Battle for the Soul of Occupy

Round 7 - The Black Bloc Anarchist Turn.


Occupy’s May Day General Strike was a surprising and bold success for the visceral side of the movement. While most of Occupy put its energy into building coalitions with “legacy progressive groups”, labor unions and immigrant rights organizations, these efforts did not yield the anticipated results. In New York, for example, despite amassing a coalition of over a hundred organizations and rallying a crowd of more than 30,000, occupiers were thwarted in their attempts to shut down banks or re-occupy Wall Street. And some Zuccottis have complained that union representatives actively blocked an attempt to lead the crowd toward direct action at the end of the night. Meanwhile in Seattle, Oakland, San Francisco, New Orleans and elsewhere, anarchists using Black Bloc tactics stole the show.

On websites and forums, anarchists are rejoicing the spectacular showing of Black Bloc. “American anarchists haven’t experienced this much positive public attention since the euphoria and aftermath of N30 in Seattle,” writes one commentator. For many, the Black Bloc represents a tactical innovation that suggests the future of Occupy. “Occupy is dead, long live the Black Bloc,” writes another. An anarchist in New Orleans described how the status quo was unprepared for their tactics: “the Anti-Capitalism march caught the police off-guard and has the media dumb-founded. A full 24-hours later the Times Picayune has said nothing about the Anti-Capitalist March, only making mention of the permitted march that happened earlier in the day.”

In Oakland, the Black Bloc, which made up a large portion of the May Day General Strike, displayed a coordinated tactical philosophy – including the de-arresting of comrades, throwing eggs filled with paint, using homemade smoke-creating incendiaries to confuse police, and the rejection of media – that suggests prior planning, ongoing innovation and increasing sophistication. And Black Bloc tactics are just one aspect of the overall rejuvenation of anarchism that is happening right now including the increase of infoshops (there are two near Occupy Oakland: The Holdout and The Longhaul); the creation of bottom-up solidarity networks to replace top-down unions; providing free food on the model of Food Not Bombs; offering a compelling DIY aesthetic.

Anarchist occupiers are energized and their visceral tactics are attracting members. Now, the power of the Black Bloc is growing within Occupy and pushing the movement in unexpected directions.

Round 7 goes to the Black Bloc – now let’s see what we can do for the rest of May!

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316 comments on the article “Battle for the Soul of Occupy”

Displaying 111 - 120 of 316

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Destructive tactics like those used by the Black Bloc make me not want to be associated with the Occupy movement. I think you will lose more support than you will gain. You will lose the moral high ground, which we did have. So so sad that this movement seems to be losing its way.


I disagree. Right now any attention is what is needed because we aren't in a revolutionary period.

Nobody cares what you think anyway. You can be turned off, sickened by it, whatever. Suffice to say BB isn't trying to reach you, so no problem. You take care now.


If any attention is what you are looking for, why not jerk off in front of windows instead of smashing them? It would be just as offensive (if not more). It would also be easier to clean up.


Yeah, you know, you can do plan something like how to blow up a bridge in Ohio or something like that.*yawn*


Can you be a Black Bloc participant if you are a 53-year-old woman? I'm interested in getting involved in these strategies. I was turned off and disgusted by Hedges' article on the BB. He really showed his liberal capitalist colors with his BB hit piece.

Keep up the great work!


you forgot to mention all the pollution from the blak blocers who Occupy Big Tobacco. anti-capitalist? I don't think so. Phillip Morris loves the nicotine addicts.


Chris Hedges can pound sand. Those of you who "respect" Hedges realize that he supported Clinton's bombing of Yugoslavia, right?

Hedges is a liberal capitalist. That hit piece of his on BB was an embarrassment. He never even researched the BB he just wrote a gut reaction about it.

Our goal as Marxists is to educate the working class and raise their class consciousness. We are not ainywhere near having reached that goal in the U.S. Suffice to say we are not in a revolutionary period. Right now ANYTHING that gets the attention of the proles will work - including BB tactics. I suspect there is less "disgust" towards the BB with certain sections of the masses than with others, but it can't hurt that the anarchists are not a bunch of pantywaists being beaten, punched, and kicked by riot cops without fighting back.

I'm a 49-year-old woman and I'm seriously considering getting involved in my local (Oakland) BB. :o) If the young folks will have me.


Don't forget to bring your Metamucil. But hey actually I think you would be useful since when they are running like speedy Gonzales you'll be left behind for the snatch&grab.


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