t read more. Hedges blog-o-meter will go up, confirming his belief that he is the Mesiah of the Left, come to resurect the Liberal Class.

What a hypocrite.

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By Donna Fritz, February 6, 2012 at 2:22 pm Link to this comment

“Go hang out with Al Sharpton and other movement pimps
you sellout motherfucker. De-legitimizing the rage of
those who’ve had to live through the world people of
YOUR generation failed to stop from coming into
existence is just like those leaders in the black
community who denounced the first lunch counter sit in
youths…” = Nola

No it’s not. Lunch counter sit-ins weren’t violent
acts. Chris strongly supports non-violent direct
actions like sit-ins.

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By Donna Fritz, February 6, 2012 at 2:16 pm Link to this comment

“And I have to ask Mr. Hedges this question:
Just exactly what has the Left actually accomplished in
my lifetime (I’m 57) to inform such a smug and
condescending viewpoint? I’d like to point out that
smashing a window is an actual accomplishment…” -
lawdog

I bet you wear a ponytail, too.

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Ed Lytwak's avatar

By Ed Lytwak, February 6, 2012 at 2:13 pm Link to this comment

Even though the Black Blockers may call themselves “anarchist” – or maybe that is just what others call them – they are not really “anarchists,” at least in the sense that the word is commonly misunderstood.  I would call them nihilists.  CH is correct owever, that they are “a gift from heaven to the security nd surveillance state.”  That is primarily because the State and the political lackeys that serve them are in also nihilists.  The Black Bloc and the 1% lackeys are one and the same – that is why the need each other so much.  They are codependents in destroying what is left of the planetary life support systems and decent human society.  Don’t be fooled because the political lackeys who give the orders to the police cloak themselves in religion and morality, patriotism and security.  This is just their disguise so that the largely clueless 99% won’t see that they have no values or morality and are only out to destroy and take.  I have always been anarchist but just didn’t realize it.  Partly because I believed all the bad things that the nihilists said about the anarchists.  That was one of the most important lessons from Occupy – to finally begin to see and more importantly think about what anarchism really is.  Alas, as this article demonstrates the word anarchism has so much connotative baggage that I don’t use it anymore.  I’m a horizontalist the new anarchists.  Although horizontalism as global social movement is much more than anarchism.

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By Grady Lee Howard, February 6, 2012 at 2:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

So we Occupy kind of have a “Clockwork Orange”
thing going on in our midst. It just goes to show
we waited 20 years too long to protest. The Black
Bloc tactics(if that’s what they are) don’t seem
Leftist at all. Their egoism seems more an extreme
Rightist thing.
Sometimes maybe it’s 15 counter-insurgency
specialists (sealteamsix on a lark) from our
military accompanied by 5 young civilian recruits.
Our operatives bust up protest overseas with
ringers so why not here. It’s right from the Fort
Benning playbook. Has Chris Hedges consulted with
Father Roy Bourgeois of School of the Americas
Watch? His office is in DC near Catholic U.

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By affinis, February 6, 2012 at 2:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

So Libertine tells us “Black Bloc is a tactic, not a group.”
That’s what Black Bloc apologists usually say. It’s not that simple:
http://bit.ly/Aouhu1
Some additional background:
http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/an-analysis-of-the-g20-protest-and-the-black-bloc/
http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2012/01/11/the-black-bloc-and-the-battle-of-seattle/
http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/german-autonomen-morality-police/
http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/shining-a-light-on-the-black-bloc-part-1-italian-autonomism/
Libertine also tells us that Black Bloc tactics made the Tunisian and Egyption revolutions possible.
I hadn’t realized that this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afLgDZVCRR0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRnQ66lf9Qk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ev8Bg4nT6w
is what made Arab Spring possible. I guess I learn something every day.

There are tons of Black Bloc agitprop video online. Black Blocers have defined themselves.

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By heterochromatic, February 6, 2012 at 2:10 pm Link to this comment

this littlebiggie——“is Black Bloc just a tactic or is it becoming its own
movement?”

it’s some kind of movement all right….and it’s all its own.

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By lawdog, February 6, 2012 at 2:09 pm Link to this comment

What a steaming load of divisive crap! Any intelligent
reader might recognize this for what it is: the opening
salvos in the Left’s attempt to co-opt the Occupy
movement. And I have to ask Mr. Hedges this question:
Just exactly what has the Left actually accomplished in
my lifetime (I’m 57) to inform such a smug and
condescending viewpoint? I’d like to point out that
smashing a window is an actual accomplishment…
unlike sitting around in a hermetically-sealed bubble of
exaggerated self-importance at a central committee
meeting for a hierarchal organization that wouldn’t
enjoy any contact with the real world WITHOUT an
Occupy movement.

So, I can be a Black Block member, or I can be a pariah
selling those pathetic little “red rags” for some
organization with a three-letter acronym around the
edges of the next demo.

The choice seems pretty clear to me…

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By Cuthred, February 6, 2012 at 2:09 pm Link to this comment

Wow.

Almost can’t express my disappointment with Hedges. I mean I always suspected
that he was really quite sad about the death of his liberal class, but this is just
sloppy.

The change in tone from “the Greeks get it”, his article from May, and this one,
says it all. I guess a few spots on Charlie Rose and you get all NIMBY on the people
who started this movement in the first place, the anti authoritarians.

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Robespierre115's avatar

By Robespierre115, February 6, 2012 at 2:07 pm Link to this comment

@NolaAnarcha, you need to actually do some serious reading. The Paris Commune was established the middle of a serious war where Prussia was invading France, there is no such war taking place on the US mainland. Bakunin was not a worshipper of violence, as I stated and as you should read for yourself, I recommend the excellent collection “Bakunin On Anarchism,” he advocated violence ONLY as a defensive measure when there was no option left as in the case of Egypt, Bahrain or even Saudi Arabia today. Bakunin heavily criticized the kind of grotesque, senseless destruction promoted by the Black Bloc and was even a critic of the Terror during the French Revolution (ironic for me to write that, I know).

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 6, 2012 at 2:07 pm Link to this comment

A cancer in OWS?  These people are part of the general fabric.

From Hedges, “.........an anonymous bloc, faces covered, temporarily overcomes alienation, feelings of inadequacy, powerlessness and loneliness. It imparts to those in the mob a sense of comradeship.” 

Take a step step back, these sorts of people glom together and form the backbone of political support for both parties, thus empowering the perpetual, tried-and-true methods of the “banking-miltary-industrial-religious complex” and locking mankind into perpetual war.

The descriptors Hedges mentions in his quote above are the essence of mankind’s central problem, our nature.  Why doesn’t OWS acknowledge and understand this?  That would indeed be somewhat different.  Instead?  Instead, they (OWS) ‘celebrate differences’ by discriminating. 

OWS is not a group which is coming to solutions based on a significantly more profound understanding of we people.  That is the cancer within, the lack of anything new, not the Black Bloc.

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By Durrutix, February 6, 2012 at 1:58 pm Link to this comment

Hedges’ latest is a good example of why it’s important to learn about a particular subject before spouting off. His criticism of the “black bloc” is fairly accurate, however his use of the term “anarchy” and “anarchists” is right out of the corporate media playbook.

Hedges would perhaps be surprised to learn that the man from whom Gandhi borrowed most of his non-violent philosophy, Leo Tolstoy, was an anarchist; indeed, Gandhi himself was an anarchist, stating that the ideal society would be an “ordered anarchy”.

When I interviewed Howard Zinn (another anarchist) before his passing, I asked him what he thought of the term “violent anarchist”. He laughed, noting that the number of deaths that can be attributed to anarchists amounts to a drop in the ocean compared to virtually every other political philosophy.

I asked Chomsky (yet another anarchist) the same question; he said that, “part of it is ignorance, and part of it is intentional”. Since anarchist philosophy is antithetical to the beliefs of the ruling class, anarchists are the most demonized of all political groups.

Anarchy means “without ruler(s)”; thus, rulers aren’t very fond of anarchists. Anarchy is often used as a synonym for chaos, but anarchist philosophy is basically just anti-authoritarianism. The goal is to create a society as non-hierarchical as possible, or, as Chomsky puts it, “as close as you can get to real democracy”.

There have been periods in history where anarchists engaged in what we now call terrorism. “The propaganda of the deed” period during the late 19th and early 20th centuries was a campaign of terrorism against political elites, undertaken in the belief that it was spur the masses to revolution. During the civil rights era and its aftermath some anarchists engaged in similar, eg the Baader Meinhoff group in Germany.

The association of anarchists with “violence” ie “violent anarchists” might have something to do with the fact that they have traditionally targeted the upper class, whereas other political philosophies have the side effect of killing the working class. By the billions.

There is also the problem of identity. Then as now, we don’t actually know how many of these bombings/assassinations etc. were actually committed by anarchists vs. agent provocateurs and other corporate/state entities. In the excellent BBC documentary on Operation Gladio, it was revealed that Baader Meinhoff was completely infiltrated by the CIA, who in turn supplied them with most of their guns and explosives. The goal was to create a “strategy of tension” and encourage the election of right wing governments.

Concerning the Black Bloc, there have been several documented examples of police provocateurs dressed up in black pajamas attempting to instigate a riot.
The police in Montebello, Quebec, were caught red-handed; and Greek television showed footage of a “black bloc anarchist” hob-nobbing with police. You can see the footage in my short film “Police State Canada”. At the G20 Summit in Toronto, the “Black Bloc anarchists” were wearing Nike track pants.

In Genoa, 1999, the anarchist Starwhawk noted, “we encountered a carefully orchestrated political campaign of state terrorism. The campaign included disinformation, the use of infiltrators and provocateurs, collusion with avowed Fascist groups”

What all of this means, in short, is that it is grossly irresponsible to castigate “black bloc anarchists” or “violent anarchists” without at least qualifying one’s statements. Presumably there are some misguided youth who think breaking a window is a revolutionary act, but they should be not be held up—as Hedges has done here—as representatives of anarchist philosophy. 

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

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By Stone Mirror (the Great and Terrible), February 6, 2012 at 1:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As Samson has related with respect to Denver, I’ve seen the same thing happen to the Santa Cruz (CA) occupation. Defenders of “a diversity of tactics” announced a “march to a home in foreclosure”, which actually turned out to be an empty bank building. The “occupation”, and abandonment after three days, of this building
was apparently the last straw needed to give the local police authorities enough incentive to clear out the Santa Cruz encampment within days of this “autonomous action”.

Some of these folks have interfered with working photojournalists, denying them the very First Amendment rights they’re supposed to be out there protesting in favor of.

From 300 to 400 participants back in October, with a broad demographic, the Santa Cruz non-occupation has dwindled down to a dozen or fewer of the “usual suspects”, who’ve been protesting things like the local sleeping ban, ineffectively,
for years now.

“Revolutionaries” are killing the Occupy movement, and right quick.

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By Anarcancerist, February 6, 2012 at 1:45 pm Link to this comment

It is a tactic that is heavily critiqued… within and outside of anarchist discourse. Anarchist critiques tend to be harsher, considering anarchists get tarred a lot more by being associated with the tactic than anyone else. Examples of just a few of the hundreds that seem to be written every year:

http://theanarchistlibrary.org/topics/black_bloc.html


  Anarchist / Black Bloc Motivation by Anonymous
  The Black Bloc in Quebec: An Analysis by Nicolas Barricada Collective
  Has The Black Bloc Tactic Reached The End Of It’s Usefulness? by Severino
  Interview with Peter Lamborn Wilson by Affinity Project
  N30 Black Bloc Communiqué by ACME Collective
  Some of our reflections on the days in Genoa by El Paso
  ‘We’re Here, We’re Queer, We’re Anarchists’: The Nature of Identification and Subjectivity Among Black Blocs by Edward Avery-Natale
  Willful Disobedience Volume 2, number 12 by Various Authors

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By Phoenix Insurgent, February 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What is happening here is that liberals, who were late-comers to the anarchist-organized occupy movement (why do you think it is anti-electoral, horizontal, directly democratic, consensus-using, occupying, etc—coincidence?) and were inspired by it are now battling for ideological hegemony over it, and they are finding that their ideals are coming into conflict with many people who came before them, as well as the structure the movement has taken.  They are attempting to impose their politics on a movement that has often defied it. 

Consider for example the many breathless exhortations about the alleged “nonviolence” of the occupy movement.  Well, guess what?  Occupy Oakland has not adopted a nonviolence position.  So what?  Is Occupy Oakland not part of the occupy movement then?  It’s got to be one or the other.  Beyond that, what they call violent operates in ideological ways, generally reflecting familiar liberal middle class trajectories.  Hence we see Hedges stupid and obviously contradictory support for the EZLN (guess what the “E” stands for in that acronym?) yet denunciation of a few broken windows or town down fences.

Liberals, for a variety of class and ideological reasons, prefer ideological nonviolence.  Usually when they speak about the image “violence” projects and how people are turned off by it, they are speaking about themselves.  Because the liberal always mistakes her own politics, fears and biases for those of everyone else.  You see this even more clearly in their attitudes towards the police.  White, middle class liberals, whose only negative interactions with cops generally involve nothing more than speeding tickets, assume that everyone else shares their experience and therefore their biases.  Guess what, we do not.

Liberals have failed to provide both a vision of a better world, and also to defend what little is good about the current one.  They have allowed themselves to be pushed to the right and are not used to being criticized from what they perceive as their left.  And yet that’s what the anarchists are doing.  They operate within and outside the occupy movement and everything that everyone like Hedges likes about the occupy movement comes from them.  The liberals have joined an anarchist movement and seek to purge the anarchists.  I agree with that person below who said that Hedges was much better when he focused his rage on the zombie liberal class.  He clearly knows much more about that than he does about anarchists.

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By littlebiggygirl, February 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm Link to this comment

is Black Bloc just a tactic or is it becoming its own movement?
http://littlebiggy.org/4660547

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By Donna Fritz, February 6, 2012 at 1:34 pm Link to this comment

Wow, you people just don’t get it. I’m 55, too. Listen
to your elders, and stop being such saps and punks.

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By ardee, February 6, 2012 at 1:34 pm Link to this comment

NolaAnarcha, February 6 at 11:44 am Link to this comment


@Robspierre

You think nothing got smashed in the paris commune? you think bakunin was against violence? are you an idiot?

Takes one to know one I fear. My own opinion is that you are what you accuse Robespiere of being, but then, we have two opinions now, the weight of which is undetermined.

the very same people who denounce the Black Bloc when it is near to them in time and space celebrate things like The Boston Tea Party, which was property destruction and matching outfits to hinder identification (just like the black bloc is), or even celebrate much more VIOLENT events like the Paris Commune, which began with the ***murder*** of 2 generals.

Perhaps you might consider re-reading history prior to pontificating. The Tea Party of yore to which you refer, hurt only the profits of the East India Tea Company, a monopoly by the fiat of a despotic King.

Those idiots in black, to whom you seem so devoted, engage in senseless violence against the very people that OWS seeks to educate, to reach and to engage. It is not the shopkeeper that is our enemy, it is not the parked auto that steals our childrens birthright.

In the end change is not possible without the masses. The children dressed in black alienate them and give our biased media the fuel it needs to denigrate OWS.

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By Lumpenproletarier, February 6, 2012 at 1:33 pm Link to this comment

Just last week Hedges wrote “Leah Henderson is not only right. She is my compatriot.”

Leah plead guilty to counseling protesters to commit vandalism in Canada. She is currently in Prison.

There is nothing more contemptible to me than one whose moral compass appears to be mounted atop a weather vane.

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By JM, February 6, 2012 at 1:33 pm Link to this comment

It has been said that it takes a genius to see the obvious. Chris Hedges is a genius,
and he sees the obvious and beyond. Bravo (again).

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By kc716, February 6, 2012 at 1:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

you seriously brought up the zapatistas in the same breath as distancing yourself from the black bloc, and then let jensen write like 50% of this article. WTF happened to you guys? The blanket references to groups and members in this article is just as bad as reading the comments section from local news reporters on facebook.

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By Donna Fritz, February 6, 2012 at 1:32 pm Link to this comment

Reading some of these comments, I weep for the Occupy
Movement… and for America. The lovers of violence,
through their ignorance and lack of self discipline,
are walking right into the trap the corporate state has
set before us. Idiots.

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By Henry, February 6, 2012 at 1:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I would be very greatfull if I will be consider in your Service Just like to say helping me money $ 9.000.000 thank you.

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