Thursday, October 6, 2011

Down at the Occupation

There were no riot cops, as rumor had it there would -- or might -- be. Instead, there were four horse police. I don't know how it is with horse police in your area, but in this area, getting out the horse police is a serious matter, but typically it is not a threatening one. The horse police, whether used by the city or the state, are usually there to protect the crowd, as they did today.

What did they do? They assisted an unpermitted march from the plaza to the Capitol and around the Capitol Park and back to the plaza. Later, I assume they assisted another march to the Bank of America and Wells Fargo buildings on the Capitol Mall (I say "assume" because I wasn't on that march having hurt my foot on the earlier march. The perils of old farts marching.) Essentially what they did was ride ahead of the marchers and block vehicular traffic so that the march could proceed without (much) slowdown.

There were patrol officers along the route, as well as some bicycle police, but there were no incidents, even when the march stopped and moved on to the Capitol grounds (again, unpermitted) for a brief rally.

The crowd seemed to have doubled upon returning to the plaza; around a thousand left the plaza at about 10am; there were, by my estimation, close to 2,000 when we returned.

After a brief assembly, the crowd decided to go march on the banks previously mentioned. As I was infirm due to injury, I stayed in the plaza. When the marchers returned, quite triumphantly to huge cheers, there were some speeches.

I recorded some of them, but it will be a little while before I can process them. This occupation does not yet use the People's Microphone, so it is often difficult to hear the speakers, even when they use a megaphone. The General Assembly process is still in the embryonic stage as most of the participants don't quite understand the mechanics of it, though many understand the purpose and function. At this point, proposals are few, and I was glad to see there were few votes as well. They're working out the process on the hoof as it were, just as it should be in my view.

This crowd was very diverse age-wise, gender-wise, and ethnically. Kind of like Sacramento itself. There were a number of homeless people -- who would be in the plaza anyway, for it is a favored day-time hangout. But today, they joined and they were welcomed into the occupation. If anybody had got the willies over it, I didn't see it.

The only action proposals that were adopted before I left were to occupy the plaza indefinitely, to stage the march to the Capitol and later to the banks on Capitol Mall, and to stage daily marches to the banks, to the Federal buildings and to the various state government buildings, focusing especially on the Department of Justice.

For it is Justice, more than anything, that the people involved in this occupation want. Social justice, economic justice, and legal justice. There is no statement of demands, and at the meetings today it was decided to coordinate with New York's General Assembly on the development of a Declaration and any demands that may eventually come to the fore. But for right now, the focus is on Justice.

If I had my way, the focus would be on Dignity, Justice, Community and Peace.

Something tells me, we're gonna get there.

And no one can stop us.

A selection of pictures; more will go on line eventually...

This last one is actually taken from Anonymous's video -- "Tipping Point" -- and I believe the sign-holder is in Liberty Plaza in New York.


  1. Pretty cool. And you've never sounded more hopeful. I think it's contagious!!

    . . .

    Very good idea to try to link up with other cities, reach consensus, and shoot for dignity, social and economic justice, and peace. The human network meets Solidarity!

    Can't let this be co-opted, either. Majorly important.

  2. Co-option or hijacking is the major concern right now. Some of what's been going on makes me very nervous. For example, this morning, the local newswipe -- a McClatchy paper, in fact, the original McClatchy paper -- had a lot of coverage and editorial comment about the uprising.

    They obviously want to see the TeaBaggers and the Occupation joining forces -- to... force government to pay attention to the People. Now that sounds good on the surface, maybe. But it is a dogwhistle here, because much of the political energy that both created and hijacked the TeaBaggers on behalf of the oligarchs and plutocrats originated right here in Sacramento, and many of the players in that little psycho-drama are not only still around, they would love to figure out a way to subvert and hijack this movement too. They're very good at what they do.

    Primarily what they do is manipulate media.

    I got nervous about the arrests last night because that psycho-drama was so carefully staged for the media. Civil disobedience and the potential for arrest has been at the forefront of planning and discussion from the get-go, not just here but everywhere, but I was really surprised to see how thoroughly thought through and coordinated the action turned out to be. This did not happen by accident.

    So... I'm actually wondering whether there already is a hijack under way.

    ♫Paranoia strikes deep...♪

  3. There are very subtle ways to hijack it as well -- like simply taming it. I'm reading otherwise well-meaning bloggers saying it's not really "anti-capitalist" to say blah blah blah. As if being anti-capitalist is a bad thing and we need to be afraid of the term. Similar, of course, to being afraid of the term "class warfare" when that's exactly the issue. The wealthy waging that against the rest of us, etc.

    Running away from those terms helps keep the narrative in a "safe" region in the middle. Inoffensive, which is on its way to entirely forgettable. Those in the movement should never do this and they should make sure the media aren't speaking for them by taming the narrative.

    Another instance: Caught the tale end of an NPR discussion this morning about the Occupy Wall Street movement. Two women CEOs and someone supposedly in the OW movement. The narrator mentioned that more and more people are bringing up the disparity in CEO versus rank and file wages, and they didn't in the past. I thought immediately that he made it sound like a groundless complaint by NOT talking about the massive increase in the gap over the last few decades. No context. As if, suddenly, people are just now complaining about some "natural" inequality in the system -- rather than waking up to the obscene ACCELERATION in gap levels. No discussion in falling rank and file wages versus draconian increases in executive pay, etc.

    In short, the narrator effectively tamed the position of the Occupy Wall Street folks and made the two CEOs sound "reasonable". Everyone was "reasonable", so we can all just forget about this thing and go on with the business of America, right?

    . . . .

    In short, it's going to be tough to fight overt hijacking by actual enemies of the movement, as well as by "well-meaning" but truly ignorant "friends".

    . . . .

    The fight is more than worth it!!

    Take care

  4. The issue of hijacking is very high on the list of topics I've noticed among all the Occupations I'm following and in the mainstream as well, to the point where it's starting to seem a little overwrought.

    I'm reminded a bit of all the cautions about "provocateurs" in Eisenstein's "Октябрь" -- in fact, the warnings are all over the place throughout the early Revolutionary Soviet literature. And they were justified. The Bolsheviks were under assault from every angle from long before they stormed the Winter Palace. Afterwards, the assaults just intensified.

    So is that what will happen here? Well, you notice the efforts to "tame" the movement -- at least for public consumption. To drain it of any sort of Revolutionary fervor or ferment. It's not just the media doing this -- though they are willing and eager to do so and they're as frightened as any other corporatist of what is going on. Some of it, maybe most, is actually coming from the movement itself. It's subtle, but it is working. For example, at the demonstration yesterday, there were a number of people dressed in costumes: business attire, khakis and polos, clothes to go shopping in. Etc. It was quite a scene. And of course they were doing it to mock and defuse the "dress code" issue. The arrests, when they finally came, were very carefully choreographed, by people who knew how to do this -- without either antagonizing or scaring the public. You'll hear a lot of Marxist talk if you're there, but that will never make it into the media. You'll hear talk of revolutionary/evolutionary growth, but the media doesn't know what to do with that. They like it simple. So they'll look for -- and feature -- the rabble rousing and the quirky which sounds and looks pretty familiar. They'll find plenty of that too. And they will be reassured -- I saw it happen over and over yesterday -- that these are just normal people who want justice and a restoration of the American Dream (or something like that). Just normal people...

    If the movement-becoming-revolution succeeds, however, it will be a global revolution unlike any that's happened to date.

    What's going on now is a phase. Whether it will get any farther, I don't know. But as I think I've said here (I forget sometimes where I've left comments and posts) as long as they stay with the participatory-direct democracy model -- which they are still trying to figure out how to work here -- they cannot be hijacked.

    It's brilliant.