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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Chris Hedges Responds To Curious Critic J.A. Myerson

Oakland Violence
Image from Washington Post's blog Post

J.A. Myerson, at truthout, gives Chris Hedges a call and asks some provocative questions regarding his criticism of the Black Bloc.

Two things I take away from this. One, is that Mr. Hedges is an emotionally committed pacifist who dares not call himself one (excerpts):
Myerson: ...it seems like part of your objection to black bloc tactics is less strategic-tactical than almost spiritual.

Hedges: It's both. I've spent my life around mobs and groups and crowds and armies and they foster for me very frightening physical and emotional responses...

Myerson: Will you expand on that? Are you saying that once there's a big, widespread revolutionary movement, then there's room for that kind of thing?

Hedges: I'm not going to go there. Personally, I'm always nonviolent. But once that kind of repression manifests itself, it inevitably provokes counterviolence. I wrote a whole book on this called "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning." Violence is a poison and even when it's employed in a just cause, it's still a poison. This is something I intimately understand. I'm not a pacifist. You can push people to a point where they have no option but to employ violence. That's certainly what happened to the people in Sarajevo, but once you do, it's always tragic. I don't want to go there. That's why I've been such a fervent supporter of OWS, because I don't want us to descend into that.
I have enormous sympathy with Hedges here. However, I think intellectual honesty requires me to observe that there is some contortive thought involved in the simultaneous acknowledgment of the inevitability (under extreme circumstances) of counterviolence, and in the natural impulse to distance oneself from it when it manifests.

I purposely caveat with "extreme circumstances," as I have averred, relative to the Greek situation, our counterviolent anarchists are poseurs. My view on this has softened some, due to the amazing talk given by Harsha Walia, which I linked to in this post.

This brings me to my second observation, and this criticism applies to me as well. It seems clear from give-and-take of Myerson's interview with Chris that there is a reactionary element to the original piece, and that Hedges uncharacteristically let-fly with a poorly-researched opinion, based on his emotional revulsion to violence.

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