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”

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tHE BOTTOM line is that capitalism isn't overthrown yet so those of us who are Marxists are stuck living in this godforsaken system. Besides, Marx wrote about using the industrialization processes created under capitalism for the betterment of the masses. It's a common tenet of Marxism that you only get to socialism,a nd ultimately to communism, by moving through capitalism. Capitalism creates the conditions to overthrow itself.

You take care now. Try reading vol. 1 of Capital. You'll learn a ton. :)


understanding marx will straighten out your head, more than anything that you have read.
freud's a fraud and skinner's of no use. read marx and lenin, it will really turn you loose!


"Acts of vandalism and violence are nothing more than hooliganism. The strongest soldier is the one who will face down, unarmed, his oppressors, with bared chest. Occupy has got to be more aggressive in the civil disobedience area, though. And the Black Bloc? When the revolution comes, you won't find them in the front ranks. Heck, they might get hurt."
by rforbes853 on May 07 2012, @01:57 pm

You are correct rforbes853
Veterans Peace Team Members Arrested on May Day
In Solidarity with Occupy Wall St. at Vietnam Veterans Memorial


Grow up. Perhaps if you had witnessed the senseless brutality, futility, and stupidity
of war, you would not be so quick to condone violence. We all have a right to defend
ourselves, but mindless preemptive violence equals de-evolution.


A society or group as big as the 99% is going to have dark side like it or not. Many have been taught by this debt based society run by the 001%, that no matter how meticulously you play by the rules, you'll probably still live in poverty, get paid squat, have to beg for health care, and pray you can work into old age.


The "dark side" of Occupy is that they don't know their revolutionary history. There has never been in history a liberation struggle that was successful that resulted from pacifism. Never. Pacifism is one tactic to draw attention to your cause, but unless you back it up with the threat of force, you're spinning your wheels. It wasn't Gandhi and MLK that liberated their respective followers; it was the threat of violence backing them up: the Panthers in King's case, the peasants who picked up weapons in Gandhi's case. The armed peasants made more progress in a few weeks in India than Gandhi did in years.


I don't think black bloc tactics are the answer. That being said, occupy needs to break the law more nonviolently, I think they need to sit in the streets and just get a large number of people to occupy the streets, if there are enough people the police will have a harder time controlling the crowd and there will also be media coverage which will give occupy attention. Don't break things, just hold many protests, march, and keep occupying public space. Every nonviolent unjust arrest energizes the movement.



There's nothing revolutionary about getting arrested. Break the law and then escape.

"The first duty of a revolutionary is to get away with it" - Abbie Hoffman


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