Chris Hedges and B. Traven debate the black bloc
This is a useful discussion, up to a point, but it is somewhat artificial to discuss non-violence in the context of the ‘Black Block’ and the OWS.
And Hedges is not consistent. Let me note that he early on announces that he is not a pacifist. End of discussion. I wish he had made this clear from the start. So non-violence isn’t the answer.
He wants the OWS to be non-violent in the context of creating a mass movement, with some warnings about the far right. Fine, but the American Revolution was a mass movement, and quite violent. Hedges spouts a bit later some stale feminist rhetoric about hypermasculinity and violence. But again, this may be confusing the issue.
As for the Black Block, it seems fair to suggest that their tactics tend to coopt the organization and planning of groups with different tactics.
Hedges mentions the non-violence of the Russian revolution. Are you kidding? The February Revolution of 1817 was a beautiful episode of non-violent action, quite unwitting, and almost a fluke, and in the context of the superviolence all around it, in the first world war, which was grotesquely violent. We can’t factor that out of the equation. The subsequent violence of the Civil War was unprecedented. And the reason many have adopted non-violent tactics.
So the debate is a mess.
I suggest starting over with different people, without the red herring of the Black Block. And probably without Hedges’ contradictory stance.
He has said that he is not a pacifist. So his statements here about the the OWS are misleading, and probably faulty. I think his reaction in context is understandable, but after a year we can see that a mass movement is unlikely: the public is terrified even of non-violent confrontation. The surveillance alone scares them away.
All in all, to plead non-violence on other grounds, for tactical reasons, to create a movement, appears sensible. But there is an unseen deadline for action here. And that deadline has passed: no mass movement.
In any case, I support the OWS’ current strategy. Hedges is not a spokesman or leader for the OWS, so that’s the end of the discussion.
I have pursued a double perspective here, of supporting the OWS, willy nilly, from a distance, and pursuing various ideas of my own, e.g. the idea of a New Communism. Since I have no connection with the OWS there is no problem.
The current activist left doesn’t have any ‘violent’ options, so non-violent tactics are their only real option. That is not pacifism.