Self-Understanding of the Occupation

November 23, 2011

Hegel via Aaron

The planning for this “action”, for logistical and pragmatically necessary reasons was, in its initial stages, kept as quiet as possible. For this reason it was frequently referred to as “the action” in correspondence and conversation. Now we have acted and the abstract concept is apparently no less determined. What does it mean to have engaged in or accomplished this “action”? The “action”, of course, is not accomplished, not terminated with the taking of space, but not for that reason, any less an action. In taking the space, in acting, we have created the condition for further instantiations of “action.” In creating a space for the further development of the movement we create space and opportunity for “action” previously lacking. The “action” is, in this way, a continuous development out of and beyond itself. It does not bleed into something different, but is itself further determined by what it becomes. Only through the process of progressively unfolding in ever richer determinations can we come to understand the meaning of the action we have taken. The determination of all actions is future oriented, that is, they are essentially the possibilities they open by what becomes thinkable and doable as their result. In this radical break from normal relations, we advance in an as yet undetermined dialectic. In recognizing our constitutive role in the process of determination we simultaneously acknowledge our freedom, our freedom to create freely. To continue acting is to continue in the manifestation of free meaning by increasing the horizon of possibilities, and in this way we simultaneously challenge both reified consciousness and the persistent foreclosure of opportunities for a truly rational, socially integrated society.

Arendt via Marianne

“No chaos resulted from the actions of people without leadership and without previously formulated program…instead of mob rule there appeared immediately the same organization which for more than a hundred years now has emerged whenever the people have been permitted for a few days, or a few weeks or months, to follow their own political devices without a government (or a party program) imposed from above.” So said Arendt, over fifty years ago, about the Hungarian revolution. She went on, in that article, to point out tat “the councils were born exclusively out of the actions and spontaneous demands of the people, and they were not deduced from an ideology, nor foreseen, let alone preconceived, by any theory about the best form of government. Wherever they appeared they were met with utmost hostility from leaders from right to left ant with the unanimous neglect of political theorists and political scientists. The point is that these councils have always been undoubtedly democratic, but in a sense never seen before and never thought about.” Such is our General Assembly. It is the next form of politics and freedom – one coming blessedly, just in time.

Marx via Aaron

The radical association of students has dissociated a large physical environment from the embedding logic of Capital. The ongoing commodification of education, in which expropriated surplus labor value is exchanged for the credentials to reproduce class hierarchy, suffered a significant strategic defeat in the ongoing class war. Student study space, that rare recluse for the bourgeois apologist, conservative reactionary, and radical student alike is now firmly in control of the latter, and the people’s library, violent destroyed by the servants of the Capitalist order is re-founded on a higher terrain. Our anti-capitalist enclave in the very heart of highly advanced capital was secured on the same day Wall St., that most entrenched and fortified headquarters of international finance, was shaken to its core by the trembling response of law in the face of coordinated blockades while the commerce of the city was shut down by organized labor. In solidarity with the workers, students are constructing radically free and equal social institutions and spaces to challenge the existing class-based structures. Like the workers struggles, our project is spreading with increasing force. A radical consciousness has gripped the masses, has become a material force, because it has become transparently clear just how the utter failure of capitalism holds the secret of the transition to something better, for we are that transition.

A Nietzschean Look at Occupation

Joshua A. Weinberg

We ourselves, we free spirits, are nothing less than a “revaluation of all values,” an incarnate declaration of war and triumph over all the ancient conceptions of “true” and “untrue.” –Nietzsche, The Antichrist

When one hears it proclaimed that a ‘movement of the people’ has begun, one must be mindful of stampedes.  Seeing no evidence of this, we may cautiously approach.  Let us not kid ourselves.  We would be hard-pressed to find in Nietzsche any real sympathy for a movement of the people in which catchy chants are assimilated into the masses and spoken in unison.  In fact, if demonstrations and civil disobedience are simply an oppressed body of people reacting against the oppressive minority, then surely we are just speaking of a slave revolt against the noble morality, aren’t we?  However, regarding our struggle, we are certainly not talking about sheep and birds of prey, as the former has already long since suppressed the latter.  Where political issues are decided by those whose words are prettiest, and the dollar amount next to an individual’s name represents his/her value as a human being, the question is not who is in charge, but what precisely is the source of their power?

In The Antichrist Nietzsche makes a point to identify who he considers to be “our antithesis,” but before the hair stands up on the back of our necks (for no slave moralityare we) we should note that the formulation is identifying those who are not us and not the other way around.  This is to say that it is not a point of defining who we are, but merelyclarifying our position.  We too in this movement must be clear!  We derive our power not by our pretty words or colorful banners, nor from a higher or metaphysical principle, and not even from our numbers (though they be impressive).  This is not a movement of cattle, but one of individuals saying ‘No’ to those who would have us say nothing.  While our ‘antitheses’ in this particular struggle are not the priests nor the men of enlightenment, with whom Nietzsche himself took issue, these Wall Street bankers and the infamous one percent are no less backwards in their valuation system.  Money, especially once taken off of the gold standard, is not even representative of actual value in the world.  It has become its own value, its own Good.  And those in control of this supreme good, like priests, hold a position of absolute authority over the quality of our lives.  The occupy movement is not a single voice from a powerless mass, but rather a multitude of wills clashing with the ultimate “deification of nothingness.”

Nietzsche, Friedrich. On the Genealogy of Morals. Trans. Douglas Smith. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. “The Antichrist.” Trans. Walter Kaufmann The Portable Nietzsche. New York: Penguin Books, 1954. 565-660.

The Occupation Virus Has Spread

By Scott (

As Jean-Luc Nancy writes: “The body proper, the foreign body: hoc est enim (for this is) displays the body proper, makes it present to the touch, serves it up as a meal. The body proper, or Property itself, Being-to-itself embodied. But instantly, always, the body on display is foreign, a monster that can’t be swallowed.”[1] The body proper, the body as one’s own property, one’s own property being properly one’s self is the formulation upon which the exploitation of human labor rests. The body thus has a specific, proper value. The ownership of our equal bodies – and what is more equal than the body – and the selling of that equal body for an equal wage based on the labor done by the body is the foundation of the bourgeois subject, capitalism, and the bourgeois concept of freedom, from Hobbes, to Kant, to Rawls and Habermas.

Unmoved bodies, these idle bodies, and these suppressed bodies are a store of surplus value that can be and must be mobilized to serve the necessity of production under the capitalist model to maintain its legitimacy. However, capitalism is unable to mobilize all bodies at all times, the result is a growing population that is not subsumed into social and material production. In many ways, this crisis is rooted in this contradiction. Capitalism is a world system, but all the bodies of the world are not necessary for its maintenance and development. But let us not be too distracted from our foundations by its results.

The body proper, the body as property – the body is the fundamental form of property, the foundation of the wage relation in the form of the commodity. The body as the fundamental unit of the property relation serves explicitly to commodify the body. So we sell our bodies in the form of our labor power – we are thus alienated. And yet, bodies, as such are not proper in any sense. They consist of dejecta and insides, their exposure is prohibited by the moral codes that develop from the material relations of our social world. Just to go a little deeper into the contradiction at the heart of this relation, the most improper parts of the body are the privates. Now, that which is proper and that which is private is semantically and materially the same: hence, “private property.”

“The body is the being of existence. How best to take death seriously? But also: How are we to explain that existence isn’t ‘for’ death, but that ‘death’ is the body of existence, a very different thing. There’s no ‘death,’ taken as an essence to which we’ve been consigned: there’s the body, the mortal spacing of the body, registering the fact that existence has no essence (not even ‘death’), but only ex-ists.”[2] Therefore our fear of violent death, our Hobbesian loyalty to the state may be disingenuous. If this modification of the body as the opposite of death, as being implicated in the driving passion of fear that moves us to seek the protection of the sovereign. If death is the negation of the body, then the body after death is no longer a thing to be feared. Is then death not to be feared? Annihilation is certainly an imposing and terrorizing possibility. But the body is not a substance to be beholden, “opposed to this, or elsewhere, under another rubric, there would be something else – for example, something like the subject – that would not be substantial. I’d like to show that the body, if there is a bodily something, is not substantial, but a subject.”[3] Thus, with the death of God – the negation of the corporeal God of Christianity begun in the Medieval era and completed by Nietzsche’s philosophy – makes room for the new subject of the Mortall God, the state as subject, the tautology of the Body Politic in its most powerful theorization, that of Hobbes.

One could say that the death of the Christ-centered body politic (through Hobbes), and its replacement with the metaphysical “people” as the soul of the corporeal state gives rise to the politics of the body, en force: It takes the body as the major theme in the institutional organization of society.[4] For the fundamental unit of property itself or humanness itself is the body. In this epoch we remain. And the primary mechanism by which we remain here is through the fear of physical harm or the inability to maintain ourselves physically, most specifically the fear of death.

This is why nothing can be done without daring to challenge this very fear. The occupation virus has spread – hoc est enim, for this is a step towards the renunciation of this summum malum of fear and fear of death that remains the primary ideological link not only to the polity but also to capital. An occupation is an act of community, of commonality in which the body as common, and not proper becomes the immediate renunciation of the singular form of the body as what separates us and instead becomes the medium through which we come together to display our power. These bodies, and this body is the virus within the larger body politic. It will spread and mutate it will become harder to control and to immunize against. The occupation virus has spread, hoc est enim.

[1] Jean-Luc Nancy, “Corpus,” in Corpus, trans. Richard A. Rand, 2-121 (New York, NY: Fordham University Press, 2008). p.5 Note: All page numbers in “Corpus” are odd, as the even numbered pages have the corresponding original French.

[2] Cf. p.15

[3] Jean-Luc Nancy, “On the Soul,” in Corpus, trans. Richard A. Rand, 122-135 (New York, NY: Fordham University Press, 2008). p.123

[4] Michel Foucault, The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception, trans. A.M. Sheridan Smith (New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1994). p.69

One Response to “Self-Understanding of the Occupation”

  1. It’s gonna get ugly that is certain.

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