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The use of militant tactics and confrontations with police have started to be used by a small but high profile group of people.  Getting to the heart of what they really believe has proved to be extremely difficult, though.

Cross posted from Pruning Shears.

This was published with considerable feedback from several bloggers at Corrente: DCblogger, affinis, lambert and okanogen.  My sincere thanks to all of them for their help.  Note: this post was updated shortly after publication.

When writing about violence at Occupy there seems to be a great deal of controversy over what the word itself means, so I'll lead this post with what I hope is an unobjectionable definition.  Since it comes from Google (via) it may well be the most-read definition of violence in the English speaking world:

violence - noun - Behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.
Now, some don't think that's what violence is.  Some strenuously object to the last two words and insist violence can only be done to someone, not something1.

For purposes of a public discussion, though, it's best to go with the commonly understood definition.  That common understanding may be wrong, and you may think the vast majority of people are credulous fools for believing as they do.  That's fine!  Do your best to persuade them that violence cannot be done to some thing, only some one.  (Or, if you want, that violence is really an ice cream sandwich.)  Make that your project.  Language evolves; do your part!

Until you reach that critical mass, though, you can't just redefine a word and then insist that your new definition be the one everyone uses.  This is an example of the kind of frustration okanogen was referring to when he wrote "debating violence advocates [VAs] is like nailing jello to a wall."  So once again, just to be extra clear, the definition of violence in this post is the common one: Behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.  

VAs often seem to edge right up to approving of violence, but never take that last little step.  For instance, Graeber writes: "While I have never personally engaged in acts of property destruction, I have on more than one occasion taken part in Blocs where property damage has occurred."  He has the opportunity to disavow the violence (keeping in mind that under the novel VA definition property destruction is not violence), yet chooses not to.2

"While I have never personally engaged in acts of property destruction" is a curious construct.  It reads as though he understands such violence would be widely disapproved of, so he does not want his own name actually attached to it - but that he is sympathetic to it.  So he splits the difference; doesn't condemn it, but says he's never done it.  Try that in another context and see how convincing it sounds: "While I have never personally engaged in [insert crime here], [finish sentence as best you can.]"

Then there is the conflation of objecting to violence with turning the violent over to police (or vigilante policing by activists).  Much of the discussion by nonviolence advocates (NVAs) objecting to violent tactics has centered around finding ways to disassociate themselves from VAs.  Violence advocates most often refuse to acknowledge that NVAs have any right to be considered separate from them.  Again and again, attempts by NVAs to say "no, this is not us; no, this is not what we stand for" is flipped into a call for violence against the VAs themselves (and through the looking glass we go).3

One interesting result that has emerged from our conversations: The deep reluctance of VAs - who claim to really be in favor of nonviolence, just their own proprietary definition of it - to even theoretically endorse the idea of nonviolence as others have.  Look at the thread that starts here.  The talking point that there has only been one incidence of Black Bloc violence in 800 occupations quickly emerges.  It's not true, incidentally - see below - but let's allow it for the sake of the argument.

Two responses: One, the time to speak out against violence is before it becomes common, and two, if it really is that rare then why not keep it that way or eliminate it altogether?  VAs seem reluctant to address these points.  This one commenter attempts to, but badly. "Let the throwing under the bus begin!" etc.  These kinds of probably unrepresentative individuals are the best we seem to be able to find, though.  Overall VAs are not interested in even paying lip service to nonviolence; they are more interested in erecting elaborate constructs to justify we-don't-call-that-violence.

Doing so reduces violence to but one item on a menu.  In VAs formulation smashing windows is right there along with, say, a drum circle in terms of acceptability.  If you think smashing windows is violent, though, and you are forced together with those with a, shall we say, more expansive view of acceptable behavior, then you have to make some choices.  You can remain silent and risk having that silence be taken as approval, or you can speak out.

NVAs speak out with the goal of encouraging all like-minded individuals to voice their opinions, show what an unrepresentative minority VAs are, and (hopefully) isolate them from the larger group.  Graeber insists this inevitably leads to either the dreaded snitching or the even more dreaded Peace Police (yes, he actually uses that term).  Objecting to violence equals attempting to police VAs, and policing them equals violence.  So if you object to someone trashing a local establishment, you're the real thug and oppressor.

Entering into that kind of Twilight Zone logic obscures what would otherwise be very clear: That there are irreconcilable differences between the approaches of VAs and NVAs.  The strategy of nonviolence has certain qualities that cannot coexist with violence advocacy in general or Black Bloc tactics in particular.4  The most obvious quality is transparency.  General Assembly and other meetings are open, actions are publicly discussed and debated, minutes are kept and posted, and participants show their faces.  The consistent message is, we have nothing to hide.  As affinis put it: "Straightforward honest communication builds trust and support."

Another difference is the spirit of inclusion versus exclusion.  A nonviolent mass movement is open to all walks of life - from strollers to walkers.  Introducing violence will keep away most of those with young ones who (rightly) would fear for their safety.  It would also keep away many older people for whom a fall is not something they can just spring up from.  And furthermore, the prospect of arrest is going to keep away many people of color.  While arrest is a possibility with nonviolent civil disobedience, an arrest on violence charges is much more serious.  Sachio ko-yin put it this way: "By making protest space even more unsafe for folks from communities of color, people who can't afford an arrest record, and working class people generally, the Black Bloc has always frustrated me."

Which leads to yet another difference: the willingness to be arrested.  NVAs undertake direct action and civil disobedience with the understanding that they may be detained by police, perhaps unreasonably so and in poor conditions.  VAs, on the other hand, regard the prospect of arrest as abhorrent.  Now, there may well be stiffer penalties for property destruction than for a sit down strike, but the principle is the same either way: If you have the courage of your convictions you should be willing to pay the civil cost of your disobedience.  NVAs have that courage; VAs do not.  Look at the way one NVA movement approached it (in the context of a peaceful mass movement):

Towards the climax of their uprising in Serbia, the police started rounding up activists wearing Otpor! T-shirts and hauling them into the police stations. Naturally the kids were terrified. Otpor! set about defusing their anxiety.

"First we debriefed our people when they came out of the police station, then we briefed the people who were at risk of being arrested. We told them, you will be handcuffed, then if you are male you will be put in a cell with drunk people; if female, with whores. They will separate you from your friends, then after a few hours they will come and take your fingerprints and they will remove your belt and shoelaces and you will feel embarrassed because your trousers will fall down. Then after a few hours they will take you to an interrogation and this is the list of questions they will ask you and these are the answers you will give them.

"Meanwhile, we invited people to gather in front of the police station; everybody at risk of being arrested had lined up a lawyer in advance. Parents of the kids were informed, and we had a network of old ladies who called the police station continuously to ask about those who had been arrested. And now you are sitting there, and everything is happening as predicted, and the good detective is offering you a cigarette and the bad one is hitting you on the head and it looks like a bad joke. And the phones are ringing in the police station and nobody can do anything. And my question is, who is under siege now? This is not the most comfortable situation for the police: they deal with criminals. You block them from doing their normal job, traffic, looters, the things they should do instead of interrogating an 18-year-old kid for wearing a T-shirt..." And gradually that particular pillar of tyranny, the police, is weakened, one policeman at a time.

(Also note the conclusion of the piece: "He quotes Jorge Luis Borges: 'Violence,' the great Argentine writer put it, 'is the last refuge of the weak.'")

Which would you rather be a part of?  And is it any wonder VAs are trying to blur the lines between themselves and NVAs?  Even beyond the immediate case of arrest and detention, trace out the implication of NVA strategies versus VA tactics.  One is sustainable, one is not.

For instance, what would VAs say to the woman who alleged to have been sexually assaulted at Occupy?  She went to the police; was she a snitch?  Should she have gone to VAs instead of authorities?  Would they have handled it in-house, so to speak?  Have VAs articulated some sort of neo-feudal code of chivalry by which its members will voluntarily restrain themselves - without resort to the legal system or the (eek!) Peace Police?  5  For those which such rosy dispositions, Willem Buiter: "Self-regulation is to regulation as self-importance is to importance."6

VA tactics don't work as a model because they are not designed to work as a model.  Their main function is to shield those engaging in violence from the consequences of their actions.  Whether it's the high minded "One expresses what solidarity one can with others who share the same struggle, and if one cannot, tries ones best to ignore or avoid them" or the much bolder "snitches get stitches," the result is the same: those who object are silenced. In fact, by playing directly into the media and political elites' preferred theme of violent confrontation, VAs are arguably more naturally allied with authorities than NVAs.

Identity versus anonymity; openness versus secrecy; direct action as preservation or improvement (i.e. Occupy Our Homes) versus direct action as destruction; mass movement versus insurgency; invitation versus exclusion.  The two approaches could not be more different.

VAs want the halo effect.  They want to force an association with a much larger group: one that enjoys much broader popular support; one that embraces values in many ways opposite from theirs.  If they can do that, some of the shine of Occupy's good reputation might reflect on them.  More probably, though, they will drag support down to their own unpopular level (via) - and will sharply reduce the number of people participating (via)7

I began with a definition of violence.  There are other definitions obviously, and I have no desire to get into a game of Dueling Dictionaries with VAs.  So I'll close with a multimedia illustration of what I consider violent.  It focuses on events at Occupy only and is not comprehensive.  It is simply a way to show what I'm thinking about when I'm thinking of violence.  These examples are not characteristic of Occupy; so far incidents like them have been exceedingly rare.  I'd love to see them stay exceedingly rare, or even better go away completely.

So, do the examples below contain violence?  My answer precedes or is embedded in each link.








Hell yes.

Pay particular attention to that last video.  Around 1:05 a protester - wearing a helmet but otherwise with his face clearly visible - tries to put himself in front of the ones smashing windows and pleads "No violence!  No violence!"  As he does so he is pushed and then surrounded by a masked, black clad group of, ahem, activists.  This is not nuns protesting nukes.

It's a measure of how thoroughly inverted VAs have made the narrative that they claim in this scenario it's the man saying "no violence" and being menaced by a swarm of anonymous vandals who is the one doing violence - and the vandals here are the victims!

VA claims simply do not survive contact with reality.  They are parlor tricks intended to be considered without reference to what is actually happening.  And as far as I am concerned they are presented with the intent to deceive.  

By my lights, anyone who thinks the linked content above is not violent acquiesces to violence at a minimum.  They can more properly be called apologists for violence.  The refusal to denounce it in the current context - namely, its imminent danger of discrediting a popular mass movement - could arguably (but less generously) be called advocacy.  I don't feel especially charitable towards those who I think are lying to me about such a serious matter, so I have called and will continue to call them violence advocates.


1.  I've mostly used quotes from Graeber to argue against for two reasons.  One, his original piece and prominence as a spokesperson make him one of the more important voices out there in this discussion.  Two, he stopped by my cross post on Daily Kos and shared some thoughts with the Kos community.  This post is in part an extension of the dialog that began there.  While I've used his arguments as the main ones to address, I've tried to keep the focus on principles and not personalities ("YOU'RE AN IDIOT" etc.)  I've made an effort to keep this from reading as an attack on Graeber; it's his objectionable ideas I'm more concerned with.  I've tried to write the post so it reads that way, and I hope it shows.

2.  This is from the "I never inhaled" school of argument.  Also note the passive voice "has occurred", as in "mistakes were made."

3. In his rebuttal to the previous piece in this series, Graeber claims to be compiling a list of violent actions taken by NVAs.  Purely on the basis of making Occupy transparent and holding it accountable, all should welcome such a list, if and when it is presented.  We look forward to its release.

However, such a list would prove the very case made here: (1) that violence as a strategy does not work - in this case, putting NVAs in a poor light (even if VAs going against GA NV commitments turns out to be the instigating factor) and (2) the need for explicit commitments to NV by Occupations, which all should adhere to.

4. See here for a good discussion of strategy vs. tactics - among other things.

5.  Consider also the potential that such an honor system has for further exclusion.  Women have learned to not set too much store on the purity of men's motives, and an environment where things are informally "worked out" seems much more prone to cover ups and conspiracies of silence.  So you can add women to people of color, the very young and the elderly to those excluded by VAs tactics.  Do the demographics seem to be narrowing towards a particular group here?

6. For those who think Anarchism is the answer, what kind of relevant real world examples can they supply?  Because the tendency in the kinds of environments under discussion - socially unstable, developing and volatile - is for what Rachel Luft called disaster masculinity to emerge.  See her  Searching for Common Ground [PDF] for a useful case study.  The experience described here seems much closer to reality than the utopian dream world VAs are trying to sell people on:

American individualism, exacerbated by men's sense of entitlement to autonomy, in the context of the pervasive [New Orleans large grassroots relief effort Common Ground Collective] CG do-it-yourself culture of decentralization, was deployed to resist accountability in the name of rugged freedom. As one white male volunteer with an anarchy symbol on his shirt retorted in response to the facilitator's suggestion about gender caucuses, "So you think homogenization is the key to antiracist growth?"
And please spare me the "anarchism cannot fail, it can only be failed" replies.  An ideology that has no mechanism for restraining senses of entitlement or checking aggrandized egos is not one suited for planet Earth.

7.  Much, much more from Chenoweth here and here.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm an apologist for property damage (0+ / 0-)

    Sometimes it is necessary. Look at Iceland. They threw a bunch of rocks, and in the end, they didn't get screwed by austerity measures. Of course, there are still ethics to damaging property. Don't hurt property that an individual uses to sustain their physical needs. Don't harm their house, for instance. Or their farmlands. But a place of business? That depends. Don't damage your neighborhood mom and pop store. But Whole Foods?  You mean that corporation run by a frothing libertarian who laughs at the stupidity of his hippie customers? Yeah. I won't cry for whole foods.

    My question to you is, why the focus on some property damage by OWS, and not on the freaking circumstances that prompted it? Have you written any diaries about other types of violence, or is this the first time you got concerned about it? Ever complained about, say, police violence?

    Maybe you could link to other articles you have written condemning other violent situations, you know, just to show you aren't a huge hypocrite who just wants to paint OWS as violent.

    •  This is clearly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      an intra-factional debate elevated to an "issues diary" via a post on dkos, it seems to me.

      "Gotchas" on both sides now seem to be the objective, no matter how erruditely-couched the prose may be.

      Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

      by a gilas girl on Mon Feb 20, 2012 at 04:11:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well, since you're too lazy to actually look (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Here are two:

      Seriously, those kinds of empty challenges just show you don't have anything of substance to bring to the discussion.

      And if you actually, you know, read the archives at my site - which go back five years; I was writing about this (and other things) well back into the Bush administration - you'll find an abundance of examples.

      •  I'm just saying, what kind of property damage? (0+ / 0-)

        There's gradations, aren't there? Harming a corporation doesn't directly harm any individuals. Harming a mom and pop store, or a person's home is uncool, obviously.

        Look, I was kind of radical in my youth. An anarchist of a sort, actually. Never the brick throwing sort myself, but I hung out with some of them. I'm not going to judge these people, as some here seem intent on doing. I don't know the specific circumstances.

        Really, though, I think it does boil down to whether or not this is effective or not. Leave morals out of it. The things that are being done to US citizens are far more immoral than anything anyone loosely affiliated with OWS might have done.

        •  Consider the long term consequences (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Alice Marshall, rcnewton

          DCblogger in an email:

          [P]utting someone into the criminal justice system is a very serious matter. it is life altering. But then, so is smashing the window. The bank can replace the window. Or they can shut down the branch. Washington DC’s riot corridor was a ghost town for 30 years. The damage of a riot lives a long time after the riot. I hate to think what business insurance is in Oakland right now.
          It isn't just who owns the store, it's who uses it.  Also see Whole Foods comment elsewhere in thread.  Thinking only about who pays to repair the damage leaves out a whole universe of other implications.
          •  Occupy Oakland reduced crime (0+ / 0-)

            How come we never hear about this?


            Poor people do not use freaking Whole Foods. Have you ever been to one? If the implications about Whole Foods are moral, I don't care. If the implications are tactical, I would listen to that argument.

            We should be looking at the larger picture, and comparing the damage done by the system, to the damage done in changing the system. By focusing on some minor incidents of property damage and ignoring the property damage perpetrated by the system over the course of decades, we do ourselves, the neighborhood, and Occupy a  disservice.

            •  Looking at the larger picture is a luxury (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Alice Marshall, rcnewton

              for those who do not have to live with the impact of VAs actions.  If their bullshit put you in a position where you suddenly had to use public transit to buy a freaking gallon of milk you might not take such an elevated, disinterested view of the situation.

              And incidentally, NVAs are looking at the larger picture, but doing so with constructive (Occupy Our Homes and the like) not destructive actions. It's possible to change the system without further immiserating the worst off among us.  If that's your collateral damage I want no part of it.

              •  Show me some polling data (0+ / 0-)

                I simply don't buy the premise of your argument. Prove to me that people are actually concerned about property damage. Show me how the worst off were actually hurt.

                Look, I'm all for positive, non violent action. But look at ANY non violent movement throughout history. Those that succeeded did so because they were seen to be controlling the violent tendencies of their members. These things have to work in a good cop/bad cop fashion. Sure, the good cop has to be like, "Whoah! whoah there, buddy, you're going to far!" to the bad cop. But without the bad cop, there is no real threat, no real incentive to change.

                •  Go to DC's riot corridor (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  Talk to the folks there.  Ask them how well it worked out for them.  Take a poll if you'd like.

                  •  Not what I asked you, Mr. Anecdote (0+ / 0-)

                    I did not ask how or where to take a poll. I asked you to prove your premise. You say people hate OWS for the property damage. You have to have sources, right? Obviously, you wouldn't just be guessing about something this serious, right?

                    You must have sources that led you to this conclusion, so
                    all I'm asking is, share those sources.

                    •  Please pay careful attention (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Alice Marshall, rcnewton

                      I did not say people hate OWS for the property damage. I said VA tactics are violent, and I will not accept VAs fanciful attempts to redefine the word.

                      That said, most folks are turned off by violence, which is why VAs go to such lengths to not be associated with it.

                      On the general question of rioting, I don't think it's anecdotal to suggest that areas that suffer riots also tend to suffer serious long-term consequences. Even areas that get tagged as being unsafe suffer from higher prices, more vacancies, etc. In other words, a lower standard of living.

                      Now, if you'd like to disagree about that, go right ahead. Say straight up that you think areas are improved by violence and that riots are agents of renewal. Is that your position?

                      •  Without proof, bare assertions mean little (0+ / 0-)

                        All you have to do is prove that most folks are turned off by the specific property damage in this situation. I'm not talking about other situations, I'm talking about this situation. And no one is talking about riots, don't confuse the issue. There was no mass looting or destruction.

                        I think that if a few bricks through a few corporate windows puts the fear of Mob into a few 1%ers, that is a good thing. If OWS stands up when attacked by police, perhaps that will shed some light on the terrible history of police brutality in Oakland. If the police are reigned in because of this, we can count it as a net win for the community.

                        Here's the equation as I see it: a few broken windows versus decades of ongoing racist brutality. Surgery involves violence to the body. If your ticker is bad, you need your ribs broken and your chest cut open. It hurts. But it's better than dying.

                        •  Pretty simple then (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Alice Marshall, rcnewton

                          You're a violence advocate. I'm a nonviolence advocate. I've made my case above and will continue to work at it, and I certainly hope to persuade the great majority of people I'm able to reach that the NVA position is right and the VA position is wrong.

                          •  Wrong (0+ / 0-)

                            I am not a violence advocate.  Ever been really, seriously, permanently injured by someone? Did you forgive them, or did you harbor violent feelings and advocate revenge? I lost an eye in a mugging, but I don't want the men who did that to me hurt. I forgive them. Damn rotten economic prospects drove them to it.

                            Property damage isn't necessarily violence. Violence means hurting a person. Hurting a corporation isn't violence. Corporations aren't people.

                            I WANT you to keep convincing people that OWS should not embrace violence. That's how the game is played. Good cop, bad cop requires that the good cop attempt to restrain the bad cop.

                            And I'm not advocating MORE people go out and damage property. I'm just saying, the situation is WAY more complicated than your simple moral calculus implies.

                          •  Wrong: "Property damage isn't necessarily violenc" (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Alice Marshall, rcnewton

                            That's why I led the post with the definition of the word.  If you're not willing to condemn the property damage I linked to then I consider you a violence advocate - and again, I will try to persuade others of that.

                            violence - noun - Behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.

                            That's the definition most of humanity uses. You might not like it, you might disagree with it, but that's the definition.  Advocating destruction of property means advocating violence. It's that simple - and it's not moral calculus. It's what the word means

                          •  I don't care what the word means (0+ / 0-)

                            Okay, suppose we say that property damage is violence. So is touching someone who doesn't want to be touched. So is kicking someone in the shins, or the nuts, or stabbing them in the heart. But these are obviously very, very different levels of violence.

                            Life is violent. Some amount of continual and unceasing violence is necessary to live. You've kill trillions of bacteria in your life, you violent person. I bet you even swat flies. You were justified, of course. But unless you are a practicing Jainist I don't think you can seriously make a claim to be non-violent.

                            I might be upset if someone kicked me in the shins, but I'd be dead if they stabbed me in the heart. I can even imagine valid reasons for them to kick me in the shins. I can't really think of any valid reasons to stab me in the heart.

                            So even if we agree that property damage is violent, I think we can also agree that damaging a corporate store is not as violent as burning down someone's house.

                            You and I are both violent people who engage in violence against other organisms. But violence is okay in certain circumstances, obviously. The only question is, was it justified in the specific circumstances you mention?

            •  and incidentally did you read the post you linked (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Alice Marshall, rcnewton

              to? It's a full throated, ringing endorsement of nonviolence.

              Thanks for passing it along!

    •  Horace Boothroyd III writes diaries... (0+ / 0-)

      ... about police misconduct every single night here.  Sometimes two or three in a night.   It seems to be one of his regular topics.  I take it you haven't seen any of those?

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Mon Feb 20, 2012 at 04:44:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, I follow him (0+ / 0-)

        Kind of a fan, really. Why do you ask?

        •  because you were lamenting the lack of... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          .... coverage of police misconduct.  In fact he has a diary up right now about a 14-year-old girl getting tasered.

          "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

          by G2geek on Mon Feb 20, 2012 at 10:00:06 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No, I was simply wondering about the diarist (0+ / 0-)

            I've noticed that many people who diary about violence at OWS have never written of their concern over any other types of violence, and some in fact are pretty damn hawkish in other situations. So anytime I see someone lamenting the terrible, terrible violence at Occupy, I always ask.

            •  different reporters, different beats. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Same as with medical stuff, the religious right, the climate crisis, and a bunch of other topics.  The fact that someone writes a lot about the religious right but doesn't write about the contraception debate doesn't mean they aren't interested.  

              "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

              by G2geek on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 05:20:51 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  and Whole Foods might be the only place.... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      danps, Alice Marshall, debedb, David54

      .... in the neighborhood to get fresh organic fruits & vegetables, meat that isn't saturated in antibiotics, and milk from cows that aren't dosed up on rBGH.  

      I take it you didn't see the video with the young black guy who lived in Oakland all his life and was yelling at the BBs to stop trashing his neighborhood?  

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Mon Feb 20, 2012 at 04:47:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Which neighborhood? (0+ / 0-)

        As I mentioned, trashing residential neighborhoods is obviously bad. But we agree that corporations aren't people, right? Then harming a corporation isn't like harming a person. And harming corporate property isn't like harming personal property.

        Whole Foods is an evil, predatory corporation. They never go in to poor neighborhoods, and they are never the only grocery store in any neighborhood. People who work there call it "Whole Paycheck" because it would take their entire paycheck to shop there.

        •  Whole Foods is a symptom of.... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Alice Marshall, rcnewton

          .... the inability of communities to organize successful food co-ops.  

          San Francisco has Rainbow Grocery, and I seriously doubt Whole Foods would even think of setting up shop within a mile of there.  

          The East Bay has one tiny little food co-op in West Oakland, in roughly the same neighborhood as the West Oakland BART station.  That's a decent start but it's utterly insane that we can't develop a food co-op system here on a scale to compete with Whole Foods.

          It's not as if anarchists can't build stuff: 924 Gilman St. was originally called the "Anarchist Community Center" until the name "924 Gilman" stuck because it was an easy way to remember the address.

          That's the demarcation between people who can be taken seriously and people who can be written off: whether they're willing to put in the effort to build something lasting.  

          "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

          by G2geek on Mon Feb 20, 2012 at 10:06:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Good (if tangential) point (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            The capitalist system does its best to destroy people centric businesses, which is why you see scams like Amway on a national scale, but no real co-ops.

            •  we had this discussion once.... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              .... (in person), that the key problem is undercapitalization, and the legal structures within which capital can be made available to new startups, and the issue of how "valuation" accrues to member shares.  

              It's very difficult, and requires substantial effort, to set up any kind of business in which capital does not equate to voting power one way or another including via indirect mechanisms that may not be apparent at first.  

              The plywood producers' coops of the Pacific Northwest were a case in point: as they succeeded, the valuation of the companies increased, and the price of a member share (worker owner's share) increased accordingly, to the point where it became unaffordable to new members.  At that point they started hiring regular employees.

              There are ways of doing it, but they are not well known, and take the involvement of lawyers with specialist knowledge.  However it so happens that in the Bay Area right now there are people working on this, and the outcome may be something like a generalized solution that can be applied like a template.

              At that point it will become a more commonly-available option and we should see it put into use more widely.


              As for Amway, political connections helped it avoid getting busted as a pyramid scheme, and the rest as they say, is history.  That plus the fact that scams by their nature tend to be attractive: they're designed that way.  

              People who aren't skeptics by nature, in this case who don't firmly believe "if it sounds too good to be true it probably is," are easy targets for scams.   Particularly when a scam has a religious component.  Amway does: right-wing Christianity is part of the program.  Bernie Madoff did: a bunch of pious Jewish sentiments and even recommendations from Rabbis. Someone who claims to hold the same core beliefs as the victim, is more likely to be believed.  

              When given the choice between "work hard and earn a living," and "work less and earn a fortune," many people much of the time will choose the latter.  The absence of working class solidarity further compounds the problem.  All of this could be solved by education, but for that, we'd need to take control of Boards of Ed.  

              "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

              by G2geek on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 05:50:47 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Except that Iceland *did* get screwed by austerity (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      measures, and they did take IMF loans to not default.  There's this false history about how Iceland dealt with the crisis going around here on Daily Kos.

    •  "When Bricks Bleed, I'll Cry" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      danps, G2geek

      That was the title of a book written some years ago, and it deals with the strategic use of property destruction by activists.

      The author is convicted clinic bomber and "Army of God" adherent Michael Bray.

      Just saying, be careful who you're climbing into bed with.

      •  eww. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Alice Marshall, rcnewton

        Climb into bed with Michael Bray, climb out the next day with drug-resistant gonorrhea.  

        Thanks for the reminder (as I reach for the bleach).

        Also Operation Rescue, who were masters of property destruction including gluing door locks, sticking garden hoses in mail slots overnight to flood clinics out, etc.  A few years ago I did in-depth research on them and their various tentacles, and it is remarkable how much their rhetoric sounds like a lot of the stuff we've been seeing in these pages lately.  

        I'm surprised I didn't think of them immediately when I read some of the stuff here.  

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Mon Feb 20, 2012 at 10:11:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  this is the game: (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    danps, Alice Marshall, debedb, David54

    Vandalize property, thereby provoke predictable police overreaction, use innocent protesters as human shields, and when they get hurt by the cops, attempt to recruit them into BB for the next round.

    It's been the same old game for at least the past three decades in the Bay Area, it's manipulative as hell, and it's morally bankrupt.  

    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

    by G2geek on Mon Feb 20, 2012 at 04:51:03 PM PST

  •  when "A" provokes "B" into hurting "C".... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alice Marshall, debedb

    .... and does it again and again predictably, the chain of causality is effectively the same as "A" hurting "C."  

    So when the BBers provoke the cops into hurting innocent protesters, again and again and again, in effect the BBers are the ones who are hurting the innocent protesters.  Using the cops as their intermediary for plausible deniability.  

    IMHO, disgusting.

    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

    by G2geek on Mon Feb 20, 2012 at 04:53:04 PM PST

  •  Violence is stupid. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    danps, Alice Marshall, G2geek

    There's two points here: One is that violence in protest in our society is going to result in excusing the shutdown of the protest. Other societies are different, closer to the edge.
    The other is this: OWS started out as a peaceful protest by peaceful folks. It got minimal coverage until these peaceful folks were assaulted by the cop in NY. Then it got more coverage due to police over reaction.
     This created a radical change in the news coverage of income inequality and the jobs issue.

    Then some people came in and wanted to co-opt this peaceful movement with violent action.
    It's hard not to believe these folks aren't agents provocateur in the service of Wall Street and the political establishment .

    If these folks want to have a violent protest and confrontation, they should have the integrity to do it on their own and not on the backs of peaceful protestors.

    I'd rather have a buntle afrota-me than a frottle a bunta-me.

    by David54 on Mon Feb 20, 2012 at 07:39:06 PM PST

    •  ps To the extent that some of these folks are (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "bloggers" advocating violence, they should have the integrity and self-respect to turn off their lap-tops, step out of the starbucks, and punch some cop in the face.
      If you want violence, go for it.

      I'd rather have a buntle afrota-me than a frottle a bunta-me.

      by David54 on Mon Feb 20, 2012 at 07:42:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is the left's answer to (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Alice Marshall, G2geek, David54

        chickenhawks and the 101st chairborne. Also, what digby said (2005 edition).

        •  woot! Exactly! (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          David54, Alice Marshall, rcnewton

          Some of the biggest advocates of property destruction are cubicle dwellers who wouldn't put themselves or their cushy circumstances at risk to practice what they preach.

          Chickenhawks, exactly.  

          Now we need a name for 'em that comes out of anarchist history, same way as "101st Chairborne" comes from a military reference.

          Know what's terribly ironic?  I did a keyword search for "famous anarchists" to get some ideas, and landed on this page:

          Now look at the top and bottom of the page, and what you see are ads.  Yes, ads for capitalist corporations!  The nitwit who put up that site didn't even have the brains or gonads or basic consistency to either buy local hosting service from some mom & pop company (there are many), or put up his/her own server on his/her own broadband service (yes it can be done, relatively easily).  Instead they sold out and put up their site on Angelfire!   LOL, "what a maroon!"

          "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

          by G2geek on Mon Feb 20, 2012 at 10:20:41 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  watching the clips made me physically ill.`seeing (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    danps, Alice Marshall, affinis, rcnewton

    the violent actions taken first toward property then toward those trying to STOP their actions can not be defined as anything BUT violence.

    the apologists for such behavior seem to excuse the attacks on those who "get in the way" of the mayhem (those trying to stop the destruction) as justifiable.

    thank you for this strong and clear series.

    graeber also came and tried to "defend" himself in one of the diaries where i also was objecting to the violent tactics and the loss of efficacy of the occupy movement because of these tactics.

    your use of his words (as he claims to have "started" this movement and objects to being "thrown out of it" is appropriate.

    NO one is bigger than a political movement that is supposedly representing the masses.

    it has its own momentum - it belongs to everyone - and NO one individual can claim ownership for the entirety of the movement.  dr. king was the leader but without followers, there would have been no success.

    what graeber and the VAs don't understand is that their behavior is resulting in those who would stand in unison against the greater cause are leaving - and they won't return (in this form, at least).

    EdriesShop has a presidents day sale going on through tuesday!! More to come in the next few days! - Is GlowNZ back yet?

    by edrie on Mon Feb 20, 2012 at 11:07:29 PM PST

  •  This is like a liberal's (0+ / 0-)

    magnum opus. Apparently yelling at people is "violence," and so is painting a wall, but "non-violence advocates" PUNCHING people for wearing a mask is totally acceptable. Liberals and pacifists are straight up hypocrites. They're fine ganging up on a someone in black bloc, but are total fucking cowards when it comes time to defend ourselves from the attacks of the police... who, apparently, are really our friends. Way to stay on the side of the oppressor.


    by John E Jacobsen on Wed Feb 22, 2012 at 04:04:39 AM PST

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