I was initially really excited about the Occupations in the USA spreading, there was great potential and I am still really hopeful that the higher level aims are further developed and my fears are unfounded.
The problem is with #OccupyWS and with #OccupyLSX is that they both appear to lack a coherent message and any tactical thought outside of their respective occupations. There are hundreds of individual voices, all have their own set of principles and ideas on how the post occupation landscape should look. So what we currently have is a whole bunch of people disagreeing on most points.
Some people believe that capitalism can be reformed, some people are pro-state but anti tory. Some people are anti-state and anti-capitalist. To my surprise some are even anti-semites… Some are pro-tax, some are anti-money. There are anarchists and what even seems like borderline fascists and then we have the conspiracy nutters (which seem to be rife).
Noone seems to be able to agree on what the message actually is…
One thing is certain is that I don’t feel part of the “99%” and nor do 99% of the 99% of working class people it would seem.
For me I feel that the 99% and Occupy movements are trying to work too much within the confines of comfortable acceptable protest, they feel they need to satisfy the media and in turn “the public”.
Phil Dickens blog Truth Liberty and Reason recently posted a rather apt quote from Martyn Everett’s introduction to the 1988 Phoenix Press edition of Anarcho-syndicalism by Rudolph Rocker;
Historically the oppressed and the disaffected have rallied to the standard of socialism because of its oppositional position within capitalism - an oppositional position which provides the appearance of a radicalism it did not possess. During periods of revolutionary potential, however, people see opportunities to go beyond attempts to ameliorate capitalism, and to instead abolish it altogether. It is important to realise, however, that this is not usually an apocalyptic conversion into revolutionary activity, but is an emerging process involving continual, but unsuccessful attempts to reconstruct a movement of socialist opposition, find new forms of organisation and activity as well as new forms of protest and expression. New movements appear, representing the interests of groups which have not previously confronted capital, and so lack the burden of tradition and the “password” phraseology of socialism, but which nonetheless possess greater potential for revolution. New ideas and new forms of organisation flourish.
The naivety of some of the individuals involved in these protests is worrying, the belief that capitalism can be changed to suit the needs of all is to ignore the nature of capitalism.
People often refer to the system as “broken” but in fact its working perfectly. It was never designed to cater fully for anyone other than the tiny percentile. Capitalism withholds the means of production from the workers. THAT’S HOW IT WORKS. Anything short of this is not capitalism…
Sure the goal posts of capitalism can be changed slightly and more crumbs can fall from the table, but ultimately the crumbs that might reach us still never reach other exploited lands and our struggle needs to encompass the struggle of people everywhere and not just in our communities.
Divide and rule.
My personal struggle has simply ideological aims, scrap capitalism, scrap the state and work to remove societal power systems that would see any person holding power over another (I won’t go further into this here). Work towards a society based on mutual aid and respect of one another. Take the power and resources from the state and bring it to the individual and to the community.
I believe we can bring about real empowering change if we accept first that the struggles we face are diverse and the battlefield we fight on changes constantly, the state and corporations can and will adapt quickly to meet and quash resistance movements.
For this reason we need to use a multitude of tactics to take power from the top, we need to encompass every level of activism and accept that individuals like to engage on different levels. Some are willing to risk full on assault on our enemies some are pacifist.
We should respect the diversity of our struggles and see this as something which binds us and not divides us. A movement of non-violent and violent direct action, sabotage, protest, community activism, confrontation of power and counter-culture. We need not worry about the reactions of the media we will build our own. We need not worry about where our food comes from we will take back the means to produce our own crops.
If we can all agree on one thing, it should be that we don’t know that much about each others lives and we shouldn’t presume to know each others struggles. Our diversity allows us adapt quickly where as the state has relatively rigid confines to how they react to us.
People say “NO VIOLENCE”, “we don’t want to give the media a reason to be against us”. Forgetting that the media are corporations which falsely portray public opinion. They are corporations who are sidelined on government exclusive stories if they don’t reify state propaganda. Their “impartiality” is tertiary to sales and power. If you don’t wish to engage in property damage or self defence from police then simply don’t. But do not try to prevent others from taking action because you step then into the jackboots of the state.
Yes the state will use provocateurs, yes they will spy on us and force social networks to hand over information. However, the continual use of the word “anarchist” as a derogatory term without any understanding of its meaning. In short is used to blanket describe those who break the law on protests and in term accuse them of being agent provocateurs.This attitude towards anarchists and other activists who fight against capitalism and the state and have in many cases had much more experience organising actions shows a total lack of solidarity within the movement. Even going as far as to say anyone who is black bloc should be photographed and handed over to the police. This is TOTALLY unacceptable.
I believe that we would be much better equipped for large scale occupations in the capital and other major cities with prior local organisation and for groups rather than individuals to reach consensus on their standpoint before large scale actions this saves vital time in a volatile changing battlefield.
Let’s not forget other battles which go on outside of the more popular actions like #OccupyLSX get involved locally. Strike, protest, attack!
This isn’t going to happen overnight, It is all there for the taking, we just need to all take one step forward at a time.