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"The Activism Entry Point: Critiquing The Cancer in Occupy Debate"
by Joseph Anderson, Berkeley, CA
Saturday Feb 18th, 2012 7:31 AM
Longtime Berkeley activist Joseph Anderson weighs in on the ongoing debate around Occupy Oakland on the issue of diversity of tactics and the use of BlackBloc style tactics. He weighs in on the recent debate between Chris Hedges and Occupy Oakland organizer Kristof Lopaur.

The Occupy movement, Anderson says, cannot have both a diversity of people and a ”diversity of tactics” at this time – and the movement can’t shortcut the process of attaining, and retaining, the first by jumping to the second.

Well, by now everyone in the Occupy movement is hotly debating “nonviolence” vs. “diversity of tactics”, as recently so in, “Chris Hedges and Kristof Lopaur of Occupy Oakland debate black bloc, militancy and tactics,” February 8, 2012, on KPFA in Berkeley, California.

Both Lopaur and Hedges made some critically weak, flawed, at times somewhat disingenuous or self-contradictory and, in Lopaur’s case, often specious arguments in their radio debate. This so, even though I politically agree with Hedges, and although Hedges’ recent commentary, ”The Cancer in Occupy,” seemed poorly supported journalistically. But, Hedges is dead on about, ‘Go do violence under your own name, not the Occupy movement’s.’

Hedges would have been better off just writing his opinion, presented analytically, but he deserves great credit for using his stature to get an “Anarchist”-suppressed, but mortally important, debate firmly out in the open and over progressive airwaves. Let me say that both of them have respectively done very good progressive work.

This is my partial, but most important, analytical response to Kristof Lopaur’s (and those he represents) support for Black Bloc, or otherwise, ”diversity of tactics” in the Occupy Movement. My main point: Occupy Oakland, and the Occupy movement, cannot have both a diversity of people and a ”diversity of tactics” at this time – and the movement can’t shortcut the process of attaining, and retaining, the first by jumping to the second.


Read more:



(with photos and comments section)




(plain text copy, good for printing)


My great appreciation to Becky O'Malley, publisher of the Berkeley Daily Planet in Berkeley, CA, and San Francisco Bay Area-based journalist Davey D of KPFA, Berkeley, CA, and publisher of DaveyD.com.

All Together in The Struggle,

Joseph Anderson

Berkeley, CA

by Anon
Saturday Feb 18th, 2012 6:33 PM
The author states

"he deserves great credit for using his stature to get an “Anarchist”-suppressed, but mortally important, debate firmly out in the open and over progressive airwaves"

How are you coming to the conclusion that anarchists are suppressing this debate? That is a complete lie, anarchists and anti authoritarians welcome this debate, as seen at the debate of "non violence vs diversity of tactics" (the title presents a false dichotomy in a way implying that "diversity of tactics" is against non violence and its not) in Oakland a while back. The were many anarchists and anti authoritarians there speaking or just in the crowd in support of debating the issue. Most of the (mainly white, middle class, older, progressive/liberal) folks in support of strict non violence showed they were simply out of touch with the regular working class folks on the street (whereas the somewhat more racially diverse, working class anarchists are a combination of Homeless who live in squats around oakland, hobos who travel for work and your everyday servers at regular businesses) , patronizing and had no real concrete examples to support their feelings only fluff about the spirit/soul or historical references where they were very selective about leaving certain historical facts out.

Watch videos of the debates by searching for " @ Occupy Oakland Nonviolence vs Diversity of Tactics "

One of the differences is anarchists try not to have professional intellectuals such as Hedges and Jensen while progressives have tons of them. Another thing is that the progressives never want to talk about the logic of the Black Block, they wont admit for example, that maybe the Whole Foods that threatened to fire their workers if they striked had it coming because threats like that from bosses should never be tolerated and sometimes a march alone will only show timid solidarity and that more is required to support the working class.
by Who's "out of touch"?
Saturday Feb 18th, 2012 10:12 PM
Anon: "...out of touch with the regular working class folks on the street..."

Anon: "...anarchists and anti authoritarians welcome this debate..."

Lots of people in OO have a different impression -- especially when people like Baruka [sp?] accuse or distortingly accuse them of all sorts of things, using pathetic, contrived, strawman accusations, accusations just short of female infanticide!

How about less debate and more dialogue. 'Debate' (well, if you want to ever call it that) is what the two capitalist political factions (the DemoPublicans and the RepubliCrats, as a whole and in the leadership, they're hardly distinguishable as separate parties) do in the Congress.

Anon: "...anarchists and anti authoritarians..."

So-called Anarchists and so-called "anti-authoritarians" in OO are some of the most AUTHORITARIAN people on the left! And they've got plenty of competition among leftist ideologues! For the Anarchists in OO, it's "MY way or the HIGHWAY for Occupy Oakland": i.e., 'rule or ruin'! -- which is what those kinds of so-called Anarchists have been known for many times before, and soon once again.

Anon: "Most of the (mainly white, middle class, older, progressive/liberal) folks in support of strict non violence..."

Why don't you just stereotype and call anyone who disagrees with you as, 'OLD WHITE HIPPIES', huh? Just like the mainstream media does with the Occupy movement in general. That, in your case, vs. 'the poor people of color'? Nice way to disengenously play 'the race card' -- and you're WHITE! (Oh, believe me, I can tell. Probably one of those young, so-called, Anarchists.)

Anon: "...as seen at the debate of "non violence vs diversity of tactics"..."

If you're talking about that so-called "debate" back when, at the Unitarian Church in downtown Oakland on 14th St., that wasn't a "debate" -- and it certainly wasn't any kind of dialogue with the community. It was an exercise in ELITISM -- duplicating the ELITISM in the CAPITALIST state & societies. This, where most of THE 'ICONS' on BOTH sides of the panel spouted their ideology, most of them talking right past each other with their IDEOLOGICAL TALKING POINTS, to the *minions* in the audience. As though all wisdom lies with the 'ICON/S'! All of them talking AT us -- and NOT WITH us. And then, during 'Q&A', we *minions* in the audience (the community) get maybe 1 minute & 15 seconds, or so, each, to say something. I thought that this was something that the Occupy movement was supposed to be against: ELITISM!

Oh, and one of the black PEACENIKS/PACIFISTS *STARTS* A SHOUTING ARGUMENT -- complete with his SEXIST/HOMOPHOBIC name-calling -- against another black guy on the steps of the CHURCH!

Most of the panelists all deserve each other and I'd tend to like to put them all on a small island out in the sea and let them all kill each other.

(Starhawk was pretty good, though. Maybe the only panelist with any sense of intellectual balance.)

Anon: "...no real concrete examples to support their feelings only fluff about the spirit/soul or historical references where they were very selective about leaving certain historical facts out."

This was true of almost everyone on BOTH sides the panel! Anarchists and pacifists ALIKE! (And there was no one on the panel who represented people who are NOT pacifists, but DON'T believe in wanton violence in the Occupy movement.) The debate was like watching one of those awful, pointless, arid, 'pundits' debates on PBS -- or even a CAPITALIST presidential candidates debate.

Anon: "Another thing is that the progressives never want to talk about the logic of the Black Block, they wont admit for example, that maybe the Whole Foods that threatened to fire their workers if they striked..."


(And maybe you should consider whether the workers, including many shoppers of all ethnicities, especially during the A/BB vandalism where the patio chairs and tables, metal rods, hammers and whatever else was thrown against the windows and exit doors, were HALF SCARED TO DEATH when it happened -- NOT KNOWING *WHAT* THE HELL WAS GOING ON OR *WHAT* KIND OF DANGER THEY MIGHT BE IN! I didn't see or hear any of the "workers" or any of the working-class &/or minority customers in their cheering -- but quite to the contrary!)
by can't end a good march without it
Saturday Feb 18th, 2012 11:54 PM
Oh, 'great'...: more American flag burning -- even the livestream video guy was dismayed with it, along with several viewers online expressing such opinions too -- as in, "Oh they're burning a flag again [*facepalm*]!" This, at the end of the weekly, this time peaceful, "F The Police" march from downtown Oakland, up Telegraph Ave, turning up Bancroft, to UC Berkeley's International House. The march was only, reportedly, about 50 (it looked a little larger to me, maybe 75+), mostly 20-something yr-old, peaceful people. (No windows smashed or property destroyed on the predominantly *white* side of town.)

Didn't look like TV news or the cops were even bothering with it -- until the marchers got to I-House, where only about a half-dozen cops were posted just inside the entrance (probably checking for resident ID's). You know the cops are going to protect I-House. (It's an semi-'elite' dorm where some of California's 1% lived as students, including a, like way back in the 40's/50's, then future governor or two, when they attended UC Berkeley.) Unless you saw one chest-high, handheld sign (which I missed) at the beginning of the march, you wouldn't even know what the march was about (not even any chanting when I saw it). Just a group of young people marching or riding their bikes up Telegraph.

Now, THE *'PERFUNCTORY'* AMERICAN FLAG-BURNING was out of *nowhere*, with no fanfare and NO CONTEXT (even the cops were peaceful because they weren't even following the march), BUT QUITE *FLAGRANT*, by about 3 or 4 young white guys dressed in, more or less, black (and black clothes was the *only* thing Black *I* saw there tonight): just something for the still-phtography, news cameras. NOW *C'MON*...: YOU *KNOW* THAT'S PROVOCATEUR WORK to try to further discredit or sully Occupy Oakland.
by Unconverted
Sunday Feb 19th, 2012 4:38 PM
"We have to have this, and we have to that, before we can do this, and we can do that." The movement needs to be imbued with your superior consciousness, needs to know that diversity of tactics isn't something to be regarded right now. Excuse me for being disrespectful, but fuck your calls for censoring resistance. Sorry, I know how expressions of freedom make the movement look bad and everything. That it's understandable why people over there stand up, but were not ready yet. We don't really know what suffering and oppression is. I know how it's irresponsible of me to want revolution, and should understand that when enough people are converted, than we can make change in a more courteous manner. I know I am an impatient young person, a cancer in the movement, and need to stay away from the occupation because it's a movement of the 99%, and I make being poor look bad to them, but I can't help it, for some reason myself, and many others just don't want your guidance.
by repost
Sunday Feb 19th, 2012 7:42 PM
To: Unconverted
Sunday Feb 19th, 2012 4:38 PM.

Fm: Commentary at DaveyD.com
Follow-up comment post response:
Joseph Anderson, Berkeley says:
February 17, 2012 at 2:55 pm:

"But, you know what, [pro-BB]?: I’m not really trying to necessarily change *your* mind. I’m not in the business of verbal arm-twisting, or thought-control, or thought-intimidation, like some so-called “leftists” — who would have a thought-control society just like some *fascists* did/do/would. I, like Malcolm X, believe that I’ll just put my analysis out there next to yours and the “diversity of tactics” people, and see how many other people find which comments/analysis the most intellectually *compelling*. Thus far, *my* predictions have come true — or did you already know that your defeatist, nihilistic “diversity of tactics” would send a tsunami of public opinion against Occupy Oakland? Perhaps you *meant* it to? (Do I smell ‘agent provocateur’?…)"

So, if you, personally, are just *ideologically* "unconverted", then that's up to you! And if you just put narrow *ideology* over broadbased success, then that's just pathetic. But, if you just have the childish *impetuousnes* to smash anything that's breakable and overturn anything that isn't, and if you have a childlike fascination with setting things on fire, all we're saying is JUST GO DO IT ON YOUR **OWN** -- AND NOT UNDER *OCCUPY OAKLAND'S* NAME -- AND NOT WHERE MENTAL *GROWN-UPS* ARE OR WERE TRYING TO WORK.
by Rendered
Monday Feb 20th, 2012 12:09 AM
In this Orwellian conceptual world, the question of whether the state has the right to use violence doesn’t bear looking into. But in the real world, it does. The state is by far the greatest concentration of organized violence, and it almost always employs such violence for evil purposes — whether at Tahrir Square, Hama, or Oakland.

So if you’re arguing over whether Occupy should “use violence,” you’re asking the wrong question.
by Konsider
Monday Feb 20th, 2012 12:49 AM
I just want to point out that the claim that Occupy Oakland has been hijacked by violent protesters is a claim emphasized continually by the mainstream media, that diverts the reality of who it is that are actually perpetrating the violence against occupy. Further, the mainstream media tries continually to pull a fast one, and have people believe that hostility toward police repression is comparable to violence. This is an old distortion. A woman who spoke on Sunday, Jan. 29 (the night after Occupy Oakland's attempted building take over at Oscar Grant plaza) described how, during one of the marches, she was told to shut up by the police, when she refused, and retorted that she was going to speak her mind, the OPD threw her, face down, on the ground. The woman was a non violent protester. It's interesting, I was watching the local mainstream news , and the sound bite said that the occupy actions that Saturday had turned violent. As the newscaster spoke, the TV displayed two images: one of a broken window, and the other of some graffiti. Those who were beaten and teargassed went unmentioned.

Nor had mainstream media made the very decisive clarification that the second occupy march that night--in which hundreds were kettled and arrested in front of the WMCA--was totally peaceful. Not only that, but they were marching back to the plaza. I am sorry to find so many people calling themselves radical, buying into the hocus pocus of the popular media. I am continually hearing and reading about how we need to present ourselves in such away that the media can't as easily distort us. As long as occupy is a threat to the 1%, it's going to be distorted no matter what. As for the black block, they're not going anywhere, but people love to fixate on, and stereotype them. Whatever you might think, or dislike about black block activists--some of whom are non--violent I might add--reality is not as simple as the mainstream news portrays it, and it's testament to the manipulative hold it has over much of our thinking.
by eye roll
Tuesday Feb 21st, 2012 1:10 PM
Anderson is not a long time activist, I have watched him for decades and he has never anything more than come to other people's actions and lurk about (sometimes with an offensive sign), but never really participates or collaborates. He seems to have devoted his life to annoying activists, wasting people's time during Q&A, being an antisemite and a provocateur. His opinion is important to noone but himself: Joseph Anderson is a fucking nitwit, and irrelevant moron, and I cannot think of a single person who considers him a friend or a comrade or even tolerable to be around.
by Aaron Aarons
( indy2011 [at] aarons.fastmail.net ) Tuesday Feb 21st, 2012 8:34 PM
I cannot think of a single person who considers eye roll a friend or a comrade or even tolerable to be around. Not surprising, since the only thing eye roll has ever done is make this unsubstantiated personal attack on Joseph Anderson in order to discredit what Anderson writes without arguing against it.

BTW, I disagree with a lot of what Anderson has to say on this issue and I disagree with a lot of what his opponents say as well. These issues are complex and the different positions people take often depend to a great extent on what one thinks 'the movement' can or should try to accomplish.

More from me later.

by Unconverted
Wednesday Feb 22nd, 2012 2:15 AM
How to take action isn't something everybody agrees on (a "defeatist, nihilistic" notion I know), but that's supposed to be kept to semantics, and not perpetrated in action. I know I am supposed to go away, along with the rest of us“diversity of tactics people," and let "mental grown ups" like Anderson get on with the serious business of making the occupation into a recruiting tool for achieving "broad based success", but I can't help but disagree with him. Oh, that's right, Anderson claims it's okay to disagree with him, just as long as it's on his own terms, which is by displaying the occupation, but not when actually realizing particular objectives.