Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

February 6, 2012

Chris Hedges: the black bloc is a cancer in the Occupy movement

Filed under: black bloc idiots — louisproyect @ 2:01 pm



  1. Hedges says little that hasn’t already been said here, particularly in regard to the vanguardism and machismo of the Bloc, although the remarks by Derrick Jensen are significant. One important thing he doesn’t say is that the Bloc substitutes confrontation with the police for class struggle, probably because he is writing for a primarily progressive, middle class audience. In a place like Oakland, where people have been subjected to police brutality for decades, such an approach has an obvious allure, especially for young people who have spent their entire lives subject to law enforcement surveillance and abuse.

    Along these lines, note that I received a e-mail from someone last week, referencing a critical article about an Occupy Oakland committee, the Tactical Action Committee, wherein this committee was held responsible for recent “Fuck the Police” marches conducted allegedly for the purpose of provoking violent confrontations with the police (I’m not able to say whether this charge is true or false, except to say that I’m unaware of any violence during about a month of these marches, so, if that was the purpose, they were singularly unsuccessful). The person who sent me the e-mail described the committee members as “three African American males”, which is not consistent with the common stereotype of the Bloc presented by Hedges. Nor are the people in this picture:


    I point this out because Hedges makes the implicit assumption the Bloc is the sole repository of more militant, violent behavior under the banner of Occupy, as if it is a “cancer” that can just be surgically removed, enabling Occupy to right itself. Perhaps, he needs to read less Zerzan and follow what happens in Oakland more closely, because it is not quite that simple. As I have said in private e-mail communication, there is an urgent need for people to find a way to communicate candidly about this issue outside of the pacifist parameters of someone like Hedges or the Marxist practicality inherent within “the police are part of the 99%” slogan, because neither engages the experience of young people angry about the police, leaving fertile ground for the Bloc to proselytize.

    Beyond this, I believe that the emphasis upon the Bloc, while legitimate, runs the risk of evading another important issue, the extent to which the middle class instinctively sees the police in more favorable terms than many involved in Occupy, and invariably finds confrontation with the police, regardless of the circumstances, tiresome. I was struck by the online hostility of what appeared to be middle class East Bay progressives to the Occupy Oakland 1/28 action, and the extent to which they relied upon minor instances of rock, bottle and firecracker throwing protesters (certainly minor compared to the police response) to wash their hands of the whole affair, displaying not the slightest concern for the over 400 arrestees, the overwhelming number of whom had nothing to do with the conduct that they found objectionable. Faced with a public attempt to take over a building, and the subsequent over the top police response, as is typical in Oakland, they posted hostile remarks that were indistinguishable from right wingers, and displayed not the slightest concern for the people incarcerated after being kettled in front of the YWCA building. They tended to dismiss the police assault as something that should be expected.

    While I agree that a non-violent emphasis is essential, and, likewise, believe a more pragmatic approach to building seizures would be more effective, I’m not certain that either of these things would placate the progressives that I have encountered in comments on the Internet about the 1/28 action. Of course, that doesn’t invalidate the importance of doing them, I am merely highlighting what I perceive to be a fault line in the movement that will remain, regardless of what transpires with the Bloc.

    Comment by Richard Estes — February 6, 2012 @ 8:01 pm

  2. Chris Hedges Has Made a Big Mistake.

    Instead of calling the Black Bloc a cancer Chris should have examined where the
    expression that collects in the Black Bloc is coming from. Why are people that
    identify with the Black Bloc expressing themselves this way? I tend to try to find
    some understanding. I identify with the Black Bloc because nuclear power killed
    my father and made me and my sister sick. There isn’t a day that goes by that I
    don’t want to smash something that would stop the madness.

    Chris hedges unfortunately is desperate for an occupy movement that
    squandered all it’s public support and hundreds of thousands of dollars in
    donations on an absolutely non-confrontational protest that changed
    absolutely nothing. What Chris doesn’t get about the public is that they will
    support someone that is willing to fight for them like the militant unions of the
    1920s and 1930s but when Occupy chose not to say what they want when the
    world asked them “What do you want?” and then went side ways like all liberals,
    Occupy lost the moment and is now finished and not trust worthy. Chris is just
    upset and hasn’t realized that Occupy is just another progressive failure and he
    is looking to scape goat in the Black Bloc instead of joining the Black Bloc as the
    next natural evolutionary reaction to the wide spread poverty created by the
    democrats and republicans and their pals in the pentagon and on wall st..

    Well fuck you Chris, your a fucking asshole.

    The Black Bloc are the only ones responding appropriately to the madness all
    around us. If you can’t see that your blinded by your own comfort.

    Comment by Lloyd Hart — February 7, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

  3. I identify with the Black Bloc because nuclear power killed my father and made me and my sister sick. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t want to smash something that would stop the madness.

    I would tend to think that mass demonstrations against nuclear power plants would be more effective than spray-painting “Fuck the nuclear energy” on the walls of a Con Edison building. But then again, I am a Marxist and tend to believe in the power of the masses rather than adolescents in black levi jeans acting out. Btw, Hart, it is spelled “Camejo”, not “Comejo”.

    Comment by louisproyect — February 7, 2012 @ 3:32 pm

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