Black Bloc

Violence or nonviolence: where do you draw the line?


On Feb 6, America author and Occupy activist Chris Hedges wrote a piece for titled “The Cancer in Occupy.” In it he criticized the violent actions of Black Bloc operatives within the movement, saying they are the greatest threat to the future of Occupy. The article has generated a heated debate online about non-violence, political strategy and protest in America, and has garnered a response by Anarchist thinker Dr. Zakk Flash.

Read both articles and weigh-in.

The Cancer in Occupy by Chris Hedges

The Black Bloc anarchists, who have been active on the streets in Oakland and other cities, are the cancer of the Occupy movement. The presence of Black Bloc anarchists—so named because they dress in black, obscure their faces, move as a unified mass, seek physical confrontations with police and destroy property—is a gift from heaven to the security and surveillance state. The Occupy encampments in various cities were shut down precisely because they were nonviolent. They were shut down because the state realized the potential of their broad appeal even to those within the systems of power. They were shut down because they articulated a truth about our economic and political system that cut across political and cultural lines. And they were shut down because they were places mothers and fathers with strollers felt safe.


Hedging Our Bets on the Black Bloc by Dr. Zakk Flash

Chris Hedges has written some of the most insightful analysis of the U.S. war machine in recent years. His 2009 book “The Empire of Illusion” was an exploration of how exhibition has eclipsed truth and meaningful connection in American society. His acknowledgment of the ease in which one can buy into such spectacles is a small part of why it was so odd to read his article on Truthdig attacking both anarchists and black bloc tactics entitled “The Cancer in Occupy.”


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102 comments on the article “Black Bloc”

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It can be confusing, so I'll try to shed a little light on it for you.

Black Bloc uniforms aren't like other uniforms. While work or military uniforms contain different symbols to represent rank within a hierarchical structure, Black Bloc uniforms display the opposite--that they are all equals, that their actions have been tactically planned through consensus, and that they are in solidarity out of equality instead of acting under ranking orders. Anarchists are against hierarchical structures like the state, not against organization. In this way, the Black Bloc uniform represents that equality and solidarity and be strong--even militant--and that strong militant tactics are possible to organize without hierarchical structures.

That said, it is plain to see how Black Block Anarchists are militantly opposed to hierarchical forms of structure and force... so any accusations that the police are involved in the Black Bloc are simply hilarious. The only reason that the cops and the Black Bloc would be wearing similar shoes is because reinforced boots do well in riots. They're both fighting in the same territory, so similar footwear only makes sense. Look at the boots in the Black Bloc closely next time--I guarantee you won't see any 'adidas' labels, or any other brand logo for that matter.

It is fine to disagree with Black Bloc tactics, we need as much diversity in tact as possible in this fight. Just don't believe the hogwash that the anarchists are the enemies. Where would Martin Luther King Jr. have been if brother Malcom, 'the extremist' hadn't been there? Probably on the loosing side of the battle. Look at Spain, the Fascists won when the Anarchists and Trotskyites were estranged by the rest of the Left. We need variance, diversity--and most of all, SOLIDARITY. We need to stick together.


Can I just say that I know Zakk "Flash" personally, and he is not a Doctor of anything. He has no PhD, he has no formal degree from any University actually. In addition, many of the "less radical" Occupiers in his town (which is mine as well,) suspect him of being a government provocateur, and have distanced themselves from him because he is explicitly trying to convince other local radicals to participate in acts of vandalism and violence while distancing himself from action.

I just want to keep things legit, and this guy is not that at all.


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