What a week. The fallout of Chris Hedges’ rantings continues to spread, uniting the anarchist world in a ways we haven’t seen in decades. The constant flow of replies to Hedges’ rantings has now moved from bloggers and activists to some of the the best known names in anarchism today, and spreading all over the radical sectors of the internet. Ironically, Hedges may have inadvertently proven his point – poorly constructed attacks only serve to benefit the intended target.

I don’t really know what would constitute an “official response” from the anarchist movement, but if you’ve managed to become the subject of essays by David Graeber, Peter Gelderloos and Kevin Carson within a few days of each other, that’s got to count for something. John Zerzan’s radio show has replied (though he’s off in India at the moment), Occupy Oakland has weighed in, as have a great many other radicals.

Chris Hedges’ Epic Fail – Solidarity with Anarchists – Occupy Oakland
Concerning the Violent Peace Police – David Graeber
The Surgeons of Occupy – Peter Gelderloos
Should Occupy Use Violence? (I Dunno, Should the Cops?) – Kevin Carson
Anarchy Radio (John Zerzan’s show) Responds
Violence Begets Defeat or Too Much Pacifism? – Michael Albert (not an anarchist, but Chomsky couldn’t be reached for comment)

All of these should make clear the profound and visceral reaction to Hedges’ writings. In light of this, and the large-scale debate which has ensued, he clarified his comments in an interview, or at least attempted to. This piece confirms, without a doubt, that the man has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about, but we’re assured that he suffered through several entire hours of Anarchy Radio for the purposes of research. He also makes very dubious claims about the Civil Rights movement, and still seems totally unaware that Derrick Jensen is a member of the nasty “anti-civilization” crowd he’s describing.

Interview – Chris Hedges About the Black Bloc

A number of things have become clear from the many responses. First would be that he grossly overstates the role of property destruction as a tactic in anything remotely Occupy-related, as well as overstating the black bloc’s role in those events. The coffee shop he mentions was in fact part of a chain, smashed by an individual wearing neither black nor a mask. More recent actions in Oakland, numerous participants have stated, followed a similar pattern with the black bloc as a part of the shield wall, and those who vandalized city hall part of a plain-clothed group who’d just escaped from an attempted mass arrest. In all of these cases, as well as recent actions in Portland and elsewhere, the scale of this destruction has been extremely minor – even the G20 in Toronto was fairly tame compared to more recent hockey riots, and none of these actions even approach that scale.

The next thing that has become clear is that while opinions differ on the effectiveness of various tactics in specific cases (and always will), solidarity is more important and many of us are willing to defend that. Many personal accounts from Oakland and elsewhere of people involved in these events have come out, and it’s pretty clear many have been deeply offended by these mis-characterizations. Hopefully the Occupy movement will take the word of those involved, but if much of the chatter I’ve witnessed on comment pages is any indication, the battle is far from over.

Occupy Oakland Move-In-Day Account

I will never say that I support every act of vandalism which comes along with a black mask or circle-A in spray paint. As I said the other day (and admittedly, I was a dick about it), even I have my issues with property destruction. However, I’d never go so far as to attempt to use force in my objection, and turning people over to the police is a fundamentally violent act. Collaboration with the authorities to publicly denounce or arrest those we organize with has consequences which go way beyond throwing rocks, both in terms of landing people in jail and shattering any hope of building a movement.

This discussion could not have come at a better time. Europe is erupting, again, threatening to throw a wrench into the gears of this year’s sudden dramatic surge in stock markets. Greek politicians have been struggling to pass austerity measures demanded by European bankers in exchange for continuing bailouts, prompting massive unrest (again). But while the black block attacked riot cops guarding the parliament with molotov cocktails, what response came from the police? Their unions are now threatening to side with the protesters and arrest IMF officials. Elsewhere in Belgium, striking firefighters refused to resort to such fiery tactics, and instead broke police lines with their hoses. Fighting has also broken out in Madrid. Obviously, in the fight against austerity programs in Europe, there’s still a place for a diversity of tactics.

Today another austerity bill hits the Greek parliament, amidst another general strike. It threatens to cut a fifth from the minimum wage and cut 15000 public sector jobs in an already collapsing economy, and the newly installed Prime Minister Papademos is threatening national ruin if it doesn’t pass. The question is, what tactics, if any, can stand in its way?

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