A few weeks ago Chris Hedges (I’ve almost always respected his work and writing) wrote a piece of “journalism” that declared that Oakland had a cancer amongst its occupiers. Here is that article. http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_cancer_of_occupy_20120206/
My initial reaction to this article was to lose a great deal of respect for Chris Hedges. My first response was to call out the true cancer in our societies – that being the physical cancer that afflicts so many people I know both in and out of my family. My second response was to put the “cancer” on capitalism and the greed that it has spread amongst our communities. I still stand by both of these – but lately I’ve been reconsidering my opinion on Hedges.
I was at a court house solidarity event the day that that article was written and the response of many of the Oakland occupiers was a similar disgust and aversion to so many of them being called “cancer” by Chris Hedges. Mr. Hedges does not live in Oakland and doesn’t have the perspective, so who is he to judge?
Hedges has age and experience. But there’s a new world being born and his perspective as an elder is increasingly suspect.
Here is my opinion on the matter as it stands right now: Hedges’ article had an effect on the Oakland occupiers who use the black bloc tactic. I think it has both radicalized them further, and perhaps even increased their dormant militant instincts.
I have never participated in a black bloc. Though I have to admit how tempting it is sometimes. There have been a few moments in my life where I’ve been able to go smashy-smashy on ruined, discarded furniture in order to turn it into firewood. The smashing was satisfying, but it’s really no way to live. Hulk smashes. I don’t.
However, I do get the sense that those black bloc occupiers are up to something and it’s my prayer and urgent meditation that they behave themselves. Anarchy is about self-policing and taking the high road of a moral evolution together. We need to be re-purposing, not destroying property.
In case you didn’t already know, Black bloc is but one of a number of blocs here in Oakland. The other two that I’ve participated with are the Sunshine Bloc, and the Ice Cream Bloc.
The Sunshine Bloc is dedicated to total, radical transparency. Come rain and come shine, we are who we are, and I am who I am, and you do what you do. It’s best to tell the truth every time. What have you got to hide anyway? Shame is best undressed, and everybody wants to tell their “dirty” little secrets for one reason or another. I think it’s better to not be ashamed of every mistake – and it’s so important not to fear the next mistake. But the only way to not fear is to love. What else matters?
The Ice Cream Bloc is a group of occupiers who get together, eat ice cream – then go shut down some banks. It seems like a pure indulgence, but that’s kind of what Occupy is for a lot of people. For instance, I was talking to an elderly hippy woman about how far we should really take all this “occupy stuff.”
She said, “Oh darling, you can’t stop it now – it’s organic and it’s going to grow and heal every single one of us. Besides, I’ve been waiting all my life for something like this, and now that it’s happening – I’ve gotten greedy”
Her eyes lit up when she said the word “greedy.” The irony was a little too priceless.
She may have been a crazy lady, but everyone’s a little crazy so who gives that much of a fuck?
So according to her logic: Occupy is more of a healing agent than a cancer. So it’s a good thing all round. I happen to agree. But I’ve also grown increasingly concerned that the violent revolutionaries are going to keep on escalating the amount and intensity of police interactions and many of their elders won’t be there to discourage them. Except Chris Hedges. And maybe Cornel West…
The question as I see it then is: Do we, the vocal nonviolent individuals in Oakland escalate our own movement in order to make the violence stop? To me the answer has always been an obvious yes, but it might require leaders to do so. This would essentially be the end of the occupy movement by its original definitions. I’m not sure if that is a good thing quite yet.
However, in a very real sense – Occupy is one giant “bloc” itself. It is a block against capitalism, and all privilege, hierarchy and environmental destruction that has accompanied it. It is a cultural log jam. A veritable fustercluck. And now the movement has seemingly stagnated and gotten bogged down with horizontal hostility and is blocked itself. That’s right, we’re witnessing a constipated movement. I apologize for the shittyness but someone had to say it.
But what’s the laxative? No one seems to know. I think the Syrians have become a little too impatient and are trying to force it. Aljazeera be with them.