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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 Reinhold, February 9, 2012 at 2:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

My point, which you missed or intentionally ignored, was that violence has always accompanied popular movements and more-or-less spontaneously, usually in response to violent state repression, and that’s just a historical fact; far from diminishing popular support, these acts of quite justified response to state repression were, again just historically and factually, the acts of the popular movements themselves, on extremely wide scales. Those in power can interpret violence however they want, and you can see them now saying that Oakland violence is justification for more state repression, but you seem to be ignorant of the fact that state repression is what, unprovoked, resulted in the violence in the first place. Reciting proverbs like “violence begets violence” does nothing to explain the fact that even non-violence begets state violence; state terror needs no excuse at all. The idea that people should be obedient to police and take it lying down is a case for the authorities; it’s exactly what they believe.

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By JDmysticDJ, February 9, 2012 at 2:07 pm Link to this comment

By Reinhold, February 8 at 9:46 pm

“…having been at OWS since day 1, I know that a large contingent is interested in full-scale revolt against the illegitimate police & governmental & corporate authorities, and the idea that such a revolt would be wholly non-violent, even the idea that property damage is somehow self-undermining, is just factually absurd.”

Factually absurd? The absurdity here is the idea that violence, including property damage, is somehow beneficial to a fledgling populist movement. Populist movements require popular support and violence does not serve to garner popular support, quite the contrary. Populist movements that have achieved some semblance of success e.g. the labor movement and the civil rights movement did not achieve their successes because of violence but in spite of violence. The violence coming from the left during and following the 1968 Democratic Convention resulted in the election of right-wing authoritarians. The violence that occurred following the assassination of Martin Luther King would have been condemned by King and the resulting violence only served to reinforce the dialectic of right-wing reactionaries i.e. the believers in racial superiority; facilitating racial politics e.g. the “Southern Strategy” and the successes of right-wing reactionary ideology.

The successes achieved by the Labor Movement occurred after decades of struggle and it was violence on a huge scale that prolonged the achievement of those successes. The act of a Serbian Anarchist which ignited the spark that rapidly progressed into the inferno of the First World War can not be seen by a rational person as something positive. Subsequently the animosity directed at foreign ideologies here in the U.S. resulted in the Palmer Raids and the persecution of anarchists within the Labor Movement and a general reactionary fear of Labor Movement objectives. Major News Papers across the U.S. daily warned against the threat of “Reds” and Anarchists replete with blaring front page headlines. Anyone that believes that such was beneficial to the Labor Movement is a complete and total moron.

“The Palmer Raids were attempts by the United States Department of Justice to arrest and deport radical leftists, especially anarchists, from the United States.”

(Meanwhile the the gangsters were gangstering, the flappers were flapping, the Wall Streeters were Wall Streeting, the Republicans were governing, the Gatsby’s were gatsbying, and the twenties roared on towards the great depression.)


Violence only begets violence, (note the violence perpetrated on those arrested during violent protest.) Those in the Occupy Movement who advocate or see the potential of a “Full Scale Revolt” must be living in a drug induced delusional alternate universe. Violence only promotes repression. The potential for a “Full Scale Revolt” i.e. insurrection, uprising, whatever is nil on so many levels that it is the absurdity of all absurdities to even contemplate such. Is it the contention of morons that the powers that be who possess omnipotent brute force will stand idly by while witnessing a “Full Scale Revolt.” A “Full Scale Revolt” which can not in any way be considered “Full Scale.” The tiny little percentage of “Full Scale Revolters” will be squashed like a bug and the resulting repression will only magnify the power of tyrants and facilitate the tyranny. Out of such is “Full Scale” Fascism accomplished.

Well organized and strictly peaceful non-violent protest and civil disobedience serves to high-light injustice and to build a consensus against injustice. The practice of violence, in any of its forms, will only be a detriment to achieving a consensus to end injustice. It is not the brick thrown through the window that discredits and destroys a fledgling populist movement, it is the perception of being violent that discredits and destroys a fledgling populist movement, and that, is the proper context.

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By heterochromatic, February 9, 2012 at 1:43 pm Link to this comment

trythout interviews Hedges about the “black bloc is a cancer “article

http://www.truth-out.org/interview-chris-hedges-about-black-
bloc/1328799148

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By katsteevns, February 9, 2012 at 1:36 pm Link to this comment

By OzarkMichael, February 9 at 10:23 am

“I see signs that we are headed for much worse government than what we have now. “


By Wikileaks for Nobel, February 9 at 11:46 am

Take the cure for HGS, before you have your life—and those around you—damaged beyond recall.
          —————

  I thought the Occupy Movement was about EVERY nation that suffers from US sponsored murder, exploitation and environmental rape.

.........I guess not. This is just about us and our shattered American Dream. Give us THAT back and we will be quiet.

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By ReadingJones, February 9, 2012 at 1:30 pm Link to this comment

Rioting for fun and profit is indeed wonderful fun
and profitable too as many have found out. Just think
how many small businesses you could wreck in order to
steal the merchandise or intimidate people into
paying for protection. It ceases to be fun when your
son gets shot in the head, or your sister’s baby gets
shot while inside her womb or you yourself get your
nuts cut off. In my long life I have seen all these
things happen to innocent people who got caught up in
riot(s) started by stupid bastards who had no notion
what kind of monster thet were creating. My long dead
chemistry prof used to say “fools rush in where
angels fear to tread.” I was so ignorant I kept on
trying to create gun cotton in his lab. Only the
stupid have to learn by direct experience. Their
betters can learn by the miserys their elders have
suffered. There are many old men and women among the
commenters on this thread. I for one don’t want to be
one of the old bastards who makes a war for young men
to die in.

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By pwest, February 9, 2012 at 1:29 pm Link to this comment

I read David Graeber’s piece, “Concerning the Violent Peace-Police: An open letter to Chris Hedges,” and he made a good point. It does not help anyone to call others a “cancer.” I can appreciate this point and although I agree with Hedges on the need for non-violence, I also agree with Graeber that calling a group of people a “cancer” is unhelpful at best.

However, Graeber also legitimizes Hedges’ concern as to Blac Bloc and its utlization of militant tactics. Graeber states that Blac Bloc is “not united by ideology, or lack of ideology, but merely a common feeling that creating a bloc of people with explicitly revolutionary politics and ready to confront the forces of the order through more militant tactics if required, is, on the particular occasion when they assemble, a useful thing to do.”

Well, this seems like they are at the very least preparing for some kind of violence when they are in the crowd. These are not Ghandian tactics as far as I know. Not even considering the moral problems with these tactics, one of the key problems with violence, simply from a practical standpoint, is that it will not work against our current police state. The increasingly militarized nature of our police forces has made them more than equipped to deal with those engaging in “militant tactics” in any form, whether that be throwing molotov cocktails, breaking windows, firing Ak-47s, or what have you. You simply will not “win” by taking any military action and it won’t matter how close you are to another black clad individual.

But then do peaceful tactics have any more effectiveness? Yes, of course, particularly in our case. I have already seen many comments stating that the tactics of the civil rights movement were great, but that they don’t really apply to our current struggle, insofar as these tactics will only be effective trying to assert political rights within the current system, as opposed to directly challenging the economic power structure.

However, look at the tactics of Ghandi, which is where MLK drew his ideas of nonviolent actions from. Ghandi directly challenged the British Empire and did so nonviolently. This was possible because India had the numbers. Millions of Indians gathered together and simply refused to recognize the legitimacy of the empire, therby making it crumble. This is the power we have today.

We have given this corrupt system our willingness to cooperate for a long time and now that millions of Americans are being adversely affected by it, in the form of mass foreclosures, increasing unemployment and poverty, lack of healthy food, and constantly bombarded with lies and ever increasing calls to war with others. We need to unite these people to stand up against it. We cannot do that by engaging in any “militant tactics” or even donning clothing that suggests we will “if required.”

We can win because we are the 99% and don’t need to fire a single shot or break a single window.

However, I’m glad that we are having this discussion and this is precisely what we all should be talking about. The ineffectiveness of our political class and the massive corruption of our government have made this discussion inevitable. Lets continue to fight for change.

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By Ed Romano, February 9, 2012 at 1:27 pm Link to this comment

To Dave Ewoldt, Thanks. I am much encouraged by the 15 items listed by the Occupiers. I was elated when the Wall St. thing started, but also a little sad when I thought this was just another reform movement. Now that I have seen the demands I am heartened again. The movement is demanding things this system would not or could not possibly agree to. Therefore the demands are revolutionary. Everything must be done to support and encourage the movement. If it fails we can only continue to drift right and more raspidly than most of us imagine.  ED R

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By tomcat, February 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm Link to this comment

Thanks to possums and wardad for the link to David Graeber’s response to Hedges.
He really gets to the heart of the matter through first-hand experience, an intimate knowledge of anarchism and black bloc, and a clear understanding of the danger HEDGES’ ARTICLE is to the movement….
a must read….

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By Wikileaks for Nobel, February 9, 2012 at 12:46 pm Link to this comment

This Changes Everything: Occupy Wall Street and the 99% Movement, is a book published a few months ago by the magazine called Yes!  In several of its essays, there is a thoughtful discussion of “diversity of tactics” and also of anarchism.  It also contains an address to Occupy Wall Street by the well-known author and activist, Naomi Klein.  I’d like to quote an extract from that, with the hope that some of those afflicted with Heroic Guerrilla Syndrome (HGS) might see it and begin to take the cure:

Something else this movement is doing right:  You have committed yourselves to nonviolence.  You have refused to give the media the images of broken windows and street fights it craves so desperately.  And that tremendous discipline has meant that again and again, the story has been the disgraceful and unprovoked police brutality, which we saw more of just last night.  Meanwhile, support for this movement grows and grows more wisdom.

xxxx

This is what Chris Hedges was focusing on, and tangential discussions about anarchism do not address it.  He was correctly pointing out that what Naomi Klein so clearly identified is being pissed away by fools and criminals posturing as “revolutionaries.”  Take the cure for HGS, before you have your life—and those around you—damaged beyond recall.

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By skchgo, February 9, 2012 at 12:29 pm Link to this comment

Reading “An Open Letter to Chris Hedges” by David
Graeber, I apologize and totally take back what I said
earlier, I should have known better. Read more here:
http://www.nplusonemag.com/concerning-the-violent-
peace-police

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By pwest, February 9, 2012 at 12:20 pm Link to this comment

Am I missing something in this article?? Where is Chris Hedges denouncing anarchism in general?? To the extent that there are those on here blindly firing away at Hedges’ for doing so, please direct me to that point in the article because I don’t see it.

His article seems pretty straight forward: Black Bloc anarchists are undermining the Occupy movement with their violent tactics. Is this really that controversial of a statement?

Lets keep the debate focused a bit. There are plenty on here advocating violence and if that’s the case then you are correct to disagree with Hedges. But those simply taking issue with Hedges regarding anarchists in general seemed to have missed the point of the article.

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By Dave Ewoldt, February 9, 2012 at 11:58 am Link to this comment

OzarkMichael… I just love the way people who say they are against the ruling elite use the definitions of the ruling elite to put down anything that removes power from the ruling elite. And then wonder why things don’t get any better. As others on this thread have already pointed out, many here are confusing anarchism with nihilism. To me, this is the only mistake Chris made in his article.

And as I said earlier in this thread, here’s what anarchism is in general: people self-organizing without authoritarian hierarchies. What anarchists tend to be against is coercion. They are not against the state or government per se, and come in many stripes that run from anarcho-communitarians to anarcho-capitalists. Historically, the question of violence has long divided anti-authoritarians in the struggle against unjust and illegitimate authority.

So, anarchism is not anathema to a productive society, and could actually form the basis for a much more productive, as well as equitable, society than what we’re suffering under today. As a political philosophy, anarchism is not equivalent to either chaos or mob rule. Authoritarian hierarchies are not necessary for good governance, and there is a pragmatic, available alternative which I believe OWS would be well served by adopting.

See http://www.COMEweb.org for details.

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By wardad, February 9, 2012 at 11:48 am Link to this comment

I’m back.  Read this response to Hedges.  Chris, you should read it too.  Its very
gracious a greta counter-point to your argument.

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

Chris, I’m afraid you will be called a reactionary if you do not address the fair and
well reasoned responses to your piece.

Peace.

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By OzarkMichael, February 9, 2012 at 11:23 am Link to this comment

Another thing to consider is that government has evolved as the monopoly of violence and most of them are really good at it.  Most of the time, violence is not going to be a winning or even surviving strategy for activists.

If they can survive it, and if it works, then its a good strategy? Thats what you are impying.

Since the threat and menace of the anarchists hovers behind OWS, then OWS supporters can say, “deal with us or the whole thing will escalate”.  In other words, if society doesnt capitulate to your demands, you’ve got some muscle to make us all think twice. In fact, that is why the anarchists have been tolerated by OWS to this point.

Of course, it’s very hard to avoid violence in a social order in which one can’t sit in a park without becoming the object of militarized police violence.  Pulling our hair out and rending our garments because somebody throws a brick is uncalled-for in the context.

As long as it is someone else’s window that gets broken, why should you care?

There is also another window that the brick will break, and that is how we as citizens interact with the government. You are in the process of breaking everyone’s window. Why do anarchists feel they can make this decision for everyone else? You dont seem to care what other people think or what other people want. You will decide it for them. They must sit on their hands while you and your friends make demands with some muscle behind you.

If one faction(OWS) successfully uses the threat of brickthrowing to get what it wants, what makes you think other factions will not use the same tactic? Instead of casting ballots, we will be casting bricks. In that scenario it wont be the government that wins. It will be whichever faction has the most people throwing the most bricks and breaking the most windows. They will gain control of an already very large and intrusive government. Which faction will win? Will it be the radical Left? The radical Right?

I say…. either way we lose the freedom that we have now, so what difference does it make?

It is possible that OWS will succeed in unraveling our system of government. That seems to be their unstated goal. If that window breaks, I see signs that we are headed for much worse government than what we have now.

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By Dave Ewoldt, February 9, 2012 at 11:21 am Link to this comment

Hi Ed… here’s the link:

http://october2011.org/issues

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By Amon Drool, February 9, 2012 at 11:17 am Link to this comment

+1 on the David Graeber post linked to by possums
@9:59am

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By Ed Romano, February 9, 2012 at 11:01 am Link to this comment

To Dave Ewoldt ,  Do you know where I might find those 15 core issues ? I don’t think they are generally known, because most folks seem to be in the dark regarding exactly what Occupy wants. Ed R

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By possums, February 9, 2012 at 10:59 am Link to this comment

An awesome response to this article from David Graeber.
If you haven’t read it yet, you probably should. This
goes for you too, Mr. Hedges.

http://nplusonemag.com/concerning-the-violent-peace-
police?
utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed
:+nplusonemag_main+(n+1+magazine)

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By skchgo, February 9, 2012 at 9:43 am Link to this comment

Black Bloc is the ignorant equivalent to Westboro
Baptist Church

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By Dave Ewoldt, February 9, 2012 at 9:09 am Link to this comment

Hey Lump… I’m not sure what you mean by “it’s not working.” The Occupy movement is a process. Do you really expect to overcome 8,000 years of dominator hierarchies in less than six months, let alone a deeply entrenched system of economic cannibalism? Yeah, there are some things that could have been done differently, mainly, I think anyway, to have adopted a clear agenda for what needs to change and how. My suggestion all along has been to start with the 15 core issues identified by the October2011.org occupation of Freedom Plaza in DC.

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By katsteevns, February 9, 2012 at 8:33 am Link to this comment

Activists and Anarchists Speak for Themselves at Occupy Oakland
Wednesday 8 February 2012
by: Susie Cagle, Truthout

http://www.truthout.org/occupy-oakland/1328726021

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By Rob Gordon, February 9, 2012 at 7:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I hope this comment can be seen by Chris Hedges! I greatly admire the work that he is doing which greatly benefits all of us. I have a suggestion which I elaborate on at my home page and blogs at my site, RobGordonMusic.com, but I will condense here in hopes that it will be read from beginning to end.
  We are, as a society, bombarded every minute of the day through our media, both actively and subliminally, of all the bad news, all the negativity. Fear mongering and war. The video games our kids play, the daily concoction of half truths and lies on the TV and news print. The constant threat of war and terrorism. All these means keep the vibration of consciousness very low. We need to raise the vibration of consciousness to get what we all want. The Occupy movement has certainly been a breath of fresh air and has woken a lot of people up, but the cops and the provocateurs are trying to bring the protests down to physical confrontation and therefore bring it to a low vibration which the media can point to with disdain and dissuade the timid and uninformed.
  There’s a better way! We can raise the vibration of mass consciousness in a non confrontational way by using what each one of us posses as an integral part of our multi dimensional being. LOVE! On mass or individually, we can change things BIG TIME! Everything consists of vibration and if we want to raise the vibration, then let us use something that is of a very high vibration. And let’s do this around the world. We are all brothers and sisters and we all have the ability to affect positive change through mass consciousness without violence and bloodshed. We have tried the violence method for thousands of years and it obviously hasn’t worked because here we are back at square one. If we can unite on mass and take the time to send Love to all the world, we can effect change faster than we could by shaking our fists at the tyranny that is presently cloaking and choking us. How difficult would it be to try this? We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. We can do this on our own time in the comfort of our homes or at mass events coordinated around the world. We have the power within us! 
Rob
RobGordonMusic.com

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By Anarcissie, February 9, 2012 at 6:42 am Link to this comment

Mark E. Smith’s account of the violence of the government since approximately Seattle ‘99 reminds me of the Vietnam War era, when the violence of anti-war activists was the exciting topic and the tons of bombs being dropped on Vietnam every day was passed over in silence by the media and the politicians.

However, there is something to the criticism of even property destruction.  An activist of my acquaintance was out one night with a bunch of people who, motivated by some political passion or other, were breaking windows and setting fire to trash cans, and she realized the activities were just like the hooliganism which often follows big sports events and had about as much meaning.  So she went home.  Just because people call themselves ‘anarchists’ doesn’t mean they aren’t jerks.

Another thing to consider is that government has evolved as the monopoly of violence and most of them are really good at it.  Most of the time, violence is not going to be a winning or even surviving strategy for activists.

Of course, it’s very hard to avoid violence in a social order in which one can’t sit in a park without becoming the object of militarized police violence.  Pulling our hair out and rending our garments because somebody throws a brick is uncalled-for in the context.

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By OzarkMichael, February 9, 2012 at 6:10 am Link to this comment

The people who engage only in self-defense in Oakland now are being called a cancer because other people broke some windows thirteen years ago?

Although calling people a cancer isnt a good way to initiate a dialogue, I must say that your complete denial in the face of many videos taken at Occupy Oakland isnt a good response. Denial is why the problem got worse in the first place.

Face the strain of addressing the bad results that arose from encouraging radicalism, or you will be completely overwhelmed by them later.

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By TAGGLINE, February 9, 2012 at 5:03 am Link to this comment

Nick_Lento,
Well put, sir…well put. There have always been
‘fringe’ elements that do not speak for the whole.
Thanks for being yet another voice of reason. The
Occupy Movement will have its day…and sooner than
later, methinks.

“Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are
anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and
courage to see that they do not remain the way they
are.”

Anger does not equate to senseless violence…ever.

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By Mark E. Smith, February 9, 2012 at 3:00 am Link to this comment

Macresarf1, that may be the story that the US mainstream media told you, but the BBC has a quite different story. This is a quick rundown for folks with short attention spans:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-ok7-4aZ1M&feature=related

The BBC source is here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFBYRy-1x6s

But if you’d prefer a more scholarly, documented, and more specific explanation of the US war machine, I recommend Andrew Feinstein’s book, The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade.

Bin Laden was a patsy. The US military-industrial complex needed a war, so it dusted off Operation Northwoods, having long since assassinated the President who vetoed it and knowing that their current puppet was one of them and had no scruples whatsoever.

Do you really believe that if an Islamic fundamentalist had a terror network, he’d name it “The Data Base?”

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By Mark E. Smith, February 9, 2012 at 2:15 am Link to this comment

I listened to the radio show with Chris and Kristof, and Kristof, who has been there all along, says he hasn’t seen any violence at Occupy Oakland and that no windows were broken.

The windows were broken during the G8 riots in Seattle THIRTEEN YEARS AGO. And the Black Bloc folks who did it aren’t likely to be in Oakland now anyway—this is a whole new generation. The people who engage only in self-defense in Oakland now are being called a cancer because other people broke some windows thirteen years ago?

The windows were broken thirteen years ago, Chris. Before the Iraq war. Before the Afghan war. Before the invasions and drone bombings and wanton mass murders of civilians by the US government in Yemen, Somalia, and Libya. Before the genocide of millions by US proxies in the DRCongo so that the US government could get the resources it needs to keep its war machine going. By the most conservative estimates I can find, the US, US death squads, and US-armed, trained, and funded proxies have killed more than eight million innocent people since those windows were broken in Seattle. But that was just “collateral damage” and broken windows are property damage.

No, I don’t think there’s any hope for change from people who obsess over property damaged in protests against genocidal policies. The windows were insured and replaced. Nobody was hurt. It was thirteen years ago. Get over it Chris. There really are more important things to write about.

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By Macresarf1, February 9, 2012 at 1:51 am Link to this comment

Consider this:  When the Islamic theoreticians around Osama bin Laden began to tap him for monies to fuel revolutions in a dozen muslim countries, they at first appealed to the broader publics of those countries in Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, etc., hoping that the average citizen would quickly reject Western methods and products and return to pure Islam.  Unfortunately, the public did not broadly support them, and they began to commit acts of terrorism, first against the governments, but gradually, more and more against the general public.  Their thinking was that if ordinary muslims were too ignorant to see the
evils of Western imperialism, they deserved to be murdered.  That philosophy took them through half a dozen blood baths until they were expelled from their home countries and exiled,  ending up as mercenaries against the Russians,  sheltered by the Western covert military in Afghanistan, from which they later developed a number of desperate, violent plans culminating in 9/11.

  Do you see a possible parallel with the grandiose schemes for violent confrontation urged by supporters of “the black blocs”?  It would fit the history of almost all nihilist adventures in the last 150 years.

  Such a terrible conclusion to the brilliant and noble Occupy Movements is what Chris Hedges fears.  He has read the history, he has seen that history’s corrosive effects on the ground, and he knows how attractive men in black with balaclava hoods are to romantics and secret police agencies.  He knows how such methods can destroy brilliant and noble peaceful movements, how the general public of a country soon turns away from the inconvenience, the blood and destruction of “black bloc” activities.

  Avoid the counterproductive.

  The Occupy Movements in the Spring must renew themselves with fresh peaceful and innovative ideas—and above all with PATIENCE.  That is not readily an American virtue.  But is a necessary one in the most daunting challenge American Democracy has ever faced.

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By Nick_Lento, February 8, 2012 at 11:57 pm Link to this comment

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_profilepage&v=LD8UohyYPWA

It’s nice to see that “Anonymous” agrees with Hedges on this point.

It’s not complicated.  Violence in this case is utterly stupid and counterproductive.

The guys doing it are acting out of sheer rage, frustration and macho “pride”.  A waste.

OWS worked best as a peaceful model.  It was powerfully inspiring and enlightening and transformative. 

I don’t believe the cancer is inexorably fatal.  OWS is growing an immune system!

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By Reinhold, February 8, 2012 at 10:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When people point out that violence always accompanies effective social change, they are not necessarily saying that violence was the decisive tactic in the social change; when I listed those events and strikes and revolts in which, in my opinion, violence was inevitable, or certainly made inevitable by police and state repression, I am pointing out simply that: that violence ACCOMPANIES strikes, revolts, protests, etc., HISTORICALLY, and so there’s no reason to assume it will not occur in these protests, strikes, revolts, occupations, etc. Why should our circumstance be so special that violence doesn’t occur? Because we’re “better” than that? Because we’re more “moral”? To say that perhaps violence is not the most decisive tactic is one thing, but to denounce it is a counter-revolutionary tactic––which Hedges essentially has––is plainly stupid: such a tactic has always been, and is likely to continue to be, a tactic employed by revolutionaries, and there’s no reason to expect otherwise, or to be surprised that people who get beat up and detained every week for protesting throw a few bottles and tear gas canisters at cops. For Christ’s sake, if the “neoliberal order” is REALLY to be displaced, it’s going to take a lot more violence than just throwing things at police officers and windows; such levels of violence, e.g., even in Egypt today are proving insufficient to topple even an allegedly outdated military dictatorship. Non-violence is not bad if you want to change some laws; but Hedges is a liberal dupe to denounce the ‘bloc’ as “criminals,” because it means that he isn’t serious enough about what it would mean to effect radical change in a thoroughly and systematically corrupt society; it means that he, like a lot of liberal ‘intellectuals,’ hasn’t thought through the consequences of his assumptions and beliefs.

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By gerard, February 8, 2012 at 9:42 pm Link to this comment

A certain unspoken assumption occurs and recurs here (as in all “gaming” strategies:  That “winning” or “victory” means that the opposition “loses” or “is defeated” and that everybody wants to “win” and nobody wants to “lose.” Beyond that, little consideration of deeper meanings occurs.
  Personal/group/national pride is involved in such simplistic thinking, IMO.  But something more like the truth might be that “winners” may actually experience more (unacknowledged) feelings of regret and guilt than of joy—an (unacknowledged) relief at the end of violent strife.
  At the same time,“losers” may feel an equally
strong (unacknowledged) sense of relief and joy—both glad to regain the reassurance that violence has temporarily (at least) been ended and that “peace” (lack of violence) has been restored.
  Pride and shame are the emotions that disguise both reactions and conventionalize them into the usual yes/no pair—we win/you lose.
  This peculiar confusion and contortion of sentiments may be largely due to the fact that “peace” (so far) has not been defined as anything more than temporary cessation of violence, whereas the real demand of continuing human life is now becoming evident as an absolute necessity for the long-term establishment of something more than just temporary cessation of war.
  By getting closer to definition of concepts based on honest inner feelings, we may be able to discover ways to establish truer and a more humane understanding of what we are doing and why.  The first step may appear as the necessity to stop regarding war as a “game”—an early perverse denial of feeling in the interest of unconsciously but deliberately replaceing of direct “natural” and instinctive emotions of abhorrence of suffering and of inflicting suffering with a “contrived” and more indirect reasoning regarding power, gain and lose (of property, prestige etc.).
  Just a thought.

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By Jerry Gerber, February 8, 2012 at 7:59 pm Link to this comment

Edited version:

Who really wants that kind of short-sighted, unimaginative, uncreative, mechanical “change”?  That’s what a lot of people, whether they’re conscious of it or not, are seemingly desiring.  Just because some tactic worked some time at some places doesn’t mean that tactic is now the most effective one.  I support the sincere inner reaction to injustice, it is a powerful and evolutionarily highly necessary sense.  But without patience to slow down the conversion of righteous anger into corrupting and self-destructive violent impulse?  Without making things worse instead of better? 

There are some people, thankfully, who have suffered enough violence and for them it has not appeal, no fragrant scent of victory or justice, no illusion of setting things right.  It usually just encourages the habitually violent (tyrants, dictators and the economic violence of capitalism) to continue the “official” violence.

JG

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By Jerry Gerber, February 8, 2012 at 7:47 pm Link to this comment

Numerous people in this debate point out that many progressive movements have contained violence, i.e. pushing back when police get crazy, destroying property, resisting arrest, etc, and that this is the way “REAL” revolutions occur.  What if due to many complex and present factors the methods of revolution are wrong, or simply not the best methods for a particular time and place, and the forces of evolution, far less understood, are actually the principles which will not only produce the maximum amount of change, the most radical change, but also, 1) longer lasting change, and 2)change for the better, better meaning for the largest possible number of human beings?

What many revolutions leave out is that in order for outer change(our mores, institutions, laws, public policies, communal level of trust) to occur, there must be, in a sufficient number of people, a corresponding inner change.  Otherwise even the most advanced ideas, movements, and institutions become corrupt precisely because of the fear, anger, shame, guilt, anxiety, resentment, envy, pride and jealousy that all too often lingers, consciously or unconsciously, in human hearts.  To take the machismo attitude that states of consciousness and stages of being don’t impact the effectiveness and longevity of of social change is untrue, it doesn’t really work that way.  That just leads to “Out with the old boss, same as the new boss”.  Change, but not evolution, sometimes devolution.  Who really wants that kind of short-sighted, unimaginative, uncreative, mechanical “change”.  That’s what a lot of people, whether their conscious of it or not, are seemingly desiring.  Just because some tactic worked some time at some places doesn’t mean that tactic is now the most effective one. 

Some people say the way to effect maximum, radical change and destroy the corporate system is simple:  Stop buying their products. Though I personally can stop buying something I want but don’t need without too much trouble, how does this method stop the government from craving more and more F18s and stop buying excessive, wasteful armaments from companies like Boeing?  Is there a link? 

Jerry Gerber
http://www.jerrygerber.com

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By Jerry Gerber, February 8, 2012 at 7:47 pm Link to this comment

Numerous people in this debate point out that many progressive movements have contained violence, i.e. pushing back when police get crazy, destroying property, resisting arrest, etc, and that this is the way “REAL” revolutions occur.  What if due to many complex and present factors the methods of revolution are wrong, or simply not the best methods for a particular time and place, and the forces of evolution, far less understood, are actually the principles which will not only produce the maximum amount of change, the most radical change, but also, 1) longer lasting change, and 2)change for the better, better meaning for the largest possible number of human beings?

What many revolutions leave out is that in order for outer change(our mores, institutions, laws, public policies, communal level of trust) to occur, there must be, in a sufficient number of people, a corresponding inner change.  Otherwise even the most advanced ideas, movements, and institutions become corrupt precisely because of the fear, anger, shame, guilt, anxiety, resentment, envy, pride and jealousy that all too often lingers, consciously or unconsciously, in human hearts.  To take the machismo attitude that states of consciousness and stages of being don’t impact the effectiveness and longevity of of social change is untrue, it doesn’t really work that way.  That just leads to “Out with the old boss, same as the new boss”.  Change, but not evolution, sometimes devolution.  Who really wants that kind of short-sighted, unimaginative, uncreative, mechanical “change”.  That’s what a lot of people, whether their conscious of it or not, are seemingly desiring.  Just because some tactic worked some time at some places doesn’t mean that tactic is now the most effective one. 

Some people say the way to effect maximum, radical change and destroy the corporate system is simple:  Stop buying their products. Though I personally can stop buying something I want but don’t need without too much trouble, how does thismethod stop the government from craving more and more F18s and stop buying excessive, wasteful armaments from companies like Boeing?  Is there a link? 

Jerry Gerber
http://www.jerrygerber.com

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By Herbert Marcuse, February 8, 2012 at 6:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“If they use violence, they do not start a new chain of violence but try to break an
established one. Since they will be punished, they know the risk, and when they
are willing to take it, no third person, and least of all the educator and intellectual,
has the right to preach abstention.”

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By tomcat, February 8, 2012 at 6:32 pm Link to this comment

Hedges said he had no evidence that there were agent provocateurs in black bloc…but it seems that something was left off the archived piece vs. what I heard on the show. Guess I’ll never know.
Yes, all I’ve read, listened to and discussed in the past few days has brought some clarity for me.
I’ll listen to the resisters, the people on the front line, first and foremost.

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By Amon Drool, February 8, 2012 at 6:03 pm Link to this comment

tomcat…i got kinda bored with that debate..i don’t
think he said he erred.  his monday column may have
been an overly hasty response to the tim pool/anarchist
confrontation reported by the Guardian a few days
earlier.

in the long run this dust-up is probably all to the
good…the well-intentioned on both sides may grow from
this.

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By Lloyd Hart, February 8, 2012 at 5:38 pm Link to this comment

Fuck you Truthpig and your censorship policy!

“It has come to our attention that you have posted comments (pasted below)
that are not in keeping with our comment policy. Please review our policy (also
pasted below) and help us keep Truthdig’s comment community a respectful
and enjoyable place to post for everyone. Thank you.”

Your Comment:

Chris Hedges Has Made a Big Mistake. Instead of calling the Black Bloc a cancer
Chris should have examined where the expression that collects in the Black
Bloc is coming from. Why are people that identify with the Black Bloc expressing
themselves this way? I tend to try to find some understanding. I identify with
the Black Bloc because nuclear power killed my father and made me and my
sister sick. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t want to smash something
that would stop the madness. Chris hedges unfortunately is desperate for an
occupy movement that squandered all it’s public support and hundreds of
thousands of dollars in donations on an absolutely non-confrontational protest
that changed absolutely nothing. What Chris doesn’t get about the public is that
they will support someone that is willing to fight for them like the militant
unions of the 1920s and 1930s but when Occupy chose not to say what they
want when the world asked them ““What do you want?”” and then went side
ways like all liberals, Occupy lost the moment and is now finished and not trust
worthy. Chris is just upset and hasn’t realized that Occupy is just another
progressive failure and he is looking to scape goat in the Black Bloc instead of
joining the Black Bloc as the next natural evolutionary reaction to the wide
spread poverty created by the democrats and republicans and their pals in the
pentagon and on wall st.. Well fuck you Chris, your a fucking asshole. The Black
Bloc are the only ones responding appropriately to the madness all around us.
If you can’t see that your blinded by your own comfort.

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By tomcat, February 8, 2012 at 5:24 pm Link to this comment

Amon,
Good observation! I concur.
I’m listening again to find the notable moments, but at the very end, didn’t Hedges say that he had erred?

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By Amon Drool, February 8, 2012 at 5:10 pm Link to this comment

well, well…just listened to the kpfa audio of the
hedges/oakland OWS’er ‘debate’.  memories of mcluhan
come to mind.  hedges came off as a savonarola in his
‘hot’ visual print diatribe and then cooled down in the
more auditory medium of radio. . .and i’m sure most of
us are glad he did.

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By Reinhold, February 8, 2012 at 2:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The idea that progressive revolts are non-violent is 100% historically inaccurate. Basic worker strikes and uprisings throughout history––Pittsburgh 1877 (where strikers openly attacked police & scabs and burned millions of dollars in property); the Battle of Blair Mountain 1921 (the largest battle on American soil since the Civil War); the Battle of Toledo 1934; the Egyptian Revolution 2011; etc. etc. etc.––have been extremely violent, because people did not take police brutality and state repression lying down. In fact, there is good evidence that non-violent movements, especially Gandhi’s, were ineffective, and that Indian independence was won mostly by violent naval mutinies against the British. It is not my place to say what it is that the Occupy movements in general wish to accomplish, but having been at OWS since day 1, I know that a large contingent is interested in full-scale revolt against the illegitimate police & governmental & corporate authorities, and the idea that such a revolt would be wholly non-violent, even the idea that property damage is somehow self-undermining, is just factually absurd.

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By Nihilo Zero, February 8, 2012 at 1:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have written a response to this piece by Hedges and it has been fairly well received.  It’s even been mentioned already in this thread.  But the thing is… my response is not promoting a party line which is acceptable by the state or its leftist apologists.  And Hedges will likely not feel compelled to respond to my particular criticism, the criticism presented in this thread of replies, or the criticism presented in other independent responses.  Although thousands of people will end up reading such criticism, those offering it don’t really have access to the powerful but bland media outlets that Hedges uses.  I’d argue that this might be a matter of class privilege (because those offering tired conformist ideas have an easier succeeding in the system when they don’t really challenge it).  I submitted my article early to Truthdig, but I increasingly doubt it will be published.  I’ve raised the possibility of Hedges having an honest public debate with Zerzan on some public forum—but I doubt I’m not holding my breathe for that.  Zerzan is worthy of Hedges to malign, but probably won’t be allowed to adequately defend himself to the same audience.  Black Bloc proponents can be slandered and dragged through the mud, but it’s their fault for being too poor to have access to similar media channels. 

The state and the acceptable media will offer endless promotion of MLK’s non-violence, but gives much less to the ideas of Malcolm X or the Black Panthers (who were maligned in much the same way the Black Bloc is now).  This is business as usual for the corporate state as it tolerates (and even promotes) the milquetoast activism which doesn’t really challenge it.  However, beyond all the media proclamations (made by privileged leftists who have succeeded in the very system they pretend to criticize) is a simmering discontent in the masses who are brutalized and beaten down every single day.  They know what’s up and they know that singing Kumbaya while the police club you isn’t going to change much.  And they can also recognize intellectual dishonesty of the sort presented by Hedges and his defenders in this thread.  It’s telling that the most popular upvoted comments on the Truth-out version of this article are in favor of the Black Bloc. 

But the best part is that Hedges has probably actually motivated and empowered the Black Bloc anarchists.  Those curious about the subject will see that the Black Bloc has fought Nazis as they rally, has defended people being brutalized by the police, and has destroyed the property of corporations which enslave people around the globe.  And then people will wonder why they are being attacked so dishonestly by the likes of Hedges.  After Hedges admits that non-violent #OWS camps have already been shut down, they’ll wonder why the Black Bloc is now being blamed for it.  And if #OWS is sputtering during this winter, they might wonder why the more militant camps are the ones persisting in the face of constant attacks. 

Finally… it should be noted that the original imagery used by Adbusters to promote the idea of #OWS was a ballerina on top of the iconic Wall Street bull.  In the background of that image you will see a Black Bloc wearing gas masks.  The idea of Black Bloc involvement has been with the movement from its inception.  If Hedges didn’t notice that as he and others try to co-opt or cause infighting… that’s his problem.  It’s not his movement as much as he pretends otherwise.  And it still doesn’t excuse the sloppy, inaccurate, and divisive piece that Hedges has just written.     

For more information along these lines, I’d humbly encourage and kindly request that everyone read “The Folly of Christopher Hedges” as it makes it’s way across the internet. 

http://nihilo0.blogspot.com/2012/02/folly-of-christopher-hedges.html

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By Donna Fritz, February 8, 2012 at 1:11 pm Link to this comment

SocialistBooks - Chris Hedges addressed that on KPFA
this morning. tomcat has provided the link.

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By SocialistBooks, February 8, 2012 at 1:04 pm Link to this comment

“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.” - Chris Hedges,
professional hypocrite (May 24th, 2010)

Please explain, Chris. It seems like you’re ok with
protesters/demonstrators engaging in general strikes,
riots, shutting down cities, etc. when it’s all the
way across the ocean but as soon as someone throws a
bottle in NYC you have a meltdown ...

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By tomcat, February 8, 2012 at 1:00 pm Link to this comment

listen to cristof from OccupyOakland debate Hedges from earlier today:
http://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/77663

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By Donna Fritz, February 8, 2012 at 12:38 pm Link to this comment

Btw, great discussion on KPFA this morning with Chris
Hedges and Cristophe Lepore (not sure of the spelling).
Thanks, cuthred and tomcat!

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By Donna Fritz, February 8, 2012 at 12:17 pm Link to this comment

Wow, that was terrible grammar on my part. Mea culpa.
Let me rephrase:

Good grief, Lump - OWS is only 6 months old. Your
only aim here seems to be to discredit the movement,
which would be alright to do if you were basing your
opinions on fact, but it’s clear to me that you’re
basing your opinions on nonsense and your own hostility
to the movement.

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By Donna Fritz, February 8, 2012 at 12:15 pm Link to this comment

Good grief, Lump - OWS is only 6 months old. You’re
only aim here seems to be to discredit the movement,
which would be alright to do if you were basing your
opinion on fact, but it’s clear that your basing your
opinion on nonsense and your own hostility to the
movement.

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By Lumpenproletarier, February 8, 2012 at 12:11 pm Link to this comment

Well, whoever it belongs to, it’s not working. Maybe next time people decide to do something, they will actually do something.

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By Donna Fritz, February 8, 2012 at 12:07 pm Link to this comment

“Since Hedges’ column was posted that pompously
declared that OWS was “His Movement”, it’s only natural
that he would, in the end, have to find an external
reason for it’s failure, and it appears that he has
found one.” - Lump

You are, perhaps purposely, misrepresenting what Chris
and others in OWS, including myself, mean when we say
that it’s OUR movement. Of course Chris meant that it
was HIS movement just like it’s everybody’s movement.
It belongs to each and every one of us.

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By Lumpenproletarier, February 8, 2012 at 11:58 am Link to this comment

Occupy Wall Street is crumbling, and it’s demise is mostly attributable to the lack of goals and objectives of the movement (other than to be a story on the TV news). It’s a good lesson for future protest campaigns.

Since Hedges’ column was posted that pompously declared that OWS was “His Movement”, it’s only natural that he would, in the end, have to find an external reason for it’s failure, and it appears that he has found one.

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Ed Lytwak's avatar

By Ed Lytwak, February 8, 2012 at 11:42 am Link to this comment

P.S. Maybe my problem with the black bloc discussion - and with CH’s column - is that too many people are writing about what they don’t have any direct experience with, i.e. are commenting based on what they have read.

In that regard it would be very helpful to me and perhaps others, if people who have direct experience with the black bloc, either as participants or witnesses of their actions could answer the following question.

What is the gender breakdown of black bloc participants, i.e. approximately what percentage are women?

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By JDmysticDJ, February 8, 2012 at 11:39 am Link to this comment

RE: Imhotep, et. al.

I followed the links provided by Imotep and what I found there was circumstantial evidence proceeding to wild speculation; similarities to the many “truther sites” are evident.

Police and government agents infiltrating protest movements is, I’ll proffer, Standard Operating Procedure but police and government agents fomenting or perpetrating violence remains unproven speculation. Provocateurs have been exposed in the past, during the Vietnam era and more recently, and such has been well documented. The use of Agents Provocateur is a tactic of clandestine and rogue elements within intelligence gathering agencies but still I have to ask,”Is it Imhotep’s contention that virtually all Black Bloc Anarchists are police or government Agents Provocateur or is it his contention that some Occupy Wall Street members have been duped into perpetrating violence by police or government agents?”

Perhaps the most illustrative example of the problem Hedges writes about is the relatively high number of Occupy Wall Street members or supporters here on this thread that are condoning the violence perpetrated by Black Bloc Anarchists.

Another question I would ask of Imhotep et. al. would be, “If Hedges’ is all wrong concerning his writing about dangerously counter productive elements within Occupy Wall Street, what is the explanation for the relatively high number of Occupy Wall Street members or supporters here who are condoning the violence perpetrated by Black Bloc Anarchists?”

Hopefully the question would be answered without more wild speculation unsupported by conclusive evidence.

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Ed Lytwak's avatar

By Ed Lytwak, February 8, 2012 at 11:24 am Link to this comment

Groobiecat & Anarcisse,  My apologies to you and others who have engaged in an intelligent discussion.  You are right, I did make too general of a condemnation.  I should have said “too often degenerates into mindless drivel.”  I actually stopped reading the comments early on because of past bad experiences with the comment thread on CH’s columns - reading them is too often a waste of time.  I do hope the discussion improved as it aged.

Maybe this is what is wrong with CH’s columns - they generalize too much and are too based on emotion rather than reason.  Perhaps the left like the right and all religions believes too much and thinks too little.  And we all know CH’s religious affinities and his mastery of pushing peoples buttons.

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By Cuthred, February 8, 2012 at 11:15 am Link to this comment

Wonderfully thorough opening statement by the actual person FROM OAKLAND on the radio show (KPFA). Hedges did not interview anyone from Oakland before he bashed them from his pulpit. Great listenin’

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By gerard, February 8, 2012 at 11:05 am Link to this comment

I’m hoping this kind of discussion is going on in many places every day now.  It’s long overdue. Thank
the Internet, Adbusters, Anonymous, Occupy and a bunch of other people for that. We will move beyond words, but words help form the spirit that moves the action.

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By Cuthred, February 8, 2012 at 11:03 am Link to this comment

PSA

Chris is about to talk on KPFA with Occupy Oakland guy re: his recent article. Live streaming available

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By mj, February 8, 2012 at 10:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Anarcissie, 

You wrote: “There are some examples of nonviolent resisters provoking a
violent response and thereby undermining the system they were protesting
against by causing it to reveal its intrinsic violence.  The classic example is the
Civil Rights movement.  The classic failure is the anti-war movement.”

The US labor movement should be added, and studied as well—US public
schools don’t teach real labor history. In the long struggles of the US labor
movement many ordinary workers faced down government/corporate violence
and won rights for workers.  The US labor movement did not endorse violence
though continually suffering serious violence from the powerful.

As time went on owners found public opinion stiffened against them for
shooting and imprisoning strikers and union organizers; so after the 1930s
they stopped shooting strikers and turned to public relations campaigns and
the buying of politicians to achieve their goals. Their efforts have been so
successful that now many US citizens view unions with distrust.  Nevertheless,
the child labor laws, work safety laws, etc. that we have in the US came from
the organized efforts of US workers over a period decades.

As for the anti-war movement, I have heard it said by some thinkers and some
government insiders that it shortened the Viet Nam War by a few years and
may have prevented Nixon from dropping nuclear weapons there.

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By Donna Fritz, February 8, 2012 at 10:49 am Link to this comment

While it is logical that rage-agents of the Black-
“Block-type , and their boosters in the police and
security agencies, would be happy to undermine and
destroy Occupy, we don’t have tolerate this, or let
this happen to us. On the contrary: we need to
counter-organize against this threat to Occupy.
We need to demand the masks, scarves, and weapons
from the Black-Blockers who show up at Occupy. We
need to surround them and keep them under tight
control. We need to prevent them from providing cover
for police attacks by not allowing them to toss
rocks, bash shop windows, or demolish parked cars.” -
southfielder

Hear hear!!

To those who object to their masks being removed
because they don’t want the government to be able to
identify them, perhaps you don’t have what it takes
to be a real revolutionary. Apparently you don’t
understand that revolutions require great personal
sacrifices. Millions, probably billions before us,
have given their lives for justice and freedom.
Exposing your face is a rather small price to pay,
doncha think?

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By balkas, February 8, 2012 at 10:45 am Link to this comment

evidence proves that after each protest held in US up to now, has actually strengthened the one
percent and in too many ways to list them all.
take just the wars? had the onepercent [with, of course, support of the 99%] waged as many wars
in the period from 1970-2012 as in any other corresponding period of time?
how about personal liberties, jobs, peace of mind now and, say, in 1954, 1854?
so, up to now, protests backfired. how about the newest one? will it also be counter productive?
i stake my life on the ‘prediction’ that it’ll bring nothing good. onepercent or rather, the 70%, will
win again and emerge stronger than ever! 
some things never change [of itself]—some change constantly. you just need to figure out what
changes and what does not change.
one thing that never changes is the right of a person to own another. up to now—and possibly in
even in distant future—99% of americans have accepted that ideology as sacrosanct.
that’s all folks! thanks

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By tomcat, February 8, 2012 at 10:03 am Link to this comment

today at 10am pacific, Chris Hedges debates a member of Occupy Oakland on kpfa.org

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By drewr, February 8, 2012 at 9:42 am Link to this comment

Chris,
  I’ve been a fan of yours for a long time, so I was honestly pretty disappointed when I read this.  Before weighing the pros and cons of the black bloc tactic you ought to get correct the inaccuracies in this piece.  The Black Bloc tactic is NOT inspired by nihilism or a wish to destroy the larger left.  Most people participating in black blocs would find some affinity with the Zapatistas and hopefully not with Zerzan.  And black blocs have pursued the actual goals of various protests far more honestly and effectively than have the “organized left”.  This was the case in Seattle, and during the anti-war movement when black blocs targeted parts of the actual war effort while the organized left contented itself with marching around in a permitted circle before going home. 
  If there were some movement for massive civil disobedience I imagine it would get more support from black blockers than from anyone else, but there usually isn’t.  Usually, big protests are organized by coalitions of various parties whose goal isn’t to stop the war, stop the WTO, hold the 1% to account or what have you.  Their goal is to build their parties, whose politics are often as objectionable as the evils they claim to denounce.  If you want to see real obstructionism, join the ISO in their participation in any mass movement. 
  Secondly, I think its strange for you to denounce John Zerzan, but promote Derek Jensen.  Jensen’s politics are as misanthropic and anti-humanist as Zerazan’s.  Have you read anything Jensen has written?  He promotes massive violence against humanity at large in pursuit of an “ideal” society of hunter-gatherers.  There’s a great deal to criticize in lifestylism and moral absolutism but that’s Jensen’s stock and trade.  The difference is that Jensen promotes an organized “deep green resistance” with himself in the lead.
  The next point I would like to make is about the black bloc in Oakland.  Undoubtedly there were agents provocateur.  Undoubtedly, some of the kids got carried away with themselves.  But once again, the black bloc in Oakland was pursuing the goals of the movement more earnestly than anyone.  The GA wanted to take over that convention center and use it to build a community space.  And black bloc kids were up front.  Yes they had shields, masks, etc… to protect themselves from the police violence which was going to happen no matter what.  And what they did was actually very courageous and heroic. 
  The real cancer of the American left is the profligacy of “vanguard” organizations, “primitivism”, and liberals who are content to relegate their protests to ineffectual displays of their discontent and voting.  There is a great deal about the black bloc tactic that is objectionable from a strategic standpoint.  Its true that many of these kids do no actual organizing in between apocalyptic protests.  But what else is there on offer?  The old hippies don’t seem to have too much in the way of strategic thought or organizing ability either.  If you want to pick out tendencies on the left which are holding us back, criticize all the leninists for their self-interested maneuvering and their obscene, dogmatic, totalitarian ideology.  Criticize Derek Jensen for being alarmist, anti-humanist, and for his advocacy of ELF/ALF type buffoonery.  Or go tell the upper-middle class liberal types that they have failed, that it isn’t the sixties anymore, and that they have to connect with ordinary people in some way in order to be effective.  Honestly, are problems are some much worse than black bloc kids.  With any luck those kids will become organizers of some type as they grow.

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By groobiecat, February 8, 2012 at 9:30 am Link to this comment

Mr. Lytwak,

That was a good article by Lackey. Of course, it’d have been wonderful had you
adhered to one of the cautions of the piece that you yourself failed to adhere to,
to wit:

“The issue of the appropriateness of property destruction and/or violence is, like
any other aspect of community organizing, not settled by blanket statements or
posturing but by getting in there and dialoguing, over and over again.”

Dismissing an entire discourse—however spirited—as “mindless drivel” is
probably not terribly productive nor respectful. If you have specific issues,
perhaps bring those up….

Peace.

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By Anarcissie, February 8, 2012 at 9:18 am Link to this comment

Ed Lytwak—I am surprised you think this particular discussion is mindless drivel.  It’s one of the few I’ve seen on Truthdig that has anything interesting in it.  (To me, anyway.)

A major difference between the Civil Rights movement and other leftist movements was the narrowness of its primary goal—the end of legal segregation and racial discrimination.  As a whole, the Civil Rights movement never challenged the capitalism and war that are fundamental to the state; it asked only that the usual liberal rights be extended to all of the country’s citizens.  That was a modest goal which many members of the ruling class already desired—the fragmentation of their plantation implied by racial and ethnic division was not to their advantage.

I don’t mean to say that there isn’t a great deal to be learned from the Civil Rights movement, or that its activists were not often heroic.  Indeed, a good many of them lost their lives to racist violence.  But I don’t think contemporary activists are going to succeed by merely copying them, as witness the difference of immediate outcome between the Greensboro Sit-in and Occupy Wall Street.

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By Ed Lytwak, February 8, 2012 at 8:54 am Link to this comment

For anyone interested in an intelligent discussion of the Black Bloc nihilists see:

How not to block the black bloc
by George Lakey | February 7, 2012
http://wagingnonviolence.org/2012/02/how-not-to-block-the-black-bloc/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+WagingNonviolence+(Waging+Nonviolence)

P.S. What is it about CH’s columns that make what appear to be intelligent people engage in “discussions” that end up being little more than mindless drivel?

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By TAGGLINE, February 8, 2012 at 8:47 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie…
Great points…Hope Lives, and will continue to live
just as long as there are these vehicles for expression
and dissent. The Civil Rights Movement evolved from a
African American focus…to a wider Poor Peoples
campaign, and spoke to the much broader audience of the
afflicted.

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By TAGGLINE, February 8, 2012 at 8:35 am Link to this comment

ARRIANNA…yeah, you’re right. I just watched a
splendid film/performance called ‘A Hewey P Newton
Story”...brought me to tears. It touched on every
nerve that was exposed during the 60’s…The Panthers
were infiltrated, corrupted and murdered by the Feds,
similarly by the agents-provocateurs that moved
through the SDS/Weathermen during that time. There’s
a quote…“Small moves, Sparks, small moves…” that
comes from Carl Sagan’s “Contact”. Those ‘moves’ are
within our grasp, by the outcomes and sacrifices that
we, the people must embrace and enact. By refusing to
travel to and from our meager jobs because gasoline
if $4.00+ per gallon, and we can’t afford to travel,
forces a moratorium on those purchases. Wre must
consume less…that’s where it hits the bastards the
hardest. Hedges, in his “Calling All Rebels” lecture
clearly indicates that these actions and in-actions
will come from those whose moral compass knows the
way to truth. “You may say I’m a dreamer…” and,
I’ll take that title, with deference to its author.
I, too hope that Justice will prevail…but, it took
a while to get to where we are now…and it will take
time to come back to sanity. Maybe that’s what the
Mayans knew all along (ok, that’s a long shot!).
We scared the shit out of them in the 60’s…I just
hope that an event will occur to ‘help’ gather our
“low-brained” selves to a higher order of
enlightenment and moral prosperity…for “what does
it avail a man to gain in fortune, but lose his
soul?...” I suppose, if you have no soul, then the
question is moot, huh? Maybe a period without
electricity will level the playing field. 8>)

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By Anarcissie, February 8, 2012 at 8:27 am Link to this comment

There are some examples of nonviolent resisters provoking a violent response and thereby undermining the system they were protesting against by causing it to reveal its intrinsic violence.  The classic example is the Civil Rights movement.  The classic failure is the anti-war movement.  I suppose one might say Occupy Wall Street began as a protest against the dominance of finance capital and did, before long, cause it to reveal its intrinsic violence, but this hasn’t developed into much actual, on-the-ground politics yet.  However, it has broken the great silence to the Left of the Democratic Party; that’s certainly something.

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By Cuthred, February 8, 2012 at 8:15 am Link to this comment

Ariana,

Infiltration and agents provocateurs are definitely important factors to be considered in any significant movement these days, you’re right.

It’s the susequent suspicion and infighting and call for purges (like this piece by Hedges) generated by the infiltration that really do the damage in terms of the broader movement.

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By David J. Cyr, February 8, 2012 at 8:13 am Link to this comment

The Cancer in Occupy?

Condemning
Anarchists
Nurtures
Corporate
Establishment’s
Repression

(D) liberal activist movement moderators live in constant fear that change might come today, rather than somedaaaaaaaaay when they’ll never need to see it.

Our children do not have 50 years of human habitable planet time left to waste upon voting for the corporate party’s disingenuous Democrat promises, like My Generation did.

Jill Stein for President:

http://www.jillstein.org

Voter Consent Wastes Dissent:

http://chenangogreens.org/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=498&Itemid=1

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By fredgsanford, February 8, 2012 at 8:13 am Link to this comment

imhotep, where is your proof? on youtube? ha ha.

They said the same thing about the labor movement in the 1800’s.
Hedges speaks for no one on this one.

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By DonMidwest, February 8, 2012 at 8:11 am Link to this comment

The next half dozen comments after this are good.
They include a video of Black Bloc police in Canada
and the video of Anonymous putting black bloc on
notice.

Chris really pissed off those who want to destroy
OWS. They thought they had a tactic to discredit the
movement.

There are a few who are into violence. I saw it in
the 1960’s with the black panthers. But most of the
heated comments here, and at http://www.commondreams.com
which has over 600 comments, possibly setting a
record there, are either black bloc members or paid
police, FBI, CIA, security firms, right wingers or
others who are hijacking links and trying to change
the subject. 

In case you missed them, be sure to watch Chris at
Occupy Harvard, Occupy Princeton, Occupy the courts
which is a joint interview with Lawrence Lessing, or
even the 3 hour booktv interview in the last couple
of weeks.

Chris is on a roll. He is providing important intellectual grounds for the OWS movement.

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By Arianna, February 8, 2012 at 7:59 am Link to this comment

To Taggline: Well put, however, Black Panthers and the
Weather Underground were also surveilled, infiltrated
and co-opted by J. Edgar and the fibbies.  It appears to be the same scenario today, covert operataors
extending their evil tentacles into the Black Bloc and
even Al-CIAda.  Pawns will always be used by those in
control to disrupt and contaminate the true meaning
behind any movement.  Our entire government has been
co-opted by the Mega-Banksters and the corporate lobbyists they control.  Congress, in it’s greed allows these people to purchase whichever legislation
suits them and their master’s agenda.  Having laws written as protection from true justice, and then proceeding to fraudulently dupe the masses, is only the tip of the iceberg.  Big Pharma, Big Agra and Big
Mil-Ind, seem to do as they please with impunity, while the legislators sit dumbly and allow it all to happen.  I look forward to the day when their charade
will come to a grinding halt, and they all wind up in
the prisons they have filled with innocent people.

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By southfielder, February 8, 2012 at 7:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

That raging and/or deranged “Black-Blockers”, primarily looking for any venue to rumble, would latch on the Occupy movement, was inevitable.

The next question is, could or would forces aligned with corporate 1-Percenters latch on to such “Black-Block” fanatics and use them to undermine the wide support Occupy now has?

What does the history of peoples’ movements like Occupy teach us about this?

Did smart city and state “intelligence” squads (the “red squads” of the ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s) engage in this tactic. Yes, they did.

Did Federal agencies organize the COINTEL operation of the’60s - FBI and CIA operatives deployed to destroy the civil rights and anti-Vietnam-War movements? Yes, they did.

Did corporate-financed private police operations, such as union-busting Pinkerton goon squads, exploit elements like the Black-Block to destroy unionization efforts of struggling workers? Yes, they did.

So would city, state, Federal and corporate police and security forces welcome and be more than happy to use and exploit a modern-day Black-Block, and bolster its ranks with paid agents, to undermine and destroy today’s Occupy movement?

What do you think the answer to that question is?

While it is logical that rage-agents of the Black-Block-type , and their boosters in the police and security agencies, would be happy to undermine and destroy Occupy, we don’t have tolerate this, or let this happen to us. On the contrary: we need to counter-organize against this threat to Occupy.

We need to demand the masks, scarves, and weapons from the Black-Blockers who show up at Occupy. We need to surround them and keep them under tight control. We need to prevent them from providing cover for police attacks by not allowing them to toss rocks, bash shop windows, or demolish parked cars.

We need to make clear to these rage-agents, and to the undercover police operatives promoting them, that we will not be providing them with the opportunity to destroy Occupy.

Above all, we ourselves need to understand that we have too much to win, and too much to lose, to allow these agents of destruction to derail us.

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By Cuthred, February 8, 2012 at 7:50 am Link to this comment

EmileZ

You are clearly unaware that the Wobblies still exist and are growing as an organization across the country.

I never claimed to be Bill Big Haywood, not sure where you got that—rather I asked Chris to stop evoking in his talks those revolutionaries that he would clearly condemn for their reluctance to submit to state and corporate violence, were they active today.

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By TAGGLINE, February 8, 2012 at 7:28 am Link to this comment

After reading, injecting my lowly two cents to the
comments on Chris Hedges article concerning the
‘cancer’ of violence (and, I can tell you from my own
experience, that violence IS, in fact a cancer that
will only reap more violence…re: The Black Panther
Movement/The Weather Underground) within the ranks
(supposedly) of the Occupy Movement vis a vis The
Black Bloc tactic/membership/. Plus the diatribes
leveled at both Hedges and other theorist
‘contributors’ is typical of a ‘ship adrift’ in this
sea of need.The critical mass issues of “Who/What Is
The Occupy Movement, Whom Does It Represent, How Does
It Represent, and what ‘Vehicles’ Does It Utilize To
Represent with A Common Voice?” ?” are on their face,
the questions that need answering if the Movement is
to coalesce & move forward with results. Direct
Action via moratoriums/boycotting/refusal of
consumerism (not stone throwing/vandalizing) is the
only way to reap the results we all hope for.
I woke up this morning and it struck me like a brick
to the head. I’m a 60 year old Viet Nam vet and a
community organizer who has worked for the past 30
years in one capacity or another to bring about
social and economic justice to those who most need
it. The Marginalized, The Poor, The Dispossessed.
Brief Segue: My work has been, until now, within the
context of the African American community, in
particular over the past ten years for a non-profit
in York County, SC named “A Place for Hope”.  Here’s
a link to their website, http://www.aplaceforhope.net but it
is under re-construction as the ‘mission’ of existing
as a ‘palliative’, emergency resource has evolved
into one of education, youth empowerment and access
to various like minded organizations, so give it a
couple of weeks and check it out. Contacts to the
Center are 1-803-329-HOPE (4673). The Director’s name
is Mary Hoppmann, and she will be more than happy to
speak about the mission, the how-to, the community’s
long history, its challenges and it’s measureable
successes. This community/educational resource center
has been the go-to organization for a community just
two miles from all the amenities of the ‘civilized’
world…i.e. basic services like water, sewer and
affordable housing.
Back to topic. It’s my feeling that Occupy, at its
core is a Compassion based, ‘in-the-now’ collective
that speaks for the ‘everyman’ who lives in this
current intolerable pseudo-‘democracy’. It is also an
effort to bring about immediate change to the status
quo of near hopelessness and collective fear in this
current American society. It seems to me that what
MUST happen is that the Movement have an obligation
to create and disseminate a set of rules/core values
and a constitution that speaks for the entire body.
Who better to look toward than those among us who
have suffered, organized and spoke out …with, again,
measureable successes? The fears of being co-opted
within the framework of the current “labor/union”
structures are valid, given the checkered past of its
own mission(s). So, I offer this thought:
The Democratic Socialist movement,
http://www.dsausa.org/dsa.html  is an organization
whose sole goal is to empower and give credible voice
to the issues I stated above. Here’s a link to the
definition and construct of the D.S. ideal.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_socialism .
This is the Creed of this organization which speaks
so loudly to the goals that Occupy embrace. …”
Democratic Socialists believe that both the economy
and society should be run democratically—to meet
public needs, not to make profits for a few. To
achieve a more just society, many structures of our
government and economy must be radically transformed
through greater economic and social democracy so that
ordinary Americans can participate in the many
decisions that affect our lives.” 
Thoughts??

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By Imhotep, February 8, 2012 at 7:22 am Link to this comment

The Black Bloc are the cops. They are provocateurs, often undercover cops, whose aim is to discredit the movements they disrupt, legitimize the use of force by the state, and shift public opinion away from identifying with movements like occupy and toward looking to the state for more security.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=19928

http://occupyoakland.org/2012/02/police-caught-as-agent-provocateursblack-bloc-in-montebello/

Not quite at the level of when security forces infiltrated and became The Red Brigade in Italy and started bombing the public for similar effect (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fB6nViwJcM ), but similar none-the-less.

Every opportunity should be made to show the Black Bloc for what they are, undercover cops and provocateurs.

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By fredgsanford, February 8, 2012 at 6:56 am Link to this comment

thank you emma goldman, lawdog and cuthred.

Who decided it was o.k. to call anyone a “cancer”?

o.k. so John Z. didn’t (or doesn’t) like EZLN. Otherwise, this piece is very misguided.
Very disappointing.

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By craig, February 8, 2012 at 6:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“So, the FBI puts on masks and black clothing and gets violent.

What else is new?

Same shit they pulled when they infiltrated AIM in the 70s.  It was called COINTELPRO then.”

exactly. i wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of these commenters were the same agents, spending hours responding to a single article. hedges is spot on with this one.

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By fredgsanford, February 8, 2012 at 6:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Pointus has no proof and is wrong. NO doubt there are agent provos running around but the assumption, prevalent though it may be in NYC and elsewhere,  that anyone in black or anyone who does something others don’t like is working for the police is crap. ALways was.

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By groobiecat, February 8, 2012 at 5:57 am Link to this comment

Mark E. Smith:


“We now have a black President who has asserted the right to kill white folks with impunity.”

Wait, what? Are you a racist? BTW, if you think that every other president in the United States hasn’t had this
authority, you apparently aren’t as well read as you think. It was just never codified before.

“We have fewer rights now than serfs in 13th Century England did under the Magna Carta, which stated that
the king could not kill people without due process.”

Laughably inaccurate.  Do you honestly think you could print something like this in the 13th century without
being hauled off in the middle of the night? Also, due process is only one of our rights, we have a few
others that didn’t exist in the 13th century.

“Our autonomic nervous system has only two responses to violent aggression: fight or flight. If our ancient
ancestors had thought that the way to resist tigers was to sit passively in a circle and let the tigers eat them,
none of us would be here today.”

Okay, so Occupy a *biological* movement now (well, I’d say some of the polemic on this thread certainly is,
but I digress). That whole MK Gandhi thing—sitting and resisting, that was a fluke of nature then? Your
“ancient ancestors” analogy is so logically flawed as to be sophomoric and embarrassing, because what we
face today is a little more complicated, because it involves humans, not jungle creatures. But then, your view
of things really is that black and white.

Your long, windy, self-indulgent rant still doesn’t address the main issues at all, to wit: violence undermines
the legitimacy of the movement. And I’ll say this, “progressives” (who you think are the enemy as CH
accurately mentioned are reviled more than the system itself) like me who have, until now, been supporting
the movement, will then turn *against* the movement if violence becomes the way. And dude, there are a
LOT more of me out there than there are of you. Call me names? Don’t care. But without my demographic,
your demographic will not succeed.

Peace.

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By katsteevns, February 8, 2012 at 5:52 am Link to this comment

Excellent post, mike friday.

There is a common characteristic among many religions, including most First World Christians, that their denomination or sect is the only one true genuine body of believers, all others be damned.

Believing otherwise would undermine their faith and quell their (I’d say, earthly) pride. Maybe Chris Hedges has subconsciously embraced this tenet, his being steeped and saturated with theological doctrine.

Besides being critiqued by the Left, there are religious figures as well keeping an eye on him. Some of whom condone ‘just wars’ but shrink back in disgust at individuals seeking justice in more than a passive manor. If Hedges wants to follow Christ to the Cross, then he should be transparent about it before attempting to drag the lot of us with him.

This ‘holier than thou’ thought process won’t bring people together(in THIS world!), but will bring division.

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By aacme, February 8, 2012 at 4:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Once you are hostile to organization and strategic thinking the only thing that remains is lifestyle purity,”
True, and it applies to Occupy as well. I’ve been saying all along, from first hand experience in other movements over the years, that if they are serious about leading the country to peaceful revolt they need to lose the hippie non-organizational attitude and, among other things, protect themselves from exactly this threat. Non-violent confrontation is the ONLY way to defeat a hugely more powerful adversary, but the one weapon at the disposal of that adversary that will defeat that non-violence is provocation to violence.
In the movement in response to the wars in Central America, we had large contingents of security people, whose job was to defuse violence before it happened. Something similar is needed now. To simply hope the anarchists stay away is to cede the field to the 1%. If you are just having an entertaining youth, keep on the way you are going. If you want to restore equality and justice and democracy to the country, you want to win, and that means serious organization.

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By redteddy, February 8, 2012 at 4:42 am Link to this comment

It looks like Anonymous agrees with Hedges.  Check out their warning to Black
Bloc: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LD8UohyYPWA

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By Donna Fritz, February 8, 2012 at 3:05 am Link to this comment

“Donna, if you believe haughtily correcting spelling
and grammar is going people on YOUR side…” - Cuthred

I didn’t think I was being “haughty”. I even said that
it wasn’t a big deal. Perhaps you’re just being too
touchy.

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By TimFromLA, February 8, 2012 at 1:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris, Black Bloc. It’s interesting how many can pigeonhole or stereotype a group of people as something that is a detriment to a movement. A cancer. Yet remain silent and become an apologist for something that can be also cancerous? Granted, there are people who do things that are idiotic and more times than not, are outside sources…say the OPD or Homeland Security? Or worse, Andrew Breitbart’s lackey? Why group up a movement that expresses themselves in a manner not within the norms of society, yet again, remain quiet on others? Which leads me to:

I am an atheist. I do not believe in God the Father God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. But I know for a fact that your belief differs from say God Hates F*gs. But because GHF has a platform on the MSM, does that mean all Baptists are evil, homophobic, race-baiting buffoons. No. Then could you not then accept the fact that even though there are black Blocs out there, that not all are the same?

There are many out there who are Black Blocs and who do some disobedience, like lob back tear gas to the cops, but I have never heard or seen a Black Bloc throw rocks or damage small businesses or threaten the public…unless there are cops or Breitbart’s lackeys. Therefore if the cops will not do a thing about their own provocateurs, we will then: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LD8UohyYPWA

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By Cooper Clauson, February 8, 2012 at 1:33 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This article just seems confused to me.  How is being a black block anarchist lifestylism?  They’re going out on the streets ready to physically confront police.  And how does lifestylism differ from what the rest of Occupy is doing, anyways?  Also, doesn’t organizing a black block display some level of organization?

I’ll just explain my own position, so there’s no confusion.  A lot of youtube I’ve seen of occupy and people involved look like leftist groups in Seattle (Emma Goldman Finishing School, for example).  The problem with these groups is that they end up being special interest groups for like-minded people, and generally recreational in nature, and totally irrelevant to people outside those groups.  The reason is that it’s relatively easy to get a group of like-minded, liberal-arts educated (i.e., overeducated, overentitled, possessing no useful skills) people to wiggle their fingers.  It’s much harder to get a more diverse group of people together to do something nontrivial.  Personally, I think that the nontrivial target should be to form coops to produce economic output, or to provide things like education/medical insurance at higher quality and lower cost than what’s currently available.  But at least organizing in a militant way is something.  Despite the article that Chris referenced, the black block seems more like EZLN than the rest of Occupy does to me at this point.

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By Marc Schlee, February 8, 2012 at 1:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

*******

The cancer in Occupy is that they’re a bunch of flyweight, fair weather dilletantes who ultimately will accomplish nothing.

The Black Bloc is putting their asses on the line for what they believe in.


FREE AMERICA

REVOLUTIONARY (DIRECT) DEMOCRACY

*******

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By elisalouisa, February 8, 2012 at 1:12 am Link to this comment

Obviously the two groups are not similar as to tactics tomcat. As Chris Hedges states, “If the Occupy movement is painted as a flag-burning, rock-throwing, angry mob we are finished.” I agree. Many supporters of the movement are turned off by such displays. Even more, and correct me if I am wrong, it seems that the Black Bloc is party crashing. OWS laid the ground work with the support of Hedges, Chomsky and others who I am certain wouldn’t give a second glance to Black Bloc. The movements don’t mix, Chris Hedges knows this and is distancing OWS from the actions of Black Bloc for the sake of damage control.

It may be too late.

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By Mark E. Smith, February 8, 2012 at 1:10 am Link to this comment

Darn it, EmileZ! Why’d you have to do that when I was so happy being the only toad in the world who smokes Jensen & Hedges?

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By mike friday, February 8, 2012 at 1:04 am Link to this comment

Chris, I am a long-time admirer of your work, but
I must say that this absolutely grotesque mischaracterization of
the Black Bloc is profoundly disappointing. It’s so
wildly off-base that I’m afraid it’s hard to
believe you didn’t deliberately set out with the sole
intent of smearing—ironically in the name of
preserving diversity—any and all who dare to
differ from the one true path as defined by the all
knowing leftist vanguard (a la so many brutal
authoritarian communist vanguard dictatorships of
yore). Through your misguided sectarianism I fear you
have may have visited insignificant harm to the
Occupy movement and its prospects.

If you have not already, I would STRONGLY encourage
to you to read the following response to your
piece: 

http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=20120206223816604

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By Macresarf1, February 8, 2012 at 12:53 am Link to this comment

Every once in while in this long colloquy, someone writes the truth.  Most commentators latterly are playing games, making points, working for the 1%, or just plain stupid. 

  Yes, of course, the odds are always against tomorrow.  People who would like to believe that our Democracy might be saved are probably suckers.  But the only way, at the end of the day, to have been intellectually and emotionally honest, is to have been non-violent and peaceful.

  Of the recent commentors, I would like to commend GRETA 151.  She observed events firsthand, and she made intelligent conclusions from what she experienced.

  Most of the rest of us should be ashamed of our “playing” with the apocalyptic future before us.

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By EmileZ, February 8, 2012 at 12:35 am Link to this comment

Once upon a time…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGX-xunT6Vk

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By EmileZ, February 8, 2012 at 12:26 am Link to this comment

@ Mark E. Smith

You’re a man now.

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By EmileZ, February 7, 2012 at 11:46 pm Link to this comment

@ Mark E. Smith

I agree that non-violent tactics are in fact quite violent in most instances (to varying degrees)

This is elementary.

The vast majority of OWS demonstrators are there to practice it. Why fuck it up???

This is the best thing to have emerged in a long time.

Non-voting is also non-violent. Go for it, but it is kind of silly to complain that voters are fucking it up. Know what I mean???

I hope we have at least put that behind us (the bit about non-violent tactics being violent and such).

You can accuse non-violent protesters of being submissive all you want, but it does not make it any less effective.

Again, why fuck it up???

Think my friend.

Public Image Limited - “Banging The Door”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zdh2QrTAizE

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By tomcat, February 7, 2012 at 11:37 pm Link to this comment

Elisalouisa,
I had the highest respect for Chris Hedges prior to this article…his intelligence, his sometimes emotional support of OWS, his ability to turn a phrase and create quotable statements, his calm ability to debate and respond concisely to questions.

I see now that nothing is more important to him than having the MORAL AUTHORITY….for himself, but more so for this country, which lost it so many years ago (if it ever had it).
As this quest for his holy grail is so emotional for him, he created his anti-christ…black bloc..
(remember, he was a seminarian and his father a minister), and he feels it slipping away.

He’s an award-winning journalist, yet in this piece which I now call paranoid, he does absolutely no investigative journalism in condemning the OccupyOakland black bloc, as being representative of the black block which he so negatively paints.
HE is doing the damage.

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By Mark E. Smith, February 7, 2012 at 11:11 pm Link to this comment

EmileZ, Occupy is not “organizing a nonviolent resistance movement,” it is provoking violence and then submitting to it.

Protests are not resistance and they are not nonviolent. Protests are provocations to violence by the authorities and such violence is expected and prepared for. Occupy specifically will not resist violence by the authorities, and is dedicated to submitting to it passively. Refusing to resist is not resistance.

Let me repeat that just in case you missed it, as you appear to have missed my previous postings:

Refusing to resist is not resistance.

Condemning those who resist is also not resistance.

Submitting passively to violence is not resistance.

As for nonvoting not going anywhere, while it won’t land individuals in jail or the hospital like your “nonviolent” reformist protests, it can delegitimize a government and deny an oligarchy the consent of the governed.

EmileZ, I don’t know or care if you’re young or old, but if you go into a biker bar and start insulting their club, would you consider that to be a nonviolent action or a provocation to violence? If you ask for a fight, you’re not being nonviolent and you’ll probably get a fight. If you then fail to resist, refuse to fight back, and submit passively to the violence you provoked, you won’t get my sympathy.

If you want to organize a nonviolent resistance movement, first read Ward Churchill’s book, “Pacifism as Pathology” to learn what nonviolence is and what it can and cannot achieve, and then study the resistance movements of WWII to learn what resistance is.

Ignorant people often point to what they perceive as the “progress” brought about by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s nonviolent civil rights movement. First of all, Dr. King was assassinated by our government, as was proven in court, secondly there are more blacks in prison now than during Dr. King’s time, and thirdly slavery is still legal in the United States. It was never abolished and is still legal punishment for a crime. Imagine abolishing capital punishment by writing a Constitutional amendment that says the death penalty is illegal except as punishment for a crime. And a crime is whatever the rich folks say it is. These days the crime could be driving while black, owning a home while black, being black in a white neighborhood, being black in a black neighborhood, or just being black, for which the cops don’t even have to arrest you since they can kill you with impunity. If that’s progress, I don’t know what they’d consider a lack of progress.

Here’s some more progress: We now have a black President who has asserted the right to kill white folks with impunity. We have fewer rights now than serfs in 13th Century England did under the Magna Carta, which stated that the king could not kill people without due process. Due process may be a joke in our legal injustice system, but it’s better than just being killed without it.

Here’s an excerpt from a 2010 article by Elias Akleh:

http://mwcnews.net/focus/editorial/1910-the-untapped-power-of-arabia.html

“...The term “nonviolent resistance” is an oxymoron. Resistance embeds violence in its core. How can one nonviolently resist a racist terrorist colonial armed-to-the teeth state like Israel? How can a Palestinian family nonviolently resist Israeli bulldozers destroying their homes and razing their farmland under the protection of armed Israeli soldiers? Let us not forget that Rachel Corrie was savagely murdered by one of these bulldozers. Man’s history, since its beginning, does not have one single case of a nation gaining its freedom and independence through this silly nonviolent resistance.”

Our autonomic nervous system has only two responses to violent aggression: fight or flight. If our ancient ancestors had thought that the way to resist tigers was to sit passively in a circle and let the tigers eat them, none of us would be here today.

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By heterochromatic, February 7, 2012 at 11:04 pm Link to this comment

tom—-so Scott Olsen was injured while the protesters were just minding their
own business of throwing shit at cops who had no business occupying public
space and what-not?

http://youtu.be/zc_brjWJqZk

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By tomcat, February 7, 2012 at 10:56 pm Link to this comment

Wikileaks,
I think anyone supporting Occupy must first break free from the mindset that protesters throwing bottles, breaking windows, etc.,  are doing wrong.

Think first that these are our brothers and sisters on the front line, standing strong for us, against a repressive system.

People quickly forget Oakland occupier Scott Olsen…
shot in the head by a police projectile in November…almost died.

There’s rage in Oakland.
There’s also solidarity…and solidarity is the key to the success of Occupy…and the 99%.

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