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Diversity of Tactics, Diversity of Opinions

by Dan Kellar 2010 Olympics

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in response to the heart attack demo at the anti-olympic convergence on the 13th of february, many allies of social justice movements denouced the acts as violent and inneffective, breaching the statement of unity that the organizers of the convergence, the Olympic Resistance Network had articulated. a discussion was held on the 20th of february at W2 in vancouver with Harsha Walia of No One is Illegal Vancouver and Derrick O'Keefe of on the idea of diversity of tactics.

this event was organized by, with the support of WorkingTV and W2. good work!

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 Broken Link!

 Broken Link!

works for me...

yup... just downloaded it and streamed it...

Thanks for posting this!

Sounds like the link has been fixed. This is an important debate and I'm glad that Walia and O'Keefe had the courage to openly discuss it, though I have my own agreements and disagreements with both of them. Thanks to Kellar and VMC for recording and publishing this debate.

One comment I'll make is that it's odd to hear an independent journalist state that "social liberals" were breaking a code of conduct when they criticized some of the actions taken by people in the Heart Attack march. I think that journalists and activists should be able to publicly comment on demonstrations and struggles, including our critical remarks. This doesn't only apply to the black bloc, but also to a wide range of struggles. For another example, I think we should be able to be critical of trade union leadership when they sell out strikes and mass movements such as Operation Solidarity in 1983 and the 2004 HEU strike. I do think that it's better to have those discussions in the independent and activist press than in the mainstream media and do think it would be unethical for activists and independent journalists to collaborate with the police but I disagree that means we cannot publicly comment.

Also, on the subject, it's not just "social liberals" (unless that term is just being used as a pejorative) that are critical of isolated property destruction. Many anarchists and radicals are also critical of it. For a recent opinion article on this from me, writing as an anarchist-communist journalist, please read Mass movements and Militancy on my blog at


More on the debate

Here is my response and contribution to the debate.

"Black Blocs, 'Violence' and the Possibilities of Action"

From the intro:

As a part of the Anti-Olympic Convergence called for February 10th-15th, taking place on Coast Salish territories BC, a “Heart Attack” March was called for the 13th to “clog the arteries of capitalism”. The result was a black bloc action of 200 members of the anti-Olympic movement who had come for the convergence, winding its way through the streets of Vancouver and engaged in targeted property destruction against the Hudson’s Bay Company and Toronto Dominion Bank, as well as anti-Olympic graffiti.

This action garnered attention from the independent to the mainstream media. The result however, was condemnations of “anarchist violence” and groups of masked “thugs”. The corporate news media revisited old themes of focusing only on the “violence” against inanimate objects, while the police were permitted to direct physical violence against live bodies with impunity and little consequence. The debate that rages now revisits ever-present movement and societal debates on the nature, justification and scope of “violence”.

My aim here is to wade into this debate and offer another perspective on the nature of black bloc oriented direct action. Having been wrapped in the debate thus far with a host of actors both within and exterior to the movement there have been a number of points and critiques raised. It is some of these that I turn to here....

continued at address above.


Also great work Dan!


For the record, this event was organized by, with the support of WorkingTV and W2. It was moderated by Charlie Smith of the Georgia Straight.  It is good practice to list the organizers/context of events.  Derrick O'Keefe was invited as a representative of, however he was the editor of for two years. The full video of this event will be available at shortly. (For now you can see the livestream version there).

my bad

yup the event sure was organized by, with the support of WorkingTV and W2. It was moderated by Charlie Smith of the Georgia Straight.

sorry for the omission, its all fixed up

The actions of the black bloc

The actions of the black bloc unfortunately play directly into the hands of the corporate media in its unending attempt to paint all those critical of the games with the same brush. Their strongest weapon in the battle for public opinion is incidents like these. The narrative of "Proud Canadians vs Hateful, Unpatriotic Protesters" has been strong in the media lately. With nationalism and jingoism at an all time high with the tribal drums of sporting events pounding in the ears of Canadians, any opportunity to turn the dissenters into "others", those not Canadian, not citizens is taken. The actions of the black bloc loudly proclaims those critical as outside of the public, outside of society, and provides the chance for the corporate voices to point and say "See? They're not like you or I, they're different and unworthy of being listened to." This narrative of othering has served to provide the perfect distraction that allows the BC Government, VANOC and local business community to avoid answering the legitimate and pressing criticisms these games deserve. Public expenditure for private profit? Environmental destruction? Just what the hell is McDonald's doing sponsoring the world's largest sporting event? The answer? "Look over there at those freaks in black masks!" and as the public looks the other way, their pockets are picked some more.

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