Saturday, March 3, 2012
Expectations, Clowning and The Crisis of Confidence
Occupy has been a magnet for Crisis since its inception last September.
Of course its predecessor movements in Europe and North Africa, as well as Wisconsin, also focused attention on the Crisis of our times. That Crisis is resolvable into the juggernaut of Neo-Liberalism and aligned dictatorship that are running roughshod over the interests of the People nearly everywhere all around the world. As we've seen in the case of Greece and many other places, it is in essence a neo-colonial enterprise on behalf of a shrinking handful of plutocrats and oligarchs who seek nothing less than to rule the world.
Occupy and its sister rebellions spontaneously arose in opposition to this juggernaut of sadistic cruelty and global exploitation. While there have been several apparent victories, many of us recognize that the struggle has barely been engaged on either side of the yawing gulf between the People and those who have set out to rule them with a rod and staff. The collapse of the Tunisian and Egyptian dictatorships was a step -- but only a step -- toward an eventual resolution of the Crisis that precipitated the rebellions. The root of the problem is still firmly in place, and so far, democratic processes are not able to uproot it.
And the inability to thwart the control of governments by a shadowy international cabal of plutocrats and oligarchs has led to something of a Crisis of Confidence among the many rebel movements around the world aligned to accomplish that thwarting.
In the United States, the pattern of Futility and Failure was set in Wisconsin, where a spectacular and apparently very effective sit in/occupation of the Capitol in Madison, and huge demonstrations in the streets accomplished essentially nothing. Every aspect of the Koch/Walker "reforms" were enacted, no matter what the People had to say about it, and no matter what the People did. The Wisconsin demonstrations were objectively failures.
Not only that, but the follow-up recall elections failed to change the balance of power in the Wisconsin Legislature; whether the current series of recalls slated for this summer will have a more positive effect on behalf of the People remains to be seen. But the lesson here is clear: standard protest and electoral processes don't work any more to change public policies for the better.
The peoples of Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece (among other European nations) learned this bitter lesson some time ago; the peoples of North Africa and the Middle East are learning it now as their victorious rebellions (where they have been victorious) have turned into something less than they bargained for -- and in some places much worse for the masses.
What to do? Can the concerted actions of the People actually thwart the progress of the Juggernaut that is crushing them under its wheels, or is there some way to halt it in its tracks?
No one knows yet, and that uncertainty is part of what gives rise to the exploration of alternatives and the Crisis of Confidence that has been afflicting the many rebel movements and especially the Occupy Movement for months now.
But all is not lost.
Here is a wonderful short video of what happened in Portland, OR, the other day as the People marched in solidarity against he depredations of Our Corporate Overlords and their control of government through ALEC:
Here's a longer one that shows a bit more of what was going on in Portland:
It may look tame -- especially compared to some of the events and street battles in Oakland -- but I think there have been some significant changes in the approach to The Revolution This Year.
Those who relish spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt about Occupy insist the Movement is "dead" and there is no point in bothering with it any more. The cause of its purported "death" is said to be the "violence" precipitated by Occupiers (with special emphasis on Occupy Oakland), which has allegedly alienated the masses from the Movement.
But you can see from these videos -- and I could post many, many more -- that the Occupy Movement is far from "dead." In fact, it has evolved (or metamorphosed) into something quite different than it once was. It still has a very strong mass appeal and Occupy events can still turn out hundreds or thousands of participants on a regular basis, but it is not the same sort of participation -- nor are the actions quite the same -- as was once the case.
We're seeing far more creative involvement and a great deal of mockery for Authority.
The Clown Police have been around for quite a while, but they are now much more apparent in demonstrations, and not solely in Portland. Their mockery of police overkill against the Occupy Movement is devastating in the videos above. It is a very creative way to highlight the nature of what the The Occupy Revolution is fighting. It's not simply ALEC or Corporate Control or what have you, the struggle is also against police who doll themselves up in Robo-Outfits and prance around on horseback to enforce Corporate Control on the rebels.
In a different way, the Clown Police are as effective in delegitimizing the Authority of the police and the Overlords they serve as the remarkable Shield Wall in Oakland was on January 28:
But there was more going on in Portland. During the march some people stood their ground and refused to be intimidated or moved by The Tsar's Cossacks:
This is another very effective way of delegitimizing the Authority of the Overlords and their Police. For many people, it's very disturbing to witness something like this. It is a completely nonviolent action that asserts the People's authority against the authority of the State -- and the People win. Of course, in Portland and elsewhere you have to be leery of these "wins," because the Tsar's Cossacks are liable to return by stealth after being thwarted (as they did after tens of thousands of Portland's People initially thwarted the eviction of Occupy Portland from their encampment last November). You never know.
Delegitimation of Authority is the principal Occupy strategy for the moment. It works, but it is also frightening to many people, especially if they can't see beyond the delegitimation to what comes next. So far, what comes next is vague at best. What does the Better World we're supposedly intent on building look like?
Delegitimization works, but what then? Until that question can be answered clearly and forcefully with ample demonstrations of Things to Come, the Crisis of Confidence that now afflicts parts of the Occupy Movement will continue.
In some ways it's appropriate and productive because it leads more people to consider, really deeply, what all this hoo-hah is for.
[Note: this video shows a lot more of the Portland F29 actions. Note the presence of a completely nonviolent Black Bloc. Just saying...)