[NEW YORK, NY] The debate surrounding “diversity of tactics” has indeed become a polarizing one …perhaps we helped (in part) to change that last week as we attempted to bring the fervor of both sides to the CUNY Grad Center for a respectful debate surrounding tactical legitimacy in today’s contemporary social movements.
Chris Hedges made himself a self-described “lightning rod” for this tactical debate in February, 2012 when he published his now infamous “The Cancer in Occupy” article (an indictment of black-bloc tactics) on his syndicated TruthDig column. The sometimes ugly debate that followed Hedges’ article continued to boil over on internet forums and comments feeds surrounding the Occupy movement. Since there is little accountability on internet forums and similar venues we thought it would be prudent to bring both sides together for a respectful face-to-face debate. Short of a handful of passionate outbursts the audience at last week’s debate at the CUNY Grad Center between the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges and B. Travern of The Crimethinc. Ex-Workers Collective was perhaps the most disciplined “real-world” assembly surrounding this polarizing argument.Both Travern and Hedges attempted during the debate to define where tactical legitimacy begins and ends. While each had differing answers to the moderator’s questions, the audience was excited to see the intersections between the two. Travern conceded that he found himself agreeing with ~80% of what Hedges said about revolution. Interestingly Hedges also conceded when he proclaimed that “he is not a pacifist” and announced during the debate that he too is an advocate for “a diversity of tactics” …yet the two drift apart when defining what “diversity of tactics” personally means to each of them. Though some awkward gaffs were made, and some questions left unanswered, the event as a whole was an informative and encouraging experience that many could take a great deal away from. We encourage you to watch the video above, share it with your friends, embed it on your own blogs, continue to build dialogue surrounding the issues therein, and most of all take action for a more just future in the most effective and sensible ways you see fit.
At times it makes sense for Sparrow to mute our “radical” opinions and instead provide substantive facts that mimetically lead the readers/viewers/listeners we engage with to reach their own radical conclusions. This is why we felt a public debate, in the vacuum of a highly controlled venue, would be the best way to harness the vitriol of 7 months of internet bickering and turn it into something hopeful and constructive. We hope we did just that…
This event would not have been possible without the help of the CUNY Grad Center, Sujatha Fernandes, Sarah Leonard, Mintwood Media, Jen Angel of Aid & Abet, and the volunteers that helped with everything from filming to de-escalation..