Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Against Hedges on the Black Bloc

Many readers will have seen Chris Hedges' polemic against the Black Bloc titled "The Cancer in Occupy". It's getting a lot of play on the internet, so I figured it would be worth joining in the fun and offering a few of my own unsystematic, incomplete remarks on the topic. What follows is more a critique of Hedge's polemic and less a thorough analysis of the Black Bloc phenomenon:
  1. Socialist critics of the Black Bloc (and, to be clear: I consider myself one of them) should recognize the basic tone and method of criticism employed by Hedges right away: it is closely analogous to red-baiting. I'm unsettled by this language of "cancer", "beasts", "criminals" and so forth. This strategy is a hop, skip and a jump away from classic red-baiting tactics used by mainstream elements to purge and denigrate radicals from movements. To be clear: I'm not accusing Hedges of red-baiting in this particular polemic. But this strategy of argument lends itself rather easily, with a few changes here and there, to red-baiting and anti-radical hysterics. That should give socialists pause. Sure, there are plenty of political criticisms which need to be made, which target the ultra-leftism and adventurism of some of the Bloc's participants. But let's set aside the language of cancer and disease, beasts and criminals. Many of these folks are comrades in struggle, and their ideas aren't fixed in stone. To the extent that it is possibleand it may not be, given the way that the Bloc often operatesrevolutionaries should be in critical dialogue with them about how social revolutions happen, why we have to build internally democratic mass movements, why the working class is key, etc. Neither the Bloc nor their sympathizers in the movement are persuaded of anything when it is derided as a "disease" or a "cancer".
  2. Hedges blames the Bloc where he should blame the cops. This comes out rather clearly when he says that "this is a struggle to win the hearts and minds of the wider public and those within the structures of power (including the police) who are possessed of a conscience. It is not a war. Nonviolent movements, on some level, embrace police brutality." After everything that's happened, I find it absolutely incredible that Hedges has the chutzpah to say that the Occupy movement is presently engaged in a mission to win the "hearts and minds" of the cops. This perspective completely misunderstands the function of the police as an institution in our society. Are white Occupiers supposed to encourage their black comrades to go up and start polite moral discussions with the legion of armed thugs in blue who regularly brutalize and murder people in their communities? Are white people supposed to tell people of color in the movement that they should embrace police brutality? Moreover, are we to think that the cops are a more worthy political audience for the movement than the "disease" that is the Bloc? Hedges misses the mark here by a wide margin.
  3. There is a moralistic thread running through Hedges's piece regarding the issue of non-violence. It is patently absurd to say that there are only two positions here: one of fetishizing violence for its own sake and one of fetihsizing non-violence. I absolutely agree that it's bone-headed to think that Occupy can go toe to toe with the State in a physical confrontation and win. It can't. And I completely agree that the strength of the movement lies in mass character, and especially in its capacity to mobilize the working majority to use its special social power to disrupt the profit system. So, I agree that it's important to challenge elitist insurrectionist ideas within the movement. It's important to distinguish genuine social revolutions from coups waged by small self-appointed elites. Whether or not it is possible to engage a group that appears to place no stock in intra-movement dialogue and debate, it's certainly not the case that we should have to adopt Hedges' abstract and ultimately fetishistic perspective toward non-violence. Moralistic injunctions to "obey the law" are not left-wing criticisms.
  4. Hedges's critique of ultra-leftism is ham-fisted. He makes it sound as if it is a crime to offer radical critiques of mainstream "left" elements and institutions. It would be easy to contort his arguments against ultra-leftism to serve the purposes of a soggy reformist apologia for the conservatism of the Democratic Party and the higher-ups of the AFL-CIO. Although I disagree with his generally warm embrace of the Hedges piece, Louis Proyect usefully compares the ultra-leftism of many of participants in the Bloc to the sectarianism of Stalinist parties during the so-called "Third Period" in the 1920s and early 30s. (I also think the Weathermen and Red Army Faction comparisons are apt as well, but I won't discuss them here). During the so-called "Third Period", Communist Parties under the direction of Stalin's Russia were instructed to view all non-Communist groups on the Left (e.g. reformists, other revolutionaries, trade unionists, etc.) as "social fascists", on par with groups on the far Right. Everyone who wasn't in the Communist Party was to be viewed as a class traitor and a tool of the system. Of course, this was a disastrous policy and it eventually gave way to its equally problematic opposite, the sycophantic tailism of the "Popular Front". The "Third Period" perspective, it seems to me, accurately captures some of the rather abstract and highly sectarian dismissals of groups on the organized Left with whom the Bloc evidently disagrees (e.g. the Zapatistas, organized labor, etc.). But the problem with ultra-leftism isn't that it offers criticisms of mainstream Left forces such as the labor movement or Left parties elsewhere in the world (e.g. the Zapatistas or Bolivia's MAS or the PSUV, etc.). That criticism is necessary and it underscores why we should steer clear of lesser-evilism and tailism. Instead, the problem with ultra-leftists is that they are abstentionist, abstract, and ultimately sectarian. They are incapable of understanding what "critical support" means at crucial conjunctures, and they fail to grasp that fighting in the here and now for reforms doesn't necessarily make one a reformist. Many are elitist and cynical about the possibility of mass revolt. Most have an un-dialectical and implausible perspective when it comes to the concrete question of how movements are built and how peoples' consciousness changes in the course of struggle and self-activity. So, I'm all for critiquing ultra-leftism. But let's not do so in a way that lends itself to easy co-optation by lesser-evilists and liberals.
  5. Hedges is probably at his best when discussing the need to build mass movements that are internally democratic. But this argument needs to be closely tied to an analysis of how successful social transformations occur. And this requires bringing the centrality of the working class into the picture. But so far as I can tell, this is not a major part of Hedges's analysis. He seems to think that the movement is trying to win the support of "the people" plus those in power with a conscience. But the politics here are soggy at best, and conservative at worst. The 1% is not our audience. Occupy is at its strongest when it draws the masses of working people into self-activity with an eye to engaging in industrial actions such as strikes, sit-downs, factory occupations, walk-outs, and all the rest.
  6. Hedges derides the Bloc for sectarianism (rightly), but takes himself (wrongly) to be non-sectarian. In fact, his polemic is highly sectarian. Sometimes he makes it sound like the enemy isn't the capitalist state or the ruling class, but rather the "cancer" within the movement. He sometimes makes it sound as if the Bloc is a bigger threat to the movement than the State, the ruling class and the organized Right. But that is to merely reproduce the sectarian mistake of those in the Bloc who label everyone who isn't a BB'er a "tool of the system" or a "sellout" and, therefore an enemy of the movement. He, like Bloc ultra-leftists, makes it sound like the main enemies are within the Left rather than without. To be fair, Hedges says plenty of things that brush against the grain of this sort of sectarianism. But too much of what he says in the piece is at odds with this non-sectarian impulse. I'm not saying that the Left should handle the Bloc with kid gloves. But let's not single them out as the single most significant challenge that the movement faces. Surely the 1% and the State have that distinction.
  7. The language of "criminal" is useless to the Left. When Hedges follows a discussion of property destruction with the charge of criminality, he might as well have said "and get a damned job!" next. To be an anti-capitalist is to think that the institution of property as its configured in capitalist societies is illegitimate. Of course, that doesn't mean that one should steal from other members of the 99%; ethical and political considerations here overwhelmingly speak against such an opportunistic and ultimately selfish conclusion. I don't destroy the property of my neighbors because it would be ethically wrong and politically useless; considerations of "legality" don't enter in to it. Moreover, socialists think that the working class should own and control the means of production. That is a sharp objection to the legitimacy of capitalist property rights. So, the rebuke to the Bloc isn't "But you don't respect capitalist legal institutions!". Rather it should be: "hey comrade, you aren't doing anything to advance the cause of winning a socialist society", or "what you're doing is opportunistic and individualistic; it's not a political strike against property but a selfish orgy of appropriation and abstract destruction". "Criminality" does no critical work here. It makes it sound like Occupy should call the cops on the Bloc. For all I know, that's what Hedges thinks we should do.


Hank said...

The existence of the Black Bloc seems to be a result of the fact that there is no working class movement in America -- "protest" is limited to marching down city streets and occupying city squares -- not that there's anything wrong with that -- instead of striking and occupying the workplace.

The elites of America were wise to turn America's economy into a "service" economy: s/he who works a low-wage, low-benefit, high-turnover job has no incentive to unionize or strike for better working conditions; the question who would even want a democratically run McDonalds/Burger King/Taco Bell/what have you? is answered by the other question, who, in an ideal world, would even want those restaurants to begin with? Probably no one -- no one but those establishments' shareholders, anyway.

Someone whose job isn't worth having in the first place isn't -- and probably shouldn't -- spending any time fighting for their rights in that workplace. They're just going to quit and go somewhere else, while their employer continues to exploit some other schmuck.

Hank said...

can't help but wonder to what degree the black bloc demographic coincides with the gutter punk demographic.

Anonymous said...

@Hank: I'm afraid the BB cannot be reduced to the lack of a strong working class mvmt. The BB and insurrectionary anarchism are an international current, including in Greece.

Hank said...

you are right. i was a little bit hasty and got sidetracked, but yeah, the existence of bb can't be reduced solely to the lack of a working class movement, but i feel like if there were more of a working class movement, the bb in itself would be moot.

Richard said...

this is a great post, highly original, noted for your willingness to see the big picture beyond the "Black Bloc good/Black Bloc bad" argument

I daresay that it might be, given the importance of the subject, your best post on this blog

if you want to see some of my thoughts, check out Louis Proyect's blog, his initial link to the Hedges article yesterday, and his post today about it

quickly, here is an incomplete summary of my ideas:

(1) the Black Bloc is becoming a scapegoat for more serious failings within Occupy (scapegoat in the classic film noir sense of the term, meaning that the Black Bloc has much to answer for, but it is being convicted for something it didn't do)

(2) the Black Bloc is becoming a repository for displeasure with young militants within Occupy, especially in places like Oakland, most of whom are not Black Bloc (note, for example, that the Anonymous video condemning the Bloc uses footage of people involved in the attempted Traveler's Aid Society takeover in Oakland on the night of the 11/2 general strike, the vast majority of whom, if not all, were not Black Bloc)

(3) the attack upon the Bloc is becoming the means by which liberals insist upon the abandonment of direct action by those involved in Occupy, as the violence of the Bloc and direct action strategies such as building occupations are being conflated

I say all this despite my opposition to the vanguardism (provoking police violence against the masses in order to "educate" them about the brutality of capitalists society) and machismo of the Bloc

anyway, I intend to post on this in the next few days

Richard said...

also, as to your second point about Occupy and the police, I have frequently noted that Occupy Oakland has emerged out of outrage over police brutality in recent years, and that the left has to find some way to engage people on this subject beyond Hedges' pacifism and the left's pragmatic "the police are part of the 99%" slogan

Anonymous said...

Fred Hampton on the Weather Underground:


t said...

@Richard: I agree that the main problem isn't that the Bloc is facing sharp criticism for their elitism and ultra-leftism (I welcome that). The main problem is that the many of the criticisms have a lot of liberal baggage that obscures the political terrain here considerably. It's not as if I think Hedges doesn't make any sound points in his polemic. But the way he goes about it, and the politics he marshals in his attack are both problematic.

@Anonymous: Incredible! I love that Fred Hampton vid. It's as much a searing indictment of the Bloc as it is of the Weathermen.

BlackBloc said...

There is no "the Black Bloc". A black bloc is a tactic, not an organisation, engaged in by anarchists (yes, even us boring old neo-Platformist anarchocommunists, not just Insurrectionists) in which anarchists show up en masse at a protest, take steps to preserve their anonymity (as defense against state profiling), band together, ignore demands from illegitimate authority (i.e. the cops) and act together to defend participants' bodies and autonomy against state violence. It does not necessarily include sabotage-style direct action nor confrontation with cops (except for the fact that cops in general *seek* that very confrontation with any black bloc that forms on the ground). In fact there have been numerous black blocs on the east coast that I have been a participant in and that did not result in any property damage nor violent confrontation with cops whatsoever.

This was my main problem with Hedges' article. I can't even get into discussing the thesis (a question of tactics) because the entire article is a soup of toxic misinformation. There is literally not one word in that article that is accurate. Chris Hedges is attacking a phantom organisation and creating links to people like Zerzan, because by inventing his scapegoat he needs to cast his net far and wide and grab at anything that might give it solidity.

JM said...

There's also this critique from an actual anarchist:

JM said...

May I also add that the AK press article says anarchists don't hate the Zapistas?

t said...

@BlackBloc: "There is literally not one word in that article that is accurate." I'm afraid that's exaggeration; some of the criticisms Hedges makes are legitimate, even if the general thrust of his article is, as you say, politically muddled, hysterical, and full of exaggeration and misinformation. As I say in the post, the hysterical tone of the article reeks of liberal red-baiting. Socialists who strongly disagree with the Bloc's tactics on political grounds, such as myself, should be unsettled by the closeness of Hedges's complaints and classical red-baiting. I'm all for criticizing the Bloc on political grounds. But I'm not for scapegoating, witch-hunting, deriding fellow anti-capitalists as "cancer", etc.

I take your point that the cops confront the Bloc and that many participants in the Bloc might see their actions as more self-defense than adventurist offense. In general, liberals who blame the Bloc for police violence let the cops and the State off the hook. That is unfair to the Bloc and, as I say, evinces a problematic attitude toward the cops.

But there is a legitimate *political* question of whether showing up with shields expecting violence at a demo is effective. In some cases it may not be. Only a concrete analysis of a concrete situation can decide the matter. If such tactics produce consequences detrimental to the formation of mass movements capable of challenging the system, then such tactics should be criticized. Of course, the question of effectiveness is not the same as the blame game where liberals shift the burden of responsibility onto fellow activists instead of the State and the cops. I don't blame the Bloc for any of the violence meted out by the State. But I do think they should be held accountable if their tactics set the movement back and fail to be effective in building the struggle against capitalism.

I don't think its quite right to say that the Black Bloc is anarchist plain and simple. I'll concede that "anarchism" is an essentially contested political concept that admits of no simple, unproblematic definition. But the concrete political constellation of groups and practices properly called "anarchist" are not reducible to the Bloc's approach. I don't see any obvious affinity between the Bloc and the self-described anarchists in Spain in the 1930s, for example. Class-struggle anarchists and syndicalists seem unlikely to be won to such an approach either. I think it's fair to say that it's a specific subset of self-described anarchists that are attracted to Black Bloc tactics. See, e.g.: http://www.isreview.org/issues/72/feat-anarchism.shtml

I think it's well worth discussing the historical experience of insurrectionist, ultra-left formations in the past, such as the Weathermen, Red Army Faction in Germany and others. I would argue that they were unsuccessful even by their own lights. These formations should not be the reference points for Occupy. Far better examples of militant struggle include the recent revolutions that have rocked the middle east, Portugal 1974, May 1968, the general strikes in the US in 1934, the sit-down strikes and factory occupations of 1937, etc.

Richard said...

"I think it's well worth discussing the historical experience of insurrectionist, ultra-left formations in the past, such as the Weathermen, Red Army Faction in Germany and others. I would argue that they were unsuccessful even by their own lights. These formations should not be the reference points for Occupy. Far better examples of militant struggle include the recent revolutions that have rocked the middle east, Portugal 1974, May 1968, the general strikes in the US in 1934, the sit-down strikes and factory occupations of 1937, etc."

I'd like to think that this is self-evident, and generally well understood, but, maybe, it's not. It's one reason why I emphasis the collective efforts of South American social movements on my blog from time to time. One of the most impressive things about the left there is the recognition of the importance of collective action, even within the context of direct action.

Perhaps, the fact that many South American movements have been composed of the victims of neoliberal policy, the participants are well aware of the need to conduct themselves in a way that encourages people to take action while accomodating the extent to which they can or cannot put themselves at personal risk.

Conversely, some American leftists, from a different social and class background, act without the slightest concern for it at all.

JM said...

There's a new critique on Truthout here although I think it confuses Hedge's dislike for the Black Bloc with direct action in general.

Anonymous said...


"AT ITS height, Occupy mobilized large numbers because it insisted on the rights and dignity of the 99 percent. Its participants were determined to make their voices heard to counter the slanders of politicians and the media. We need initiatives that draw in larger numbers from the millions of people who have shown their sympathy with the movement--not adventurist actions by a minority out to demonstrate their supposedly superior politics and commitment."

PR said...

I saw a Hedges interview where he talked about being arrested in D.C. and the cop telling him to keep protesting because a lot of them were sympathetic to the movement. That will disappear if BB tactics are used.

Anonymous said...


You seriously think that using small arms we couldn't take on Police Forces in a highly concentrated Urban Area? Dear God, how did Cuba, the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, Mexican Revolution, Chilean dirty wars and so forth happen?

The fact is that we CAN take on the police, and a victory isn't necessary-- coverage is. I wouldn't be surprised if a group of 1000 could hold down most of New York metro for a few hours with long-range weaponry and semi automatic ground forces until the state would be forced to bring in heavy artillery, at which point the pictures of Soldiers being used on the population would look horrible, both on a national and international scale.

Fighting the state can be done, they are not immune. The Afghanis are doing it right now. Egypt was won with small arms. Why not us?

Hank said...

"I saw a Hedges interview where he talked about being arrested in D.C. and the cop telling him to keep protesting because a lot of them were sympathetic to the movement. That will disappear if BB tactics are used."

I don't want change that is endorsed by the caretakers of the 1% and I'm wary of anyone who does.

Richard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard said...

if you are interested, I have just posted my perspective about Hedges and the Bloc over at American Leftist

Karen said...

@Anonymouse - Egypt wasn't "won," as anyone attending the recent anniversary in Tahrir Square could attest. There will always be a sea of difference among individuals in a group, about what they think will work and what they are willing to risk, what they think is "right" and "justified." I don't much care to argue about who is right or wrong, it's a big world and there's room enough for many opinions. But the relative success or failure of Black Bloc tactics should, it seems, speak for itself if we watch closely enough.

I tend to side with those who think there is room for all kinds in revolution, too. Ones to take the big risks, be confrontational, use bodies as human shields, etc. Others may be there to figure out how to live in the aftermath, to teach skills to the others.... there is a role for everyone.

I don't see on the face of it where the big difference lies, between dressing all in black or wearing a Guy Fawkes mask. I do, however, think it's juvenile and hateful to throw bricks into windows of small shop owners who are just regular people trying to make a living, because they happen to be keeping shop on the street you're protesting on. If that's a "Black Bloc tactic," then certainly Occupy will want to distance the movement from such behavior. By the same token, the movement should distance itself from any attempts by someone who obviously has a big chip on his shoulder - Hedges, namely - to speak as if he represents the collective, particularly when he engages in hate speech.

Any violence, to be considered, should be considered well and used judiciously; throughout history, most of the confrontations won by a violent "resistance" movement have merely served to trade one oppressive regime for another equally oppressive, and quite willing to be violent, regime.

All that said, here's quite a bit of interesting info on Black Bloc:http://www.infoshop.org/amp/bgp/BlackBlockPapers2.pdf

Anonymous said...

It is simply a tactic. Nothing more, nothing less. Discuss it from that perspective. Seems simple enough to me!

Anonymous said...

Will people stop conflating black blocs with armed insurrectionary groups! A black bloc is NOT like the weather underground!

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 11:23: I think you miss the distinction between a coup and a social revolution. Social revolutions draw the masses of the population into self-activity. They are radically democratic, popular upheavals in which the vast majority of society works for self-emancipation through collective struggle.

In Trotsky's words: "The most indubitable feature of a revolution is the direct interference of the masses in historic events. In ordinary times the state, be it monarchical or parliamentary, elevates itself above the nation, and history is made by specialists in that line of business—kings, ministers, bureaucrats, parliamentarians, journalists. But at those crucial moments when the old order becomes no longer endurable to the masses, they break over the barriers excluding them from the political arena, sweep aside their traditional representatives, and create by their own interference the initial groundwork for a new regime...The history of revolution for us is first of all the history of the forcible entrance of the masses into rulership of their own destiny." That is qualitatively different from a military-style struggle waged by a small group against a centralized state.

Mass participation and collective struggle are essential to creating a better world. They cannot be bypassed. The key is that genuine social revolution is a radically democratic act of collective self-emancipation; freedom can't be handed down to people by "specialists" as Trotsky puts it--which includes insurrectionists. Freedom has to be won consciously by the people themselves.

Binh said...

Absolutely 100% agreed. Part of the problem is that there has not been the kind of political space for bigger, wider discussion of strategy and tactics in Occupy that could really flesh out all of the Black Bloc-related issues (one reason why I helped put thenorthstar.info together). Hedges's piece has blown it wide open in the context of our struggle to survive until the spring when the turnouts will improve. What I didn't appreciate about Hedges' piece was its lack of specificity. If you think BB did something wrong, name a place, time, date, and context. In some cases smashing a police fence is absolutely the right way to go and very necessary; many times its only BBers who are willing to do it too.

Hedges is probably the single most important spokesman for socialism in the U.S. at the moment, so this is doubly problematic for us. He is intensely moralistic and that is not going to change; however, I hope he grows to become more strategic.

We need more on-point discussion like this entry that doesn't conflate issues, resort to strawmen/invective, and other forms of cheap shots.

Binh said...

On second thought I strongly suggest submitting this (or a modified version of it) to Socialist Worker. If you need I can send you the email addresses.

Freely Associated said...

This is a great discussion for the movement to be having now. I found it on the Occupy Chicago facebook page where hundreds have commented today on this general topic.

Occupy achieved a mass movement that the Left and Black Bloc and all other groups failed to do. Occupy siezed the imagination of people and allowed them to participate in ways that were new.

What is the New, and how can Occupy deepen and sustain it?

Those of us who've been in the radical movements before Occupy should be open about how today's debate fits into the greater battle of ideas within the left-radical movement.

There's way too many experienced politicos maneuvering around like they are just speaking their own mind, when they are in fact expressing a worked out political line (with or without it's own organization) with a whole history and worked out theory of organization.

t said...

@Freely Associated:

Yes, I agree that Occupy is, in many respects, new and different from movements of the past. This is one reason why it's been so successful and so exciting. The Left has already acquired a new vocabulary (e.g. the 99% vs the 1%) and a new set of tactics (e.g. the peoples' mic, mic-checks, etc.) Radicals are learning from the movement every day. There is no political blue print or road-map that explains exactly what the movement should do next. Only a "concrete analysis of a concrete situation", conducted within the movement through collective debate and deliberation on the basis of its own experience can determine what the proper way forward should be.

However, I don't think it's simply a one-way street here. Speaking from a Marxist perspective, I think we see a dynamic relationship between the new and the history of past movements. We need to be open to learning from the past and learning from the new. If we aren't open to the new, we're nothing but dogmatists. But, by the same token, we have to bring the experience of past movements to bear on the new in order to avoid blindness to avoidable missteps. We aren't the first ones to fight back against oppression and domination, so we have everything to gain from learning previous struggles. We don't want to repeat past mistakes or spend time re-inventing the wheel. We can learn a ton from talking about the 1937 sit-down strikes and factory occupations. We can learn a lot from debating what worked and what didn't in Seattle in 1999, in Paris in May 68, etc.

So, I don't agree with your sweeping suspicion of "experienced politicos...with a worked out line". To be sure, Occupiers should be wary of folks who claim to have "all the answers", who think they have *nothing* to learn from the movement. But at the same time, we should be wary of fellow Occupiers who think they have *nothing* to learn from "experienced politicos" and organized radicals.

As I say, I think there needs to be more of a two-way street here. If experienced and seasoned radicals have a lot to learn from Occupy, Occupy has a lot that it can learn from their experience and knowledge of past struggles. That learning process has to occur through discussion, dialogue and debate among equals within the movement. It can't be one of organized radicals simply dictating to Occupy from the outside.

But I see no problem with organized radicals who are devoted participants in Occupy bringing their experience and political knowledge to bear on movement debates and discussions. So long as they do so in an open way, where only the force of the better argument carries the day, I think the movement has everything to gain from their participation.

Anonymous said...

Okay. This settles it. I'm wearing all black to my next protest. As it's very nicely said in the post, we are all comrades in struggle. Framing of whatever disagreements has to start from that premise. This is where Hedges goes wrong. It saddens me, actually. I like him a lot. But I think this is where his theological self-understanding trips him up. He IS a sectarian after his own fashion. It's a religious crusade for him and nonviolence isn't just a tactic but it's a moral principle. He's what Hegel called a 'beautiful soul" who needs to remain unsullied. he's very talented and inspiring usually, so it's sad. But I'm with Graeber, pinkscare, et al. on this one. Marching around displaying one's beautiful souledness isn't going to do it on this one, I'm afraid. To me black block tactics represent creativity and energy and to paraphrase Lenin, the the "errors" of such people are more valuable than all of the "correct" decisions of the elites.

t said...

@Anonymous 5:47:

To be clear, I'm not putting forward a "defense" of the Black Bloc per se. I'm not recommending Black Bloc tactics in the same way that Graeber is. My main problem is with the tone and political substance of Hedges's polemic.

In fact, I think the whole internet "Black Bloc: Pro or Con" debate is framed in a problematic way. As I argue in a more recent blog post, I think this debate tends to elide the importance of intra-movement democracy. Whether Black Bloc tactics are what's called for should be a call that occupy movements make themselves, democratically.

Anonymous said...

there is also this reply in Dissent: http://dissentmagazine.org/atw.php?id=676