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This Wednesday Epic Debate: Crimethinc. and Chris Hedges‏‏

September 8, 2012

Hello friends,

We’re excited to announce that on Wednesday, September 12th in NYC, immediately before the one-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, B. Traven of Crimethinc will meet Chris Hedges in New York City for a public debate about diversity of tactics.

We will be livestreaming the event at 7pm (sharp!) at Internationalist Books, in Chapel Hill at 405 W. Franklin St. The event starts early, at 6:30, to leave time for seating and introductions. Get there early to get seats!

For more information, go to www.crimethinc.com/occupytactics See y’all there!

More details pasted below

Occupy Tactics

Violence and Legitimacy in the Occupy Movement and Beyond:
A Debate between Chris Hedges and the CrimethInc. Ex-Workers Collective on Tactics & Strategy, Reform & Revolution

Wednesday, September 12, 2012, 7:00 pm
Free admission

Proshansky Auditorium
Lower level, CUNY Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue (@ 34th street)
New York City, NY 10016

Not in NYC? A free livestream of the event will be available online. Link TBA.

Why a debate?

Since Occupy Wall Street took Zuccotti Park in September 2011, there has been a resurgence of social movement activity in the United States. As momentum has increased, age-old questions over tactics, strategy, and goals have returned to the fore.

What is violence? Who gets to define it? Do illegal actions have a place in our movements? This discussion never takes place in a vacuum or on a level playing field; rather, it occurs within the context of a struggle that is already in progress, where every statement has immediate ramifications for the participants. Differing tactical approaches often reflect fundamental differences in strategy and goals.

At the core of these issues is the question:
What are we fighting for and how do we get there?

This moderated debate will feature:

Chris Hedges, Journalist
Chris Hedges is an American journalist, author, and war correspondent, specializing in American and Middle Eastern politics and societies. He will speak to the perspectives behind his controversial article “The Cancer in Occupy” regarding black bloc tactics and anarchist participation in the Occupy movement.

B. Traven, CrimethInc. Ex-Workers Collective
B. Traven will support the case for a diversity of tactics in the Occupy movement and in broader anti-capitalist struggles worldwide, illustrating an anarchist critique of the status quo and a vision of social transformation. CrimethInc. has produced many books and articles, including “The Illegitimacy of Violence, the Violence of Legitimacy,” composed in part as a response to Hedges’ “The Cancer in Occupy.”

Moderated by Sujatha Fernandes, CUNY Graduate Center
Sujatha Fernandes is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Queens College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. She is the author of several books on urban politics and culture; the latest is “Close to the Edge: In Search of the Global Hip Hop Generation” (Verso). She has written about the Occupy movement and recent global uprisings for The New York Times and The Huffington Post.

Opening remarks by Sarah Leonard, Dissent Magazine
Sarah Leonard is an editor and writer living in Brooklyn, with particular interest in Left politics and the cultural effects of technology. She is an editor of The New Inquiry and N+1, Associate Editor at Dissent magazine, and a co-editor of Occupied!: Scenes from Occupied America.

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 13, 2012 7:21 pm

    From Libcom
    http://libcom.org/forums/general/chris-hedges-vs-crimethinc-13092012

    posted by acephale00
    Perhaps I will make a new post on the subject, but for now, since I watched the whole thing at one of the six livestream events at various infoshops, I will offer a little light recap.

    On the whole, it was an embarrassing loss for Hedges. Of course, I am a partisan of the crimethinc position here, so perhaps I was hearing my preferred argument more clearly, but I can’t imagine even the most devoted “peace police” hearing better than a stalemate.

    Neither of them were addressing the other, for the most part, but B. Traven of Crimethinc was at least consistently answering the questions offered, and even occasionally giving some conversational body language toward Hedges, and saying that he shared with him some vision of liberation (even if this is perhaps more polite and tactical than true). Hedges mostly sweated and reminded the audience that he is an important war correspondent (~10x) and that he has led a lawsuit against the Obama administration (~5x).

    Hedges has apparently decided that masking is now acceptable, and that he would work alongside black bloc members without reporting them to police. But these are not why it seems that the diversity of tactics position won. Team black won because Hedges continues to refuse to correct any of his glaring historical inaccuracies. For instance, one of the audience questions asked on what grounds Hedges had called the Black Panther movement a “parasite,” and Hedges just claimed that he did not remember ever having written that. Fortunately, B. Traven not only remembered, but could cite and quote the article. Hedges, cornered, muttered and hedged, conceded some ground, but did not explain what he meant at all, except by informing the audience that the Weather Underground had been “rather White.” Similarly, Hedges claimed that “classical” Anarchists of the 19th century would have supported his position on “non-violence” during the debate, but had no response when B. Traven gave a short litany of the Anarchists Hedges was presumably referencing, all of whose names still echo with their support of direct actions far more daring than those of Oakland’s May Day.

    But Hedges, finally, lost because he was haunted by the spectre of something called “the mainstream.” I don’t know why B. Traven did not address this phrase directly. Perhaps he didn’t have to. Maybe it doesn’t need to be dignified with a rebuttal. But it should be examined. The strangest moment was when B. of Crimethinc accused Hedges of delivering a narrative that the police are using to imprison activists (which Traven supported with a concrete instance). To this the Pulitzer prize winning journalist claimed that he was as “shut out” of the “mainstream” as were the black bloc participants. It sounded like a persecution complex, honestly, and that neurosis is just not a luxury those of us working to confront actual persecution (and actually being persecuted) can afford. But I don’t think the issue was that Hedges somehow forgot that he is widely read and well published, nor that he was being simply dishonest. I think the notion of a “mainstream” is so theoretically impoverished that it can only manifest as nonsense. Hedges’ mainstream, the one that apparently supported the Occupy movement, did not have any characteristics at all, except perhaps fear of dramatic confrontation. It was non-hyper-masculine, but it was not characterized by the presence of women, nor concerted action against patriarchy. It had no bodies, it had no faces. Hedges lost because he was being pursued not by a black bloc, but by an imagined white bloc of bourgeois supporters, waiting for him to open a revolutionary space mild enough for them.

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