Thursday, December 1, 2011

And So What Are The Lessons Learned?

An instructive video that demonstrates something of how things have devolved at UC Davis since Chancellor Katehi commenced to "dialog" with students, faculty and staff.

The speaker was Assistant Professor Nathan Brown, he who wrote the eloquent Open Letter calling on the Chancellor of UC Davis to resign -- an Open Letter that's now been signed by over 100,000.

Note: he is shouted down, "applause" is used to drown him out, and finally he leaves the microphone, resolute but unanswered.

That's basically the picture of the Occupy Movement as a whole right now. Resolute, but shouted down. Evicted. Wandering.

There was a startling scene of Antonio Villaraigosa issuing paeans for the LAPD's successful clearance of the Occupy LA encampment. It was amazing -- not what happened, but what he had to say about it, as if he were speaking from a parallel universe:


Are there lessons here? There should be.

From the beginning of this Uprising cum Revolution, I have said here and in just about every discussion I've had with family and friends about it, "This has to be done by the young people, and they have to learn for themselves how to do it. None of us Old Farts can tell them how." What I haven't said as much as I should is, "If we knew how, we would have done it already."

Indeed, we did do it, partially, back in Our Day, but obviously what we did was not nearly enough to prevent the Powers of Darkness from gaining a stranglehold on the present. We may be able to diagnose what's wrong, but we can't fix it. That's up to the young, and damn all, they're doing an amazing job, despite all the things that in my view have either gone wrong or have been inadequate.

I think the lessons in the two metaphorical videos posted above are striking.

Nathan Brown has been the chief rabble-rouser at UC Davis (and he's also had an effect at UC Berkeley), but you see that when he tried to present his case at a forum, a town hall, at Davis, according to The Rules set by the Administration in order to maintain full control of the event, he was shouted down and eventually -- at least metaphorically -- driven from the room by... who, exactly?

I'll get back to that.

In the other video, LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa practically wets himself in praise of the LAPD... and all the other agencies of civic authority that were brought to bear on a few hundred demonstrators at City Hall. What, exactly, is he praising? And why? We hear some names, but never learn quite what is being praised unless you want to count eviction as "constitutional policing."

The lesson from the first video is that even though we know we are in the right ("we" in the global sense), we are not being heard, and we won't be heard because when we try to speak and make our case, there will be plenty of people available to shout us down or drive us away. This is why, as I have said many times, there is a Revolution going on by necessity. There is no other way for the "lesser people" to affect events that concern them, or even to gain a hearing before Their Betters.

The lesson from the second video is starker -- and perhaps more illuminating. It shows that Our Rulers are 1) obsessed with their own Authority and its exercise; 2) wholly owned by a handful of Major Stakeholders and Sponsors for whom they work exclusively; 3) bone stupid and incapable of stating just what it is they are doing or why. This is another reason why there is a Revolution under way.

We are ruled by idiots.

I'm not making that up. It's the simple truth.

Oh, but there are so many more lessons.

Our Revolutionary comrades in Egypt recently learned that the forms of "democracy" are apparently more important to the Egyptian masses than the absent reality. This realization must have come as a shock to many, but surely the Egyptian men and women who have been putting together the Egyptian Revolution and taking on huge personal risks to pursue it must have had some inkling that the Revolutionary spirit could be affected or modified -- perhaps even undermined and dissipated -- through perception and experience.

Thus, for many -- perhaps most -- Egyptians, the forms of "democracy" mean more than the actuality. The Revolution, therefore, has been temporarily put on hold.

The acampada phase of the Spanish Revolution essentially concluded after a little more than a month at Puerta del Sol in Madrid and the Plaza de Catalunya in Barcelona -- with numerous offshoots throughout Spain. They were only "occupied" for part of May and part of June; a "presence" was maintained until August, when that, too, was swept away. The Indignados are still around, of course. But their camps have long been gone. During this year, too, Spain has conducted municipal and national elections, both handily won by the center-rightist People's Party (which I am led to believe is actually a neo-fascist party). It is a victory attributed to the thorough discrediting of the Socialists under Zapatero, the same Socialists that cleared the squares and did nothing at all productive on behalf of the Spanish People. In fact, like every other Socialist government in Europe, the Spanish Socialists made it a point to serve the bankster masters of their universe first and foremost. Which has strangely led to the discrediting of Socialist parties and the election of center-rightist parties wherever government elections are still being allowed. Which isn't everywhere by any means.

This is said to have made the Indignado Movement even stronger, but I'm not convinced of it yet. There's a long way to go before that can be proved, but the propaganda is nice.

The lesson here is that when those who have been elected to serve the People refuse to do so, they will be discharged, and others who will also refuse to serve the People will be put in their place.

Having demonstrated the futility of elections, what then?

That's yet to be seen.

We've learned that in this country, the Occupy Movement is treated with indifference and/or brutality or both in many of our larger cities and on certain campuses, but not everywhere. There are still many Occupations going on around the country with the more or less active support of the civic authorities. The indifference and/or brutality of the authorities seems to be relative to the size of the media market involved -- and that should be a lesson, shouldn't it?

However, the acampada phase of the Occupations doesn't have to last forever. In many cases, it's probably not wise in any case.

I've been meaning to write a piece on the nature of the intentional communities the encampments were developing but got sidetracked so many times I never completed anything. But it is the re-invention of American Community that is the key to understanding what "Occupy" is all about. Each encampment has/had the potential to demonstrate how Another World is Possible. The closer they got to the demonstration, at least in the larger media markets, the more certain became their eviction and destruction.

The destruction of these nascent communities needs to be highlighted more in my view. The level of hysteria over the Black Bloc tactics used once in Oakland has never been matched -- not even remotely -- by righteous rage over the destruction of whole communities by the casual brutality of the Authorities.

Building a Better Future through the demonstration and establishment of such intentional communities has always been the main point of the Revolution -- at least from my point of view -- and that's part of why I believe the whole argument over engaging the political system is a waste of time and energy. The political establishment is not only indifferent and unresponsive to the People, it will actively set out to undermine and crush any threatening alternative model of social and economic justice.

Some of us have known this for many years, but others are just finding it out. And from my perspective (admittedly jaded) they don't know what to do about it. Going mano a mano against Authority doesn't work in the long run, though it may get attention in the short run (or maybe not).

What does work, oddly enough, is to just do it. And keep on doing it, no matter the forces arrayed against you. Persistence is the key. The demonstration must be repeated many times before the notion of what you're doing and what your intentions are is clear.

There is a big, more or less public, debate going on about the Future of Occupy. Thanks to the numerous evictions from major cities -- or the failure to establish an Occupation at all in some places -- it's difficult to forecast whether there will even be a Future for the Movement/Revolution.

As we get deeper and deeper into winter, it's time to assess what's happened and what's been discovered. It's time to think about where to go next and how to get there. And it is always time to dance.

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