Creepiest anti-nonviolence leaflet ever handed out at an Occupy. Ever.

Someone very very creepy attempted to distribute these to a not-receptive audience of Occupy Oakland protesters yesterday: "YOU hold the cock of the Empire in your supple hands!"

Note the strategic use of Riot Kitten.

(via Susie Cagle, who's been live-cartooning Occupy Oakland.)


  1. I strongly suspect cointelpro-type/breitbart-style pot-stirring.  “See, this is what they’re all about!  Violent overthrow!”  How long before Fox News runs with this?

  2. I like that font. I like the overall design. I am a pacifist by principal and I believe in the pragmatic superiority of nonviolence in situations like this, but I did feel slightly swayed by this. Except the “hold the cock in your supple hands” part, that was very creepy.

  3. “…your hateful messages of conservative morality”? That’s even creepier.

    But I agree with the commenter above that this was more likely written by police than by protesters.

    1. It’s time to grab democracy by the balls and squeeze.

      In that case “holding the cock of the Empire in our supple hands” is getting pretty close, logistically speaking.

  4. It had a promising start as the first  OWS / Corporate Empire slash fiction but rapidly went downhill.

  5. Unfortunately, it’s also quite probable that there’s someone out there who really believes this. Consider some of the radicals such as the Weather Underground and the Symbionese Liberation Army of the late sixties and early seventies that would sneer at the peace movement because they wanted a revolution, maaaaaaaaaan. That worked out really well, didn’t it? (And even the creepy comparison of cock-holding to being a tool of The Man fits in well with the macho guerrilla image that some of these Che-wannabes have.)

    1. Wait, you really don’t believe that there can be genuine differences of opinion? It’s got to be the cops making it up, or a crazy person? Whether or not you agree, there are people who see violence as the answer. They do exist. And if you won’t oppose them rationally, if your only argument is a combination ad-hom and incredulity, then you’re pretty much just ceding them the field.

  6. While I agree this is at least fringe or even a police plant, I often wonder what the people in charge think is going to happen if they keep preventing people from protesting peacefully. Between kettling in London that I have seen, the gun in NYC and Oakland, and… The message they seem to be promoting is that they really don’t want peaceful protestors. Eventually they probably wont have them.

  7. I support the strategic and ethical use of violence.  But that leaflet does makes me kind of embarrassed to be on the same side as them.

  8. One of the organizers of my local Occupy movement whose day job is with a prominent mainstream union would agree with a lot of this in theory. He’s too smart to think that now is the time for revolution, but from the “conservative morality” to the pacifists are unwitting tools ideology, he’s on board. It’s just contemporary Marxism, really.

    EDIT: My point is, the only thing really wacko about this is that now is obviously not the time to try to foment violent revolution. But the view point behind it is fringe but not crazy.

  9. The creepiest part for me (besides that first line that doesn’t go with anything that follows) is that the spelling and grammar are reasonably good. That means it was probably written with care. The layout and font choice also shows that this wasn’t a just a rant someone hit “print” on and immediately rushed down to the local copy shop with.

  10. Yeah. I have met enough people over the years who think this way that I would suspect it really is the work of somebody who genuinely sympathizes with OWS. If you’re involved in activist circles and are not aware that this thread of thought exists, you aren’t paying attention. I disagree with it vehemently. But pulling out “No True Scotsman” doesn’t make it go away.

    Not to say that Brietbart and his ilk won’t happily use the work of a mistaken minority to tarnish the public perception of the larger movement, though.

    1. I’m think Maggie has the angles covered. It could be any of these folks. What would be useful is to try work backwards and try and track down who actually wrote it.  If we don’t do it, and fast then it will be used against OWS. It will be used by the right to say, “See they all want to get violent.”

      The MSM didn’t do the research to spot the police throwing the flash bang grenades, a blogger did. The MSM isn’t going to track this down. The RW aren’t going to track this down (unless they find a real violent leftwinger created it). It will be up to someone on the left to verify the source and confirm who did it. And then they need to tell us.  If it is a real group they will WANT to be found. If it is a fake group they will not. It will be hard for a cop or a RedState group to stand up to any examination. “Show us your earlier writings, blog, etc.”  If they have no history, no back story then they are more suspect.

      1. Be interesting if somebody could lay hands on an original of that printout.  From the pic it looks laser or inkjet printed and all modern printers have watermarks embedded in their output which can be traced back to equipment serial numbers.  Would take a lot of work, (manufacturer has to help with the watermark back-tracking), along with a lot of leg-work to trace through distribution, retail sales, possible recycling etc, and maybe some review of security camera footage if it turns out to be a multi-user copy-machine, but there’s still a decent chance it could be traced to an individual.

  11. I think that regardless of the probabilities, you have to regard this as an attempt to entrap.

    I would feel the same way about any stranger trying to get me to commit a crime, for whatever reason, in whatever circumstances.   It just seems the only sensible response — unless and until you have more information, at least.

  12. I *suppose* it could be a police plant, but it looks genuine to me. Ultimately, I think OWS and most of its spinoffs have been doing quite well without violence, and I think we should keep at it. Who was it in a previous thread that said this: “Anarcho-communists have a way of quickly reminding everyone that noone truly wants anarcho-communism?” I’m paraphrasing that, for the record.

  13. “Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist”, George Orwell.

    Confrontation is never peaceful, occupy wallstreet is confrontation between the 99% vs the 1%. That 1% feels violented by the actions, and like you are not from the 1% you don’t see violence. If the 1% were ok with your demostration they will not send cops against you, just like you when you feel violented when people breaks windows and clash with the police and try to stop them.

    I’m not from the US, and my for my local culture you are our 1%… we feel violented when you don’t stand up and fight your 1% that destroyed our democratic process and economy. But I’m going to tell you a secret that we learned with decades of social struggle againts your 1%, pacifism vs violence is a dead end debate.  Good citizen, bad citizen, good protester, bad protester… standford’s prison experiment anyone? Stop thinking you are right, try to understand why people are violent, why people are paceful, instead of promoting one against the other.

    It’s good to see you doing stuff there, we have been waiting for you too many time. learn and just don’t make the same mistakes we did here…

    amor y lucha

      1. Indeed, he did that… as i guess you read both (the newspaper column and pacifism and the war) you should know why i quoted it… as i tried to say confrontation is always violent, even pacifist movements were violent as they disrupt the status quo and put in check the ruling class. That’s it’s the central motivation, change, and when people search for equality the ruling class always feel violented. Then they send you cops, to beat your ass and people see that on tv and get scary of protests…

        I’m not judging your tactics, i’m supporting your motivations and giving you the simple advice that stop thinking in these violent/peaceful debate because is going nowhere. When you get evicted and arrested is because you are violenting the rich, they use their legitimated (by almost everyone) violence called law.

        Stop thinking you are the one who is right, and that your live is the common pattern of everybody else lives. Try to understand why people disobey rich’s law and why people just sit and ask for reforms to change the status quo. Both have the same basic motivations, and those can be anything but paceful.

        1. That original Orwell quote, taken in context, does not relate very well to movements like Occupy Wall Street. It was part of a column responding to an overtly pro-fascist pacifist movement during WWII which arguably would have allowed a militant totalitarian regime conquer England without resistance. And even so Orwell recanted the statement less than two years later.

          So no, I really don’t see how that particular quote supports any point you may be trying to make regardless of how much thought you may have put into the rest of your arguments.

          1. He is just not literal, he takes Orwell’s words about war and conflict and move them into another conflict, just like the same Orwell did on the URSS/Trotskist issue in the same article. 

          2. guido has a useful and underrepresented perspective on this discussion.  And he offers insight about the nature of the violence/non-violence debate that’s outside the traditional first world western framework.  Who cares about the quote and its provenance.  If you want to win on that point, then great: you win.  Rather than arguing, try to listen and understand.

          3. I’m all for a discussion that includes a diversity of opinions and perspectives, which is why I didn’t attack guido’s underlying motivations or other arguments. I just prefer intellectually honest discussions, and I don’t think using Orwell’s quote furthers that objective. Neither did Orwell, once he’d had some time to reflect on it.

      2. If you’re going to use Orwell’s original quote then it’s only fair to point out that he later repudiated that very statement, calling it both dishonest and counterproductive.

        He also later spied on his friends for the government. Some wines don’t age well.

      3. How about:

        “There’s no such thing as a nonviolent revolution. […] Revolution is bloody, revolution is hostile, revolution knows no compromise, revolution overturns and destroys everything that gets in its way. And you, sitting around here like a knot on the wall, saying, “I’m going to love these folks no matter how much they hate me.” No, you need a revolution. Whoever heard of a revolution where they lock arms, singing “We Shall Overcome”? You don’t do that in a revolution. You don’t do any singing, you’re too busy swinging.”

        – Malcolm X

        1. Reasonable people can and do disagree about the place for violence in social uprisings, or whether Malcom X’s approach ultimately got more results than Dr. King’s. That’s all fine with me. I just don’t care for rhetoric that boils down to “if you’re not willing to punch someone in the face for our cause then you’re on the side of the fascists.”

          1. Reasonable people can and do disagree about the place for violence in social uprisings, or whether Malcom X’s approach ultimately got more results than Dr. King’s.

            My analysis of history is that you need both. You need a serious threat to force change (although sometimes the threat can be economic rather than violent) and then you need moderates to make peace and consolidate the changes.

          2. I don’t think that these cops are fascists (at least not most of them). If they were, though, and if this were a fight against fascism, and you had a gun, then I’d say you’re helping out fascists by not shooting one. Maybe “helping out” is a bit off, but you’re at least doing what they’d want you to do. You wouldn’t be exactly as bad as an active fascist, but you would be exactly as bad as a fascist who stayed at home and did nothing. It wouldn’t matter what your opinions are if you were to do nothing. They would matter as much as a rock’s opinions. If a rock were fascist, nothing in the world would be different.

            Rocks can’t move or think, though, so they get a free pass, fascism-wise.

          3. If you don’t believe we’re engaged in a violent struggle against fascists then why take issue with my earlier statement? I wrote:

            I just don’t care for rhetoric that boils down to “if you’re not willing to punch someone in the face for our cause then you’re on the side of the fascists.

            …and you responded:

            You may not be on their side, but you might as well be.

            So make up your mind, either I support fascism by not engaging in violent behavior or I don’t. If this is the time and place to start roughing people up, who should we be delivering beat-downs to?

          4. I thought you were paraphrasing Orwell. I was just talking about actual fascists there. My other post in this thread, though, was about the Occupy protests and peaceful protests in general. I agree with the pamphleteer that pacifism is useless, but I don’t think that the Occupy protests are ready to get violent. I doubt that the pamphleteer really believes that these protests are ready either, but just that this is a good time and place for propagandizing (even if the Occupy protests are going to fail). The goal of the revolutionary left’s few supporters of the Occupy protests (of whom I’m aware) is consciousness-raising, not an actual revolution. They don’t think that these protests are anything more than liberal/social democratic circlejerks.

            I suppose peaceful protests are technically useful in a sense, in that they are good places for radicalization, which could eventually lead to something, but they’re not themselves useful at achieving their goals.

          5. Nonviolent protests never achieve anything? What about the independence movement for India, the civil rights movement in the US, the velvet revolutions in the former Soviet bloc, and the Czechoslovakian velvet divorce?

          6. They can achieve something if that thing is in line with what the bourgeoisie wants (e.g. the velvet revolution), or if the problem just changes shape. MLK’s march on Washington did nothing important. Black people still have it just as bad. It’s only not as open and obvious. And did India become what Gandhi wanted? Is it free from neo-colonialism?

          7. MLK’s march on Washington did nothing important. Black people still have it just as bad. It’s only not as open and obvious.

            We are still a ways off from total equality, but seriously? Things are “just as bad” as when interracial marriage was forbidden by law and whole segments of the population were denied the right to vote? A lot of people who lived through lynchings, fire hoses and bus boycotts would have a word or two to say about that.

          8. Do you think that MLK’s peaceful march got black people the right to vote? (Or are you talking about women now? (This isn’t supposed to be sarcastic. I actually don’t know)) Anyway, I don’t think that voting in these elections is worth anything (because it won’t change anything), but still, black people continue to be disenfranchised, just not explicitly. The interracial marriage thing is a real success, but it’s a small thing, something that was probably just a crumb thrown out to prevent a real revolution. It’s like how we keep making (very slow) progress in things like gay rights while everything else regresses, which allows us to pat ourselves on the back for being so much better than everyone was in the past, like we’re making progress. We make progress in one small area, which excuses the regress of everything else. And when “everything else” regresses, things get worse for gay people, even though they have some official rights. Employers can continue to sneakily fire or not hire someone for being gay while giving a bullshit reason, so, if this gay person can’t get welfare (via regression), they’re fucked. It’s like trying to get a job with a tattoo on your face. Schools are still segregated, just not officially. Schools in poor areas (where black people live) get less funding. Public sector jobs (where lots of black people are) are being cut. Black people still get beaten and fucked over way more than white people (see the number of black people in prison!). There are still lynchings, they’re just not called lynchings (they’re just called plain old murders, hate crimes, executions, “accidentally firing a gun that I thought was a taser”). Marijuana was made illegal because it was popular with black people at the time (much like the infamous British law against gin (because poor people drank gin)), and it’s still illegal. Katrina. Same shit, new look.

            I think black people would have a word or two to say about these things. (;

          9. You don’t have to tell me the stats, I work with poor black people every day. Like I said, we are still a ways off from total equality. But we’re also living in a time where it is a very real possibility that both major political parties will be fielding black men for President of the United States. That doesn’t mean we’re living in a post-racial utopia by any stretch, but it’s a pretty significant sign that race relations have improved over the last few generations. You don’t have to accept the status quo to recognize that we’ve made progress.

          10. We’ve made progress only in the marketing department. It doesn’t matter one bit whether the President (a ceremonial role) is black if their administration doesn’t support the interests of black people.

          11. Respectfully, the president is not a ceremonial role. They set the executive agenda and have a massive effect on how policy is implemented; above and beyond that, they are in charge of managing and staffing the Cabinet-level bureaucracies–State and Defense most notably–and act as the Commander in Chief of the armed forces, determining where and when US military forces are deployed. This hardly seems like a position that lacks power.

             The income gap between black and white Americans has decreased since the passage of the Civil Rights act, and many prevalent forms of official and non-official discrimination have ceased. Black people in the US still face discrimination, true, but this doesn’t demonstrate that the effects of the civil rights movement have been “cosmetic” or solely in “marketing”.

            Furthermore, I tend to define “bourgeois” as people who rely on advanced capitalist business systems for their income and are either a) employed in the service sector rather than industrial production or b) not serving primarily as a producer or goods, but rather serving in a financial or managerial role. This would include small business owners, IT workers, managers, salesmen, and essentially any profession besides industrial workers and farmers. In America, these people tend to be homeowners who make somewhere between $75,000 and $250,000 a year and have college educations from four year universities. This is a sizable portion of the US workforce, and would certainly not be restricted to the proverbial 1%. OWS’s demands largely center around financial firm management, income inequality, and education expenses/investment–largely bourgeois concerns. If peaceful protest can only bring about change in line with the interests of the bourgeois, it seems an ideal format for OWS.

            Then again I also doubt your assertion that peaceful protests can only bring about bourgeois interests, as US worker protests in the ’20s and ’30s were largely nonviolent and succeeded in gaining major concessions on worker safety and restricting work hours in the work-week, despite massive violent repression. 

          12. I agree with the pamphleteer that pacifism is useless, but I don’t think that the Occupy protests are ready to get violent.

            And who would you advocate committing violence against if they were ready? If pacifism is useless then should the Occupy folks start giving s***kickings to investment bankers or just go home?

          13. If they were ready, they would give shitkickings to the bourgeoisie until the proletariat came into power. They shouldn’t go home right now because consciousness is being raised, which is good.

          14. If they were ready, they would give shitkickings to the bourgeoisie until the proletariat came into power.

            Who gets to make the decisions about how to define “bourgeoisie” and which ones need to have the shit kicked out of them? Also, won’t that leave us with a government run by people who see physical violence as a legitimate form of democratic expression?

          15. Also, won’t that leave us with a government run by people who see physical violence as a legitimate form of democratic expression

            What government has ever existed that doesn’t fit that description?

          16. All governments claim that right for themselves, true- but the good ones have some semblance of rules about when and where it can be used and protocols for filing grievances against them when they don’t. I don’t think a free-for-all, everybody-in stompdown sounds like much of an improvement.

          17. I think that’s kind of the point for a lot of the OWS movement though.  I.e. that’s the way things have been run in a lot of places for a long time now and the end results really haven’t been as rosy as promised.

          18. Isn’t that what we already have? (I’m using “we” even though I’m Canadian because we have the same shit over here).

            Anyway, the bourgeoisie is defined by their relationship to the means of production. Marxist classes aren’t wishy washy things that change whenever someone wants to change them like “the middle class”, “the lower class”, or “the upper class” (I think that, right now, the border between middle and upper class is $250,000 a year). There’s no mistaking a bourgeois. If you control the means of production, you’re bourgeois. You can be poor and bourgeois if you’re really bad at being bourgeois. It’s more about exploitation than how much money you happen to have at any time.

            You’re not going to get the good things that were the whole reason anyone thought “democracy” was a good idea through the so-called democracy that America has right now. If you want a society in which the needs and wants of the majority are more valued than those of “the 1%”, you’ll need to overthrow capitalism, and it’ll be violent. Not because any proletarians actually want violence (there will be way more proletarian deaths in a revolution than bourgeois deaths because of the weapons and other sources of power (e.g. the army, police) the bourgeoisie has access to), but because the bourgeoisie will be violent (and they’re already violent).

    1. “Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist”, George Orwell.
      Look at the context in which he wrote that. A brutal civil war between anarcho-syndicalists and communists on one side, and fascists on the other.   Will pacifism work in that context? Quite likely not.  

      But it’s also worth remembering that – arguably – it wasn’t so much the fascists that won that war, but the communists that lost it by turning on the rest of the republicans.  There’s a lesson there.

      Back to the present time: No matter how much the Occupy folks are flattering themselves, they’re not fighting dictatorships, they’re not in Tahria square, and the actual 99% are not interested in overthrowing capitalism, no matter what the .000000001% in their tents say.  No more than the Germans in the 70s followed the Red Army Factions, or the Black Panthers and the Weathermen caused a revolution.  

      And for good reason:  While there are some obvious, and serious problems with the system as it stands, the alternative is not socialism. That simply does not work (at a large scale – you can make it work nicely within small groups, but even that’s hard).   Push for sensible regulatory changes, push for changes in taxation if you must.

      But if you advocate violence, you will – rightly – lose whatever support the rest of the population had for the cause in the first place.

  14. What naïve fools.  At what point do they think violence in the face of violence will bring about peace?  These are children throwing tantrums who have confused their shared indignation as nobility.  Those who preach these means are the biggest threat to changing our system; their actions justify rather than oppose the system we want to see addressed.  Humoring these violent anarchists simply can’t happen.

  15. Here’s my problem with calls for violence on the part of anyone at the OWS protests – those who use violence would steal the voices from those who have chosen peaceful action, even steal the identity itself of the movement.

    In our reality where one of the main problems is the vast diversion of US productivity into supporting the military/prison/LEO-industrial complex, a direct violent confrontation only benefits the oligarchs who have spent the last 40 years building and perfecting the mechanisms of violence. The images of nonviolent passive resistance to police violence, in contrast, are precisely what have enabled previous nonviolent movements to succeed.

    With the “Paid Detail” arrangement by which many of those wearing NYPD uniforms are actual private mercenaries in the employ of the banks, they are a modern version of the Pinkertons who suppressed worker movements on behalf of the robber barons of the last gilded age. The only thing keeping them back was the incredible discipline the protesters have thus far shown in remaining nonviolent, so with all the cameras watching maintaining the moral high ground.  Even with the coming wave of crackdowns, that nonviolence keeps the moral high ground, and it should not be surrendered lightly.

    Turn this protest into a violent riot, and that moral protection vanishes, and the Pinkertons really move in as they have been itching to do. Open and direct violent clashes against the police are impossible to win. Try to imagine any scenerio in which a police officer is killed by a protestor, which isn’t responded to with overwhelming police force, even involving military hardware.

    But let’s take as a given that someone believes burning cars and breaking windows will achieve something. They can do it anywhere else, instead of taking advantage of these protests.  They could go burn some cars in the country club where the oligarchs do their deals, or caltrop the roads to Blackwater training camps.  There are countless other possible actions directly against the interests of the oligarchs.

    Beware of those who call for lashing out in violence from within the existing protest. The purpose could be to associate the violence with the protest, to attribute the violent actions to the rest of the crowd without their consent, and in direct contradiction of the principles of the movement.  To strike and then hide among the crowd.  To try to incite a true riot, or to invite the crackdown that’s been awaiting the excuse.

    A hundred thousand people determined to stay peaceful as a tactical strategy as well as a moral principle can be undone by a single anarchist with a molotov cocktail.  Is there a word for that kind of functional veto power that a single violent actor can effect against the wishes of so many others?  It doesn’t work the other direction – no peaceful act coopts and steals the identity of a violent riot without permission.

    No one has the right to veto the peaceful work of the hundreds of thousands of the 99% over these weeks by using that protest as cover for a spasm of anarchist violence.

    Those who think it’s beyond civil disobedience and itching to monkeywrench, do it somewhere else.  

    You want to go all out into armed conflict, get the fuck away from the rest of us, and please first look hard in the mirror and see if you find yourself looking at a wanna-be Tim McVeigh, JaredLoughner, Ted Kascinski, or Aryan von Glamourshot or whatever that Norweigan psychopath was called.

  16. The important question right now is not whether we should be violent.  It’s whether we should be disruptive and openly defiant.

    The question of violence is an interesting philosophical one, and the question of destroying property is an important strategic question.  But even leaving those aside, I’d say that a lot of the “nonviolent” rhetoric being thrown around is actually arguing against deliberate physical disruption of economic activity, or against openly defying police authority.

    For example, imagine that you were to enact the following plan: Go to each of the intersections in your town surrounding the financial center, barricade the street with old tires, and set them on fire.  That fire will burn for hours and hours – effective shutdown of the financial district.  Can you imagine the reaction of the so-called pacifist crowd?  Keep in mind that nobody’s being harmed – and if done carefully nobody’s even placed in any danger.  Hell, the only property even being destroyed is your own old tires!  There is nothing remotely violent or even destructive about this action. However it is extremely disruptive.  And it shows an open defiance towards “law and order” and the traditionally accepted forms of protest (marching, picketing, sit-ins, etc.)

    That’s what concerns me.  That the argument isn’t really about “violence” at all, it’s about whether we should aggressively seek to make trouble where it hurts them most, or play nice and stick to the diet of marches, drum circles, and “hey hey ho ho” that’s typically prescribed for social dissenters.  In fact, let’s not talk about violence anymore.  Let’s talk about nonviolence, but REAL nonviolence.  The kind where you actually stop the violence that’s being done to countless innocent people in our names.  The kind where you don’t just “make your voice heard”, but literally prevent the injustice from continuing.  Because good intentions are nice, but they don’t help anyone who’s about to be homeless.

  17. I’m far from certain that protest actually “does” anything.  Or what it does if it does.  But it seems to me that *violent* protest, if it were ever possible to be effective, could not possibly have the same aims and goals as non-violent protest.

    You might argue that protest raises awareness for your cause; makes people think about the issues; attempts to persuade those in charge that they are in the wrong.   I don’t know if any of that works, but it seems to me that violence, in each case, makes it far less likely to.

    I can only think of two rationales for violent protest — to effect damage on the state as a form of revenge (which while it might be understandable is probably not protest per se) and the overthrow of the state (which would need more materiel and personel than any violent protest I’ve ever seen).

    Just my 10p.

  18. The use of violence during this movement would be counterproductive. After all, the main goal is to bring about meaningful change, not to vent frustration. If you are a group of protesters being attacked by the police in this social environment, popular opinion will move towards your point of view. Not exactly to the movement’s exact opinions, of course, but towards them.

    If the movement embraces violence, the knee-jerk response by the public (driven by mass-media) will be to reject the opinions behind it. And given that #occupy is made up of a very small minority of the general population, the movement will fail. After all, many people already have disparaged the police using overly-agressive tactics and weapons. This can also happen to the movement itself.

    The goal is what’s important, and my personal opinion is that a general policy of nonviolence is the best way to achieve those goals.

  19. See, this is the thing.

    One of the big advantages of the OWS is that it hasn’t been following the post 60’s protest playbook, which has generally been pretty goddamn terrible for the progressive left.  It’s been self-indulgent and is never going to convince anyone. All it does is make some kids feel good about themselves, which would be fine except we have more effective way of doing that. Like jerking off.

    So the protests have actually been, horror of horrors, effective.  People are paying attention. Mostly because it’s such a broadbased issue but also because they haven’t been coming off as cartoons and been able to sideline it.  But this reads pretty much like something directly out of the old playbook, right down to the overwrought language.

    1. Could you define “effective” for me?   As I said, I’m genuinely undecided about what effect protest has, if any.

      I’ll grant you that the Occupy protests have multiplied amazingly and made a lot of column inches and TV minutes.  But have they really managed to communicate a coherent message?  Have they actually managed to create change in the way business and the state treat the little people?  I don’t see that. 

      1. Which does raise the question of how effective you’re expecting this to be? It’s been a few weeks. You’re not seeing it because it hasn’t had time to happen yet and perhaps most importantly, you need to understand what protests do.

        Protests create visibility, presenting people with direct evidence that these things matter to a large group of people. If a large enough group of people have the appearence of  caring about something it becomes an  issue in the public conciousness.  This is the important one.

        Protests motivate. People who are involved in these protests are, when they finish (Which’ll have to be soon because otherwise some people are going to freeze to death and it’s going to be sad), going to be more motivated and more on message about whatever issue they’re involved in because it gives a sense of connection. All these other people care. I better care about this issue extra hard.

        Of course you can’t expect instantaneous change from a protest because they do not work that way. It’s like asking why you tin opener isn’t making soup. You tin opener may allow you to get at soup by opening  the tin but it is not a device for actually making soup.

        The biggest issue since the 60’s and progressive protest is that it has become an end in and of itself.  The Tea Party and OWS have both avoided this trap (though the tea part is making a bee line for it as we speak) and so fulfill their goal.

        1. You misunderstand me.  You said “So the protests have actually been, horror of horrors, effective.”  Past tense.  I just wondered what *your* criteria were.

          Personally I take some hope from the idea I’ve heard from several protesters, that the protests are a sort of work-in-progress classroom for learning how to make an end run around those parts of the state we find objectionable.  To take, if you like, Cameron’s idea of a Big Society and [offensive image redacted] him with it.

          I like the idea of getting enough people in on that to make it workable and actually change society.  But I’m afraid I’m a cynic.   Even so, it seems to me that that might be a more workable approach than “protest” — whatever that turns out to mean.

          Of course protest can certainly raise awareness of an issue. But it seems to me that that’s not really enough, by itself, in the longer term.

          1. The workable approach involves hours upon hours of quiet, thankless and above all hard work trying to influence society for the better through interaction with the social and political apparatus. It involves acting like a grown up, realising that real actual  change is going to come very slowly and realising that because of this, loud assholes will constantly denigrate your work and through their supposedly more effective actions make your life much harder.

            It also involves dying early from an  undiagnosed stress induced stomach ulcer so you probably won’t see the end positive effect of all your hard work.

            But it does work.

          2. I’m wishing and hoping that you are right.  

            Although part of me notes that “acting like a grown up” and “interaction with the social and political apparatus” are a problematic combination because those in charge of said apparatus don’t act like grown-ups themselves…

          3. The workable approach involves hours upon hours of quiet, thankless and above all hard work trying to influence society for the better through interaction with the social and political apparatus.

            Please elaborate on your personal experiences with this method and share the results with us.

          4. Let’s see. I was involved in the creation of a  programme to help remote aboriginal communites become self sufficient and help them deal with the whole bone crushing poverty thing, worked to promote alternate legal processes in the juvenile courts and did adminstrative grunt work in  employment placement for recent migrants with an emphasis on refugees and preventing their exploitation. Then I stopped because hard work is kind of unpleasent.   Each of these efforts involved extended periods of lobbying, bullying, persuading and outright begging in addition to putting in the hours. Except the last one, which mostly involved doing paper work.  And while none of them set the world on fire, each served to change society for the better in a small way, each made people think differently in a little way and that shit adds up. Enough of it adds up and everything changes without people really noticing.

          5. Wow.  If that’s true — forgive me, but this IS the internet.  I mean no disrespect — then you have more skill, balls and stamina than I will ever have, and I’d like to thank you.   Damn well done.

          6. Well, they did give me money for it. And I did have what amounts to a crappy liberal arts degree. So I was mostly just glad to be inside, out of the sun.

            I would’ve sold out at the time if they’d let me.

          7. Try saving the world when your only skill is writing crappy computer programs.  The only way software can change the world is if you are a genius. 

            (It was once suggested that I should write *very* crappy computer programs, in that one of the customers using the software in question was a “bad guy”.  It doesn’t work like that.)

      2. Have you heard of the protest? That’s what he/she meant.  Effective at starting something and not having it stopped or ignored entirely by the PTB and the people at large.

        If you want a coherent message, go find yourself a proper command and control style movement with central leaders, boards of directors, and large funding sources, like maybe the tea party? or the communists? or whatever group a few power hungry people have decided to head to make themselves more important than the work at hand.

        or, occupy something. yourself . Along with others who are doing it, themselves.

        The kind of movement that gives you the fully digested thing you can say Yea or Nay to – is that the only sort of ‘movement’ you recognize? Something spoon fed to you to agree with or fight against? If so, you’re well trained.

        1. That’s a hell of a series of assumptions you’re drawing there.

          I repeat — again.  Deliciouspinapples said they they thought the protest was effective.  I asked what their criteria was to measure effectiveness.  I genuinely wanted to know what they thought made a successful protest — as someone who is unsure as to whether protest is actually worth while. 

          My question was not meant sarcastically or critically.  I did not say that I thought the protest was ineffective.  I did not say that I didn’t ‘recognise’ the Occupy movement, whatever that is supposed to mean. 

          I did not say that I thought a protest has to have a coherent message (although I’ve certainly heard that criticism leveled at Occupy myself).  In fact, I was trying to raise the very question of whether one was necessary.  

          You seem to think I’m some sort of robot programmed to think in a very narrow band of responses.  Pot.  Kettle.

          (Apologies, everyone else — I strongly dislike being stuffed into a pigeonhole, especially when it doesn’t fit…)

      3. Well, MSM WAS talking about deficit reduction and austerity measures before OWS, now it’s talking about unemployment and criminal banks instead.

        Sounds like it’s been effective in disrupting or at least altering the predominant media narrative.

        I think there’s actually a more subtle but much more important effect: since W got elected political discourse in this country has been orienting itself more and more towards the right wing — essentially without an argument, Fox News just blares whatever counterfactual nonsense they like and the other media companies move to the right because they always need to look like they’re in the center.  OWS is making public political discourse sound less like Ayn Rand’s waste basket and more like the pre-Gingrich era when people could actually disagree civilly instead of accusing each other of being traitors and terrorists for having different opinions on governance.  It’s also making it possible to talk about liberal ideas without being dismissed as a “socialist” or whatever the boogeyman du jour is.

        OWS, weird and crazy as it is, is making our country saner.  Hooray!

  20. Violence is an excellent way of exacting social change. There is honestly no better way of reshaping society that rolling up your sleeves,  getting out the knives and cutting the throats of anyone who gets in the way of your goals.

    But it only works if you win.

  21. No matter what your principal stance on non-violence is, I think we an all agree that this is a pretty  blatant attempt by a minority to hijack someone else’s momentum for their own purposes. Not cool.

    As for exactly who’s behind this: next time anyone spots the guy handing these out, post a picture of him online and we’ll let the old Rénròu Sōusuǒ find out what’s what.

    1. Who’s hijacking whose momentum?  What faction owns OWS?  A lot of people look at OWS like it’s a political party or something, and so they get frustrated when they see “outsiders” acting in ways which contradict the supposed official platform.  This leads to much gnashing of teeth and accusations of sabotage, betrayal, derailing, hijacking, etc.

      I have news for you: if OWS could be hijacked, it would’ve been hijacked by the Democratic Party a long time ago.  But it can’t be hijacked, because there’s nothing to hijack.  It’s just a diffuse network of individuals freely associating around a vaguely defined tactical and political theme.  People in the OWS swarm are going to do whatever they want.  They have no loyalty to an organization or a party.  You cannot control people by accusing them of betraying “the movement”, because “the movement” is a lie.  We are all our own movements, we’re just so densely networked it’s hard to tell sometimes.

      The only way to control what happens is to persuade people of your ideas, and the way to do that is through reasoned and considerate discussion with the minority, rather than derisively dismissing them.

        1. You might even say they’re accused of being in bed with the authorities.  But yeah, obviously the leaflet is ridiculous and unnecessarily hostile.  The thing is, the appropriate response is not “no YOU’RE the one who doesn’t care about the movement!”.  I’m sure that’s what led to the attitude reflected in the leaflet in the first place.

    2. Except it’s probably some homeless dude who got slipped $20 for having no clue what he was getting into.

  22. I take issue with this. For one thing my hands are rough and calloused, so my corporate masturbation only serves to give The Man a sore dick.

  23. Violence now isn’t called for at all.

    Right now, the best thing for OWS is unprovoked police brutality, even unprovoked murders of OWS protesters by police. That gets popular support, or at least tolerance of the movement (quite a few people right now stick with the “they’re a bunch of hippies that won’t get jobs” mentality), especially if the media reports can be disproven and the media publicly shamed.

    The moment an OWS protester fights back – even in self-defense – they (and potentially the entire movement) lose the martyrdom status that they’ve gained right now.

    Oh, and the tactic of being completely disruptive (even without being destructive) will make the “they just want to ruin your day” rhetoric true. Noticeable, not disruptive, and OWS would likely get more positive attention, and far less negative attention.

    Now, if a year or two down the line, the OWS movement consists of a huge portion of the American population, and the general populace wants it to take over the US government… then violence may be called for, but only if the democratic system is blocked off. But, this country is at least a year away from actually tolerating a civil war with OWS as the aggressors. If they’re pacifists that are attacked by the US government, and the media’s spin fails, then real change just might happen (and potentially from groups that sympathize with OWS, not even OWS itself). The more clearly innocent protesters injured and killed, the more momentum OWS gets.

    May we live in interesting times…

    (Not a protester myself, but the movement looks promising to me, if it doesn’t get corrupted like the Tea Party movement has.)

  24. The loyalty-demanding closing sentence paraphrasing George Bush’s motto against “the terrorists” says it all really. It’s possibly the work of an agent provocateur, as could be seen with that box of bricks with clumsily fake note.

    Personally I’m not a pacifist, at least not in every single circumstance. But there’s a time and place for everything. Inclusive mass events like the Occupy gatherings are not the time and place for violence. Non-violence is precisely the movement’s strength.

    Those who want to use violence (solely against property I hope; may I suggest a drone command center?) should organise their own action that is unambiguously unrelated to, and far away from, the Occupy gatherings.

  25. What exactly are they suggesting we do with the cock of the Empire? Lube it with violence and see what kind of a mess it can make?  

  26. This reads too much like the work of an agent provocateur.  It is a caricature of what a true believer might write.  It is designed to make it look like the protestors are violent, and possibly to encourage some violence, in order to justify a larger crack down.  There are many subtle cues.  Notice that when it mentions the police, it always uses the polite, proper word “police” and never calls them anything disrespectful, even while seeming to be angry at them.  That’s odd.   On the other hand it uses very emotional words when talking about the protesters, like “comrades”, and “we wild ones” and “seek the complete annihilation of capitalism”.  This difference is revealing of the unconscious feelings of the person who actually wrote the document; a true protest sympathizer wouldn’t write that way.  Signing it the “Oakland Liberation Front” is rather funny, too; the “liberation front” terminology is so 60’s, and this isn’t even an Oakland centered movement, it is multi-city and even multinational in spirit.

    I thought slipping in the reference to fellow protesters as “comrades” to make it look like a communist influenced protest was silly.  I don’t think the protests have anything to do with communism, but it is the bogeyman of the political right, and they are fond of calling people communists, so it is a revealing detail.  It seems to me that the protests are for the most part anti-communist, actually.  A big part of what they are protesting is the conflation of government with big business, which is an anti-communist sentiment.  The protestors aren’t against business, they are against the fact that powerful businesses have gotten unfair advantages by being in bed with the government.  And they aren’t anarchists, so the whole idea of total transformation and complete annihilation of capitalism isn’t even consistent with the movement.

    There have already been numerous incidents of police or police-sympathizers embedding provocateurs in recent protests, so that is almost certainly what this is.

    1. Is it really probable that this is the action of depraved police attempts to bait violence? I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I think there’s a more parsimonious explanation.

      The protests are obviously a worthy cause, but as Jesus could tell you having a worthy cause doesn’t mean everyone following it shares its high ideals. Somewhere out there a couple hundred kids across America feel powerless and helpless, and desperately want a chance to prove their mettle by duking it out with the powers-that-be–some sort of rite by violence to prove their autonomy. Some of them fall on the right of the US political spectrum, and might do things like bring handguns to public functions insisting it’s their “constitutional right” or attacking doctors who perform abortions. Some of them fall more towards the left, and would love nothing more than to get in a rumble with the police during a protest to prove they’re truly dedicated to the cause and not cowed by “the man”. One of those assholes was evidently handing out a flyer in Oakland; he doesn’t like that everyone but him thinks fighting cops is stupid and counterproductive, so he printed up a sassy tract trying to shame those “peace lovers” into being more combative.

      I’ve met kids like this–usually armchair protesters who don’t have the dedication to stick it out at the camps with a lot of misplaced rage at “the system” without really having any specific grievances. Is it so hard to believe one of them might have made this? We surely don’t need to claim 100% purity of anyone who would take up a banner of protest. As in all human endeavors, some of them are probably douchebags.

    2. > This reads too much like the work of an agent provocateur.  It is
      > a caricature of what a true believer might write.

      I agree with that.  The wording seems way too arch and clever and worked-on.  It doesn’t seem emotionally congruent with someone who cares about the things OWS stands for.  It’s more like ad copy than a protest leaflet.  Seems questionable.

      1. The reason it doesn’t read like someone who cares about OWS and what it stands for is because the author certainly doesn’t. What’s less certain is that the author is a cop. Why not just some fucked up kid who really doesn’t get it and just thinks this is the time to fight cops with impunity?

        1. You may be right, but it doesn’t seem that way to me for the reasons I mentioned above.  If it were some fucked up kid who just wanted to fight cops, you’d see a lot more emotional, hysterical language about the cops, and not about the people the cops are up against.   In this screed, the cops are never degraded, and their methods are described very clearly and technically.  On the other hand, the protesters are described not as like-minded people using the wrong tactics, but as lunatics, and there is no clarity or understanding of their ideas or their methods.   The use of quotes around several motives attributed to the protesters shows that the writer doesn’t himself even think those are to be taken seriously; he can’t even get himself to write them without quotes.  The undercurrent of the letter reads much differently than the surface language.  To me, those differences show that it is written by someone with sympathies toward the police side of the issues, and not toward the protesters’ side of the issues.

          1. You’re right that the emphasis is on what the police tactics are, and that the protesters are generally treated as “other” and the people who need convincing. The author clearly doubts what the protesters are standing for, explicitly calling them out for wanting “UNITY” for the “PEOPLE” but not doing what they needed to.

            Then again, if you were trying to get those “unpaid soldiers” supporting nonviolence to wake up, you would call their loyalty to the cause into question and remind them of the brutal, oppressive tactics being used against them in no uncertain terms. If this person is trying to be reasonable, he might be reluctant to get hysterical about the police, especially since his fellow protesters seem to piss him off more. I don’t think it’s safe to describe something as planted by an agent provocateur just because of a few stylistic details. There are real police abuses out there that deserve our vocal condemnation more, and real people who think of themselves as “supporting OWS” who we should disagree with.

      2. Have you met the true believers? Have you seen actual guides from the people who want to do this sort of thing? Would be middle class white boy revolutionaries?

        This is the exact sort of shit they write. It really is that terrible.  If it is a police plant? They’ve just done a copy and paste of a real thing.

        Now if you really want something fun, the other sort of people who write this way, albeit with more reference to how awesomme their pure white bloodlines are,  are neo-nazis.

        So if you’re gonna go conspiracy, there’s a good one for you.

  27. And here I was hoping to hold the cock of Lady Liberty in my supple hands…

    Welp, I’m going to go enjoy that image.

  28. What strikes me the most is the machismo.

    It’s not about ethics. It’s not about tactics. It’s about cocks.

    And by the way, it’s just plain hypocritical for non-anarchists to accuse anarchists of being violent. If anyone wants to be non-violent, they have to oppose hierarchy and the state. And if this guy wants to be anarchist, he has to give up this pseudo-radical elitism.

  29. I find @boingboing-6484f29e807009da24f4b505abe6a027:disqus ‘s literary analysis compelling – but if, as @occamvanrijn:disqus  suggests, we deploy Mr. Occam’s Slashing Razor of Parsimony(TM), I think the most likely explanation is that it wasn’t written by a cop, but, rather, by some Young Republican asswipe who thinks he’s being very clever.

    After all, that’s how Karl Rove got his start.

    1. Or maybe just a lone, mentally imbalanced person with access to a xerox machine. Wouldn’t be the first.

    2. I think the most likely explanation is that it wasn’t written by a cop, but, rather, by some Young Republican asswipe who thinks he’s being very clever.

      Has anyone tested James O’Keefe’s hands for suppleness?

  30. I do not particularly agree with the wording of this statement (“the cock the empire”? Really?), but I agree with its concepts 100%. Nonviolence is a waste of time. If you want your voice heard in this world, you need to scream at the top of your lungs. If you want to make your dissatisfaction felt, you need to make it felt with a sledgehammer or a shank in the gut.

  31. Oh puhleeze.  The distributor of this leaflet aspires to start a new society?  Which will wind up exactly as repressive as the old one.  No thanks.  Not joining your march OR your occupation.  Byeeee.

  32. I have no doubt that this is legit. I seriously read propaganda just like this every day on certain leftist sites.

    The idea that a cop wrote this is ridiculous. Cops couldn’t fake this because they aren’t at all class-conscious. If they were, they wouldn’t be cops. Breitbart, on the other hand… (but, really, there’s no reason to believe that this was by him).Anyway, I agree with the message of this leaflet. If you think that the bourgeoisie is going to give up just because some people stood outside peacefully, you’re dreaming. Its cops are already out bashing heads. Any “peaceful” protest that has any tiny real effect only does so because of the threat of potential violence. The big peaceful protests that people point to as shining models were ultimately failures. Any seeming success is either a crumb thrown to the proles to prevent a real revolution, or the result is something that the bourgeoisie wanted anyway.

    1. “Cops…aren’t at all class-conscious.”
      Bzzt!  You’re either lying through your teeth or you have no idea what you’re talking about, neither of which is helpful in this conversation.  Hint, take some psych classes or even just do some reading on the socio-psychology of hierarchical environments. 
      Not to mention the rest of your post seems cut from the same cloth as the paper being discussed.  So tell us, why is it exactly that you “read propaganda just like this every day on certain leftist sites”, anyway?

      1. Cops do tend to be class concious.

        They just tend to think of themselves as ordinary working guys and protestors as being part of the rich white guy class. Which was fairly easy for something like the WTO protests but harder for something like OWS.

  33.  You could bag that letter and sell it for fertilizer. The author at best is a worthless instigator, the kind who throws stones from the back of the crowd, the one who starts fights and is never in them. Violence in this case is not going to win over the mainstream and is exactly the thing that makes good copy for the ones who want to keep the status quo . 

  34. I kinda agree with this. How many video’s do we need to see of 1 cop beating a person on the ground while 20 people are standing around unable to do anything because the attacker is wearing a special “uniform and badge.” I would LOVE it if elections worked. I would LOVE it if peaceful protests worked.  They don’t – that’s why we are here. (Do you remember when everyone in the world crowded the streets in protest to not go to war? Remember when Bush laughed at it? ) The last time the people actually changed the corrupt banking system was when we hanged them.  I’d rather see fire on the streets than this all fizzle out because Obama is now giving some students loan relief (or whatever other nonsense they will hand over to keep us docile.)

  35. I suspect this tract is genuine, but regardless of its authenticity and even if it’s the work of an agent provocateur, the idea of violence – defining what exactly it is, whether or not it is justified, who has the right to use it – is an important one.

    Demanding a form of public debate totally bereft of any form of violence whatsoever is a fetich of many who think that non-violence is superior morally, and that public perception will eventually side with the more pacifist elements of any struggle, as they are seen as the victims – but this is only partly true. Those who denounce violence on the part of protesters will often ignore and deem legitimate much worse forms of violence which are pervasive in society, which we all tend to accept without thinking about it – war, prison, systematic discrimination, extreme poverty, etc. The idea here is that the protesters should be held to a higher standard than the agents of police force, and show the example.

    Violence will remove the debate from any type of real dialogue into a space where only those who have the most force at their disposal can win, rather than those who have the best arguments. Therefore the state, which has an almost unlimited supply of violence, will always prevail, and there’s no point in trying to play that game. But the line between arguments and brute force is not such a clear cut one, either. Legal arguments can be a form of brute force. See, for example :
    How Liberals Kill :

    There are 2 questions : 1) whether or not violence is justified 2) whether or not violence is effective
    These are two very different questions. In the case of the police (probably deliberately) targeting former soldier Olson of Veterans for Peace, the result was to backfire and add fuel to the fire, turning public opinion more in favor of the occupiers. In this case, for the police, it was unjustified, but it may have been effective, as it showed people that they mean business – a form of deterrence. If some of the protesters resort to violence in order to counter the already superior violence of the state security forces, there will probably be an escalation, and the likely victims will be mostly the occupiers – This does NOT mean, however, that the occupiers would be responsible for all of the ensuing violence.

    To systematically refuse any form of violence against a much larger violence – police forces, teargas, systemic injustice and stupidity – is very shallow and immoral in my opinion.

    2 things to read :
    Peter Gelderloos, How Non-Violence Protects the State :
    What ‘diversity of tactics’ really means for Occupy Wall Street :

  36. As soon as someone says ‘Are you with us or against us?’ I am automatically against them.

    “This world divides into people who think there’s two kinds of folks, and those who don’t.”

  37. Multinational corporations control the means of production, and even though the Supreme Court seems to think they are people, it’s pretty hard to s—kick an entity that only exists because enough people believe it does.

    Also, I’m very tired of reading the comments posted by testosterone-fueled primates beating their chests as they talk about s—tkicking and shivs and sledgehammers. It’s easy to talk, and it’s much easier to destroy than to build. I actually think OWS has built something — awareness — that is much more powerful than hypothetical violence.

    1. Well, I told you if you got lost that we were meeting at the Liberty Testicles but you’re still at the Freedom Cock.

      There’s a vas deferens between the Liberty Testicles and the Freedom Cock.

  38. I believe in peace, and I believe in violence. If someone swings on me with a club, I fight. I do not peacefully take the beating, it is not my nature to do so.  This is why I abstain from attending in person, but support how ever I can.  Now is not the time for violence, and thus those similar in nature as I will do a disservice to the OWS with our presence at the protests.  Now is not the time for violence, and I sincerely hope that the OWS can bring about solid change before the need for violent revolt happens. 

    I agree with the idea mentioned earlier that we should try to track down who wrote this. It’s good to know if this is from the fringes, or if it is a Pinkerton trying to incite violence in an attempt to validate their eagerness for violence.

  39. Ahem: “Yeah. You’re right, ye who gave me this flyer. I am not a member of your tribe. OR the ‘other’ tribe. Through an ‘old way’ of knowing, you could refer to me as a ‘wood tiger’. Pretty solitary member of the species. Look up my tendencies. Having done so you will understand that I am now asking you to (please) be so kind as to get the f*** out of my range. Thank you.” (saunters off into thick foliage…)

Comments are closed.