December 4, 2011
The following text comprises a presentation and analysis of the Occupy movement in the United States, by the Lost Children’s School of Cartography. The text was used as a basis for an event on the Occupy movement, that took place at the Skaramanga occupation in Athens, on November 25th, 2011. The brochure published for the event, including this text in Greek, along with the video screened on the night are available here.
Lost in the Fog: Dead Ends and Potentials of the Occupy Movement
So what do you make of this Occupy movement in America? Of course it is the news that everyone wants to hear about. Al Jazeera claimed shortly after the encampment near Wall Street was founded that the Occupy movement in America was facing a mainstream “media blackout.” But in reality, it seemed that nearly every media source was dedicating coverage nationally and internationally. Despite all the press, if one added up the total number of participants in the fledgling occupations throughout America at that time, he would end up with far less than the total number of demonstrators at a general strike in Athens, or a single American anti-war demonstration from 2004.
This alone should serve as a cause for skepticism, although perhaps it is only predictable that in America, of all places, a social movement would arise firstly as the mere spectacle of revolt. After all, its initial coordinators intended from its inception that the Occupy movement of America be a copy of a copy. The genuine, spontaneous, and seemingly unstoppable surge of rage–the insurrection–in the Arab world had already been watered down into the pacifist indignados movement of Europe. Next the American radicals who called for an occupation of Wall Street would try to copy-and-paste the indignados movement to America by sprinkling a tactic–occupation–on what they hoped would prove grounds fertile enough to grow a movement.
That movement now seems to be swept up in its own momentum, and every day there are new developments in what seems to be a genuinely unpredictable and leaderless social reaction. While the occupations were perhaps first populated by the same cliques of activists who had championed the previous failed American social movements, the encampments and demonstrations have grown because they have attracted the self-identified American “middle class.” As American society comes under further blows of the so-called “crisis” of capitalism, the illusion of middle class comfort dissipates, revealing its previously hidden, but now more apparent, dispossession. The Occupy movement is an opportunity for the middle class to protest the “unfairness” of their proletarianization. In part thanks to widespread disillusionment with political representatives, previously non-activist citizens are suddenly eager to participate in an activist social movement. Paradoxically, the brightest hope we can find in this situation is also the grimmest fact: the increasingly dire economic situation is not turning around, and life will not go back to the way it once was. It is precisely because the movement for a preservation of the illusory American dream is doomed to fail that the Occupy movement has the potential to supersede itself.
Of course, regardless of its active decomposition, the middle class carries its values into the movement–the ideological values of the good citizen. One could characterize the Occupy movement as a citizens’ movement for the survival of capitalist democracy in a moment ripe with potentials for true rupture. Here, self-described radicals, anti-authoritarians and in some cases even anarchists may play the most critical but hidden roles in recuperation, if in their well-intentioned attempt to “build the new world in the shell of the old” they actually succeed at protecting the core of the old world in the shell of the new. (We will elaborate on this in a moment.)
But there is also a beautiful discord within the situation. The Occupy movement can hardly be summed up by any particular ideological stance, and its greatest potentials spring from its chaotic features and resistance to definition. Anarchists who have stubbornly refused any participation in what they have disregarded as merely a bourgeois movement have safeguarded their identities as the most radical of all at the cost of guaranteeing their own irrelevancy in the developing situation. In order to move the Occupy movement in the direction of genuine upheaval, anarchists must participate to cause sustained and intensifying disruption and destruction of the apparatuses of capital in order to make this movement a threat to capitalism, aiming to outflank the state by generalizing these tactics. We will also explore the developments in this direction so far as well as some future potentials.
May 2, 2010
Greece:Massive anarchist demonstrations country wide. Lots of information, pictures and videos at Occupied London
Asheville, North Carolina: Dozens of store windows attacked by a black bloc. Article
New York Around noon, several Banks, ATMs, and American Apparel, and several other corporate storefronts on Broadway were attacked by a breakaway march dozens strong. Police swarmed the rally as it approached Union Square, arresting 5 individuals at random while the rest dispersed safely.
Santa Cruz: A torch-lit dance party hundreds strong took the streets of Downtown Santa Cruz, attacking a police car that attempted to crash the party. By the time more police arrived, several expensive “hipster” stores, corporate chain stores, and bourgeois shops that cater to tourists had their windows smashed.
Germany:Thousands of anti-authoritarians, police, and Nazis clash throughout the country. >Some more information here.
Victoria, BC: Police station attacked.
Zurich:Police use water cannon to disperse riots against bonuses for bankers. Article
March 13, 2010
*This is a communique that was circulated in Athens and Thessaloniki during the 3/11 demos
There’s no escape.
The big pricks are out.
They’ll fuck everything in sight.
Watch your back.
Harold Pinter (He already said it on February 2003)
In the historical point we are now in, the contradiction of capital is increasingly becoming clear worldwide. Proletarians around the world are in turmoil while their own reproduction becomes more and more difficult. As it is already difficult for the proletarians to continue their lives, it is capital itself as a relation of exploitation which is in a reproduction crisis. The current struggles of the proletarians are the expression of the current form of this relation of exploitation.
During the last year in China where the economy still grows very quickly, all kinds of contradictions are rising. Clashes of workers with the police is common for a number of reasons: because of demands for increasing the very low wages (on which steep economic growth is based), because of preventing land enclosures in villages, because of attributing compensation to dismissed workers, against the inadequacy of the health system resulting in high mortality rate of children. In USA where a historical low record of workers’ demanding struggles has appeared, thousands of homeless and unemployed people occupy vacant houses which have been seized by banks and students occupy universities in California and New York writing on their banners: We have decided not to die, demanding this way what was until recently taken for granted, that is, just their ability to continue being students. The reproduction of their own life (of course from a much worse position imposed by the hierarchy of capitalist states) proletarians in South Africa and Algeria demand as well as they clash with police because they still do not have water or electricity and are forced to live in slums; in India as well, because the price of bread suddenly rises and they starve to death. Last year in Spain workers in shipyards which are shut down burn police cars; in South Korea dismissed workers as well occupy factories and clash with police for two and a half months; in Bangladesh, dismissed workers again, clash with police and burn factories. In France and Belgium, dismissed workers kidnap their bosses, placing explosives in the factories and threatening to blow them up if not compensated for their dismissal. In India and China they kill their boss during the conflicts because of thousands of upcoming dismissals. In this historical phase proletarian struggles are objectively struggles for the assertion of the reproduction of life itself.