Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

February 8, 2012

Taking Chris Hedges to task?

Filed under: black bloc idiots — louisproyect @ 5:19 pm


When a movement decides to ‘self-police,’ that shouldn’t be confused with adopting the same punitive and illogical methods of the state. We can forge agreements and work by consensus, but that cannot be used as a wedge to weed out and expunge those who contravene our best-laid plans. Rather, the aim should be to create processes based on the best practices of restorative justice, peacekeeping, and personal healing in order to promote points of contact and ongoing dialogue among all who find their way to the movement.


Written by Randall Amster, described under the article as follows:

Randall Amster, J.D., Ph.D., is the Graduate Chair of Humanities at Prescott College. He serves as Executive Director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association and as Contributing Editor forNew Clear Vision. Among his recent books are Lost in Space: The Criminalization, Globalization, and Urban Ecology of Homelessness (LFB Scholarly, 2008), and the co-edited volume Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009).


I wrote this:

My only quibble is whether the black bloc is responsible for the “diversity of tactics” mantra as much as the people who are out in the open as coalition-builders. I am afraid that their sense of “diversity” is drawn from the nonprofit world they inhabit in which weekend retreats in Aspen are devoted to examining how some university or foundation can be more “inclusive”. Horsefeathers, I say.

Does anybody have the slightest doubt that people like Randall Amster are exactly the kind of enablers whose “diversity of tactics” muddleheadedness is what makes the vandalistas such a problem?

Anybody who writes a book titled Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action should be taken out and horsewhipped on principle.


  1. Hedge’s polemic does more harm than good. He mangles the good points and dilutes them in a sea of muddled politics and exaggeration. Socialists have every reason to be critical of his polemic. E.g. see the following.


    Comment by T — February 8, 2012 @ 6:29 pm

  2. Boy, CP is getting more and consistent in wrong-footing key issues in the post 2008 world. Maybe it is just A.C. doesn’t like C.H., easily imagined as they are quite different, even clashing, characters. CP has posted much better takes on Occupy.

    Anyway, it’s patently ridiculous to compare Occupy in its present state with the Greek *mass working class movement* in order to use the latter as cover for the self-serving antics of the ultra-leftist fringe of the former. No journalistic integrity here!

    That would be it, except to repeat the obvious: First we must have a fighting mass working class movement – then we can defeat the cops or whatever at the time and place of OUR choosing. We are not there yet. And note, Ultra-Knuckleheads: DEFEAT the cops, not get repeatedly beat up by them as you so strangely desire, whereby soon your face and head will resemble the insulting appellation!

    The only other interesting point is the strange convergence between non-profit radicals and the soon-to-be-knuckleheads. Here we see the dialectic wherein ultra-leftism promotes the “community service” oriented reformist wing of Occupy as these latter “distance” themselves from the former – right into the waiting arms of the Democratic Party. Leaving the movement split. And of course, left wing non profits are an ideal institutional basis for carrying out the co-optation.

    And the DIALECTICAL relation in motion here is to be deliberately emphasized, as it appears that the PHD has been channeling too much Negri, judging from the postmodern dogmatism deployed in the “discourse”.

    Comment by Matt — February 8, 2012 @ 7:01 pm

  3. seems to me that CP has moved to occupy a niche that Nation used to occupy – space for the entire left spectrum (so-called), and that seems to include, among others, the deluded obama left, and here an example of the ngo/reformist left. (of course CP also stakes a more iconoclastic claim on the left/right alliance.) like nader characterizes it, a ‘cornucopia.’

    it still runs enough excellent analysis to be highly valuable, and i just look at these other pieces as keeping me up-to-date on where the rest of the ‘left’ is headed. Cockburn, when on target, writes pretty powerfully.

    i share the disappointment with hedges’ piece – someone online analyzed this as colonizer mentality (via fanon)? that seems to fit. hedges has moved consistently leftward, and it’s too bad to see him go down this road.

    Comment by jp — February 9, 2012 @ 2:17 pm

  4. Chris Hedges shares the problem of a number of those who write in regularly to this list: too much certainly about who the good guys are and who the bad guys are, and not enough self-reflectiveness. Nobody will build a movement by labeling others “beasts” and “monsters.” We all have a bit of the beast in us. Chris Hedges is too angry…personally angry…and beyond a certain point, even righteous anger about social injustice is destructive. Barbara

    Comment by Barbara Regenspan — February 9, 2012 @ 4:51 pm

  5. the kpfk interview to which louis posted a link is much more reasonable and nuanced (on hedges’ part) than his original article. kristof l. defuses him pretty well.

    Comment by jp — February 9, 2012 @ 5:03 pm

  6. More from Randall Amster: -Going forward, I believe we should heed these calls to embrace the actor while critically engaging the action. As difficult as this practice may be, we might consider applying its teachings not only to the challenging cadres within our movements, but even toward the 1 percent and their agents as well. Isn’t it possible that their inner fears and human failings are driving them, too?…We don’t have to accept their divisive and destructive actions, yet the task of refusing to replicate them is incumbent upon us as we forge a new society.-

    Please don’t make me live in Randall Amster’s “new society.”

    Comment by Rick — February 9, 2012 @ 8:32 pm

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