This sign has been showing up at the Nightly Union Square Eviction Theatre in New York, though the pic above dates from last October. I believe it was Dallas on the OWSHDTV livestream who dubbed the nightly show at Union Square "Eviction Theatre" -- and it's a good point. The whole effort, on both "sides" is now a Show. It's not entirely meaningless, but we know how each episode will end.
The closure of public access to any part of Union Square promptly at midnight each night for the past week is definitely fucked up and bullshit; last night, even the sidewalks around Union Square were forbidden, as police marched hither and thither inside the park while other units ostentatiously emplaced barricades and kept moving them to herd the crowd from place to place. It was a rainy night, so it wasn't a very large crowd, but it was boisterous as crowds tend to be in New York, and the police (at least some of them) appeared to be enjoying the Barricade Game while shoving the crowd this way and that and ultimately completely off the sidewalk and into the street. Haw. Haw. Suckers!
In New York, it has been almost unheard of for members of the OWS crowds to thwart the barricades. They are almost ritual lines -- like rope lines at a presidential appearance -- that you do not cross or mess with in any way. But last night, somewhat surprisingly, one section of barricade was overturned by members of the crowd, only to be re-emplaced by dutiful police. Members of the crowd also made and brought their own papier-mâché barricade to pose with and carry around. It was quite authentic looking.
There has been more and more clown policing at OWS events and at the nightly rituals of the Eviction Theatre. The crowds, mostly, love it, and it's clear that some of the police enjoy the spectacle of being mocked as well. They know (some of them) that what they're doing is fucked up and bullshit as well, so why not mock? Laugh while you can, monkey boy!
I was at an Occupy strategy conference yesterday, and it bothered me more than I realized at the time. It almost didn't occur at all. Even though it had been planned and scheduled since January, the host site organization decided to schedule something else at the same time, and the site was not available. They made an alternate site available, but then they didn't provide access to it for quite a while, so the effort got under way an hour and a half late. Then, we were informed just before the lunch break, that neither site would be available after lunch, and we would have to arrange for another time and place to continue. There was no time at all to discuss strategy or anything like it.
Fucked up and bullshit. But as someone said, only half-jokingly, "Why don't we just occupy this space?"
There are said to be 55,000 vacant buildings in the county. Any of them would probably do... Were it not raining, we might have continued our business outside. Maybe even in the street.
I think part of what bothered me about the collapsed conference yesterday is that I saw it as something "outside" the Occupy framework, put together by people who have long been involved with Occupy but who really want a different kind of activist organization. It's not so much hijacking as it is trying to push the movement (at least locally) onto another path -- something that's been going on from the beginning. I don't know that it can be, or even should be, avoided. Part of the Let It Be philosophy. If the Occupy framework is weak, it will yield. If it is strong, it won't.
If I had a little more information, I could probably point to what went wrong pretty easily and offer suggestions of how to correct it. But then, maybe the whole thing was ill-advised to begin with.
Occupy is its own template, something that is still resisted by many who have long been involved in Occupy affairs. One of the curiosities of the National Strategy Discussion I'm involved in is that there are so many others involved in it who are really trying to create another movement altogether, and some are making believe that this, the Occupy Movement, hasn't actually "started" yet.
One of the quirks that I've mentioned about the blogosphere is the notion that everything is just "starting," that there is no history of pretty much anything, it's all brand new, or it's still only a potential, not even real yet -- even if whatever it is (like Occupy) has been ongoing for months or years. And it is sort of how some people see Occupy as well; it's "just starting."
It's true in a sense -- in that Occupy is barely 6 months old -- but let's get real here. Tunisia and Egypt went through their Revolts/Revolutions in a matter of weeks. How long is this Occupy Revolution supposed to take, and when will it no longer be "just starting?" When it becomes like Mexico's PRI?
"Strategy" is proving to be a real bear for Occupy in some respects. There really isn't consensus on definition of terms on the one hand, nor is there really a consensus that there is a need for a more comprehensive and coherent strategy than is already in place. Nor is there even necessarily a broad based recognition that there IS a strategy (or strategies) in place.
One of the notions I'm wrestling with is the idea that the Occupy Movement doesn't have any sort of Grand Strategy and it needs to start over and adopt the Gene Sharp recipe for Revolution. Furthermore, the only way to become a successful Revolutionary undertaking is to study and adopt the Revolutionary philosophy and methods of past masters of the Art of Revolution, according to those who "know" these things.
I strongly disagree. While Occupy is "Teh Revolution" -- the one many of us have been waiting for -- it isn't like, and it definitely doesn't look like Revolutions of the past, and to me, it's important that it not be like them, that it not look like them, and that it never "institutionalize." As an organic, evolutionary non-violent resistance campaign, it can go on living and growing and developing as long as necessary, but as an institution, it becomes a fossil, an artefact.
If Occupy adopts the Gene Sharp recipe -- which there is no sign the organic whole will ever do -- I think the effort will be over, but I wonder what would happen if some of the local Occupys set out on a Sharp-path.
There is room, in other words, for almost anything... even, from time to time, shit that's fucked up and bullshit like yesterday's aborted strategy session... srsly.