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 51 - 60 of 316

Page 6 of 32

NYC Occupier (J...

This is an interesting perspective. Maybe the 2 coasts aren't as in good communication as we should be. I spent alot of my time organizing n promoting in Brooklyn, and there was an overwhelming sense that NYC was tryna keep this one peaceful. My team wasnt even aware mass black bloc was even being planned or called for. In NYC, sustainability is a very different reality for a fulltime Occupier, this is the richest(most expensive) city in the world. Hence offices & stipends. Bottom line, nationally, we need to be in better communication, more coordinated in the focus of our 'national actions.'


That is the attitude that rubs people the wrong way... you think NYC is the most expensive, so you should take stipends and be comfortable in an office? The Bay Area is hella expensive too.. people are poor all over the country. No one in occupy can "afford" to be in occupy.

We need to see more intensity coming out of NYC, or the reality is that Oakland/SF/Seattle are going to lead Occupy in a totally new direction.

NYC Occupier (J...

Wouldnt call it an attitude, I dont take a stipend. Just saying, if its available, if people are donating their own money to support Occupiers as they, Occupy, why shouldnt they make use of it. Think of this as well. I know West coast police are sum of the best trained in the country. But we live in Terror Target #1. Our police are one step short of the coast guard, theyre a 35k strong centralized army. Outfoxin them is a lil trickier n more risky (imho) but we're doing it. There's alot going on out here that u wont hear about, n vice versa.


STOP INFIGHTING. Don't be just another leftist movement that devours itself in bickering.


Agree. At this point Oakland and Seattle are the vanguard not NYC and certainly not Chicago FFS.


When OWS tried to make the announcement of the location for people to go to who wished to go join OWS in direct action, a union representative grabbed the mike from their hand.


You have got to be kidding. Where were the flyers? The outreach? Text loops? Twitter? Even if this happened, which is possible, you can't seriously be suggesting that the announcement, or lack of announcement from that stage had any effect on the after party. Take responsibility and don't blame others.


Lets not forget the Oscar Grant riots, the Black Panthers people in oakland standing up to police for years and years. It's not just anarchist who are pist enough to actually fight. There are alot of middle class folks (especially white folks, ANSWER, PSL and RCP) who complain against fighting back because they claim that that will give the state a reason to repress us. If we are doing something right they will repress us. And most of the pacifist or "now is not the time" bullshit talk is thinly veiled cowardice. The anarchist are fighting side by side with regular folks who are serious about fighting the system no arm chair intellectualism or passive whiney complaints can stop those who have crossed the line from spectator/complainer to fighter


Black Panthers accomplished a lot in the short term, and almost nothing in the long term. Damaging property should only happen after the movement becomes broad enough to sustain itself on popular anger and the press is forced to cover it. But until then, you are giving everyone a reason to ignore occupy. And no I am not middle class or an arm chair activist. Violence is only a tactic when it achieves a broader strategy. What has smashing things achieved??


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