A Debate between Chris Hedges and the CrimethInc. Ex-Workers Collective on Tactics & Strategy, Reform & Revolution
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.
Barcelona, Spain, November 2011-The streets of Barcelona appear deceptively calm at first sight. Fashionable people stroll the streets, shopping bags in hand, while others stop to drink a glass of wine at a sidewalk cafe. These luxurious images project a sense of prosperity onto the streets of Barcelona, but underneath the surface, a struggle rages. The 15 May Movement that captured the global imaginary just six months ago and encouraged people all across the world to occupy public space and hold massive democratic assemblies is no longer limited to the central square. Now, they are everywhere.
Across the city less complacent images abound. Everywhere there are posters and banners that declare: “Democracy is a farce”; “Democracy is Hypocrisy”; “No One Represents Us”; “Active Abstention”; “All Power to the People: Don’t Vote!”; “Democracy is a Grand Circus”; and “Our Elections: Actions”. Two growing trends are visible here in Barcelona that certainly resonate elsewhere. First, people seem to take for granted the idea that voting and electoral politics actually bears little relationship to democracy. Second, there is an evolution in the tactic of occupation – expanding from public squares to buildings, hospitals and universities.
On Saturday March 26th 2011 an estimated 500,000 people marched through central London to protest UK austerity measures which are expected to lead to the loss of tens of thousands of jobs and major cuts to public services.
On November 20th, 2009 students occupied Wheeler Hall at the University of California, Berkeley campus. They locked themselves into the second floor of the building and called for an end to the continued fee increases, the re-hiring of laid-off workers, and other demands stemming from the University’s ongoing assault on the very nature of a public education. This is their story.