Monday, November 7, 2011
The Instant the Movement Institutionalizes is the Instant It Ceases to be a Revolution or Even a Revolt
It becomes part of the hierarchy of rulership. From its position "at the table," as it were, some of the newly minted leaders of the Movement may affect policy decisions within the rulership -- but maybe not. And for them, it really won't matter whether they affect policy decisions or not because they are taken care of, and so long as that is the case, what happens to the Movement and its supporters is of no more than peripheral concern -- if that.
The relationship between the Movement and the rulership is reversed. The purpose of institutionalizing is to have membership, first of all, and then to be able to assert control over those members in service (of course) to a higher calling or goal. "Doing what's best for everyone."
This is a far more comfortable -- and comforting -- position to be part of than to be on the edge pursuing populist revolutionary goals and objectives. Better, always, to be comfortable than not.
For most people, that's simply an honest truth. Real Revolution is hard, harsh, and typically involves only a minority of people, sometimes a very small minority. Most people just want to stay out of the way, get on with their lives as best they can, and hope for the best in the by and bye.
The Mad Max Future Dystopia is one we are all conditioned to fear -- though many have broken with their conditioning and actually look forward to a time when the elements of a full on goon show future fall into place. Any Revolutionary movement -- including the sweet-faced OWS Movement -- can be seen as a means toward that mean end.
Consequently, when outbreaks of vandalism occurred in Oakland during the General Strike on November 2, some people were salivating at the thought of what it could portend. "Ah, things are falling apart, the Anarchists are on the loose, the crackdown will be fierce, and so will the response to it be. Chaos! Ha!"
Of course, when the situation devolves to chaos, the loudest voice or the strongest bully can often take charge, and that charge taking can lead, surprisingly quickly, to institutionalization of rulership by whatever individual took charge during the period of chaos.
Vandalism in Oakland on the day of the General Strike has been taken by some to be the Sign of incipient or present chaos in the Movement, thereby signaling the loud voices and bullies to take charge. As it happened just a couple of days before Occupy Wall Street introduced a radical new operating model to their community, one that can enable the efficient take over of the New York Occupation by interests yet to be determined, it's no wonder that some of the more paranoid among us might think there's a Plan afoot.
But oddly enough -- or perhaps not -- the situation is seen quite differently in Oakland itself. Outrage at the outbreak of vandalism is mitigated by the success of the General Strike on the one hand, and by the recognition that the "violence inherent in the system" is far more pervasive and much worse in practice than anything Black Bloc tactics could engineer or would engineer.
Yet the hysteria over the vandalism in Oakland -- "A Million Dollars in Damages!@!!!11" -- has been almost non-stop. Well, actually, it's not "damage," as in vandalism damage. It's mostly costs. Like overtime and such. For the repression. BUT, the screamers natter on and on about all the "damage" caused by the "chaos" precipitated by the "anarchists," and they cannot be moved.
This is conditioning of the masses at work. The good citizens of Oakland know full well that the actions of the Black Bloc were mild in comparison to what they could have done, the vandalism damage was minor, and the General Strike was a stunning success overall. The hyperventilating over Black Bloc tactics should be seen more as a conditioned reflex toward "violence" from within the Movement (ie: the People) than as a well thought out objection to the vandalism in context.
The question is how can you break through and break down that conditioning so that the contrast between, say, what the Black Bloc does, and what the System does can be seen starkly and clearly? How can you break down the conditioning sufficiently to recognize that "violence" as a political statement can be kept to a minimum (but not eliminated entirely) in a successful social system, and that this Revolution does not depend on "violence" for success?
These things are clear enough to me, but they obviously aren't to others. You can say it over and over again: "Black Bloc tactics do not define anarchism; Black Bloc tactics are mild compared to the violence visited on the People day in and day out; occasional Black Bloc tactics provide a startling contrast to the generally peaceful and extraordinarily positive ongoing efforts of Occupy Oakland," but few will hear because they have been so heavily conditioned to believe that any sign of "violence" whatsoever from within the Movement cancels out any good will it may have developed over time. This is patently absurd; but it is now rigidly held conventional wisdom, no matter the fact that the people of Occupy Oakland -- especially -- have pretty much worked out the kind of relationship they want to have with Black Bloc tactics. It's far more nuanced and complicated than one might expect -- for the obvious reason that Black Bloc is autonomous; Black Bloc are not "members" of Occupy Oakland (there are none), and Black Bloc tactics are employed by those who choose to do them, regardless of the "official position" of Occupy Oakland.
The more important thing is the repression that is employed by the Authorities whether or not there is Black Bloc activity.
This video is startling in a sense because it is such a graphic depiction of the overwhelming force of Authority randomly and deliberately brutalizing what appears to be a lone individual who poses no threat to that Authority. This was also the case with the veteran who was beaten so badly by police that night that his spleen was ruptured. There was video of that incident (at least parts of it) that is now no longer available; but in what I saw, it was obvious that the man was not a threat. It didn't matter. He was There.
And the Revolution's Here:
Well, some elements of it anyway.
Meanwhile in New York, they've conceded to the Politburo. I've been trying to follow the discussion about the Reformation of the Revolution in Liberty Square, but I find it is oddly truncated. According to some, that is because the "leaders" of the leaderless movement scrubbed almost all the well-considered and well-reasoned arguments against the Spokes Council/Politburo model of operations, leaving only a few of them interspersed among hundreds of off-topic posts. If that's true, then the problems in New York are fundamental and so deeply rooted, it's unlikely the Occupation there can survive the winter.