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Hedges was wrong: Black Bloc isn't cancer

They're herpes.

The key is prevention: Just don't have relations with them. Still, it's not so bad: The occasional blister shedding its viral load, and the occasional sore or ulcer.

Still, "cancer" was over the top....

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Submitted by hipparchia on

from wikipedia [so always take with the requisite grain of salt]:

Occupy Wall Street is a protest that began on September 17, 2011 in Zuccotti Park, located in New York City's Wall Street financial district. The Canadian activist group Adbusters initiated the protest, which has led to Occupy protests and movements around the world.

i remember trying to convince you some months ago that (1) adbusters was the original occupy instigator, and (2) they are outside agitators.

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Submitted by affinis on

In fairness, a number of threads contributed to the origin of OWS besides Adbusters (e.g. A99, Bloombergville, etc.), though the Adbusters call was prominent.

However - hipp - you might find this of interest.
Original Adbusters OWS flyer
(graphic from last July, that accompanied the original Adbusters call for an occupation)

Most people focused on the ballerina and the bull.
Look behind the bull.
(I'll let you draw your own conclusions)

Submitted by lambert on

Pretty funny (assuming, and I have to say this, that it's the original. What's the provenance?)

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Submitted by affinis on

indeed identical to the original image in the pull-out poster of the September/October 2011 issue of Adbusters (Adbusters #97: Post-Anarchism) that arrived on newstands in July 2011. As noted in a New Yorker article (based on interview of Kalle Lasn) describing the poster: "The violence had a highly aestheticized, dreamlike quality—Adbusters' signature. 'What is our one demand?' the poster asked. 'Occupy Wall Street. Bring tent.'" Incidentally, such aesthetization of violence seems a common feature in Crimethinc and BB zines - one can trace this feature back to Sorel (and the "no demands" posture as well).

Submitted by lambert on

Asking for provenance is almost always good, and in this case really a gold mine (though Jeebus, new metaphors needed).

Damn (again).

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Submitted by jaspergregory on

I think of Anarchism as an HIV like virus which compromises the organizational immune system. Black Block is the result

Submitted by lambert on

.... I don't think we want to go there.... Herpes trivializes them, AIDS magnifies them. And the mechanisms of transmission and management are broadly simiilar...

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Submitted by affinis on

from polemical games, that's an insightful analogy.
My first occupation based on many of these organizational forms (e.g. consensus GA, etc.) was in 85 (a few peeps there even had a bit of experience with Berlin squatter/autonomen movement). I suspect that many current Occupy participants (especially in the "liberal reformer" category) have only a partial understanding of what they're seeing - e.g. don't fully appreciate the depth/entrenchment (and implications for trajectory) of the roots (Sorel, Negri, the "no demands" posture - which can't be overcome given consensus GA decisionmaking, etc.). If the inherent logic is not fully grokked, the tendency is to respond rather ineffectually.

Submitted by lambert on

I'm not at all sure this polemic is a game. "Name it and claim it," ya know.

That said, I'm sure you're right. (It's been encounters with that discourse over the past few months that have really convinced me of the "entrenchment.") What would you classify as an effectual response?

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Submitted by affinis on

a good answer to that question.
Personally, I think there's a need for an entirely new organization. There are contingents in Occupy that are still doing good work (e.g. Alternative Banking Group, Occupy Bernal, etc.; BTW - not technically part of Occupy - but I think NNU's Robin Hood demos have been inspired).

But overall, many NVAs are (I think) making the mistake of not recognizing that BB-sympathetic rad anarchists are core in Occupy. And the organizational forms are inherently congruent with this ideological perspective, and are ultimately incongruent with alternatives. I suspect Hedges was surprised by the breadth of the visceral negative reaction to his article from within Occupy. In general, the historical threads contributing to Occupy (even some of the more recent threads such as the 2009 CA student occupations) are not adequately understood by many NVAs (I also suspect there's insufficient understanding of the some of the psychology and group dynamics elicited by the organizational forms). To try to purge or suppress BB in Occupy may be a fool's errand - and attempts arouse anger from rad anarchists in part because they perceive ownership (and I can even somewhat understand this perspective - essentially, if you want something different, you should make your own organization). One can try to dislodge/suppress a peripheral element - but not core elements of an organization. Even in Occupies such as OLA, that adopted a clear NV policy that's read at the opening of each GA, there's been "return of the repressed". And attempts (via InterOccupy) to propagate NV agreements at Occupies nationally (in response to events in OO) were pretty much a dismal failure.

In forum postings, some rad anarchists are quite explicit that Occupy was a cloaked anarchist vehicle - bringing masses of libs on board, but then creating problems insofar as anarchists had to play to two different audiences (and as you've pointed out before - there's a NV "truth in marketing" issue; though I'll also note that some of the threads/organizations that contributed to OWS, such as A99, appeared to intend full NV).

Submitted by lambert on

It's really pretty funny to imagine that OWS's success (and let us never forget the Capitol Occupations that preceded it which are, as it were, indigenous) was due to genius marketing by the anti-marketing AdBusters and a super choice of venue, and not to anarchist philosophy at all.

* * *

My first reaction to essentially "write it off" is that the public perception (so far, and remarkably, not polluted, despite the combined efforts of black bloc and our famously free press) to do so; that's an asset not to be written off. And there's also the idea that the fractal nature to some extent militates against the idea of central vs. peripheral tendencies. One might think of Occupy as a franchise with a three-ring binder, but a loose-leaf three ring binder.

My second reaction to "new organization" is initially, impossible, but then, obviously, it is possible. You could look at the D - X posting I'm doing as grinding the lenses for seeing that....

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Submitted by affinis on

Actually, I think at this point, the public perception is deeply polluted. That's visible all over the place, including in the falling polling numbers for support of OWS. It's even to the point of having become late-night comedian fodder (e.g. Bill Maher, who initially stated support for OWS: "They did a great job of bringing up the issue of income inequality to the floor, but now it's just a bunch of douchebags who think throwing a chair through the Starbucks window is going to bring on the revolution").

A large part of OWS's success was zeitgeist (coinciding with choice of location). Late last summer, you could feel it in the air - that finally, an appropriate spark could take off. Economic numbers had improved early in 2011, then began falling again. Another critical factor - libs finally began turning on Obama last summer (that wasn't happening yet in spring). Misplaced lib faith in Obama forstalled mass protests till that point. The timing was a large part of the difference between response to #OpESR (the reasonably well promoted yet unsuccessful attempt to occupy Zuccotti in July) and the response in September.

P.S. re "genius marketing by the anti-marketing Adbusters"

"The Situationists were the original Mad Men (in both senses of 'mad.') Yes, they felt about advertising the way the Spanish Inquisition — whose management style they appear to have emulated — felt about heretics. But they hated it so much that they became experts in it....Proof of the Situationists' ad acumen is that their successors have followed in their talented footsteps. According to Naomi Klein in 'No Logo,' several large corporations tried to hire AdBusters to create ironically hip ads for them."

Submitted by lambert on

1. The Capitol Occupations, and there were several before Occupy, were IMNSHO key to the Zeitgesit -- they were a bridge between Egypt and Manhattan (via Madrid).

2. Remember also the Zeese/Flowers effort, which had issues of its own, but was a parallel. "The test of independent invention."