Wednesday April 11th, Chris Hedges gave a lecture at Brown University. The topics included civil liberties, state repression, and the so-called “liberal class” and its demise. In light of the recent article describing black bloc tactics as the “cancer” of the Occupy movement, a number of Providence anarchists attended the talk. Throughout his talk these comrades stood up and one by one adorned black attire and bandanas. Hedges noted, “it seems we have some Black Bloc Anarchists [sic] here, either that or some people are very cold.”
The point of this action was not to intimidate Hedges or the largely old, white liberal audience, but to show them just how wrong their analysis of black bloc is. That there are, in fact, faces behind the masks – normal proletarians – who are willing to engage in discussion on tactics. The questions and answers section reflected this, even though the hosts of the event attempted to deny the anarchists the right to speak.
Hedges made it quite obvious what his opinion on discussion and challenging his own ideas are. Simply put, he openly told of his frustration of going to general assemblies only to encounter chants of “diversity of tactics” rather than tactical discussion. It was apparently because of this that he felt there was absolutely no discussion needed then. He himself merely needed to chant “non-violence” and the matter was settled. No discussion, no desire for discussion.
His arrogant handling of critique was perhaps a side-note to his prescribed vaccine to the pathologized black bloc. He purported that we must acknowledge the police are the 99%, that we must not taunt or harass the police, nor must we be bold and take actions that could potentially cause repression. This struck me wrong two-fold. First, it misunderstands solidarity. It implies that solidarity has terms, that it is only given when actions meets a check-list and there is no room for autonomy. What this does, leading into my second point, is disenfranchises significant portions of the 99% – namely people of color. It enforces what the late Joel Olson called the White Democracy. Put succinctly by Olson, “When people of color have to enter a movement on white people’s terms rather than their own, that is not the 99%. That’s white democracy.”*
At Brown University, Hedges gave an apocalyptic view of the past and present conditions of resistance to capitalism. Given this and his inability to have a constructive discussion with the very people he wishes to call a “cancer” (some of whom have been the backbone of resistance in the past 20 years!) it becomes more and more obvious that he stands in the camp of the bourgeoisie. Hedges and others like him are the same people who would put his enemies against the wall if he somehow inherited state power. Though he denies being a dogmatic pacifist he also believes that the black bloc is morally wrong, that physical resistance to american imperialism should only occur when it is a minute before midnight and it is seemingly too late. If the movement was made up solely of people like Chris Hedges we’d be dead and gone by now.
We hope Chirs Hedges enjoyed his stay in Providence and his welcoming committee at the lecture.
*Whiteness and the 99% by Joel Olson.
Originally posted: April 12, 2012 at Black Wave Communist Collective