A Postcolonial reading of Chris Hedges

From Infoshop News

The sudden volte-face of famed Liberal destroyer Chris Hedges in his recent demonization of the Black Bloc, sinisterly entitled ‘The Cancer of Occupy’, is a wonderful introduction for North American activists to the field of Postcolonial Theory. Edward Said’s seminal text ‘Orientalism’ examines how Western study of ‘The Orient’ contributes to the functioning of colonial power. Representations of ‘The Orient” in Western texts purporting to offer knowledge and insight into ‘other’ countries actually perpetuates the dichotomy between the West and ‘Others’ – in so doing, reaffirming the colonial relationship, even long after postcolonialism has apparently been established following the decolonizing process. The role of former colonizer is adopted in the discourse by the white, educated Chris Hedges, who writes glowingly of Greece’s response to their economic crisis in an article from May 2010:

Call a general strike. Riot. Shut down the city centers. Toss the bastards out. Do not be afraid of the language of class warfare—the rich versus the poor, the oligarchs versus the citizens, the capitalists versus the proletariat. The Greeks, unlike most of us, get it.

The Greeks, here, take the liminal role of “other”. In Hedges’ terms, they mimic his intellectual, activist ideals, without ever becoming equal to him. They are the student: he the master, echoing Thomas Babington Macaulay’s ‘Minutes on Indian Education’ printed in 1835, which set out an agenda to train ‘natives’ who were ‘Indian in blood and colour’ to become ‘English in taste, in opinions, in morals, in intellect’. These mimics would constitute a class who could protect British interests and help them in exerting rule over the empire. They would emulate, but never initiate or fully embody the ruling class values, in so doing ensuring their subjection and reliance on the colonizer. Hedges exhorts his ideal Occupiers to do the same, to denounce Diversity of Tactics, and to hurl their anarchist and Black Bloc comrades beneath the bus, by handing them over to the police. Hedges quotes indignant former eco-terrorist Derrick Jensen struggling with the radical aversion to resorting to the representatives of militaristic rule, to deal with internal problems: “When I called the police after I received death threats, I became to Black Bloc anarchists ‘a pig lover.’”

This indignity alone, it seems, is enough to fuel Jensen and Hedge’s disturbing anti-anarchist rant.

Frantz Fanon writes in ‘Black Skin, White Masks’, that:

… it is not the colonialist self or the colonized other, but the disturbing difference in between that constitutes the figure of colonial otherness – the white man’s artifice inscribed on the black man’s body.

Fanon’s works examine the psychological affects of colonialism upon people of color in a predominantly white world. His work remains salient, particularly in the context of the Western desire to appropriate, claim and ‘orientalize’ the revolutionary activities in ‘other’ countries, in order to inscribe their name upon the successful results. Egypt under Mubharak is characterized as bad and anti-American, anti-democratic, inhumane…. Egypt revolting in order to embrace democracy is appropriated, through Western discourse, as a prodigal student of Western ideals. This can be seen clearly in Hedges’ ‘white man’s artifice’ – the approbation he gives to his students, the Greeks. “Riot. Shut down the city centers. Toss the bastards out”, Hedges’ exhorts Greece gloatingly. Compare this to his contradictory attitude to the “cancerous” anarchists of the Black Bloc, who, it seems, follow similar tactics to those Hedges admires in Greece – though the Black Bloc of Oakland have not yet come near to the violence and chaos of Greece. Despite this, Oakland’s Black Bloc has provoked the ire of a Master who finds himself discarded and bypassed – overtaken, unwanted, and left to struggle in their wake. Hedges does not recognize the autonomous discourse the Oakland Black Bloc utilize – or perhaps he feels slighted that they abandoned the “accepted” discourse, and appropriated another, before he, the patriarchal father, gave permission. The Oakland Black Bloc is not subject to Hedges, the colonizer, does not, therefore, have “the white man’s artifice inscribed on the black man’s body”, and so is rejected and penalized by Hedges:

Random acts of violence, looting and vandalism are justified, in the jargon of the movement, as components of “feral” or “spontaneous insurrection.” These acts, the movement argues, can never be organized. Organization, in the thinking of the movement, implies hierarchy, which must always be opposed. There can be no restraints on “feral” or “spontaneous” acts of insurrection. Whoever gets hurt gets hurt. Whatever gets destroyed gets destroyed.

There is a word for this—“criminal.”

Greece: the underdogs of Europe, the European ‘other’, are allowed – even encouraged – to riot. Violence, looting and vandalism are approved when it is to cast out the Colonizer’s enemy, which could, perhaps, result in the strengthening of a new colonialist discourse, the ‘other’s’ continuing subjection to a new colonizer – that which Hedges represents.  Fanon notes that “The effect consciously sought by colonialism was to drive into the natives’ heads the idea that if the settlers were to leave, they would at once fall back into barbarism, degradation and bestiality”.

We see this at play in Hedge’s dark fear-mongering of the consequences of diversity of tactics in Oakland and the “Black Bloc”:

…the Occupy movement, through its steadfast refusal to respond to police provocation, resonated across the country. Losing this moral authority, this ability to show through nonviolent protest the corruption and decadence of the corporate state, would be crippling to the movement. It would reduce us to the moral degradation of our oppressors. And that is what our oppressors want.

Yet these are the same tactics – less violent, less widespread – that Hedges applauded in Greece.

Hedges is not alone in reproducing paradoxical colonialist discourse when talking of ‘other’ countries. Frequently, self-proclaimed ‘nonviolent’ participants in the Occupy movement talk in adoring terms of those in Tahrir Square and Syria, invoking the misty-eyed myth that their struggles with state oppression and police brutality in America, are somehow comparable to their comrades’ battles in the Middle East. Again, Said’s ‘Orientalism’ is worth invoking with the central tenet that knowledge is never innocent. Knowledge is always profoundly connected with the operations of power. Holding up Gandhi and Dr Martin Luther King as fuzzy and politically correct (because brown) proponents of nonviolence, Western nonviolent pacifists conveniently slide over the white lauding of both Gandhi and MLK precisely because both these figures failed to threaten the hegemony of the ruling classes by participating in the colonialist discourse in the language of the colonizer. Both Gandhi and MLK were, in a sense, “different” in blood and color, but “western” in taste, in opinions, in morals, in intellect, and in perpetuating the moral and ethical superiority of the nonviolence both individuals had appropriated from the western discourse itself. Gandhi’s notion of nonviolence was forged as a hybrid between Emerson, Thoreau, Tolstoy and ‘Ram Rajya’. King’s was formed predominantly by Gandhi’s influence, and a trip to postcolonial India in 1957.

The translation which occurs in Western colonial discourse mythologizes these Middle-Eastern struggles as somehow equal to North American struggles, and yet different to them. Such myths either promote the idea that the Egyptian revolution has been ‘nonviolent’ and ‘non-violent’, or that the violence on the side of the oppressed in, for example, Tahrir Square, is accepted and acceptable, without acknowledging or explaining the contradiction that it is never acceptable in North America. This promotes and sustains the idea that those in Western countries are, again, the same but different. They are different because they are better. North Americans and Europeans cannot expect revolutionaries in foreign lands to adhere to the same moral and ethical superiority as themselves, the true practitioners of nonviolence and pacifism. The Egyptian revolutionaries protesting in Tahrir Square get a free pass to throw stones because they are ‘less than’ North American protestors, and it sustains North American superiority to characterize our struggle in the West as a struggle which takes place on a higher moral and ethical plain. Despite the fact police brutality is a common and everyday occurrence for many Americans, particularly those living in poverty and homelessness, middle-class educated Occupiers such as Hedges decry the notion of violence as daily routine, because it occurs mainly to uneducated, socially, economically and racially ‘inferior’ sections of the American population. Revolutions on American soil must therefore adhere to a puritanical notion of nonviolence that brings the terminology under the Hegemonic control of those privileged few such as Hedges, who manipulate the discourse to give themselves the advantage, and discredit those who are ‘other’:

This is exactly what pacifists have done in phrasing the disagreement as violence vs. nonviolence. Critics of nonviolence typically use this dichotomy, with which most of us fundamentally disagree, and push to expand the boundaries of nonviolence so that tactics we support, such as property destruction, may be supported within a nonviolent framework, indicating how disempowered and delegitimized we are. – Peter Gelderloos

This emphasis on creating clear, defined dichotomies in order to “delegitimize” thinkers is another tool favored by the colonizer to oppress. The conflation between violence and diversity of tactics is thus another method of controlling and subjugating difference through language. The colonizer creates “the other” in order to define themselves by the perceived deficiency. Hedges’ draws the Black Bloc as the “other”, using colonizing language to create a fantastical, faceless bogeyman against which he can define himself and the “good” members of the Occupy movement, not these fakers, these hooligans, these “Black” bloc anarchists. The binary opposition of black/white good/bad is never explicitly stated, but played upon through Hedge’s powerful, derogatory language. Language is power. In deliberately misappropriating the tactical term ‘black bloc’ as an adjective, and in some cases even a noun, Hedges, perhaps intentionally, creates a mythical, frightening, all-powerful and wholly evil enemy… which does not actually exist:

The Black Bloc movement bears the rigidity and dogmatism of all absolutism sects. Its adherents alone possess the truth. They alone understand. They alone arrogate the right, because they are enlightened and we are not, to dismiss and ignore competing points of view as infantile and irrelevant. They hear only their own voices. They heed only their own thoughts. They believe only their own clichés. And this makes them not only deeply intolerant but stupid.

The struggle for the power to name oneself is enacted within words – to remove that power of naming is a specifically colonial, patriarchal act. No matter to Hedges that the diversity of tactics advocated by the anarchists he quotes and praises in the article on Greece, pushes not towards the replacement of hegemonic nonviolence with an “absolutist sect”, but rather towards a coalition of thought and action which represents the broadest spectrum of thinking and action by which to challenge the structures of oppression. To Hedges, preaching the exclusion of these faceless ‘black bloc’ individuals (which he later clarifies, somewhat disparagingly, given their impressive build up, as “a handful of hooligans”) there is no apparent contradiction. All who approve of violence in Egypt / Greece / Syria by the revolting masses, cannot ever hope to introduce it into their actions in North America. To do so is tantamount to a revolution – against the white, educated face of Hedges and his reformist sect. In a patriarchal twist of breathtaking hypocrisy, Hedges justifies his bigotry by claiming to be speaking “for” segments of the Oakland activist population who apparently cannot speak for themselves, presumably, in Hedges’ eyes, because of their race:

These anarchists represent no one but themselves. Those in Oakland, although most are white and many are not from the city, arrogantly dismiss Oakland’s African-American leaders, who, along with other local community organizers, should be determining the forms of resistance.

The contradictions of colonialism lie in its attempt to “civilize” its “other” – in this case, the Black Bloc anarchists – and simultaneously to fix them into perpetual otherness. We see this clearly in the apparent acceptable face of Diversity of Tactics in Syria, Greece and Egypt – but it’s abhorrence in North America and Europe.

In the process of decolonization, intellectuals and activists in the immediate political fall out of the deconstruction of empire, must still fight with its continuing legacy. In order to succeed in successfully destroying the dominant definitions of race, class, language and culture, they must offer an alternative to the old colonialist discourse, a new form which establishes itself as a formidale, powerful and distinct identity. This is what Oakland’s Black Bloc, the anarchists and the radicals of the Occupy movement are doing. The fact that they face resistance from the colonizer, represented by the white, educated face of Hedges, is only evidence that they are succeeding in challenging the old hegemonic ways of thinking. In the meantime, they leave Chris Hedges and his ilk struggling with the internal contradictions faced by their role as former colonizer, striving vainly to justify and sustain their old methods of control in the face of tumultuous revolution.

Like Sisyphus, we must imagine them happy.

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29 responses to “A Postcolonial reading of Chris Hedges

  1. swaneagle harijan

    Sadly, there are some serious issues with bully behaviors with a serious number of DOT supportive people. I find the skirting of what goes on troublesome as well as a huge lack of self discipline among many of the hit and runners. BB is an elephant that most ignore due to fear or need to belong. It will be detrimental to us all to fail at self critique.

    https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10151254116590013

  2. It does not seem to me that Hedges and a post colonial reading of him are diametrically opposed. “Violence” is a tactic like any other that should be used properly in the right time and place. But since it is such a serious tactic and can provoke serious response, it should be thought through carefully. The link above is instructive. The Panthers did not engage in the sort of violence that the Weather Underground did, yet they were/are constantly described as violent. Just as we have to (I think) support all violence of the oppressed against their violent oppressors, we must also take care to assure that we are not allowing individualist forces to put a movement in danger. If riots broke out in our cities today as did after the MLK assassination, I would support that response. But, that does not mean that I support a few BB members damaging property for the sake of making their own point. It is important to discuss and debate all tactics and to have discipline in the movement. We cannot control all, but we can be clear in our mission and tactics. A time will come when we must take all necessary means. A city may break out in riots tomorrow (lead by those most oppressed, not those most pure in their politics) and I think we should support those who rise against our common enemy. These are not contradictions, they are an attempt to clarify where these arguments can meet and move forward. The debate is important. The resolution will come with honest, open debate.

    • While your point about the BPP being targeted as violent when they were mostly actually focusing on their meal programs, etc., is very valid, as are their words on the Weather Underground, I find myself wondering how that applies in the context of, say, the Black Liberation Army.

  3. esteban caliente

    This attempted hit piece against Hedges is laughable and predictable. Using the race card and fancy academic language like some grad-school circle-jerk when what you really mean is “waaaah! Chris Hedges is a big bad meanie who attacked us and hurt our feelings!” You’re just throwing up a smoke screen of sophistry in order to save face and deny that the Oakland BB screwed up, big time. And the BB in general has been screwing up for years. They need to grow up, but of course, they never will because there will always be more young men whose frontal lobes haven’t finished developing, full of surging testosterone, ready to replenish the ranks.

  4. Dear Harsha Walia, you have a white face so the police are not going to pick on you despite the tiny bit of black blood you are making such a fuss about. You do not represent the experiences of black women.

    Also, please explain why you are helping the American police state by damaging the protest movement which you were not smart enough to start yourselves.
    Adopting a white European strategy which is now 30 years out of date shows how out of touch you are with how to confront the military might of contemporary America.
    You come across like a bunch of flaky adolescent wankers desperate for some street cred because you are not hardcore enough to understand the situation America is in.

    • Wow, that’s quite venomous. White face? While white privilege must be recognized and confronted, “whiteness” shouldn’t be stigmatized by radicals (while we simultaneously critique manifestations of “white guilt” and other enactments of social stigmatization in our “white” allies) like that. Also, not that it should be a qualification for validity of a human being, but Harsha certainly doesn’t have a white face. Not that it should stigmatize her if she did, but come on, she’s certainly not “white”-presenting in the sense of physical appearance that leads to socialization as a beneficiary of white privilege. It’s simply fucked up on multiple levels to attempt to use that as a weapon against her. And I don’t think that she, as a woman of color, was purporting to speak for the experiences of black women categorically or anything like that.

      The rest of your comment is so absurd as to not warrant a response. Suffice it to say that such suggestions are extremely insulting to the many people who utilize the tactics you seem to be vilifying who are not “white”, European or of settler origin, etc., nor is the efficacy of their tactics out of date (i’d be interested to learn why you make that argument).

      I’d just end by saying that the black bloc is a tactic, and can be misused. I am not here to categorically defend any instance of a black bloc, because by nature they’re comprised of individuals and small affinity groups, and any number of things can come out of that. Some black blocs are highly effective, some are not. The tactic itself is contextual and not always appropriate, and has its own limitations. Anyone who is arguing for the black bloc for its own sake is ignoring the issue of strategies, tactics, and effectiveness. A black bloc is not always appropriate, but it’s also not always inappropriate. Beyond that, it’s a tactic that can manifest in as diverse a number of ways as there are individuals involved and intersections of their individualities. It’s really not that hard to understand.

      So if you’re arguing that minor property damage in what’s outdated, i might kinda agree. It’s certainly too limited in scope, and occasionally somewhat misdirected, when it could have been put to better use. You speak of the situation amerikkka is in, but I’m not sure what it is you think it will take to remedy that situation. Are you suggesting that due to the repressive apparatus of the State, non-violent civil disobedience is our one and only option? Because if so, you’re doing their job for them. The entire *point* of a repressive apparatus is to, through the threat or use of coercive force, intimidate otherwise free human beings into relegating themselves to—in and of themselves—entirely ineffective means of redress. To argue against fierce resistance on the grounds of the military might of the State is to fulfill their very repressive objective to begin with.

  5. Reblogged this on Symptomatic Redness and commented:
    This is part of the structural problem of Harris’ moralism. It’s moralism that posits others, exceptions, and special circumstance to maintain it’s moral critique. Also it is Hedge’s America exceptional-ism inverted.

  6. What a bunch of grad school blather.

    • i mean, i guess i can’t disagree that postcolonial discourse is academic nomenclature. while i wish such schools of thought were more accessible to all, they’re certainly cloaked in intellectual jargon. but jargon is just jargon, intellectual or otherwise, and if you can decipher the core meanings that you yourself might articulate in more “simple”, non-academic terms, it can still be useful. that said, i still find the inherent elitism of such academic/intellectual writing somewhat irritating, even if i am successful in deciphering it. i can certainly understand why it would alienate people (annoy them) enough to cause them to lose interest.

  7. swaneagle harijan

    If i had days, i could go into the details of the similarities of white male dominance in society to what i have experienced and witnessed as an activist-mother over the years. I am hyper sensitive to domination as well as other behaviors that continues lubing life for white males. Many people follow white men, no matter the context. I exclude myself from most of what many people do because i will not compete and i will not intentionally put myself where i am going to be oppressed. My heart is deeply called and what i see happening around me causes a deep yearning to work with women and in solidarity with Indigenous people who struggle to maintain their ancient ways.Why i have to see the same competition for dominance going on over and over that claims to be egalitarian is beyond me. Most, if not all of us, are institutionalized and badly damaged by how we were raised and educated. I seek ways that honor and call to the deep good in each. What is happening is so old, mean and truly stupid at times, that i can’t endure it. Why not shape magic that truly inspires all, instead of those propelled by their own gratification calling it something it isn’t.

  8. Most of the ‘academic discourse’ printed here is just that. ‘Blah, blah, blah. I’m smarter than you due to the white middle class education I have. You and your remarks are ignorant. Hedges should choose a side. Etc…’. All of this is besides the point. If people decide to participate in BB tactics they should let everybody in the protest know so those people opposed to those actions can choose to not be brutalized by the police before the whole protest goes down. Last I heard there were children and the elderly/infirm at the last protest. Its easy for some young man to say ‘whoever gets hurt gets hurt’ when that person is strong physically and entering their prime. Its down right irresponible to your fellow man to start violence in mixed company. It shows inexperience and a blatant disregard for the thoughts, feelings, and situations other people have/are in, in regards to such actions. Young men love to think they’re smart and have all the answers. That is until they have their legs kicked out from under them. Such is the learning cycle of the modern, middle class or (poor), young man who believes he’s in the right and all others are mearly in the way. Many people have said the same thing. The mom and pop busn that is just trying to stay afloat and provide what employment it can should not be a target for these people. The idea that these people should just understand anarchism and give up their busn to be vandalized by BB actions for the good of everyone is just stupid and just shows how limited inexperienced and hot headed thinking can lead to destructive acts of the community, the movement, and ones self.
    Also, anybody can show up to an Occupy protest dressed in black and start violence with the police or damage property. Especially police provaceteurs. Yes we should all be anon. But, when members of the protest don’t recognize who is involved in these “actions” it means that people in Occupy will not be able to tell the BB action folks from the cops and others who show up to discredit Occupy and send the movement into riot mentality. Especially if no-one planned for a riot. The cops suck. No doubt. But, lowering yourself to their level is what they want.
    Journalists are always switching sides and stories. Get over it!

  9. I don’t like being a slave and I won’t “grow up” to come to accept my domination and proscribed role as well-entertained idiot in a system of social organization that robs my humanity, chews me up and spits me into the grave. Honestly, I can’t see where those who defend hedges want to take the USA and the world…back to a reformed and therefore strengthened system of exploitation and domination? With full preservation of, sexual and economic privileges preserved? Excuse me if I have no interest in going there, and apologies to your old mum if y’all’s path is obstructed and your garden party is ruined by your natural allies whose interests you have no interest in understanding or protecting.

    A letter from Cairo to the Occupy movement:
    “Those who said that the Egyptian revolution was peaceful did not see the horrors that police visited upon us, nor did they see the resistance and even force that revolutionaries used against the police to defend their tentative occupations and spaces: by the government’s own admission; 99 police stations were put to the torch, thousands of police cars were destroyed, and all of the ruling party’s offices around Egypt were burned down. Barricades were erected, officers were beaten back and pelted with rocks even as they fired tear gas and live ammunition on us. But at the end of the day on the 28th of January they retreated, and we had won our cities. It is not our desire to participate in violence, but it is even less our desire to lose.

    http://sysiphus-angrynewsfromaroundtheworld.blogspot.com/2011/12/we-are-1.html
    You only appreciate revenge in fiction films; when the mask is off you prefer submission. Faced with a hideous rotten society you fight in favour of a civil, measured, educated protest. A protest that remains at your level: on its knees. Now we know who the 1% that you hate so much are. With your cordons, your stewards, your accusations, you have shown everybody who your real enemy is. It is certainly not the ruling class, whom you address with respect. It’s us. We, who do not have a State to defend or improve. We, who do not have a market to protect or exploit. We, who do not want to exercise or suffer authority. We, for whom life is not reducible to a card to clock in with or a bank account to be safeguarded. We, for whom the crisis was not born with the recent speculations in the Stock Exchange or the incompetence of those sitting in Parliament today, but from living in this very social order in all its aspects. We, for whom every day is precarious in this world that we did not ask for, in which we have never seen ourselves, which suffocates us.
    We want nothing to do with your 99%. With your claims for a moderate capitalism and a well-run State. With your political gait that reduces power and privilege to the dimensions of a credit card. With your urban camping like nostalgic Boy Scouts. With the identification of your opponent, the source of the “injustice”, becoming more and more nuanced, intangible and out of reach. With your arms ever more outstretched to politicians, industrialists and guardians, and always more vigorous against the rebels. With your weaker and weaker actions that have become just a cozy interlude for the status quo. No, we don’t want your reforms, your collaborationism, your alienating jobs, your left claims reheated so many times that they make us throw up.
    We’ll take our chances elsewhere. Through the hopes, dreams and actions that have earned your condemnation. Carry on crossing the ocean of universal indignation. Raise your sails passing the ropes to bureaucrats and policemen. Share space and air with the scum that have made life on this planet unlivable. You’ve got it wrong. We are not interested in your gold, we do not want to conquer you. We want to make you go down with your entire cargo of death.

    • Wow! Cut to the jugular!
      Wester, you said:
      whose interests you have no interest in understanding or protecting.

      On the contrary, i think what we’re seeing is the results of a mind completely obliterated of its original great spirit. The no interest game is really hiding, fear. Fear systematically nursed into the trusting mind of those organized to help build empire. To attack that mind further may be good for letting go of our brimming-over pain (and definitely powerful in a Wasase dance, for example), but in my view and the view of the elder wisdom i’ve been inspired by, it’s pity we should reserve for such dupes. While we live fully engaged in our bests!

      Understand the institution that is so-called citizenship, understand the program, and know how to surf it. (Tho like in any wavey place, we sometimes wipe out)

      Surf and be a true inspiration! Instead of letting the pain eat us up inside (i’ve been there and done that!)

  10. One of the points that Harsha made about the BB is that they participated in defensive actions against police assault, that they “left no comrade behind”, that they un-arrested protesters. Now, BBs can be infiltrated by police – in fact, this was seen to occur in an action up in Quebec, where the phony BB tried to start a fight with police in front of media cameras, were detected and identified as police, and then ran back behind police lines where they were fake-arrested and later let go. I suggest that if you see a bunch of people dressed up as a BB go up and attack the police and then run back through the crowd of non-violent demonstrators, that what you have there isn’t a BB – they’re infiltrators doing agitprop. People like that should be taken down and unmasked using whatever means are necessary to do so – and see how many of them are carrying police radios and suchlike – and police ID, too, which can be livestreamed or sent up to the net using a phone cam.

    Police don’t act on “pretexts” or “excuses” when they commit acts of violence on unarmed non-resisting people. They’re acting under orders, and the level of force they’re authorized to use is a part of those orders. “Pretexts” are agitprop exercises for mainstream media to show the rest of the people who form their beliefs about the world from what they see on TV.

  11. Kathleen Bushman

    The author of this invective is – like most authors who weigh in with baseless personal invective – is an intellectual pygmy . who cannot begin to match the intellectual stature of Chris Hedges.

    • funny, i didn’t realize this amounted to an intellectual pissing context.

      thanks for your thoughtful, intelligent response.

    • LOL…unfortunately, that doesn’t change the fact that Chris Hedges doesn’t like to get his hands dirty…

      • I wonder if Hedges originally learned to write as he has learned in order to engage what he thought were the most meaningful communities around him more adequately. And now people are getting caught up in the game of the spook to divide people further. Me, I’m glad Hedges had the balls to say what he said; how many would dare do such a thing at all? At least it gets the proverbial ball rolling. If someone’s view is imperfect (imagine that!), good! And with input, we all grow!!

  12. I agree that trying to understand Hedges’ motives is important. Don’t think it has to do with race. Actually, I don’t think it has to do with violence either. I think it has to do with his fundamental discomfit with Occupy’s anti-hierarchical, horizontal nature (despite what he says elsewhere).

  13. I didn’t read the whole article, and from the bit I’ve read, it may be said you have not read Hedges’ whole piece either.

    Clearly, some identifying themselves as anarchists can’t face having to befriend enemies. They routinely fail to recognize general concerns, fearing they may encounter bigotry as they mix with others. You would encounter bigotry and worse—that’s true. But it’s a necessity to join them even if it means straying from yours. (if you’re at all serious) mind what Nietzsche added: “you have to love your enemies but you also have to hate your friends.”

  14. Lived knowledge

    God save us from polysyllabic po-co twits swinging all over place. Overswinging.
    Bad writing.
    Polysyllabic, tortured, jargonistic horse-shit.
    Clean it up.
    Too much use of the word “this,” too many attributions of nefarious motivations to rhetoric itself. Learn to develop a clear topic sentence. Clear use of LANGUAGE. Define TERMS, even albeit briefly, BEFORE rsui9ng on to your sanctimony. Stop hiding behind accusatory jargonistic theory-laden crap.
    Make the claim, cite the arguments with which you have a problem, or cite the actions. Too many “readings of” and invocations and associations and evocations that spin out into straw dog arguments.
    For shame.
    The poor fools who have to read your papers will probably need therapy for the rest of their lives.
    Awful. Pathetic.
    F.

    • Yo F… Read: how to get along in a hiding way in The Way Things Is, eh? Well, welcome to a little paradigm shift, baby!

      B’cuz as cynical as you sound like you are, you know you can’t help but come back. Who else is even touching on the depths that this site is touching?! (me, i’m hooked!)

  15. Cherry blossom~

    This is a somewhat disingenuous representation of Hedges’ article.
    While I think he does tend to go in the direction of “non-violence is the best way”, the real point was the lack of coherent goals and hypermasculinity of lifestylists who wantonly destroy property is ultimately self-destructive to the legitimacy of the Occupy Movement, not by the state, but by the actual 99%.

    Violent action can be very useful, but only if it serves a real purpose, not just the fantasies of white male teenagers who come into someone else’s community, believing that they’re fighting the power by vandalizing a local shop. What happened to targeting actual oppressive institutions and individuals, and fighting to win?

    • Who gets to say when is legitmate in a decolonized society?? That’s my question for you, Cherry Blossom. Oh, sure, the internalized values we’ve all had planted in us will work to keep us stuck in the same old again….until we begin seeing the confines of such thinking!

      As for what happened to fighting actual institutions and so-called “winning”? People started getting wise–that our would-be handlers WANT us to fight, because they’ve perfected that stupidity. Anyway, who has the stomach for it? The Weather Underground tried it, but from what I’ve heard, they grew weary. Simply, they weren’t trained officers with millions of duped soldiers ready to lay down their lives for “their” country!

      My praxis brings me to see that it’s about time we get in touch with each of our own powers, not the stupidity planted in so many of us (men, especially). The power of our intelligence, to quote indigenous wisdom, is on par with the power of nature. But when we give away our power to alien(ated) forms, we blunt our power. And we move away from our true purpose–why we are really here. It’s not about fitting into allegedly “realistic” ways of interacting, it’s about getting in touch with who we really are in our heart of hearts!

      i’ve got all sorts of ideas backed up with frontline experience, but i’m not sure where to share such, or when. All along the lines of the power of creative use of confrontational nonviolence–simply, challenging our mutual programming while realizing the value of bridge-making and keeping. Not allowing ourselves to be tread upon (as much as we possibly can), while knowing how to surf (heh) in and out of the confines of institutions, both cerebral and “concrete”, pun intended. People ain’t the bottom line problem, it’s how and when we are tooled to do the bidding of the severely alienated structures (incidentally FORCEFULLY passed down even to “the elites” in their early schooling).

  16. Wow, finally (?!?) we touch a nerve, eh?! Let the platoons of the cointel cum forth! (amongst the many more deeply, ever so deeply manipulated to serve the interests of Alienation, Inc.!)

    Some very tough challenges here! i’ll have to reflect on some of them for a longer time before i can share my praxis,,,,

    But for now, in reply to the comment:
    “how to confront the military might of contemporary America.”

    I see that that’s a main mistake, to even try. That’s not to say we shouldn’t be confronting! But my praxis taught me that the trick is to escape these out-flanked ways of interacting, and launch myriad interactions (of a creatively confrontational nonviolent sort–realizing the value!), informally. Taking the lockstep mindset by the proverbial horns with all the power of just how deep our institutional analysis really is.

    Me, i like Saul Alinsky’s approach, tactic-wise. i’m sure there are many more like him. A Westernized approach, to be sure, but i think more creative than MLKj and Gandhi. At least in the context of what i think he was doing–touching only the tip of what’s possible when we REALLY LAUNCH the myriad form of our creative intelligence.

    i’m not speaking merely from an intellectual vacuum, either. i’ve put my tactics to some big ol’ bad-ass tests, baby! And found some AMAZING openings (which the believers of bad-news-propaganda couldn’t seem to wrap their “good educations” around). Again, Saul Alinsky-style methodology!

    Another thing we’re going to have to escape is the deeply programmed belief that “some people” (i.e. the “crazies” that so innundate our momentums, as i’ve personally noted and written of) are going to “ruin” us. If we are truly that weak (and we really aren’t, but some want to reign us in and back to the Same Old Songs and Dances), so we’re told, these “individualistic” types are going to run us all into the ground…riiiiight. Well, indigenous wisdom teaches us that each of our dreams has merit; i think the challenge is, to quote a Lakota wisdom keeper, “how we see what we see affects the quality of our reality.” I.e. that people expressing their off-balance, no matter how inarticulately, are in a process that can be welcomed and assisted!! (for the intellectually-challenged, take a read of R.D. Laing on allowing “the schizophrenic” to journey through their trajectory instead of seeking forever to suppress them!)

    Anyway, as we make bridges to authentic “crazies” and make community with them, well, we’ll be setting an example! And you know how that works!

    Now, having said all of this…while i don’t myself agree with (and see a larger picture mistake in) BB tactics, i do see something (just now realized!) that they do in their method: They DO reach the duped rage of the stormtroopers, individually. Because they take on the tools that the stormtroopers have been programmed to believe in, and “touch them” in a way that resonates with their fighting mind. So that has a power, for sure.

    But my own approach is to try to touch everyone’s hearts, hard to imagine as that may sound. And i’ve found out that it’s possible! Depending on just how wiLd your imaginations dares to be! –Whether in intervening on a situation that is becoming a scene of nonconsensual violence (i.e. between non-police groups), or in inspiring the flailing (“crazy” and otherwise) to engage the gifts of our shared intelligence!

    And then people promote the intelligent power of the female set, but then they seem to fall back on the stupidized so-called “power” of how men are programmed (to be soldiers). That exposes the reality that we need more examples of female intelligence in a group form. Hmm. Something for y’all to chew on!

    As for trying to categorize me (it will HAVE TO BE done, by those who MUST AT ANY COST!), i’ll just say that if you knew, you’d know that i ain’t merely talkin’ like no fool. Well, gotta go now! i’ll be BACK!

  17. As one who lived in Oakland for 16 years and has spent plenty of time around the Black Bloc folks, Hedges’ article strikes me as actually fairly right on. Very many of them are just playing “revolutionaries,” thinking that spray-painting Whole Foods’ windows or throwing rocks into (often independently owned) storefronts in downtown is either somehow showing solidariy with or trying to force the radicalization of the larger movements they latch onto and then discredit. And they do have a marked tendency to dogmatism, that’s for sure. If you don’t agree with their party line you’ll never be accepted by them because you’re basically not “cool” enough. Meanwhile, walk through their little co-op warehouse lofts in west Oakland and notice how many of them have a TV in the common rooms that is left on 24 hours a day. Notice how many of them are constantly buying new computer equipment (NEW!) and docking around on the internet all day, thinking they’re spreading radical news by posting links on fb to anarchist websites. Notice how many love to show off their newest North Face purchases for next time they go to Seattle or somewhere for some “direct action.” Notice how many of them have credit cards, iPhones, iPods, get food stamps or GA benefits. Notice how many of them (and I was sure surprised when I found this going on in my own apartment) smoke and/or sell crack or speed and let the neighborhood crackheads smoke in their doorways as if they were thereby showing racial solidarity. Notice how many encourage their own to go off their psych meds, refuse to let their families have access to their bipolar or schzo runaway children, then when their friend loses it and/or starts “self-medicating” with speed, heroin, crack , whatever, all their anarchist “friends” abandon them because they can’t handle their shit/ take responsibility for themselves.
    Basically what I ‘m pointing out is that the Oakland BB crowd is just people, but they’ve given themselves to an ideology whose promulgation is, to them, more important than their humanity. The ideology and philosophy of Anarchism is, itself, A PRODUCT OF THE CAPITALIST AND COLONIALIST MINDSET. You’re biggest mistake in this article is not being aware of that. It sounds like you don’t know anarchist history too well, or perhaps you simply forgot about how the 19th century anarchists like Kropotikin did not arrive at their ideas by pure theory but BY OBSERVING SOCIETIES THAT ALREADY EXISTED IN A NON-AND PRE-CAPITALIST MODE. So to write an anarchist critique of someone critiquing anarchists, and “read” his critique in the language of post-colonial discourse…well, you’ve defeated your purpose before you even started typing.
    And besides, Hedges is basically right.

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