Welcome login | signup
Language en es fr

Forum Post: ❀ Is Occupy Still Non-Violent - or - Has my Prediction Unfortunately Come True? ❀

Posted 9 years ago on Jan. 21, 2012, 12:43 a.m. EST by Thrasymaque (-2138)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

As many of you already know, several months ago I predicted that OWS would eventually turn to violence. My prediction was based on my perception that Occupy was constantly using violent imagery and violent rhetoric in its marketing material, and the fact that Occupy is deeply inspired by the Arab Spring protests.

You'll also remember that during the Oakland protests, Occupy strongly distanced itself from the violent actions of the BlackBloc by stating that this was a fringe group that did not represent the non-violent ideologies of Occupy.

Today, it seems the wind is blowing in a new direction. Here is a recent official news item published by Occupy.


excerpt - "The march continued onward when suddenly the familiar sound of revolution rang through the air as [the Black Bloc] smashed through a luxury car dealerships window which caused a rift amongst the march."

Not only is Occupy no longer distancing itself from the BlackBloc, it goes as far as to write that the BlackBloc's violent actions represent the ring of revolution; a revolution that has been the heart of Occupy since the beginning of the protest. Is this the sign that the horn of war has been blown?

Personally, I was hoping that the ring of revolution was going to be felt through positives actions based on building a new world, and not violent actions like destroying the property of others. This is a point I addressed in my previous posting: http://occupywallst.org/forum/why-and-how-ows-must-change-or-onto-anarcho-syndic/

  • Why do you think Occupy has drastically changed its position in regards to the BlackBloc?
  • Do you think this change is a positive step for Occupy?

  • Is Occupy still non-violent, or is it taking a step towards the dark side by embracing the BlackBloc instead of distancing itself from it like before?

  • Do you think the destruction of property is non-violent because it doesn't hurt anybody physically?



Read the Rules
[-] 3 points by OccupyNews (1220) 9 years ago

Which part of "caused a rift amongst the march" are you not getting? I read a twitter feed where the person said they had left the march because of that very incident.

[-] 3 points by Thrasymaque (-2138) 9 years ago

The point is all previous OWS news items that appeared on this site clearly and strongly distanced Occupy from the BlackBloc. This recent news items calls their actions the "ring of revolution". This is a drastic change in position.

Why do you think Occupy has changed their representation of the BlackBloc in their news reports?

[-] 2 points by OccupyNews (1220) 9 years ago

Probably desperate for more members.

[-] 0 points by Cephalus (146) 9 years ago

That's a strange reply considering that you claim some protesters left the march because of the BlackBloc actions. I'm assuming the serious unnamed OWS journalist behind this report also knew that it turned some people off. Perhaps they simply lack intelligence?

[-] 1 points by OccupyNews (1220) 9 years ago

on http://www.occupynews.net, I set up an occupy twitter feed and I happened to catch a twitter about leaving the protest march once the glass was broken.

I applaud that person and whomever followed them away from the march, that took a lot of personal integrity.

[-] 1 points by freakyfriday (179) 9 years ago

Let's see...

Tent cities are empty in the northern climates. Here in Fort Wayne the occupiers are gone but their tents still stand. My city didn;t get bent out of shape since there were so few of them.

They are going broke according to MSM reports.

Maybe a little violence will attract a new following?

You were right Thrassy. OWS has been waving a red flag in front of the cops for wks. Bull baiting and that's been banned for ages since it's so cruel.

They've blown it now. Most Americans will be cheering baton swinging cops going forward. We are tired of their antics.

[-] 1 points by BannedForTruth (233) from Christiana, TN 9 years ago

One of the most intriguing things about the chaos of the G20 in Toronto has been the effectiveness with which the black-clad violent individuals (who we’ll indulge by calling the ‘black bloc’) have contributed to the protection of the G20, its message, and what it represents. I consider it more than likely that there were agents provocateurs of various police services among the black-clad mob. It is certain, however, that if so, they were standing shoulder-to-shoulder with non-police - supporters and perpetrators of violence and endorsers of the idea of ‘diversity of tactics’, which provides a tacit legitimation and sanction for violence in the name of protest. That fact in and of itself is perhaps the best irony, and to committed ‘black blocistes’, the most salient paradox of the useless chaos perpetrated in Toronto this past weekend by those in black. It is fatuous to attempt to convince oneself that they were all provocateurs. The fact is that there are individuals out there in the movements who like violent tactics. The preference for violence is usually couched in a strong anti-state perspective, which questions the legitimacy of police services at all - thus many who would style themselves as anarchists have attempted to lead the charge in defending and advocating for violent tactics.

For the better part of two months, I’ve been publicly attempting to debate, discuss and criticize the advocacy for violent tactics by those who think of themselves as activists or protesters, both on my blog and at rabble. It started with a reaction to a former student of mine - Alex Hundert - who has been arrested along with three other self-styled anarchists from the Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph areas. In his article criticizing Judy Rebick and celebrating ‘black bloc’ violent tactics, Alex made a public statement I felt deserved a public rebuttal, and I’ve been attempting to engage in this debate publicly ever since.

Now, ironically, I come to grips with the reality that Alex’s anarchism-inspired militant group, AW@L has more than likely been infiltrated since April 2009, along with other groups. The sheer logistics are interesting to consider - to gain trust, such undercover agents would have had to help nurture and support the type of defense and advocacy for violence on offer. Thus the agents have been complicit in helping nurture the kind of culture of support for violence that I and others criticize…

I also come to grips with the fact that the black-clad mob [protestors] in Toronto has left a lot of people not only in the general public but in the wider nonviolent social/global justice movements in Canada feeling disgusted, demoralized and dispirited. Just the result you want if your goal is to marginalize and stifle dissent. I would suggest that what the ‘blocistes’ accomplished was what many feminists have termed ‘silencing’. While the more numerous non-violent voices were indeed heard on the streets and at Queen’s Park (25 000 in the main march!), they weren’t ‘heard’ in the more meaningful, mass sense as loudly as the same reels of destruction overplayed in the media, and the same accounts of destruction and violence witnessed to on the ground by journalists, activists and citizens. The blocistes, in other words, are the most effective tool on the ground for silencing the valid concerns of the broad social movements questioning neoliberalism, corporations, imperialism and war - because like a ball dropped in a glass of water, they take the discursive space away from the broader movements, inviting and indeed compelling the public (through the media, of course) to only focus on the violence of smashing, burning, destroying, throwing, hitting… which are all pointless, repulsive, destructive, and frightening.

The stories of injuries to protesters from police batons, even of chilling night-time gunpoint raids in search of ‘persons of interest’ are all-too-easily marginalized in favour of the reality of the black-clad mob, wantonly doing violence and frightening anyone in their path. In turn, the media seized all too easily on the reality that many organizations and activists are reticent or refuse altogether to condemn violent tactics.

This major weakness in the movements is directly attributable to the aforementioned ‘diversity of tactics’ - which, if it were a ‘nonviolent diversity of tactics’, would not be destructive in serving to legitimate and justify violence under the cover of ‘refusing to judge’ activists. In the end, this is impossible - we all take moral positions, whether tacit or explicit, and accepting a ‘diversity of tactics’ is certainly a position that helps tacitly justify and legitimate violence.

The icing on the cake from the viewpoint of stifling dissent and effectively protecting the G20 is the reality that the violence of the black-clad mob served as a pretext for the completely undemocratic rounding up of hundreds of activists, some of whom are still detained as I write on Monday, reportedly in abhorrent conditions.

This movement on the part of the police only fuels the fire of the particular brand of violence-advocates who loathe the state - in fact it helps reinforce, from their point of view, a desired spectacle.

All of this is so much distraction from questioning the G20. The billion-plus Harper dollars did their part, but the violence-supporters in black ultimately did the more important cultural work of protecting the G20 and what it represents from criticism, by inviting justifiable criticism onto themselves

.__ http://canadiandimension.com/articles/3134/ _

I know it is a "conspiracy theory" but seriously study what they have done to movements, in a bad way. This article best show with one instance their "help" in movements.

[-] 1 points by ahorsenamedrex (9) 9 years ago

I think you should watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OReGYJtnTE and realize you're actually protecting the systemic racism, sexism, violence and abuse that stems from daily government activity. From reading this I think you could be some government stooge who is trying to bring dissent amongst the ranks of a movement. If you don't like a diversity of tactics then perhaps you should think about what side you're playing on.

[-] 3 points by BannedForTruth (233) from Christiana, TN 9 years ago

Look guy perception is the name of the game if you start breaking the 99%s windows they WILL turn against you.

[-] 2 points by April (3196) 9 years ago

Banned, I totally agree with you. But this is more than an issue of perception. Its reality. The reality is, the vast majority of Americans see this movement for what it is. Anarchy.

The movement has set the table, tries to blame the MSM, the authorities, the government. Anything to shift the blame, divert attention, demonize others, rather than looking at itself more honestly and critically. Rather than recognize or acknowledge the reality that their own principles and goals are the problem.

However valid some of the messages of the movement may be, this is sadly diminished by the principles, methods and tactics of this movement. As if the message could speak more loudly than the principles. As if anarchy and revolution is the only solution.

Now, as support and money is running low, they step up their tactics, practically inviting further BlackBloc activities and support, in order to gain attention. OWS ptb no more sees this as a problem than they do anarchy itself. They're just smart enough to ease into it slowly. Gather some support for the movement first, graduate into more violence, little by little.

This teeny tiny little movement, while it may capture some hearts, it will not capture the minds of the majority of Americans. People will not sign up for anarchy, and this movement will not be able to gain the strength in numbers for it to have the success it hopes to have, or that many regular supporters hopes it to have, so long as it continues in its current form.

[-] 1 points by Cephalus (146) 9 years ago

That was a good post!

A big portion of protesters don't seem to be anarchists. I'm talking about folks like ZenDog. Why don't they go to the general assemblies and take over Occupy from them?

[-] 0 points by XenuLives (1645) from Charlotte, NC 9 years ago

Probably because he has a full-time job like I do. I would love to participate in my local GA, but that's not going to happen except on the odd weekend.

[-] 1 points by ahorsenamedrex (9) 9 years ago

Oh, I didn't realize Bentley was the 99%. If you start getting all bent out of shape about this how are you gonna feel when you're living in a totalitarian society. Have fun with that.


[-] -2 points by ahorsenamedrex (9) 9 years ago

Sometimes you have to demolish an old structure in order to be able to rebuild. At times you can fix a structure form the inside but not this one, this one needs to be torn right down and we'll all start over. While you may not like the bloc how do you know that your way is the right way? You seem so certain that they are doing it wrong but I don't see the other way working out well either.

[-] 1 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 9 years ago

Wow. That's so full of shit and melodrama one hardly knows where to begin.

Since when is a car dealership an old structure needing demolishing?

Who are you, and what criteria do you use to determine what targets are appropriate?

Who the fuck are you to act in the name of OWS while violating its basic foundation of non-violence? What gives you the right to usurp OWS?

When OWS needs broad popular support, how dare you undermine its efforts by resorting to violence, which does more to lose that support than it gains anything?

What did smashing windows accomplish, other than turn people against OWS and put a few salesmen out of work for a few days?

Ever hear of Martin Luther King or Mahatma Ghandi? They accomplished a great deal. They did not resort to violence against others. In order to tear down an old structure and build a new one in its place, they were willing to sacrifice themselves, not do damage to others.

OWS has been crystal clear about about non-violence from the get-go. The founders understood very well that violence always backfires in popular protests. You don't seem to understand that.

The OP's question remains unanswered: Why has OWS not condemned this act and forcefully distance itself from BlackBloc?

[-] 1 points by ahorsenamedrex (9) 9 years ago

Oh, and if you were to ask any person in India who really freed them, they will tell you Bhagat Singh freed them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhagat_Singh

Ghandi was willing to subvert his own people and was willing to sell out their freedom to make some concession with the British. Bhagat Singh took direct action and actually made it impossible for the Brits to stay in India.

[-] 1 points by ahorsenamedrex (9) 9 years ago

You are putting up the Ghandi/MLK shield of non-violence while failing to see how those movements truly came to be successful. Yes, I am talking about using non-violent and sometimes more militant tactics to achieve a goal. Also it would appear that you are another person so engrained in protecting the oppressors that you consider property destruction 'violence'. I would recommend looking at this video by Derrick Jensen, somebody who is quite popular amongst the movement: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e75I4ysssoA And pardon me, but who are you to determine what OWS means for everyone. I was unaware we elected you as the dear leader. You also did not realize that I was not saying the building was a structure to be torn down. I was saying that the entire structure of oppression needs to be dismantled brick by brick, and sometimes these tactics are crucial for that, because it's so rotted out that we can't possibly insert some timber and consider it fixed. To answer the OP I will say this: OWS is a diversity of tactics, there are a lot of people protesting. To think that the white, middle-class, privileged method of marching and chanting works for everyone then you have become the usurper of a movement. I think that by shunning diversity you will be the ones to kill the movement and put all power back into the hands we are trying to remove.

[-] 1 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 9 years ago

If you think FOR A SECOND that vandalism will attract followers or increase "diversity", you are experiencing a break with reality.

The question is, do you want the movement to grow or be entirely marginalized?

OWS has, from the beginning, advocated non-violence. Look at the home page for this site. What does it say? "We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence ......"

It is YOU and those who justify violence that are harming this movement. It is YOU who are going against its basic principles. And it is YOU who are handing the power back to the one percent, giving them not only an excuse, but a popular mandate to shut the movement down. The popular mandates should be backing us, not the 1%, and violence and vandalism only makes achieving that all the more difficult. The usurpers are the vandals and those who support them.

Re Derrick Jensen: Non-violent civil disobedience is NOT pacifism. Anarchism is NOT violence. Breaking a window of a car dealership will NOT force Wall Street to change, let alone dismantle. Condoning the use of violence for diversity's sake condones ALL violence for ANY reason. And once that door is open, you lose control of the direction of the movement completely. I applaud Jensen's passion, I abhor his short-sighted, weakly rationalized, and unfounded condescension of non-violent CIVIL disobedience. Admiration of his pro-violent message, if it gains traction in the movement, will destroy it, and play right into the hands of the 1%.

And one other thing: non-violent civil disobedience is not the exclusive reserve of white middle class privilege. Its extremely effective use in the last century around the globe was invented by poor people of color. And it was done long before you were born. Those folks were actual heros. They didn't call themselves radicals, They just fashioned a method that was effective to make change, to make life better for people, instead of serve an aggrandized self-image. And they had the sufficient integrity to put their own lives on the line rather than smash windows. That you would use such a phrase is not an argument, but simple name-calling.

[-] 0 points by Cephalus (146) 9 years ago

I watched the video. I have to say I wasn't impressed with Jensen's level of intellectualism. The talk was very shallow. There are so many deeper thinkers around, why waste your time with him? He confuses many concepts and sounds extremely arrogant during his speech. He's the type of guy that impresses young adults who've barely read, nothing more.

[-] 1 points by ahorsenamedrex (9) 9 years ago

"So many deeper thinkers around" I see, and do you think that perhaps they are so stuck within academia that they fail to realize what is actually happening in the world around them? Do you think locking yourself in a study and writing a thick book on pacifism and Ghandi is going to help with a movement in North America that is entirely different? I have lost faith that people in North America are willing to put it all on the line for freedom, have you forgotten the acts of sabotage performed by revolutionaries in America prior to the first war (many of these direct actions were far more violent than breaking a couple windows).

[-] 0 points by Cephalus (146) 9 years ago

Derrick Jensen is a scholar. He wasn't magically brought to us by a stork.

You failed to notice that I criticized his intellectual depth, and not his position. There are much deeper anarcho-primitivists or anarcho-indigenous as he likes to call himself. Your reply falls totally off the mark. His talk in the video is aimed at 1st year university students who haven't read many books. It's simplistic and arrogant, and, honestly, I also found it boring.

[-] 0 points by Cephalus (146) 9 years ago

But why has Occupy suddenly changed its stance in regards to the BlackBloc. It was only a month ago that they were strongly distancing themselves from them. They used to call them a fringe group that did not represent the ideologies of Occupy.

It think this is a fair question since it's important that protesters know what they are agreeing with. Was it passed in a GA that Occupy would now support the property destruction brought about from the BlackBloc? Is it a tactic that we can expect to see more of?

Be honest, so that I can decide to march without you, or alone.

[-] 1 points by ahorsenamedrex (9) 9 years ago

Well if you read the article in question you would see that there was no condoning of the actions (the Bloc was specifically mentioned to ensure the other marchers were not included in the window) and I see some poetic license with the words "familiar sound of revolution". So if somebody could honestly show me where this is condoning the Bloc I'd appreciate it.

[-] 0 points by Cephalus (146) 9 years ago

...the familiar sound of revolution rang...

The key word is rang. The writer makes it sound like it's a call to arms.

It's also important to note that by distancing itself from the BlackBloc on many occasions in the past, Occupy made us think that the revolution they wanted had no familiarities with the BlackBloc. This wouldn't be the familiar sound of revolution if Occupy didn't support those acts, it would be extremely unfamiliar and not well received.

I assume you're an anarchist with close ties Occupy and its founders. Can you tell us if violence is in the cards? My assumption is that it always has been.

I also find it quite strange that Thrasymaque was shadow banned shortly after making this posting. Someone, somewhere, does not want us to talk about these matters.

[-] 1 points by ahorsenamedrex (9) 9 years ago

I can not say what is certain in the future. These are all individual moments that are building up and continually shifting to meet the needs of the movement. Because of the ever-changing nature I could not tell you what tactic will be used and when, but I can say that nobody is going around and trying to incite violence against people.

What I would just like to say about the bloc is this: There are a lot of anarchists and other radicals that use the bloc for it's purpose. That being said a lot of people who don't know the purpose think it's black clad kids busting windows and setting fires. To think that everybody in the bloc is one of the latter group is unfair and the actions of blocs should be judged individually and never as a cohesive set of attacks.

[-] 0 points by Cephalus (146) 9 years ago

I judge their actions individually. Don't worry. I still remember them in 1960's Montréal. The wonderful Front de Libération du Québec.

Thank you for your honesty. I'll admit my hope and support for Occupy is dwindling fast. We'll see what happens, but Iv'e predicted a few months ago that the protest would turn violent sooner or later and I'm starting to see evidence that this is indeed what is happening. By the end of next summer, I think the protest will have lost most of its support because of that violence. That's my prediction.

It's sad because the problems Occupy brings up are real. I just wish the protest wasn't led by anarchists. Those people are so disorganized ;-) I'm sure you know what I mean.

[-] 1 points by ahorsenamedrex (9) 9 years ago

Well us anarchists have been occupying everything long before OWS and we'll continue to occupy everything once everyone is tired of struggling and wants to go home. We are not disorganized as much as we are willing to grant autonomy to others because we would like that autonomy ourselves. You may not agree with the idea of being free to take responsibility for your actions but that is what we crave.

I also appreciate the fact that we've had a rather civil discussion about this. I hope that you will not leave so soon but perhaps give this a bit more time. There is no scientific method to bring about change, we're just like kids building in the sand trying to get it right.

[-] 0 points by Cephalus (146) 9 years ago

Iv'e read a lot about anarchy. I just finished Graeber's most recent book.

Unfortunately, I will be leaving very soon. Thrasymaque got banned because of this posting. It's just a matter of time before my other user, Cephalus, also gets booted.

I'm not interested by the freedom Occupy proposes. In that world, I can't even criticize the actions of the BlackBloc without being banned from this site. I'd rather keep the freedom that my mother country Canada already offers. The type of freedom proposed by OWS looks more like what you might find in China. Sorry, but getting banned for this post made it very clear to me as to what OWS is and isn't. It might be nice if you're an anarchist that promotes breaking windows, buy if you're like me, you get banned.

Later, and good luck with your anarcho-primitivism.