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 91 - 100 of 316

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How do we get what Iceland got because that's what it is going to take to get our country back. Paying for stupid selfish incompetent bankers yuppies' crimes is not on my life plan.


I was hugely proud of our Black Bloc brothers & sisters here in Los Angeles. They handle themselves very well and provided a vital protective force for our protesters. It was a good day here in LA.


Wonderful piece.

Tired of all the whining over broken windows. Property damage trickles up.

Long live black bloc and the eternal strike.


You must be mistaken. This is the continuation of a series of articles about Occupy co-opters we should be fighting against. Black Block anarchists are such people trying to co-opt the movement, and the article is calling for us to expel them.


Black bloc anarchists do the majority of the organizing in Occupy, especially in Oakland and the like. At it's soul Occupy is organized by mainly anti-capitalists. Black bloc is a tactic used by the most militant sects.


Violence is only justified in self defense. Black Bloc tactics are merely self indulgent. I love the info-shops and Food Not Bombs is awesome, but acting like petulant 12 year old is not a way to built a more fair and equitable society.

I understand how people are fed up and angry, but we need to be engaging in tactics that lead to the kinds of changes that actually matter. If Black Bloc tactics continue, a fair critic of capitalism will never gain ground beyond a fringe.


What's you address? Maybe we should break you windows, loot your home, and terrorize your family. Since it'll trickle up, and all.


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