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OWS nonviolence commitment

affinis's picture

1. As is generally recognized, OWS has a commitment to nonviolence. Here's the link to a Twitlonger post with relevant info on the nonviolence commitment.

2. There's a substantial complicating factor. According to this article from the site WagingNonviolence: "But New York’s Direct Action group has in its GA-passed guidelines a nod to respecting “a diversity of tactics”—which opens the floodgates. It means that, effectively, in an Occupy Wall Street action, you can’t assume that nonviolent discipline will be maintained by everyone in the movement."

3. Now I've tried to find GA-passed DA guidelines mentioning "diversity of tactics". So far, I can't find anything passed by NYCGA approving diversity of tactics (despite looking semi-exhaustively). However, I did find this:
March Guidelines
Posted 4 months ago on Sept. 25, 2011, 12:23 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
1. Stay together and KEEP MOVING!
2. Don't instigate cops or pedestrians with physical violence.
3. Use basic hand signals.
4. Empowered pace keeps at the front, back and middle of every march. These folks are empowered to make directional decisions and guide the march.
5. We respect diversity of tactics, but consider how our actions may affect the entire group."

The above March Guidelines were created by the Direct Action Working Group.

I also found a couple relevant passages from reportbacks or discussions at the NYCGA:

From 11/3
"48.1.1. Direct Action (DA) – Breakout Groups and Park Defense Training
48.1.1.9. Clarifying Question (CQ): I was wondering, why is it so important that we use nonviolence over violence?
Response: this is a really complicated discussion. People over there need to hear. The question that was posed is why are we using nonviolence as opposed to violence. Obviously this is really complicated. DA’s guidelines support a diversity of tactics. That’s a really great concept that can mean different things, much like the concept of violence. What we want to emphasize is that your actions affect yourself and others. We also consider self-defense as nonviolence. But that’s just us. And we have to support each other through solidarity. If someone makes a decision that we don’t agree with politically, but we’re all being beaten, we should probably stick together and not alienate each other based on political choices surrounding violence or nonviolence, because usually that will break us apart even faster, and that’s using the same tactics as the cops. Also we cannot police each other, that’s just wrong."

From 9/19
"3.1. Reportbacks from Working Groups
3.1.5. Direct action—Two outcomes from their meeting.
3.1.5.1. Nonviolence amendment added to a previously mentioned march guideline. The original guideline was 'do not instigate cops or pedestrians' but it was changed to 'do not instigate cops or pedestrians with physical violence.'

4. To restate - So far I haven't found a GA vote approving "DA Guidelines" or "March Guidelines" with the "diversity of tactics" language.

One possibility, that looks likely to me at this point, is that the article from WagingNonviolence might be slightly wrong - that the March Guidelines were just promulgated by the DA Working Group but were never "GA approved". But again - can't be certain of this since haven't had the time to search exhaustively (though I looked fairly thoroughly).

5. So from a purely "legalistic" perspective, here's how it looks to me:
a. The GA has passed policies that prohibit violence, including verbal violence.
b. There is a "March Guideline" developed by the DA Working Group that say "we respect diversity of tactics". But "diversity of tactics" is a vague phrase - and some have said that in a nonviolence context, it can just mean that everybody can do what they want, but with the constraint that all the choices must be nonviolent. [Though usually DoT is just a code phrase for allowing violence/property destruction - sort of like "states rights" and segregation.]
c. GA passed policies supercede anything developed by a working group (e.g. there's a "Demands" Working Group, but currently OWS has no formal demands, since the output of the Demands Working Group has never been passed by the NYCGA, and it's generally understood that the anarchists in the NYCGA will never allow a set of demands to pass).
d. So formally, I think OWS is committed to nonviolence.
e. Even the "March Guidelines" would prohibit the kinds of actions occurring at the OWS Sunday Solidarity march. Throwing bottles at cops instigates violence (violating guideline #2).
f. Advocates of violence can reinterpret words - specifically the meaning of the term "violence", to do whatever they want. E.g. Some claim that property destruction isn't violence. Some claim that "self defense" isn't violence - and "self defense" can be construed so broadly as to allow anything.

Just for the hell of it, I'm going to include here the definition of "violence' provided by Google (since I think it conforms to the general understanding of the word).
violence - noun - Behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.

6. I'm posting about this because of the current debate on "diversity of tactics" versus nonviolence. Some core folks in OWS, particularly in the OWS Direct Action Working Group are advocating more aggro and are arguing that OWS has never committed itself to nonviolence.

https://twitter.com/heratylaw/status/158011941892276225
http://twitter.com/heratylaw/status/155418127759454209
https://twitter.com/sabokitty/status/163748111070658561
https://twitter.com/EatingMyPeaz/status/163739312490418177

There is an InterOccupy conference call scheduled today to discuss diversity of tactics versus nonviolence.
http://twitter.com/_girlalex/status/165990220519571456

7. I'm also finding myself disturbed by the recent uptick in OWS doublespeak/spin. This is what politicians do, and there's a reason I don't trust politicians. For example, the patently false claim by OWS tactical "Despite tweets stating otherwise, there is no black bloc present on this march. #j29". There was a Diversity of Tactics meeting before the march, people had been asked to come dressed in black, and some were dressed in black, wearing masks, and throwing shit at cops (a few bottles and some bags of garbage) and one of the masked guys in ninja drag attacked a livestreamer. That's by definition Black Bloc.
Straightforward honest communication builds trust and support. Spin does not (I think everyone's accustomed to and tired of spin).

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ChePasa's picture
Submitted by ChePasa on

a Nonviolent Resistance Campaign. Violent Resistance simply isn't part of the Occupy Movement, at all, anywhere within the Movement. Even Black Bloc and "the anarchists" are inherently Nonviolent by definition. No one at all within the Movement is even hinting at armed insurrection or the use of any sort of deadly force, which is the definition of a Violent Resistance Campaign.

When I made this observation in the breakout room I was in during the Nonviolence/Diversity of Tactics conference call (that lambert and you so kindly referenced), and said that we need to pay attention to the Bigger Picture rather than niggling so much over the fine points of what is/isn't "violence" and making "declarations" and so forth -- much as I've said here -- my comment was met with intense hostility and shocked disbelief.

It was interesting.

Most of the ones in the room I was in seemed to be so heavily invested in the narrowest definition of "nonviolence," that any suggestion of alternative ways of looking at the question was utterly unacceptable -- to the point of near violence toward me, at least rhetorically.

It was also interesting to hear Starhawk's more inclusive view and her deep frustration at the fact that after all these years, the problem is still unresolved. She's been in these trenches longer than I have. Her perspective on adopting/enabling "diversity of tactics" factions was that it just doesn't work. She didn't have time to expand on her thoughts about it, but it was clear that the movements she's been part of suffered when those factions had free rein.

There were others who pointed out that Diversity of Tactics and Black Bloc does not necessarily mean "violent" action, vandalism or anything of the sort, which is true. But who focuses on that? If a flag is burned or a bottle is thrown, or damn, a window is broken, mass hysteria within the movement results. My question is why? One of the responses was that the police then have an excuse to respond violently toward protesters. When I said that they don't need an "excuse", they act violently without provocation, I was called a "defeatist" for speaking the truth. Yes, well...

Nathan Schneider was one of the participants, but I can't say I recall his comments, sorry to say, because his perspectives about the Nonviolent employment of Diversity of Tactics is important.

Apparently I joined just as Boots Riley finished up his comments... though I'm not sure it was him, it's not mentioned in the minutes, and there was nothing from him or any other participant in OO subsequently, at least none identified as such. Lots of New Yorkers, though. If you're going to discuss these matters -- because of what's happening in Oakland, it's a good idea to include OO participants.

The overall discussion vis a vis Nonviolence/Diversity of Tactics literally has not moved an inch since last year when all hell broke lose more than once over "the anarchists" and Diversity of Tactics. Those who insist on the narrowest definition of Nonviolence still want or demand that Black Bloc and "the anarchists" be tamed or if not that they be gone. And some of the more militant activists still have a total "Fuck You!" attitude.

Nevertheless, I'm still an optimist about a resolution or even a synthesis in this apparently irresolvable conflict.

A good thing that came out of the discussion was the recognition of the necessity of more accessible nonviolence resistance training. Learning curves...

More in a week.

Submitted by lambert on

In reality, NV is decided by each Occupation's GA (making initial conditions incredibly important). There is no "by definition" because each GA bootstraps its own self-definition. Which is why the differences between OWS and OO matter, a commitment to NV being much more obvious in the first case than the latter. As @OakFoSho has pointed out, OO has consistently refused to vote for NV, and is reaping a bitter harvest in terms of decreased participation and effectiveness. I only hope that marginizalization doesn't cause the shrinking in-group to double down on #FAIL (exactly like our elites, if you think about it).

ChePasa's picture
Submitted by ChePasa on

Read your Chenoweth if you doubt me. It's not just her, either. Autonomy is a quite separate issue.

As for "effectiveness", you realize that OO has achieved a remarkable victory by thoroughly de-legitimizing Oakland's civic authorities, especially the mayor and the police, but including the city council and the civic administration.

It's an spectacular first-level victory, given all the catcalling and sniping from inside and outside over all those broken windows months and months ago -- an age in Occupy time -- and the flag burning last weekend (did you know there was more than one flag burned? Whodathunk.)

We'll see if they can take it to the next level.

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

Personally, I prefer to live in reality.

"OO has achieved a remarkable victory....It's an spectacular first-level victory"

CBS 5 Poll: ‘Occupy’ Movement Losing Bay Area Support

The poll, conducted for CBS 5 by the firm SurveyUSA, found 26 percent of Bay Arearesidents who said that they used to support the Occupy movement had now changed their minds. In addition, almost half (32 percent) of those who initially supported the Occupy movement said that they don’t like Occupy’s current activities.

When it comes to Oakland police response during recent protests, survey respondents were split: 35 percent said police were handling the protesters just about right, while 33 percent said police weren’t being harsh enough and 28 percent thought officers were too harsh.

Note, that's now only 28% that think the police have been too harsh.

Occupy used to be wildly popular in the Bay Area. Now, the percentage of people who think the police should have been harsher slightly (albeit not significantly) exceeds the percentage of people who still support Occupy.

Wow, what a spectacular first-level victory! Let's emulate this all over the place!

Incidentally, your Chenoweth "by definition" argument is also mistaken. She basically uses expert consensus to categorize as violent/nonviolent. It's not a "definition".

-----------------------------------------------
Addendum:

As I noted above "Advocates of violence can reinterpret words - specifically the meaning of the term 'violence', to do whatever they want."

Your claims about the definition of "violence" have some interesting implications. Under your definition, what the police have done to Occupy protesters is not violent.

Also, if someone threw a rock in your face (ala Black Bloc), I assume you'd continue to argue that their action was not violent?

And since we're playing around with definitions:
http://twitter.com/jaspergregory/status/162589451778920448
http://twitter.com/jaspergregory/status/163651724198940672

We can make words mean anything we want. What fun!

I'm kind of tired of counter-revolutionaries advocating actions that serve to justify and maintain the state.

------------------------------------
Addendum 2:

Yep, as you say, Black Bloc is inherently nonviolent.
My bad. I thought they weren't. But now I see that you're correct.

ChePasa's picture
Submitted by ChePasa on

I don't directly address your insults and hostility toward a point of view (mine) that is so discomforting to you -- and obviously to many others in the Nonviolence Community. Believe me, I understand how difficult it is to understand, let alone accept, a viewpoint that diverges so much from your own.

I can't stand in your shoes, but I can certainly sympathize with your discomfort at what I'm saying. These concepts can be highly disorienting.

Is it fair for me to assume that you understand the nature of polling in conflict situations, and that you are aware of the Bay Area's demographics, geography and history particularly as it relates to Oakland?

Would you agree that the Survey USA poll you cite is not germane to the proposition I'm making: that Occupy Oakland has achieved an astonishing victory (ie: has "won") by successfully de-legitimizing the civic authorities of Oakland?

You would agree, wouldn't you, that a telephone survey of 500 San Francisco area residents in the midst of a conflict situation doesn't give more than a marginal insight into the dynamics of Oakland itself, if that. Even Survey USA acknowledges highly problematical aspects of their methodology, so you'll understand if I take this poll in the spirit which it is intended: with a grain of salt.

It is not intended to nor can it reflect the reality in Oakland. Is it fair to assume you understand that?

What I hear you saying is that the question of the definition of Nonviolent vs Violent Resistance Campaigns is not open to interpretation or consensus of scholars, experts, and others, is that right? If I'm understanding you correctly, you prefer a narrower definition of Nonviolent Resistance. I've heard the same from others in the Nonviolence Community, and I may be conflating their points of view with yours, so if I'm wrong about your preferred definition, please excuse me. It's not intentional, I'm merely letting you know how it seems to me.

I do use a broad rather than a narrow definition of Nonviolent Resistance -- a definition that can easily accommodate "expressive" actions (to use David Graeber's phrase of art) that may include occasional mischief and vandalism. While I don't approve of those actions, because they can be so counterproductive, I don't make that much of them because they are 1) rare; 2) insignificant in the larger scheme of things; 3) are not intended to and almost never result in physical harm to a human being. In the context of Nonviolent Resistance vs Violent Resistance Campaigns, those infrequent "expressive" actions most definitely do fit into the "Nonviolent" category.

Whether I "approve" of those actions or not has no bearing on whether someone engages in them in any case; I'm (mercifully) not in control of the actions of others involved in the Occupy Movement, and I certainly don't try to control the decisions and actions of Occupy Oakland or its participants.

Nevertheless, I'm sure you'll understand my belief that it is a real stretch to assert that people who believe as I do about the difference between Nonviolent Resistance and Violent Resistance, are "violence advocates" or practitioners. It's simply false, and continuing to assert these sorts of falsehoods in the face of the truth is akin to a propaganda tactic that brings discredit to the accuser not the accused.

Question: what do those videos you posted links to have to do with Occupy Oakland?

Again: there is no Violent Resistance Campaign being advocated or engaged in anywhere within the Occupy Movement. There is no armed insurrection, no one is advocating or engaging in any such thing, and no one is using deadly force or the threat of it against their opposition -- except the police.

I know it's hard to accept that when somebody breaks a window or burns a flag, but that's the way it really is.

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

What I hear you saying is that the question of the definition of Nonviolent vs Violent Resistance Campaigns is not open to interpretation or consensus of scholars, experts, and others, is that right?
No. You made a claim that both Lambert and I have been calling you out on. Chenoweth does not provide a "definition" of the sort you claim.

Even Survey USA acknowledges highly problematical aspects of their methodology.
Cite needed. Survey USA just provides the standard polling methodology statement. If you want to claim what you assert, please back it up with evidence.

Regarding what you term "expressive acts"...So throwing a bike in a cops face (requiring stitches for facial lacerations) is an "expressive act". OK, I can see that. Next time I get justifiably angry, perhaps I should try that. If the recipient complains, I can explain that it was just an expressive act - I needed to express my legitimate anger. I can even tell them that expressive acts are protected by the first amendment. Alternatively, I could throw a rock through the window of the van they're in. Then I could explain that this isn't violence, since a van is an inanimate object and can't articulate feelings.

ChePasa's picture
Submitted by ChePasa on

is not credible. OPD is not a credible source. I'm sorry, there have been way too many lies from the OPD -- not to mention incredible levels of violence, murder and mayhem -- to take any claim they make at face value. They lie. What OPD claimed happened to their officers is probably false. I have not seen any evidence anywhere that supports their accusations. I would be happy to consider it if it existed, though.

I assume you are aware of the consent decree OPD is under and the current threat of federal receivership for failure to comply? There's a reason for it.

Given the consistency of OPD's falsehoods -- or rather out and out lies -- I would sooner believe the officers injured themselves -- or simply weren't injured at all.

What you personally do in conflict situations is up to you; I would assume you are self-assured enough and mature enough not to feel the need to justify any of your own violent acts by reference to what you read or saw on a video someone else did somewhere else at another time under differing conditions (whether what you read or were shown is true or not is not germane to this particular issue.)

There's a link to the Survey USA poll in the CBS link you provided. The Statement of Methodology is specific to that poll. Nothing in their statement contradicts a word I wrote about it; in fact, it reinforces my comments.

I'm sure you're aware that because of its nature, Chenoweth's and Stephan's work on the effectiveness of violent vs nonviolent resistance has to utilize a working definition of the terms otherwise it would be meaningless. Thus they state straight out that "nonviolent resistance achieves demands against the will of the opponent by seizing control of the conflict through widespread noncooperation and defiance. Violent coercion threatens physical violence against the opponent;" that is their initial working definition regardless of how it originated, it's one of the ones they use and elaborate on for the purposes of their study. Elsewhere they refine their working definitions, particularly of violent resistance campaigns, to specifically include armed insurgencies and the use of deadly force leading to significant numbers of deaths rather than simply the threat of physical harm. Again, these are their working definitions for the purposes of their research, regardless of how they came to them.

The definitions I've used for years are similar but not the same. To reiterate:

A Nonviolent Resistance Campaign is characterized by a strategy of disobedience and unarmed confrontation with illegitimate authority.

A Violent Resistance Campaign on the other hand is characterized by a strategy of armed insurrection and use of deadly force against illegitimate authority.

See the difference? Armed/unarmed? Insurrection/disobedience? Deadly force/confrontation? They're not the same thing. What is the same is the object of the resistance campaign: illegitimate authority.

The Nonviolence Community tends to use a far narrower definition of Nonviolent Resistance which has had the effect over time (depending on the community) of excluding even such clearly nonviolent tactics as defiance and confrontation, not to mention vandalism or flag burning.

I have great respect for the Nonviolence Community, particularly its faith-based advocates and practitioners, and I have never in my life advocated Violent Resistance as a rational political tool. However, I can understand how some circumstances could give rise to a Violent Resistance Campaign. We aren't in that situation in this country, and I hope we never are again, but it has happened in the past, and I can't predict the future. The necessity for violent resistance against the Nazis in Occupied Europe was never in serious question at the time. If a foreign army invades the United States and rules the way Nazi Germany ruled Europe, I might reconsider. Otherwise, we have all kinds of nonviolent tools available to achieve political objectives under current conditions.

ChePasa's picture
Submitted by ChePasa on

comes directly from the paper Jeff W so kindly linked to in your post on Chenoweth's power point slides. I downloaded the paper and I don't see a link in my bookmarks; I may not have saved it. If you want to verify the quote and the follow up expansion of their working definitions, be my guest. The title of the paper is: "Why Civil Resistance Works."

The definitions I use are my own, based on common sense and long experience. I've used essentially the same definitions for years. Chenoweth's working definitions are similar, and since you had made so much of Chenoweth and her work, it seemed to me it couldn't hurt for you to take another look at it.

Submitted by lambert on

First, cite your Chenoweth with a link and a quote. It's not my job to provide evidence to back your points.

Second, dear Lord, "remarkable victory"? Looks to me more like black bloc snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with their tactical blundering, and pissed away Scott Olsen's sacrifice into the bargain. Compare the port closures to a few FtP marches almost outnumbered by ghoulish reporters smelling an "if it bleeds, it leads" story: Any more victories like that, and there is no OO. Which OO, unlike you, tacitly acknowledges by shifting to NV (though not OO-wide).

I do understand why violence advocates would want to hijack the Occupy brand, and it's a clever tactic to combine a seemingly evenhanded rhetorical stance with redefining non-violence as violence. Perhaps with more practice the duplicity will be less evident.

ChePasa's picture
Submitted by ChePasa on

I've found you to be completely disinterested in cites and evidence in the past, and you've refused to provide them when asked, you'll understand if I pass on your request for them now. You have access to Chenoweth's body of work and to that of many others in the field as I do.

I think it's self-evident that we see what's happened and is happening in Oakland quite differently, and it is probably fair to say the disagreement is fundamental. I can't be sure of that because I admit to having trouble comprehending the point of some of your posts and comments, such as the third paragraph of the comment I'm responding to. I have no idea what that's supposed to mean. When I've been in these kinds of situations in the past, I've found there's actually a lot more agreement between me and another than not. Online communications can be inherently frustrating.

For the record, Occupy Oakland -- like the rest of the Occupy Movement -- has never engaged in or advocated a Violent Resistance Campaign.

But I repeat myself, this is tiresome, and I have an appointment.

Take care.

Submitted by Lex on

because, just like the real world, people only really want to associate with others that think, act and/or look just like them. The rest are enemies: either physically or rhetorically.

Ideology uber alles and misquotations (i.e. for all the talk about citation, maybe that quote from Gandhi could use one, eh?)

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

I've found you to be completely disinterested in cites and evidence in the past, and you've refused to provide them when asked, you'll understand if I pass on your request for them now.

Sorry, that's bullshit to cover laziness, and I have read nearly the exact same phrase out of other lazy bullshit artists that have occasionally frequented Corrente over the years. Usually after repeatedly having their ass handed to them for MUS (making up shit).

Sure, cutting and pasting links isn't nearly as fun or as easy as writing paragraph after paragraph of condescending bullshit, but don't fob off your laziness on some make-believe "disinterest" on Lambert's (or anyone else's) part. I've followed many of your links before, and they rarely have any kind of evidence which supports your claims. That is proving true right now in the Chenowith NV definitions thread where this very topic is now being discussed, after Jeff W did your work for you.

About all I've seen you write are polemics, pronouncements and condescension. It would be really nice if you would hop off that lame old horse, pull back the rhetoric, and use actual evidence to support your claims, rather than the namby pamby "I understand how hard it must be for you to grasp this reality" crap you fall back on all the time. And I mean ALL. THE. TIME.

Submitted by lambert on

I've been over-stretched, and I haven't answered some questions with my usual level of service to readers. Or my usually incisive curation, either.

However, leaving the cut and thrust of points aside, I think that all the questions have been answered, either by me or affinis, especially those pertaining to violence advocacy and/or incidents, in the totality of these postings.

Lots of this stuff is just unpleasant for me to read. There's something about the rhetorical stance that bugs me, but I haven't put my finger on it yet.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

Well, I've seen that "no interest" thing so many times, and so often times wrong, then seeing it all addressed, and, sure enough, it's been taken completely out of context (i.e. time waster).

The main thrust that I see is obfuscation ("I don't mean that, I mean that which is not that, and not not that."), and The Otter Defense ("Well you can think what you want about DOT, but I'm not going to sit here and listen to you bad-mouth the Occupy Movement!"). Combined with loads and loads of very specific leftist political jargon ("those are "tactics" not strategy, and they are, or are not, anarchists, maybe nihilists, why do you insist on the wrong terminology!").

Submitted by lambert on

... can't say what they mean directly. You've got to be awfully crude and generally right wing to do that, and probably also stupid. And even the forced pregnancy loons have strategies of indirection. So there's a sort of circling, pointing elsewhere, working-people-up-to-it flavor. The trope of inevitabilty helps, of course.

When I still read Ian's work on this, and I'd get the old "It's inevitable, look at the French Revolution," I'd ask, "Who, exactly, are you advocating killing?" And there was always an uneasy silence. Of course, when things spiral to that depth, there's always somebody with a list, usually a general in sunglasses....

ChePasa's picture
Submitted by ChePasa on

and I recognize that I don't always come across with humility.

Certainly my style of writing can be very assertive and insistent. I acknowledge it can be grating on some people, though I'm told a few hardy souls appreciate it.

I simply have no knowledge of these others of which you speak who have "had their asses handed to them" in their contributions to Correntewire. Perhaps you could find the time to provide a little more detail.

I declined to comply with lambert's request for the reasons I state, something which he seems to understand. I ask that you forgive me if I don't argue that point with you.

I don't advocate violence, and I don't feel a need to police it within Occupy, either. Nevertheless, I acknowledge there are many who feel that any sign of violence within the Movement -- or even nonviolent defiance or confrontation with authority -- must be policed and stopped from within in order to protect the Movement, to ensure its survival under increasingly difficult circumstances, and to demonstrate to potentially supportive members of the public the Movement's commitment to Nonviolence.

Many people of good will are working toward some sort of positive resolution to this argument. There's less yelling and more listening. I'm still very optimistic -- as I've been all along -- that a kind of synthesis and consensus will emerge.

It might not. One of the problems with finding a consensus on these issues is that some people involved in the discussions and arguments are clearly not of good will, but instead are people who seek dominance or to impose their will by command rather than consensus and who have made clear they will reject any decision that is reached by consensus that does align with their own requirements.

They have been heard from loud and clear.

I don't know what the resolution is at this point, all I know is that many good people are working toward finding it.

»

Submitted by lambert on

You write:

I don't advocate violence, and I don't feel a need to police it within Occupy, either.

The problem here, as I keep saying, is that violence and non-violence are asymmetrical. That is, it's very easy for violence practitioners to create the perception that a non-violent occupation has become violent with one or two incidents, but it's very difficult for non-violent practitioners to do the reverse once the perception has taken hold, no matter how many incidents of non-violent practice they create. ("1 gal. of water + 1 oz. of sewage = 1 gal. and 1 oz. of sewage").

Now, I have yet to write the post, which is coming, summarizing the tropes of violence advocates. I should say that violence advocates are by no means confined to anarchist factions; it's a widespread view, even the default view, in American culture; the NC post I did on Chenoweth provides many, many examples. In this way, at least, it's pretty funny to see how deeply conventional violence advocates are in their thinking.

I think the central metaphor for me is becoming "masking." Most violence advocates don't, after all, directly say what they mean. Even the abortion loons who murdered doctors didn't do that! It's almost as if violence advocates create a "negative space" in which violence seems the only outcome. My hesitation has nothing to do with writing that's "grating" or "insistent" or lacks humility; I'm not noted for humility myself. My hesitation has everything to do with not being able to sort out how much of the discourse is bullshit; not just wrong, but an artfully constructed system where truth has no relevance; I don't know the rhetorical tells in this arena quite as well as I know them in the discourse of the legacy parties. (Labeling critics as "police," and then undertaking one's own policing critique might be one example of such; it's a lot like the projection that the right uses.) But after blogging on political economy for many years, I will sort that out. All it takes is work.

Oh, and if calling bullshit be "policing, well, I'll make the most of it.

ChePasa's picture
Submitted by ChePasa on

by "violence advocates", how is a reader supposed to evaluate your declarative statements about them if we don't know who you're writing about and what they have said or written themselves?

That's part of my frustration with your accusations against a nameless and voiceless Other -- whoever you may conceive them to be.

Accusing a broad group without specifying who is included or what they have actually said or done is bewildering. It's also an old trick law enforcement uses to inspire a kind of nameless fear or dread of something "out there" that you "know" but can't put your finger on.

I'm aware that there are people who advocate violence who try to associate with Occupy but to my personal knowledge they don't get very far -- which is one reason why there is so little actual violence, and virtually no Black Bloc associated with Occupy at all. Those who want to smash things up, to my personal knowledge, may or may not get a full hearing -- probably not, once the subject is known -- and they are politely advised to fuck off, it's not what Occupy is or does.

The advocacy and the practice of violence within the Occupy framework is therefore extremely rare.

Nevertheless, the media's narrative about Occupy's inherently nonviolent resistance often requires featuring anything that deviates from the tightest possible definition of "nonviolence." And they can keep tightening that definition until literally any action whatsoever is defined as "violent" if you do it in opposition to or just in the presence of authority. We saw how it works in the case of the UC police and administrators who decided to re-define sitting and linking arms -- a classic nonviolent resistance tactic -- as "not-nonviolence." Yes, they looked like fools -- to us. But they didn't care what we thought; what they were doing was influencing how a generally uniformed public responded to the linking of arms. And it worked sufficiently for many people to still say the students "deserved what they got" because they were "not nonviolent."

They didn't do precisely what they were told when they were told to do it by police. That alone is enough to be labeled "violent" in many people's minds.

That's one of the reasons why so much of the discussion revolves around definitions. What are we talking about, anyway? And why fall into a media-authority narrative of the "violence" in the Movement?

Occupy is creating its own narrative. It's tough. So many people are still so heavily influenced by the media-authority narratives.

I advocate for the bigger picture narrative which focuses on the inherent nonviolence of the Movement as a whole, and consistently points out how rare any sort of violent acting out is in reality. And of course turning the focus right back where it belongs: on the official violence being unleashed on the demonstrators. There are others who really want to see a greater level of incident policing to reduce or eliminate the potential for violent acting out under all circumstances.

But this is not a violent resistance movement, it's not going to become one, and it is not riddled with people who advocate violence.

Submitted by lambert on

... the post is coming. By their tropes shall ye know them. I'm sorry I can't allocate my time as you desire.

NOTE In terms of actions that Occupations could take that would shorten and simplify all these conversations, I really don't know why what's good enough for OccupyMarines isn't good enough for anybody else. See under "Non-violent demonstration disclaimer." After all, if the violence is really such a minuscule problem that hardly ever happens and has no impact, why not just commit to not using it as a tactic?

ChePasa's picture
Submitted by ChePasa on

Naming names would help settle some of the hostility you've encountered every time you accuse a nameless Other of violence advocacy and imply or state they are infesting your threads here or at NC.

But accusations that rely only on "tropes" might well have the opposite effect.

ChePasa's picture
Submitted by ChePasa on

Autonomy and all that.

They like pissing off authoritarians though, so they probably won't do it.

Then again: BECAUSE they like to piss off authoritarians, they might adopt an even stricter nonviolence declaration...

More than to build a better future, isn't there

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

Did you mean, Yes, I think they should do that, but they should decide for themselves? Or did you mean yes I think they should decide for themselves and I'm not going to say what I think?

It was a pretty direct question.

Just like when I ask a similar question above and you say "it sounds easy", then start talking about your email volume.

Submitted by lambert on

You value autonomy higher than non-violence.* That's fair. Go do it elsewhere.

You were asking what's the test? There's a good one. And thank you for helping me evolve it.

You were asking me to name a violence advocate? That would be you.

Rule 11. Bye.

NOTE * This is easy to see. "Yes, they should decide for themselves" is identical in meaning to "No, unless they decide for themselves." The "yes" is mere obfuscation.

ChePasa's picture
Submitted by ChePasa on

Let me ask you this:

What do you think a nonviolence declaration such as Occupy Marine uses (which is similar to many others) accomplishes? In other words, how would Occupy Marines be functionally different without it or with a different way of expressing their commitment to nonviolence?

You seem to be saying that "every autonomous Occupy affiliated group should adopt this model nonviolence declaration" because if everyone is already committed to nonviolence but haven't officially declared it they should because it's so easy to do.

But how would doing so really change things? Would Occupy Marines be out smashing and burning throwing things if they didn't have the declaration of nonviolence but instead had adopted some other form of commitment, or even no specific declaration at all?

ChePasa's picture
Submitted by ChePasa on

yes, and yet if you could see my email, as I'm sure yours is just as chock full, you would see how very seriously people are taking the discussion, and how difficult it can be to reach a consensus on definitions of terms let alone a consensus on a declaration of some sort.

Sometimes.

Other times, it's a breeze.

I guess people, and especially people in groups, are just funny that way.

Submitted by lambert on

... some sort of managerial consultant. In fact, it's not about Okanagen's feelings. He's making a logical argument:

I've followed many of your links before, and they rarely have any kind of evidence which supports your claims.

Evidence counts. That's why it's not good enough, as you point out, to quote the OPD.

NOTE I almost forgot to say: "I've found you to be completely disinterested..." is, of course, wrong if generalized. You can check the moderation policies to see whether I'm disinterested; you can ask long time posters here (for example, okanagen) whether I make a practice of asking for links when there is no evidence. And somebody who was "completely disinterested" would hardly have checked with a Reuters stringer on their sourcing. Now, "I've found you to be" is another thing; I apologize for not giving your work the attention that you feel it deserves. C'est la vie!

ChePasa's picture
Submitted by ChePasa on

It was interesting that you apparently hadn't read Chenoweth's own paper, and apparently didn't read the quotes from it that were provided to you by me and by Jeff W, but you would engage in an extended email dialog with the author in which she essentially recapitulated what was in the paper.

That, at any rate, was the appearance of things...

Submitted by lambert on

To you, this is a free space that is magically provided. To me, it's my workplace. Some posters just aren't worth investing the time in. You may be one of them. In which case I will, after considering your total ouevre, then decide to grant your suicide request. Then again, you may be much misunderstood by me.

I mean, I could say "you appear to be a complete shithead as well an incredibly prolix bullshit artist," and then hide behind the weasel wording "you appear to be," right?

Then again, because I really am a rather forebearing moderator, I might not say that.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

But things happen fast on the interwebs.

I tried to give warning, the trajectory was familiar....

Submitted by lambert on

"Yes, they should do it themselves." The qualification "should do it themselves" means that autonomy ranks higher than non-violence. So that's that.

UPDATE Better than granting a suicide request, that is.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

He engaged the author in an extended discussion to clarify her position!

Horrors! Molly, bar the door!

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

Please read the moderation rules.

7. Comment subject lines:

Please call out a people by name in comment subject lines only when the content of the comment is positive (and not negative or even neutral The goal is to make people happy when they see their name). I know that, before I instituted this rule, I'd always get a stab of anxiety when I saw my name in Recent Comments. That wasn't pleasant, and I suspect others felt the same way. Also, we want to make sure that the focus in arguments is on the argument, and not on the person making the argument.

This isn't about my "anger and frustration"*, it's about your own bobbing and weaving to avoid specificity in what you advocate (sorry, don't unadvocate I mean). So yes, in the most recent case, the case of your saying that Chenowith's definition of violence includes everything that even Black Bloc was doing. that Black Bloc actions were defined by her as "non-violent" (and your refusing to provide the link), you just had your ass handed to you. Did I really need to tell you that? You were wrong. Incorrect. Mistaken. In error. Full of baloney. Inaccurate. Full of bullshit. All at best. At worst, deliberatly misleading.** Comprende?

When I say that I've seen people who have presented similar weak arguments for why they can't or won't back up their statements with evidence***, I say if from the perspective of being at Corrente for years. I've seen 'em come, and I've seen 'em go, and typically, they go (or get flicked), because they refuse to do the work to back up their arguments with references that clearly support their position or assertions. Unfortunately, you will have to trust me on this, because I am not going to search through years of threads to find examples for you.

Oh, and they also often devolve their arguments into moderation errors like the one you just displayed here. So maybe you should read them carefully.

Case in point, I note that it is interesting that you now refer to something called the "Movement", which is a very nifty sleight of hand. So what exactly is the "Movement"? Is it OWS, OO, anarchy, ending oligarchy, ending capitalism? Is it sometimes one thing, sometimes another? Is it Legion? Apparently it has some kind of self-appointed "police" force, (whatever that means also) who (and this is unclear) seek to impose their "dominance" (whatever that means also).

I guess, for me, the issue is this: a lot of people like me thought that OWS was a peaceful, non-violent movement, that it gained it's moral strength through that position. Now a certain small, very assertive and insistent group is pushing the notion that they should be able to practice what people like me feel is violence, as a tactic, under the name of OWS, and that I'm supposed to like it, accept it, and condone it or I'm a priveleged, progressive, liberal elite tool of the oligarchy, doing the establishment's work for it, oblivious to the "harsh realities" at play. So if saying I would opt out of that is expressing a desire for "dominance", then guilty as charged, and if there are people in the movement arguing strenuously on my behalf, then I say, go for the dominance!

This sounds a hell of a lot like 2008 to me, where I was told I didn't understand the "harsh realities" at play for why Obama was a good man and absolutely HAD to do things like not immediately close Gitmo and not prosecute Bush torturers and not immediately end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Seems like even on the "left" there are still always excuses for violence.

Funny that.

Or not.

* bonus points for infanilization, right in the comment header!
** only you know your intentions, I only know the facts here.
*** i.e. You never read them Lambert, so I'm not going to supply links or references, unwilling to understand that it isn't only Lambert that would like to see your evidence.

Submitted by lambert on

... since I'm not sure that Che Pasa has the privileges to rewrite comment headlines, so, speaking to you now, Che Pasa, I'm going to do this, at Okanagen's request.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

"1. As is generally recognized, OWS has a commitment to nonviolence."

"Generally recognized" by people with their heads buried in the sands, maybe.

Turlock