Nov 21 2011

A Compromise Proposal on Tactics in the Occupy Movement

When the call for a general strike in Oakland earlier this month led to a 10,000 strong march and a shut down of the port, the actions of a handful of so-called Black Bloc anarchists who caused property damage triggered an age-old debate about tactics. Shop windows being smashed tend to attract almost as much media scrutiny as police brutality, sometimes more. The question of why there has not been a formal adoption of principles of non-violence is being raised more often at Occupy General Assemblies. While the majority of activists tend toward adopting non-violence as a tactic, others take issue with the definition of violence itself. Writer and political cartoonist Ted Rall, author of The Anti-American Manifesto,” takes a pragmatic view toward the necessity of violence in revolutions, saying “no meaningful political change has ever taken place without violence or the credible threat of violence.” But others, like peace activist and author David Swanson respond saying, “if violence were our only option, we’d certainly have to look into it. But I suspect organized violence would be even harder to bring forth than organized nonviolence.” My guest Brian Dominick makes a compromise proposal that he recently published on Z Communications that rejects strict non-violence, citing that Egyptian protesters in Tahrir Square defended themselves against police and military brutality and managed to win a revolution and international public sympathy. Dominick also rejects the notion that is sometimes expressed in the term “Diversity of Tactics,” whose advocates embrace the inevitability that a fringe of participants in all actions could branch off to smash windows. Instead, he drafts a detailed resolution, that includes, among other things: a rejection of staged police arrests and its implications of acquiescence, and an acceptance of property damage only in the service of self-defense.

GUEST: Brian Dominick, long time organizer and street medic, writes for Z Net, blogs at www.futureconomy.com/.

Read Brian Dominick’s articles here:

Pacifism and ‘Diversity of Tactics’: http://www.zcommunications.org/pacifism-and-diversity-of-tactics-a-compromise-proposal-by-brian-dominick

Jaws of Victory (about UC Davis): http://www.zcommunications.org/the-jaws-of-victory-by-brian-dominick

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