Looks … 17 November 2011Posted by marisacat in 2012 Re Election, California / Pacific Coast, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Occupy Wall Street, San Francisco, WAR!.
GOPers say the president’s ‘lazy’ comment will get plenty of play on the campaign trail. | AP Photo
Looks like what he is… another con.
From a participant at Oakland Occupy and Philadelphia Occupy, a former Oakland resident who teaches political theory at Drexel (bolding is mine):
[B]ut other unexpected dynamics surface as well, some of which play into the hands of the Occupiers. As Occupations spread from Oakland to Berkeley, the sheer number of available police becomes a question, as individual forces rely on mutual aid programs for costly, large-scale eviction efforts. Word emerges that Oakland’s efforts to remove the camp were sped-up due to the constraints imposed by the impending student strike tomorrow. Here the fallout from the brutality of the first Oakland eviction blows back on the police forces themselves: citing the excessive force in Oakland, Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to block mutual aid assistance between the Berkeley PD and UCPD.
And even those more than willing to participate in brutality have begun to demand more booty and protection: in the run-up to the second Oakland eviction this morning, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department demanded not only $1,000 per officer per day, and the City of Alameda also demanded increased legal protection in the case of a repeat of the brutality that left Iraq veteran Scott Olson critically injured at the hands of an ACSD officer. This increasing legal scrutiny, financial strain, and sheer numerical limitations bode well for the future of Bay Area occupations and those across the nation.
I use the language of war consciously, not out of some desire for violent conclusion but out of a recognition that violence is already there. As our Egyptian comrades made clear in a statement in solidarity with Oakland, “It is not our desire to participate in violence, but it is even less our desire to lose.” Despite the asymmetrical nature of the war that confronts us, the implements are the same: few can deny the shocking militarization of police departments in recent years, or that this heavy weaponry has been all but openly deployed against the Occupiers. If Clausewitz famously argued that war is politics by other means, a formulation which Foucault slyly reversed, the practical reality of the Occupy Movement is that the two are much more difficult to disentangle from one another. Every word from the mouth of these Democratic Mayors, every leak whispered from a cop to a reporter is a rubber bullet in potentia.
I use the language of war because we will not back down, and because as a result, the war will be brought to us.
But more importantly, I speak of war because this is not a one-sided affair, and we should not allow our opponents to strip us of our status as equals simply because we do not respond in kind. Our power is nothing to scoff at, although it circulates in a manner largely distinct from that which we oppose. Just two nights ago, Occupy Portland swelled into the thousands to defend Chapman and Lownsdale squares, facing down riot police, forcing their retreat, and winning the night in the most absolute of terms. Last night, the plaza was cleared and campers removed, but traces of such a stunning initial victory remain in the confidence and compromise of the occupiers as they regroup and go once more into the breach.
And as I finish, I receive late word from Oakland that the occupiers have re-taken Oscar Grant Plaza without more than a symbolic police presence, and even later word of a massive crackdown of Zucotti Park in Lower Manhattan. Another skirmish lost, another battle won, but the long war stretches out before us like an interminable horizon.
There is a also a good treatise at Cpunch on violence/non violence… I happened not to have grown up in a home that prattled the glories of Gandhi… and I recall reading an assessment of Martin that has always made sense to me, that he was not purely nonviolent, he used the violence of the State. Makes sense to me. It certainly looked that way, over and over….
[F]irst, as Mike King and others have pointed out, the belief that so-called non-violence works and that it is the legitimating feature of a protest, is part of a delusion that afflicts the more privileged- which often means more white- members of the occupy movement. I myself have fallen prey to this in the past. “Protest non-violently and everything will be ok. Remember Dr. King and all he accomplished. If you work with the system it will bend to your needs.” This is all part of the ideology of a privileged though often well intentioned group of people who simply don’t have to deal with the violence that ensures the domestic order of the US-led capitalist-imperialist machine. Are the unemployed, homeless, under-paid and overworked, imprisoned, and dispossessed masses not subject to brutal levels of violence on a daily basis? Is the American capitalist system not propped up by imperialist adventures that tally their casualties in the millions? Indeed, have the nonviolent protest movements of the past actually brought to fruition a free and equal society? Adhering blindly to the rhetoric of violence/nonviolence is a de facto denial of the brutality suffered by literally billions throughout history, and it unfortunately does little to bring about historical justice.
Second, there is a fundamental misrecognition of the role of the state in a capitalist society at work in the ideology of nonviolence. The state, as Marx once said, is the bourgeoisie’s internal committee for the handling of its own affairs. One of the biggest affairs to be handled in a capitalist society is, of course, the fundamentally unjust and unequal class-relationship between capital and labor. Capital, by its very nature, relies on this unequal relationship; and history, by all accounts, has shown that the owners of capital, and its managers and representatives within the state, will consistently apply the most brutal levels of force to maintain this class relationship. What could be clearer than the fact that this power will not be relinquished without a fight?
Finally, non-violence could never be more than one tactic amongst a variety of tactics for the Left to employ in pursuit of broader strategic goals. In American protest politics, however, it often appears as an end in itself. This is a fallacy, which mistakes means for ends, and it needs to be rooted out aggressively as a hindrance to the ultimate goal, which, for revolutionaries, is the end of an oppressive, class-based, racist, sexist, violent system that has its roots deep in the capitalist mode of production. This is where the real violence is, and it is the collective desire to see this system confined to the dustbin of history- not the adherence to an empty ideology, come what may- that is the true litmus test for any revolutionary struggle.
And a last bit from a visitor to Zuccotti Park over the past weeks:
[S]everal union tradesmen stood nearby. One in particular caught my eyes because he was covered in dust. Then I learned that he had been a first responder on 9/11 as a union plumber and had never washed the clothing out of respect for those that died. His sign said: “Hey NYPD I am a real 9/11 WTC first responder wearing the dust of your friends and families from 10 years ago. SHAME.” A carpenter, Dave Buccola, was standing there and I thought his face was familiar. We had several interesting discussions as he talked about coming in from Brooklyn over the past two months and staying at some times.
One of the speakers focused on how confusing the movement must look to the authoritarian folks looking at it.
“We are a horizontal movement. The cops think that power looks like shouting orders. We do things differently here. We use consensus processes. There means we create space to hear as many voices as possible and seek decisions that are not just majority decisions but decisions that everyone consents to.”
The movement speakers know that their efforts will meet fierce, perhaps violent opposition, but know that a movement dies when it stop moving. Hopefully, you can join us either here or at your closest rally on Thursday.
Centre Street near Chambers: Marchers stream across the Brooklyn Bridge. (Photo by Pearl Gabel for New York Daily News)