Debating Violence in the Occupy Movement

By now several thousands progressives and liberals have read the article “The Cancer in Occupy,” by Chris Hedges from February 6. In the article, Hedges condemns the so-called “Black Bock Movement” and “Black Bloc anarchists” for a variety of sins that include breaking store and car windows, burning flags, and swearing and throwing tear gas canisters at the police. There is a major problem with the whole premise of the article. As Hedges’ critics are quick to point out, “black bloc” (lower case) refers to tactics – there is no such thing as a “Black Block Movement” or “Black Bloc anarchists.” However unless they are regular readers of anarchist and left libertarian websites and blogs, activists are unlikely to have seen the numerous critiques of “The Cancer in Occupy” that correct this and other factual errors in Hedges’ article.

by Stuart Jeanne Bramhall
Dissident Voice
February 25th, 2012

The term “diversity of tactics” is used to distinguish direct tactics that include property damage and armed retaliation against the police from nonviolent direct action and extremist tactics such as planting bombs and armed insurrection.

By now several thousands progressives and liberals have read the article “The Cancer in Occupy,” by Chris Hedges from February 6. In the article, Hedges condemns the so-called “Black Bock Movement” and “Black Bloc anarchists” for a variety of sins that include breaking store and car windows, burning flags, and swearing and throwing tear gas canisters at the police. There is a major problem with the whole premise of the article. As Hedges’ critics are quick to point out, “black bloc” (lower case) refers to tactics – there is no such thing as a “Black Block Movement” or “Black Bloc anarchists.” However unless they are regular readers of anarchist and left libertarian websites and blogs, activists are unlikely to have seen the numerous critiques of “The Cancer in Occupy” that correct this and other factual errors in Hedges’ article.

Hedges’ Critics

The longest and most comprehensive critique of Hedges’ article, “The Folly of Chris Hedges,” appeared on Infoshop News later the same day. Infoshop News also links to other excellent critiques of “The Cancer in Occupy.” Two of the best are an article by Don Gato on the AK Press website entitled “To Be Fair He is a Journalist: A Short Response to Chris Hedges on the Black Bloc” and magpie’s “I am the Cancer (or ArmchairsGTFO).”1

For me the major problem with “The Cancer in Occupy” is Hedges’ failure to acknowledge that 1) the debate over “diversity of tactics” (i.e., incorporating tactics other than exclusive nonviolent resistance) has been raging for months in local Occupy groups and 2) his views represent only one side of the debate. Contrast his Truthdig article with more objective articles in the Occupy Wall Street Journal and on the Occupy Oakland website that present both sides: “Diversity of Tactics or Divide and Conquer” and “The Revolution Will Be Strategized: Reflections on Diversity of Tactics From NYC.”

Read more

http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=20120226120003264

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