Monday, October 3, 2011

Idly Noodling


Woke up this morning with a somewhat depressing vision of the near future of the Occupations.

A headline reads:
"A Thousand Dismal Campfires"

The body of the piece is the story of all these wet and freezing Occupiers around the country, with special emphasis on the coldest places like Chicago and Minneapolis, Buffalo (brrr) and what have you, where a handful of protesters continue their pitiful Occupations around scattered campfires of abandoned cardboard signs. Occupy: What For?

Yes, well. We know the media will be reporting like that no matter what. It is what they do, especially the higher up the food chain you get. They have to be dismissive of anything that either isn't them or doesn't pay them.

The media, the major mass media at any rate, has never been the kind of "fair" and "objective" -- won't say "balanced" for the obvious reasons -- Americans like to pretend or imagine it used to be. It never was. I've frequently used Time Magazine as an example of bias and contempt for ordinary people and straight out corporatist/government propaganda and lies from its very first issue until today. Its style has changed -- it used to be a lot sharper and wittier -- but it has always been what it is, always done what it does. Why would anyone think it was ever "fair" and "objective?"

And so it is with the NYT and the rest of the Big Newspapers, all the national television news, and so on. It's always been pretty much as annoying and biased and vapid and celebrity obsessed and wrong as it is today.

This always comes as a surprise to people who believe -- sincerely -- that back in their day, or at some other time, the media was "better." If we could only get back to that time, things would be fine for the rest of us.

Uh. No. There never was such a time. The major mass media have always served the needs and interests of their sponsors.

Always. That's pretty dismal, isn't it?

The media issue continues to come up with regard to the Occupations because they still "aren't covering us." Except they are, especially local media, and in some cases quite extensively and relatively honestly. The point I would make is that you don't necessarily want all that much coverage from the major mass media. There is an alternative media, and you really want your coverage, and that's where it hasn't quite reached a kind of critical mass.

There's still a lot of naysaying and negativity where there should be interest and support, especially in the "legacy" alt media (heh) and the blogosphere.

This Movement is the start of the Future for all of us. If you're a Doomer, then nothing anyone does makes any difference, we're all dead in the end anyway, the sooner, perhaps, the better. "Let the children play. Nobody cares."

Well, I'd say that's wrong. Very many do care, and they are doing their part, whatever they can, to offer the young people in the van of this Movement, this Rebellion-Becoming-Revolution, their support and encouragement. Instead of a thousand dismal campfires, it's more like a fire under the butts of apathy.


I like The Stimulator -- who I would never have found if it hadn't been for the Livestream of the #OccupyWallStreet action -- for he is sassy and right about most things and he doesn't give a shit whether you like it or not. "Good Morning, runaway slaves." Or just plain slaves.

Of course, I will tire of him in due time, I always do. But for now, he's a tonic for all the apathy that still rules the land. He doesn't give you any hope at all, he just tells it like it is and tells you it's time to do something about it.

The more who do, the more who are doing it.

For some reason it reminds me of something I would have seen or done or picked up and pondered in the University of Washington district of Seattle back in the day. Well, yes. Seattle. I used to go there quite frequently but haven't been there for several years. For a time, the University was my chief hangout. There is a vast open square, paved with red brick, called -- appropriately -- Red Square, in the midst of the campus, and it's where events like #OccupyEverything should be taking place. But I understand they went down to Westlake Park instead. Oh, for cripes sake, I thought.

Westlake Park was sort of the central focus of the Battle in Seattle in 1999, so it has a certain memorial quality about it, and it is where the people are downtown. But still, Red Square at the University is just visually wonderful. In a kind of scary way. It is so huge. And the buildings around it are enormous. It is so outscaled, it practically gives you vertigo.

Right. Everyone wants to be a critic, don't they? Westlake will do.


Yeah, right, sure. Who cares any more?

Contrariwise, the #occupywallstreet movement-becoming-revolution is trying to say, among other things, that everything is connected to everything else, and every one is connected to every one else, and the more you atomize and individualize issues and people, the less, inevitably, you can get done.

All for all, instead of all against all.

Strange concept, isn't it?

Well, yes. That's part of what is so attractive about the movement to so many different kinds of people.

Consciousness raising is a big part of the process.

Eek. The Process. Eek! Participatory Democracy is HARD. Not everyone can do it. Not everyone should do it. I'm serious. I love the model being used. I think it is great. It lets everyone have a say and contribute what they can, when and how they can, and it values all participants. It does not exploit anyone, yet it gets a tremendous amount of social good done, something that is becoming more and more problematic or impossible according to standard operational models. Since the participatory model being utilized is not based on the survival of the original organizers or organization but is instead an organic evolutionary mechanism, it can never become an institution. Yay.

But doing things this way is frustrating, aggravating, inefficient and appallingly difficult.

It connects everything to everything else instead of separating everything into discreet pockets of self-serving and interest, but when you see the connections, you also see how huge the job to be done is, and there is an instinctive negative response. OMG, we can never do this, not in a million years! Run away!

Well. No. It has to be done. And it can be. And it will be. Take your time, don't overdo, learn from your mistakes, grow and flourish. What's necessary will be done.

While I was participating in the organizing meeting for the local #occupyeverything action on Saturday, for example -- and it is just a tiny example of what happens, what can happen -- the person designated scribe for the time and location working group I was part of (oh, my! self organization! who'd a thunk?) was doing it wrong. At least in my jaundiced and experienced view. She was spending most of her time drawing a map of the downtown area on her whiteboard while people in the group were discussing the advantages and disadvantages of various locations. She failed to write down all the locations under discussion while she concentrated on her map. When it came time to wrap up the meeting and report back to the GA, there was a very incomplete list on her board of what the group had been discussing, and yet we were going to have a vote in minutes, and she apparently hadn't even been listening. We were going to select a location for the occupation, but the scribe had failed to record the complete list to choose from.

I was in something of a dither, but I did not intervene. Yes, I know "how to do this," and obviously this woman had no idea. But something interesting happened. She'd spent all this time drawing her map, and yes, she had been listening all along. When it came time to vote on locations, she was able to point out on her map where the various places being considered were in relation to other locations, and she was able to compare and contrast the main ones. Thus, the vote was relatively painless. Two sites were chosen to present to the GA for a final vote. Each had its advantages and disadvantages, and ultimately a starting point was chosen, and a time, and a date, and though making the choice involved a lot of talk (and a good deal of, to my eye, "doing it wrong") it got a result, and the result is fine. It was all in all quite painless.

And the problem with this is?

It seemingly takes forever, you have to listen to everyone's spiel, and you have to be humble, especially if you think you know something the rest of the group doesn't.

It's hard. Very hard.

Not everyone can do it. Not everyone should do it.

And it is working.


  1. Thanks for posting all of those links. Will add some to my own site.

    It's all kinda exciting, taint it?


    An actual movement, after decades of just "taking it"!!

    This thing has got to grow and grow and grow. It's just beyond insane that we ever, ever allowed a single billionaire to exist while people starved. "Getting rich" shouldn't even be on the table UNTIL we make sure no one is homeless, hungry, defenseless. Making millions shouldn't even be on the table UNTIL we make sure anyone who wants an education, or health care, or a clean environment, or safe streets, regardless of their ability to pay for it, gets those things.

    Then we can start talking about "making money."

    (Though, as you know, I'd prefer a radically different system altogether, anyway . . .)

    First things first. Guaranteed roof over your head, food in your belly, clothes on your back, a good-paying job, quality health care and education and clean water, land and air . . . and then we can discuss one's ability to make his or her fortune. But not until.

    And that means all over the world, not just here.

    . . . .

    BTW, not sure if you already saw this (about the Koch brothers), but it's another good sign that it's in a major media outlet:

    Hope all is well --

  2. [Sorry about the delay in getting your comment posted. I have no control over the Google/Blogger filters, and they drive me nuts! I see why so many people prefer alternative comment systems.]

    The Koch Brothers flouting the law? No! Say it isn't so! The thing is to bring them -- and all the rest of the Gods Who Walk Among Us -- to account.

    That's going to be the toughest nut to crack, and I think everybody involved in the current uprising knows it. I keep seeing things about how the protesters don't understand how long it will take and hard it will be. Of course they do. Oh my yes.

    Some of the oldest activists in this area were at the gathering I went to; they've been fighting the good fight most of their lives, and they're in their eighties now. They're not done yet. Lots of young people were there, too. All they had to do was look around. Nothing comes fast or easy in this realm.

    Exciting? Well, sure. This phase has been a long time coming but it didn't emerge from the vacuum. As somebody's shirt said the other day: "It's the Zeitgeist." Yes. Revolution is in the air. Everywhere around the world. "Occupy Everything!"

    I don't doubt there will be more phases to this global action. How it will evolve is anyone's guess right now. It's only been going on for about a year, starting in Europe, moving to North Africa, the United States (these are not the first "occupations" in the US this year by any means), back to Europe, off to the the Middle East, wending their way toward Asia. Our Latin American friends send their love. The international character is quite striking.

    The key to the success of the movement-becoming-revolution to me is that the participants are demonstrating a way to a better future. They're doing it. Protest is only a part of it, and not really the biggest part. More important is the global community being formed by people who know, like you do, what's really important.

    Hope there is an occupation near you and you can check it out for yourself.