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”

Displaying 61 - 70 of 102

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Making the distinction between the prevailing public mentality about street action in Greece and that in the US is NOT NIMBYism. Saying that it is is rhetorical overkill. Making this distinction is really just recognizing the facts on the ground. The people in Greece are overwhelmingly more alienated from the status quo than Americans are (and more politically radical as a whole). Tactics have to be measured by their cascade of results (effectiveness and unintended consequences) in popular perception as they become transmitted into news and/or propaganda.
It is very romantic to think you don't have to care what the majority of American people on the sidelines of our movement actually believe, but it is delusional in practical terms. Actions that multiply negative public perceptions of Occupy or of Anarchism in general are counterproductive. Pretending otherwise is a magical blend of hubris and willful stupidity. I hate to be harsh about it, but I am tired of the self-alienating obtuseness pervading this discussion. Grow UP!! Do something that will actually help to dismantle the capitalist empire instead of making yourselves its propaganda tools. I am not defending Hedges argument of the facts per se, but his basic premise in this situation is sound. Until we can make clear to the people why tactics like these could be justifiable, they are just an emotional high, at a great cost to our potential ability to revolutionize. This is not about whether you have a principled adherence to nonviolence, it is about whether what you do is working. (BTW The last time I checked no police were super rich. Our job toward them is not to calcify their false consciousness by being their mirror, rather it is to subvert their programmed paradigm.)


Unfortunately, your ignorance about what anarchism really means is part of the problem. Hedges was 100% on the money. Those who use Black bloc as an excuse to smash shit might very well be the ones to get you attacked.


Black Bloc topic on 4chan?

wow i guess we are going to talk about these guys in future.

erik reichenbach

I completely agree with Mr. Hedges.

Any form of violence; against people, places, and property, as perpetrated by Occupiers or Black Bloc will hurt the movement.

The revolution at this point is not against the military state, but in gaining a positive public opinion.

Violence (including graffiti, broken bank windows, flag burning) gives every news network and every police force the opportunity to label us terrorists.

Saying,'F*CK THE POLICE" only hurts the movement. The police are NOT the enemy, and are in fact part of the 99 doing their perceived job.


The behaviour of the ignorant is rooted in violence, when every primitive inclination is given reign over our faculties of reason, then all higher virtue dissipates into the air; along with tear gas and gun fire.


I've heard the green march in 2013 will be the largest march of its kind on cities all across the world, a family oriented march for awareness of the plight of our world and its ongoing depletion engineered by short sighted economic speculation. Its about the future of our species this movement here, goes deeper and longer than you know, it includes everyone and all of us. Marching to a black and red flag seems counter productive, it seems like a throwback to before now. Its fun to have symbols and dress in black, smash things and throw stuff. But this isn't going to help anything in any way, its going to make regular people frightened and its going to splinter solidarity. Our flag doesn't have hammers and sickles, or stars and stripes, or swastikas. Its isn't red and black, it isn't yellow and red, its isn't red or blue, it isn't white.


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