Occupy: Awakening from…

Two and a half months in and looking as formidable as any party con-demonstration.  The movement to bring corporate opportunism (polite way of saying ‘kicking ass at capitalism’) to justice, which began in the streets of the Western financial district of Wall Street, has been invigorated by global solidarity.  The buzz queries around the corporate media began and have remained as follows: “What are your demands?” “What are your solutions?” “How long will you stay?”.  All of these questions can be summed up with a cohesive question “What have you done?”

To quickly move past these reductive questions from a colluding media, here is Zizek to do some human mic’ing, so i can move on to what i am really wanting to get at.

Let us forget for a moment the structures of power and impositions surrounding the occupy movement and focus on the internals.  My local Occupy Winnipeg movement is young compared to the rest of the US, starting only a couple weeks ago when the major cities around the world began occupying on October 15th.  Relatively small but just as relevant as Wall Street, Oakland or Birmingham, occupy Winnipeg faces the same issues (aside from chiding by the rest of the general public) of any inclusive space.  How do people get on in the face of new horizons and relationships? In an attempt to create spaces where the marginalized have a voice, how do people move beyond but recognize their subject positions of gender, sexuality, race, class and power of privilege.  Several examples of extremely problematic incidents have been documented and broadcasted from various Occupy sites.  For example, accusations of rape and sexual assault by fellow occupiers, douche bag infiltration, the necessity to decolonize the movement, annoyance of dominating personalities and the general  stressor’s that create friction in this gray zone that is Occupy.

An incident that speaks to these issues occurred locally when a homeless man was found loading up his bag with yogurt and juice which was donated for the occupiers.  A case in point where those who can afford to Occupy are now having to balance the scales of what is right and wrong, when the outside world is predicated on punishing those without privilege.  A general assembly was called and the matter deliberated over, as was previously deliberated over for future incidents requiring deliberation.  A large factor in getting consensus across is that most of the issues being discussed and put forward to the people are those arising spontaneously, as they should.  However, winter is coming.  And by that I mean there isn’t a lot of time to hash out every potential threat or scenario that would arise in this fledgling attempt at awakening.

Issues such as these bring about major questions regarding organizing a leaderless movement based on local issues while acknowledging global context.  However many of these issues are being twisted in on themselves all too much like Seppuku.  “What have you done!”  I can hear the city councils and legislatures the world over comparing these tragedies to some Lord of the Flies landscape (if acknowledged at all).   To find that these incidents of crimes against women have occurred clearly brings down the credibility of this movement.  Similarly, sending a hungry man away from free food can also be seen as a disgrace.  Yet if there is anything to be learned from these and many issues to come, it is that the social beings we are and will become have a great deal of reconciling to do over a violent and cynical past.  And for this, we must always remember ‘the structures of power and impositions surrounding the occupy movement.’

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One thought on “Occupy: Awakening from…

  1. Your point about reminds me of a line I read recently in an absolutely outstanding book by Peter Silver called “Our Savage Neighbors.” On a chapter (I think) titled “A Spirit of Enterpize,” he notes parenthetically that the phrase is just a euphemism for greed. My buddy Mark saw it as a clear jibe at the once-historian-turned-Wall-Street-banker and all-around awesome dude Thomas Doerflinger who wrote “A Vigorous Spirit of Enterprise: Merchants and Economic Development in Revolutionary Philadelphia” wherein he credits merchants with being pretty much awesome at everything, including nation-building. That’s it! All Afghanistan needs is some vigorous entrepreneurs! Quote John Hodgman: “You’re welcome.”

    I also wonder how the movement expresses itself differently–if at all–in Canada. But, what happened to the homeless guy? Did they ban him/kick him out? Was he in support of the movement? Was he ruining the party for everybody else? On the one hand, sending away a homeless guy without food can be cast as a negative (who’s against giving alms to the poor, eh?). On the other hand, people should be expected not to take advantage of public goods offered. Other people in the movement had a claim to the food and many of them were probably close to homelessness, homeless themselves, or certainly without a job for a long time.

    Very interesting post. Keep it up.

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