More nonsense from respectable members of the left February 6, 2012Posted by Summerspeaker in Anarchism, Queer politics.
Chris Hedges has just published an impressively inaccurate attack on “Black Bloc anarchists” as the scourge of the Occupy Wall Street movement. I recommend Don Gato’s response, but feel compelled to engagement myself as well because of the sheer absurdity involved. To begin with, Hedges makes the truly bizarre assertion that black bloc folks hate the Zapatistas. Let’s look at this in detail:
Black Bloc adherents detest those of us on the organized left and seek, quite consciously, to take away our tools of empowerment. They confuse acts of petty vandalism and a repellent cynicism with revolution. The real enemies, they argue, are not the corporate capitalists, but their collaborators among the unions, workers’ movements, radical intellectuals, environmental activists and populist movements such as the Zapatistas. Any group that seeks to rebuild social structures, especially through nonviolent acts of civil disobedience, rather than physically destroy, becomes, in the eyes of Black Bloc anarchists, the enemy. Black Bloc anarchists spend most of their fury not on the architects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or globalism, but on those, such as the Zapatistas, who respond to the problem. It is a grotesque inversion of value systems.
As Don Gato rightly points out, the black bloc isn’t a movement or tendency but a tactic employed with various different aims. That problem alone makes Hedges’ piece incoherent, but I want to push this further. In my experience, fans of the black bloc tactic and direct action also love the Zapatistas. One of my comrades who participated in Occupy Oakland has also visited and supported the EZLN. I’ve never known anarchists to denounce the Zapatistas, though I could imagine some postleft people doing so. I can only explain Hedges’ charge as a projection. In this piece, ey does exactly what ey claims the black bloc anarchists do: condemns those resist the system rather than the system itself. While some who use black block tactics indeed rail against authoritarian and reformist trends in protest movements, they consistently target the state and capital.
Consider the similarities between black bloc masks and those worn by the EZLN as well as other revolutionaries:
Hedges – with some help from Derrick Jensen – constructs eir black bloc anarchist adversaries as irrational and essentially savage. They care only about destruction and abhor strategy. The revel in unleashing the bestial lusts civilized people are supposed to repress. This rhetoric easily could have come form the nineteenth century; eugenicists racialized radicals in similar terms. I’m wary of any argument that channels such oppressive narratives. As Hedges damn well knows given eir celebration of Greek rioters, revolutions always or almost always include considerable destruction. The dreaded violence of the mob often has its basis in class struggle. I don’t view black bloc tactics as universally appropriate, but I stand in solidarity with diverse forms of resistance and reject these attempts to discipline bodies. I oppose the nightmarish system, not my comrades.