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Interesting debate taking place in Occupy Oakland. From January 8:

One of Occupy Oakland’s strongest points is the openness to autonomous action and diversity of tactics. LHO, an Occupy Oakland supporter, says this approach is what will make the difference.

“Revolution isn’t done with nonviolence and civil disobedience, it’s done with fighting the established order, like physically and violently,” he said. “There’s a difference between reform and revolution. We need it all to happen at the same time. There’s value in nonviolence because what the nonviolence aspect of this movement does is it creates a critical mass with the regular people of the society. And they realize these motherfuckers are talking some real shit, but they’re getting brutalized for doing nothing.”

“When we fight the pigs in the street, if we are all nonviolent we will just get crushed. There has to be some motherfuckers with teeth, there has to be some Black Bloc to throw some shit back at them and there’s value in that. There’s value in both aspects of fighting.”

“As an anarchist, personally, I will not tell anybody whether you should be violent or nonviolent, like whatever strategy you choose for your personal revolution, go with that shit. We need everything.”

And if the critical mass melts away?

What then, exactly? Somehow I feel I've seen this movie before.

NOTE Counter-argument. I think. Via.

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affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

On the topic of critical mass melting away - as I've noted before, data from 108 predominantly nonviolent resistance campaigns shows that the emergence of a violent flank reduces mass participation (note - in this graph, "radical" actually mean violent, not politically radical). The number of people participating is greatly reduced.

And indeed, Occupy Oakland is having trouble making quorum in its GAs and many people are talking about having dropped out of Occupy Oakland because of the Black Bloc violence. So you end up with increasing enrichment for the militant subset.

As Louis Proyect notes of Black Bloc: "at best they leave the impression that the fight against capitalism can only be carried out by a heroic minority at worst they leave people worrying about going to demonstrations."

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

Interesting link in the link of the counter argument:
To an essay on the commons and Occupy.

Fortunately, the truths animating each of the objections suggest a way forward. In order to metamorphose from a protest movement into a revolutionary movement, Occupy will have to acknowledge division, build alternative practices and organizations, and assert a commonality. The set of ideas and practices built around the notion of the commons fulfills this function. The commons is a finite resource whose mode of disposition and usage is determined by the community of its users and producers. The finitude of the commons enables us to address social inequality and environmental limits to capitalist development in their dialectical unity

nasrudin's picture
Submitted by nasrudin on

...but I've done a bit of studying and a lot of reading, some before my direct experience, much more after. Zero university education on the subject -- I matriculated at Benning School for Boys and a few other deep-South bastions of "military science," and Huachuca, Yuma, Carson and Panama before practicing my counter-revolutionary craft (Infantry Operations and Intelligence) in Vietnam and Laos.

It's certain that if the French had stopped oppressing the people of "Indochina" and left -- respecting the locals' right to choose their own government -- there would have been no violence to accomplish those ends. The movement that eventually defeated the French, Japanese, and American imperial designs was willing to use whatever means were necessary, making enormous sacrifices, across generations, to rid themselves of rule by powers who were stronger in numbers, wealth, arms, training -- stronger in everything but their politics and their resolve.

I've always admired the courage of true pacifists, and adherents to non-violence -- the Quakers, Gandhi, MLK, etc. -- who were willing to risk their freedom, bodies, and lives in acts of civil disobedience. In several cases I was an active supporter, sometimes an active participant -- but I've never believed that those who control the major political parties in the US will hesitate to use violence to protect (and increase) their political and economic power, or even to prevent any reform substantive enough to relieve economic injustice.

MLK's assassination -- exactly one year after his "A Time to Break Silence" speech, excoriating US politics, declaring "...an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring" -- is an example.

Emma Goldman said if voting could change anything, it would be illegal. I believe that's true in the US, not just since "Citizens United," but for more than a century.

King's contemporary Malcolm X (also assassinated) talked about the ballot or the bullet. He also said:
"If you give people a thorough understanding of what it is that confronts them, and the basic causes that produce it, they'll create their own program."