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Mr. 'We Need it All' says we don't: Derrick Jensen endorses strategic thinking about tactics

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Mr. 'We Need it All' says we don't: Derrick Jensen endorses strategic thinking about tactics

Derrick Jensen has for years vigorously argued against building any kind of mass movement. Instead, he repeated the mantra 'we need it all' while making it clear that in his world, it was only small elite groups that could do what was really needed - mainly blow stuff up. Anyone who planted a community garden or randomly broke windows was all part of getting to his stone age utopia free of evils such as bicycles. However, those who worked to create mass movements with broad popular support were excluded from his 'all' and condemned as being naive and worse than usless.

Now, it seems, the Occupy movement has opened even Jensen's eyes to the possibility for mass movement building, and the need to carfully choose tactics for the place and time. In a recent interview with Chris Hedges of Truthout Jensen trashes random trashing and endorses organizing mass movements like Occupy:

 “I have no problem with someone violating boundaries [when] that violation is the smart, appropriate thing to do. I have a huge problem with people violating boundaries for the sake of violating boundaries. It is a lot easier to pick up a rock and throw it through the nearest window than it is to organize, or at least figure out which window you should throw a rock through if you are going to throw a rock. A lot of it is laziness.”

Of course, before Occupy Jensen was equally veoment in trashing anyone who thought that something like Occupy could be created. Hopefully Jensen has really changed his ideas, and will support strategic thinking about tactics instead of his previous 'we need it all' blather. Maybe he will even learn to love bicycles.

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Comments

Jensen is an idiot who has

Jensen is an idiot who has bamboozled well-meaning activists with his militant rhetoric about 'deep green resistance' etc.  His last remaining credibility was lost when he contacted the FBI regarding death threats he recieved via the internet for his calls to execute CEOs.  Now who cares what he endorses or doesn't endorse?

Hedges Slags Anarchists

While this piece and the above comment focuses on Jensen's comments to journalist Chris Hedges, it should be noted that Hedges' piece itself is a horrible slag on anarchists in the Occupy movement.

Entitled "The Cancer of Occupy," the article has already been roundly critiqued both by anarchists such as Peter Gelderloos (Counterpunch) and David Graeber, as well as others in the movement who don't necessarily support black bloc tactics, but were appalled by Hedges'  shameful and dangerous comments (like veteran non-violence trainer and activist George Lakey in an article entitled "How Not to Block the Black Bloc").

For those unfamiliar with Hedges, he is a former New York Times foreign correspondent and Harvard Theology graduate.  Though he has stated his politics are close to people like Noam Chomsky, he appears to identify most closely with the Christian social activist tradition.

A few year's ago, in his seminal book "Death of the Liberal Class," Hedges argues that middle-class liberals in institutions like the U.S. Democratic Party, trade unions, liberal churches, media, education system and the arts have abandoned their former roles as supporters of social reform who sometimes worked with more radical elements (socialists, communists and anarchists).  Instead, they have become little more than servants to power, liberal enablers of the "corporate state."

How ironic then that Hedges, in his screed against the anarchist "cancer" in Occupy, has returned to the practices he no doubt honed writing for a "liberal" newspaper like the Times.

For example, Hedges makes the (over 10-years old) claim that the black bloc, which he confuses with an actual organization rather than a tactic, is influenced by anarcho-primitivist John Zerzan.  This was put forth (and refuted) after the 1999 "Battle of Seattle" (black bloc participants hold a variety of views on Zerzan, some supportive, others not).

In the "It's good for others, but not here" department, critics have also pointed to the hypocrisy of Hedges supporting militant resistance in Greece in a previous column ("The Greeks Get It") while calling those in the U.S. who support similar tactics "cancer."

Hedges even sees fit to cast aspersions on anarchists for supposedly denouncing the Zapatistas.  As "proof" he cites a 10 year-old article from (again!) a Zerzan source, an article that was thoroughly criticized by many anarchists at the time.

Of course, no tactic or strategy is beyond reproach or criticism, but instead of analysis based on facts, Hedges gives us a strawman, red herrings and hypocritical double-standards.  Thomas Friedman could do no better.

Finally, Hedges' choice of Jensen as a source is interesting.  Given Hedges own commitment to "non-violence" in the Occupy movement (he even argues that "non-violent movements - on some level - embrace police brutality" and denounces protestors at Occupy Oakland who "had thrown rocks, carried homemade shields and rolled barricades" for their failure to "remain non-violent"), I'm wondering where he stands on someone like Jensen who openly calls for sabotage and assassinations.  

But when serving the greater purpose of demonizing the "anarchist cancer" in Occupy, Hedges is apparently willing to overlook this and many other such inconsistencies.

  

What a Relief!

I was rather shocked when I saw end:civ- even more than usual when I watched one of Stimulator's works. Particuarly the part about having an imparitive to crush talk of nonviolence. Jensen's ideas messed with the minds of a lot of kids out there.

So, the question now is- will the kids listen to him and quell their inner anger he stirred up? Jensen still has a lot of responsibilty to fix the mess he made. Let's hope he can do that without anyone else getting hurt.

And, can Stimulator make amends too? I'm thinking he should do documentaties of puppies and kittens for the next year- it could be good for him!

 

Hey Greg!

You know what would quell my inner anger?

If you could shut the hell up with your insane gibberish for the next year?

It would be good for whatever passes for a public discourse in Vancouver, not that anyone in this town takes you seriously ...

Jensen is a harmless dork and the amount of controversy he generated over the past few years says more about the failings of the environmental movement in north america than it does about him.

It takes a guy in a silly sweater, who literally wouldn't hurt a fly (and would probably cry if someone else did) to say the stuff that's as obvious as a brick to the face.

(ie) You might have to physically stop the worst excesses of capitalism. You might have to use more than just your words if you actually give a damn about the future. That's ALL Jensen's ever been saying as far I can tell ...

Also he taught me to whisper sweet-nothings to my sushi before it hits the wasabi.

Now I'm hungry.

 

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