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February 09, 2012


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Louis Proyect

Jodi, don't be a petite-bourgeois adaptationist element. The hard Leninist line is to oppose adventurism, especially window-breaking. You need to read Lenin's 1904 letter to Bratislovsky that goes into the question of Blanquism in some depth, especially the section subtitled "Down with Lumpen Exhibitionism".

Jodi Dean

Hi Louis--thanks for your comment. I take it very seriously. I don't think that Black Bloc tactics are necessarily adventurist. They can be. But it's a question of the situation. It strikes me as ill-advised to assert in advance of a situation what is adventurist and what is not.

Two other factors are relevant here: the location of class struggle and the current level of class consciousness and political organization. Regarding the location of struggle: I am persuaded by David Harvey and others that it makes sense to think of the city as a site of class struggle (as opposed to the factory). Stopping flows (consumption, traffic) in cities can be understood as stopping work in a factory. Second, it's clear that in the US now a majority of people are aware of class inequality and do not find current levels of equality tolerable. What they think can be done about it remains confused and opaque. Hence, we face major problems of how to clarify and organize the still inchoate sense of wrong. Different tactics can help in these tasks, although, again, it depends on the specifics of the situation.

Of course, the Act-up example I use isn't an example of class struggle. But it's a good example of how a tactic that Hedges rejects as violent is in fact effective at clarifying a wrong in the situation.

Andrew Lo In

I note with interest that the "hard Leninist line" and the liberal-theological "line" of Hedges (which preemptively justifies state violence against pathologized comrades) are apparently one in the same.


Jodi Dean

Andrew--this is one of those times when I wish Typepad would let me "like" a comment.

Robert Allen

David Graeber's response to Hedges was key to my change of mind, I was too quick to defend him; as Lenin said "the workers are 100 times to the left of us (Bolsheviks)", although from my perch as a privileged worker it may not seem so, surrounded by Ron Paulites and other backward "middle class" aspirant white workers. I am flummoxed by the interpretation, or misinterpretation, of Graeber's awesome in my view "99 % vs 1%" slogan, as it seems awfully germaine to all this: does Occupy interpret the slogan, not as an expression of the working class vs. the ruling class, but as an expression of the truly greedy 1% vs everybody else, including a working class/petit bourgeois alliance? Louis Proyect's erstwhile pals, the SWP, bash Occupy with this charge which seems substantial, and yet I sense Graeber meant a more straightforward meaning. Can anybody help shed light on this? I defended the slogan to SWP cadre as "just a slogan", albeit a great one but they somehow pull a sow's ear out of this silk purse. And until the Hedges flap and its defense of anarchism generally, Occupy has done nothing to show any intention of challenging capitalism in its rhetoric (I dont think you can defend anarchism without challenging capitalism but I could be wrong there too).


The quote is not about tactics, it is about crucial definitions.

Vandalism is not violence except in the philosophical mindset of the bourgeoisie. And shouting at police is not violence, either. Hedges is politically incoherent and this is just a perfect illustration.

One should be suspicious of any 'left' figure who goes out of their way to repeatedly attack atheism. (This is not to accept senseless bigotry of religion, either)

Robert Allen

Chris Hedges is less politically incoherent than his detractors for this reason: Any appearance of violence will turn off the great masses who need to be convinced it is right and good to join the resistance and grow the movement. Far left critiques which talk of the "mindsest of the bourgeoisie" seem to be nitpicking; Hedges may be wrong on the details but right about managing the message to the masses who still respect the cops. We must go to war not with the Boy Scouts of our choosing, but the Boy Scouts we have....

Jodi Dean

"...Boy Scouts we have."

Great line? Or the greatest?

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