Chris Hedges has the internet’s attention. In an article for Truthdig, he identifies Black Bloc anarchists as “the cancer of the Occupy movement.” Their confrontational ways, he argues, fly in the face of nonviolent principles, only further alienate the mainstream, and serve as justification for state repression.
Insurrectionists were angrier than usual. Other radicals joined in too. They accused Hedges of capitulating to the most timid elements in the movement. There were semi-literate blog posts, angry comment threads, and hateful tweets — the web at its finest. But there were also some considered replies. Most significantly, David Graeber responded in an open letter to Hedges.
I will spare readers a significant overview of the debate and keep myself to a short intervention. An intervention I only make because I feel that the debate’s crystallization around these two figures is unfortunate. As articulate as Graeber is, the Black Bloc tactic deserves little defense. It offers no way forward for the democratic Left. Neither does Hedges’s well-intentioned but inchoate liberalism.