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Tolerance for a Diversity of Tactics

I am posting to supplement discussion about tolerance for diversity of tactics secondary to discussion taking place on the listserv.

Nihilo0 has a pretty good critique of Mr. Hedges’ criticism of the black bloc tactic. Keep in mind that if everything you know about the black bloc exists from your reading in mainstream media that you are working seriously skewed knowledge. The political resistance to neocolonialist, globalist politics is dangerous. It’s worse than precinct political battles where feelings get hurt and harsh things are sometimes uttered. Heads get cracked. Non-violent protestors engaging in peaceful demonstrations are physically assaulted by heavily armed and armored riot police. This happens over and over. Pepper spraying sit-in demonstrators? Why not just get the dogs and water cannons out that were used against civil rights actiBlack bloc demonstrators at Malcolm X Park during the January 20, 2005 counter-inaugural protest. Photo taken January 20, 2005 by Ben Schum, courtesy Wiki Commonsvists 50 years ago? I guess that image has become historically linked to a bygone era, to rabid, violent politics of racial oppression. The imagery has to change, but the content remains the same. Physically assault and punish demonstrators who move beyond standing at certain street corners, waving signs.

Free speech zones? does that make sense when the first amendment demands that the country is a free speech zone?

If you decide to step off the sidewalk and block the street to stop the movement of military hardware through our communities or engage in other active, yet non-violent means to impede the dominant society you will end up going eyeball to eyeball with some heavily armed folks who are really enthusiastic about swinging batons, pepper spray, and tear gas. Their counterparts at the jails will enjoy the sexual humiliation of strip searching the unlucky souls who get scooped up in the dragnet. This is the real situation on the street that gives rise to a diversity of tactics that includes folks standing ready to deploy themselves in a black bloc tactic to put bodies between the heavily armed and armored riot police and peaceful demonstrators who have decided that sign-waving at certain street corners is not creating change. If you want to demonstrate in a way that is not inconvenient or harms the profitability of global militarist exploitation, you don’t need the black bloc. Many of us question if convenient, proscribed demonstration will ever create change.

Here is what nihilo0 has to say at Info Shop

The Folly of Christopher Hedges

Often, when describing the inevitable scenes of major protests in the United States, I evoke the image of a person who has lost a brother in Iraq, a person who has also lost a sister to the trumped up drug war, whose father had his job outsourced, whose mother had her pension gambled away by speculators, whose grandmother lost her home of 50 years because she missed a mortgage payment, and whose grandfather died of industrial poisoning and couldn’t afford health care. And make no mistake… variants of such individuals readily exist. So when such a person understandably shows up to protest the corporate oligarchy at a G8 meeting (or the national conventions of the corporate parties), they aren’t there to sing kumbaya, march along a permitted path, or have their head cracked by the brutal police. And if they get so angry that they throw a brick through a bank window… I will be the last person to condemn them.

I’m not giving the condescending approval of a social worker who understands some flawed psychology behind such actions… I’m suggesting that such rowdiness is perfectly human, rational, and even inspiring. I’m not suggesting that any particular individual at any particular event engage in such actions, but I fully understand some of the motivation behind such actions and wouldn’t condemn an individual engaging in them. And I don’t feel that condemnation or further punishment of such individuals is beneficial to society. On the contrary, such individuals may likely prove to be on the cutting edge of actual change in this country.

Enter Chris Hedges and the privileged leftist elite trying to pacify and reign in the righteous indignation of many abused Americans. As in his latest article, they primarily prescribe as a method for social change… accepting more punishment and self-sacrifice. But that’s easier to suggest for some than others. And why must they so often be quick to condemn those who aren’t willing to take anymore punishment? I’d suggest this reflects a shallow understanding of the true pain already administered to so many people and the sacrifices they’ve already made.

Such a stance also often belies a hypocritical stance in regard to revolutionary self-defense and aggression when it occurs in their own backyards. For example… Chris Hedges in an earlier article about Greece wrote:

“Here’s to the Greeks. They know what to do when corporations pillage and loot their country. They know what to do when Goldman Sachs and international bankers collude with their power elite to falsify economic data and then make billions betting that the Greek economy will collapse. They know what to do when they are told their pensions, benefits and jobs have to be cut to pay corporate banks, which screwed them in the first place. Call a general strike. Riot. Shut down the city centers. Toss the bastards out. Do not be afraid of the language of class warfare—the rich versus the poor, the oligarchs versus the citizens, the capitalists versus the proletariat. The Greeks, unlike most of us, get it.”

But what has changed now that radicals in Oakland California have called a general strike, incited to riot, attempted to shut down city centers, and talked the language of class warfare? Why now condemn them as “the cancer of the occupy movement,” as Hedges has done? Why are such actions in the U.S. “a gift from heaven to the security and surveillance state,” according to Hedges? To me, such conflicting sentiments smack of the hypocrisy that comes about when one changes their opinions with the shifting of political winds. Hedges is not sticking to his proverbial guns, he is merely going with the flow to appease the leftist sycophants who comprise his cult of personality. It’s sad, disgusting, and shameful.

read more?     “Human beings are the most domesticated of all the animals.” Ouch

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