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 

Introduction

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.

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Happy May Day

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.

San Francisco: A notorious Nazi was beaten up by a group of Anti-fascists counter-protesting a labor/immigrants rights rally.

Germany:Thousands of anti-authoritarians, police, and Nazis clash throughout the country. >Some more information here.

Macau, China: Police are attacked after attempting to suppress “rowdy” workers demanding expanded labor rights. Article. Pictures.

Victoria, BC: Police station attacked.

Zurich:Police use water cannon to disperse riots against bonuses for bankers. Article

The crisis is not a natural disaster that simply happens; the crisis is the outcome of the choices of all those who want to maintain this system, in which we are exploited, repressed and governed. Their proposals on how to come out of the crisis do not differ from suggestions on how the existing situation could be reinforced and take root. Our propositions can be nothing less than strikes and solidarity, occupations and sabotage, expropriations and mutual help… in order to create the world that we choose for ourselves, against all kinds of segregations and hierarchy.

-Assembly of the revolted in (the island of ) Salamina, (and the neighborhoods of) Perama, Keratsini, Nikaia, Koridallos, Piraeus

While the IMF meets in Washington, D.C. this weekend, Greece’s financial troubles have continued to deepen. Greek Prime Minister Papandreou chose the remote Aegean island of Kastelorizo on Friday to announce his government was to activate the IMF-EU “rescue” plan, effectively throwing the proletariat and lower middle classes in the country at the mercy of international financial giants. IMF loans always have nasty strings attached, rules that force the recipient to re-structure their economy along a neo-liberal, privatized, U.S. friendly model due to the influential U.S. position in the IMF.

The current situation in Greece has many similarities to the IMF crisis in Argentina in 2002 that sparked a nation-wide rebellion and created a of worker-run businesses in its wake. Add to this crisis the recent revelations that the Greek ruling class has been evading paying its share of taxes for years, and you have a country that is turning into a powder keg.

This is social war at its peak; this is the guarantee that the Greek standard of living will be crushed, and that a dictatorship of capital shall reign.

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LibcomA report on the working class struggles against austerity measures in Greece from Proles and Poor’s Credit Rating Agency aka TPTG a greek autonomous communist group.

In periods of crisis, such as the current period of overaccumulation crisis, capitalists use the politics of “public debt” in order to devise new ways to intensify exploitation. In contrast with capitalist upturns when the private debt is increased, downturns are characterized by the increase of the “public debt”. Private investment in state bonds ensures profits which are extracted from the direct and indirect taxation of the workers, aiming towards interest repayments, and leading, ultimately, to the reinforcement of the banking sector capital. Therefore, the “public debt”, contrary to what is usually said, provides help to private capital and, in this respect, should be counted in its profits.

Moreover, in the last 20 years, the “public debt” tripled in 20 out of 27 countries of EU because of massive expenditures for bailing out the financial sector. This is money that was not given through loans to (non-banking) private capital for productive investments. Furthermore, public borrowing was done and continues to be done on terms that exceed by far the average profit rate, making investments in state bonds far more profitable than investments for the creation of production units, and, all the more so, since this kind of investment is exempted from the risks of class struggle in the sites of production.

The global economic recession of the previous years, which is the most recent manifestation of the permanent crisis of reproduction of global capital in the last 35 years –a crisis interrupted only by temporary recoveries– inevitably affected domestic capitalist accumulation. However, apart from the consequences of the reduction of global economic activity to the exports of greek capital, especially in the shipping and the tourist sectors, it became also the peg for the revelation of the permanent crisis of exploitability and disciplining of the proletariat.

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Democracy No Escape

March 13, 2010

*This is a communique that was circulated in Athens and Thessaloniki during the 3/11 demos

Democracy

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.

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occupyca – As our frequent readers probably know, Greece was racked by riots in December, 2008, after a 15-year-old boy was murdered by the police. These riots followed on a series of occupations, which tore through the education sector in 2006-7, spreading from universities to high schools. At the end of 2008, a major question was: would the insurrection spread from the students, youth, and the immigrants — that is, those systematically excluded or marginalized in the production process — to the unionized workforce of regular and semi-regular employees? For an analysis at the time, see The Glass Floor by Theorie Communiste, as well as other writings by TPTG and Blaumachen (available from libcom.org).

For a while, it seemed that the rioters would receive nothing more than repression for their troubles. A socialist government took power in the aftermath of the riots, wasting no time in cracking down on the  milieu. At the extreme, government forces continually violated the sanctity of the Exarchia district in Athens (Exarchia had been declared a police-free zone after students played a key role in bringing down a US-backed dictatorship in the mid-1970s). Greece was racked by bombing campaigns, both from the extreme left of the “Nuclei of Fire” and from the extreme right of Greek fascists, who attacked social centers and other movement strongholds.

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OccupiedLondon – The photos below are from corporate media agencies, reposted on Athens IMC. This is the same demo where Manolis Glezos was tear-gassed by the police.

Greece protests: Striking taxi owners rally in the centre of Athens

A striking taxi owner protests on Monday

Libcom - State of war” declared by Greek PM

The greek PM, Giorgos Papandreou, has declared the country in “a state of war” after extended meetings with the EU economics commissioner Mr Rehn, leading workers to declare more strikes.

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Greece on Fire Again!

December 6, 2009

Continuous Updates at Occupied London

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Our group convenes this week and begins with a discussion and celebration of the latest events from comrades in the West and the possibility of further accelerations of struggle in our own vicinity. We respond to a series of questions posed by a Greek bourgeois newspaper concerning their year of insurrection and revolt. Our attention then turns to our weekly collective study. This week we prepare to continue reading chapter three.

We review, recite and observe with a particular emphasis: the capital process is masked by its constant transformations into concrete particular modes of existence; the commodity’s dual aspects are masked by their existence in the equivalent and relative forms as only a use-value for the reciever and only an exchange value for the transmitter; the labor and marginal theory of value of the political economist is a mask that freezes time as opposed to the historically dynamic abstract and socially necessary labor time at the root of the value of products; capital’s money-form as wages for the proletariat mask their role in the circulation of variable capital as drafts for means of subsistence as opposed to money as disposition for productive consumption, for the capitalist; convention, culture and juridical activity mask the productive-historical factors that are behind them leading to bizaare rituals and value systems; markets mask the myriad shifts in supply and demand for countless productive activities which we lose track of and therefore control over, passively deferring to the inexorable spiral of self-valorization; exchange masks the intentions and concrete conditions of production; etc.
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Some passing thoughts on the Berkeley and Santa Cruz occupations, from someone who was there briefly

It is no great secret that the terminal crisis of capitalism is before our eyes: the welfare state, the bitter product of two world wars, the child of Hitler and Noske, wherein a certain social safety net was provided for a measure of social peace, is in the process of being forcibly liquidated by the exigencies of an incresingly bankrupt social system. This much is evident to all those who have a basic thinking capacity. And thus, those who are protesting for a defense of this transient historical form will find nothing here of value, nor even anything here addressed to them. Such people can protest all day for a return to the glory days they imagine, but since these halcyon times never existed anyways, one can see they will certainly have no success now. Rather we address ourselves to those who believe in any fashion in the “terminus of student life”; but not of course to open something so worthless as a literary polemic or discussion, nor to presume to give prescriptions or orders — all we do here is attempt a “generalization of insinuation.” For, to be right means nothing, what is important is acting in consequence.

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What is an occupation?

April 12, 2009

Read, print, copy, and distribute these EVERYWHERE

University Occupations: France, Greece, NYC

The New School Occupation - (download printable format)


Preoccupied: The Logic of Occupation (download printable formathttp://www.indybay.org/uploads/2009/01/31/preoccupied-read.pdf_600_.jpg)

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