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Forum Post: Occupy: Embrace What you Are!

Posted 12 years ago on Dec. 21, 2011, 3:38 p.m. EST by Anachronism (225)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Written by an online acquaintance. Thought it should be passed along

Since the beginning of the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City and around the US and the globe, there has been a constancy of criticism coming from the entrenched establishment and its would-be supporters. It’s easy enough to ignore the banality and mindlessness of the critiques coming from this camp—critiques aimed at the supposèd lack of direction amongst Occupiers, or their supposed lack of employment, or their supposed lack of hygiene.

What is frustrating is the sideline coaching from non-participants who think themselves far too clever to get involved, but who nonetheless feel they know the exact direction and focus that the movement must take. It surprises me that Occupy Wall Street’s original impetus somehow slides over, under, and around the attention of those who proclaim to know what would be best for it. It surprises me more when Occupy participants miss the obvious reality of what I believe their movement is, so I will say it plainly here: Occupy Wall Street and its sister protests around the world are a cultural resistance.

It is forgivable to observe the name “Occupy Wall Street,” to see that the original protesters planted themselves as close to the heart of the financial death cult as the enforcement arm of the state would allow, and to arrive at the conclusion that all Occupy efforts are a reaction to monetary malfeasance, both public and private. However, it is clear with even a cursory study of the class demographics and ideological spectrum present that Occupy Movement groups are resisting a broader cultural meme—of which the recent fiduciary debauchery on Wall Street and in Washington is but one outgrowth.

Occupy protests have targeted everything from Goldman Sachs and Bank of America’s recent abundance of criminality, to homelessness, the degradation of the environment, the corporate influence in politics, the toxicity of the food supply, foreign wars, domestic repression, foreclosures, Wal-Mart, big Pharma, etc, ad nauseam. This plethora of targets, this seemingly endless hit list, is not as the critics smugly proclaim: a lack of focus or meandering of thought. Rather, it is an acknowledgment of the greater cultural malaise.

The challenge of focus for Occupy protests is not necessarily one of targets or tactics. Though strategic maneuvering of their members to the pinch points and bottle necks of the dominant culture is a conversation of constant necessity, more pressing is the discovery of the poisonous heart of the dominant culture. What is the common thread which grafts together the banks, the oil companies, the degradation of the planet’s ecosystems, the drugging of children, the indefinite detention of “terror suspects,” and the imprisonment of non-violent drug possessors?

To me, it seems clear that the dominant culture is a culture of domination. The dominant culture, that is — the culture of industrial civilization, that is — our culture — is a culture that rests on a foundation of violence, exploitation, slavery, and brutality. In the privileged West, it is harder to see this than in, say, the Niger Delta, the Brazilian rain forests, or in the sweatshops of Asia. To be sure, the barbarity of our culture is present domestically, but as most modern, “civilized” people have lost connectivity with the natural world, they likely don’t see their city, suburb, or local shopping mall as an exploitation of the land. Further, they take little notice of the flowers, the salamanders, the moths, or any of the over two hundred species which go extinct every day on Earth, including those who forever exit their own communities. Somehow, the exported violence of the tar sands mining operations in Alberta Canada, the Pacific or Atlantic garbage “islands,” or the petroleum wastes of Azerbaijan or newly liberated Iraq remain invisible to those who benefit from these graveyards the most.

Perhaps you don’t see the congruity between environmental destruction and the revolving door that exists between government and finance. Perhaps you don’t see ours as a culture of domination, of violence, of exploitation. Let’s look at it another way.

This culture is one in which it is not only acceptable, but celebrated, to destroy life for profit. Indeed, the only way to profit, the only way to generate material “wealth,” is by killing. A tree doesn’t become lumber unless you cut it down. Cows don’t become McBurger filling until they have been executed (and of course, tortured). Even humans don’t become laborers until they have been enclosed into a capitalist marketplace, off of and separate from the land, where they must choose between labor and starvation.

Thus there is a price tag hung around the neck of every living thing. Since the only laudable goal according to cultural dogma is the accumulation of excess capital, it is axiomatic that this culture will cut down more trees every year, drag more and bigger nets across the ocean floor every year, lay more concrete every year, burn more petroleum every year, in a never ending quest to convert the living planet into the abstract object of our insane festishizations: money.

Though it may be a bit heavy for some, it must be stated; capitalism is reaching its endgame. The growth requirement which capitalism has built into itself is now colliding headlong with the limits of the natural world, which provides all of the raw stock required by industry. Like an organism undergoing ketosis, the system is beginning to devour itself for sustenance. Governments create imaginary capital to patch over privately created black holes of debt, while financial institutions feast on the accumulated “wealth” of the poorer strata of western society by mechanisms like foreclosure, stagnant wages, increasing tuitions, increasing interest payments, layoffs, and every other conceivable and now commonplace “austerity measure.”

It is this amalgam of symptoms of collapse that the people of the “first” world are now experiencing. Of course, these first-worlders have lived on the backs of exploited peoples, animals, and land bases for generations, all too happy to consume to their heart’s content in a drunken orgy of self-righteous hedonism. (In their defense, the masters of capital did scar these people at birth with the brand of consumption, bombarding them day and night with self defeating advertisements and a ceaseless campaign of pro-authoritarian, anti-life propaganda.)

This monstrous architecture has not only built into an impossible growth requirement, but also a series of premises concerning the validity of hierarchy. This is a culture of domination. Our culture regularly promotes and lauds the violence committed by armies and police against civilians. It regularly promotes and lauds violence committed by men against women and children. It regularly promotes and lauds the violence committed by humans against animals, against plants, against water, soil, and air. This culture reviles any violence in the reverse direction. Violence may not flow up the hierarchy without being met by immense over-pressures of force. Those at the top and their mercenary defenders will not allow their status to be questioned, let alone challenged. Hence, we witness the unfounded violence so far committed against Occupy protesters, despite their near uniform docile behavior.

Now that the maw of imperial capitalism is fixing itself upon the white people of the first world, now that a future of more luxury and entitlement is not a guarantee, there is a revelation to the true nature of the culture appearing to those willing to see it. The chant “banks got bailed out, we got sold out” rings of this dawning truth.

The system isn’t here for you—you are here for it. You are to turn your cog, move your little piece of the machine, keep it marching, keep it killing, and the moment you become a net drain on the architecture of this society, you find your place in the cast iron furnace next to the felled redwood, the poisoned aquifer, and the Bangladeshi slave. You will be chewed up and spit out like the expendable component that you are. It’s no longer just the exotic foreigners in some far away land who are getting in the way of profit, now it is you. Now it’s your family, your co-workers, your town that stands between a corporation and black ink on the bottom line.

This is the intellectual hurdle before the Occupy Movement. Do they dare shine a light on the built-in flaws of capitalism? Do they dare indict long held “self evident truths,” and stand united behind the idea that another world truly is possible? Themselves organized in an egalitarian, horizontal fashion, making decisions by consensus and demanding respect for all participants—do Occupy Movements dare recognize their anarchism, and move forward with stolid conviction that it is not merely a handful of nasty players they are fighting, not merely a corrupt electoral process, but toxic imaginings of power and right in the minds of the masters, and indeed, in the minds of all men born into the belly of this twisted device?

At the moment, many Occupy groups and members will hold up their hands and soften their voices to meekly proclaim, “Now, I’m not against capitalism or rich people,” instead hiding behind a desire for “financial fairness.” The problem is that one cannot, with full education on the topic, simultaneously believe in capitalism and financial fairness. Volumes on this issue have been written by men smarter and more articulate than myself, so I will spare the reader an extrapolation on this topic, hopefully sufficing to say that the logic of capitalism dictates that were one man capable of accumulating the capital to do so, he could buy all of the land in the world. Any logic that leads to that conclusion is not logic at all, and must be abandoned by all sane people.

Read the rest: http://growfoodraisehell.tumblr.com/



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[-] 1 points by GypsyKing (8708) 12 years ago

I might add, don't be afraid of words. When you are called communist, socialist, dirty hippie etc., etc. just realize that it means you're getting to them. It's a good sign, really.

[-] 1 points by Anachronism (225) 12 years ago

Yes, we need to create a culture of revolt. While always highlighting social injustices, corruption and the skyrocketing inequality in wealth distribution.

[-] 1 points by GypsyKing (8708) 12 years ago

This was an excellent post. It forms the argument for OWS explicitly. Now we must find ways to concentrate our energies so as to produce the most effective change in the shortest possible period of time, because our very survival is on the line. The question - how do we do this?


[-] 1 points by ARod1993 (2420) 12 years ago

We don't need to strip out the system we have, we need to clean it back up and toss the troublemakers out of it. We've dealt with messes this big before, and even though there were always losses and casualties (that's part of the definition of a crisis) we've made it out without trying to start from scratch. Capital is essentially power when you get down to it. Like power, it is neither good nor evil; it merely seeks to reproduce as much as possible. In the hands of responsible people who know what they're doing this tendency can be used to produce truly great things that would have been impossible to create otherwise. However, when the people handling the capital are out for personal gain, or for that matter believe that they should be following the money rather than directing it, you get what we got in 2008.

There are actual concrete steps that we as a country can take both to fix the crisis and make serious strides toward longer-term environmental sustainability that I'm pretty sure you and I could agree with that wouldn't require that kind of drastic regime change to implement, starting with campaign finance reform and re-regulation of Wall Street and continuing to reform of the tax code, review of the defense budget, and a number of other programs designed to get our poor out of poverty and return our economy to a mostly self-sufficient state.

[-] 1 points by Anachronism (225) 12 years ago

We cannot have BAU minus the corrupt political class/corporate controlled state. Society needs to ask some very deep and honest questions if we are to have a healthy society. The US and really the west in general has been in decay for decades - on multiple levels.

This decay is systemic and can't be fixed with policy.

[-] 1 points by ARod1993 (2420) 12 years ago

It really depends on the policies you're talking about considering. If you're looking at a cosmetic quick fix then you're right; it won't do anything other than soothe our collective ego. That said, there is an entire spectrum of responses that stand between "loudly and ceremoniously do nothing" and "throw it all out the window" and we should look first to the middle of that spectrum. I'm going to put a bunch of links below referring to specific policies I want to see us try; would you mind checking them out and getting back to me?

Considering that the last time things were this bad or worse was during the Great Depression, and considering that the New Deal had a dramatic positive effect on this economy, I would advise a retooled New Deal (a New Deal 2.0, if you will) to help fix the mess we're in now and help us prevent it from happening again. The whole thing is too long to place in one post here, so here are the links:

Overview of the entire proposal: http://www.themultitude.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=47&t=184

Rationale for Section III: http://www.themultitude.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=23&p=119#p119

Rationale for sections IV and V: http://occupywallst.org/forum/everybody-walk-away-from-your-debt/#comment-246898

Rationale and possible project ideas for Section VI: http://occupywallst.org/forum/revive-the-ccc-and-the-wpa/ http://occupywallst.org/forum/could-high-speed-rail-be-the-answer/#comment-197932

Draft of policy ideas concerning Sections VII and VIII: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1gytiI1qwPDpnLQ8cRmNXoJFmiy4ob3n6yjqfBHpBH8M/edit?hl=en_US&pli=1

Note: this is just a draft and hasn't really been cleaned up or codified.

Order of implementation: Obama seems to have started on IV and V, on a much smaller scale than we hoped, but we'll see if we can widen it. VI is apparently the whole point of the OWS Jobs for All demand (and Kucinich's NEED Act is a step in that direction), so we'll see how that goes. VII and VIII have the broadest support, so we'll see how we can or can't force the issue during the 2012 election season. I-III may wind up being really hard to implement but hey, it's an election year. As to how I propose making any of this count, see here: http://occupywallst.org/forum/we-want-change-thats-great-now-how-do-we-implement/#comment-205283

General essay addressing taxation and spending policies: http://www.themultitude.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=47&t=585

[-] 1 points by Anachronism (225) 12 years ago

That does not nearly address the totality of a clusterfuck modern industrial capitalism is. The capitalist world system is in decline until something new takes it place. There is really no stopping it, though, no doubt, there are positive reforms that could slow it's decay and death.

[-] 1 points by AFarewellToKings (1486) 12 years ago

OWS stands on the shoulders of giants and has the keys in it's hands. How many more times will this opportunity come along? How much longer can we afford to wait?

"I'm a farmer. I know a good machine from a crappy one (read Egypt). But a good machine in the hands of a lousy operator leads to damaged equipment and loss of crop leading to debts and hunger. We're coming out with better machines all the time but keeping the machine I have running productively means I can acquire a state-of-the-art machine sooner. So let's fix the machine we have (the ballot box is your tool box) while we discuss the new machine.


[-] 1 points by Anachronism (225) 12 years ago

I like the TVP/TZM, it's socialism with an integrated and institutional resource management system. It is going in the correct direction.