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 251 - 260 of 316

Page 26 of 32


The Civil Rights Movement was a failure.

What do you think Occupy and other forms of opposition are for, anyway, shill?

Oh, and fuck Obama, the Homeland, and every fucking pig on the planet. And you.


i've seen "ordinary people" leap to join black blocs in smashing up banks without a second thought. hell, random londoners seem to do faceless rioting even better than us. don't homogonize and condescend. "the masses" know perfectly well who their enemies are plenty of the time. unions and activists alienate youth with their beurocracy and jargon. black bloc alienates liberals who fear social conflict.. and really. liberals are the enemy of revolution. get used to it.

also, we are communists, and terrorists, and faggots, and crazy bitches, etc etc. get proud, get loud, get viscious. or fuck off back to the suburbs.


Idiot! The London riots in the 70's led to favor in the support of Thatcher. Recently the riots led to nothing but an increased police state and almost everyone in the UK characterizing Black youth as nothing but a bunch of animals no use to the country. The riots did NOTHING to harm the ruling elite...NADA...rien du tout. All they managed to do was destroy local business, major department stores for example had their damage payed for by insurance, the local guy just had to shut down. Smashing a bank doesn't harm the banks, most of their business is in INVESTMENT not the stupid few hundred or thousands someone deposits or takes out of an ATM. The 'elites' continue to live in neighborhoods YOU HAVE NO ACCESS TO, while rioters stew in their own pot destroying their own neighborhoods. Like I said, your comment shows you to be an idiot!


While riots might be counter-productive, do they not indicate that something is little wrong (here) in the UK?


occupy will never succeed because is full of middle class accommodated people like you, people that will never reach others like the ones who participated in the London Riots, who are the ones who rises and were let down by all of you


The Civil rights movement was only a marginal success, hence the continuous need to take to the streets and make ourselves any means necessary. Do you really think that the civil rights movement had a fundamental and lasting effect? I can't list all the statistics that prove otherwise. How many people of color are killed by the police every week?....every day? Why is the unemployment rate among African Americans hovering around 50% while the unemployment rate among White males is in the teens?

And I'm seriously sick of liberals always talking about actions having to garner or "earn" as you put it, the support of "intellectuals and unions and ordinary citizens". As if anyone who is not on the ground should have the privilege to opine on actions while not participating. The reason why the encampments were allowed to be taken down was because of the various spectators that would not get seriously involved so as not to jeopardize their precarious position within the system that unabashedly exploits them.

Stop trying to tell people that they should only do things that you and other liberal wastes of space would approve of. When the encampments were taken down over the winter, it showed me something,
It showed me that there was a small core of people who were willing to take this all the way. And there are even some people that were willing to quit their jobs, and leave the system that they want to dismantle. It also showed me that most of the people who showed up to occupy were only there to check out a scene, and that many were their to pad their resumes, dissertations and bank accounts by being in the occupy scene. And when things got real they were home watching it on the livestream....judging those that were there fighting for what they believe any means necessary.

Call yourself what you are, lazy, scared and complacent. You do not truly believe another world is possible, you just want to leave the responsibility to someone else.....but they better do it in a way that you approve of.

Shame on you


Wow. Talk about denial.......

I've been involved since 9/21. I helped start our local GA, and I've served on numerous committees, have planned and participated in numerous actions, have spent many hundreds of hours devoted to the movement.

I was originally drawn to the movement because it was unabashedly non-violent, and because there (finally!) was global support to reign in the excesses of the 1%.

But after a month or so it became pretty clear that a LOT of folks were trying to piggy-back their pet causes onto the Occupy movement--a temptation for sure. When we debated at our GA adopting the St. Paul Principles there was heated discussion because the vast majority of our members wanted to edit the SPP to say: "We support a diversity of non-violent tactics." We were assured that this is/was a non-violent movement, and that editing was unnecessary and potentially divisive. So we passed it. Shortly thereafter, the radicals and Black bloc folks began showing up and demanding evermore radical and violent actions because they wanted to "bring the system down now!" When we pointed out that it wasn't particulalry wise to tear down a system when there was no viable alternative, they scoffed, and took to the streets during our peaceful, non-violent actions, and they used us as human shields to give them cover while they did the smashy-smashy thing. The more calm, less militant, less angry folks began to leave, not wanting to be a part of violence. Over the next few months, the more moderate and more reasoned people left, leaving an ever-shrinking and ever more radical minority. The GA's disentigrated, the committees folded, the donations stopped coming in, and before too long we were a joke to our local community--and that's basically where we (and, I would add) many other occupies around the country are to day.

Mayday was a pathetic joke, and this new effort by Adbusters to have the Black Bloc take over is basically the final nail in the Occupy coffin.

R.I.P Occupy-- 9/17/11-5/7/12


"I've been involved since 9/21. I helped start our local GA, and I've served on numerous committees, have planned and participated in numerous actions, have spent many hundreds of hours devoted to the movement."

Cool resume......not impressed


you mention denial and then you go on to make some interesting statements:

You say Finally! there was global support to reign in the excesses of the 1%.
Are you aware that the word around the global campfire was:
"finally! SOME people in the belly of the beast are waking up!"

Here's something about that denial you speak of....are you aware that the majority of the people in the world do not own their own computers? and that 1 in 5 people in the world do not have consistent access to clean water? Based on these facts:

I would say that the global support to reign in the excesses of the 1% has been around for quite some time.

At the risk of causing you some consternation I might remind you that OWS is only the most recent addition to a global movement that has been going on for quite awhile.

I would also like to point out a couple of errors in your following statement:

"Shortly thereafter, the radicals and Black bloc folks began showing up and demanding evermore radical and violent actions"

You should know that the core of people who laid the initial groundwork for OWS were actually radicals and very likely BB veterans. It was the liberals who couldn't resist the opportunity to style themselves as leaders that stifled GA's with bullying and time-wasting, nonsensical arguments.

Another problem with the above statement is a one of semantics.....Black Bloc do not demand "radical and violent actions" BB do not demand or request. BB acts.
I think your problem here is one of language, you simply do not understand the language of action. You speak the language of demands and proposals.

Your presumption will get you nowhere. Learn to listen to those who know more than you do so that one day you will know more than you do now. There's nothing wrong with a bit of intellectual rigor and critical analysis......except that it may rob you of some illusions.

I'm sorry the facts do not support your view that the United States sits at the center of the known universe. I'm sorry you have to deal with the reality that your trusty paradigm is failing you....but it is.

I hope that one day I can have a face to face conversation with you over free bagels and we can find a way to mesh our ideas in order to create new ones. I hope conversations like that can happen more and more one day. I hope more people realize the fertility in diversity one day. I will be fighting in the streets to ensure that day comes.

I'll be wearing a mask.


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