David Graeber, of course, is one of the founding anarchists of Occupy Wall Street, and he's been involved in Movements of various flavors for many years.
I was glad he took on the responsibility of responding to Hedges' sad little meltdown over the Black Bloc "cancer" in Occupy. I was glad he pointed out how dangerous that kind of rhetoric is; it's the rhetoric of eliminationists, and no matter what you may think of Black Bloc and anarchists, no matter how negative you may be about them, eliminationism is a serious -- and deadly -- social malignancy; it's an attitude toward the dehumanized Other that leads to disastrous consequences, and not solely for the dehumanized Other. As I've said before, Hedges did something shameful by scapegoating and demonizing "Black Bloc anarchists." Being a writer, he knows the power of language to inspire fear and loathing and providing excuses for deadly action against the Other. He was in Bosnia. He KNOWS. Therefore, I do not cut him any slack on that account, unlike Graeber who tirelessly appeals to Hedges' better angels.
As Graeber puts it somewhat more powerfully than I do, let's go to the quote:
I am appealing to you because I really do believe the kind of statement you made is profoundly dangerous.
The reason I say this is because, whatever your intentions, it is very hard to read your statement as anything but an appeal to violence. After all, what are you basically saying about what you call “Black Bloc anarchists”?
1) they are not part of us
2) they are consciously malevolent in their intentions
3) they are violent
4) they cannot be reasoned with
5) they are all the same
6) they wish to destroy us
7) they are a cancer that must be excised
Surely you must recognize, when it’s laid out in this fashion, that this is precisely the sort of language and argument that, historically, has been invoked by those encouraging one group of people to physically attack, ethnically cleanse, or exterminate another—in fact, the sort of language and argument that is almost never invoked in any other circumstance. After all, if a group is made up exclusively of violent fanatics who cannot be reasoned with, intent on our destruction, what else can we really do? This is the language of violence in its purest form. Far more than “fuck the police.” To see this kind of language employed by someone who claims to be speaking in the name of non-violence is genuinely extraordinary. I recognize that you’ve managed to find certain peculiar fringe elements in anarchism saying some pretty extreme things, it’s not hard to do, especially since such people are much easier to find on the internet than in real life, but it would be difficult to come up with any “Black Bloc anarchist” making a statement as extreme as this.
There have been many more responses to Hedges. He is not getting away with his smears, but he may have his King of OWS crown repossessed.
Meant to post a link to this response to the Hedges Smear, but forgot I guess. It's from a Socialist perspective and it's quite good compared to a couple of others I ran across; the comments are good, too:
Against Hedges on the Black Bloc