"The Black Bloc anarchists, who have been active on the streets in Oakland and other cities, are the cancer of the Occupy movement. The presence of Black Bloc anarchists — so named because they dress in black, obscure their faces, move as a unified mass, seek physical confrontations with police and destroy property — is a gift from heaven to the security and surveillance state." — Chris Hedges, 2012-02-06
This week we air a (slightly edited) discussion on "Diversity of Tactics" which took place in New York on 2012-09-12. Hedges agrees with B. Traven that illegal tactics are absolutely necessary for the simple reason that the authorities will outlaw any tactics that seriously threaten change (and don't seem to feel their executive power is limited by laws anyway). Drawing on his extensive experience as a war reporter, Hedges cautions that violence is legitimate only in exceptional circumstances — taking on the forces of organized repression is playing to the authorities' strength. Drawing on his experience as a reporter from successful revolutions such as the events in Eastern Europe in 1989, Hedges notes that one common denominator was mass participation, so cautions against black bloc tactics as a potential source of alienation, favoring instead ones that can inspire many people to join the resistance movement.
The discussion takes a nuanced look at different aspects of the Black Bloc such as wearing masks, damaging property and resisting arrest. As suggested by the introduction, the question of what is the purpose of Occupy remains central to the discussion, as does who gets to define what violence is? Is it violent to turn someone in to the police or to the banking authorities? To sell them a crooked mortgage? Or to evict them when they can't pay? Why did Obama describe the uprising in Egypt as non-violent, when around 100 police stations were burnt down and rocks were thrown at police? Are black bloc demonstrators violent for throw empty tear gas canisters back at police?
We conclude with a few minutes of thoughts about Occupy from Charles Eisenstein, who reminds us that as far as he's concerned, it's not about the 99% defeating the 1%.