Wednesday, June 20, 2012

And What of the Class Struggle?

I was getting caught up on Occupy Caravan events last night on the archived livestreams, pondering some of the history of Occupy and the DIY media collective that has arisen therefrom -- perhaps the most pronounced legacy of Occupy to date -- and as I was watching Nate's video from Okemah, OK (Woody Guthrie's birthplace), I saw the Caravan vehicles for the first time: a BMW, two new Toyota minivans, and a new Chevy Suburban. There was a bus as well, but it broke down in Flagstaff. The transmission went out. Oh. I can imagine. Apparently they were running it without transmission fluid (do tell), and so by the time it got up the hill in Flagstaff (it's a long and steep climb, folks; I've done it many times) the bus couldn't go any farther. They were trying to raise money to fix it.

I got to thinking about class issues vis a vis Occupy, teh Revolution, and Everything. The emblems of the Occupy Caravan, after all -- that is, its vehicles -- couldn't be more starkly upper middle class. These are not the cars of the Struggling Masses. But then, how many Occupiers are Proletarian? Perhaps close to zero.

Not zero, no. But close.

Back when I was quite active in the local Occupy, there was much union involvement and support, but it seemed to rather quickly devolve into animosity. I got into some truly bizarre situations with union members -- as I recall, SEIU members were some of the strangest -- when they actively set out to oppose Occupy's continued presence and sought to prevent the city from relenting on arrests and prosecutions of Occupy participants who disobeyed authority. Support evaporated. In fact, it turned into something of a joke. The problem mostly seemed to be communications, but there was something else underlying it; union and Occupy organization is simply not that poor.

At the very outset, Socialists came to the meetings and pretty much denounced the whole thing because it wasn't organized "right," and it couldn't possibly get anywhere, as has long been known and proved by anyone familiar with Revolutionary theory. Of course when it did get somewhere, the Socialists continued to crab.

Meanwhile, many of those who were -- and continue to be -- involved with Occupy are of a higher social status (or like to think of themselves as of a higher social status) than the Working Class. They are educated, after all, and they work as professionals. They live comfortably, send their kids to private school, etc. They are not struggling financially (or so they think) and are generous with their contributions.

On the other hand, Occupy has long had a social service contingent housing, feeding, and clothing the indigent, the homeless, and the ne'er do wells of society. A goodly number of Occupy's activist are from that social stratum, and to the surprise of some observers, they've proved themselves very capable.

But they're not really working class, either.

To see the Caravan accommodated so luxuriously on the road is somewhat disconcerting, but then I ask why they shouldn't have decent transportation for such a long trip -- from Los Angeles on one route, San Francisco on the other, to Philadelphia. Should they be driving Dust Bowl jalopies? Where would they even get them?

My understanding is that the vehicles -- except for the BMW -- are rented in any case. Which explains why they're new and relatively luxurious.

As for the bus, I know nothing except that it is still apparently broken down in Flagstaff. But again, on a long cross-country trip, one would need a decent vehicle.

The trouble is that these somewhat deluxe vehicles driving across county in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Woody Guthrie's birth seems oxymoronic on the one hand, and it could well be a turn off to working people the Caravan encounters. Maybe Dust Bowl jalopies would be too difficult to wrangle and would probably be called melodramatic as well. But there are all kinds of potentially more appropriate vehicles, such as cars from the 1950's and 1960's. One would think. Or maybe they should have a horse and wagon. (I'm not really criticizing the choices made by the caravaners. What I'm considering is the optics of those choices and how those optics may relate to the Class Struggle.)

It seems that more people are innately understanding the class nature of the struggle given the way so many millions of Americans have been forced into poverty during this Endless Recession and the relentlessness of the extractions demanded of everybody else by the tiny class of Masters Who Rule Us.

But the effort seems to be focused on finding something other than "class struggle" to define what's going on.

Whatever that is has yet to be discovered.

No comments:

Post a Comment