I have a piece of self-criticism about the subject of my writing on Occupy and my inexperience in organizing which can be found here. As I wrote in that piece, in relation to speaking about Occupy movements:
…since I have white male privilege on my side, chances are that more people will listen [to me] than if I were a woman, trans- or cis-gender, if I were a person of color, and many other things in our society that disempower others and thus [result] in empowering me. This is a huge part of what we are fighting.
So, as a reminder to myself as much as to anyone, I am a single person, with white male privilege, writing from a location of and perspective of relative isolation. In other words, these views and words are not intended to represent anyone except myself.
A couple days ago I wrote a piece of alarmist propaganda raising the issue of infiltration by Ron Paul and Ayn Rand types into the Occupy movement.
While I stand by saying that these free-market capitalists should be given no quarter within the Occupy movements, it has come to my attention that the true enemy of the Occupy movements is an age-old enemy of uprising and revolution: liberal reformists, authoritarian self-appointed organizers, their “Peacekeeper” bullies/snitches, and anyone else trying to stifle opposition to the police and the use of civil disobedience in the movements. (It is absolutely amazing to me that most civil disobedience tactics are being disallowed in the Occupations of many cities because the particular tactics, such as taking the street, marching unpermitted, linking arms in the street and so on, are illegal.)
Due to my ignorance on the past roles of official Left/anti-war organizers/student leaders and similar groups in squashing uprising and revolution, I was unaware of what was in store for Occupy.
Many radicals have invested a lot into Occupy because we were told by its creators, propagators and initial organizers from the beginning that it would be an egalitarian anti-capitalist movement which seeks to occupy the financial and political centers of the world, strike fear into the heart of those people and systems which oppress us, and rise up in physical as well as organizational form against the enemy—Capitalism/capitalists, and the State/Statists. So I have been bouncing back and forth between disappointment and anger at the changes that are occurring within the movements because of the influence of leftists who wish to turn the movement into a mushy, pro-capitalist, police-loving, legalistic, anti-civil disobedience, pacifist dogma snitch-fest. There are certain cities that seem to be avoiding this co-opting by the official left/student leaders and professional “activist” types (notably Boston, from what I’ve read, but I don’t have contacts there. I suspect New Orleans organizers will work to avoid this liberalization, but I’d speak with my contact there about how that’s going before I can really comment. More on Occupy N.O. later when I have that information.) But I have been very disappointed to see Occupy Cleveland, Occupy Portland, Occupy Chicago and the Occupy milieu being turned into something terrible. Let us count the ways:
- Occupy began as a radical, leaderless, non-hierarchical movement that stressed that all individuals and groups who are disempowered by capitalism and the State had a seat at the table. Now many cities are seeing organizers who disempower people, silence dissent and squash ideas which are too radical, in order to enforce their personal idea of what Occupy should be.
- Occupy began as just that. An occupation. Now self-appointed official organizers insist upon all activity being permitted by the State. The “occupy” portion of Occupy ceases to have any meaning. We all know that the 20th century Civil Rights Movement’s use of civil disobedience was largely illegal and meant to create tension between demonstrators and the police, society, the systems of oppression they were fighting, etc. Liberals have long re-written history to make it appear as though civil disobedience was and should be toothless, lawfully minded, peaceful in the sense that it lacks actual resistance, and basically timid and submissive.
- “Peacekeepers”: This idea which has been around for a while, and which was purely cynical and counterproductive from the start, enables individuals (appointed or promoted as an idea by self-appointed liberal leaders, spokespeople or otherwise) to embrace an authoritarian role. The job of a “peacekeeper” is quelling any resistance to the police, capitalism and the State. The end result is “peacekeepers” perpetrating their own form of violence and repression by physically squashing dissent, and regulating who is and who is not allowed to act and how. They act as the police themselves, whether using violent, brute force to enforce their will (as has been going on in Chicago, Portland and elsewhere) or by actually snitching to the class traitors known as cops. In the end they marginalize and silence any of us who are not conducive to their agenda and who wish to speak out against and smash the State/police/capitalism.
So in my ignorance, the first people I worried about were the right-wing capitalists who have no analyses of, criticisms of or intention to confront racism, homophobia, white privilege, Islamaphobia, sexism and bigotry. But it seems that the most vocal and ardent individuals who wish to transform the Occupy movement into a pacifistic, pro-capitalist reform movement that serves the needs of the State—and goes so far as to do the work of the police for the State—are certain leftists.
This transformation into a reform movement is something that should be fought against tooth-and-nail by anyone involved who wishes to see Occupy movements resemble anything like Tahrir Square or the other global movements that have been at all successful in attacking any form of despotism. After all, we have to remember that the Egyptians weren’t only chanting at the cops, they were fighting them and making physical confrontation with them.
If we follow the rules of the State and capitalism, we will be disempowered and Occupy will accomplish nearly nothing. The anti-war activists and official Left’s strategies and tactics failed to stop any wars in the first decade of this century. Why should we subscribe to those same strategies, tactics and dogmas of non-resistance now?