The Cancer of Occupy by Chris Hedges

by Chris Hedges
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
Feb. 6, 2012

Italiano: illustrazione disegnata di un black bloc

Image via Wikipedia

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. The Occupy encampments in various cities were shut down precisely because they were nonviolent. They were shut down because the state realized the potential of their broad appeal even to those within the systems of power.


via Truthout

 spent two decades as a foreign reporter covering wars in Latin America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. His latest books are Death of the Liberal Class, and The World as It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress.

from the archives:

Interview With Chris Hedges About Black Bloc by J.A. Myerson

Chris Hedges: Black Bloc Could Kill OWS

Disturbing Video: Riot police violently disperse Occupy DC with batons

Michael Moore, Chris Hedges, Kevin Zeese & More: Occupy 2012: Battle for our Freedoms

Chris Hedges: Occupy the Courts + Citizens Unite for a Constitutional Amendment By Dennis Kucinich

Oakland Police Dept. Use Tear Gas and Percussion Grenades on Occupy Protesters + Police arrest over 300 protesters at Occupy Oakland

An Archaic Postmodern View of Occupy Wall Street by Joseph Natoli

33 thoughts on “The Cancer of Occupy by Chris Hedges

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    • For those of you who think that Hedges is wrong about this , you might want to take the time to go over and read his books and interviews . There is a thread in his work about the dangers of ”externalizing evil ” instead of dealing with it within ourselves. well …OK , there may be some paid agents infiltrating the movement . so what ? the govt. is wasting their money . the movement will implode on its own if does not understand that they have to drop this US and THEM mentality . ”we have met the enemy and it is us” , as Pogo used to say . its that wisdom that will make for a lasting effective movement .

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  15. Pingback: Interview With Chris Hedges About Black Bloc by J.A. Myerson « Dandelion Salad

  16. These people are paid provocateurs – assuming they are individuals expressing themselves is just silly. The thing to do is to work to expose these government-paid storm troopers and the institutions paying them. This isn’t rocket science, it is what the government was so obviously going to do to discredit the protestors – easy and effective.

    Come on, Mr. Hedges, these aren’t mischievous citizens out to make trouble – they are paramilitary agents of the government.

  17. Ok, this article does not represent any of what I have actually observed first hand or independently researched for myself. There was a black bloc action here in Austin and the majority of participants were female, or self avowed male feminists. It included an age range form under 14 to over 60. Many were pacifists, non-anarchists and active members of the local Occupation since day one. The continued abusive treatment of the police, especially with the local “1,000 paper-cuts” strategy against us. For me it isn’t an issue of weather or not I “agree” with every thing they say or do. Agreement and solidarity have NOTHING to do with each other, and I’m in solidarity with all of my fellow occupiers. I’m not an anarchist, but I stand with anarchists. I’m not a communists, but I stand with communists. I’m certainly not a libertarian, but I stand with libertarians.

    Even after the first and second times we were attacked we maintained a collective position of “police neutrality”, however the local police here largely destroyed that. Not “agent provocateurs”, not “anarchists”, not anyone else. Even if they were pushing for it in the beginning, it was the behavior of our local police that destroyed that neutrality. The intimidation techniques, arrests, brutality, sending violent and disturbed individuals to our occupation, indifference and refusal when we did come to them for help, letting one of our occupiers be set on fire while they watched, asking an individual to show their genitals because they didn’t identify as “male”, bullying a child on a bicycle, all effectively crushed everyone’s good will toward them, at least as an institution, one by one. After our eviction the closest thing to opposition when someone mike checked “F*** THE POLICE” was “I thought we were police neutral, oh well”.

    The police are not our friends, your friends, or anyone’s friends for that matter. They are a security force for the moneyed and the property owners and an enforcement and intelligence agency for the government, local, state or national. There is a reason tyrannical regimes are called police states. Once, what now seems like so long ago I sincerely believed they were here for my own, and everyone’s good, ultimately, despite whatever flaws the system might have. However now I can’t say that with any sincerity or certainty.

    It took the police here trying to arrest a veteran, west point graduate, school teacher for trying to film them for people here to even start to have the courage to bring public their stories of police abuse. It’s a systemic problem, and one that’s systemic across our entire country. I still hope they’re wrong when they say that there very institution of law enforcement in irreparably corrupt by it’s very inception, and that it’s simply a flaw of our particular country or point in history, but I can’t take that position with full sincerity, not after what I’ve seen and heard.

    • “Agreement and solidarity have NOTHING to do with each other, and I’m in solidarity with all of my fellow occupiers. I’m not an anarchist, but I stand with anarchists. I’m not a communists, but I stand with communists. I’m certainly not a libertarian, but I stand with libertarians.”

      I agree with you 100% comrade. I am an anarchist, but I stand by all sincere revolutionaries, whether they go to protests with black flags, hoodies, and masks; or with their families, colorful posters and a non-confrontational demeanor.

      What those who use black bloc tactics need to keep vigilant of is the wishes of the protestors around them. I’m not saying most do or most don’t, I have seen evidence online of them doing both. For example, from what I have seen and read about the black bloc and shield wall used at occupy Oakland last week is that when the march ran into a police line, those who weren’t willing to get in a confrontation hung back while those who wanted to try to attempt to push through chose too keep going. This way only those who were willing to jeopardize themselves were the only ones who took the risk. I wasn’t there but that is what I garnered from the articles I have read and videos i have see.

      It’s not fair when people start rioting in the middle of, or even too close to those who either:
      A: Don’t agree with destruction of property as a tactic, either because they view it as ill advised strategically for that situation or have a problem with it ideologically.
      B: Just don’t want to risk getting in trouble with the law.

      I see the merits in the black bloc as a tactic and would use it myself the strategic opportunity presented itself, but if I did I would have the courtesy to do it far enough away from peaceful protestors.

  18. Pingback: Chris Hedges: Black Bloc Could Kill OWS « Dandelion Salad

  19. Thank you Chris- your article helped take a lot of pressure off of me, and the pressure has been harsh…

    I learned about the Black Bloc just a few days before the launch of Occupy Vancouver when someone posted this video on our Facebook page:

    The video is from a debate about the “Heart Attack” incident where Black Bloc smashed the windows at the Hudson Bay company during the Vancouver Olympics. This was a disastrous event that scared away the majority of the anti-Olympic movement- driving the middle class home and killing the movement.

    Most of use were horrified with this video- particularly the use of race & gender to shut-down Derrick O’Keefe’s opinon. This is a pattern that continued once the video was posted. It went so far that a woman of Asian descent who disagreed was told to stop talking because she was a “privileged male”. (On the Internet nobody knows you’re a dog!)

    Many of us have faced an enormous amount of abuse for talking out on this issue. Personally, there has been a letter published against me on the Internet slandering me and making accusations about my being hateful and a stalker. Even when I left Vancouver, and moved to Cortes Island, a letter was sent to the resident of the island saying I was dangerous and mentally ill. (I’m a perfectly healthy pacifist)

    All of the people who know me can see through these attacks- but, they have made it particularly difficult for me at times when meeting new people who have found this information. Basically, the attacks on me have had a giant impact on my life…

    So, when you published this article, it was like watching rays of sunlight beginning to poke through the clouds. Your article has helped me overcome the abuse and slander- people who don’t know me personally are beginning to come back and apologize for accepting what was said about me.

    I’ve always enjoyed your work. The first direct action I led at Occupy Vancouver was a (polite and nonviolent) occupation Kevin O’Leary’s book signing back in October- we all brought Chris Hedges books for him to sign.

    But, now, you are truly my hero Chris. Thanks, your writing has had a deep personal impact on my life.

    Could I ask for your permission to re-publish this article on my blog?

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  21. I ran into the guys pushing black bloc last week at Washington square park when OWS was there camped. I could see it as nothing more than instigation at its finest, regardless of the speakers true intent. Black bloc needs to be confronted and exposed now, and distanced from OWS now!! Chris Hedges is right.

  22. Good, as far as it goes. Opposition to organization is however generalized within the movement, and marginalizing it. There’s a lot of monolithic thinking getting in the way of organizing. To name just one, the fear of being co-opted. I’m of the opinion that Occupy is in the right place at the right time, and has everything it needs to co-opt existing structures through which to effect the change its participants want, but will not accomplish until its participants become members of an organized movement.

  23. Applause for Hedges commitment to nonviolence.I’ve tried to show how nonviolence can be even more powerful that it currently is practiced by Americans. I went to court with 18 other in October for a nonviolent protest arrest at the White House last March where Chris was arrested, too. All but 4 of those other 18 refused to even discuss with me how nonviolence could be more powerful. I seem to be the only person in the US who advocates pleading guilty and suffering in jail to touch the heart of the adversary. This was Gandhi’s approach. My efforts to get Chris to join the discussion fell on deaf ears.Please visit my facebook page ” Gandhian Resistance”

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