Diversity of Tactics or Divide and Conquer?

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Following the most recent police assault on Occupy Oakland, Crooks & Liars managing editor Tina Dupuy called for Occupy to purge those who fail to “denounce violent tactics.”

She argues that it’s wrong to show solidarity with people on the receiving end of police violence in Oakland, declaring that “destroying property destroys moral authority.”

Josh Cook responded on his blog Deep Green Awakening, arguing that years of massive, systemic violence has set the stage for confrontation, even if violence is entirely avoidable.

“OWS is nothing if not a shift toward direct democracy through direct action, in both the sociopolitical and economic realms. Obviously, our super-wealthy rulers do not like this idea and will stop at nothing to squelch it. This shouldn’t be surprising. These are the same people who have no problem murdering Iraqi civilians, for example, to obtain oil and control of strategic land. They, too, are victims of a system whose logic is akin to that of the sociopath.”

We’ve reprinted Dupuy’s and Cook’s articles below. After the jump are videos of aerial shots of Oakland “property destruction” in context, plus a profile of Think Tank, an Occupy Wall Street working group, which includes interviews from occupiers at Liberty Square in New York and McPherson Square in D.C.

Who do you agree with: Dupuy or Cook? Tell us in the comments, which we’ll include in a future post.

Why #OWS Needs to Denounce Violent Tactics On Display at Occupy Oakland by Tina Dupuy

The Occupy Movement, “the 99 percent,” has, ironically, been hijacked by a small minority within its ranks. I speak of a small percentage of Occupiers who are okay with property destruction. As we saw in Oakland over the weekend: They’re okay with breaking windows, trashing city buildings and throwing bottles at the police. In short: They are not nonviolent. They are willing to commit petty criminal acts masked as a political statement.

These are Black Bloc tactics and they’re historically ineffective at spurring change. The now Gingrich-vilified Saul Alinsky in 1970 said the Weather Underground (the terrorist wing of the anti-war movement) should be on the Establishment’s payroll. “Because they are strengthening the Establishment,” said the “professional radical” Alinsky. Nothing kneecapped the call for the war to end quicker than buildings being bombed in solidarity with pacifist sentiments.

Here’s the key point: Occupy is not an armed conflict – it’s a PR war. Nonviolent struggle is a PR war. Gandhi had embedded journalists on his Salt March. He wasn’t a saint. That was a consciously cultivated media image. He used the press and its power to gain sympathy for his cause. What he didn’t do is say he was nonviolent “unless the cops are d*cks,” a sentiment voiced at Occupy. Nonviolent struggle has nothing to do with how the cops react. In actual nonviolent movements they welcome police overreaction because it helps the cause they’re fighting for.

At some General Assemblies this issue is referred to as “diversity of tactics.” It means basically if you’re not okay with property damage, but if someone else is, you’re not going to stand in the way. To a liberal ear it sounds like affirmative action or tolerance. It sounds like diversity of opinion – it’s not. It’s 3,000 people peacefully marching and two *ssholes breaking windows; which becomes 3,000 people breaking some windows in news reports.

Violent tactics taint everyone involved evenly – consenting or not.

Property destruction is not only a bad PR move (it costs taxpayers and small business owners money) it’s not constitutionally protected Free Speech. It’s also not what democracy looks like. The First Amendment specifically states the right to peaceably assemble to redress grievances.

Moreover the destruction of property is exactly what Occupy is protesting against; it’s what the banks took from us. Occupy has pointed out the criminality of the banks and the seeming collusion with government to take wealth and property away from working people and give it to the wealthy. So protest property crimes, by committing crimes against property? It’s nonsensical.

Destroying property destroys moral authority. You can’t rail against Bankaneers while trashing a City Hall. You can but you lose. Then the cops look justified in their show of force. Being quiet is seen as consent and being in solidarity with Oakland is standing with their well-documented embrace of “diversity of tactics.”

Occupy should denounce violence and property damage. There should be a statement that Oakland doesn’t speak for the movement as a whole. Holding solidarity marches against Oakland police brutality is exactly what that sounds like. It sends the message that Occupy is happy to cost the Oakland taxpayers millions in damages. If Occupy is to succeed it has to purge the extreme (read: ineffective waste) elements now commandeering the movement.

Some have emailed me and asked if the people who autonomously did these acts of vandalism and violence were “undercovers” or extreme anarchists. My response has been their goal is the same and their tactics are the same, so why does it matter? If they’re undercovers trying to undermine the movement then disavow them. If they’re anarchists who believe they are a part of Occupy, disavow them. The distinction means little if the endgame and the solution are the same.

It’s not true that no one speaks for Occupy. Those using violence are speaking far louder than the “people’s mic.” They need to be purged, or the the entire movement will be marginalized.

Tina is an award-winning writer, investigative journalist, and managing editor of Crooks and Liars. Tina appears frequently on MSNBC, Current TV, RT and BBC and all over the radio frequencies via KCRW’s To The Point, The Stephanie Miller Show, The Block Radio and The Leslie Marshall Show. She writes for Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, Fast Company, LA Weekly and Newsday among many others.


Occupy Oakland: Should OWS denounce “the violence”? by Josh Cook

While I sympathize with this article on why the Occupy movement should denounce the “violence” in Oakland, I have some friendly critiques. Speaking first and foremost as a humanist and advocate of nonviolence, I condemn the use of violence as ultimately unproductive and unethical in efforts for genuine social change in the direction of justice, peace, and healthy democracy.

Image: Beyond Bread

But I am not a naive Utopian. When you have large numbers of oppressed people suffering under the burden of massive systemic violence, outbreaks of interpersonal violence are inevitable. There is a touch of (doubtless unintentional) classism and racism in the labeling of the less-than-pretty events in Oakland (and elsewhere) as “petty criminal acts.” Many of these folks are poor and uneducated, have been for generations, and are trapped in places where opportunity has been made scarce by the ruthless capitalist system.

We should also recognize that this was collective self-defense rather than offensive aggression. Compare the “property damage” (and the whole issue of property and what sort of damage constitutes violence is another discussion altogether) with the long-term harm done to the People of Oakland, especially minority groups, activists, and Occupiers. It should dawn on rational, empathic people that such intense moments of conflict are practically unavoidable in the face of so brutal a system, and rather than waste time judging people, we ought to cry out louder for an end to the rule of the 1% and their system, the true root cause of social unrest and violence.

Furthermore, at this point, it is silly to talk about Constitutional rights. We in the US live in a Police State. We have no such rights — most recently and dramatically demonstrated by the passing of the NDAA. For moral force, I suggest speaking of human rights, as this has the added benefit of keeping us connected to the international dimension of this movement. Solidarity with all people struggling for democracy and justice is of utmost importance .

We need to ask: When does the time come to literally, physically dismantle the power structures which are continuously inflicting violence upon us? How long will we, for example, tolerate the rape of the Earth, begging our so-called “representatives” to reform away the latest problem? Eventually, we must, if we are to remain intellectually honest, realize that the pipelines and hydrofracking and mountaintop exploding will not stop until The People rise up and end it themselves. We must face facts: We are out of time, the planet is out of time, and surely the children, born and yet-to-be-born, are out of time. This deadly system must be brought to an end, and from its ashes, a truer democracy must be born, complete with an economic order that is just as democratic and cooperative as the political order is supposed to be. I believe this can be accomplished through nonviolent revolution. OWS is nothing if not a shift toward direct democracy through direct action, in both the sociopolitical and economic realms. Obviously, our super-wealthy rulers do not like this idea and will stop at nothing to squelch it. This shouldn’t be surprising. These are the same people who have no problem murdering Iraqi civilians, for example, to obtain oil and control of strategic land. They, too, are victims of a system whose logic is akin to that of the sociopath.

Revolution is not a dirty word. It is Fierce Love. It need not be violent. But it absolutely must be full of conflict, for “power concedes nothing without a demand.”


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  • admin

    ah, this is great!

  • A Free Mind

    The Oakland Police beat, gassed, and abused citizens, the NYPD murdered three innocent people in one week, and we’re supposed to denounce Occupy Oakland for breaking some glass? To refer to the actions of these protesters as “violent tactics” in light of the countless acts of actual violence that we have endured — not to mention the mundane and routine violence visited by police upon our urban neighborhoods — is offensive. Have we forgotten that Oakland Police very nearly killed Scott Olsen? They failed, but not for lack of trying.

    I agree that destruction of property should be avoided. It is bad for our image. And PR is important for the movement. Ms. Depuy is right about that. I am also concerned about tensions between protesters and law enforcement coming to a flashpoint before the movement has adequate public support. But let’s call it what it is. It is property damage, and property damage is not the same as violence. We can talk about denouncing “violent tactics” if and when they appear, but knocking over a museum exhibit is not a violent tactic.

    When people are faced, day after day, with brutality and oppression, they are bound to react. That the reaction in this case resulted in mere property damage is to Occupy Oakland’s credit. Mayor Quan, through the use of her personal militia, committed violence against the very people she is supposed to serve, and they responded by breaking some of her stuff. Let’s be realistic. The damage done was fairly minor. Ms. Depuy’s suggestion that it will “cost the Oakland taxpayers millions in damages” is ridiculous.

    This movement may or may not ultimately seek to tear down the entire system and rebuild from the ashes as Mr. Cook suggests, but a little broken glass is hardly going to rob the movement of its “moral authority”, whatever that means. I, for one, stand in solidarity with Occupy Oakland, property damage and all.

    • http://twitter.com/Kishin_D KishinD

      “This movement may or may not ultimately seek to tear down the entire system and rebuild from the ashes as Mr. Cook suggests”

      H.R. 645
      Executive Order “Establishment of the Council of Governors”
      NDAA 2012
      Presidential Decision Directive 51

      This is a matter of public record. The republic has become an empire. At any time, the President can declare a national emergency, convert the state to a dictatorship without congressional oversight, and detain citizens indefinitely at will in prison camps that are already fully functional.

      Only, many of us have the order backwards. First, build a new system. Then, tear down the old system. To destroy this model of capitalism, we must offer people an alternative means to acquiring necessities. No other strategy will work.

  • ChrisM

    Tina Dupuy, is she an Oaklander? How much she knows about OPD? How long has she lived in Oakland?

    • Anonymous

      Nice try at defelction. I’m an Oaklander. I have been a member of Occupy Oakland from the very beginning. I know alot about Oakland Police Department. I am an African Descended man and people who look like me, in the history of OPD, have often been the ones at the most clear brunt of OPD aggression and oppression…And I 100% agree with what Tina Dupuy has presented here in her article.

  • affinis

    1. There’s a reason I don’t like politicians. Generally, you can’t trust what comes out of their mouths – it’s all spin. The article header states “After the jump are videos of aerial shots of Oakland ‘property destruction’ in context”. Few people begrudge OOers breaking down a fence to escape a kettle. Most people would cheer them on in doing so. Folks are upset about the trashing of City Hall, graffiti (e.g. “Stab a cop”), broken windows, etc. To attempt to(mis)characterize the property damage in Oakland in the manner done here (i.e. implying that it’s all analogous to the dismantling of the fence) constitutes sheer spin. If the media organs of OWS engage in spin (i.e. slanted and not-entirely-intellectually-honest characterization), OWS will lose support (including mine). Straightforward honest characterization builds trust and support.

    2. The pair of articles sets up a false dichotomy – i.e. a. either fully embrace the acts of OO or b. fail to condemn the brutality and misconduct of OPD. Thoughtless solidarity – and casting a blind eye to the acts of an ally – is a serious mistake (though mptiang wit’s tehen besieged to adopt the mentality “my comrade right or wrong” – see Chris Hedges’ writings on how this tends to occur during war, exacerbating events). Cook’s article states “We should also recognize that this was collective self-defense rather than offensive aggression”, but videos from OO movein day give the lie to that (e.g. shit being thrown at cops, even when they’re not immediately attacking protesters). And I’m pro-squat, but trying to wrest control of Kaiser Auditorium from the city is not really a “defensive” act (as I noted before, I hate spin).

    There’s a reason why OPD is facing likely federal receivership. Condemning the repression of OO by the City of Oakland is appropriate. As an aside, Otpor worked out some pretty effective tactics for secondary antirepression protests. http://t.co/35UTNnfK

    3. An additional issue in the case of OO movein day – some of the planners appear to have been looking to create this trajectory of events. It’s worth checking out Boots Riley’s pre-movein day analysis: http://on.fb.me/zXy9e7gwgga

    • affinis

      I’m reposting my second and third points here. Somehow when the comment above posted, letters in a link and in several words came out scrambled.
      2. The pair of articles sets up a false dichotomy – i.e. a. either fully embrace the acts of OO or b. fail to condemn the brutality and misconduct of OPD. Thoughtless solidarity – and casting a blind eye to the acts of an ally – is a serious mistake (though it’s tempting when besieged to adopt the mentality “my comrade right or wrong” – see Chris Hedges’ writings on how this tends to occur during war, exacerbating events). Cook’s article states “We should also recognize that this was collective self-defense rather than offensive aggression”, but videos from OO movein day give the lie to that (e.g. shit being thrown at cops, even when they’re not immediately attacking protesters). And I’m pro-squat, but trying to wrest control of Kaiser Auditorium from the city is not really a “defensive” act (as I noted before, I hate spin).

      There’s a reason why OPD is facing likely federal receivership. Condemning the repression of OO by the City of Oakland is appropriate and needed. As an aside, Otpor worked out some pretty effective tactics for secondary antirepression protests. http://t.co/35UTNnfK

      3. An additional issue in the case of OO movein day – some of the planners appear to have been looking to create this trajectory of events. It’s worth checking out Boots Riley’s pre-movein day analysis: http://on.fb.me/zXy9e7

  • plantingtime

    We need to think about including, creating a massive movement, influencing friends and neighbors, and the truth is that this will be best served by non-violence, going limp in the face of police repression, and that smashing stuff is hurting the growth of the movement and gives FOX news the upper hand. It is possible from occupy to disavow the violence without condemning those who committed it. We can disavow terrorism too, but point out who the biggest terrorists really are. Those who destroyed property were on the wrong path to freedom, but that cost is nothing compared to the destruction of the state.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lambert.strether Lambert Strether

    I think there’s an editing problem with the quote. Shouldn’t it read: “Even if the GA agrees that an action is to be non-violent, I get to be violent whenever I want to?”

  • Herpderp

    Violence is unjustifiable for a movement like this. Carefully chosen property damage (ie to banks or the infrastructure of CorpGov) is neither violent nor counter-productive. By all means, the tools of the oppressor should be destroyed. America is now a fascist state, and there is absolutely no way that it is going to change in a peaceful revolution. For one thing, truly peaceful revolutions never take place.

    • Stone Mirror

      It’s unclear how the window of a coffee shop constitutes a “tool of the oppressor”.

  • Charles

    For lack of an organized revolutionary working class leadership party with deep roots in the working class the leadership of the revolt against the 1% is a form of direct democracy which excludes the 99% from their movement. Those who have the luxury to camp out for days on end make the decisions for occupy. The masses formalize the decisions at the GA but this is not representative of a mobilized working class. Most workers were absent from occupy and the GA as work and family duties separated them by time or miles from the decision making. Hence the ability of any group (even leaderless anarchists who denounce leadership) to take the lead by filling the GA (when a socialist group does it, it is called stacking the meeting). So “diversity of tactics” prevails and those prone to such actions take them without the participation and support of the 99% in whose interests they supposedly act.

    Now the violence comes from the cops and the state (Obama on down to Quan and the other mayors) as they see the implications of a movement that aims at the 1%. The implication is revolution and the 1% can hear its ringing from MENA to Greece to Nigeria to Wukan to Oakland! But that does not mean we have to receive the violence of the state on their terms. It is easy to throw a bottle and spend a few days in jail…what is difficult is to educate and organized the demobilized, atomized and demoralized working class which hates its union leaders for giving back what we have won with out a fight. It is not easy to go to the unorganized workers and force labor to take up their plight by fighting for jobs for all and using the power of the organized 11% to do it.

    No we must not shrink from the type of action needed to take down the 1% and that will take force. Every worker who ever walked a solid picket line knows the class war in embryo emerges in every strike and that the violence of the state will emerge there also. And that the only way to win the strike to to resist the violence of the state head on and refuse to back down. When we occupy factories, workplaces we will need to be organized to stand down the violence of the state. But seizing factories as is the practice in France, as was the method in Flint Michigan which organized the CIO, as were the Longview ILWU workers who dumped the grain train, those actions are far different from the anarchists, black blocers and other who can not organize their work mates but will march an unsuspecting crowd of militant occupiers into a police trap.

    Building a revolutionary general strike movement which can seize power from the 1% is much more difficult than getting your “revolutionary street cred” by spending a week end at Santa Rita.

    Bottom line we must place responsibility for the violence squarely on the state. It is the violence of the inherent exploitative and oppressive nature of capitalism which is expressed in the street actions. And as the oppressed stand up and try out varying strategy and tactics in order to learn how to seize power we will make mistakes and although these lessons have been shown to us over and again each generation must relearn them for themselves.

  • http://twitter.com/behold666 Behold666

    This debate is as old as the hills and neither author here does a very good job of justifying their respective positions. Ultimately, the discussion about the tactics of OWS should be measured by their effectiveness in moving the cause forward.

    Even the most naive observer could have predicted the outcome of the march last Saturday in Oakland. There was no way the OPD was going to allow the demonstration access to the building, and there was no way the OO protesters were going to take it by force. So what unfolded was yet another fruitless action in which thousands were mobilized without any concrete gains at the end of the day. I live in the Oakland ghetto, and could not help but wonder how much good both sides could have accomplished with the time, energy and money that was invested into Move In Day.

    Property destruction and violent confrontation might be thrilling at the moment; it might be legitimate self-defense. But if Occupy Oakland is going to advance any of its stated goals, it must renounce its fetish for the street battle and stop creating situations that inevitably lead to confrontation. Violent episodes like this allow the city government and media to discredit the movement and obscure the legitimate questions it poses, further eroding public support for OWS.

    I have so far read Josh Cook’s piece several times and have yet to see in it a concrete tactical justification for property damage and confrontation. What I have seen so far in Oakland are a series of actions designed around force that have all uniformly failed. Did you retake OG Plaza? No. Did you setup a new camp at Telegraph & 19th? No. Are any of the satellite camps in West Oakland still around? No. Did you successfully occupy the convention center? No.

    Despite this string of failures, we now have this divisive rhetoric that positions the DOT folks as the “real” revolutionaries and protesters, as opposed to the rest of us who are wimpy bourgeois liberals. The Fuck The Police march last night [Feb 4] was billed as a “militant action. It attracts anti-capitalists, anti-fascists and other comrades of a revolutionary bent. It is not a march intended for people who are not fully comfortable with diversity of tactics.”

    I consider myself to be anti-capitalist, anti-fascist, anti-OPD, pro-OWS, but I have yet to read a convincing argument that property destruction moves these causes forward in this context. It seems clear that we can keep banging our heads against a wall, or we can look elsewhere for tactical solutions and inspiration.

  • Aznwp

    In the television era, controlling the message about who is right or who is wrong is very easy – who is more violent on the screen? It is different in the internet era. With all the information about both sides of the story over a long period of time, the true villain cannot hide, the overall truth comes out. This is the beauty of the internet. In the television era, it is about who is more violent on the screen. In the internet era, it is about who is just.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000674895148 Aaron Finch

    People should probably think before they go vote for another president. If the banks are creating a terrible place and forcing governments to become tyrannous then maybe a hold off all votes should be held. Destroy the banks by not giving them another government official to destroy the world. Politics has become a criminal organization all around the world. Governments treating their people like crap and then making you live with their choices and education systems that are backed by not the people but the government. I don’t want my kid growing up in a country that falsifies information in history books to make our government look better when in fact it’s another pile of shit in the shitstorm,

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000674895148 Aaron Finch

    A-mass an army to take down the throes of the government. Revolution is near, blood shall be had in city streets to defend what we all hold dear. Our Freedom. The government will not hold back, why should we?

    If they will take drastic measures to ensure the safety of a corrupt organization then so shall we.

    Peaceful protest has done nothing to ensure the safety of the people in the long run. If you want freedom you must take it by war. This is the nature of human kind. Might as well throw everything you know about society out the window and start making your own choices uninhibited by government and media lies.

    War has and will continue to be the only way the people can gain freedom. But a smart war. teamwork must be used. We must work together to accomplish these goals. The government is just the first step on a steep ladder of corruption that must be controlled before it control’s you.

    We must not allow our government to oppress the people any longer. Hundreds of years of Theft, homelessness, murder all in the name of a corrupt system that we still allow to dominate our lives with rules and laws that are meaningless and serve no true end or justice.

    Do you want your kids growing up knowing that they will be lied to by the media and government to protect their own system so that they may be on top at all times? The people shall no longer fear the government. The government shall fear it’s people. As it should be.

    • http://twitter.com/Kishin_D KishinD

      Aaron… you’re wrong. You can’t beat the system when it comes to violence. That is their home turf. That is where they excel. And we already know what happens if such a revolution is successful – the cycle repeats itself, a new 1% is formed, and all the problems recur. We’re here to break the cycle.

      Ghandi helped to achieve Indian independence… without violence. MLK help to secure greater equality and guaranteed freedoms for black folks… without violence. We are not here to fight the military or police, we are here to convert them. Please read my post above, “What is Authority?” We do not have the will for violence or the money to secure loyalty – we must create loyalty through solidarity, derived from morality and information. Through loyalty, communication, and the means to secure necessities, we create authority. Through authority, we change the world. This is the only method available to those of us who stand by our deepest hope for a better world.

    • Guy Josserand III

      Wrong Aaron. Violence will only insure the survival of the status quo. They are masters of it. They have unrivaled access to resources and weapons. What you are saying makes you an advocate for the survival of the current corrupt system.

  • ani

    2nd largest mass arrest in CA history, all for failing to disperse. Some escaped via YMCA. A small group burned a couple of flags. Where are our constitutional rights of freedom to assemble & free speech? People were arrested for MARCHING not for violence. Get your facts straight Tina.

  • Dissent3d

    The tactic of these critics isn’t “divide and conquer”, it’s “conform (to pacifism) or leave.” The false binary of violence and nonviolence is what’s used to divide movements, and diversity of tactics is what keeps them together.

    As for the “effectiveness” of militancy and property destruction, we can look at numerous examples throughout our history. A surprising one is Greensboro NC where the famous desegregation sit-ins took off in 1960. It turns out that, contrary to what the pop history teaches us, there was no integration of Greensboro’s major institutions until an entire decade later, shortly after a deadly rebellion at the local black college.


    An example closer to home would be the riots in response to the Oscar Grant murder. In the wake of that, the cop was charged with murder. He got a manslaughter verdict in the end, and he still faces federal charges. I can’t think of the last time something like that happened to a killer cop.

  • http://www.facebook.com/msfricker Michael S Fricker

    The Occupy movement needs to focus and come up with some clear messages and then come up with effective, efficient ways of getting those messages across. Violence and destruction give it a black eye. Such tactics are to be reserved for when all else fails and then only in defense. If the Palestinians had fought Israel with peace instead of rocks and bombs, the conflict would likely have ended by now due to international pressure on Israel. These days bullies aren’t as tolerated.

    Otherwise, I think the movement needs to get something together like a “day off for the 99% where if you make less than the 1% you all call in sick or whatever on the same day.” Not a full strike, just something to let them know how important the rest of us are. Unions are having trouble because they largely became similar to the organizations they bargain with, at the expense of their members often. We need something that brings in the unions but in a broader way so that everyone is a member… oh wait…that’s a democratic country. Been a while since I’ve seen one that operates like it should.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1240511452 Michele Rossi

    NO, property damage IS violence. Don’t get on the slippery slope of exceptions. That was Ghandi’s genius– no exceptions– even if they are breaking your knee caps. It is, as the article implies, JUST what the media is waiting on which to pounce to keep naming this a temporary temper tantrum of disenchanted “kids” who live off mommy and daddy. Sorry- gotta HOLD THE LINE!

  • http://twitter.com/Kishin_D KishinD

    Well said, Josh. Allow me to augment your case, in three points.

    1. Amendment IX
    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to
    deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    2. Historical application of the human rights in amendment #9
    “The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to
    alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution which at any time
    exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is
    sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the
    people to establish Government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey
    the established Government.” – George Washington

    For the drafting and ratification of the Constitution, the people elected
    representatives. However, those elected were primarily NOT the people elected
    under the existing power structure, the Articles of Confederation. The
    Constitution displaced the old power structure using the right that was later
    guaranteed to us by the 9th amendment.

    3. What is authority?
    Authority is power within systems. In this world, there are three forms of power:
    physical, monetary, and interpersonal. Government represents a combination of the
    three. The people of #Occupy are no longer wooed by the charisma and rhetoric of
    politicians. They are no longer intimidated by threats of violence by those loyal
    to the state. However, they are still dependent on monetary paradigms for their
    survival – fealty to our economic system is sworn in order to secure food,
    transportation, communication, housing, and heating.

    The persons within #Occupy must face this hurdle. We can only free ourselves by
    offering an alternative means to secure food, housing, and heating. It is these
    necessities that cause loyalty to the monetary system, which is ultimately the
    cause of abusive corporate policies and a government which is unaccountable to its

    Authority is nothing more than the combination of loyalty and communication.
    Loyalty is achieved through power: fear (physical violence or the threat of it),
    an alliance of self-interests (economics), or through uniting moral convictions
    into a common goal (solidarity). The most common method of securing loyalty is
    through money. Most people would quickly lose any loyalty to their employer if
    the paychecks stopped – even the police would quit in droves if they were denied

    This is unlikely to occur. Instead, in the wake of an economic collapse that
    parallels the summer of 1932, the purchasing power of wages will plummet, and with
    it the loyalty to the system. We can already see this beginning to happen as the
    dollar weakens due to the international currency war. By anticipating it, we can
    take advantage of it. We must begin by asking the question, “How can I help
    people secure food, housing, heating, transportation, and/or communication in my
    area?” We must continue by asking, “How do we allocate resources and labor to
    best effect human life, liberty, and happiness, for those living today and those
    who have yet to live?”

    I implore everyone to begin their inquiries into these two questions.

    • Guy Josserand III

      There is no way to destroy or replace any thing, idea or system without first creating the alternative to it. The work of OWS and the success of OWS lies in creation, not destruction. Violence and property damage will always work against the creation of a better alternative. The 1% cling to power with the force of their fear of the unknown. Demonstrate to them the superiority of a sustainable, peaceful system and they will cease to resist. Such a world will never exist until it is created piece by piece from the ground up. Chris Hedges has some things to say about how to best start on that from our current state. For example, we each as individuals can form the sustainable systems and communities with such strategies as democratizing our mediums of exchange to remove power from the vampire banks. One such action is the building of credit clearing systems. One first step is to move money into local banks and credit unions. We in Tucson have enrolled our city council into that move but state law currently prohibits it. There is now discussion of AZ forming its own independent bank. 99% is a group too big to fail unless they are splintered into rivals which violence and property damage certainly do. When authorities use violence against non-violence they lose legitimacy among the 99% and increase the calls for change.

      • Marxistgriot

        Briefly, my take on “alternatives” of a revolutionary, transitional nature:
        Organize worker, and black & brown defense guards. Right now. Every union picket line needs defending. Strike pickets should become the nuclei of the future
        workers militias. Allied with defense organizations from the Brown and Black

        Sit-down strikes or factory/workplace pations,in a practical way, pose the
        question of “who should rule?” The bosses or the workers?
        American Communists should have the understanding that a workers revolution in America will require a revolutionary party that is predominently black, brown, working class, with roots in the communitiy and workplaces.

        Pose factory occupations as a political/miltary tactic that collectivizes decision-making and power as an immediate and future “alternative” — not a passive, symbolic alternative, but a living thing of struggle, today

  • Charles

    I hate to quibble over the definition of violence. Indeed you can find Wiktionary defines it as action intended to cause destruction, pain or suffering. But what the dictionary is not clear about is the qualitative difference between the violence which causes destruction, of a flag, a window or an office space (all inanimate objects which can be replaced or repaired) and the violence which causes pain and suffering (as inanimate objects feel no pain this form of violence is directed at sentient beings).
    There is a qualitative difference between minor property destruction and beating someone with a baton, battering a crowd with flash bangs, rubber bullets and tear gas.

    Despite my differences with the tactic of marching 2,000 people into a police trap at the civic center I do not equate the self defensive actions of the demonstrators or even the trashing of city hall with the violence against human beings which is perpetrated by the Democratic party hacks who control city hall in Oakland.

    From Berkeley to Davis to Oakland the Democratic party is responsible for the violence of the police against sentient beings. The corporate media does its best to equate graffi and flag burning to the violence of the state. We might ask any of these corporate hack journalists, “Would you rather I burn the flag on your porch or throw tear gas through your window and beat your wife and kids as they run out of the house?”

    As for nonviolence (NV) vs “diversity of tactics” I oppose NV as a strategy it has never won liberation for any people, nation or oppressed group. Jesus died for his non-violence. Ghandi and MLK died for their non-violence. Ghandi blessed the Hindu soldiers as they marched off to fight the Muslim during the break up of India and Pakistan, and despite the gains of the civil rights movement today there are more black men in the prison industrial complex than were enslaved in 1860. So those who promote NV as a strategy have a poor track record to answer for.

    The strategic failure of NV should not rule out the use of NV as a tactic. Diversity of tactics must allow for the value of NV in most protest situations. In most case if we maintain NV as a tactic we will win more support from the masses. Our movement should not be offensively violent either against persons or property but we must retain the basic human right to self defense. And when the relationship of forces turns in our favor we must be prepared to go on the offensive to the extent need to disarm the ruling class and their pit-bulls.

    Malcolm X did not promote violence but we have a poster of him with his rifle prepared to defend his people. The Black Panther Party for Self Defense guiding principle was to defend the community from the oppression of the state. Our movement must not be enamored with scrawling on walls with spay paint, burning flags or trashing offices these infantile acts may give the perpetrators pleasure or street cred among their friends but do nothing to mobilize, educate and organize the masses. At the same time we must not turn the other cheek and act like the hippies at the pentagon in 1967putting flowers in the barrels of the guns ment to intimidate us. We must be war those guns are ment to defeat us. We must be prepared to disarm the police and win the military rank and file to our side. This can not be done peacefully or in small numbers. This can only be done when the class is organized and mobilized. In Egypt, Tunisia and Libya the masses burned out the old police stations, ran out the cops, seized the arms and established local milita for self defense. We are not there yet. We may not be there for several years, we do not know we do not have a crystal ball. But what we do know is that when the movement takes hold and grows things can change very quickly. We must consider that the American working class is already armed to the teeth! The change that will come will not be peaceful. It will not be won by turning the other cheek nor will it be won by acting out foolishly. If we plan to defeat the 1% and take control of the economy we will need to be more organized, disciplined and prepared than we were on Jan 28th.

    1905 in Russia was called a dress rehearsal for 1917, by revolutionary historians. In retrospect January 28th was not even a casting call!

    “The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.” IWW founding congress opening statement

    • Marxistgriot

      Yeah! Right on to some old-fashioned grimy class struggle. And some Malcolm X, BPP self-defense good sense. What’s with you pacifists being blinded by ruling class “non-violence nonsense. Shut up. Look at the wonderful record of just the U.S. bourgeoisie:
      Non-violent slave catchers? Non-violent slave ships? Non-violent “revolutionary war against England? Non-violent slave suppression tactics?
      What would today’s liberal ninnies say to Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, or Old John Brown.
      Today’s aagenda of workers revolution includes finishing the Civil War. Why?
      Because of the violence of the Ku Klux Klan that killed Reconstruction.
      John Brown was correct in attempting to initiate a war against slavery. As opposed to the cowardly, indecisive northern bourgeoisie actions of accomodation to the slave owners
      which ended up uniting with the former plantation owners, ending reconstruction, and ushering in a Jim Crow that was not nice, nor non-violent towards black people.
      “I Am Spartacus”. He fought. Theslaves of Rome rose up in a most non-Gandhi fashion.
      I fight. Like Spartacus. Down with liberal cottonmouth clap-trap.

      • Lil Joe

        Charles? It has been several decades since we last communicated! Could you expand upon your analysis and understanding of the U.S. colonial’s war of independence and of the subsequent civil war?

  • Guy Josserand III

    From the ashes of a destroyed system of corruption will rise another system of corruption because peace cannot be built with violence. The use of violence only builds the credibility and legitimacy of the corrupt systems that are killing humans and human civilization. Furthermore violent conflict will always be won by the status quo. They are masters of it. David slew Goliath only in metaphor. This is my understanding of Ghandi and MLK.

  • Charles

    There are many in the pacifist milieu who equate all violence and thereby admonish the oppressed for “stooping to the level of their oppressors”. We are told that when the oppressed stoop to that level they thereby loose their “moral high ground” and become both the moral and ethical equivalence of the oppressor who launched the violence. In my view this argument is fallacious and ultimately acts as a transmission belt for the ideology of the oppressor into the consciousness of the oppressed. The oppressor admonishes the oppressed to be non-violent all the while they carry out their violence. How many of these Democratic Party politicians have we seen on stage singing “We Shall Overcome” on MLK birthday, only to unleash the full armory of the USA on the civilians of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya. How many of these same Democratic Governors (Gov. Brown marched with Chavez, Mayor Quan has civil rights credentials as long as your arm) and Mayors convened to assure the full power of the state be brought to bare on the heads of the Occupy camps and demonstrators.

    There is a qualitative difference between the violence of the oppressed and the violence of the oppressor. Those in the movement who admonish us not to defend ourselves assert a supra class theory of morality. They do not see that the morality of the age is rooted in the ideology of the dominant class. The NAZI admonished the “dirty Jews” to accept their fate without a fight! These pacifists ultimately tell us the Warsaw uprising and the work of the partisan underground which fought to their death should have laid down and been killed along with the 20+ million other victims of fascism. The slave owners (our countries forefathers) and their Christian preachers admonished the slaves to accept their fate, the lash, the rape, the brutality and not to fight back, rather they should look to Jesus for salvation. Today’s pacifists, just like the slaveholders of old, look upon the hundreds of slave uprisings, where the masters were killed and the plantations were burned out, most famously in Rome by Spartacus and in the United States by Nat Turner, in Haiti by Toussaint L’Ouvature (and hundreds of others that made there way into Philip Foner’s 12 volume study of Slave Rebellions in the USA) as the moral equivalent to the violence of the masters. This pacifist viewpoint ultimately hog ties and prevents the formation of armed self defense by the oppressed and exploited. Frederick Douglas was correct when he said, “Power concedes nothing without demand.” But he was not so foolish to think that the demand alone was enough. Nor did the hundreds of thousands of slaves who ran to the union lines, demanded to be enlisted, armed and sent back to kill their oppressors. The movie Glory based on the true story of the first Black Regiment is testament to what kind of violence it takes to to overthrow an exploitative class.

    Indeed Jefferson was right about the struggle for liberty his words ring true today, “And what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure….”

  • http://twitter.com/behold666 Behold666

    For all the bluster in these comments, there is still not a single persuasive argument [and this includes the original post] that convinces me that trashing City Hall, burning the flag, or slashing the tires of media vehicles did anything to advance the cause of OO.

  • Charles

    Perhaps you may misunderstand me. I have explained both why the mindless property destruction is a detriment to the movement and why its apparent antithesis, “non-violent direct action” when elevated to a strategy which negates the right to self-defense and the right of the oppressed to rise up and take down the master class, is also a dead end for the movement.

    Diversity of tactics should not mean: If I can get a bunch of my friends together and we choose to trash city hall its ok for me and if you don’t want to participate you stay home, on the one hand. And if your friends decide to sit and be pepper sprayed and allow the state to violate your bodies I don’t have to participate. That is how OO/OWS operates today you do what you want, I do what I want and its all good.

    Well its not all good. All our actions have consequences. The port shut down united masses of the working class in Oakland and on the west coast in massive solidarity action which inspired the entire international working class. Mindless property destruction, trashing offices and burning flags does nothing to advance class solidarity and help the working class to see itself as a conscious force in history. And while peaceful non-violent acceptance of the brutal peper spraying at Davis was heroic and galvanized tens of thousands to the side of occupy it is not a method that will ultimately bring down the 1%. Non-violent direct action can not defeat capitalism because the crisis of capitalism is not a moral crisis it is a structural crisis. No amount of martyrdom can bring down the system. The ruling class will not give up its control of the means of production peacefully. No ruling class ever has and no ruling class ever will as long as its position is based on exploitation and oppression.

    So diversity of tactics, if it is to serve the defeat of the system of the 1%, must mean that the movement weighs the moment and applies the objectively necessary tactic at each given moment. In many situations mass peaceful non-violent direct action may be the best choice, in other situations solid picket lines and armed workers militias will be called for. In between these two poles many possibilities exist. It is not always time to fight the cops, and it is not always time to be non-violent. But without a program for working class independence, a clear goal and and disciplined, educated, democratically organized working class prepared to intelligently choose the proper tactics for the moment we will be subjected to wild swings in the movement between the two sides of the petty bourgeois coin, ultra-leftism (as expressed through destructive tantrums and substitutionism) on the one side and pacifist reformism (leading right back into the Democratic Party 2012 campaign) on the other.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001361936997 Alex Schu

    I think destruction of public property just makes the movement look bad. Why? because people are not advance enough to care and see it’s the bad cops that make this moment possible. All threw history in the US we put trade embergo’s on countries forcing them to attack us. Then our gov’t plays the victim and puts that country down. It is happening again with sever beat down and restriction to medication to people arrested during protest. These are people that are not even doing violence getting this treatment as well. If the media wasn’t owned by the very same people that Occupy movement is fighting and was fair. You would not be sitting in this chair right now till we put these white colar criminals in jail for acts of high treason. Whats worst? a few small dollars of damage by protesters or trillions of dollars in debt of bail outs that was used to buy out other banks and corp? They even have the nerve not to return money to the gov’t by giving themselves bonuses with tax payer money. So if you want justice. Sure arrested the protesters and not nearly kill them ,but you better be wanting severe justice from these criminals that swarm around our president. The board of goldman sach’s whispering in his ear.

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  • DRAGAN Neskovic

    Good evening, everyone
    is now 20:00, 16.02.2012.

    Following through your media movement “conquer Wall Street,” but I was encouraged to call you back and draw attention to contracted public social goals can be achieved but easier movement within your organization.
    Your movement that now reflects the personal, family, business and collective self-defense should concentrate on mass gathering organized to the palace of justice in your city.
    Before the palace of justice in your city should form a well organized and disciplined order in which each one of you with patience, determination and discipline just stood in that line to his signature realize and achieve direct, local democracy through direct action in which he participates.
    Everyone in that row will have one hand in my passport, while the second possess my hand “chemical-pen”, and can I chemical cartridge pens.
    Such an organized campaign of the American people will be equal to “Elections”
    rerzultat as a final thing is that you will achieve those power and strength of organization self-organization of the ruling class and then you will achieve a soft The American Revolution “the chemical pen” as a general national general revival.
    The American taxpayer by giving a good part of their current monthly salary to all public services including the Congress, not to mention the president and Barak. You are their “employers”, you give them money and employ them, and they treat you as by Scott.
    That could change.
    Out there.
    The output is always there.
    I will now draw attention to the solution that can bring you the ultimate solution to your personal, family, business and national
    step forward towards life.
    Greetings from snow-covered Belgrade, Serbia, Europe, DRAGANešković
    e-mail.: DRAGANeskovic@Gmail.com

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  • http://twitter.com/stephen_verdant Stephen Cataldo

    This whole argument feels weekly expressed to me: I don’t care that the window-smashers did a couple hundred dollars damage to the Bank of America’s windows. I care deeply that stole the chance to have a nonviolent resistance movement that represents my values and the values of 90% of my neighbors. The Black Panthers didn’t do this, they didn’t tag along after MLK breaking windows, they did their own thing.

    I don’t have such a big problem with a march labeled “Fuck the Police” or whether it breaks windows — all it is likely to do is get the police paid overtime for beating on hippies, I suppose that will show ‘em, a few corporate bank windows smashed and another million dollars shifted from teachers to police in Oakland. I have a huge problem that the vast majority of people standing up who want a movement built on truth and beauty, on trying to show the world that another option is possible, are never allowed. This can’t be just hippy dreaming, we have to get out on the streets, change the economy … but every time the people who want to dream of a better world, not just an “us” beating a “them,” if 20,000 people participate in a strike a couple dozen will declare themselves our vanguard and take over the media, dominate our democracy, make it so that if the police do arrest you they can arrest you for being part of a crowd breaking windows instead of for peaceful protest.

  • http://twitter.com/FreeUSAFromDumb Nate Ivrson

    I pose a question; if they, the persons committing crimes come forward for judgment by their peers, meaning those in control after removal of the old tyrannical way, will violence ever be considered a justice necessary for the survival of our home, and not for personal gain, but for the generations that have the right to live?