Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

September 14, 2012

Chris Hedges and B. Traven debate the black bloc

Filed under: black bloc idiots — louisproyect @ 12:31 am

With his feline features, rail-thin yoga instructor body, and white-boy dreadlocks down to his buttocks, B. Traven might have won the debate against the pear-shaped, tan Dacron summer suit wearing, and dour-faced Chris Hedges on looks alone. It was the biggest mismatch I had seen since the Yippie tag-team of Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman went up against SWP leader Fred Halstead in 1969 over “Which Way for the Antiwar Movement?” You probably know what Rubin and Hoffman looked like but Fred Halstead can best be described as a 350 pound, 6’6” behemoth with a face like a delegate’s to a Republican Party convention.

Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman

Fred Halstead

For me the appearance of SWP leaders like Fred Halstead was an asset since I had come to the conclusion that the mainstream of American society had to be won to our cause. Fred had been the leader of a G.I.’s “bring us home” movement in 1946 that led indirectly to the victory of a socialist revolution in China. As a long-time cutter in the garment industry and a housing project resident, Fred was totally “salt of the earth” and a marked contrast to Rubin and Hoffman both culturally and politically.

Ironically the debate between Hedges and Traven was a rehash in many ways of the 1969 debate. While Rubin and Hoffman were not interested in breaking windows, they definitely sought to create “confrontations” with the cops that would lead to billy club and tear gas attacks on protestors with the ultimate goal of radicalizing those who were beaten and jailed. Fred recounts the differences in “Out Now”, a history of the Vietnam antiwar movement:

SDS was bent on “doing its own thing,” which Rubin kept inviting people to do, in line with his dream of initiating wholesale disruption. Dellinger tended to dismiss the wilder statements of SDSers, Rubin, and others in those milieux as idle rhetoric. There was truth to this, but the rhetoric itself was hurting the mass character of the march. It was also the height of folly, in my view, because it gave the police a ready-made excuse to physically attack the demonstration. To counter this the SWP demanded assurances as to the peaceful, legal character of the mass march and rally. We pressed for this to be made publicly clear.

There were also some of the pacifists—like Brad Lyttle and Peter Kiger—who were uneasy about the “do-your-own-thing” rhetoric. They wanted assurances as to the nonviolent discipline. The SWP joined in these demands. But the area of rapprochement with those bent on “doing their own thing” was narrow.

Dellinger in this period was in the unenviable position of negotiating with Rubin and SDS on the one hand and some of the moderate groups on the other. He was, after all, a pacifist committed to nonviolence across the board. The SWPers were not. To him our stand may have seemed like a hypocritical maneuver against Rubin and SDS. But it wasn’t. We simply held to the position that the nonviolent tactic was necessary in order to maintain the mass character of the action under the given circumstances. A free-for-all fight—rhetorical or otherwise—was not part of the agreement.

This had nothing to do with “vacillation and timidity.” It had to do with keeping the movement’s statement clear and attracting the masses. One thing the new-guard SDSers had difficulty understanding was that ordinary people stay away from physical fights they can’t possibly win, not because they lack courage or conviction, but because they think it’s crazy or too costly.

In essence Chris Hedges defended an SWP-type position against B. Traven even though he has made a point of attacking both Marx and Lenin on occasion. I believe that Hedges has not really conducted a rigorous study of Marxism to this date and hope that he will at some point. He has said in the past and during last night’s debate that the Russian Revolution was peaceful and that the violence came from the Czarist forces. That demonstrates to me that he has at least gotten past Cold War Kremlinology even if he has on at least one occasion referred to Lenin “hijacking” the revolution.

The key point that Hedges made over and over again is the same as Halstead’s, namely the need to involve the mainstream. In his article likening the black bloc to cancer (I would have been more specific and likened them to intestinal cancer), he made a point that could have been lifted from “Out Now”:

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.

The Black Bloc’s thought-terminating cliché of “diversity of tactics” in the end opens the way for hundreds or thousands of peaceful marchers to be discredited by a handful of hooligans.

Dave Dellinger, Jerry Rubin, Abby Hoffman and SDS all turned toward “confrontationism” out of frustration with the inability of mass demonstrations to end the war two or three years into the movement. They calculated that a “temper tantrum”, especially by middle-class white kids, would cause such angst among the ruling class that the war would end. A strong corollary of this approach was a belief in supporting “peace candidates” such as Eugene McCarthy. The 1968 convention was selected as a protest site in order to put pressure on the Democrats to adopt a peace platform.

Despite himself, B. Traven demonstrated the same kind of impatience during the debate but over a different war. When Chris Hedges referred to the futility of breaking windows, Traven responded by pointing to the 2003 demonstrations against the invasion of Iraq. Look, he said, these were the biggest protests in decades and what did they accomplish? The invasion took place anyhow. Hedges responded ably by pointing out that the antiwar movement essentially closed shop in 2004 in order to elect John Kerry, so the mass action approach was not really given a chance to work. This, of course, was a function of the CPUSA leadership of the peace movement. Given its craven support for the Democratic Party, the liquidation of the movement was a foregone conclusion. The only alternative to the CP was the SWP of the 1960s and 70s when people like Fred Halstead were around. Nowadays it is nothing but a cult around Jack Barnes whose newspaper gave implicit support for the invasion by characterizing the 2003 demonstrations as “anti-American”.

I came to the debate with the heightened expectations that it would approximate the fireworks of the Halstead-Yippie debate. Would B. Traven take out a spray-paint can in the middle of the debate and write “Death to Capitalism” across Hedges’s forehead? No such luck. For the most part he served as a kind of attorney for the black bloc or even a social worker or priest in the style of those 1930s to 1950s movies about juvenile delinquents.  You know the kind of film I am talking about, with someone like Spencer Tracy telling the judge, “Your Honor, these boys are not bad. They are just a product of their environment and have to be understood.”

That’s what I heard from Traven when he explained why the black bloc was so strong in Oakland. It was because Oscar Grant was shot and killed by transit cops in 2009 and none of them were charged with a crime. Evidently there must be something wrong with New York City activists since a string of such killings, including Amadou Diallo, has prompted no Starbucks windows being broken or riots in the Black community for that matter. The reaction has mainly consisted of mass mobilizations led by Al Sharpton that have since abated since his absorption into the Obama/MSNBC liberal machinery.

Traven also tried to put vandalism into a global context, demanding to know why people like Hedges hail the Egyptian mass movement while opposing the black bloc here. After all, 100s of police stations were burned to the ground in Egypt. Hedges calmly replied that Egypt was a dictatorship with hundreds, if not thousands, of its citizens being denied the right to form opposition parties and forced to endure imprisonment, torture or state-sponsored executions. When the mass movement defended itself against police terror in Tahrir Square, that’s a far cry from spray-painting a Whole Foods window. If and when class polarization in the U.S. deepens to the point when we have to face such repression, it will make sense for the masses to use whatever means necessary to defend their rights. My guess is that under such conditions, the last place they will look for help is from the trick-or-treat, spring break in Fort Lauderdale boys behind the masks wearing black.

The last thing I want to do is waste my time exploring the thinking of Crimethinc.com, the website/collective that B. Traven belongs to but there is one article that I found quite revealing even if its points were not made during the debate by its dreadlocked spokesman. In an article titled “What Does Democracy Mean?”, they reach the interesting conclusion that it is not worth fighting for:

Our forebears overthrew kings and dictators, but they didn’t abolish the institutions by which kings and dictators ruled: they democratized them. Yet whoever operates these institutions—whether it’s a king, a president, or an electorate—the experience on the receiving end is roughly the same. Laws, bureaucracy, and police came before democracy; they function the same way in a democracy as in a dictatorship. The only difference is that, because we can cast ballots about how they should be applied, we’re supposed to regard them as ours even when they’re used against us.

Can you imagine someone passing out a leaflet with such ideas inscribed to sharecroppers in Mississippi in 1962? Or to someone living under Mubarak’s iron fist? Democracy means rule of the people, an idea of course that can only be fully realized under socialism. But the fight for socialism cannot be advanced unless working people have the right to form unions, to publish newspapers, to assemble in public and enjoy the freedoms afforded us under the Bill of Rights.

The sneering attitude toward democracy of course goes hand in hand with the whole black bloc modus operandi, where an affinity group decides unilaterally what it will do and when it will do it. Those who have studied the origins of the tactic will know that the autonomist movement in Germany initiated it. The autonomy they sought was not just from the capitalist state but also from the trade unions and left parties that workers built—with all their flaws. It did not matter that millions of workers decided that a General Strike would culminate in a peaceful demonstration. If the autonomists decided that Molotov cocktails had to be thrown, it was up to them and not the stupid workers to decide. My suspicion is that if we ever reach such an advanced stage in the U.S., we will have to be on close guard to make sure that young men in masks don’t act in unaccountable fashion. Vigilance will be necessary to defend the workers movement that surely will be arising under the conditions of permanent economic decline.

Chris Hedges observed during the debate that the Occupy movement never died, it just took different forms such as the Teachers strike in Chicago that is using mass mobilization. Can you imagine what the impact on the strike would have been if black bloc idiots had decided to start breaking windows during the mass demonstrations? Thank goodness they figured out that they would have been effectively drummed out of the movement if they did. Let’s hope that they figure out better ways in the future to oppose corporate rule. The movement needs unity at all costs today and everybody’s help is needed in moving forward. Everybody.

45 Comments »

  1. “Democracy means rule of the people, an idea of course that can only be fully realized under socialism. ”

    That’s their point–that “rule” is very different from “freedom,” which can only be realized without government. Having seen what government does in all its different formulations, you’re basically being reactionary here.

    Comment by Allie — September 14, 2012 @ 2:55 am

  2. I am totally with Louis here. Whatever problems exist within whatever grouping, ad hoc, that pulls together an action, it is illegitimate to attempt to go “beyond” that to some other form of protest. Not only should organizers of mass protest defend their rights to organize according to whatever comes out of their meetings, anyone who traduces those agreements deserves to be fed to the cops for whatever. The character of the Battle of Seattle was unalterably changed by a miniscule grouping of people who determined that they, not the assembled people who worked their asses off to create a mass mobilization, had the right to determine the tenor of a massive event. This is total bullshit, and those effort by the ultraleft should have been met by tactics that isolated their people and fed them up to to the cops for appropriate head bashing and so forth. I am talking here about massive defense lines that physically and obviously separated the assholes from the mass of the demonstrators and excluded them from the protective mass of those assembled. This would be tricky, but by no means undoable by an leadership that had it shit together and knew what it needed to accomplish. It was a weakness of the organization of the leadership of the Battle of Seattle that they did not face up to this necessity.

    Comment by David McDonald — September 14, 2012 @ 7:37 am

  3. The assertion that there was no violence in the Russian Revolution may be true of most but not all Bolshevik actions between February and October of 1917, but in the larger picture–even going back no farther than 1905–is absurd. What about all those bread riots?

    Even then, one has to ignore the ill-fated attempt at an uprising (not authorized by Lenin, to be sure) that sent Lenin into exile. if Kornilov had not in response launched what amounted to the beginning of civil war–thus recreating the mass support that the Bolsheviks lost after July–Lenin and Trotsky might have fallen into the proverbial dustbin.

    And what about shooting at (and hitting) peaceful demonstrators who were merely expressing support for the Constituent Assembly? Lenin himself offered no violence to the delegates and their numerous supporters, but others did.

    It’s true, of course, that Lenin was no Nechayev, winning his spurs as a revolutionary by murdering an associate suspected of treason to the cause. Many lies have been told by (gasp!) Tenured Professors in this regard. Nevertheless, Lenin stood on the shoulders of generations of revolutionaries, including Nechayev, who, in response to the brutality of the Russian state, engaged in acts of violence–even extreme violence.

    Of course the peoples’ demands are inherently peaceful in nature. But the people face an apparatus of violence of almost supernatural proportions, one that is already murdering and pillaging at will every day throughout the world. The forces of this violence here long ago crossed their Rubicon.

    If, as in Tahrir Square, the people at certain times respond with a certain violence of their own–this can be, as Chairman Mao might say, a good thing.

    To psalm-singing Christian pacifists like Mr. Hedges, revolution is only another excuse to go haring off like Mr. Christian in search of eternal life. In the long run, this is a profoundly self-centered endeavor.

    The high, white, aprioristic whinnying about “morality”–especially as regards that master tactician and cynic, Gandhi–is profoundly not revolutionary and can only lead to reformism.

    Please note: I don’t hate Hedges–he is under-appreciated on the Left–but he does have certain obvious limitations.

    As to this B. Traven character, he may well be an idiot. I know nothing about him. He certainly ought to show a badge if he is going to wear that name. But only to a petty-bourgeois moralist like Hedges is “violence” all one and to be eschewed altogether for spiritual reasons.

    Comment by Joe Vaughan — September 14, 2012 @ 11:49 am

  4. Hedges is not a pacifist. He is for self-defense. What he opposes is ultraleft stupidity that puts peaceful protestors at risk. Just watch the youtube I posted.

    Comment by louisproyect — September 14, 2012 @ 12:16 pm

  5. Interestingly, it appears that some in Oakland have moved beyond Black Bloc tactics. Both the seizure of Lakeview Elementary, thereafter briefly the People’s School@Lakeview Elementary, and the entry into a library in the Fruitvale District, where the grounds are now being used for the Biblioteca Popular, are examples of direct actions that have garnered community support (more so with the Biblioteca Popular), with each insisting that no Black Bloc tactics be used. The People’s School even had a code of conduct which included such a statement. Participants in Occupy Oakland have been involved in both, even if they are not Occupy actions. The North Star has a good article about the Biblioteca Popular written by one of those involved: http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=2255

    In both instances, some of the striking features have been the participation of families with children, and the willingness of anarchist activists to defer to the community involved.

    Comment by Richard Estes — September 14, 2012 @ 6:10 pm

  6. “The fight for socialism cannot be advanced unless working people have the right to form unions, to publish newspapers, to assemble in public and enjoy the freedoms afforded us under the Bill of Rights.”

    Where were any of these things in China, 1920-49? Yet the people liberated themselves from the Kuomintang, imperialism, and landlord exploitation.

    Comment by History — September 14, 2012 @ 7:02 pm

  7. Where were any of these things in China, 1920-49? Yet the people liberated themselves from the Kuomintang, imperialism, and landlord exploitation.

    Actually Mao created people’s democracy in the liberated zones. In any case, the Communists in China fought for the expansion of democratic rights. They were part of the national front led by the Kuomintang that sought to end colonial rule and landlord despotism. Eventually the Kuomintang became an obstacle to national liberation and was superseded by the Communists. But in any case, Mao would have had a big laugh at the Crimethinc drivel.

    Comment by louisproyect — September 14, 2012 @ 10:11 pm

  8. Yes, real revolutionaries have contempt for anarchist narcissism. People’s democracy (Mao’s mass line), however, is a different animal than a list of Constitutional rights. They differ among other things in priority; not exactly strategy versus tactic, but along that general dimension.

    Comment by History — September 15, 2012 @ 12:25 am

  9. “…the police…who are possessed of a conscience…”>>

    There are no such animals (pigs). These are sons and daughters of the working-classes who voluntarily police their own neighborhoods in the service of property and profit. Sure, there are some who enter the force with the mistaken idea of doing good. They either quickly learn the ‘what’s-what’ and quit; or they stay and are changed. When the time comes how many of them are coming back over the class line to the area where they have busted people and busted people’s heads? This is a cruel cruel job in class society. A job whose list of duties daily involve deprivation of people’s rights, dignity and lives. Please. No more of this dangerous ‘pollyannaism’.

    The Blac Bloc is not a synonym for anarchism–which is a political-economic analysis, philosophy and social system-to-be. The Blac Bloc is ‘insurrectionism’–which is a tactic resorted to by those without a strategy that goes beyond appearance: masks, etc are not only utilitarian they are defining. “This is what I am because this is what I look like” and not “This is what I look like because this is what I am”. In the first the clothing defines the situation; in the latter, the situation dictates the clothing.

    And yet, at times there is the case for such tactics. When the situation is that dire, that horrendous that all we can do is–as Bunchy Carter said–spit. Then a good hard rock through a window or at a fucking cop–when our close comrades are being beaten by these animals (pigs)–is a damn good “Hawk-too-ee!”

    JAI

    Comment by John A Imani — September 15, 2012 @ 1:26 am

  10. And yet, at times there is the case for such tactics.

    I don’t care what those people do as long as they don’t do it in the middle of a peaceful demonstration with lots of children and old folks around. In fact someone set off a small bomb in front of the Starbucks across from me in the middle of the night when the streets were empty and nobody could get hurt. I got a chuckle out of that. There’s a time and a place for everything just don’t go hijacking peaceful demonstrations.

    Comment by louisproyect — September 15, 2012 @ 2:09 am

  11. Calling police ‘pigs’ is a perfect example of anarchist narcissism. I’m not uncritical of police abuse and their coercive role in perpetuating capital, but the answer to “How many of them are coming back over the class line…” in a crisis is ‘let’s see!’

    Comment by MB — September 15, 2012 @ 2:25 am

  12. Louis: Fair enough. Hedges–contrary to his moralistic stance in the shallow Black Bloc/Cancer piece and in many of his screeds on Henry Giroux’s emeticTruthout–actually says here that the question of tactics is “not a moral question,” etc., etc.

    I am delighted that he has finally figured this out. He still doesn’t have the Bolshevik Revolution quite right, but he is making progress.

    Please note, however, that it is easy to pay lip-service to a principle and then proceed to violate it–as in, “I’m no moralist but.” One can deny petty-bourgeois moralism and still be in its sway. A deeper analysis of Hedges’ published rhetorical strategies could give a better answer than is available from this rather awkward ex tempore exchange. I can only make a few observations–no time alas to make this shorter.

    II think “Traven”–whoever or whatever he is–is right to question Hedges’ assertion that anything but “non-violent protest” prevents “diversity of tactics.” That remark is pure doubletalk and actually makes me think of a Republican candidate for public office.

    In fact, Hedges seems to have a number of competing ideas without clear logical relationships. One seems to be that any hint of “violence” will keep the masses indoors. This partners uneasily with the alternative notion that “we” cannot to any extent physically fight state power and so may only squeak at it, hoping it will not become angry. The first idea is asserted, or at least implied, without clear evidence. Apparently it’s considered self-evident. Logically, of course, the second idea would prevent any form of the self-defense you say Hedges supports. That would be fighting, and we must not fight because if we even threaten to do so we will be annihilated. But If neither of the preceding versions of Hedges’ very unclear thesis appeals to you, you can take comfort in yet another alternative–his bald and unsupported assertion that any black bloc action ever anywhere renders all peaceful protest impossible. Since he merely asserts this without arguing any points in its favor (a habit of his), he gets a certain amount of applause. I don’t find the proposition self-evident at all. Finally, there is Hedges’ standard output about “hypermasculinity” which likewise falls out of the bag in no particular order.

    The line about hypermasculinity–another more or less automatic theme–seems to me rooted in petty-bourgeois moralism and individualism–psychology being one of the modes of that moralism. It doesn’t seem to apply to “Traven” personally, at all, although who knows what he turns into with his gear on. In public, he is remarkably mild-mannered and even a bit effete. Without being a “Travenite,” I think Hedges is guilty of projection here.

    “Traven” defends anonymity (masking) eloquently and correctly, as Hedges is obliged to admit, although we don’t know what he concludes from his change of heart. Additionally, “Traven” is right in pointing out that the accusation of “cowardice” against some who wear masks is also inherently a moralistic critique delivered from a bourgeois standpoint of privilege and safety. “Traven” successfully defends throwing tear-gas canisters back at the police who threw them in the first place–even though this is reported falsely in the press as demonstrators merely throwing tear gas. He makes a number of excellent points about the definitions of violence and non-violence–and he says he opposes the idea of escalation to armed struggle. None of this conforms to the image of the testosterone-snorting bully-boy. Hedges has no coherent response to any of this.

    Hedges has been foreseeing disaster for Occupy ever since the term “black bloc” started bouncing around. And yet, by Hedges’ own testimony, Occupy has done well and the rock-throwing is no big deal. In fact, Hedges says here with disdain that a well-armed paramilitary wearing body armor and a gas mask basically can’t be hurt or seriously upset by a few projectiles–something that greatly weakens the “cancer” metaphor. How can something so ineffectual be such an absolute bar to good demonstrating? The black bloc tactics cannot embody both the extreme of contemptible weakness and an absolute guarantee that the cause will fail.

    So when is Black Bloc going to kill Occupy? I suggest that the biggest problems the movement has now are the result of its peculiar form of organization, which has moved from transparent unity in the occupied spaces to total opacity now that the occupations are no more.

    We have only the word of self-identified insiders (“Traven” and Hedges being two of them) as to what, if anything, is actually up at the national level now. Our only path to the inner workings of the movement is to know someone who knows someone.

    It’s the inability to sustain a unified, open organized effort over the long haul that will doom the movement, not a few rogue anarchists with, as we say in Ohio, wild hairs up their asses.

    A few other observations:

    Hedges abjures informing, but the sentiment on this blog seems to be against him on this point. I wonder how effectively one can “bring people into the streets” with the understanding that there will be police on one side and, on the other, all-powerful event organizers who are bent on collaborating with the very same police to screen out the “violent”–or should I say the “wreckers” or “saboteurs–from the ranks of protesters before they can so much as frown. Would secret arrest and indefinite detention be just the ticket for these “wreckers?” Hedges does not seem to address this, but the issue has arisen in this discussion.

    How can you awaken people to a sense of power by scaring even more shit out of them than was scared before? Oh, I get it–“If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.”

    I would describe the effect of this as “chilling.” I don’t think it will “bring people into the street.” If Hedges does not advocate informing, some of his followers clearly do.

    The whole Black Bloc discussion is also somewhat peripheral to the real question of where the Left goes next. If “Traven” continues to think as clearly as he does at points in this discussion, he will probably leave the “black bloc” tactics behind–possibly even make an important contribution to the movement.

    Hedges is at pains to point out that “you never know what is going to ignite an uprising.” This is very true. So why all the fuss over this alleged fatal disease that has so far had so little long-term negative effect compared with the movement’s larger internal contradictions?

    Comment by Joe Vaughan — September 15, 2012 @ 4:32 am

  13. I have to add that the idea of an “uprising” is yet another more or less independent concept that kind of bobs to the surface of the discussion without much clarification. Apparently you have an “insurrection” when you get enough people in the street. But if the violence of the American state is as irresistible as Hedges says it is, how can there ever be an insurrection?

    Comment by Joe Vaughan — September 15, 2012 @ 4:43 am

  14. Sorry–“insurrection” in the foregoing should have been “uprising.” Uprising=good. Insurrection=bad.

    Comment by Joe Vaughan — September 15, 2012 @ 4:51 am

  15. I’m an anarchist of sorts who has moved closer and closer to Marxism over the past few years, largely because of the harebrained “insurrectionist” tendency, the inability for anarchism to work toward building a genuine working class base, and a few other issues. For the most part, I agree with your analysis of black bloc tactics.

    However, it should be noted that CrimethInc is hardly representative of anarchism as a whole. Even among many anarchists who are themselves ridiculous, CrimethInc has been a target of ridicule. They’ve gotten a bit more serious in the past few years, but overall, they’re still sort of a laughingstock. I think that’s important to keep in mind. I’d also add that while autonomism has become an increasingly bizarre and counterproductive affair, the idea of working-class organizing independent of pre-existing unions and parties has perhaps a bit more of a sympathetic history than one might think. Sure, Negri has gone of the deep end (and taken a lot of others with him), but Steve Wright’s book Storming Heaven provides a lot of context for that turn, and the Italian Hot Autumn, in my opinion, provides a number of important lessons to organizers and radicals.

    The working class built most of the world’s pre-existing labor unions, but does the working class truly control them? When segments of the working class become rapidly radicalized at a faster rate than union and party leadership, what is the relationship between spontaneity and organization? Clearly, most anarchists and the Negri-ites unwisely privilege the former, but I don’t think even the most savvy thinkers have come close to producing a general rule here. Autonomism is hollow, adventuristic, and suicidal when it consists mostly of the sons of the middle or privileged strata of society, but in periods of genuine working class radicalism like the early 70s, perhaps autonomy from union and party leadership has an important role to play. Just my two cents.

    Comment by 2up2down2furious — September 15, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

  16. 2up2down2furious:

    What I have never understood in the whole flap over black bloc is why this tendency–which clearly has little effective connection to some of the more sinister autonomist manifestatons abroad–is given so much importance in discussions of the former Occupy when nearly everybody agrees that it’s ridiculous. You say “traven” and his coven are a laughingstock. What then are you afraid of?

    Every movement has its outliers. When movements are strong, people are drawn in by their core strengths, not by the inevitable fringes. What bothers me is the huge kerfuffle that is made over black bloc merely because its alleged practitioners have been the occasion for lies in the media about the movement as a whole. The press–including the New York Times, to the authority of which Chris Hedges invariably appeals when he wishes to speakex cathedra–always lie about protest movements. They will always find or invent pretexts.

    This seems to me a very worrying admission of weakness on the part of the post-Occupy left. I become still more worried when I read on this Marxist blog that all true revolutionaries are now expected to turn informer and report to the police on any comrades who seem to be showing black bloc tendencies–at least during demonstrations.

    The case that the movement is “discredited” by “black bloc” and not by its own central weaknesses is inevitably merely asserted without evidence. Historically, the left has actually fared better during periods of somewhat violent unrest than during long, somnolent periods of zombie-like passivity such as we have been experiencing over the past few decades.

    This is doubly interesting when this–by the way IMO admirable and indispensable–blog has recently given so much space to the idea that Tony Negri, on the basis of his latest profit-makin manifesto, may after all be a great revolutionary theorist and indispensable comrade.

    Comment by Joe Vaughan — September 15, 2012 @ 6:05 pm

  17. Joe V: Historically, the left has actually fared better during periods of somewhat violent unrest than during long, somnolent periods of zombie-like passivity such as we have been experiencing over the past few decades.

    Louis P: Violent unrest? You mean like Flint sit-down strikers defending themselves with pipe wrenches or a black-clad Bart Simpson breaking a Starbucks window? There is a difference, you know.

    Joe V: by the way IMO admirable and indispensable blog

    Louis P: Ugh, I must be doing something wrong.

    Joe V: given so much space to the idea that Tony Negri, on the basis of his latest profit-makin manifesto, may after all be a great revolutionary theorist and indispensable comrade.

    Louis P: I love it when dicks put words in my mouth. I said this on the Hardt-Negri declaration:

    “Even if you disagree with much of it (as I do), it is necessary reading because of their influence. Furthermore, I detect a positive evolution in their thinking—especially a willingness to reconsider the merits of state power, albeit in a highly qualified manner. Like someone saying that though broccoli tastes like shit, it might be good for you.”

    How this gets turned into “a great revolutionary theorist and indispensable comrade” is something of a mystery unless you understand that Joe V. likes to shoot (or masturbate) from the hip.

    Comment by louisproyect — September 15, 2012 @ 6:31 pm

  18. <>

    The case that was made for such tactics presumed explicitly that the comrade’s “peaceful demonstration” had been assaulted. The comrade is beating a horse already dead.

    And as for:

    <>

    What is this idiocy? By his definition the BPP–who inserted the ‘pig’ appellation into the movement’s lexicon–were anarchists.

    and

    <>

    Sinks below the level of even the Blac Bloc as they, at least have tactics–if lacking a viable strategy. The just above is neither. It is nothing but plain and, indeed really silly, simple wishful-thinking.

    JAI
    RAC-LA

    Comment by John A Imani — September 15, 2012 @ 7:06 pm

  19. Where the fuck do you get off calling me a dick you superannuated sectarian piece of shit?

    Comment by Joe Vaughan — September 15, 2012 @ 11:36 pm

  20. Did I call you a dick? Sorry. I should have said schmuck or asshole.

    Comment by louisproyect — September 15, 2012 @ 11:44 pm

  21. I repeat: Chris Hedges is fundamentally hysterical and has no coherent view of anything, as his exchange with whatsis proves. Your explosion of senile outrage merely proves that you are completely unaware of your own contradictions.

    It’s ridiculous that you fly off the handle when confronted with a pale copy of a Negri-phile (“Traven”) while you breathlessly urge everyone to be burdened with Negri’s theorizing. The specific terms you used are of no consequence.

    It’s not your place to address me or anyone else in the terms you have used here, especially when–as anyone with a brain can see–you are wrong and I’m right. This is not a matter of opinion, and you have nothing to say about it.

    In the real world, people get killed for talking the way you do. Watch your back.

    Comment by Joe Vaughan — September 16, 2012 @ 12:06 am

  22. As far as Bart Simpson goes, he is–guess what–a joke. Black bloc may also be a joke, but if they’re that, how can they also be a deadly cancer?

    Too much of a fuss is being made about these guys–and it’s being made because the movement is at a crossroads and nobody knows where it is going.

    Yes, I mean the Flint strikers–and a whole long line stretching back from them in time. End.

    Comment by Joe Vaughan — September 16, 2012 @ 12:21 am

  23. Joe V.: while you breathlessly urge everyone to be burdened with Negri’s theorizing.

    Louis P.: Using clever phrases won’t make it so. I was not “breathless”. I took note of Michael Hardt’s recognition that the new governments in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador were commendable. Should I have comported myself like you and thrown my feces at him like a chimpanzee in a zoo? Like you in other words?

    Btw, if you ever say anything like “watch your back” again, you will join the dozen or so other dicks who have been banned from posting here.

    Comment by louisproyect — September 16, 2012 @ 12:23 am

  24. NO clever phrases, eh? Simple, honest workman, eh? Why not. Someone might buy it despite the mountain of feces to the contrary.

    I have never thrown feces at anyone, and any statement to the contrary is a bunch of feces.

    You just can’t take criticism. You’re famous for it. And when you’re cornered, you change the subject–and throw feces.

    I repeat, you have no business whatever using fighting words to me or anyone else who calls bullshit on some of the things you say. You do it all the time. Ask a cop what “fighting words” are if you don’t know.

    This is an incontrovertible fact whether you like it or not. Enough of your feces.

    Comment by Joe Vaughan — September 16, 2012 @ 12:56 am

  25. I should let this alone since anyone who talks to Proyect or his more Tod Browningoid camp-followers in one of his carpet-eating fits of rage is wasting his time, but I can’t help–for one last time–quoting a point that I’ve made over and over again:

    What I have never understood in the whole flap over black bloc is why this tendency–which clearly has little effective connection to some of the more sinister autonomist manifestatons abroad–is given so much importance in discussions of the former Occupy when nearly everybody agrees that it’s ridiculous. You say “traven” and his coven are a laughingstock. What then are you afraid of?

    This is an obvious question. No shit is being flung. And Proyect apparently has no answer for it.

    On the contrary, Proyect has–perhaps with deliberate dishonesty–completely ignored my well-reasoned and well-written core points in order to take absurd (and possibly disingenuous) offense at phrases peripheral to the main discussion.

    I’m sorry that I tried to indicate respect for Proyect–I certainly regret that now–but you can’t call that shit-flinging unless you’re crazy.

    I repeat: if Occupy fails, it will be because of central structural weaknesses in the main stream of the movement and not because of some Kryptonite power inherent in the laughingstocks of the black bloc or crimethinc (however that’s spelled)–especially the latter, which strikes me as a fairly weak cup of tea. Hedges has no coherent thesis about the matter anyway–he simply throws out four or five logically incompatible ideas and then asserts his thesis a priori on the basis of having been a reporter for the New York Times.

    The black bloc kids did nothing to impede the Chicago teachers’s strike–so why even mention them? Instead, we are treated to an irrelevancy about the hell that would have happened if they had done something.

    What’s the point? The menace that Hedges and Proyect have been warning us about for months simply hasn’t materialized. They were wrong about that. So what? Nobody’s perfect.

    Can anyone look at Rahm Emanuel’s face and tell me that Bart Simpson is a bigger problem? You can’t have it both ways. This is so obvious I can’t even guess why Mr. “I Hate Lying” is trying to cover this glaring contradiction up with misdirection and staged indignation.

    I guess it all just goes to prove that you should never trust anyone who tells you how honest he is.

    Comment by Joe Vaughan — September 16, 2012 @ 4:17 am

  26. (JAI: I have no idea what happened w previous posting which had several sentences elided. See number 18 above referring to comments made to my posting #9.)

    My statement:

    “And yet, at times there is the case for such (JAI: Blac Bloc) tactics”

    Meaning rock throwing or whatever, i.e. what ever means available, when comrades are under attack by the police (the pigs).

    To which a comrade replied in #10:
    “I don’t care what those people do as long as they don’t do it in the middle of a peaceful demonstration with lots of children and old folks around.”

    I wrote back that:

    The case that was made for such tactics presumed explicitly that the comrade’s “peaceful demonstration” had been assaulted. The comrade is beating a horse already dead.

    And indeed my sentence (in #9) read:

    And yet, at times there is the case for such tactics. When the situation is that dire, that horrendous that all we can do is–as Bunchy Carter said–spit. Then a good hard rock through a window or at a fucking cop–when our close comrades are being beaten by these animals (pigs)–is a damn good “Hawk-too-ee!”

    And as for another comment (#11) that read:

    “Calling police ‘pigs’ is a perfect example of anarchist narcissism. I’m not uncritical of police abuse and their coercive role in perpetuating capital, but the answer to “How many of them are coming back over the class line…” in a crisis is ‘let’s see!’”

    I wrote:

    “What is this idiocy? By (t)his definition the BPP–who inserted the ‘pig’ appellation into the movement’s lexicon–were anarchists. ”

    and in response to the same writer’s comment that:

    “…the answer to “How many of them (th ecops (the pigs)) are coming back over the class line…” in a crisis is ‘let’s see!’

    I wrote that this speculation:

    “Sinks below the level of even the Blac Bloc as they, at least have tactics–if lacking a viable strategy. The just above is neither. It is nothing but plain and, indeed really silly, simple wishful-thinking.”

    JAI

    RAC-LA

    Comment by John A Imani — September 16, 2012 @ 5:34 am

  27. Imani: There can’t unity on the left as long as some people keep trying to divide said left by pushing the idea that Black Bloc is an enormous problem rather than an outlier that has relatively little effect.

    It’s a wedge issue–a phony crisis– that will either waste energy in wrestling with phantoms or serve to justify purges, expulsions, the settling of scores, informing to the police, and a multitude of other chilling and antidemocratic acts. We are already seeing the beginning of this here.

    These efforts will come to nothing in the long run, but they could well bring the movement down when they collapse. “Violence” tout court is not an issue. For the left to be raising this phantom in the minds of non-leftists by harping ceaselessly on this non-issue can only feed the flames of reaction.

    Comment by Joe Vaughan — September 16, 2012 @ 7:06 am

  28. i’ll just ‘weigh in’ here (i’ll see if i can get to the 350 level of the socialist cited above—unless this is bill mckibben’s 350.org).
    1) i do think this debate has been had about 10,000 times already. the views on both sides that ‘our tactics work, yours don’t’ i take with a grain of salt. the battle of seattle didn’t excatly change everything (unless maybe one can look into the future and argue this was a beginning, along with the zapatistas for example—who in some anarchist literature have been criticized for being non-anarchist and in favor of some sort of authoritarian participatory democracy, leaving out the stirner self-made men types (eg no parents, etc.)). but its true also that getting 50000 peaceful protestors doesnt seem to work that well either. (possibly, like vietnam, these foreign interventions have their own dynamics).
    2)crimethinc in my impression is popular among the 25 and under crowd, with a sprinkling of other types. they seem to derive a bit from TAZ (hakim bey) and zerzan (‘anarcho-primitivism’—-the true anarchist as a noble savage living happily ever after as before, tho today we must sit in front of a computer to abolish technology). they like the biblical (or rousseuian) version of realit, as do fundamentalist christians—you take a really simple story (fall from grace due to the devil or scientist types) and then you use all available technology to promote it. (the people who build the technology are just the ‘99%’ and on ‘our side’ so can be safely ignored, since ‘we speak for them’. solid.

    3) crimethinc comes across as ‘trust fund babies’ with almost no connection to ‘real life’ apart from slumming, parasitizing (under the assumption that by dumpster diving or squatting the system will fold and then we can all move to the unabomber’s cabin in montana and live off the land and our mom’s checks).
    when they say ‘nothing changed’ due to peaceful tactics, well i’d say the ‘underclass’ might have a hard time even getting into a CUNY sideshow—you might be stopped and frisked nd locked up.
    i read the ‘situationists’ in anarchist media—crimethinc comes from that tradition. ‘life is a cabaret’, all the worlds a stage.

    but i think basically they are creating a spectacle—which is what that CUNY thing i took to be. i guess they’d say this actually was in the tradition of the abolitionist pamphleteers. maybe it was.
    but i think times have changed. (0r as Notorious BIG put it, things done changed—on youtube.)
    to me hedges and crimethinc are a bit too close to two sides of the same coin (though given that we live in a quantum world, its imperfect —the coin has an edge—-so its non-cummutative (planck’s constant, or maybe cramer-rao bound).
    one casn remember kropotkin and bakunin both came from the russian upper class. even graeber went to philips exeter school. (proudhon didnt, and proudhon ran for office).

    Comment by ishi — September 16, 2012 @ 12:49 pm

  29. The reason ‘we’ are against black bloc tactics is because they are bad for the image of the left.

    But the bourgeois are the biggest vandals of all and it seems they have no problem getting people onto their side.

    There is more to this than Black Bloc tactics I am afraid, people just view the world through ruling class spectacles. Until that changes you won’t get your mass mobilisations.

    In the meantime, Anarchy Rules OK!

    Comment by Edgar — September 16, 2012 @ 12:52 pm

  30. “It’s a wedge issue–a phony crisis– that will either waste energy in wrestling with phantoms or serve to justify purges, expulsions, the settling of scores, informing to the police, and a multitude of other chilling and antidemocratic acts.”

    I think you are absolutely right.

    Comment by John A Imani — September 16, 2012 @ 4:04 pm

  31. So John–any ideas about what to do next? There has to be a better way.

    Comment by Joe Vaughan — September 16, 2012 @ 7:47 pm

  32. First, you say: “In his article likening the black bloc to cancer (I would have been more specific and likened them to intestinal cancer)”…
    Then, you say: “The movement needs unity at all costs today and everybody’s help is needed in moving forward. Everybody.”
    Question: if yoy want everybody’s help, does it make sanse to call parts of the ‘everybody”a cancer, intestinal or otherwise? Would you be motivated to find unity with somebody if that somebody called you a cancer?

    Comment by peterstorm — September 16, 2012 @ 8:54 pm

  33. I am for unity among everybody who promotes mass action. This means putting ideological preferences for Bakunin or Marx on the back burner. For example, I have a great deal of respect for Rebecca Solnit even though she is an anarchist ideologically. This is what she said about the black bloc:

    https://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/11/14-8

    In downtown Oakland, late on the evening of November 2 after a triumphant and mostly nonviolent day of mass actions, a building near Occupy Oakland’s encampment was seized, debris was piled up as if to make barricades that were only show barricades to set afire, not defend, trash cans were set on fire, windows broken, rocks thrown, and then there were altercations with the police. If the goal was to seize a building, one witness pointed out, then seize it secretly, not flamboyantly. The activity around the seizure seemed intended to bait the police into action. Which worked; police are not hard to bait. Activists and police were injured. What was achieved?

    Many other activists yelled at the brawlers because they felt that the violence-tinged actions did not represent them or the Occupy movement and put them in danger. It was appalling that the city of Oakland began, a week earlier, by sending in stormtrooper police before dawn rather than negotiating about the fate of the Occupy Oakland encampment. But it was ridiculous that some people tried to get the police to be violent all over again. And it was tragic that others bore the brunt of that foray, including the grievously injured veteran Kayvan Sabeghi—another veteran, a week after Scott Olson.

    Earlier this fall, the publishing group Crimethinc issued a screed in justification of violence that’s circulated widely in the Occupy movement. It’s titled “Dear Occupiers: A Letter from Anarchists,” though most anarchists I know would disagree with almost everything that follows. Midway through it declares, “Not everyone is resigned to legalistic pacifism; some people still remember how to stand up for themselves. Assuming that those at the front of clashes with the authorities are somehow in league with the authorities is not only illogical…. It is typical of privileged people who have been taught to trust the authorities and fear everyone who disobeys them.”

    If nonviolence/people power is privilege, explain this eyewitness account from Oakland last Wednesday, posted on the Occupy Oakland site by Kallista Patridge: “By the time we got to the University building, a brave man was blocking the door screaming “Peaceful Protest! This is my city, and I don’t want to destroy it!” He cracked his knuckles, ready to take on an attack, his face splattered in paint from the Whole Foods fiasco [in which downtown Oakland’s branch of the chain store was spraypainted and smashed up based on a rumor that workers were told they’d be fired if they took the day off for the General Strike]. Behind the doors were men in badges. I was now watching a black man shield cops from a protest. The black flag group began pointing out those attempting to stop them, chanting ‘The peace police must be stopped,’ and I was, personally, rather disgusted by the strategy of comparing peacefully pissed people to police….”

    This account is by a protestor who also noted in downtown Oakland that day a couple of men with military-style haircuts and brand new clothes put bandannas over their faces and began to smash stuff. She thinks that infiltrators were part of the property destruction and maybe instigated it, and Copwatch’s posted video seems to document police infiltrators at Occupy Oakland. One way to be impossible to sabotage is to be clearly committed to tactics that the state can’t coopt. If an infiltrator wants to nonviolently blockade or march or take out the garbage, well, that’s one more of us. If an infiltrator sabotages us by recruiting for mayhem, that’s a comment on what those tactics are good for.

    Comment by louisproyect — September 16, 2012 @ 9:44 pm

  34. peterstorm: It seems fairly obvious that when Proyect says “everybody” he means that some bodies are more everybody than other bodies. In short, “everybody” means everybody whose existence Mr. Proyect is willing to tolerate, which is a larger and more diverse group than one might expect, but in the end not a really big one.

    The reality about the new North Star, as far as I can see, is that just now (because of Syria) there is a hell of a lot of Clay Claiborne, whose appeal is largely lost on me, there is Pham Binh about whom I will remain cautiously optimistic until a further drenching in liquid manure (probably not from him), and there is Proyect himself, plus some voices I don’t know.

    I am fairly convinced that if TNS does become the voice of the movement (and how likely is that?) it will will sound more like these three than like you or me–or all the other good people who have had a bellyful of certain things along the line.

    This may not be a bad thing for those who make the cut. If I weren’t extremely interested in lot of the things Proyect says, I wouldn’t have put up with his horseshit for however long it’s been. Claiborne is only interested at present in the Arab Spring, so it will be impossible to get a word in edgewise in that discussion, but you can always skim and skip Claiborne. Who knows what Binh will accomplish over time–he is probably the key to the longer-term future.

    So maybe it will be all right, and we who are not Everybody can take comfort in the fact that the cause will go on without us. I’m sure they can do without our money.

    It’s my expectation, however, that other fora will eventually arise that share some of the good points of this blog and North Star without–well, some of the problems. The Left will have the opportunity to achieve unity in diversity–as offensive as that may sound to some who love to be offended.

    Comment by Joe Vaughan — September 16, 2012 @ 10:24 pm

  35. The North Star is open to contributors if you believe that the current content can be improved.

    Comment by Richard Estes — September 17, 2012 @ 11:04 pm

  36. A web site that places comments in moderation for hours and clearly seems designed to identify and exclude enemies can nevertheless be called open if it allows people to submit material for publication and suggestions about content, some of which may eventually be reviewed and acted on. David North’s World Socialist Web Site–a much more interesting publication, BTW, despite its source–is open in this way.

    The question is whatkind of openness is espoused–and how the web site is related in the light of this to any movement that may exist behind or coalesce around it.

    If The North Star is serious about a unifying mission, it will have to put a clear and declared distance between itself and the misleading and exaggerated scare campaign being waged in some quarters about the Bart Simpsons of the domestic autonomist tendency. Nobody takes these people seriously, certainly not Louis Proyect, who seems to have coined the “Bart Simpson” tag. “Brian Traven’ must be the least convincing example of Chris Hedgian hypermasculinity who ever drew breath.

    This is transparently a wedge issue. It can serve no purpose but that of manipulation. When you indict a group because they failed to disrupt the Chicago teachers’ strike but might have done so you have strained your credibility beyond the breaking point and are clearly desperate to find a scapegoat for something. Why is this necessary?

    In any case, advertising to the rest of the world that the movement is harboring a powerful internal enemy who can only be conquered by e.g. police informants within the movement, as Mr. Cameron suggests, can only add fuel to the fires of reaction or serve as an excuse for purges, expulsions, and worse. Such antidemocratic and desperate measures–and the hysteria they betray–are typical of failing movements, not growing ones.

    In my opinion, the North Star ought to repudiate this error unequivocally. Will they do so? I don’t see how they can be called open in any important sense if they do not.

    Comment by Joe Vaughan — September 18, 2012 @ 4:03 am

  37. “If The North Star is serious about a unifying mission, it will have to put a clear and declared distance between itself and the misleading and exaggerated scare campaign being waged in some quarters about the Bart Simpsons of the domestic autonomist tendency. Nobody takes these people seriously, certainly not Louis Proyect, who seems to have coined the “Bart Simpson” tag.”

    If that’s the case, why did the community activists who took over Lakeview Elementary in Oakland in mid-June post a statement of principles that expressly stated “No Black Bloc tactics” as one of them? Similarly, why were Occupy SF activists upset with a Black Bloc spree of small business window breaking in the Mission in advance of planned May Day actions, with one person going to so far as to say that they may well have been manipulated by police informants?

    While I believe that Louis is too reductionist in his analysis, echoing Hedges, who conflates, probably deliberately, the rioting of angry young people in Oakland with the Bloc, the issue of accountability within the movement is real. Generally, I’m on your side when it comes to Hedges, I believe that he is using the issue as a wedge because he fears that the movement will reject his religiously tinged liberalism. But that’s obviously not Louis’ motivation. Nor is it mine. In my case (Louis can obviously speak for himself), I object to those, Bloc or not, who purport to moblilize workers, the undocumented and the impoverished by subjecting them, against their will, to the violence of the state. Such vanguardism should be rejected on both moral and ideological grounds. Beyond the obvious fact that it just plays into the hands of the state.

    Comment by Richard Estes — September 18, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

  38. Richard Estes: Obviously some people are upset by Black Bloc. I can’t say how I’d react myself, in a real-life situation, having been around Occupy in DC a bit but never having actually been on the scene when one of these irruptions was in progress. Videos, in my opinion, don’t really put one sufficiently in the picture to get a full sense of the depicted scene–hence the ubiquity of commentators whose job it is to tell us what we are seeing (as well as what we are supposed to think).

    I have never, ever supported Black Blockery.

    But nor do I support a purge of the entire movement–still less one carried out in collusion with the constituted authorities to get rid of the alleged “wreckers,” “hooligans,” and “Bart Simpsons”–or anything manifesting a tendency in that direction.

    The question is what you do with local “upset” when people start talking about systematic snitching and hinting at quasi-police actions by leftists against other leftists at a nationally coordinated level. That is the issue here. Perhaps our protectors will bait people out of the movement by publishing their photographs; perhaps they will merely compile blacklists that just serve as guides to moderating blog comments; but perhaps they will take a more violent approach or do other harm in addition to calling the police in, which in my opinion is unacceptable on nearly all occasions.

    There has been loose talk about this–see the Cameron post to which I refer for an example–and still more hints and implied threats, and I think this talk is significant. It strikes me as entirely disproportionate to the “upset” that serves as its pretext. Please note that even Chris Hedges, in the “Traven” debate, feels obliged to disavow informing as a cure for the infamous “cancer”. As you point out, he is very clearly using this issue as a wedge in manipulating his own base politically. How much bigger than Hedges’ wedge would a wedge have to be to suit, e.g., the more radical Mr. Cameron?

    What we are talking about here doesn’t sound like protecting the workers to me.

    As things stand, I think the best way forward for ordinary concerned citizens would to organize and arm themselves for defense not only against the authorities but also against any group of organizers embracing the particular polizist tendency that has been voiced in this thread. As Hedges acknowledged when he felt compelled to insert the disclaimer about snitching, snitching is very much in the air nowadays.

    As injustice mounts and life becomes more cruel, America takes to its cell phones to call the police. Apparently this idea permeates the radical left as well as the right-wing and liberal mudstreams.

    This frightens and enrages me, and perhaps also a good many others who, unlike me, will manifest their uneasiness not only by staying away from The North Star and its friends, but also by staying silent and digging deeper into the shelter of avoiding politics altogether. Apart from the inherent injustice of the thing, a movement which advertises to its antagonists that it harbors powerful and dangerous destructive forces–and solicits their aid in cleansing itself–will not do itself much good with the frightened and the skeptical.

    Comment by Joe Vaughan — September 19, 2012 @ 12:39 am

  39. The question is what you do with local “upset” when people start talking about systematic snitching and hinting at quasi-police actions by leftists against other leftists at a nationally coordinated level.

    It is not “quasi-police actions” to monitor a demonstration. This historically was the role that trade unions played at massive demonstrations like the 1963 March on Washington and the various antiwar demonstrations. The Syria demonstration in Washington I filmed was very well monitored as was most of those that took place during the Central America solidarity movement. I cannot remember a single window being broken when I was involved with CISPES. You got this bullshit in Seattle and other “anti-globalization” protests because the people in leadership positions tended to be petty-bourgeois NGO and church types who believed in “diversity of tactics” in the same fashion as they believe in “diversity” in the church or the university. It is really a liberal stance. No wonder Joe V. is so partial to it.

    Comment by louisproyect — September 19, 2012 @ 12:48 am

  40. Calling me a “liberal” in love with “diversity of tactics” is too weird to deserve a response.

    But “monitoring demonstrations” is certainly not what Cameron was talking about. I think Louis P. is changing the subject here, which does not surprise me. Just shooting from the hip, I suppose. If he keeps it up, he’s bound to hit something sooner or later.

    Comment by Joe Vaughan — September 19, 2012 @ 2:06 am

  41. BTW. I regret not closing the tag at the end of my previous post, which created an unintended pseudo-dramatic effect.

    Comment by Joe Vaughan — September 19, 2012 @ 2:11 am

  42. Actually, as far as union organizers go, there’s no doubt that the membership traditionally put themselves far too trustingly into their hands. If they had been able on the whole to push back successfully against the union bosses, the workers would have had a good deal better value out of the union movement than they’re getting now. Might have kept the Mafia out of the Teamsters, come to think of it.

    Food for thought ..

    Comment by Joe Vaughan — September 19, 2012 @ 2:18 am

  43. Seattle, 1999 was more than just the Black Bloc. What made the difference at Seattle, was the large, disciplined, civil disobedience that actually shut down the World Trade Organization conference. The violence occured when the police attacked that action. Had the bulk of the union organized march the CD action, there would have been no violence, because of the change in relationship of forces, the police would have backed off.

    Comment by Morris Kennedy — September 19, 2012 @ 4:02 pm

  44. And here I thought B. Traven had been dead since 1969. Should’ve known he’d turn up again.

    Comment by Brendan Campisi — September 20, 2012 @ 2:09 pm

  45. Actually, the guy’s name is Brian Traven apparently. B. Traven was a pen name for Ret Marut. The “B” was just an initial. But of course the guy who debated Hedges might be using a pen name as well.

    Comment by louisproyect — September 20, 2012 @ 2:20 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: