Twitter informs me that some bloke called Chris Hedges has written a rather silly critique of The Black Bloc Anarchists™ called ‘The Cancer of Occupy’. It presents a rather daft (which is to say inaccurate) account of the origins of the black bloc and ascribes to its adherents a range of political positions which are rather, um, controversial. Naturally, his article has provoked a range of responses.
Whatever its precise content in Oakland or elsewhere in the Occupy movement in the US, to the best of my knowledge the black bloc is better understood as a tactic having evolved among autonomist (or autonomous) social movements in Germany in the late 1970s and early 1980s, spreading elsewhere in Europe in the ensuing decade, and finally arriving at The Centre of the Universe in the early 1990s. See : George Katsiaficas, The Subversion of Politics, AK Press, 2006 (online) and David Van Deusen and Xaviar Massot (editors), The Black Bloc Papers, Breaking Glass Press, 2006 (online).
I dunno WTF is going on on the ground in Oakland but it’s kinda unfortunate that Hedges’ essay is as badly-written as it is as it addresses some serious questions regarding WITBD. Otherwise, the flaws in Hedges’ analysis are fairly self-evident I think; from his distorted account of the black bloc’s origins and conflation with a particular mode of anarchist politics (invoking John Zerzan, an essay not published by Zerzan on the EZLN, and so on), to an otherwise inexplicable reliance on Derrick Jensen for expert opinion and an under-theorisation *cough* of the relationship between violence and the state, police, media and social control.
More later maybe. Then again, maybe not.
Oh yeah. David ‘The Beast’ Graeber writes ‘Concerning the Violent Peace-Police: An Open Letter to Chris Hedges’, n+1, February 9, 2012; Peter ‘Monstrous’ Gelderloos dissects Hedges in ‘The Surgeons of Occupy’, Counterpunch, February 9, 2012.