I have no problem with people taking back a building and trying to hold it. The problem is that the way they did it--in secret, late at night, with a small group--led to its failure. If had been done earlier, when there were thousands of people in the streets, with lots of support (which would have required organizing it publicly), it could have been a great success. Ditto with vandalism. The question is whether it helps the movement. What does vandalism accomplish? Does it help our cause in any way? I think the answer is no. As for self-defense, the most effective self-defense is to have a shit-ton of people with you whenever you do anything illegal (like, say, occupying a park in downtown Manhattan). You have to take strategy and tactics seriously. Trying to pull off good ideas with bad tactics is a mistake, and I absolutely reserve the right to have a constructive but critical discussion of what kind of tactics our movement needs in order to succeed.
On Fri, Nov 11, 2011 at 11:24 PM, Martin <email@example.com>
I agree that a serious discussion about the
implications of "diversity of tactics" is important. I strongly agree
that there are certain tactics that can't possibly have a place in a
progressive social movement. However, I think enforcing pacifism on
everyone, regardless of the circumstances, isn't okay. I have
tremendous respect for pacifists past and present that advance social
justice. Facing police violence and refusing to defend yourself is
extremely brave! But, it's a personal choice. In the face of police
brutality people should not be condemned or called an agent
provocateur for defending themselves or their friends! Just because
an individual is a pacifist shouldn't mean they can deprive others of
the right to defend themselves or their friends! Of course police
brutality should be filmed and documented, but if people defend their
friends that shouldn't be condemned.
Secondly, I take issue with some of the
discussion about the Oakland general strike. I really don't think
it's for us to condemn Oakland militants who attempted to expropriate
a foreclosed homeless shelter and turn it into a community center! The
talk of bad press it generated really misses the point. Of course the
media is going to put a ring wing spin on the Oakland general strike.
We're not trying to win over the media, we're trying to win over
working people! Case in point is a conversation I had with my
roommate, a politically inactive DC 37 rank and filer. When I
explained how advanced Oakland is in the occupy struggle she wasn't
initially impressed: (Loosely paraphrasing)
Roommate: "Okay, so they had a general strike in Oakland and shut
down the port. What exactly do they want?"
Me: "Well, they're trying to create a free and open society. For
example: they took over an empty foreclosed building and turned it
into a community center briefly but the cops took it back."
Roommate: "Ahh man! That's awesome! They should be doing more stuff
like that. Too bad the cops took it back".
Finally, I take issue with the way some people
seem to blame the militants, who expropriated the building, for
police violence. The blame for police violence rest squarely on the
Police and Mayor of Oakland. Period. I find it bizarre that people
would think otherwise. The Oakland police have a long history of
violence and terrorism and it's not because anarchists provoke them!
It's because of a brutal system of oppression. I understand this is a
contentious issue and I really wanna keep things comradely. I'm not
trying to troll the list serv, I just want to express an opinion that
isn't getting heard. I know I'm not alone on this.