Vagaries of the Left, John Zerzan
- Back in February the progressive columnist Chris Hedges wrote "The Cancer in Occupy", Truthdig Feb 26, 2012. A fairly predictable attack on Black Bloc militancy. It voiced, in general, the perspective of the liberal, moderate, reformist folks. Who have been mostly predominate in Occupy. Hedges's screed against anarchists and others who "go too far" shows just what anti-authoritarians have been up against. And why so few of them, in my experience, have been interested in Occupy. Hedges basically counsels that if everyone behaves in Occupy we'll continue to succeed. Obviously exaggerating the potency of the movement so far. He represents voting, property, respecting, obeying the rules of the game unless he's talking about somewhere else. He has lauded rioting and resistance in Greece, for example. His cancer essay is full of gaffes and bloopers. For example that I am a big voice of Black Bloc, anarchists are full of a repellent cynicism, etc. It has been critiqued by many. including Peter Gelderloos, Magpie, Bobby Whittenberg James.
- I wish to add only a couple things that have been less developed or not mentioned by other commentators. Hedges finds it's scandalous that Green Anarchy magazine published a brief article years ago criticizing the Zapatista EZLN, from an anarchist perspective. As an editor of GA at the time I recall that we weren't thrilled by the piece but we ran it in the interest of provoking discussion. Chris Hedges is evidently not in favor of open discussion and neither was the EZLN, which sent us a rather chilling response. If it is scandalous to think critically about what is going on in Chiapas it is worse in my opinion to fail to learn from reality.
- Over the years I've seen enthusiasm for national liberation type movements widely and loudly expressed and fade into silence when such movements become governments or political parties. Do I see this happening in southernmost Mexico? I hope not. Do I support their struggle? Certainly. But a silence has set in. And questions emerge. Remember when subcomandante Marcos renounced his urban leftist intellectual past and embraced indigeneity as the necessary realm of authenticity? Given the recent past of the EZLN it seems like a long time ago. In 2005 the sixth declaration was proclaimed by the clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committees General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. Except for the one word does any of this hyper-bureaucratic sounding mouthful seem remotely indigenous? And within this document there are references to "Our Mexico, Our Patria". Is nationalism indigenous? How about such slippery terms and phrases as "the other campaign" or "governing by obeying". Similarly, building another way of doing politics for a program of the left and for a new constitution, also questionable.
- For a leftist like Hedges it is forbidden to wonder about the direction or nature of the EZLN. But the bulk of the cancer of Occupy consists of quoted opinions of Derrick Jensen. Who was once an enemy of civilization. Jensen's opening announcement is that what "they", black bloc types, are really doing is destroying the Occupy movement. "Black Bloc tactics are not only inappropriate, they are criminal." With his complete intolerance of criticism, Jensen had already cut ties with anarchists. It took a few years but now he seems to be hardly distinguishable from a liberal. The anti-civ bit is a distant memory. He's very occasionally qualified or tamed. Speaking of tamed, Jensen never seemed to grasp that civilization starts from domestication. I can't remember him ever using that word.
- It is of course nothing short of bizarre that Deep Green Resistance, the Jensen spinoff, calls for the physical destruction of infrastructure while DJ recoils in shock and horror from Black Bloc militancy. Qualified for funding by the uber-progressive Wallace Fund, the contradiction is only apparent. Of course this strategic thinking that Jensen counsels means, I guess, is that the DGR will direct the resistance, not undisciplined anarchists. I heard his DGR Lierre Kieth speak last year. And in a similar vein she expressed contempt for ELF and ALF folks, their lack of respect for authority. "They would be welcomed, however" she said, in as many words, "as cannon fodder" for the DGR authorities, who think like field generals. I'm not making this up.
- In his column, Chris Hedges states, "Black Bloc adherents detest those of us on the organized left." I do detest leftists like Hedges for obvious reasons. Mainly because they are anti-radical and hence anti-anarchist, that's obvious to me. What should also be obvious is how movements or individuals slide into what should not be acceptable. A few days after his Cancer piece appeared and a furor ensued, Hedges gave an interview to try to calm the waters. Here he admitted that it is anti-civilization more than Black Bloc that really set him off. As well it should. The left has reason to fear that which means its definitive end. This should come as no big surprise given Hedges' progressive orientation. Just as it shouldn't be a big jolt to know that Noam Chomsky is similarly exercised by those who question such primary institutions as domestication, civilization, industrialism and mass society, which are fast leading to disaster in every sphere at every level. And now neither it should be big news that Derrick Jensen is more and more part of the left and its basic acquiescence in this nightmare we live in.
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