Friday, November 18, 2011

The Matter of Trust

Now hold on.

This is the Open Letter from Occupy Portland expressing dismay at their treatment by the police and the mayor:

15 November 2011

An Open Letter to Mayor Sam Adams:

We, as members of the Occupy Portland Liaison Team, are officially resigning from our roles as city and police liaisons for the Occupy Portland movement. This is in direct response to the deplorable police actions of this past weekend and your refusal to communicate clearly with us during that time.

We were specifically asked by City Hall to create this Liaison Team, for the purpose of facilitating clear communication between city government, police and the Occupy Portland movement. We worked hard to assemble a capable team of activists to act as a conduit of information as agreed upon by our General Assembly.

Initial meetings were amiable and seemingly productive, as your staff was able to express concerns, some of which we shared, about conditions within the encampment. We facilitated communication and followed up by working closely with city employees and our own volunteers to address issues relevant to camp safety.

Despite our efforts, over the weekend, you decided to cave to pressure from your friends at the Portland Business Alliance, the Police Association and other groups interested in maintaining the status quo of economic injustice and issued us an eviction notice. Instead of allowing us to address conditions within our encampment in a transparent and democratic way you chose to enlist the full apparatus of police repression to destroy our encampment.

There's more. A great deal more. But you get the idea.

I'm concerned that our friends in Portland don't have The Idea, and this may be a reason why there has been such despondence in Portland after The Raid, while there is such jubilation and even celebration elsewhere (New York and Oakland come to mind) after their camps were raided.

Our friends in Portland say they "trusted" the Mayor and the police.

My question is simply, "Why?"

Why does anyone involved with the Occupy Movement-Becoming-Revolution "trust" or "want to work with" or in any other way express unity or a desire for unity with the Powers That Be, whoever they may be?

Listen to Mario again:

That was the whole December 2, 1964, speech on the steps of Sproul Hall that led directly to the "Occupation" of Sproul Hall -- which in turn triggered all sorts of student rebellion and response through the remainder of the 1960's.

A couple of things must be noted: the protesters were IN active negotiations with the University administration when this Occupation took place. The Occupation of Sproul Hall was due to the betrayal by the administration and the University regents of the basic principles of fairness and good will with which the student protesters had approached the problem of Free Speech on and near the campus.

Note what Mario says about "liberals."

Today, we would refer to them as "progressives." '

In other words, in 1964, the progressive administration of the University was actively negotiating with and betraying the good will and trust of the students; this was quite a revelation at the time. People -- not just students -- who had been brought up in a "liberal" or what is now known as "progressive" environment all their lives were discovering a horrible truth: these people lie, they're violent, and they serve the interests of the corporatist war machine first and foremost. Their mission is to provide endless fodder for the machine they serve, forever, world without end, amen.


It hasn't changed.

After numerous protests and sit-in/occupations and a good deal of violence by police toward the student protesters -- violence that would escalate, not just on campuses but in many cities and their segregated ghettos -- negotiations continued and a sort of ad hoc agreement was reached that more or less defused some of the immediate rationale for protest over "Free Speech" for a time.

In other words, Authority Pretended to Yield, students got some of what they wanted, things calmed down. Somewhat. For a while.

But we've seen -- haven't we? -- that the argument over Free Speech that began at Berkeley in September of 1964, when the University decided to enforce a prohibition on political action and speech on and near the campus (actually, there were precursors, but I won't get into those here, though I have posted on some of it previously), has by no means ended.

Nor did it end at Berkeley when the administration was forced to make some concessions back in 1964 and 1965.

"Power concedes nothing" and all of that, but there is more to it than that. "Power" can be "liberal" or "conservative" or something else, it doesn't matter. You cannot trust Power under any circumstances. Except to trust that Power will be abused and that abuse will be directed at you.

That's it. Period. The Ideology of Power is always the same. It is in favor of itself and opposed to you. It doesn't matter -- at all -- what the political party designation of Power is, and it doesn't matter at all what superficial "agreements" are made. It is always the same: if you insist on being in the way, you will be crushed. Your only options are to stifle yourself or become absorbed by the Borg.

When you take that insight to heart -- and I've never been sure Mario ever did, or if he did, then I guess he was comfortable being "absorbed" -- it doesn't matter what Power does; everything Power does merely reinforces the point of the protest.

Power does not negotiate in good faith.


You cannot trust Power. Ever.

The point of a Revolution is to replace Power -- not to become part of it and not to negotiate with it.

And this is the tough part, the hardest part of all. It's been done many times in the past, but how to do it is never known in advance.

Whether to do it at all is still part of the internal struggle of the Movement.

David Graeber may have some useful insights.

But it's tough. Mario ultimately couldn't do what was really necessary, nor were most of the Revolutionary Upstarts of My Day really up to the challenge they set for themselves. Most were either absorbed -- or paid for their fervor with their lives.

I don't know how far the current Revolutionaries are prepared to go, and I don't think the answer will be found in this country. Americans are the followers in this Revolutionary Era not the leaders.

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