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There IS a there there, after all

By Michael J. Smith on Thursday November 3, 2011 07:33 PM

Gertrude Stein, who was from Oakland, famously observed that "there's no there there." Probably true at the time, but there's certainly a there there now.

A lot of my Lefty comrades are trying to draw a very sharp distinction between the tens of thousands who marched there yesterday and shut down the port, on the one hand, and those (apparently rather few) who broke some bank windows and spray-painted some bank facades, on the other. There's a near-consensus that the latter are probably provocateurs.

Wouldn't surprise me a bit if that were true -- if the window-breakers were cops in disguise, trying to put the movement in the wrong. We'll probably never know, but there certainly isn't anything implausible about this hypothesis.

However. I am inclined to believe that hoping for backlash is as foolish as fearing it. That is: if the cops think that bad behavior attributable to the Occupiers is in itself going to turn the public against them, then they are as deluded as the timorous Lefties who spend their lives worrying that backlash will spoil everything.

Smashing some bank windows doesn't seem like such a terrible thing to me, and seizing an abandoned building seems brilliant.

Comments (16)

The abandoned building, if I read AmLeft right, was already being used by a squatter group to provide shelter for homeless people. The occupy folks came to their defense, from what I gather, when the cops tried to close it down.


Not definite proof of provocateurs but the cops in Oakland have infiltrated the movement.


Breaking a few bank windows is no big deal in the grand scheme of things but it grants the authorities an easy if cheap moral victory.

The police assault on the Occupy camp in Oakland was allegedly proceeded by a few thrown bottles, but the ability of bottle throwers to time their throws to occur immediately before an obviously pre-planned and massive assault borders on the clairvoyant.

Let the cops and the government make all the tactical mistakes and take advantage of their use of agents provocateurs by outing them whenever possible.


Of course the cops are in the movement. But it's really not something to worry about. And I think 'outing' them might even be more effortful and divisive than it's worth.


I agree (OP). Vocal, as in disseminated written words, democrats and progressives believe they can form public opinion and fear any action which might seem to put "their" chosen side in a bad light. They cannot though. People of voting age have pretty much had their core beliefs already set and it takes trauma of some sort to alter them, not argument. Suffering reprisals on the television will do more to make a movement popular than being moral. We need Empire on the air.

Dpirate has the right of it. This is not time to be moral. It is certainly not the time to worry about the sensibilities of progressives and other liberal institutionalists.

The more isolated from whatever this becomes, the better. They've picked their side already, as it is.


It is always foolish to underestimate the enemy. Always. Failing to deal with agents provocateurs may prove to be a serious mistake. Why take that chance?

It doesn't take too much effort to out the cops given the ubiquity of video, as CopWatch demonstrates. Out enough cops and eventually you get to the point when every act of mayhem gets blamed on the cops whether they are guilty or not.

It is also a mistake to think that everyone's opinions of the movement are already set in stone. Many blacks for example report feeling wary of the movement at first, but eventually deciding to join in anyway. That wariness is being encouraged and exploited by the elite and is not to be underestimated, either.

The movement needs to play it straight, deal with the challenges thrown against it and not assume anything. They gain nothing by doing otherwise.


If one wishes to blame all violence on police, then simply do so. True or false, the more it is repeated the more it will be believed. Further, that cannot be done without there being such acts. Personally, I don't find it important who gets blamed for whatever. The most benefit will come from broadcast of what occurs, whatever it is that may garner media interest.

Regarding wariness of blacks, are you saying they were afraid to join in as they expected the whites to break windows or something? I expect if they were afraid of violence at all, it would be white on black inter-movement violence, and not violence directed outwards.

So, the movement gains nothing by playing it crooked, not dealing with challenges, and assuming everything... Is there something of substance there?


"Regarding wariness of blacks, are you saying they were afraid to join in as they expected the whites to break windows or something?"


So, the movement gains nothing by playing it crooked, not dealing with challenges, and assuming everything... Is there something of substance there?

The movement gains nothing from doing the cops' work for them, or letting them do it unimpeded. If nonviolence is the strategy it should be adhered to strictly. This doesn't mean every hot head who wants to commit acts of mayhem is a cop, just that this kind of behavior needs to be challenged and curtailed if possible. I would think this is common sense.


Every movement and left organization has had to deal with agent provocateurs and infiltrators who are there to disrupt, prey on the naive and inexperienced, and gather intelligence. The more they can be identified and isolated the better. It's not about maintaining an "acceptable" image for the movement; it's about safety and not letting your enemies take any control.


The occ movement is about actions not demands

Butsomebasic intel on the cop infiltration seems important
A few high profile outings don't amount to a divisive purge

This oughtn't be about paramoia
Butabout the cops lawlessness
A point worth making to the public at large of any persuasion

The off duty cop as terrorist ISA long tradition
Starting with inflitrations and ending with hooded hitsquads
Ala Latin America


Crow would have us AT the bank robbery stage
Of the armed struggle already

Anarcho narco nonsense

Read the progress of the 05 Russian struggle
Yes the time for robbery arrives but it ain't here yet

And the use of simple destruction ?

I suggest we call it an action for now
If it Involves cybernauts wiping out electronic loan records
And mortgage info

Disruption of the foreclosure process

But breaking windows at the local bank branch ?

That's just fun
Take it from a One time Free lance property vandal

As a form of group expression
Desecration and symbolic destruction
Have a place some where in the total social metabolism
But not among movement types
Not now
It's too purposeless
Too epater for it's own sake

Leave it to the provocateurs

As usual, wrong, OP. (I don't have revolutionary prescriptions for how people should respond to circumstances. I have my own perspective, but I never confuse that with a salvationist program.)

Try this punctuation mark: "?" It does a body good.


Anyway, courtesy Mr. Black Dog Red:



"I don't have revolutionary prescriptions for how people should respond to circumstances"

that is certainly true ???????????


black dribble red
indicts the existing people :

"In real life...the general public doesn’t really know or care what they’re talking about.

You might as well cite an online “Which Friends character are you?” quiz showing that Joey is most representative of the majority of Americans and build your policy agenda around that (“Naked Thursdays!”).

In fact, it appears that poll results are usually a trailing indicator.

f you’d asked people in June 2001 whether we should invade Iraq, I doubt you’d get much support. When there was bipartisan agreement that we should, suddenly everyone was on board!


I’m pretty confident that one would find a reliable correlation between how many people claim the deficit is an important issue and how much time politicians are spending debating the deficit.

This makes sense when we realize that

most people don’t really have the time or inclination to delve into the weeds of policy debates


when asked about such issues, most often want to say what they should say.


it’s possible that regular reporting of public opinion actually generates a kind of feedback loop where people hear what they supposedly think and then assume they’d better think it because it’s what “everyone” thinks. "

conclusion ??

do we need to dissolve the existing people ???

call a general election
to form a new people ????
one that doesn't worship its own ec ho and obey its self appointed hierarchy ?????????????


if we can't elected a new general public
then i suggest we abandon the vain struggle to discover collective ......salvation

return to your dusky dens fellow
gloomy dribblers


Gertrude Stein was from Pittsburgh, ahem.

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