The Activism Entry Point: Critiquing The Cancer in Occupy Debate

Longtime Berkeley activist Joseph Anderson weighs in on the ongoing debate around Occupy Oakland on the issue of diversity of tactics and the use of BlackBloc style tactics. He weighs in on the recent debate between Chris Hedges and Occupy oakland organizer Kristof Lopaur

Well, by now everyone in the Occupy movement is hotly debating “nonviolence” vs. “diversity of tactics”, as recently so in, “Chris Hedges and Kristof Lopaur of Occupy Oakland debate black bloc, militancy and tactics,” February 8, 2012, on KPFA in Berkeley, California. 

Chris Hedges

Both Lopaur and Hedges made some critically weak, flawed, at times somewhat disingenuous or self-contradictory and, in Lopaur’s case, often specious arguments in their radio debate. This so, even though I politically agree with Hedges, and although Hedges’ recent commentary, “The Cancer in Occupy,” seemed poorly supported journalistically. But, Hedges is dead on about, ‘Go do violence under your own name, not the Occupy movement’s.’

Hedges would have been better off just writing his opinion, presented analytically, but he deserves great credit for using his stature to get an “Anarchist”-suppressed, but mortally important, debate firmly out in the open and over progressive airwaves. Let me say that both of them have respectively done very good progressive work.

This is my partial, but most important, analytical response to Kristof Lopaur’s (and those he represents) support for Black Bloc, or otherwise, “diversity of tactics” in the Occupy Movement. My main point: Occupy Oakland, and the Occupy movement, cannot have both a diversity of people and a “diversity of tactics” at this time – and the movement can’t shortcut the process of attaining, and retaining, the first by jumping to the second. 

Kristof Lopaur

As most Occupy activists know by now, “diversity of tactics” is primarily, so-called, “Anarchist”/Black Bloc code phrase euphemism for advocating autonomous vandalism and gratuitous property destruction (against even small businesses and movement-sympathetic owners or managers) and recently a program of regular, police confrontation marches (lately toned down). 

However, all these kinds of actions – either disconnected from, transiently tangential to, or occurring long after the main events – actually involve a very tiny percentage of marchers or limited instances; nevertheless, when especially played up by the media, the public are quite unsympathetic and even hostile to them. Among the  latest instances were the vandalism at, followed by the American flag-burning on the very steps of, City Hall. 

At the last large march, on January 28, corrugated metal or long wooden ‘battle shields’ were futilely deployed at the front line ostensibly to protect other marchers – dramatic but ineffective actions – but the TV news visuals made it appear from a distance as if their true purpose was aggressive. (On TV or in news photos, from a distance, you couldn’t necessarily see the peace signs on the shields, a mixed visual anyway.) 

When the public sees these visuals, they can easily be manipulated by the police, mayor and media into believing virtually any lies or distortions about Occupy Oakland events. This enables the media – portraying out-of-chronology or even geographically unrelated, exaggerated, TV news video repetitions of vandalism (including graffiti defacings) – to easily convince the public that there was “widespread violence,” thus providing a pretext to justify the indiscrminate police beatings and torturously drawn-out mass arrests (using bitingly cinched plastic wire handcuffs) that took place long before any vandalism occurred. On the January 28 march, *409* marchers were arrested – virtually all of them guilty of only being “kettled” by the cops!

But, there has always been opposition within Occupy Oakland to violence (as commonly understood). That opposition within understands, in addition to any possible violence (or “diversity of tactics”) from within an Occupy, the ability of the police, and ultimately the 1%, to exploit such violence by even inspiring or instigating it (especially, childish, indiscriminate or politically unintelligible acts). Thus, this also leaves an Occupy vulnerable and open to police agent provocateur actions that create alienation within the movement or a huge public opinion backlash against it – which is, after all, exactly what provocateur work is meant to accomplish!: discredit the movement, scare people from joining it, and thus divide the working public. 

Highly sectarian leftist militant ideologues constantly show that they don’t even know how to relate to, or verbally and, just as importantly, visually communicate with ordinary people (by comparison, right-wing organizers understand this far better). Very few people are ready to jump directly from political inactivity (except merely voting) straight to hardcore militant, ‘armed,’ so-called, ‘revolutionary’ action, as Lopaur apparently advocates – let alone to start The Worldwide Armed Revolution To Overthrow Global Capitalism and Western Imperialism – today! 

But, political movements not only open to, but enthusiastically calling on, the general public to join need to first build up mass numbers – a diversity of people – before they can (as economic and political times get much more dire, urgent and, otherwise, essentially futureless, as in Greece) then support various forms of growing militancy for fundamental, perhaps even radical, change. 

This could be militancy, like greater direct mass action, like general strikes, or tens of thousands of people shutting down a major port or other critical centers, nodes or points of capitalist commerce or production. This so, even then not necessarily engaging in violence, but rather engaging people power – mass action’s greatest resource – to pursue actions which are not only militant but hugely popular! The marchers acclaimed and the public didn’t scorn the huge banner, “DEATH TO CAPITALISM!!,” boldly strung across the intersection of Oakland City Center during the massive Oakland “General Strike” rally there. 

Actually, I never considered social, global and economic justice and human rights to be a morally “militant” or “radical” cause; to me, mass oppression, systematic injustice, violating people’s human rights, the patriarchal control of women, legalized state murder, or neo-/colonial theft of another people’s land, is what’s militant and radical.

But, those mass numbers for mass actions will only continue to build up – and be retained – if there is an entry point mass movement, even if nonviolently militant, that many political activism newcomers feel relatively safe in joining and participating with in mass direct actions – and where these newcomers feel they can reasonably trust the judgements of the organizers. 

I couldn’t risk the further judgement of those, especially organizers, in Occupy Oakland who have an absolute ideological stranglehold against ANY  “nonviolence” resolution. That stranglehold failed to realize that such a resolution was critical to Occupy Oakland’s actions, public perception and success: to define itself  based on nonviolence regardless of the actions of others. 

A generous but failed resolution, called a “Proposal on ‘Action Agreements’,” that I and others presented, was critical, so that the mayor, the chief-of-police, the chamber of commerce, and the mainstream media couldn’t repeatedly blame and try to smear Occupy Oakland for increasing crime and for every act of violence that occured literally anywhere in Oakland, as though crime had never been happening in this big city before. Their #1 weapon is to directly associate Occupy Oakland with violence.

In fact, downtown Oakland felt a lot safer at the time, instead of steadily and ominously semi-deserted at night, while the police chief and the mayor hid  the following information: except for, then and afterwards, a huge spike in violence in downtown Oakland by the police, crime in Oakland actually dropped by 20% during the Occupy Oakland encampment.

The now national Occupy movement, acting as it began at this stage of great public disaffection with the economic and political state of affairs, even against the ‘Good Cop, Bad Cop’, duopolistic, corporatist and militaristic political parties, starts as just such an entry point – especially with highly visible, physical, citizen centers, the Occupy encampments themselves. There was a place people could go to politically talk to people 24 hours a day, create a community oriented to human needs, and even creatively organize direct mass actions. 

OWS began a mass, public, political, citizens’ civic engagement and organizing hub for many ordinary, but finally ‘had-it,’ people who realize that the current economic and political system is not serving “us” – not serving human needs (the 99%, especially of the world), but rather corporate greed (the 1%). A diversity of people were interacting and even living with a diversity of people !

Given this groundswell ferment, Occupy movement activists should be most concerned with building up that level of engagement and participation – gaining a diversity of people – rather than ideologically pushing autonomous “diversity of tactics,” an “Anarchist”/ Black Bloc agenda to jump-start and lead “The Revolution!” And “autonomous” means too few people, or individuals, too unaccountable, deciding too important decisions, with too critical consequences for us all: sounds like the system of government we have now! The consequences on the rest of us are not “autonomous.”

The ideological agenda, imposed on the movement, would contain the seeds of the movement’s own destruction. Or, at least the destruction of Occupy Oakland as a movement: it could otherwise survive paramilitarized police excesses and brazen brutality –  exposing that the city can come up with millions of dollars for that and, perhaps, a million more in the always almost inevitable legal costs negotiating lawsuits for committing egregious bodily injuries (or worse) and un-Constitutional mass arrests. 

In order to achieve a diversity of people, there has to be at least one general mass movement that is an entry point  for people to get involved in the original goals of OWS, including demanding an alternative to the political and even economic system. But, Kristof Lapaur and the “Anarchists”/Black Bloc want this entry point movement to be one that is not committed to nonviolence (as commonly understood, not ideologically hairsplit), but indeed advocates violence (or whatever Kristof and the parochial ideologues ideologically want to call it) from the start! 

The “Anarchists”/Black Bloc (and Kristof) really seem to want to turn the Occupy movement into some kind of ‘armed’ guerrilla (or, at least, Black Bloc) movement: “We have to learn how to move cohesively through the streets, to take offensive [it originally said “attack”] and defensive initiatives…” (Pgh. 7, Statement of the OO Move-In Cmte, reading like all sanguine PR releases, talking about everything but the critical problem: it never once mentioned continuing, headline-stealing, public-alienating vandalism or, lastly, flag burning).

Lately, at certain, especially, much smaller, weekly, nighttime, “F The Police!,” marches, organizers and leading participants would appear to engage in regular passive-aggressive confrontations (again, recently toned down) with the police. They played cat-&-mouse, with the march aimlessly winding over the entire downtown area and, often, surrounding neighborhoods, with no particular, practical goal. A weekly schedule of nighttime, traffic-snarling, merchants-angering exercise of directly confronting the cops – however much they do deserve it – in the streets of Oakland might make us – often brutalized by the police – feel good, but begins to lose its message, displaces that of the Occupy movement, and confuses the general public, turned off, after a while.

What the “Anarchists”/Black Bloc contingent within Occupy Oakland has really done is, too often, snatch movement dismay or public anger from the jaws of complete victory, or ‘would-be’ victory. (Like, the January 28, “Move-In” march, another relatively large, peaceful [except for the police], festive turnout, showing sustained interest, even if, with the planners’ methods, an ill-considered objective, Occupying the mammoth Kaiser Auditorium.) That contingent is actually ‘doing the work of the 1%‘ by subsequently generating: 

(a) negative TV news video headlines and great public disappointment (over indiscriminate downtown vandalism, naturally played up and generalized by the TV media), after an otherwise unimaginably successful day of the Oakland General Strike rally and, respectively, two massively huge nonviolent port shutdowns by up to 50,000 people, with the, otherwise, overwhelming support of a public that was awed, deeply moved, and morally with us; 

(b) later, even more negative TV news video headlines (distracting the public from even more OPD excesses and brutality that otherwise would have been the headlines) and a public backlash (after city hall vandalism and American flag-burning on its very steps), instead of the same overwhelming public sympathy that UC Berkeley and Davis students and academics – who sustained the moral high ground – when they suffered brazen police brutality (the only TV news headline videos available then, because the students didn’t ‘cooperate’ with the mainstream media’s penchant exaggerations of, hypothetically, any student violence);

Given the above, how is the ordinary person – who doesn’t want to directly provoke, goad or engage in weekly, nighttime, mock, let alone any real, streetfighting against the police, who doesn’t want to advocate, condone, or physically associate with vandalism and gratuitous property destruction in the streets of their city (let alone flag-burning and accusations of destroying children’s art at City Hall), who doesn’t want to be a part of that particular kind of group or movement, and who doesn’t know what possible escalation of violence to expect next from such a group – supposed to feel comfortable (or even physically or legally safe) participating in such a movement? 

How do self-indulgent Black Bloc advocates compare smashing a few local business windows, setting a couple of overturned dumpsters on fire, or burning the flag for a moment, back in downtown Oakland, to, instead, a major port shutdown by 50,000 peaceful marchers for miles!? And what do you think the TV news would lead with?: “Violence again from Occupy Oakland…!” But, the greatest successes of Occupy Oakland have always been nonviolently achieved.

Under “diversity of tactics,” would an ordinary person want their employer and workplace, their church, synagogue or mosque (especially given state surveillance or criminal entrapment against Muslims), or any other social institutions to which they belong, to find out – let alone their friends and neighbors find out – that that they are actually a participant in such a movement? That kind of movement is going to alienate most people – the very kind the organizers claim they want to attract. But, I have my doubts about that claim, to hear those parochial ideologues at Occupy Oakland, including Kristof, who smack more of insular, elite vanguardism.

Without any safe entry point mass movement for newcomers to join, the movement, especially the Occupy Oakland movement, will stagnate, dwindle down, and turn into just another politically irrelevant, small, narrow group of ideological true believers and such buzzflies, incapable of any unsuppressed, true, open self-examination and, thus, who, themselves, will never succeed in meaningfully changing anything in society. 

Or, as one veteran activist anguishedly said to me, “It’s sad to think that this could be just another promising [but illusory] burst of energy that’s just going to wither away with sharp dissension [and regularly alienatingly controversy that fatigues people’s souls and steals the main goals and successes] and flagging interest.” Like, ‘Oh, no…, those people again…

written by Joseph Anderson


FYI: for copy of “Proposal on ‘Action Agreements’,” November 20, 2011; Ref. under, Open Forum tab, Discussion, “Did DOT Pass GA?,” February 7, 2012; by Joseph Anderson, February 8, 2012: “Nonviolence” resolution proposal presented to the Occupy Oakland General Assembly…

20 comments on “The Activism Entry Point: Critiquing The Cancer in Occupy Debate

  1. Ultimately, as Boots Riley says in the Coup’s great track, “Get Off the Fence,” it is up to each one of us to organize the broad-based popular movement — and not just throw critiques from the peanut gallery. The obsession with passing a nonviolence resolution at the Occupy Oakland GA does nothing to actually ORGANIZE the people of Oakland. It is more about liberals trying to contain radicals, as far as I can tell. It is interesting to note that Joseph Anderson says NOTHING about his ability, commitment, or record of actually organizing a single person to do a single thing, nonviolent or otherwise. Meanwhile, REAL ORGANIZERS have put together a string of non-violent, righteous actions: today, Feb. 17, Occupy Oakland folks are marching in solidarity with Pacific Steel workers who have been denied their ability to earn a living by bullshit ICE I-9 audits. And on Feb. 20, folks will be massing at San Quentin to demonstrate in opposition to the Prison Industrial Complex. Sure, we can endlessly debate how a few folks are fascinated with breaking windows, but the time spent writing this piece would have been better spent calling 10 people or knocking on 10 doors to actually share information with the people of Oakland about the goals of this movement. If you agree with the goal of broader OWS movement — namely, that economic inequality is the biggest problem in our society — then let’s organize around that, and not some petty attempt to contain folks who are not going to listen to you anyway.

  2. FYI — for the record here, just so readers know:

    ‘Nonviolence’ resolution proposal presented to the Occupy Oakland General Assembly participants present on the night of Novemeber 20, 2011, by Joseph Anderson, Janet Kobren, Elizabeth Adler and other co-presenters:


    We Occupy Oakland believe in agreements that allow for a diversity of participants from the 99% needed to build a strategic mass movement that is radically inclusive and capable of standing up to and overthrowing the rule of the 1% and to advance an agenda of national and global political, economic and social systems and processes that meet human and ecological needs and not corporate greed;

    We make agreements about how we take action together at our General Assemblies, beyond which individuals and groups are autonomous. We are not addressing here any philosophical or political requirements or judgements about the validity of some tactics over others, just minimal agreements to create a basis of trust to work together and participate in as diverse communities, to know what to expect from each other and consent to our involvement in and support of our actions.

    Therefore, be it resolved that:

    Occupy Oakland action participants agree not to engage in physical assaults against other people, except as one chooses in the case of self-defense or the defense of Occupy Oakland action participants or innocent bystanders from physical threats and assaults; and

    Occupy Oakland participants agree not to engage in destruction or damage of physical property; and

    Occupy Oakland shall not deem the following to be considered as property destruction or damage: measures taken to access, enter, maintain and/or physically secure vacant buildings, empty lots or other spaces such as public parks, so as to engage in or make habitable an occupation of such buildings, lots or public spaces; and

    While Occupy Oakland recognizes that some individuals or groups may nevertheless engage in activities that are not in accordance with the above definition, those who do so will be acting autonomously and not in the name of Occupy Oakland.

    — End


    Additional comment:

    Occupy Oakland General Assembly resolution proposals require a GA vote of *90%* of just those participants present to pass (even if it’s a smaller group due to the lateness of night or fairly cold &/or rainy winter weather). This proposal was REJECTED by primarily “Anarchists” and Black Bloc types — Occupy Oakland’s left-wing ‘Tea Party’, as it were, of primarily wanna-be young white “Revolutionaries” who think that they’re going to start The Worldwide Revolution To Overthrow Global Capitalism And Western Imperialism – *that day* – by smashing a few windows, vandalizing nearby coffeeshops, in the course frightening store patrons, indiscriminately graffitiing, and setting one or two overturned trash bins on fire on a street.

    The “Anarchists”/Black Bloc steadfastly show up indeed as a block and ideologically vote against ANY ‘nonviolence’ proposal, thus they have a STRANGLEHOLD against ANY such scheduled proposals, giving the 1% and its media a perfect public alienation propaganda weapon to use against us.

    Our ‘nonviolence’ resolution proposal couldn’t have been more generous. It, but there in formal language, just said,

    ‘We co-presenters aren’t even commenting or judging whether “diversity of tactics” (code words for primarily gratuitous property destruction/vandalism, regularly goading the cops, and lately includes American flag-burning on the steps of city hall after vandalizing part of it [what a perfect, public-alienating, photo op for the mainstream media]) are good or bad. We’re not even saying that you can’t commit violence/vandalism [we certainly can’t stop anyone]. All our proposal is just saying is don’t do it on our (Occupy Oakland’s) time, in our space (including during our events), under our dime (especially using us and the participating public as human shields), under our name!’

    Our proposal was a proposed *minimal* agreement so that all of us in the larger Occupy Oakland movement and the public know what to safely expect, and not provocatively expose the rest of us and, especially, physically and legally vulnerable participants, to excessive and/or brutal police action pretexts, when we participate in Occupy Oakland events.

    This resolution proposal was also so that the mayor, the police chief, the chamber of commerce, and the mainstream media could not distinctively attribute Occupy Oakland for every act of crime that occurs anywhere in, near or around downtown Oakland, as though violence and crime had never been an all-to-regular feature in downtown Oakland before. (As we now know, crime in Oakland actually dropped 20% during the Occupy Oakland encampment and the police chief and the mayor hid that information.)

    The “Anarchist”/Black Bloc contingent couldn’t even agree to that! As Chris Hedges said, “If their real target actually was the cops and not the Occupy movement, the Black Bloc would make their actions completely separate from Occupy, instead of effectively using these others as a human shield.”

    — Joseph Anderson, Berkeley


  3. Is it not obvious to you yet that the media is going to portray occupy negatively no matter what?? Your argument that the Black Bloc is “doing the work of the 1%” by generating a negative media reaction is retarded. That’s what the media does. You might as well blame the Black Bloc for making the sun come up the next day.

    Stop measuring the movement’s success by how the media is covering it (up)!

  4. This is a long piece. It concerns itself with PR and not truth. Let’s keep the movement organic, authentic and truthful and not concern ourselves too much with what is just so much advertising.

  5. Thanks, Joseph. I still support OO, but it shot itself in the foot by rejecting your resolution. And while it may be true that the media will mis-represent Occupy no matter what, but I don’t understand why we should make their job any easier!

  6. RE:

    Yes, the goal is to build a broad movement says:

    February 17, 2012 at 8:39 am .


    Some people need to get out of their little narcissistic, parochial, highly sectarian, highly ideological, wanna-be “Revolutionaries” group and go take a foray into the *real* world.

    (In fact, I wouldn’t even trust most of them because they advocate loose-cannon actions — not *disciplined* armed struggle that is held accountable to oversight, strict review and self-examination — especially: ‘What did your actions accomplish?; ‘Did you achieve your goal?; If you didn’t achieve your goal, then (a serious critical examination) *why not*?’ Whatever you can say or criticize about the ANC as a *political* party today, whenever Nelson Mandela was held out by the media as some sort of lone “leader” star, he would immediately respond in his ‘patrician’ voice, “*I* … am a *disciplined* member … of the African … National … Congress.”)

    I’m not “in the peanut gallery”, I’m in the *movement* — the Occupy movement even if I’ve distanced myself from Occupy Oakland.

    But, I’m also in the *real* world. If you’re the average late teen to 20-something age Black Bloc advocate (and for most of you, the only thing “black” about you are your clothes), I was co-organizing when you were probably still in diapers, clambering around as a toddler, or was in nursery school! I was in the WORLDWIDE anti-apartheid boycott movement — and we ACHIEVED our goals without running around smashing shop windows, vandalizing small businesses and scaring store customers. I’ve also been in the WORLDWIDE anit-war (Iraq & Afghanistan) movement. I’ve also been the WORLDWIDE pro-Palestinian human rights and freedom movement, and the current boycott movement against the *Zionist/Israeli* system of religio-ethnic white-supremacy and apartheid. And none of those movements use(d) vandalizing small businesses as a tactic to attract a broadbased movement. And those are just some. I’ve been *BLACK* all my life — an NO ONE has to lecture *me* about the cops or the power and nature of the state — or about the prison-industrial system and economic inequality.

    Here is my bio blurb, some version of which appears under most of my formal commentaries:

    { Joseph Anderson is a Berkeley, CA, resident; a longtime, progressive, grassroots, political and global justice activist; an occasional political commentary contributor to various publications on issues usually ranging from Black-stereotyping (including by white liberal- & media-coronated Black-on-Black ‘tough-love celebrities’), police brutality, and the Israel lobby and Zionism from a true antiracist, leftist perspective; has occasionally been interviewed on KPFA and elsewhere in the media; has contributed on-the-scene citizen reporting for the prominent progressive San Francisco Bay Area-based journalist, Davey D; and author of, “Same-old-same-old from the corporate media [and police]: the Oakland Justice for Oscar Grant protests .” }

    Not surprisingly, the comment poster, “Yes, the goal is to build a broad movement” , misses the point entirely. It achieves absolutely nothing to organize non-violent actions *within* an organization that *officially* tolerates violence and vandalism. For an Occupy organization to be *EFFECTIVE* in building a broadbase movement, it has to be able to formally disavow any violence or vandalism that occur at or around its events. With a formally-adopted non-violence resolution, this is possible. Without it, all of the organization’s direct actions, non-violent included, are going to be stained with the actions of those who choose to smash windows or set fires.

    No one can stop someone from smashing a window if they’re bound and determined to. But what we can do – and what the Black Bloc supporters refuse to consider – is to make sure that our formal organizational documents, as well as our public statements, *disavow* these people so that they cannot be claimed to be acting in our name. Right now, because of the formal adoption of “diversity of tactics” (which essentially boils down to “anything goes”) and the refusal to adopt a non-violence resolution, the masked people who smash windows *are* acting in Occupy Oakland’s name.

    This is therefore not about “throwing critiques from the peanut gallery,” and it’s not about “containing” people who are going to disagree with me anyway. It’s about making sure that, in a battle that is waged as much in the *media* (as much as some ideologues try to pretend that it doesn’t exist) as in the streets, Occupy Oakland does not needlessly provide weapons to its enemies.

    What I *predicted* would happen on November 20, when I co-presented the “Proposal on ‘Action Agreements’” and it failed to pass, has happened: that the larger Occupy Oakland movement would be divided and that the public would turn against us, because broad swaths of people — and some of Occupy Oakland’s brightest minds — would break from the movement. It’s the so-called “Anarchists” / Black Bloc that have divided Occupy Oakland.

    In the consensus process of OWS, there are forms of objection upon which everyone in their GA must *STOP*, consider and deliberation: a proposal that would make someone leave OWS — and that’s given an actual thorough discussion, not just a line of people giving pro and con soundbites. Now, people who want to commit vandalism and burn flags, and who are a tiny percentage of people who actually do, can do it *apart* from Occupy Oakland under their own name, time and space; people who want to be a part of Occupy Oakland *can’t*, and be a part of Occupy Oakland.

    Go ask the average person on the street — the workers going to work every day, the workers that those highly ideological, primarily white, leftist groups always claim they *lovvve* so much — what their opinion of Occupy Oakland is now. An Asian American dentist friend, with whom I had a dental appointment, who works in Oakland Chinatown said she saw me on TV at the Occupy Oakland arrestees, Februrary 1st, press conference in front of City Hall: as a longtime personal friend, she demanded to know *why* I was with “that group” (Occupy Oakland). She was *furious* at Occupy Oakland (for the stuff that gets video headlined on TV). She said, “Sit down in my dental chair so I can pull out my drills and *hurt* you.”

    There are, now, Black &/or Brown Oakland community groups that have started *dropping* “Occupy Oakland” references from their literature. The Justice for Oscar Grant Movement *DOESN’T* support “diversity of tactics” vandalism. From what I understand, Occupy the ‘Hood, in their literature, has stopped referencing Occupy Oakland and doesn’t support vandalizing downtown Oakland. Occupy Oakland is on “CODE BLUE” with the majority of public opinion (even some of our former, strongest supporters) in the Bay Area (and beyond) public. I.e., Occupy Oakland has CRASHED in public opinion — it’s even affected recruitment and public support at other Bay Area Occupy movements (like Occupy Concord) — thanks to the major propaganda ammunition that “diversity of tactics” people who run around vandalizing stores, cafes and other small businesses in downtown Oakland have given to the television media.

    The ILWU Clarence Thomas said that, “If anyone tried that vandalism shit at an *ILWU* organized event — anyone who’s hindering or going against the goals of the day — why we’d take care of them *ourselves*. Rank-&-file union people themselves out in New York used to take care of autonomous “loose cannons” that might ruin the true goals of the actions of the day. Jack Bryson of the Justice for Oscar Grant Movement said, “Let some of them knuckleheads do that at one of *our* events, and they won’t have to *worry* about the po-lice!” Malcolm X, when he was with the Nation of Islam or, afterwards, when he formed his organization of African American Unity, would have never supported or engaged in bullsh*t acts of vandalism or police confrontation.

    When Malcolm X said, “By any means necessary”, he meant BY *ONLY* THOSE MEANS NECESSARY. Like Nelson Mandela, Malcolm believed in *disciplined* armed struggle/resistance movements — not “just running around and anything goes!” And I believe in armed struggle when nonviolent means to achieve freedom / liberation are foreclosed. Unlike even most “Anarchists” (including so-called Jewish “Anarchists in Israel) and other white “leftists” I openly and publicly support the Palestinian people’s right to armed resistance and struggle. So, I am not a pacifist. But, I believe in nonviolent means when violence is not necessary — and even counterproductive to achieving a movement’s main stated goals (in the case of Occupy, to build a broadbase movement against the interests of the 1%).

    And, “marching in solidarity” (with Pacific Steel workers or the prison consciousness movement) is not *organizing*. And one thing I know about union workers, as ILWU Clarence Thomas said, if you start some sh*t counterproductive to what their goals of the day are, they’ll take care of you themselves. Blue collar union people *know* how to organize and they don’t play. So, don’t (like another group of “wanna-be revolutionaries”, BAMN) go try to claim credit where other people have done the real work, or where any number of other organizations have done the real work.

    As ILWU Clarence Thomas said, “If those ‘diversity of tactics’ people are such big, bad, revolutionaries, then why didn’t they go break the windows and vandalize the Federal Reserve Bank over in San Francisco?’ And as other Black and Brown Oaklanders have said, why not go out to Orinda, or Walnut Creek, or — better yet — Hillborough, Woodside, Palo Alto, Los Altos, etc., WHERE THE 1% ACTUALLY LIVE, AND GO BUST UP AND GRAFFITI *THEIR* STORES AND CAFES?

    Btw, according to his tweets, BOOTS says that, ‘ “diversity of tactics” in Occupy Oakland is counterproductive to its goal of building a broadbase movement.’

    To *directly quote* BOOTS from his tweets: “The thing is, no one can show me a successful revolutionary organization who relied on the tactic of breaking windows as a lynchpin.”

    BOOTS, again, *directly quoted* from his tweets, like I also said: “If u wanna break windows do it separately, don’t have the crowd b the buffer btwn u & police.”

    THE 1% *LOVES* THE BLACK BLOC: the Black Bloc is doing the *work* of the 1%.Tearin’ shit up is *easy* — *building* up and *sustaining* a viable national movement for militant mass and creative direct action is much harder.

    Now… whomever you are…, what *you* gots ta say…?

    So, to borrow from Ice Cube, you “diversity of tactics”, wanna-be ‘Revolutionaries’ can claim to be ‘America’s *Most*!’, but you *don’t* come *close*!


  7. RE:

    ohno says:
    February 17, 2012 at 10:12 am
    Wow, this [commentary] is so horribly written. And not much better thought-out.


    Yo “ohno”, let’s see what *YOU* can write and how *you* think.


    Filed under: black bloc idiots — louisproyect @ 12:32 am

    (Posted to LBO-Talk by Charles Turner.)

    An extended series of Tweets from Mr. Riley from Friday, 11/24:

    Not that we need that, but some dedicated non-violent folks in the movement should know that u have2work with others to make change.

    Folks dedicated to blac bloc tactics shuld understand working w/others as well. We can’t be dedicated2a tactic. We must b dedicated2winning.

    I believe that breaking windows is not “wrong”- it just doesn’t work. For a number of reasons.

    That is a tactic that puts the mask wearers in a “vanguard” position. It says “We are the revolutionaries- everyone else needs to wake up!” This either turns ppl off cuz their not at
    that point yet, or it causes people to simply cheer from the sidelines. It’s problematic in a mass action where the masked ones know whats about to happen and everyone else is caught off guard and more vulnerable to the police.

    The other problem is one of analysis. If we are in the middle of one of the biggest, most overtly class conscious acts of the last 65 years- one that has the unity of action of 50,000 ppl-
    one that caused millions in damage through an action that teaches class analysis and builds an apparatus for future action-why would u think
    breaking a window at whole foods is taking it to another level? Its not. The message it gives to most is one of futile frustration. It makes
    many feel that they can’t win, that all we can do is break windows. We are making a movement that can stop the wheels of industry. That’s
    much more powerful than breaking some windows. Those tactics are ones that could b of use when masses of ppl aren’t taking action. But w/an
    action in which 50,000 people are making a huge step and having a general strike, the message should just be “We are all awake.”

    But, I think there is an ideological trend that i have encountered that leads to this- one that thinks that the ppl can’t win.

    When I critiqued someone around a similar action a few years ago, saying it didn’t pull ppl in, & u can’t win w that tactic. they resonded:
    responded: “You can never win, you can only choose how to lose.” Versions of this idea are at the heart of some of this, I believe.

    I believe, now even more than a few months ago, that we can win. This is a new era. People are ready. We can win.

    The other thing that I left out is that when a group of masked white kids break windows in a city that’s many ppl of color, it feels like
    the white kids are claiming ownership, not saying that this city is all of ours. It makes it harder to build a viable mass movement.

    I’m saying this knowing the truth, many masked blac bloc folks are NOT white. But, if everyone perceives u as white cuz u have a mask on-
    then it has the same effect. We need tactics that help build that movement. That’s all. Black folks in the community I come from look at
    marches on Washington and breaking store windows in a similar light- that they’re futile appeals to power. So people stay away.

    The thing is, no one can show me a successful revolutionary organization who relied on the tactic of breaking windows as a lynchpin.

    It’s like saying, in war, that ur gonna use 1 tactic in every battle, even if it doesnt work.

    To be clear, I am speaking to people that I consider comrades. There is no “Blac Bloc”, it’s just ppl who deciding to use that tactic at that

    To be clear, I’m speaking to folks as comrades. Blac Bloc is not a group, its folks deciding2use that tactic at a certain time.

    But, I have to say, there is a reason why ppl suspect that as bein done by agents:
    Recently- During the OscarGrant case, proven police agent, Mandingo, did similar things. There r other cases as well. The problem comes w
    using those tactics in a crowd. If u wanna break windows do it separately, don’t have the crowd b the buffer btwn u & police.

    Now, the only tactics I’m speaking of are vandalism and why that doesn’t work. There are other tactics that do work.

    There are tactics I’ve seen, and that we used for the march to the port, in which we have a group of folks with shields that can push thru
    a police line, blocking themselves from batons and bullets & creating a spearhead for the march to go thru. That’s a good one.There r others

    Often as seen in OO’s thanksgiving video, police will charge@ one person, causing our line to break and allowing them thru.

    We can use our own distractions as well2get thru their lines. This takes not being dedicated2 a certain tactic, but being dedicated2winning.
    The main thing I’m saying is that every situation, every terrain, calls for different tactics.
    For example, most of you wouldn’t know me if I had just made an album w different versions of “The Internationale”. We’r in a new situation.

    For everyone quoting Gandhi: His movement wasnt the only reason India gained independence. U think the British were only fighting Gandhi?

    India had been fighting for its independence for decades via MILITANT movements that still existed during Gandhi’s time.

    Britain was involved in a BLOODY conflict w Palestine that soaked up resources. The Hollywood version of Indian independence amazes me.

    Gandhi called strikes violent cuz they physically kept scabs out. He was at odds w many others in movement.

    Lastly,2supporters of blac bloc tactics: it keeps folks away that would otherwise be militant supporters otherwise. We need the numbers.

    We must be guided by what’s rightðical,not what’s legal. Blockin the port: illegal. Did we do it? Yes. Will we do it on Dec 12? Hell yes.

    To answer some tweets- Nothing I said advocates assault. I advocate using numbers2make it so police can’t stop our movements.

    Sidenote: I’m in Paris, doing shows. When I say I’m from Oakland, many say “Oh! Caleeforneea!”, but half say “Oui! Occupy Oakland!”

  9. Thanks, John Seal (February 17, 2012, 12:32pm).

    I hear that fmr Black Panther (but is a Panther ever really “fmr”?) *Bobby* Seale has a thing or two to say about this — more in line with *me/us*.

  10. RE:

    ohno says:
    February 17, 2012 at 10:17 am
    Is it not obvious to you yet that the media is going to portray occupy negatively no matter what??


    BOOTS responded to this kind of *nihilistic defeatism* by saying that it’s the attitude of, “You can never win, you can only choose how to lose.”

    And as I said in my commentary, “That kind of movement is going to alienate most people – the very kind the organizers claim they want to attract. But, I have my doubts about that claim, to hear those parochial ideologues at Occupy Oakland, including Kristof, who smack more of insular, elite vanguardism.”

    If you, once again, “ohno” are this defeatist, then _all the more reason_ you and your contingent should get out of Occupy Oakland and go form a group under your own name, space and time, This, so that the rest of us who haven’t given into nihilism (psychology also calls this “self-sabotage” and, indeed, “self-destructive behavior”) can get on with the job of building a broadbase movement with the greater probability of actually accomplishing something. If you don’t have the intestinal fortitude for actual mass movement building, then step aside and go do whatever, not under the Occupy name. Normal people with *lives* (or even children or families) to sustain, don’t have time to put in on a movement whose mindset from the outset is *defeatism*, and whose actual secret objective is nihilistic *failure*.

    The fact is that the mainstream media *lies* a *lot* — but not *ALL* the time.

    John Blackstone, of no less than the CBS Evening news has often been *very* fair to Occupy Oakland (often more fair than the local major TV network affiliates) — sometimes I couldn’t write fairer copy than he’s narrated (who knows, maybe he was, in his younger days, in the anti-war movement during the Vietnam war, or maybe he’s got a daughter or son who is/was active in some progressive movement) — and not merely parotting the mayor and police chief’s words.

    Ann Notorangelo of KPIX has been very sensitive to allowing OO arrestees their say.

    I’ve been interviewed at length or briefly in the mainstream media numerous times and I’ve *ALWAYS* been able to get out my — a progressive — message.

    One thing is, you’ve got to be *media savvy* and know how to interact with the media. Jack Bryson and Cephus Johnson of the Justice for Oscar Grant Movement have said that. Most leftists (including leftist academics) are not even media savvy! — let alone not in touch with how to verbally, visually, and elucidatingly communicate, perhaps with a novel conceptualization of the usual weighty issues, with *real* world people. I very *humbly* but very appreciatively say that I’ve gotten compliments from my radio interviews and comments from every kind of person, from my peers, to rural ‘white boys’ (“Joseph rocks!”) to call-in shows that I’m on, to little old white-haired Jewish ladies with walkers!

    (And when you tell real world people stuff like “vandalism and indiscriminate and unintelligible property destruction is not violence”, and they own that small business, or can imagine what it’s like to own one and working 12-16 hour days to support it, or that they are just the necessary ‘collateral damage’ [just like the U.S. govt would say], then they just roll their eyes and walk away because they think that they’re talking to a *nut* — and worse than that, that it’s a *dangerous* nut that they don’t want to be around, if but for no other reason so as not to get arrested one day over some bullsh*t!)

    But, you know what, “ohno”?: I’m not really trying to necessarily change *your* mind. I’m not in the business of verbal arm-twisting, or thought-control, or thought-intimidation, like some so-called “leftists” — who would have a thought-control society just like some *fascists* did/do/would. I, like Malcolm X, believe that I’ll just put my analysis out there next to yours and the “diversity of tactics” people, and see how many other people find which comments/analysis the most intellectually *compelling*. Thus far, *my* predictions have come true — or did you already know that your defeatist, nihilistic “diversity of tactics” would send a tsunami of public opinion against Occupy Oakland? Perhaps you *meant* it to? (Do I smell ‘agent provocateur’?…)

  11. Since the WTO i felt DOT (diversity of tactics) was double speak for “hit and running” leaving others to bear the brunt of poorly thought out and unprincipled property destruction. I saw many seasoned activists dance around the term in an effort to be inclusive. As is the case with drug addicts in occupy, the presence of DOT was not clarified in clear terms from the beginning, just as a clear “no drug use in camp” policy was not established at Decolonize Occupy Seattle’s 2 encampments. When clarity fails, once trouble rises, then real problems develop that become almost impossible to address.

    I agree with some of what Chris Hedges is saying, but it also displays his relative newness to activism which i have seen in other articles lacking in depth of experienced history. His glaring lack of knowledge and the roots of current activism is something he will be embarassed by someday.

    Many of those in the black bloc are young and some are quite expertly manipulated. One of the most disturbing problems i have had with some DOT people is the dogmatism that refuses to dialog with others. One must pass thru some kind of convoluted system of approval in order to even talk to the holier than thous who are the in crowd of self described “authentic revolutionaries “. In public they wear masks and behave like paramilitaries. In the camp they did not talk to anyone even when spreading their dogmatic literature in camp. On their website, which i subscribed to after my experience watching them take over a march for murdered Indigenous wood carver John T Williams almost a year ago, i posted what i saw happen. I was called a “significant pathological pacifist agitator” which displays the influence of Ward Churchill, a person i have had issue with since the first draft i read of his book “Pacifism as Pathology”. I dare say it is his smallest, most poorly researched book, yet the impact on those anarchists involved in the WTO was significant. I saw how Zerzan and Churchill shaped a nastiness among young anarchists, some of whom i had been working with for many years, that continues to this day. The mean spiritedness displayed towards those they consider “pacifist whimps” is superficially arrived at divide and conquer denouncement. It slams the door on meaningful communication.

    Then you have anarchists who participate in the black bloc who have contributed in major ways to the humanity of how the Decolonize Occupy camp was maintained. To describe the black bloc as cancer is extreme. I would say the phenomenon is more like bronchitis that with the right care can be possibly cured. It is a huge problem, but i suppose if we are taking on this system that kills more people on the planet right now than any other force, we must find humane ways of addressing the conflict that now is deep and embedded. The domineering, unapproachable style reeks of another jack boot pushing for it’s chance to stomp.

    No matter what the self described “authentic revolutionaries” say, many people have been driven away from occupy due to the hostile mistreatment of others whose ways may differ. I have heard the stories. Writing people off who do not fit into dogma displays dangerous, cultivated cultishness. That will relegate the black bloc to the same irrelevance that has saddled the RCP and other cultist “revolutionary” groups who to this day, annoy the crap out of most activists. No matter how many time people say “black bloc is a tactic, not a group” does not change the fact that those involved work together and have established an identifiable way of moving in the strata of resistance.

    Sadly all too many DOT actions serve the purpose of infiltrators. So why is there no in depth analysis or openness to critique about the true long term impacts of property destruction? Why are any and all unhappy reactions from residents of Oakland who are very upset by the black bloc not heeded, but rather silenced? I am talking about several women of color who have expressed their deep dismay at these behaviors instigated by primarily white male anarchists that leave their community in shambles and push them completely away from occupy. Many men and women of color living in Oakland have told me themselves how upset they are by these developments and that the young people of color who join the black bloc do NOT represent the community or all participants of color in Occupy Oakland. One Black father told me he is sick of cleaning up the mess the black bloc leaves behind and he is part of OO as well. There is a whole level of voices that are NOT heard on Democracy Now! or anywhere else for that matter.

    Another aspect of DOT that has always bothered me is hiding not only who you are, but the whole truth of what happens. In Seattle, there is an effort to silence those who see people throwing rocks, bricks, rebar or paint bombs. Veiled threats have been made if occupiers dare take photos of such actions and too many people are being called snitches behind their backs. If integrity matters at all, it is crucial to confront people rather than spread possible misinformation. Someone could be killed because of stupidity. Not worth it. Believe me, i have had my share of death threats, tho i never called cops because of that. But when i see how the “revolutionaries” behave, i know they aren’t gonna be watching my back.

    The worst nastiness i have seen are online discussion groups. People who claim to be nonviolent are as vicious as those who ardently defend property destruction or fighting the cops. It is very ugly.

    Then there are those who are somewhat taken in by the romanticism of the black bloc who also ostracize those perceived as being nonviolent whimps. The whole structure of how so many people are behaving reminds me of popular, good looking high school bullies who deem who is expendable and all their buddies and gals go along with the program.

    In my experience, most anarchists, including those into DOT, have great respect for the Zapatistas. There are many facets to all groupings of people. It is not possible to completely peg anyone, but sadly, there is a blanket image of the black bloc that fits into much of what Chris Hedges is saying. This really needs to be examined by all who care about Decolonizing Occupy.

    My biggest concern is how some activists can self elevate themselves to escape critique which is very danterous on numerous levels. It skirts around honesty, accountability and participatory solutions. No one person carries all the info. No one person can grab THE handle of what will and won’t work. We all deserve to have input and be included, but respect is essential that is all too often missing in the way those who engage in DOT behave and treat others. Disrespect has become a hallmark of DOT as well as secrecy. It is ultimately self defeating.

    I am a Frontline Grandmother who has been on the streets and deeply involved in struggles for human rights, justice and authentic peace for over 30 years. My life as a silenced activist has given me a longterm outlook on what is happening now. I continue to be silenced. My long years of deep experience has no value to most cause i lack fame and the privilege to publish my extensive writings and documentation. I must say, it really bugs me how relatively new activist like Chris Hedges have such wide voice, but women like me do not and most likely never will.

    The situation with the black bloc is indeed very serious. How we deal with it will decide the course of our current international struggle. We are all so deeply interconnected now. We cannot afford to throw all those involved with the misguided DOT away as cancerous. Rather, we must proceed with deep love, care and intelligence in shaping something that more precisely represents the goals and dreams we all can share in. This is not just the vision of people engaging in more domineering bully behaviors, but the joint efforts of each one of us. Please reconsider what you deem cancerous Chris Hedges, for it may rise out of this current turmoil as key to solution for us all. It is our challenge and our sacred duty to face this with all we know with all our hearts and all the voices still excluded.

  12. This is Boots. Thanks for sending the link. I’m on the road and don’t have the facilities to comment on this thoroughly, but I want to address a couple of things.

    You say in the comments that the worldwide anti-apartheid movement achieved its goals without violence. This is not true at all. The boycott and divestment was but part of the whole movement. The boycott was part of the movement in South Africa that included violence- from battling police to actual armed violent action. Saying that the boycott part was non-violent- which is obvious since a boycott is a non-violent tactic- is simply pointing out an instance in which non-violent tactics worked inside of a larger movement that used diversity of tactics.

    Similarly, your point about the movement against the Israeli occupation of Palestine falls under the same category.

    Your argument that the fact that Occupy Oakland does plenty of “non-violent” actions is invalidated by the fact that Occupy Oakland tolerates certain “violent” actions is not supported by these examples.

    This is not to say that I think any group should be open to any and all tactics at any and all times- I think this needs to be addressed. But I don’t think the line should be drawn at the commonly defined notions of “violent” and “non-violent”. The point is to let the campaigns lead, not tactics.

    The person you were responding to has a valid point in regards to organizing- we’ve had many actions- the licorice workers strike, steel workers, etc. If you’re saying you haven’t brought people to these events because there are people that may be violent and the organization does not disavow violence- that would have kept you out of every union struggle from the 1800s til now. And the union movement was a mass movement.

    The question around organizing is relevant with regards to readers judging the full intent and relevance of this critique. If you have this critique and don’t have experience getting people out to be involved in movements, and haven’t brought people out to the labor solidarity actions, etc, how can we know to what extent your observations have merit? I’m not saying you haven’t- I’m just saying that this is relevant.

  13. RE:

    rb says:
    February 17, 2012 at 10:33 am
    This is a long piece. It concerns itself with PR and not truth. Let’s keep the movement organic, authentic and truthful and not concern ourselves too much with what is just so much advertising.

    The state and the 1% *SPECIALIZE* in PR and advertizing. It’s how it gets us to be “good citizens”, instead of good human beings. As one of my friends put it, “Loyalty to the U.S. is *disloyalty* to humanity!”

    The president of the United States is as much the chief executive PR man & advertizer for the state — the nation’s executive spin doctor — the one speaking from the chief executive office — the executive front for the 1% — and the who goes around the world blathering on about “freedom & democracy” and about how we’re “the greatest land in the world” –instead of about the tyranny the U.S. has sponsored all over the world, and the greatest land ever stolen.

    Everything Obama, Bush (Baby Bush), Clinton, Bush (Daddy Bush), Reagan (who *came* from advertizing), even Carter (who, with his homey sweaters as president and so-called “Houses for Humanity” hammer, *still* has Americans fooled about the dictators *he* armed, and the massacres *he* supported [by Indonesia and in, then, dictatorial Korea’s Kwang-ju Massacre, Korea’s, then, ‘Tienaman’ massacre], and the war/s he started [his proxy war, arming the *Taliban* against the Soviets — see Hollywood’s “Rambo Three” — before they became “the *bad* guys”], Nixon [we all know about *him*), etc., said, _for external *and* internal consumption_, and, of course, they *all* supported a Zionist, Jewish, religio-ethnic, white-supremacist state in historic Palestine, was PR and “advertising” about how the U.S. is such a supposedly great state/democracy.

    The state and the 1% has turned PR and advertizing into a *science* — creating external and internal “boogeymen” — creating and designed to manipulate the pubilc into always giving up more *money* and *blood* to bail out the rich, to finance the police state, to finance overthrows and dictatorships, and to go to war — *REPEATEDLY*! And, in this, what they mostly use are *visuals* — whether it’s in our phony “History” schoolbooks (like pictures of our ‘learned, [ahem] freedom- & democracy-loving, Founding Fathers and “the amber waves of grain”), on TV, in the movies, or on the news.

    Even Rev. Cecil Williams and the Glide Memorial Church choir sang, “GOD BLESS *AMERICA*” on *TV* after the Iraq war started! — AND AFTER 9-11!! (Rev. *Martin Luther King* never did *that*.) I very politely asked him, personally, why, if anything, he and his church choir didn’t sing, “GOD BLESS THE WORLD”, or “GOD BLESS IRAQ”, or for that matter, “GOD BLESS PALISTINE”? Cecil Wlliams abruptly retorted and shouted to me: “IS *THAT* ALL YOU HAVE TO SAY?…, IS **THAT** ALL YOU HAVE TO SAY!?…, IS ***THAT*** ALL YOU HAVE TO SAY…!!?”

    Where’s all that “love for humanity” *now*, Cecil Williams? Where’s all your *”pacifism”* towards *me* as a fellow human being? But, you see, these large churches like Glide Memorial Church get a lot of government and establishment institution *grants* — government & establishment *money* — to provide for **statistically token** charity programs (even 10,000 people fed turkey on two days, “Thanksgiving” and Christmas, while over a million people go hungry or underfed *every* day. This, to bleed off any public militancy by those who’ve been impoverished by capitalism and the state — instead of the kind of human-oriented state (by comparison like many states in Western Europe) and economic justice that we should *all* have *every* day. So, Rev. Cecil Williams was singing *AMERICA’s* (the U.S.’s) priases — even though over a *million* Iraqis have died, over a *million* have been wounded, over a million have lost loved ones, and a over *million* have been made into refugees — and even though people from *all* countries were killed on 9-11. Hallelujah!! This is why I’m always suspicious about people who go on about “lllovvve” instead of *JUSTICE* in poitical movements.

    The state, and capitalism, and the 1% have turned PR, and advertizing, and visuals, and mass psychology into a science *AGAINST* us, the people, and so better had we, *FOR* us, the people!

    As Huey Newton said — the political ‘E=MC squared’, the greatest definition of power that anyone has ever come up with: “Power is the ability to define phenomena [*PR*, *advertizing* made into a *science*] and make people act accordingly.”

  14. YO BOOTS!,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. You know that I have great respect for you.

    I do think, however, that you misunderstood or misread some of my comments, and thus you’re rebutting things that I never claimed.

    For example, you state that, “[I] say in the comments that the worldwide anti-apartheid movement achieved its goals without violence.”

    That’s not accurate. I specifically referred to “the worldwide anti-apartheid *boycott* movement”, which is not the same thing.

    The ANC, on the ground in South Africa, of course, did have a military wing. Although, as I point out, they engaged in “violence” in a *disciplined* and *strategic* manner. And I can tell you that the ANC strategy wasn’t based on smashing coffeeshop windows or overturning dumpsters or indiscriminate graffiti: that’s little bullshit *adolescent* stuff; that doesn’t come from the minds of any military/guerrilla strategist.

    (Btw, it’s curious how some pacifists — some of whom, for people who claim they love *peace*, can be the most agressively argumentative, supremely arrogant, non-listening, *censoring*, and historically erroneous people I’ve met — have tried to rewrite history and claim that Mandela was a *pacifist*! Often, this is done — and promoted by so-called “left-*Zionists*”/’anti-Occupation’ *Zionists* (i.e., left *racists*) — to try to deny the Palestinian people their moral right to armed resistance/struggle — to claim that the Palestinian resistance/struggle is only legitimate if engaged in nonviolently. This ‘moral imposition’ was never placed against either the Vietnamese people during the French/U.S. neo-/colonial wars or, for that matter, never against black South Africans, during Apartheid, either. ONLY when it comes to *Israeli Jews* — the once brutally oppressed in Europe now become the brutal oppressors in historic Palestine — do white liberals/progressives/leftists in the West ‘morally’ impose/insist that a brutally colonized people, who faced repeated partial ethnic cleansing, the Palestinian people, resist their brutal colonial oppressors — i.e., Israeli Jews — *nonviolently*. So, what else is new from the white West: more ‘moral’ double standards.)

    However, the global divestment movement outside of South Africa — which is what I was referring to when I called it a boycott movement — WAS STRICTLY NONVIOLENT — and rightfully so. It would have made no sense for global boycott, divestment & sanctions activists to start smashing windows, overturning dumpsters, setting fires, or throwing rocks — let alone vandalize small businesses and scare or endanger store patrons and office workers — ordinary people — much less doing anything more drastic.

    You resort to violent tactics when non-violent ones aren’t effective. The global divestment movement gained its power almost entirely through galvanizing global public opinion and leveraging global public pressure on corporations and governments that did business with the apartheid state: i.e., BUILDING UP A BROADBASE OF PUBLIC SUPPORT! As such, that movement depended quite strongly on moral suasion and the clear righteousness of its cause — AND ULTIMATELY ENGAGING IN NONVIOLENT, DRAMATIC, DIRECT, EVEN MILITANT ACTION! It was also a battle waged majorly in the media and through PR.

    Not only were violent methods unnecessary in that context, they would have been COUNTERPRODUCTIVE to say the least!

    THUS, THE ANTI-APARTHEID MOVEMENT ACTUALLY ILLUSTRATES MY POINT *PERFECTLY*!: there is a time and place for armed resistance/stuggle, but there are also times and places where it must be avoided. Boots, you said as much, almost specifically, in one of your tweets. The situation we face here in the United States today has not yet reached the point where violent resistance is either necessary or useful, and even if it had reached that point, the “do whatever you want” ethos of the Black Bloc/Diversity of Tactics crowd goes completely counter to the DISCIPLINED practices of those who actually have *experience* waging armed resistance/struggle.

    Furthermore, in the anti-Apartheid struggle, victory (at least against political apartheid, if still not yet against economic apartheid in South Africa) could not have been achieved anytime in the, then, forseeable future without NONVIOLENTLY INTERNATIONALIZING the struggle. Victory against colonialism in all the most important European colonies in the non-European world could not have been achieved without, to some degree or another, internationalizing the resistance movement. This is what the Palestinian human rights and freedom movement is doing — although thanks to white liberals (both Jewish and non-Jewish) in the West, it has not largely taken on a truely internationalized *anti-colonial* — i.e., anti-Zionist — i.e., *anti-racist* — movement. (That’s because largely whites in the West — even white liberals/progressives/leftists still *identify* with largely white Jews in Israel.)

    The same analysis applies to the situation in Palestine: as I have repeatedly said, I support the right of oppressed people to engage in armed resistance when non-violent options alone aren’t effective. And, note to the ‘convenient pacifists’ who insist the the Palestinian resistance/struggle is “legitimate” only if engaged in nonviolently: ISRAEL ILLEGALIZES *BOTH* ARMED *AND* NONVIOLENT RESISTANCE — AND *BOTH* ARMED *AND* NONVIOLENT RESISTORS ARE OFTEN MET WITH THE SAME ISRAELI BULLETS, unless those resistors are accompanied by *white* people from the economically more important Western countries.

    However, the Oakland isn’t Palestine; it wasn’t Lebanon under Israeli occupation/invasion; it isn’t even Greece, yet; it isn’t anywhere near the stage that would justify the kinds of tactics that certain starry-eyed, would-be, WANNA-BE, “leaders” — *”vanguardists”* — of “The Revolution” want to jump-start. Right now, we’re still in a public opinions and recruitment battle for the hearts and minds of the 99%. And to alienate and scare off the very public we’re trying to attract, and disaffect many of the people Occupy Oakland had, by the childish, anti-strategic theatrics of the Black Bloc (which is all that Black Bloc vandalism really amounts to) would be AN UTTER TRAVESTY, given the demonstrated potential of the Occupy movement to motivate people into NONVIOLENT, MILITANT, MASS DIRECT ACTION even over the short term, let alone larger and broader MASSES over the longer-term.


    As for the point about organizing – the events you mention aren’t organizing, not as I define it. *Occupy Oakland* didn’t organize the Licorice Workers, or the Pacific Steel Workers, and certainly not the ILWU, or the longshore union that dumped (or wouldn’t unload) grain shipments. Those *weren’t* Occupy Oakland events — or even Occupy events at all!

    What Occupy Oakland has done is engage in supportive actions — which is good — and which I am in favor of — but which shouldn’t be GRANDIOSELY EXAGGERATED as what “we” did, like one comment poster claimed above (February 17, 8:39am), into anything *more* than what we actually did. *Organizing* workers is *hard*, and it takes lots of time and energy, not to mention the willingness to go out and convince people who may be scared or — thanks to Occupy Oakland’s so-called “Anarchists” and Black Bloc — scared off(!!) — to join your cause.

    If Occupy Oakland really wants to do this organizing, then they need to realize that public perception and opinion is important. Working people (especially those of color) may cheer an FTP march from the sidewalks or their cars, but they aren’t going to risk what jobs they have, livelihoods, survivalhoods and personal safety by largely doing any more than that unless they trust the judgment of the organization that’s asking them to take those risks. This so, just as I stopped trusting the judgement of unoversightable, unaccountable, unreviewable, unreplaceable, group unself-examinable, *carte blanche*, committee leadership — especially the “Tactical Action Committee” (TAC) in making certain decisions for Occupy Oakland. And, thankfully, that’s why I wasn’t arrested too and didn’t spend 2 or 3 days in jail eating ‘rotten’ balogne sandwiches in Wonderbread/whatever and drinking Kool-Aide trying to take-over some mammoth auditorium, especially without the numbers, pre-planning, planning, community organizing, and strategy that was needed.

    The official sanction for “anything goes” Diversity of Tactics will turn off and scare away many people from making that kind of commitment, and this will prevent Occupy Oakland from growing into what it could be. So, let’s take/imagine a VOTE of, especially, the people of color in Oakland and see if they stand with the largely, white, plus-or-minus 20-something year-old “Anarchists”/ Black Bloc — and *3* Black guys with them who came from I don’t know *where* — _*OR*_ the *rest* of us.

    Everyone critical is asking the main question: if the “Anarchists”/Black Bloc people in Occupy Oakland really just want to “challenge, or [haha] *threaten*, or [hahaha!!] *overturn* the state” with their indiscriminate small business vandalism and gratuitous property destruction and “Anarchist” graffitiing — then why can’t they do it on their *OWN*, under their *OWN* name, space and time. So, the target doesn’t seem to be the *state*: it seems to be *Occupy Oakland* and *Oakland itself*!

    I guarantee you that the state — including its duopolistic, ‘Good Cop, Bad Cop’, corporatist, militarist and imperialist parties — and the 1% is a *LOT* more afraid of people with *BRAINS*, than peope with *MASKS*.




    Boots, I know you’re trying to be diplomatic to those so-called “Anarchists”/ Black Bloc, but you can’t be on the *fence* on this one, Boots. Humanity is at stake.

  15. (Btw, for all those Western pacifists who wonder where the Palestinian ‘Martin Luther King’, or the Palestinian ‘Gandhi’, is?: Israel *DEPORTED* him long ago. His name is Mubarak Awad. Now what the Palestinian people need is the Palestinian ‘Malcolm X’, or even the Palestinian ‘Nelson Mandela’, instead of those puppet and sellout, so-called, “leaders” — Palestinian *OVERSEERS* — like Mahmoud Abbas & his crew, that are financially propped up and kept in their place by the U.S. and Israel.)

  16. YO BOOTS,

    I’m not going to mention any names, but some of the very same people who encourage “diversity of tactics” — and have even given Occupy Oakland *speeches* about it to a GA — have **NEVER** been arrested — even though hundreds have been arrested — at an Occupy Oakland event.

  17. Oh, ‘great’…: more American flag burning — even the livestream video guy was dismayed with it, along with several viewers online expressing such opinions too — as in, “Oh they’re burning a flag again [*facepalm*]!” — at the end of the weekly, this time peaceful (so far), “F The Police” march from downtown Oakland, up Telegraph Ave, turning up Bancroft, to UC Berkeley’s International House. The march was only, reportedly, about 50 (it looked a little larger to me, maybe 75+), mostly 20-something yr-old, peaceful people.

    Didn’t look like TV news or the cops were even bothering with it — until the marchers got to I-House, where the cops were waiting on them. You know the cops are going to protect I-House (an ‘elite’ dorm where some of California’s 1% lived as students, including a, like way back in the 40’s/50’s, then future governor or two, when they attended UC Berkeley). Unless you saw one chest-high, handheld sign (which I missed) at the beginning of the march, you wouldn’t even know what the march was about (no chanting) — just a group of young people marching or riding their bikes up Telegraph.

    Now, the *’PERFUNCTORY’* American flag-burning was out of nowhere, with no fanfare and NO CONTEXT, BUT QUITE *FLAGRANT*, by about 3 or 4 young white guys dressed in, more or less, black (and black clothes was the *only* thing Black *I* saw there tonight): just something for the still-phtography, news cameras. NOW *C’MON*…: YOU *KNOW* THAT’S PROVOCATEUR WORK to try to further discredit/sully Occupy Oakland.

  18. Pingback: "The Activism Entry Point: Critiquing The Cancer in Occupy Debate" — by … | occupy illuminati

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