I was over at the Occupy Philly Media website; posting replies and engaging in discussion. I made some points that I wanted to re-post here:
This movement is based on liberal values: egalitarianism, inclusiveness, etc… ; and ideally liberal solutions: corporate accountability, enforced regulations, a general push back against neoliberalism.
If you believe in these things; especially here in the US, you are a minority- in every sense of the word. Ever been to a party where you’re the only _____ in a room full of _____?
“We” simply don’t have the numbers. I’d put the number of people who “truly” support liberal values and solutions within this country at around a maximum of 15% -20% of the total population.
So as you can see this puts us up against a whole barrage of opposition from people who “kinda-sorta understand and agree” to people who want to “straight destroy everything and everyone who aren’t them”.
The left has no power outside of people and we lack the numbers and all the cards are stacked against us- institutions, culture; and capital that flows through everything, are all controlled and arranged in a way to ensure that they are reproduced; which has ultimately resulted in our present day situation.
I think we’re just going to have to wait until people suffer more within this country and are forced to endure austerity measures and other restrictions to the material aspects of people’s lives. Then maybe culture will change and people will be more open to working towards “different” solutions to the problems of our times.
Never underestimate the power of stubborn, cynical, and selfish assholes to keep us stuck in the same shit generation after generation.
“Part of why the movement has been so important is that it has in some ways redefined what’s possible and actually opened up a visible conversation about how our political and economic systems don’t serve the vast majority of people in this country.”
I agree. We are talking; but, none of this is new…
Over the past few decades, social science research has routinely documented the trends that we are seeing and highlighting today; income and wealth inequality, increased amounts of neoliberal informed policy, stagnant wages, increased costs of higher education, etc…
“There’s definitely some kind of a political awakening going on in this country that’s neither liberal nor conservative (I certainly wouldn’t call myself a liberal, not to knock anybody who does). What we don’t know is how deep it runs and what kind of effect it will have in the long run.”
What brought people into the streets is directly related to the financial crisis and failed hope in Obama. The kicker is that even this was not enough to mobilize the left in a “mass” way… More suffering and hardship will probably be needed.
You are liberal by virtue of your interest in this movement; its just that the terms “liberal”/”progressive” have been so tarnished in the past few decades, due to the rise and dominance of neoconservatives and neoliberalism, that few want to take on the perceived liabilities associated with those terms. I imagine that the terms “liberal” / “progressive” will become more fashionable in the coming years as more and more people are unable to hold any identification with neoconservative or neoliberal policy- after all, you look silly talking about the health and interests of corporate America, especially considering their actions, when you have no money in your pockets, you can’t feed your kids or buy a house, etc…
Over at the Occupy Philadelphia media site I made a post attempting to provide direction. It largely went unnoticed. Who knows what the future will bring. The following is my post:
ONE ISSUE NOW!!!!!!!!!!!
This movement has jumped into a pool of big issues and we’re drowning.
Our working groups are spread too thin and they are headed in too many different directions. Direct actions have addressed many issues but our numbers are decreasing. Our encampment is experiencing precariousness. We need one issue that we can really impact here in Philadelphia.
STOP thinking about the Spokes Council restructuring…
STOP worrying about the city…
STOP talking about anything else…
Starting now, let’s use the GA to come to a CONSENSUS about what OUR one issue will be…
At the GA let’s only talk about this one issue. Let’s put CoCo on hiatus. There will be no leaders. The only thing that will matter is one issue that is bigger than any of us. We should use every non-violent tactic available to address this issue. We should show everyone the power of collective action and the strength of a unified voice. Many across the nation are in a similar situation and are waiting… Let’s start it here.
We need to create change now. We need to decide upon this one issue now.
Spread this idea. Talk about this within your working groups. Bring this up at GA.
With a small win and a real change to the status quo we will only continue to grow larger and from there we can take on additional issues and restructure as necessary…
Around the middle of last month, 13 Oct. 2011, I tried to get this blogger that I follow to do a column on OWS documenting the postmodern effects seen within the demonstrations. I figured like its manifestation in other forms, the characteristics of postmodernism would be initially met with praise and viewed as emancipatory but then eventually become a cage… The blogger never picked up on my idea so I’d figured I post it here…
“… I have a post idea that maybe you could run with… I don’t have time or an outlet… but, I’ve been attending these demonstrations in NYC and Philly and I’ve been having some thoughts.
Basically, I think you could position the Occupy Wall Street demonstration and the ones that followed across the country as postmodern protests. Comparisons can be made between the freedom in postmodernism’s break from rules and forms as an initial positive benefit, as evidenced in early postmodern art, and then later as a negative consequence or hurdle to overcome (if that’s even possible) due to a lack of grounding. The leaderless, formlessness of the demonstrations could be seen initially as a benefit; however, I can see that freedom becoming a negative in the future.
Characteristics include formlessness, indebtedness/references to the past- in terms of dress, style, and tactics (pastiche), the lack of “demands,” etc… Stifling self-awareness… and the policing of political correctness so literally every group is included… Also, there’s something to be said about the inability for the future or direction of this movement to be articulated. And you could throw in something about celebrities showing up at the park…
…I think there’s something to the protesters’ complete self-awareness with the role they’re playing and their position in the historical continuum. I’ve come across more people concerned with being a part of history or making a mark for the sake of making a mark than people who are actually strongly concerned with changing or challenging something- like the criminality of financial capitalists and their role in the financial crisis.
…and there’s also this complete techno fetishism that seems to be prevalent…”
Walking in Circles; Raising Awareness about Raising Awareness.
It was on a Sunday night when a he grabbed the microphone and found his place on the small ramshackle stage; illuminated against the night by a primitive light fixture constructed from odds and ends. “Hey!” he yelled. “We have an exciting week coming up this week! On Tuesday, we’re going to have a direct action event against Comcast. See that big shiny building over there…” he proceeded to point with enthusiasm to a tall building in the near distance while heads in the crowd turned in response. “Do you know who paid for the construction of that building?” he asked. The night air was a cool forty-nine degrees as silence was heard from the crowd. Silence which the speaker seemed to relish for it provided a perfect transition for what he had to say next. With a pointed finger and an extended arm he targeted an individual in the crowd. “You did!!!” he shouted then smiled. The targeted individual looked surprised as he captured the crowds’ eyes and attention. The speaker then targeted another individual on the other side of the crowd. “…and YOU PAID for the construction of THAT BUILDING!!!” he continued and then he pointed to himself, “…and I PAID for the construction of that building. WE ALL DID. TAX PAYERS PAID for the construction of that building… That building represents millions of OUR dollars spent. And do you know how much money Comcast pays in taxes each year here in Philadelphia?” he asked. “Zero!” he answered, “Comcast pays nothing in taxes!” The speaker spoke with conviction and intensity like a Sunday preacher. “Do you know how much money Comcast’s CEO, Brain Roberts, is paid every hour that he works?” There was more silence then the speaker said the following words with a slow motion drawl in a soft cushioning tone, “Fifteeeeen thooousaaand dooolllaarssss.” He continued, “Their CEO is paid FIFTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS for every hour that he works. Fifteen thousand dollars!” He repeated the dollar amount several times, “Fifteen thousand dollars.” The speaker went on to make a few more points and then proceed to give a final overview of the coming week’s itinerary before he handed off the microphone, stepped out of the light, and walked off the stage.
A young woman took the stage next and with a soft tone she began to mumble into the microphone something about the need for the formation of a women’s caucus to discuss and address the emergence of covert and overt manifestations of troublesome sexism within the communal space. …sexism rooted in patriarchal ideology’s desire to naturalize and thereby disguise and deny legitimate concerns over inequalities and other problematic issues that exist between men and women.
I had to step back and exit the scene. It was Sunday night and I faced an impending fifty hour work week of sit down, shut up, nonsense drudgery. I couldn’t listen or participate anymore. I had to walk away.
Are You Aware Yet? Now Are You Aware???
The purpose of the above illustration is to highlight the central importance that has been placed, within activist communities, on education and on the raising of the public’s awareness of issues as an impetus to change. In short, I think the emphasis placed on raising awareness results in misspent energy. Also, it seems that anymore, the goal of raising awareness often inadvertently becomes an end in and of itself.
Here’s the thing… most people already have a basic understanding of the problems that plague our society, especially in this information age; they just don’t care. This needs to be accepted so that those who want to be active in change processes can understand and get over the fact that a large number of people simply don’t give a damn about the world; regardless of how much compelling information is made available to convince them to think otherwise. People need to stop throwing energy into the black hole that is indifference. Once this happens we can stop having the same conversations. When I stood at the meeting illustrated above, with the guy talking about corporate tax loop holes and amoral CEO compensation and with the young woman talking about forming a caucus to discuss and examine the existence of patriarchy and its henchman, sexism, as if they were new concepts which should evoke surprise, interest, or outrage; I couldn’t help but think, here we go again…
So here we have OPEN QUESTIONS…
OPEN QUESTIONS is an open forum for pressing questions, seldom asked elsewhere, that beg to be answered. I don’t have the answers do you?? This is the first in an ongoing series.
1.) If the average OWS protester could be “magically” placed into the now much bandied about 1%; would he do anything different from what one per centers are currently doing; or have done in the past?
2.) Within the contemporary cultural climate, does art, music, politics or anything outside of paid work, maintain its relevance to individuals past their early twenties?
3.) Since love isn’t real, what are all of these couples doing running around together?
4.) What’s worse, Stalin or Mao’s overt tyranny or the quiet ideological tyranny that has run rampant within American society from its start which seeks to turn man into machine and turn profitable all forms of relations which transpire between men?
“I need some answers here…
you’re going to have to do some talking.”