Skip to content

How OWS actually works

2011 November 4
by Ian Welsh

Read.  I will add that this account jives with what I have heard through other sources.

(No, OWS is not leaderless, and the General Assembly is heavily managed.)

The question about OWS has always been how it will metastasize.  That remains in the air.  At the current time, one ideological fight is over absolute non-violence, and an attempt is being made by many in the Oakland/SF area to drive the anarchists completely out of the movement.  Problem being that since non-violence is the rule, they have to rely on the police to remove the anarchists and the police aren’t cooperating any more.

87 Responses
  1. November 4, 2011

    I was at work the other day and we got a warning that “the anarchists” were planning to march against the police and vandalize and maybe hurt people. I took that to mean the cops were getting ready to attack the occupiers, but everyone else in the office jumped on that as an excuse to turn against the occupy movement (seems like they have been fumbling around for a couple weeks to find lame complaints about it). It reminds me of NAMBLA always inserting itself into any gay rights protests back in the 80s and 90s. Those OWS folks are going to have to get very creative to figure out how outmaneuver the police and “anarchists” (although they are probably the same)

  2. Ian Welsh permalink
    November 5, 2011

    Some of the anarchists are real, some are operatives from the cops. Anarchists in the SF area are a big part of the left, so I am willing to believe that many of them were real.

    Running away from them doesn’t strike me as smart, but then I don’t care what ordinary people’s opinions are, they simply do not, objectively, matter. Personally I would say “well, that is unfortunate, and of course we don’t approve of violence, but it is understandable and I’m afraid we just can’t keep it under control when there are no jobs, no healthcare and no future for so many people.”

  3. Pepe permalink
    November 5, 2011

    I wish the folks over at FDL were as clever in response, rather than pearl-clutching on queue. (I’ve been weening myself off FDL as most of my fave commenters have departed for greener pastures).

  4. November 5, 2011

    I didn’t mean running away was the answer. But standing with the cops on one side and the excuse for the cops to break your teeth on the other side is not a good place to be, unless you really want to be a martyr, and I’m sure some folks do.

  5. Ian Welsh permalink
    November 5, 2011

    The cops will find an excuse anyway, if that’s what they want to do. In Toronto they deliberately let the black Bloc go, then went after protestors sitting on the ground singing the national anthem. In other cases they have claimed someone threw a bottle, and so on. There’s always going to be someone who gives them an excuse, if only looking at them the wrong way.

    I don’t think you can win the PR war on this because at best the media is going to do he said/she said, but I also don’t think it matters.

  6. selise permalink
    November 5, 2011

    “well, that is unfortunate, and of course we don’t approve of violence, but it is understandable and I’m afraid we just can’t keep it under control when there are no jobs, no healthcare and no future for so many people.”

    great response! only change i would suggest is to change the first “we” to an “I.”

    i wish more americans would remember the original tea party (or at least the myth. i have no idea what really happened): a great deal property damage was done (cost of the tea), but no one took the tea home or took actions that risked injury to bystanders. children used to be, and maybe still are, taught in school to honor that action.

    fwiw, diversity of tactics is something to think about. for me, it means solidarity with allies who use different means than i would choose, so long as they are not taking an action i consider morally wrong for it own sake.

    p.s. final note. nonviolence is NOT the same thing as pacifism (the language is unfortunate in the extreme). wish people would do their homework on that before attempting to use it as a litmus test for participation.

  7. Celsius 233 permalink
    November 5, 2011

    “Remember, remember
    The fifth of November
    The gunpowder treason and plot.
    I know of no reason
    Why the gunpowder treason
    Should ever be forgot.”

    Just a reminder…

  8. jcapan permalink
    November 5, 2011

    “an attempt is being made by many in the Oakland/SF area to drive the anarchists completely out of the movement”

    Based on? Violence alone or their larger ideology? I’d imagine the Bay Area is a microcosm of the global anarchist movement, heavily fragmented with a majority opposed to violence. Naturally, the latter doesn’t get any attention.

  9. November 5, 2011

    Selise, et al, re: “Diversity of Tactics,” Bay Area radicalism, big changes in New York, and so forth.

    Oakland strikes me as a really good place to work out some of questions and problems surrounding just how radical the OWS Movement becomes.

    Oakland’s underlying radicalism runs deep and wide, though it seems it is not well known outside the Bay Area itself. That’s fine. People will come to learn about it in their own time.

    In the meantime, the participants in Oakland (which now include a whole lot of our local Occupy contingent who find Oakland’s radicalism more congenial to their principles…) can consider what really needs to be part of the Movement and what can be set aside.

    I didn’t see the Black Bloc Diversity of Tactics as being all that disruptive in the long run. They did what they do; the damage from their vandalism was minor — compared to what they could have done — and the contrast between their actions and the overall tone and tenor of Occupy Oakland was stark and was noticed and pointed out by media and casual observers alike.

    Black Bloc is not Occupy Oakland and it is not the Movement, in other words. It could not have been made clearer, especially given the efforts of so many of the demonstrators to thwart the actions of the Black Bloc. Some of the scenes were truly amazing. This is the ironic value of Black Bloc. Their vandalism has the effect of highlighting the “good works” of the vast majority of the demonstrators, many of whom are, have always been, and will continue to be anarchists.

    Set aside Black Bloc for the moment.

    Anarchists are far more diverse than Black Bloc and anarchists provided the intellectual space for the OWS Movement to occur at all. But there has always been a deep-seated animosity toward them within the Movement. The Reformation via Spokes Council in New York is one way to overcome the influence of anarchists and transform the Movement from something truly radical and revolutionary to something more easily comprehensible and digestible by the increasingly nervous Powers That Be.

    However, Oakland right now is the Energy Center for the whole Movement. What happens there will have a strong influence on the rest of the Movement, especially how Oakland’s inherent radicalism is utilized for the overall “good.”

    What happens in New York is not irrelevant, but it isn’t necessarily determinative. Their New Model Spokes Council is the way they have chosen to go forward. It’s not the only way, the Movement is not a unity (at least not yet it isn’t), and I’d keep my eye on Oakland rather than New York for clues to how the Movement will ultimately develop — or potentially perish.

  10. November 5, 2011

    My question of Occupy has always been just who are its leaders and what do they want? To myself the question is do I want to support them, and I still await the information that would let me answer that.

    Violence is inherently authoritarian, regardless of who is violent. Occupy is an anarchist movement with or without the violence. I do not see how inviting a crackdown is going to help Occupy as a political movement: when it comes to violence, Occupy is not a patch on the government, or even private security forces. Occupy’s great strength lies in its widespread popular support, and in the real grievances it gives voice to. If it turns into a factionalized violent movement, it will lose that support and much of its power.

  11. par4 permalink
    November 5, 2011

    Great link,Ian. THXBYE

  12. selise permalink
    November 5, 2011

    Ché Pasa, thanks. all good food for thought.

    re:

    “the “good works” of the vast majority of the demonstrators, many of whom are, have always been, and will continue to be anarchists.”

    and

    “anarchists provided the intellectual space for the OWS Movement to occur at all.”

    totally agree (also with other similar comments above).

    i have a question though on one point:

    “But there has always been a deep-seated animosity toward them within the Movement.”

    why do you think this is?

    maybe not enough experience working with anarchists (i don’t know enough to know or label my own politics, but my experiences working with anarchists has been uniformly extremely positive — shit gets done, everyone has a voice and i learn a ton). or is it something else?

    (actually have other questions too, but will stop for now).

  13. November 5, 2011

    selise: regarding the widespread animosity toward anarchism and anarchists.

    Almost the only thing most people know about anarchy/anarchism/anarchists has to do with the vandalism and provocation by the Black Bloc, or if they are scholars they might know about the LA Times bombing, the various assassinations or other things anarchists were involved in or blamed for back in the day.

    They don’t know anything else. When Ian or anyone else says

    an attempt is being made by many in the Oakland/SF area to drive the anarchists completely out of the movement

    the idea doesn’t even compute. Occupy Oakland is unimaginable without its anarchists! It wouldn’t BE. On the other hand, they have to come up with some way to handle the vandal wing of anarchism (btw, I strongly doubt the vandalism in Oakland was precipitated by police provocateurs.) I thought what was done on Wednesday — essentially standing between the Black Bloc and their targets and shaming the vandals out of causing further damage — worked very well.

    Shame is turning into a startlingly effective tool when it is applied forcefully.

    I share your admiration and appreciation for anarchists and what can be accomplished with them. Those who unthinkingly denounce or condemn them all — because of the Black Bloc tactics — miss out on knowing some truly exceptional and generous human beings.

    My main problem with anarchism is the issue of scale. But that’s another topic altogether.

  14. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    November 5, 2011

    Way Off Topic

    Had anyone seen this? http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2011/11/05/MN3V1LOKC9.DTL

    key words: asteroid and 200,000 miles (its further to the moon) and on Tuesday next

  15. NomadUK permalink
    November 5, 2011

    ‘jibe’, not ‘jive’. Other than that, not much to say.

  16. November 5, 2011

    Ché, I’d taken Occupy as a whole as an anarchist movement: one with moderate goals, but organized and operated with a minimum of a coercion. It surprises me that more people don’t see it that way. It is one of its great successes–maybe its greatest success–that it has shown the world that this is possible. Now–I don’t know if this can be sustained. I rather think not. But Occupy has already changed the world. It may be enough.

    And it is for the rest of us to act on what we have been shown.

  17. November 5, 2011

    Speaking of OT: it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s an…ornithopter?

    http://www.ted.com/talks/a_robot_that_flies_like_a_bird.html

  18. November 5, 2011

    Dear Elites,

    If you want to see this movement implode, simply donate millions of dollars to any OWS branch of notable size, and then watch as it crumbles.

    Money is power, and power corrupts. You should know that.

  19. StewartM permalink
    November 5, 2011

    guest:

    It reminds me of NAMBLA always inserting itself into any gay rights protests back in the 80s and 90s. Those OWS folks are going to have to get very creative to figure out how outmaneuver the police and “anarchists”

    Sigh. You are absolutely right, in an unintentional way.

    Once again, the Left shoots its own left flank and does the Right’s job for them. That was true with the gay rights movement you mentioned, it was true about the AFL-CIO and its “Red” component, and from what you say it’s true of OWS. Note the Right does not shoot its right flank, because it realizes that said right flank helps drive the Overton Window rightward.

    And, as Ian said, the Right will still find an excuse to crack skulls. Kicking out the commies did not endear labor to the Right, now did it, and see what happened to them over the long haul?

    -StewartM

  20. November 5, 2011

    “key words: asteroid and 200,000 miles (its further to the moon) and on Tuesday next”

    If anything really good happens to me on Monday, I’ll let you know. The asteroid will hit us then for sure.

  21. StewartM permalink
    November 5, 2011

    Che Pasa

    Anarchists are far more diverse than Black Bloc and anarchists provided the intellectual space for the OWS Movement to occur at all. But there has always been a deep-seated animosity toward them within the Movement. The Reformation via Spokes Council in New York is one way to overcome the influence of anarchists and transform the Movement from something truly radical and revolutionary to something more easily comprehensible and digestible by the increasingly nervous Powers That Be.

    First of all–anarchists (to me at least) seem to be a heckuva lot saner and less goofy than libertarians as a rule. Nor should they be associated with violence per se. I’m sick of the stereotype of “anarchist” as “bomb (or bottle) thrower”.

    -StewartM

  22. StewartM permalink
    November 5, 2011

    Jared Folkins:

    If you want to see this movement implode, simply donate millions of dollars to any OWS branch of notable size, and then watch as it crumbles.

    I wrote earlier that if the elites were smart, instead of thundering against OWS they’d co-opt it and even commercialize it, making it into 2011’s pet rock or Rubik’s cube, complete with celebrities doing the “tent city thing” in front of interviewers. Commercializing something trivializes it.

    -StewartM

  23. Towner permalink
    November 5, 2011

    Sanity. And critical thinking as always. Thank you all.

    @Pepe, the pearl clutching at FDL is not the worst of it.

    spocko wrote a post titled, “Time to Identify the Occupy Vandals” arguing for the necessity of working closely with the Oakland police to out as many “anarchists” as possible. He called on others to review video footage etc. Yet, without even providing any basis or argument for why the FDL community should take such drastic action the majority of the over 130 comments were uncritically on board. It was just what “we” have to do to save the “purity of the movement” from “them.”

    I’m not at all surprised by the knee-jerk and close minded responses to the “violence” from liberals who worry that this is bad, bad, bad for the movement because now the corporate media will have something to discredit the movement ad nauseam . But spocko’s call for a witch hunt should give any committed leftist reason for pause.

    http://my.firedoglake.com/spocko/2011/11/03/time-to-identify-the-occupy-vandals/

    @ Ché Pasa, I’m hopeful (because) the energy of the movement has shifted to Oakland. Is that where you are?

    I’ve had very little experience with anarchist theory but I’ve been reading up quickly.
    For starters, I read David Graeber’s guest post at Naked Capitalism whereby he recounts his very early involvement with OWS. For those who don’t know, Graeber is an anthropologist who’s also deeply involved in anarchist and anti-capitalist movements around the world. He has a new book which has just come out, Revolutions in Reverse: Essays on Politics, Violence, Art, and Imagination, which is available freely online: (http://www.minorcompositions.info/?p=284).

    Btw, while much of the liberal blogosphere was worried about anarchists in there mist, Yves Smith understood the point of the Oakland general strike and why it was an immediate success, pointing to an article in the Financial Times noting how the financial elite are taking notice because of the movements potential to disrupt the flow of capitol! I’m far from Oakland, but the impression I get is that many people there on the ground understand this as fundamental.

    Another place I’ve been reading is Crimethinc. See this “letter to the occupiers” for example:
    http://www.crimethinc.com/blog/2011/10/07/dear-occupiers-a-letter-from-anarchists/.

    But I’ve also been specifically interested in the theories behind black block tactics. And there’s some interesting reading there as well. Going back through various footage from the general strike I’d bet the Whole Foods action was in fact a planned black bloc action. Those guys are organized, its hardly the stuff of “random acts of violence” or “thoughtless thuggery.” The more I reviewed the Whole Foods incident, the more I began to appreciate the way the conflict between anarchists and the privileged liberals defending Whole Foods (who else would defend a Whole Foods store?) dramatized deep hypocrisies in mainstream liberalism. Even more pointed, was some footage I saw of occupy protesters defending Citibank against the “kids in black.” One defender was even holding one of those subversive adbuster American flags with corporate logos replacing the stars. Rich.

    @Ian, I agree completely. No point in running, it is self defeating.

    My two cents on your suggested response would be more like, “well, that is unfortunate, and of course we don’t approve of violence, but what we witnessed yesterday was not violence but relatively minor acts of vandalism. Violence is when a cop fractures the skull of an innocent peaceful protester practicing his 1st amendment rights. Violence is dropping bombs on innocent civilians from unmanned drones. Violence is subjecting entire populations to homelessness, unemployment, poverty and debt slavery so that Wall Street bankers can take even more billions of dollars out of the economy to satisfy their greed. Now we don’t approve of vandalism either but I’m afraid we just can’t keep it under control so long as there are no jobs, no healthcare and no future for so many people.”

  24. Towner permalink
    November 5, 2011

    @ StewartM,

    I read somewhere, I think Alternet, that MTV has already casted four “OWS youths” for a special OWS Real World. The author claimed that that might not necessarily be a bad thing for the movement as it could help “educate” America’s youth! Yes, MTV, a network owned by the world’s fourth largest media conglomerate (Viacom), is the perfect venue for educating youth about radical democracy.

  25. Ian Welsh permalink
    November 5, 2011

    Towner: even better statement, I agree, though I’m not against people fighting back against the cops.

    The occupyMarines are on the edge, they didn’t take kindly to 3 cops beating one marine vet. Called them cowards, wanted to know who they were, and implied retaliation.

    I do not disapprove, I’m afraid.

  26. jcapan permalink
    November 5, 2011

    First off, what Ché Pasa said (espec. the 1st comment). Ian, any way to add the time to a comment, not just the date?

    And Raven, while I think non-violence is strategically the better course, this–“Violence is inherently authoritarian, regardless of who is violent”–is just silly. During the Rwandan genocide, should the Tutsis have submitted in Gandhian compliance when groups of machete-wielding Hutus came to slaughter their neighbors, their families, their small children? Would using violence to protect their loved ones have been “authoritarian”?

    Towner–if the movement is about working with the police and being concerned about WTF the corporate media thinks…

    As for the leaders of the leaderless protest with a 1/2 a mil, and the exclusion of groups who preach an alternative gospel, two words: Menshevik vs. Bolshevik.

  27. eliza black permalink
    November 5, 2011

    The only protest I’ve ever attended was in Madison, WI this past winter and it was all nice snowflakes in everybody’s hair. Okay. Noncredentials stated. I’m still cognating on non-hierarchical structures . In Nietzsche the Olympic games break down if anybody is too big to fail, and that person is ostracized. Anons disable would be leaders – so there’s a built in refusal of authority. I would not bet on the power abhors a vacuum theory to prevail.

  28. November 5, 2011

    Thanks to you Che Pasa. You’ve been cross posted over at correntewire and I have devoured all your reports and thoughts.
    I thought Chris Hedges’ interview with an activist who operates outside the system from the San Fran area really interesting. http://www.truthdig.com/report/page2/a_master_class_in_occupation_20111031/

    I also think the perspective from blackagendareport.com is essential. http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/occupy-where-whats-it-black-and-brown-people?destination=node%2F12712
    I wrote a piece about Bruce Dixon’s essay. Naive person that I am, I had no idea that there were places in the U.S. where it is a crime to feed the poor. A crime to pitch a tent? Obviously, a crime to be poor.
    And Adam Curtis’ blog has insights into the Sixties radicals in Britain. http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/2011/09/the_curse_of_tina.html

  29. BDBlue permalink
    November 5, 2011

    A couple of links I thought folks here might find interesting –

    this Ted Rall cartoon, via Susie Madrak – http://susiemadrak.com/?p=27820

    via Arthur Silber, (http://powerofnarrative.blogspot.com/2011/11/sorrowful-silence.html) and who will be writing more about violence, Thoreau’s remarks about John Brown, here – http://thoreau.eserver.org/plea.html

  30. BDBlue permalink
    November 5, 2011

    Also, re the FDL diary by spocko urging folks to turn in the vandals, what could strengthen a movement more than having its members hunt out the “bad ones” and turn them in to the authorities? What could possibly go wrong?

  31. Marsha permalink
    November 5, 2011

    From Chris Floyd: “It seems to me that the whole point of the Occupy movement, in its multiplicity of forms, is to MAKE A START. To not simply bow the head and bend the knee, and give up and say, Oh Lordy, the Man is too powerful for me, He controls everything, there’s nothing anyone can do. The point, it seems to me, is just to show up and stand up and say out loud, as Thoreau said, “We disassociate ourselves from this rigged, corrupt, immoral system.”

  32. selise permalink
    November 5, 2011

    ché pasa,

    thanks for the reply

    seems strange that so many would buy the scary anarchists line when it comes from the same sources who’ve lied to us about so much else. will hope that many will have the opportunity to learn differently through their own experiences.

    “On the other hand, they have to come up with some way to handle the vandal wing of anarchism”

    i’m not willing to shun black bloc or call them all vandals. i’m willing to call out specific acts which seem to me immoral. that’s it.

    i mean, for example, who defines vandalism? when a fence is put up to keep the occupation out of a public space, is it vandalism to take down the fence, stack it neatly and go about recreating the occupation? if the police and laws say that’s a crime and call it vandalism, does that mean i have to too? my answer is “no.”

    towner,

    thanks for the (depressing) link. your comments were great.

    i don’t know anything about david graeber other than what i’ve read. but i love this bit from starhawk (who i have seen in action and have tremendous respect for) describing a teach-in on anarchism in nyc during the 2004 rnc:

    “David Graeber talked about how anarchists actually believe in those things we learned in kindergarten, like sharing, and not hitting, and using your words. And then we grow up and are suddenly supposed to accept that the world is a cruel and cynical place. Democrats blow people up. Republicans blow people up. Anarchists don’t actually blow anybody up—in fact, we oppose it, so why are we the terrorists?”

    http://www.starhawk.org/activism/activism-writings/RNC_update4.html

  33. November 5, 2011

    jcapan, that’s a powerful argument. I suppose in the case of real threat and real defense violence it is legitimate. (Stern lawgiver Gandhi, note, did not agree.) It is, however, invariably the argument used to justify violence: we must protect our homes and families. All the right wing terrorists claim to be defending against a threat. It is not a coincidence that the most problematic of US national security agencies is called “Homeland Security.”

    Turning to the case at hand, it isn’t a question of defending Whole Foods or banks; it’s a matter of rejecting coercion. The rule I often state about police coercion applies equally to violent activism: first they do it for you, then they do it to you, and I don’t want to see it done to me and mine.

  34. selise permalink
    November 5, 2011

    “Gandhian compliance” !!???!!

    not particularly a gandhian here. but just want to be clear, in case there is some confusion about this point: active nonviolence involves NON-compliance, not compliance.

  35. Ian Welsh permalink
    November 5, 2011

    Gandhi told the Jews that they should march into the camps to be killed, actually. Gandhian non-violence can be pretty scary stuff.

    But what Gandhi would say today, I suspect, is that you need millions, and that you have to all refuse to use the banks, refuse to pay taxes, block all access to Wall Street, etc… And if they kill you in thousands or tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands when you do so, you keep doing it. Non compliance means non compliance even in the face of violence. Gandhi would note that the system simply cannot run without the compliance of Americans and that the vast majority comply, and their compliance is consent.

    Gandhian non-compliance is extraordinarily stern. Of course both Gandhi and MLK also explicitly said if you can’t bring yourself to sit there as they beat you then it is better to resist violently than to endure injustice.

    The violent wing of a movement is often necessary. “you can negotiate with us… or with them…” “I don’t know if I can keep them under control…” Etc…

    A lot of Indians died during the resistance to the Brits. A hell of a lot. Even more died during independence. My father was there during partition, when they died. He never talked about it.

    Gandhian non violence involves a lot of violence and death.

    Death and violence are going to occur, the question is just who’s doing what to whom.

  36. November 5, 2011

    selise:

    i’m not willing to shun black bloc or call them all vandals. i’m willing to call out specific acts which seem to me immoral. that’s it.

    Agreed.

    “Handling” isn’t — by any means — the same as shunning. The Black Bloc was marching right up front in Oakland; there was no effort I could see to make them go away or to “drive them completely out of the movement.” Nor do I expect there will be as a consequence of the Black Bloc actions during the General Strike. These kinds of actions have a purpose in the Movement, and I think many of those involved in Occupy Oakland are familiar enough and comfortable enough with that purpose to accept Black Bloc as a partner.

    If Occupy Oakland has room for the Black Bloc, as they seem to, then they’ll need to be able to handle the resulting actions and the fall out from them. I don’t doubt they can do it, but I wouldn’t say they were prepared to do so on Strike Day. The level of keening and garment rending among Oakland activists after 17 or 18 windows were broken was heart-rending. Interestingly, the police seemed to understand better than some of the activists.

    The risk is always that the real merits of Anarchist thought and action will be obscured by anxiety over squatting, graffiti and broken windows… the dreaded “lawbreaking” in other words. On the other hand, given the level of provocation by the Overclass…
    —————-
    Graeber is very good — and I think very clear — about the fundamentals, Movement history and all of that. His essays in “Revolutions in Reverse” are useful background to say the least. (thanks for the link Towner!)

    There is a myth that asserts the OWS Movement suddenly sprang from the vacuum. From out of nothing. That’s hardly the case. There is a vast amount of ideological, philosophical, and practical preparation for what we see today. But because it is not strictly an anarchist movement but draws from all sorts of alternative approaches to building a better future, not all of them “leftist”, it’s almost impossible to suppress it.

  37. November 6, 2011

    Ian, on Gandhi, just so. It is frightening to encounter such a powerful belief in law. Gandhi made the most extreme religious look moderate in their devotion.

    “It is better to resist violently than to endure injustice” was not intended as a justification for violence! It is also another way to sacrifice yourself. Protesters in the USA cannot match the government’s capability for violence. Consider, too, that the USA is so well armed and has so many vets that a violent uprising would make Somalia look mild by comparison.

    Ché, “[OWS] is not strictly an anarchist movement but draws from all sorts of alternative approaches to building a better future, not all of them ‘leftist,’ it’s almost impossible to suppress it.”

    In its political practice Occupy is anarchist, though the policies the General Assemblies are endorsing reflect that actual US center. For the rest of you, “anarchism” has not historically meant no order and no law, it means non-coercive order and law. One might almost call it radical democracy, instead; a democracy that extends to every aspect of life. It is a very naïve anarchism that advocates an atomized society.

  38. StewartM permalink
    November 6, 2011

    The Raven:

    “It is better to resist violently than to endure injustice” was not intended as a justification for violence! It is also another way to sacrifice yourself. Protesters in the USA cannot match the government’s capability for violence. Consider, too, that the USA is so well armed and has so many vets that a violent uprising would make Somalia look mild by comparison.

    That may indeed be so (or not). However, there is a cost to the elites in brutal repression too! It’s the equivalent of burning down your own home in order to get rid of a pest infestation (sorry to use that metaphor, but I’m sure that’s the way they look at us, so maybe it’s apt).

    Moreover, the very means of repression depend on the continuation of what the village you’re destroying in order to “save”. Since the elites are damned intent to pay no taxes, who’s going to pay for all that police and military once you’ve burned down the economy?

    Violence in such a context is thus the equivalent of MAD in nuclear warfare. You’re right, it’s probably not a way you’re going to “win”. MAD is a lose-lose proposition: yes, we lose, but you lose too. And as the economic prospects for the 99 % continue to worsen, then they have a lot less to lose than do the elites.

    Say what you will, but MAD in the context of the Cold War worked to preserve peace. The US and the USSR and others all decided when push came to shove, risking losing all they had wasn’t worth any dubious “victory” they could get by pushing a nuclear button. Similarly, for that reason, the threat of a equivalent MAD in this context should not be taken off the table.

    -StewartM

  39. November 6, 2011

    Anarchism is a broad, political category. See: Bakunin, Kropotkin, Goldman, etc.

    It’s also a tad dangerous, given that a close reading of Rand shows her aping the likes of Bakunin (no surprise given her background). It’s easy to take the individualist portion of complex anarchism to its illogical extremes. And while my reading of the subject is, unfortunately, more broad than deep, i see some issues with retaining a balance between the individual and his societal context.

    I suppose that issue can be axiomatically resolved if you believe humans to be rational creatures, but i’ve yet to see a proof that the majority of humans behave rationally in the majority of instances. We’ve also seen that it’s far easier to retroactively apply axiomatic rationality to individualist behavior than collective; eg. modern America.

    But the shunning of anarchists within the Occupy movement by the likes of FDL’s hive mind is just the triumph of mediocrity and “moderatism”. People so conditioned by their political system that they don’t even recognize the box, much less have the ability to think outside it.

  40. S Brennan permalink
    November 6, 2011

    Good Point Lex,

    Libertarianism & Anarchism have interlocking roots in that the “self” is the absolute judge of morality…and from personal experience with people, I have found the “self” is capable of shocking levels of self delusion and justifications of immorality.

    When that “self” is elevated so far above the rest of the population, as is now the norm for the ruling oligarchy of the USA, the self-delusion is inevitable, self indulgent and inherently corrupt.

    I do not believe the vast majority of OWS supporters want further unfettering of the ruling .01%. I think those who want a structured degree of fairness should not be confused with those that want the complete liberation of “self” from outside societal regulation.

    The freedom to do one wants sounds enticing until you consider what it means if everybody shares the same freedom…not just you and your friends.

    “…the term “libertarianism” has often been used as a synonym for anarchism[36] and was used almost exclusively in this sense until the 1950s in the United States;[37] its use as a synonym is still common outside the United States.[38] Accordingly, “libertarian socialism” is sometimes used as a synonym for socialist anarchism…” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarchism

  41. November 6, 2011

    But the shunning of anarchists within the Occupy movement by the likes of FDL’s hive mind is just the triumph of mediocrity and “moderatism”. People so conditioned by their political system that they don’t even recognize the box, much less have the ability to think outside it.

    If ever I heard a triumph of pigeonholing it is in this statement. Speaking of creating a “box,” and remaining inside of it! You are not the only offender here on this subject, Lex.

    spocko’s diary was not a call to purge to purge anarchists. It was to identify actors coloring outside of the lines of the consensually approved wisdom of non-violent strategy. A well-considered strategy, I might add. If mayhem was on the menu, this movement never would have gotten out of September. If anything, spocko’s focus (and “130 uncritical commenters”) is more on discovering State-sponsored provocations.

    As has been said elsewhere in this thread, anarchists are not, in the majority, violent actors. But in the service of the intent to smear wholesale the contributors and readership of FDL as some sort of myopic hive-mind, the straw-man is to say that they must think anarchy=violence, and therefore they are mindlessly casting out the contributions of anarchist thought to the OWS movement and thus are off to the purge. As always, bigotry and projection walk hand-in-hand.

    The FireDogLake diarists and readership have done much to nurture this movement from the beginning, while other “realists” were still preening about with their hard-earned cynicism.

  42. Ian Welsh permalink
    November 6, 2011

    I wonder how many people read the link? OWS is heavily managed by leadership. That leadership thinks they know better than the general assembly and is making sure to maintain control over the money raised in the name of the movement. When they don’t want something discussed by the General Assembly, they make sure it isn’t discussed. When they want something passed, they bring it up first and make sure it gets voted on fast.

    OWS uses, and has from the very beginning, cops to maintain order. A friend of mine witnessed them, in NY, arranging with cops for people to be arrested. The Spocko diary is an attempt to do the same thing. You may think this is a good strategy, I don’t. It is also far more morally repugnant than breaking a few windows.

    If you want to support OWS materially, give OWS practical goods (not money).

  43. jcapan permalink
    November 6, 2011

    “I suppose that issue can be axiomatically resolved if you believe humans to be rational creatures, but i’ve yet to see a proof that the majority of humans behave rationally in the majority of instances [let alone extreme circumstances]”

    In any event, what Lex said. The collectivists over the individualists.

    And sorry I should have written “Gandhian compliance [sic]”–which stands as my interpretation of his theory during suchextreme circumstances.

  44. November 6, 2011

    I said that non-violence was a well-considered strategy – I made no comment on spocko’s recommendations – only that he wasn’t coming from a position of brown-shirting anarchists en masse – which was the developing narrative on this thread. To whatever extent people are being turned over to the police, I find this objectionable as well.

    I did indeed read that article. Three times, I found it so unsettling. I guess the only thing I can say is that I don’t posit the heart of the movement within the greedhead coalescences that predictably develop around money. Instead, the author of that dissenting article better describes it for me. OWS may indeed break against this rock, but as long there are Fritz Tuckers around, I’ll hang.

    You make a good point about goods, not money. Money’s oil-and-water with the OWS movement.

  45. November 6, 2011

    I don’t need anarchists or OWS to smear the hive-mind of FDL. There are some good commenters and diarists over there, and i respect Suin and Wheeler very much. While i admit that i haven’t been there in a long time, i don’t go there because it’s mostly a bunching of preening Democrats who establish lines of ideological purity that shall not be crossed. I’ve seen too many threads at that place where users get banned for not submitting to authority.

    I don’t really give a shit about electing more, better Democrats. I don’t want to elect another Democrat for the rest of eternity, and if Jesus declared himself a Democrat, i wouldn’t vote for him either.

  46. Ian Welsh permalink
    November 6, 2011

    Marcy and her wingman Bmaz left the FDL collective a few months back. You can find the link to their new home on the sidebar.

    Some good work is done at FDL, and I still know a lot of people there. I do have disagreements with the overall, publisher approved strategy, but FDL is still better than most other large political blogs, so I generally hold my fire.

  47. November 6, 2011

    I don’t really give a shit about electing more, better Democrats.

    You really haven’t been there awhile. Dem apologists like TBogg are becoming outliers there – in fact, the “mainstream” FDL is being attacked as being reflexively anti-Obama these days (not exactly accurate, but there are in-the-can Dems that will not abide criticism of the “party leader.”)

    I’ll note that the “dissenter” branch of FDL – where most of the OWS & Wikileaks reporting occurs – is showing quite a bit of welcome radicalism compared to the site’s more genteel advocacy – it’s pushing FDL’s microcosmic “Overton Window.” I understand completely about the “publisher-approved strategy” – and I find it interesting that Hamsher seems to have to largely distance herself from that branch. It is very rare for her to appear in those threads (I only recall two times since the OWS movement began – there may be some other times), and she is rather demure when she does.

  48. beowulf permalink
    November 7, 2011

    “Dear Elites,
    If you want to see this movement implode, simply donate millions of dollars to any OWS branch of notable size, and then watch as it crumbles.
    Money is power, and power corrupts. You should know that.”

    Jared, your comment reminded me of something:

    “In keeping with AA’s 7th Tradition – “Every AA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.”
    http://www.aaloraincounty.org/donations.html

  49. Uma Spankhurst permalink
    November 7, 2011

    Hmmm. I wonder why the Oakland police aren’t cooperating anymore? Could be all the hate reigned down on them by OWSers AND the mayor?

    This thing is falling apart and will continue to, because the Democratic constituencies have no love for each other, and plenty of hate. And the way they treat the police, even when the police are there to help, is appalling to the mainstream. It’s turning into the 1960s all over again, complete with abuse of women, and um sorry, but I don’t want that.

    I want real change and real reform, and that starts in Washington, DC not NYC. There isn’t a damn thing OWS can do about golden parachutes and excessive Wall Street compensation, or the fuzzy-math financial instruments that deregulation allowed to happen. Not without going to Washington and forcing re-regulation. Not without challenging Obama, Mr. Wall Street himself. But OWS doesn’t want to hear that.

  50. StewartM permalink
    November 7, 2011

    Petro:

    You really haven’t been there awhile. Dem apologists like TBogg are becoming outliers there – in fact, the “mainstream” FDL is being attacked as being reflexively anti-Obama these days (not exactly accurate, but there are in-the-can Dems that will not abide criticism of the “party leader.”)

    That’s my observation as well (as a FDL poster). It’s DK and other sites that worship Dems for them having that (D) beside their name, far more than the typical FDL’er does. In fact, FDL has given representatives of Dem parties and “liberal” groups who come on-site to explain their latest betrayal a rather unwelcome roasting.

    What FDL does not do however, is to condone violence. Posts which make appeals to violence or suggest violence get stricken out by a moderator (usually the particular sentence or phrase).

    Uma Spankhurst

    I want real change and real reform, and that starts in Washington, DC not NYC.

    Since Wall Street is essentially running Washington, DC, as you yourself say, why not just go talk to the boss instead of haranguing the hired help?

    StewartM

  51. November 7, 2011

    Violence is inherently authoritarian, regardless of who is violent.

    That cuts to the heart of this and why I will not condone violence under any circumstances.

    And I think it is radioactive to building the movement. There is tremendous power in sustaining a non-violence movement in the face of police violence. That does not mean pacificism, just non-violence.

  52. November 7, 2011

    Violence is inherently authoritarian, regardless of who is violent.

    That cuts to the heart of this and why I will not condone violence under any circumstances.

    And I think it is radioactive to building the movement. There is tremendous power in sustaining a non-violence movement in the face of police violence. That does not mean pacificism, just non-violence.

  53. November 7, 2011

    Violence is inherently authoritarian, regardless of who is violent.

    Oh c’mon now, what does that even mean? That may sound good but it doesn’t make sense.

  54. November 7, 2011

    @ks:

    Oh c’mon now, what does that even mean? That may sound good but it doesn’t make sense.

    One approach I will take will buttress Ian’s, um, “tolerance” for the occasional percolation of “useful” violence – and that one has to recognize that the firm hand of the system is indeed already engaging in a form of violence against the population, a violence that is directly responsible for the death and suffering of the un-empowered. That is authoritarian violence.

    From the other side – a :”anti-authoritarian” rocks tossed at the establishment’s windows are open bids for an emerging, new authority. That’s the old “old-boss-meets-the-new” thing, and what must be avoided for successful revolution.

    On the specific conundrum being addressed in the original post, and in this thread:

    Occupy’s Asshole Problem: Flashbacks from An Old Hippie

    Relevant paragraph:

    3. The consensus model has a fatal flaw, which is this: It’s very easy for power to devolve to the people who are willing to throw the biggest tantrums. When some a drama king or queen starts holding the process hostage for their own reasons, congratulations! You’ve got a new asshole! (See #2.) You must guard against this constantly, or consensus government becomes completely impossible.

    I would tag the greedheads in the linked Fritz Tucker essay as displaying similar character to the “assholes” that Sara Robinson is writing about.

    My point is that what is being characterized here as some sort of fascist purge on the part of the OWS occupiers, translates instead as a sincere effort to deal with the conundrum of personal-agenda folks who would water down the force of the movement with their own egocentricity. And these criticisms do burn, because there is no love for coercion in the heart of this movement.

  55. November 7, 2011

    Petro,

    Well that’s a very charitable reading of that quote but there’s nothing about violence that’s inherently authoritarian. If anything, it’s inherently human. I think the tendency here is too draw too stark a line and categorize any and all violence from say, drone attacks to rock throwing at BofA’s windows, as the same and as such they can’t be condoned which imo, is a bit ridiculous.

    Also, I’m not sure I agree with your characterization and connection of the linked Tucker essay to the Robinson essay you linked. I see what you are saying but, the Tucker essay goes far beyond any notion of OWS leaders or non-leaders or whatever simply trying to keep the consensus model working by dealing with “personal agenda” folks.

  56. November 7, 2011

    Overall, since we’re back to the whole violence vs. non-violence thing again, it’s time to repeat Ian’s brilliant point made a few threads ago which really does say it all:

    Oh sweet Jesus. The stench of non-violence mythology is strong. Most revolutions in world history have involved violence. Your country was formed by a successful violent revolution.

    This is not about compassion either. People are dying right now, lots of them. They are dying in America, because of America’s economic arrangements. They are dying overseas, because of the West’s economic arrangements. (Most deaths in the Congo, for example, are so you can have cheap electronics and expensive diamonds, most rapes, too). And that’s before we get to the people the West is directly killing in military action. It is also before we get to the millions of lives which could be saved for amounts of money which are pocket change to the West, which we refuse to spend.

    The violence is already ongoing. What you object to is being personally involved in the violence. You want to feel good about yourself, you want to keep your hands clean, you want other people to do the killing for you. Your entire lifestyle is based on other people killing for you. The US uses 25% of the world’s resources, and uses them badly. That kills a lot of people.

    There’s a ton of violence going on already.

    But the important thing is that you can pretend your hands are clean, and continue to use exclusively “non-violent” methods which haven’t worked in the West in going on 40 years.

    Your elites are not going to give you what you want (a share of the money they’re looting) because you ask nicely. If you want non-violence to work, it’s going to involve a ton of getting in people’s faces in really unpleasant ways, and even then, it is unlikely to get you the victory you want. Instead it will put in charge whoever is ready to be in charge already. In Egypt that was the army. In the US it is the resource barons, who will happily sack Wall Street for you, then Frack up a storm.

    I have rarely, if ever, seen it put better than that.

  57. November 7, 2011

    If anything, it’s inherently human.

    I’m not sure that it is. It is certainly a prevailing attribute of the “warrior class” of Western civilization, but I would not be so quick to bind it to the Buddhas of the world and, as such, effectively label them as “non-human.” (And yes, I am conflating authoritarianism and violence with that statement, as I find them inextricable.)

    I think the tendency here is too draw too stark a line

    For true change, stark lines are drawn. There is something… evolutionary… about a man whose eyes are fixed firmly on the mountaintop, and can self-immolate or stand for a fatal beating. These have often appeared as being “non-human” to the rest of us, while in fact they are a marker to what our character can achieve. If I, willfully, draw a stark line. It is a choice, one that cannot brook any apologia regarding my “human” nature.

  58. November 7, 2011

    Petro,

    Again, I hear you but I’m not really into the esoteric part of this debate per se. When I said violence was inherently human, I wasn’t talking about belief systems, the priciples some of us aspire to or live based on, etc. but, the reality in which we’ve existed and I don’t see that reality changing anytime soon. Perhaps I should have said humans have always engaged in violence. Have all humans engaged in violence throughtout all of human history? Of course not but the overall record is pretty clear and to attribute that to the “warrior class” of Western civilization is a bit much.

    In terms of drawing stark lines, I’m not sure there is something evolutionary about dying for one’s beliefs. While the instances you mentioned are certainly courageous examples of this and appear to be more appealing to you than say, going down actively fighting, I don’t think the former is evolutionary.

  59. November 7, 2011

    ks, while we don’t completely agree (though we’re probably pretty close on less-nuanced questions), I want to say thank you for engaging in a thoughtful discussion.

  60. November 7, 2011

    Petro, Indeed. Thank you as well. I too suspect we are closer than we imagine but I tend to lean hard on the cynical side of things while you seem to let your better angels fly.

  61. selise permalink
    November 7, 2011

    ian,

    “Death and violence are going to occur”

    as you’ve written before, death and violence are already occurring. nonviolent action (again: NOT pacifism) is, among other things, a way to respond to that.

    “Gandhian non violence involves a lot of violence and death.”

    unless it is your contention that armed insurrection means less violence and death (and injustice) than nonviolent action; that india, pakistan and the world would be better off today if there had been no nonviolent movement there, what is your point? nonviolence doesn’t come with a fairy tale promise that there will not be violence (again, the language is unfortunate in the extreme).

    re the holocaust. i’m not going to defend gandhi (it would take too much time, others have done it better than i ever could and my heart wouldn’t be in it), but i do think it’s only fair to actually quote the man and give the reference so readers have access to both the actual words and their context. it’s not so simple as, “Gandhi told the Jews that they should march into the camps to be killed, actually.”

    finally, as a practical matter, i don’t think it matters very much what we think gandhi would say today. there’s been a lot of work (theoretical, experience based, etc) since gandhi’s time to develop the ideas and practice of nonviolence (strategic, principled, etc and various attempts at synthesis). as for the nature of political power and how the people can exert their power, gene sharp covered lots of this in the early ’70s (part 1 of Politics of Nonviolent Action, Power and Struggle, is a great introductory resource — broken record here, i think i’ve been recommending this one to you since we disagreed about nonviolence back when you were at the agonist.)

  62. selise permalink
    November 7, 2011

    ché pasa, thanks. very encouraged by your comment and what you have to say about oakland.

  63. Ian Welsh permalink
    November 7, 2011

    Yup, a ton of thinking about non-violence, and it’s less effective than it was in Gandhi’s day. I’d say his thoughts still matter.

    I agree with the old hippie: the loudmouthed self-promoting types who want to let the general council know that they are being fleeced need to be shut up.

    Oh, and definitely “the left” should turn people over to the cops for breaking windows. Yup. Fer’sure. That’ll teach them who OWS’s real enemies are.

    The cops aren’t no longer locking up people for OWS because OWS said baaaad things about them (mostly they haven’t). I mean, don’t get me wrong, police are very very sensitive souls (I mean that about 90% sincerely, the rise of “contempt by cop” shows that many police have skin less than a micron thin), but OWS has gone out of its way to be nice to the cops.

  64. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    November 8, 2011

    Way Off Topic of non-violence and whatever.

    George Monbiot of The Guardian writes:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/07/one-per-cent-wealth-destroyers

    a most rational view of the problem 1%. Pay attention to Monbiot’s numbers and the narrative they are embedded in. This gives a most clear view of those forces directing against the OWS movement. What OWS and the 99%ers (multiple groupings, some overlapping) must prepare to contend with is a psychotic psychopathic adversary – needs be prepared for full crazy. This is not the time to disarm, remove any resource from the table, or tie a defending limb behind the back. No one is saying each has to become involved in what is alien to themselves, but it is also not the time to become fecklessly moral and impose those restrictions on those who maintain otherwise. These conversations are repetitive and absolutely uninteresting, containing nothing that illuminates nor addresses what may be required to survive the present crisis. The ever-present fog of opinions only acts to obscure the reality that needs be faced. It once was a point of ridicule to point out the numbers of angles dancing on the head of a pin, this discussion hasn’t much more to recommend itself.

  65. Celsius 233 permalink
    November 8, 2011

    Formerly T-Bear PERMALINK
    November 8, 2011
    Way Off Topic of non-violence and whatever.
    ==========================
    Very timely; this whole violence/non-violence thing is just mind boggling!
    I’ve not been contributing here because I can’t quite wrap my mind around this non-violence dogma that flies in the face of reality.
    This (the U.S.) isn’t India pre-colonialized; this isn’t like anything in our previous history. This is now, urgent, and deadly.
    But we don’t recognize it and we don’t know how to respond.
    Our fear of violence is pathological and will doom us to enslavement at best and extinction at worst.

  66. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    November 8, 2011

    More Off Topic:

    ‘No evidence’ for extraterrestrials, says White House

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15635612

    Hell, the White House has no evidence of life outside Wall Street.

    Thanks Celsius 233,
    it seems a more rewarding effort to find examples how similar crisis has been handled, economic failures are all too common and to dismiss the past as incapable of addressing problems is pure hedonistic, hubristic ignorance.

  67. selise permalink
    November 8, 2011

    “it’s less effective than it was in Gandhi’s day. ”

    even if true, so what? can you give me something MORE effective that strategic nonviolence with which the social change i want to work for can be accomplished? if yes, then please share. if not, then i ask again: what is your point? why put down something that CAN be effective, unless you have a better alternative to offer?

    i seriously don’t get your scorn. the most courageous — morally and physically — people i know are the ones who attempt to practice nonviolence in their daily lives and are able to engage in serious nonviolent action (and i’m not talking about a little bit of tear gas out in the open). i don’t have that kind of moral or physical courage. why put down people who do?

    … the three paras that begin with “I agree with the old hippie,” have zero to do with nonviolence (or as far as i can tell, my comment), so i’m going to assume they weren’t directed at me.

  68. selise permalink
    November 8, 2011

    Celsius 233, i think most of us are confused and/or disagree about what nonviolent action is (both the supporters and objectors). it’s not about pacifism, avoiding conflict, following the rules or being good little girls and boys so everyone will like us.

    jmo, but i think strategic nonviolence is mostly about how to understand political power and how ordinary people can act to try to exercise that power.

    in any event, one can’t choose nonviolent action for others (and to attempt to do so is particularly hypocritical when it comes from someone who won’t chose it for their own actions): in my opinion, turning someone over to the cops (or throwing them to the ground) for spray painting a wall during a protest is anti-nonviolence — not the spray painting itself.

    just bullies trying to enforce pacifism and rule following on others. blech.

  69. November 8, 2011

    Celsius 233,

    Very well said.

  70. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    November 8, 2011

    From a new OUP (Oxford University Press) abridgement of Karl Marx’s “Capital” comes an economic survey of the English cotton industry’s state:

    “From 1770 to 1815 this trade was depressed or stagnant for 5 years only. During this period of 45 years the English manufacturers had a monopoly of machinery and of the markets of the world. From 1815 to 1821 depression; 1822 and 1823 prosperity; 1824 abolition of the laws against Trades’ Unions, a great extension of factories everywhere; 1825 crisis; 1826 great misery and riots among factory operatives; 1827 slight improvement; 1828 great increase in power-looms, and in exports; 1829 exports, especially to India, surpass all former years; 1830 glutted markets, great distress; 1831 to 1833 continued depression, the monopoly of the trade with India and China withdrawn from the East India Company; 1834 great increase of factories and machinery, shortness of hands. The new poor law furthers the migration of agricultural labourers into the factory districts. The country districts swept of children. White slave trade; 1835 great prosperity, contemporaneous starvation of hand-loom weavers; 1836 great prosperity; 1837 and 1838 depression and crisis; 1839 revival; 1840 great depression, riots, calling out of the military; 1841 and 1842 frightful suffering among the factory operatives; 1842 the manufacturers lock the hands out of the factories in order to enforce the repeal of the Corn Laws. The operatives stream in thousands into the towns of Lancashire and Yorkshire, are driven back by the military, and their leaders brought to trial at Lancaster; 1843 great misery; 1844 revival; 1845 great prosperity; 1846 continued improvement at first, then reaction. Repeal of the Corn Laws; 1847 crisis, general reduction of wages by 10 and more per cent. in honour of the’big loaf’; 1848 continued depression; Manchester under military protection; 1849 revival; 1850 prosperity; 1851 falling prices, low wages, frequent strikes; 1852 improvement begins, strikes continue, the manufacturers threaten to import foreign hands; 1853 increasing exports. Strike for 8 months, and great misery at Preston; 1854 prosperity, glutted markets; 1855 news of failures stream in from the United States, Canada, and the Eastern markets; 1856 great prosperity; 1857 crisis; 1858 improvement; 1859 great prosperity, increase in factories; 1860 Zenith of the English cotton trade, the Indian, Australian and other markets so glutted with goods that even in 1863 they had not absorbed the whole lot; the French Treaty of Commerce[lowering trade barriers twixt England and France], enormous growth of factories and machinery; 1861 prosperity continues for a time, reaction, the American Civil War, cotton famine: 1862 to 1863 complete collapse.” p 275 – 276 ibid [do note 1815 dates end of continental Napoleonic Wars; operatives are industrial labourers; check wiki for Corn Laws]

    In this period England had effectively a world monopoly on cloth production, cotton, wool and silk and still their economic condition was without stability as the survey shows. Many other economic factors also enter into the economic instability, dire wages, overproduction, over capitalization, etc. Not knowing economics, the reader will not pick up on what even to look for in reading this information. Without gaining the substance of the information provided, neither cause, nor nuance, nor effect/affect can be determined, the reader leaves as unenlightened as they were before reading and poorer for the time expended. This example is but one out of economic history which does have a rich narrative of experience to draw upon in meeting todays exigencies, but it will take effort to mine its treasures.

    The quote above is Karl Marx, you now can say you have actually read some of Marx’s words.

  71. November 8, 2011

    @selise:

    …in my opinion, turning someone over to the cops (or throwing them to the ground) for spray painting a wall during a protest is anti-nonviolence — not the spray painting itself.

    just bullies trying to enforce pacifism and rule following on others. blech.

    I have to agree with this.

  72. November 8, 2011

    @selise:

    … the three paras that begin with “I agree with the old hippie,” have zero to do with nonviolence (or as far as i can tell, my comment), so i’m going to assume they weren’t directed at me.

    Yah – that was for me. Ian (apologize for the third person while you’re still in “the room,” Ian) is interpreting the GA/Spokes Council as bullying Fritz Tucker in the article – a valid construction – and turning that against my point that the GA/OWS is engaging in anti-bullying tactics against provocateurs and self-agenda folks within the movement.

    My prior comment, in agreeing with your point about enforcing pacifism, will I hope underscore that I do not approve of violence against these agents in the name of suppression – and that includes turning them into the authorities. I will say, however, that justifying the “inevitable” appearance of these actors is a far swing of the pendulum in the other direction.

    They should be denounced, and persuaded of their damaging ways whenever possible.

  73. November 8, 2011

    hiya petro,

    well, that’s the same problem i had with spocko’s diary and the call to publicly identify people who may have used spray paint…. with not a damn word that i saw about the “peaceful” protesters throwing an accused vandal to the ground.

    the message i got was one of a very twisted notion of nonviolence (something i’ll call anti-nonviolence) where using serious violence and the threat of violence (or just plain bullying) against fellow activists is encouraged.

    there were, thank goodness, a few commenters who challenged the premise of the diary. but the response they received was, um, disappointing to say the least. i know some of those commenter do know better, if they’d only stop to think for themselves (wasn’t an environment with a lot of encouragement for independent thought though).

    if spray painting is morally repugnant to someone — and i don’t doubt this is true for some… honest, thoughtful people are going to disagree about this stuff. for those who proclaim to support nonviolence, there are ways to respond with — duh — nonviolent action. a couple of examples are: getting between the spray paint and the wall (i saw someone do this on one of the youtubes i watched — very cool!) or organizing a clean up patrol to go back the clean up the mess.

    instead what i’m seeing is petty vandalism being condemned as “violence” and responded to with anti-nonviolent actions — by people who proclaim to favor nonviolence! i’m not so crazy about the hypocrisy but was really irks me is the false message: anti-nonviolence is proclaimed to be support of nonviolence. george orwell would be proud.

    and that’s the pity… that kind of anti-nonviolence leaves the-powers-that-be in charge, even to the extent of being in charge of our minds and our consciences.

  74. Kropotkin's Beard permalink
    November 8, 2011

    The sense I get is that liberals are not very familiar with anarchist practice and/or thought. This makes sense because the academia literally has wiped the anarchist presence from the cannon for mostly ideological reasons. The academia itself is a vertical dictatorship and hence would naturally shun an ideology that shuns hierarchy!

    The OWS represents perhaps the largest historical anarchist experiment, though liberals are loath to admit it. Liberalism is essentially an unworkable ideology in an era in which reformist half-measures are powerless to halt the juggernaut of corporate capitalism. Anarchism is. People are just scared to admit that this battered creed may have some validity and point us in the proper direction toward emancipation. Let’s hope liberals catch on.

  75. November 8, 2011

    @petro: i think where we disagree is mostly around who gets denounced. i’m not going to denounce people for vandalism per se. which, btw, would include people like the berrigan brothers and actions like the cantonsville nine, the plowshares movement, etc. so it’s pretty clear that “vandalism” per se can be part of a nonviolent action. like a lot of things… it just depends.

    p.s. i’m not commenting on ian’s link, only because i don’t have any independent info — i have no idea what’s going on. but i do think that beowulf’s reference above is, as per usual, a very good one.

  76. November 8, 2011

    @selise:

    I’m not sure we disagree that much (and I take responsibility for perceived ambiguity.) As one who is firmly against the idea of private property, it is hard for me to weep for desecration of its “value.” I’ll only say that vandalism’s intent, and effect, is clearly an inflammatory one, and such provocation is itself anti-nonviolence (there are plenty of standing grievances that are revealed by the State violence in response to non-cooperation – I’m not sure it’s particularly useful to give them PR excuses like vandalism.)

    In the longer view, with all property being indeed Common, vandalism takes on a particularly anti-social taint. We’re not there yet, though, so, as they say, “shit happens.” 🙂

    As much as I like seeing a broken bank window – still makes me wince inside.

  77. Kropotkin's Beard permalink
    November 8, 2011

    The anarchist chimera is a well-worn bogeyman. Even so-called intellectuals have no idea what is or what is stands for. I find it comical that liberal websites want to rid the anarchist menace from OWS, when the whole damn thing is an anarchy.

    I read some Crooks & Liars commentary and just had to laugh at their vitriol to the Black “Block” as they call it. This is not the totality of anarchist thought–not by a long shot! Yet, the progressive left needs a bogeyman to legitimize their feckless ideology. Sure, most of the kids down at OWS hate isms–probably because they’ve been taught that all isms are counterproductive. Yet, what they are in the midst of is a beautiful anarchy! It makes me cry with delight.

  78. November 8, 2011

    @Kropotkin’s Beard:

    I share your delight. And would also like to emphasize:

    “A true anarchist has nothing to do with authority. Or violence.”

  79. Celsius 233 permalink
    November 9, 2011

    Formerly T-Bear PERMALINK
    November 8, 2011
    From a new OUP (Oxford University Press) abridgement of Karl Marx’s “Capital” comes an economic survey of the English cotton industry’s state:
    =====================================
    Thanks for that; once again some enlightenment from our glorious past.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    IMO, violence is not well understood by the majority of people. Most of the conversation seems to be around physical, externalized manifestations of violence.
    Governments and societies are the greatest proponents of violence; but theirs is a violence of morality, mores, norms, justice (lack of), and laws.
    True violence is complicated, deep, and not easily sussed out on a deeply personal, individual level.
    Violence not understood in these ways is not understood at all.
    All violence is negative and extracts a price even when it has saved a life or resulted in some other seemingly positive outcome.
    Not preaching here; but more speaking about myself and my understanding/lack there of and how it flows from there.
    My sense of frustration results from seeing a movement that appears to be acting like some exploded animal with its parts spread out over the geography of the U.S.; and all of the parts are trying to find each other to come together as a whole; which is impossible, because there are too many parts missing.
    Even in this “movement” 1% are in control and most of the 99% are followers of their own convoluted belief systems, of which they lack any genuine understanding.
    We’re going down and I hope there is nothing to save “it”; “it” being as little understood as everything else.
    I’m thinking we’re trapped by our own limitations as a species.

  80. November 9, 2011

    @petro,

    will reply, if you don’t mind, at your place in order not to continue to trespassed on ian’s hospitality with more OT nonviolence comments here.

    p.s. human discussion always comes with misunderstandings and ambiguities. appreciate what you wrote but no need to take special responsibility. we’re all human here. 🙂

  81. November 10, 2011

    @selise, Towner has joined in over here, on a different post.

    Thank you both.

  82. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    November 12, 2011

    With the exception of one well-written response to the history provided by Karl Marx, there have been no comments of the facts provided. What Marx wrote in a single paragraph was over 90 years of economic history of the leading productive effort of the Industrial Revolution. This history begins in the same decade that Adam Smith published his seminal “Wealth of Nations” (1776) and outlines the economic conditions that pertained to the economic development of the spinning and weaving industry. Where Smith only observed the beginning stages of manufacture, the cooperative division of labour, the efficiency of manufacturing over the master controlled craftsmanship guilds, Marx observed the further development of capitalist controlled industrialization of the production of economic goods (commodities). Two parallel developments were taking place simultaneously; first was the change from labour’s muscle power and learned skills to other sources, water and steam, to power ever more elaborate machinery that displaced human skill required for production, the second was the replacement of skilled workmen with less skilled or unskilled living adjuncts to tend the machines that produced the commodities. Marx observed the degradation of labour as an economic actor in the production of economic goods, the returns diverted to the benefit of capital, labour left to languish in economic poverty. Charles Dickens made a livelihood writing of these consequences.

    In Marx’s paragraph of summary of economic development, the first 45 years were condensed into a brief statement: those years contained 5 stagnant years or 1 year out of 9 years were economically unproductive or another way 11% of the time produced diminished returns. This compares with the following 45+ years in which only at the start of the latter period were there more than 3 years consecutive before a reverse of fortune occurred (curiously timed with the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the beginning of 50+ years of European peace). The likely parallel was the advent of economically efficient industrialization of the weaving and spinning process (or the change from manufacture to industrial factory) that outcompeted and overwhelmed the earlier production in supplying goods to available market (note too the references to export throughout Marx’s summary). There appear to be too many goods produced for the market to absorb, also too much invested in production of those goods and creating the noted unstable market with its adverse consequence to labour and the political and social repercussions ensuing.

    There are similar developments at work in the present period dating from the 1960’s and rooted in the early Cold War political and economic environment, namely the development of a standing military establishment as well as the political and economic infrastructure that support it, aka the military, industrial, governmental complex. Post WWII saw the accumulation of large volumes of funds, in Europe from the Marshall Plan for economic recovery engorged on U.S. military spending for standing armies posted in Europe, and later the appearance of petroleum dollars, notably after the 1967 and 1973 Israeli attacks on neighbouring Arab countries. Concurrently both sovereign funds and funds of transnational corporations sought interest return on their savings. One result became the Junk Bond Era, funds obtained to takeover concerns, strip assets and peddle the eviscerated corpse; habituating bondholders to returns well beyond the traditional levels. Takeover avoidance required poison pill, creation of unsupportable debt, and other financial manipulations designed to forestall all such attempts. This period (up to ca. 1978) also the highest levels of income for wage earners. It also saw the beginnings of management’s defenestration of economic production to enhance the quarterly bottom line; the age of Wal-Mart began an assault upon both independent as well as chain business establishments, driving most to the wall. The Reagan regime saw the final destruction of labour viability in the Air Controllers strike-breaking and the withdrawal of the government provided level pitch required to ensure equal footing with capital. Without fanfare or public debate, those public projects built to provide work income during the depression were sold off e.g. TWA, diverting those incomes to private pockets. The U.S. has been stripped of public assets until only national parks remain and they are under threat, public lands are routinely pillaged. About the only asset not fallen into private hands is the trust fund established to fund old age retirement, and it is under constant peril from perfidious keepers. Oversight of markets and the financial elite does not exist, the government is thoroughly corrupted, the power of law has been suborned to ideology; the country is swimming with very large, very hungry sharks.

    It is necessary to revere knowledge and facts again, to build discourse from these sources. It is facile to endlessly spout beliefs, enunciate feelings, proclaim opinions but each is like a flag in the wind, pointing whatever direction the wind of the moment dictates. If anything is to be done to wright the plethora of problems that beset, the only possibility is to know and to act on that knowledge; there is no surer compass.

  83. Lisa Simeone permalink
    November 12, 2011

    From “An Open Letter to the Occupy Movement: Why We Need Agreements” by the Alliance of Community Trainers. Excerpt:

    The framework that might best serve the Occupy movement is one of strategic nonviolent direct action. Within that framework, Occupy groups would make clear agreements about which tactics to use for a given action. This frame is strategic—it makes no moral judgments about whether or not violence is ever appropriate, it does not demand we commit ourselves to a lifetime of Gandhian pacifism, but it says, ‘This is how we agree to act together at this time.’ It is active, not passive. It seeks to create a dilemma for the opposition, and to dramatize the difference between our values and theirs.

    Strategic nonviolent direct action has powerful advantages:

    We make agreements about what types of action we will take, and hold one another accountable for keeping them. Making agreements is empowering. If I know what to expect in an action, I can make a choice about whether or not to participate. While we can never know nor control how the police will react, we can make choices about what types of action we stand behind personally and are willing to answer for. We don’t place unwilling people in the position of being held responsible for acts they did not commit and do not support.

    http://trainersalliance.org/?p=221

  84. Nostradamus, Jr. permalink
    November 15, 2011

    Nostradamus, Jr. permalink
    October 8, 2011

    The police and the military are itchin’ for a fight. They’ve spent the last 10 years preparing for it. They’re are well armed and ready to do more that just bust heads. There’s still a lot of pent up rage over 9/11 and America’s decline in the world. It won’t take much of a spark on the part of the protesters and there’s scant difference between dirty fucking hippies and foreign terrorists. The end will soon and it will com come fast and furious. This will all be over by Thanksgiving.

  85. Ian Welsh permalink
    November 15, 2011

    As I noted repeatedly, the question is not OWS, but how it will metastasize. Notice that the NY types actually put up barricades, and that the Oakland GE refused to pass a resolution condemning all violence. Note that Oakland (which is the place that mattters) when dispersed, gathered again.

    We’re years from anything that will really make a difference.

    The clearout was managed federally. The police might be willing to bust heads, but they were coordinated by their political masters.

  86. November 15, 2011

    The clearout was managed federally.

    Yup. And they made that just a bit too obvious this time.

  87. Nostradamus, Jr. permalink
    November 16, 2011

    They simply can’t have dirty fucking hippies putting a pall on the Christmas Shopping Season.

Comments are closed.