Chris Hedges On Nonviolence

Why truth, not fear, is Occupy’s greatest weapon.


Part of an ongoing debate within the Occupy community, author Chris Hedges says that our lessons should be drawn from the visionary philosophy of Czech revolutionary Vaclav Havel, not the “diversity of tactics” of the Black Bloc. “Living in Truth,” Havel’s ideal of refusal to fear, begins when we create alternative means of existence and deny the impulse to expected responses. States are well equipped to deal with the loss of order and violence but are inept at dealing with loss of faith and mass non-violence, Hedges argues. That is why government agitators and provocateurs are actively involved in the movement – to divide it and conquer its 99% appeal.

There is a recipe for breaking popular movements. I watched it play out over five years in the war in El Salvador. I now see these familiar patterns in the assault against the Occupy movement. It goes like this. Physically eradicate the insurgents’ logistical base of operations to disrupt communication and organization. Dry up financial and material support. Create rival organizations—the group Stand for Oakland seems to be one of these attempts—to discredit and purge the rebel leadership. Infiltrate the movement to foster internal divisions and rivalries, a tactic carried out consciously, or perhaps unconsciously, by an anonymous West Coast group known as OLAASM—Occupy Los Angeles Anti Social Media. Provoke the movement—or front groups acting in the name of the movement—to carry out actions such as vandalism and physical confrontations with the police that alienate the wider populace from the insurgency. Invent atrocities and repugnant acts supposedly carried out by the movement and plant these stories in the media. Finally, offer up a political alternative. In the war in El Salvador it was Jose Napoleon Duarte. For the Occupy movement it is someone like Van Jones. And use this “reformist” to co-opt the language of the movement and promise to promote the movement’s core aims through the electoral process.

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