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Occupy Draws Strength From the Powerless

Posted on Feb 13, 2012
AP / Evan Vucci

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

(Page 3)

The organizer Lisa Fithian is an author of one of the most concise arguments for nonviolence, “Open Letter to the Occupy Movement: Why We Need Agreements.” The essay points out that without agreements that enshrine nonviolence, “the young [are privileged] over the old, the loud voices over the soft, the fast over the slow, the able-bodied over those with disabilities, the citizen over the immigrant, white folks over people of color, those who can do damage and flee the scene over those who are left to face the consequences.”

“ ‘Diversity of tactics’ becomes an easy way to avoid wrestling with questions of strategy and accountability,” Fithian and two other authors write of the slogan used by the Black Bloc anarchists. “It lets us off the hook from doing the hard work of debating our positions and coming to agreements about how we want to act together. It becomes a code for ‘anything goes,’ and makes it impossible for our movements to hold anyone accountable for their actions.”

“The Occupy movement includes people from a broad diversity of backgrounds, life experiences and political philosophies,” the article goes on. “Some of us want to reform the system and some of us want to tear it down and replace it with something better. Our one great point of agreement is our call for transparency and accountability. We stand against the corrupt institutions that broker power behind closed doors. We call to account the financial manipulators that have bilked billions out of the poor and the middle classes.

“Just as we call for accountability and transparency, we ourselves must be accountable and transparent,” the authors write. “Some tactics are incompatible with those goals, even if in other situations they might be useful, honorable or appropriate. We can’t be transparent behind masks. We can’t be accountable for actions we run away from. We can’t maintain the security culture necessary for planning and carrying out attacks on property and also maintain the openness that can continue to invite in a true diversity of new people. We can’t make alliances with groups from impacted communities, such as immigrants, if we can’t make agreements about what tactics we will employ in any given action.”


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

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drbhelthi's avatar

By drbhelthi, February 13, 2012 at 2:51 pm Link to this comment

@NABNYC, February 13 at 12:26 pm

Marvelous overview and summary.
Excellent suggestions for organizing and gaining group success at local levels, to be applied all across the country. 

Anyone who wishes to criticize Chris Hedges might first qualify oneself by comparing the path one has walked for the last 25 yrs with that of Hedges. 

As far as the black bloc not being a movement - - .  Where has such deceitful
behavior by police-types occurred, and has it increased in the last six months? 
Coordinated police brutality with the same MO that is traced to Homeland Security, which is increasingly happening across the US?  Looks like a movement to me, coordinated in D.C.  A deceitful, brutal movement that insults all policemen in the United States of America and the Republic for which it stands. 

And what about American men, 6ft 3in tall, 195-220 lbs, spraying colored pepper in the eyes of small women sitting on the ground, harming no one?  Macho, masculine behavior?  Any American man who is guilty of such while wearing a police uniform is VERY CONFUSED!  Where is an American man who would do such an oppressive act against women when not wearing a police uniform?  He would be immediately arrested.  And, Napolitano gave rubber bullets to our border guards, while the DOJ gave automatic rifles with metal bullets to Mexican drug-runners.  When such well-coordinated, deliberate activity repeatedly occurs, it can no longer be attributred to “confusion.”  It is deliberate, socially-destructive, evil behavior.

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Angel Gabriel's avatar

By Angel Gabriel, February 13, 2012 at 2:32 pm Link to this comment

I’m in complete agreement with the essence of Hedge’s debate. Change will
come from Violence against the State, but is this the type of CHANGE desired?
The true OWS movement is one of the peaceful meeting of people and
occupying Public places is a non-violent show of support,  and in creating open
dialogue in order to reach a Social Democratic change within the the Society
that asks those same people for ideas that will help the whole create change.
Ghandi is a good example of Peaceful Resistance. Ghandi was a humanitarian in
the first sense! He realized and taught his followers that change was only
accomplished within the individual. If the Individual joined with numbers of
others in Solidarity of cause - and instead of insisting on change and
threatening the system with consequences,  created it peacefully within
themselves in a Solidarity around common truth and human need for the
betterment of the whole over the enrichment of the few standing in change’s
natural path.
I think a good example of how effective the OWS movement can be can be seen
in Ashland Oregon’s movement. People working in harmony on individual tasks
and working within the local government system to provide proof of why
change is necessary and how these changes will benefit the entire community -
staying in front of the curve in local politics (right versus left) to eliminate
ideological split and working from the center forward for a win-win.
We all have our opinions, we are entitled to them by our Constitution and
Human Right, but change will only come through combining those opinions,
overcoming division caused by Ideological adherence and moving with harmony
in the interests of all rather then the few.
Well done Chris, your point is clear for those wanting change through non-
violent occupation and respect for the public property you occupy with a
positive all inclusive intent. People must stand their ground and be prepared to
police these efforts to “out” the covert forces working against you!  Ideologies
and Religions will be working day & night to distract the movement so be aware
and be prepared!

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By Ed Romano, February 13, 2012 at 2:18 pm Link to this comment

The system cannot be overcome by violent means. The only thing violent confrontation can accopmplish is to drive the government even further to the right. Period…..Next…What is the best way for us ( Ows) to proceed. This should be the debate. In the thirties the government was driven toward the faux left by demands formulated by the real left. What was the result? Washington watered down the demands and threw the people a few bones, social security ( not enough money to keep a bird alove ), unemployment comp, welfare ( the very word is a joke to anyone who ever tried to live on it ) etc…..The system is capable of reform when it is pushed hard enough. (Roosevelt once famously said that the capitalists should thank him profusely because he saved their bacon). This movement…this people’s movement must beware of being co opted, because, if we are, all that will happen is that when all the smoke clears we will see the same vampires sitiing across the table grinning at us. ...Finally, to those who think this movement is dead….wait a few weeks. You’re going to be very surprised come spring.

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By Midnight Stalker, February 13, 2012 at 2:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Can’t we all just get along?”

A pun for sure, but the truth is, no, we cannot get along. Subtle nuances of gray
separate us - gray walls. The world is burning, people are choking and dying on the
pollution created by Cheney clones, young men die in wars for corporate profits while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, the urban poor cull the fast food restaurant dumpsters, the mountain serfs greet every new day in a cloud of lung-dissolving benzene, the oceans of the Water Planet receive daily the acid flow of unknown liquids and bile from the angry people - killing all water life and seeping into the conduits supplying serfdom’s needs. Coming through the door once again, the devouring monster to drain the small bits of life remaining in the rubble and toxic pools of tar. What more do you want, cries a voice from amongst the dead. “Just whatever is left,” thunders the taker of souls.

We speak with ash-filled mouths, choking on our own words. As we walk backwards to our phantom thoughts with enough stamina for barbs for our gray neighbors -drifting to a reverie of impossible solutions. And as I slowly strangle myself, uttering the plaintive moan of the beaten - “Here is what I have left.”

No Unity - No Action - No Hope

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By Lloyd Hart, February 13, 2012 at 1:58 pm Link to this comment

Chris, Occupy if a failed tactic. It’s time for a new tactic. Occupy Wall St. never
occupied Wall St. and was swept away by elected liberals and conservatives
alike. And you seem to be saying that if we disagree with keeping Occupy
going instead of coming up with a new tactic we are state sponsored
insurgents. Holy crap, you have completely lost it Chris.

Oh and by the way the the FMLN created democracy in El Salvador with violence
they were completely justified using. So get a grip Chris and read my article”

To Get The 1% To Beg Us For Mercy.

By Lloyd Hart

Occupy has run it’s course as a tactic and has failed to garner the kind of mass
actions that the rush to war in Iraq garnered in 2002 and 2003 when millions of
US citizens marched. Had the Occupy participants been decisive about what
they were seeking and had moved to real Ghandian non-cooperation non-
violent civil disobedience they claimed to be practicing but in fact weren’t, the
Occupy tactic would have died a natural death and evolved into a real challenge
of oligarch power. Unfortunately though Occupy is now being murdered by
liberal intellectuals like Chris Hedges who is fomenting a civil war in the middle
of the metamorphosis of Occupy into a broader street protest movement as the
west coast activists are continuing street actions and won’t lay down for the roll
that the democratic party and the liberal hacks on MSNBC have already selected
for them.

Read More:

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By mdhess, February 13, 2012 at 1:55 pm Link to this comment

Some of the above comments seem to run off into the weeds. I will just point out that there has been a concerted effort to dismantle and disrupt OWS encampments only recently which just happens to precede the imminent arrival of springtime which could see a blossoming of the movement so long as some of the seeds are able to survive. I doubt that this is mere coincidence.

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By NABNYC, February 13, 2012 at 1:26 pm Link to this comment

I agree.  We reward immaturity and impulsive acts of violence or cruelty, which are often seen as part of the “male” (and therefore “leader”) required character.  You must be harsh, you must be willing to get tough.  This silliness works better in old war movies than it does in real life where the victims are usually women, the sick, children, and old people.

There are many good reasons to oppose violence.  The first is that any group inside the U.S. that tries to use violence to change the country will be slaughtered, along with a lot of their innocent neighbors.  Don’t kid yourself otherwise.

Second, fantasize that some heroic, macho, clever, good-looking group of young males in this country will somehow use violence, persuade the police and military to join “our” side, and take control of the nation.  What do we then have?  Another country in which violence is used to control the majority.  As a woman, I have no interest in fighting against the current violent and oppressive society simply to replace it with yet another violent and oppressive society ruled by men.  What difference does it make to me which man has his boot in my neck?  None at all.

Third, our immature nation is used to convenience, and we have become lazy in many respects.  Let’s call for take-out, watch some movie on TV, drink beers, get in our cars to drive a few blocks, call long-distance.  All these modern conveniences have made us lazy and depressed, cynical.  We need to fight against that to save ourselves and save our nation.

What we really need with Occupy are national conferences held around the country in many locations but hooked up electronically.  Whoever can go should do so.  L.A., San Francisco and Oakland, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Boston, New York, all the cities in-between:  find an auditorium or even a church basement; create a website and a ride-sharing board, with local members offering floor space to anybody who comes with their own sleeping bags.  It must be done in a communal sense, as was the case during the anti-war days, so that you don’t need to be rich to attend.  Create a working agenda for OWS.  Debate it.  Have speakers appear at local spots and carry their speeches electronically to the other spots.

Maybe ask for an agenda in advance, from people in the country who want to have a voice. 

Then vote on it, and each local group can work on the issues that they think will be most persuasive on a local level.  One of the keys is to do something that will allow for success.  The way to attract more participants is by having some success. 

As I’ve said repeatedly, we needs teams of attorneys around the country willing to join a nationwide anti-trust lawsuit, or possibly many suits in each state, to enforce the laws and bust up monopolies such as Walmart, Microsoft, the Bank of America, Goldman Sachs.  Every firm on Wall Street.  Demand a 10% national usury law making it illegal for anyone to charge more than 10% including any and all fees on any loan or forbearance.

Have a clear statement that OWS is a nonviolent group, does not condone, ratify or support violence.  Without that, among other things, the leaders will eventually be picked up, charged with criminal conspiracy, and made scapegoats.

Chris Hedges is absolutely correct on this issue.

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By jim mcdonagh, February 13, 2012 at 1:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

dave graeber claiming to be an anarchist is like larry o’donnell[msnbc pundit] claiming to be a socialist, a joke. mr. hedges probably has a dozen or so feds monitoring his every move. if mr. graeber is an effective anarchist he would have already been rendered ala bradly manning. discussions of this magnitude can’t be done over the internet.

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By FullRevolution, February 13, 2012 at 1:09 pm Link to this comment

On David Graeber (whoever he is) and the expectation that Chris would answer his
call for attention and give him credit for “starting the movement”. It was defensive
and doing the very thing he sought to point out in Chris’s piece, VERY divisive.  His
piece actually spawned plenty of disturbing commentary against Chris.  There is
no reason for Chris to acknowledge that. He could except an invitation to debate,
but a back an forth in a column is ridiculous and not professional or interesting.

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By FullRevolution, February 13, 2012 at 1:01 pm Link to this comment

To people going over board with Chris’s use of “respect private property”—-I think
it’s fair to see he meant, don’t destruct or vandalize it with the intent to do that. 
He’s never made any reference to being against trespass, so quit with the drama
and frantic attempts to find hypocritical errors in his logic on that premise. He’s
saying it’s not good for OWS at the current time in the movement. He’s a an
individual and can change he opinion tomorrow if he wants. Stop being so
dogmatic and rigid.

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By Buffalo Bill, February 13, 2012 at 12:54 pm Link to this comment

Race to the Bottom—you should be ashamed to admit that you are a Stalinist.  Stalin as freedom fighter.  Give me a break.  The man murdered untold numbers of Ukrainians during the famines of the 30s (for racist-nationalist reasons, teaching Hitler and Nazis how to do it later).  People became cannibals at the time in order to survive.  He allowed for the murder of 100,000s of Poles during the Warsaw Uprising for racist-nationalist reasons.  He shipped off entire nationalities (Poles, Balts, White Russians, Ukrainians, Turks, Chechens) to die in Siberia.  They were shipped off not to fight “counter-revolution” but because of their ethnicity.  He persecuted and murdered Soviet Jews not for being “cosmopolitan” as he claimed, but because he was an anti-Semite.  I have contempt for Stalinists just like I have contempt for Hitlerites.  Slime-ball.

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By chinny, February 13, 2012 at 12:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

you are wrong about Havel…

great writer…

awful politician.

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By Scotty_Mack, February 13, 2012 at 11:41 am Link to this comment

What i can’t figure out is ho Occupy will actually change anything without being, if not violent, incredibly disruptive. In greece they have general strikes all the time, hundreds of thousands regularly protest the actions of the government, and nothing changes.  The police put down protests, elections are abandoned as quaint, bankers are appointed to positions of power; what more can the people do?

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David J. Cyr's avatar

By David J. Cyr, February 13, 2012 at 11:31 am Link to this comment

Good people can make bad choices, and pay dearly for them.

A cautionary tale — fictional, but based upon factual reality rather than romance…

Burnt by the Sun:

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By Roman, February 13, 2012 at 11:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@ gringo45 - the so-called Western powers were turning the “other cheek” even after Hitler annexed Austria; took over Rhineland; occupied and destroyed Czechoslovakia. That is now called appeasement.

Only when they decided to fight Nazism, they stopped “turning the other cheek,” and the fight for freedom started.

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By afs, February 13, 2012 at 11:10 am Link to this comment

“race_to_the_bottom” You’re defending Stalin!?! You win ““The Race to the Bottom!” Trotsky tried to warn the world about Stalin. Stalin had him murdered. I don’t know if we will ever know who slaughtered more people, Hitler or Stalin. Too many of the murder victims buried in mass graves. I don’t think too many would argue putting Hitler and Stalin together at the top of 20th century most murderous villain list.

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By ricardo villanueva, February 13, 2012 at 11:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

For a populist movement to succeed, it has to be, well, popular. Masks are only going to scare the the bejeezus out of regular folk. We need more family ( children-friendly) events, fairs, meetings, marches.
Violence is going to keep people away, and if you can’t coalesce, you can’t effectively confront or undertake change. Also, citing a long list of activist-radical creds in an argument smacks of narcissism and self importance. Big turn off. As for the masks, save ‘em for halloween.

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By Occupy TV stations, February 13, 2012 at 11:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The main disconnect right now is between the movement who knows the truth and the millions of Americans that still get their ‘news’ from the corporate media.

Every time lies are made up about the movement, who is doing the lying?

The corporate media.

The corporate media is THE source of ALL the problems in this country.  A Democracy cannot exist without a free press.

None of this mess they have created would be possible without the complicity of the corporate media, from the stolen election of 2000(and then on) to the lies about 9/11, the made up ‘evidence’ that led us to kill millions of innocent the bullshit now blaming the hardest hit by the economy for the debt, meanwhile making plans for more wars and Big Government programs.

This bullshit has got to stop and it starts with the corporate media.

We have to surround the TV stations like they did in Egypt.  Some reporters resigned, others hit the streets to see what the protests were really about and changed their reporting accordingly.

We have to make them uncomfortable being enablers for fascism.  Demand they tell the truth right now as well as work to have their license removed for not serving the public interest on our public airwaves.

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By afs, February 13, 2012 at 10:53 am Link to this comment

YoungGringos - OccupyWallStreet IS a movement. Blackbloc IS NOT a movement.

Black Bloc was a pretty lame attempt by police to smear Seattle WTO protesters in the media.

Some people have seen videos run in the mass media after the Seattle protest got confused and thought there was some real “Black Blac” movement. There is no real “black bloc” movement or movement leaders. There’s undercover FBI agents and undercover police that prop up a false construct that never existed on it’s own called “Black Bloc.” There a few kids from the suburbs who are not wise enough to notice the people in the groups who claim be black bloc aren’t student age or have student sense of current trends.

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race_to_the_bottom's avatar

By race_to_the_bottom, February 13, 2012 at 10:31 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges should stop repeating the neocon/reactionary/liberal/imperialist line on the events in Eastern Europe. This was not revolution. This was counterrevolution. Just ask all those forced to emigrate, pay outrageous rents, endure massive unemployment, lose most pension and other benefits, and just generally live amidst social decay.

And please, no more “Stalin and Hitler”. This is not merely historically wrong. It is obscene. The destruction of European fascism was the most important event of the 20th century. Stalin led this struggle. That is the simple truth.

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By rumblingspire, February 13, 2012 at 10:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Saturnalia - Step Out Of Line
(early progressive smile

“everyone who steps out of line denies it in principle and threatens it in its entirety.” hedges

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By YoungGringos, February 13, 2012 at 10:03 am Link to this comment

You really need to stop talking about Black Bloc.
You’ve admitted you know nothing about it.  You listened to a few hours of a radio program and cherry-picked a letter someone sent to a magazine a decade ago. 
A far cry from journalistic integrity.
If you know so much about the recipe for breaking popular movements you should know the role you’re playing. 
Stop it.

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By madisolation, February 13, 2012 at 9:50 am Link to this comment

Buffalo Bill, those expelled members of Parliament should, as Ian Welsh wrote, “form a new, explicitly anti-austerity, pro-default government.” They’d win the next election. Also, as Ian wrote:

“No deals made by a sovereign are unrevocable.  Whatever this government is doing, has done and will do, can be undone by a new government.”

So, as bleak as it seems, something good can come out of this. It’s important that the Greeks continue doing what they are doing, I think.
As an aside: those saying that violence will repel people from the movement need to ask themselves if the Greek citizens if they disapprove of what’s going on. Of course they don’t.  The citizens of Greece are at the end of their ropes. The police are getting fed up with the government, too. I think the country of Greece is the oligarch’s first attempt to economically rape us all, country by country, and there will be no “American exceptionalism” when the bankers train their eyes on us.

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By balkas, February 13, 2012 at 9:29 am Link to this comment

Ows needs to keep it very simple: run people for office who, when and if
elected to congress or city council, would endeavor to pass the laws
legalizing THE RIGHT TO KNOW, healthcare, and education for all.
forget for now about wars, global warming, taxes, money, military
spending, ONE PERCENT, ‘educators’, etc. thanks, bozhidar balkas,

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By ChrisML, February 13, 2012 at 9:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dictators are never as Strong As They tell You They Are.
People Are Never As weak as They think They Are.

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By Teejay, February 13, 2012 at 9:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

At the risk of appearing naive,CH, more pointed please.“Occupy’s…asset…[articulating]this truth.”
?that movements don’t all succeed?
?power elites provoke counterviolence?
?fratricide [is] spawned by calcified, repressive elites who ignore peaceful protest?  All/some/
none of the above?  Could you elaborate and expand on this?

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By balkas, February 13, 2012 at 9:15 am Link to this comment

to me, it appears disingenuous to say that chinese dissidents oppose the state.
they oppose the state of the 99% and that’s why norway’s masters of people or its ONE PERCENT,
had awarded liu xiaobo nobel price. [and of course, obama; tho, obviously a war criminal]
chinese dissidents, would, i affirm, quite gladly accept the state of the ONE PERCENT and never the
state of the 99%.
so, CH’s ongoing criticism of the chinese system of governance, and by implication also its
constitution [while at the same thinks US constitution is ok] and laws, is exact copy of the ONE
PERCENT’S criticism and thinking.
true, OWS may be taking the same stance. i hope not, but i do not know
much about what OWS thinks about chinese system of rule. thanks

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By Cuthred, February 13, 2012 at 9:07 am Link to this comment

“Respect for private property” didn’t apply in Athens apparently only a few months ago. Read “The Greeks Get It” from May. What about the Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins, Chris? Do those receive the stamp of approval, as they were intentional, repeated trespassing on private property after the management asked them to leave? Must revolutionary acts all be at least 50 years or 5,000 miles away to be acceptable?

Oh and Havel’s case is actually very instructive. Despite his talent for literature, he was a crucial cheerleader for the invasion of Iraq when Chirac was trying to build a continental European consensus against it—alas, another writer who when he reaches a leadership position finds it hard to resist the benefits of co-option.  “Living the lie” indeed.

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By balkas, February 13, 2012 at 8:46 am Link to this comment

it is not true that people in usssr, czechoslovakia, yugoslavia…were powerless.
in fact, 60-70% + of people living in those lands were never as powerful as in the years after ww2
and roughly until ‘90.
ask a romanian, serb, et al today about how s/he feels in supremacistic and how they felt in
workers’ ‘paradise’?
no, CH, does not do that but quotes an enemy of the working class of people and villagers.
who never had it better than since at least a millennium. ask now serbs and croatians about their
masters who came to power in ‘90?
they were and still are murderers, satraps of the worst kind, warlordish; stole everything they could;
they lie you wouldn’t believe; sow utter lawlessness, inequality…thanks

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By afs, February 13, 2012 at 8:24 am Link to this comment

Who told anyone David Graeber’s his “rebuttal” to Chris Hedges black bloc article was excellent?

It wasn’t clever 15 years ago after the the Seattle WTO. It’s not somehow become more clever in the years since Seattle. It’s the exact transparent word game semantics nonsense black bloc has spouting since the Seattle WTO protest.

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By Anarcissie, February 13, 2012 at 8:24 am Link to this comment

As I recall, Hedges chained himself to the White House fence at some point to protest one or another of the American government’s egregious crimes.  Since the fence belonged to the state, and since it is illegal to chain oneself to it, Hedges was committing ‘property violence’ and was duly arrested for it.  Now he contradicts himself; but I guess it is useless to expect any kind of coherent theory from him.  Of course he didn’t answer David Graeber or any other of his numerous critics.  He has no answer.

How appropriate, then, to quote the similarly confused Havel.

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By balkas, February 13, 2012 at 8:17 am Link to this comment

let us please note that police is out there against protesters not only because they sincerely
believe that they are fulfilling ALL laws, constitution, and bill of rights, but are also
defending their pensions, jobs, healthcare, good wages, etc.
so, when it orders you to leave an area, don’t argue, shout, resist in any way.
move on as ordered. for you are not only messing with police but with army echelons,
cia/fbi, judiciary, congress, W.H., MSM; most ‘educators’, clergy and if you resist you’d lose
every confrontation and by doing that most likely weaken the OWS protest.
after all, we can protest via internet and some media. street protest is ok, but not the only
way. there are many other ways to spread the word!
please, be my guest, use also people’s minds! thanks

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By balkas, February 13, 2012 at 8:00 am Link to this comment

vaclav havel was not for an econo-military-politico-educational equality for all czechs. i
understand that he also approbated nato and US wars against innocent nations.
in short, he had always been for the One Percent!
re: legal system always working for the state, this statement appears vastly inadequate and
i aver that also the bill of rights and the constitution always work for the state or, rather, for
about 10-30% of americans. in this connection, let us recall that THE ONE PERCENT owns also
the interpretation of all US ‘laws”; includes constitution and bill of rights.
alas, CH does not see this; also avoids to tell people why he disagrees with what i have just
i do agree that OWS must at this time be very peaceful and obedient to police when it
commands them to do s’mthing. thanks

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By Jeff N., February 13, 2012 at 7:59 am Link to this comment

Amen Chris… keep fighting the good fight! Viva la resistance!

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By fit2carr, February 13, 2012 at 7:58 am Link to this comment

Seriously? Not even a single acknowledgement of David
Graeber’s excellent rebuttal?

Since I read Graeber’s piece, my admiration for Mr.
Hedges has significantly waned. I have honestly
been waiting for him answer the very serious
objections Graeber raises, and I was disappointed to
read not even a mention from Mr. Hedges this morning.

I’m going to have a hard time continuing to read this
column unless Mr. Hedges takes responsibility for his
divisive comments by engaging in a serious dialogue.

Please read it:

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By calzone, February 13, 2012 at 7:53 am Link to this comment

So many assumptions to rebut, so little time…

Kevin Zeeze says, “People are not drawn to violent
movement. Such tactics will shrink rather than expand
our base of support.”

This assumes that people are drawn to nonviolent
movements that don’t even defend themselves against
unprovoked police violence? I wonder how many people
saw the images of those young women being pepper
sprayed behind the orange netting and said to
themselves, “Why doesn’t anyone come to the defense
of these women? Why are they letting
the police abuse women like that without fighting
back?” I know that’s what I was thinking, and
honestly a movement that allows its most vulnerable
members to be violently attacked by police thugs
without even mounting a self defense is not one that
I am particularly interested in joining.

Zeese and Hedges may be right that OWS might retain
some theoretical base of support from the general
public, but there are many people out there turned
off by rigid adherence to nonviolence, especially
when it reaches the level of absurdity on display in
Occupy. While people might express support to a
pollster asking their opinion, these same people
might not feel that this movement is for them if it
allows itself to be brutally repressed without
mounting a self defense. They might be part of that
elusive “middle America” that Hedges is bending over
backwards to appeal to, but they will not join the
ranks of Occupy if all they see are pictures of
police beating, pepper spraying and hauling people
off to jail. 

Hedges also quotes Zeese as saying that “Property damage justifies
police violence to many Americans.”

Since when do police need a justification to resort
to violence? Violence is their de facto response to
any number of situations, whether it’s tasering
homeless people or pepper spraying occupiers. That’s
what they do, it’s the only language they understand.
So, go on, keep trying to play by their rules and
keep seeking the approval of the great mass of Middle
America. Just remember that no one respects people
who don’t respect themselves, and refusal to defend
yourself against illegitimate attacks by illegitimate
authority is probably the clearest sign imaginable of
a lack of self respect.

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By Michael Cavlan RN, February 13, 2012 at 7:22 am Link to this comment

Mark Grueter

No, no mention at all of David Graeber’s excellent rebuttal. Not here anyway. Rest assured though there are lots of mentions of it elsewhere. For some weird reason it was not covered here at TruthDig either.

As an aside, here in Minnesota in the run up to the RNC in St Paul 2008 activists worked on something. It was called the St Paul principles. In it activists agreed to the ideals that we would respect each other. That we would agree to disagree on tactics but would not attack each other in public. It was a well thought out plan and worked like a charm.

Perhaps Chris Hedges should take a look at it. TruthDig, well we know they will never mention it.

I have loved and respected Chris Hedges for a very long time. For his courage and integrity. I still do but some of that has been tarnished by his last article. His not even addressing it here compounds it.

This makes TruthDig an even less hospitable place for progressives who oppose the establishment.

Can ya dig it? As in TruthDig it?

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By Buffalo Bill, February 13, 2012 at 6:43 am Link to this comment

OWS is a joke.  Bankers and financiers just rammed an “austerity” budget down the throats of Geeks defying democracy.  The people are in the streeets protesting and fighting the plutocrats.  But it’s a done deal.  The European stock markets are all up.  The Euro is up.  The Greek demonstrations are not in the headlines any longer.  Fait accompli.  If demonstrations and resistance on the Greek scale can be this EASILY crushed, OWS must be deemed an utter joke.  The plutocrats have won and they’ll give the peasants the illusion they have some voice with OWS demonstrators allowed to slum in sleeping bags and bang on bongos.

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By gringo45, February 13, 2012 at 6:19 am Link to this comment

Evil cannot be overcome with evil.  We must turn the other cheek.

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By Mark Grueter, February 13, 2012 at 6:06 am Link to this comment

So no mention at all of David Graeber’s excellent rebuttal of last week’s column?

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By calz, February 13, 2012 at 4:39 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Foster internal divisions and rivalries”—you mean,
kind of like what you did last week with the hit piece
on the black bloc?

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prisnersdilema's avatar

By prisnersdilema, February 13, 2012 at 4:23 am Link to this comment

Its over for them no matter what they do. They’ve destoyed themselves,because they
have lost the public trust.  Turning this country into a version of communist East
Germany, won’t save them in the end. Just as the Iron curtain fell they will fall. They are
the past, OWS is the future.  Make each act each thought of each day an act of non
cooperation with them.

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By ardee, February 13, 2012 at 4:07 am Link to this comment

The value of the OWS movement is as a tool to inform, rather than as a direct instrument of change. The majority of Americans, as shown by numerous polls over decades, maintains progressive values. The state labors very hard to isolate and diminish these values and makes people feel powerless.

OWS, in keeping to a strict non-violent path, evokes not only sympathy but awakens people to the fact that their own values are shared by a majority. It is only by awakening and empowering the masses can we hope to end the fascism under which we now labor.

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By wardad, February 13, 2012 at 4:02 am Link to this comment

Robespierre, doesn’t your fundamental complaint about the movement, a lack of
direction and demands, reflect our culture’s simplistic desire for everything to be
wrapped up in a clean and finished package by the end of the hour?  Don’t these
things take time?  Maybe the movement needs some room to work through the
internal contradictions?  Composed of people with a diversity of actual desires
and demands; some wishing to take an axe to the root “revolutionaries”, while
other more reactionary people just want the social democracy they thought they
were promised and are entitled to, ie., Van Jones/Obama focused “reformers”.

I see things turning this spring and summer.  There will be a more focused
argument for sure and there will come a final split within the movement.  I
suspect that by convention time, the “reformist” elements and compromisers will
put their faith in the spectacle and practice their sacramental acts of campaigning
and voting to no end, while other more committed and realistic elements will be
bleeding in the streets.  Let us not forget that the American people are not
suffering enough yet that they will willingly stand in the streets in numbers large
enough to not be ignored, in numbers large enough to snuff out the champions
of more violent tactics, in numbers large enough to make their demands for a
better system evident in their bodies.  This point will not come until they can’t
afford the cable bill.  When they can’t afford to purchase the propaganda any
longer and it gets turned off, then maybe they will see well enough to live in the
truth.  But when that time comes the system knows it will need to make free cable
a right, while people continue to go without decent medial coverage.

Until then, there will also be more repression.  The political establishment is
throwing its big spectacle this year and the “Blue Bloc” will bring out the big
crowd control measures; microwave guns, rubber bullets, pepper spray, clubs, etc
. . . and they will be looking for every opportunity to use these measures.

They also know that even if left-activists do not don masks and black hoodies,
the “Blue Bloc” can very well do so and “justify” their repressive tactics. 
Unfortunately, the measures already in practice; kettling, “free speech zones”,
permitted demonstrations and marches, already leave many of our brothers and
sisters looking for more meaningful tactics to disrupt and expose the system; to
“live in the truth” if you will.

Our greatest strength may very well be our weakness, but when does that
weakness become so many prisoners locked in a gulag, chained in a dungeon, or
ignored by the teevee and thus, never having existed at all?


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By Robespierre115, February 13, 2012 at 3:08 am Link to this comment

One has to wonder however, if the system is even THAT obsessed with destroying OWS. Without a doubt police agencies and federal thugs are working to disrupt it, but the oligarchs in their ivory towers are probably not that nervous because OWS isn’t offering any sort of real alternative except as working as a mechanism to vent popular frustration.

It’s interesting that Hedges mentions El Salvador and Havel for two different reasons. The FMLN movement in El Salvador was truly seen as dangerous by the elites and the US government because it was trying literally to smash the old order and replace it with a clear, radical, socialist vision inspired by the Cuban Revolution and the Sandinista Revolution in neighboring Nicaragua. Reagan and the CIA were desperate to crush the rebellion by any means necessary, including funding death squads and a murderous right-wing regime, because there was a real threat there of a revolutionary virus that would (and was) infecting Central America.

Havel on the other hand, offered little to the Czechs other than replacing one dysfunctional system for another predator: Hardcore, 1990s free market capitalism. He also became a big backer of NATO interventionism. And we all know how Russia and Eastern Europe suffered when the USSR collapsed and the “revolutionaries” offered nothing but vague promises of “democracy” and “freedom” which turned into a disastrous, neoliberal nightmare similar to what is happening now in Greece.

So if OWS really does want to make a difference, it needs to stop leaving big voids in the name of postmodernism because that only provides more space for the kind of violence Hedges hates.

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