Top Leaderboard, Site wide
August 1, 2014
Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines
Help us grow by sharing
and liking Truthdig:
Sign up for Truthdig's Email NewsletterLike Truthdig on FacebookFollow Truthdig on TwitterSubscribe to Truthdig's RSS Feed

Newsletter

sign up to get updates


Hydropower Illuminates a Piece of History






Truthdig Bazaar
The Idea of Justice

The Idea of Justice

By Amartya Sen
$19.77

Pinochet and Me

Pinochet and Me

By Marc Cooper

more items

 
Report

A Master Class in Occupation

Email this item Email    Print this item Print    Share this item... Share

Posted on Oct 31, 2011
Mr. Fish

By Chris Hedges

NEW YORK CITY—Jon Friesen, 27, tall and lanky with a long, dirty-blond ponytail, a purple scarf and an old green fleece, is sitting on concrete at the edge of Zuccotti Park leading a coordination meeting, a gathering that takes place every morning with representatives of each of Occupy Wall Street’s roughly 40 working groups.

“Our conversation is about what it means to be a movement and what it means to be an organization,” he says to the circle. A heated discussion follows, including a debate over whether the movement should make specific demands.

I find him afterward on a low stone wall surrounding a flowerbed in the park. He decided to come to New York City, he said, from the West Coast for the 10th anniversary of 9/11. He found a ride on Craig’s List while staying at his brother’s home in Champaign, Ill.

“It was a television event when I was 17,” he says of the 2001 attacks. “I came here for the 10-year anniversary. I wanted to make it real to myself. I’d never been to New York. I’d never been to the East Coast.”

Once he reached New York City he connected with local street people to find “assets.” He slept in the parks and on the street. He arrived on the first day of the occupation in Zuccotti Park. He found other “traveler types” whose survival skills and political consciousness were as developed as his own.

Advertisement

Square, Site wide
In those first few days, he says, “it was the radicals and the self-identifying anarchists” who set up the encampment. Those who would come later, usually people with little experience in dumpster diving, sleeping on concrete or depending on a McDonald’s restroom, would turn to revolutionists like Friesen for survival. Zuccotti Park, like most Occupied sites, schooled the uninitiated.

“The structure and process carried out by those initial radicals,” he says with delight of the first days in the park, now have “a wide appeal.”

The Occupy movements that have swept across the country fuse the elements vital for revolt. They draw groups of veteran revolutionists whose isolated struggles, whether in the form of squatter communities or acts of defiance such as the tree-sit in Berkeley to save an oak grove on the University of California campus that ran from Dec. 2, 2006, to Sept. 9, 2008, are often unheeded by the wider culture. The Occupy movements were nurtured in small, dissident enclaves in New York, Oakland, Chicago, Denver, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Atlanta. Bands of revolutionists in these cities severed themselves from the mainstream, joined with other marginalized communities and mastered the physical techniques of surviving on the streets and in jails.

“It’s about paying attention to exactly what you need, and figuring out where I can get food and water, what time do the parks close, where I can get a shower,” Friesen says.

Friesen grew up in an apolitical middle-class home in Fullerton in Southern California’s Orange County, where systems of power were obeyed and rarely questioned. His window into political consciousness began inauspiciously enough as a teenager, with the Beatles, The Doors, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. He found in the older music “a creative energy” and “authenticity” that he did not hear often in contemporary culture. He finished high school and got a job in a LensCrafter lab and “experienced what it’s like to slave away trying to make glasses in an hour.” He worked at a few other 9-to-5 jobs but found them “restrictive and unfulfilling.” And then he started to drift, working his way up to Berkeley, where he lived in a squatter encampment behind the UC Berkeley football stadium. He used the campus gym to take showers. By the time he reached Berkeley he had left mainstream society. He has lived outside the formal economy since 2005, the last year he filed income taxes. He was involved in the tree-sit protest and took part in the occupations of university buildings and demonstration outside the Berkeley chancellor’s campus residence to protest fee hikes and budget cuts, activities that saw him arrested and jailed. He spent time with the Navajos on Black Mesa in Arizona and two months with the Zapatistas in Mexico. 

“What I saw in the Zapatistas was a people pushed to the brink of extinction and forgetting,” he says. “Their phrases ring true: Liberty! Dignity! Democracy! Everything for Everyone! Nothing for Ourselves! The masks the Zapatistas wear check egos. People should be united in their facelessness. This prevents cults of personality.”

“I have no interest in participating in the traditional political process,” he says. “It’s bureaucratic. It’s vertical. It’s exclusive. It’s ruled by money. It’s cumbersome. This is cumbersome too, what we’re doing here, but the principles that I’m pushing and that many people are pushing to uphold here are in direct opposition to the existing structure. This is a counterpoint. This is an acknowledgement of all those things that we hate, or that I hate, which are closed and exclusive. It is about defying status and power, certification and legitimacy, institutional validation to participate. This process has infected our consciousness as far as people being allowed [to participate] or even being given credibility. The wider society creates a situation where people are excluded, people feel like they’re not worth anything. They’re not accepted. The principles here are horizontal in terms of decision-making, transparency, openness, inclusiveness, accessibility. There are people doing sign language at the general assembly now. There are clusters of deaf people that come together and do sign language together. This is an example of the inclusive nature that we want to create here. And as far as redefining participation and the democratic process, my understanding of American history is that it was a bunch of white males in power, mostly. This is radically different. If you’re a homeless person, if you’re a street person, you can be here. There’s a radical inclusion that’s going on. And if it’s not that, then I’m not going to participate.”


New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

By Morpheus, October 31, 2011 at 2:50 pm Link to this comment

Until we get the word to the people, we are going to continue to suffer. We have to get organized. we have a way to fight back now. Protesting is an act hopelessness and frustration. It is not a solution. But I salute those willing to stand up for themselves and their countrymen.

“WAKE UP PEOPLE!” - JOIN THE REVOLUTION
Read “Common Sense 3.1” at ( http://www.revolution2.osixs.org )

FIGHT THE CAUSE - NOT THE SYMPTOM
We don’t have to live like this anymore. “Spread the News”

Read “Common Sense 3.1” at ( http://www.revolution2.osixs.org )

FIGHT THE CAUSE - NOT THE SYMPTOM
We don’t have to live like this anymore. “Spread the News”

Report this

By Eaglemount, October 31, 2011 at 2:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To offer a quote from Julian Assange;

” It’s not a matter of left vs right, nor faith vs reason.  It’s a matter of individual vs institution.”

Report this

By greglorious, October 31, 2011 at 2:16 pm Link to this comment

@spire
You`ll excuse me.
The focal point of my involvement with Occupy isn’t anger through unrealized dreams or hatred of those who I perceive to be responsible. My involvement is due to hope of a better world for my infant daughter and all of humanity. 
You rant like a zealot spire. In my life experience, I have grown used to associating those of the political fringe with zealotry. I have always suspected that most on the far right or left are mentally ill. 
If you truly believe that any sociological change for the better can come about through anarchy and retribution, I feel sorry for you. If those espouse your beliefs, I truly feel you have no place at the table.
You`ll excuse me.

Report this

By Foucauldian, October 31, 2011 at 1:04 pm Link to this comment

” ...or people may simply begin practicing direct
democracy in their local communities ...”  DH

Isn’t that the ideal scenario, to create a structure
that is independent of the existing structures? 
Sure, it will be slow-going at first, but perhaps the
French Revolution shouldn’t be our guide here.  The
storming of the Bastille is not within the realm of
possibility.

Besides, mere redistribution of income isn’t the
solution, for it only reinforces statism.  People
have got to take the world by the balls and start
determining their own future and destiny.  That’s the
only path to income equalization that’s bound to be
permanent.  In fact, there will no longer be any
“income” to speak of, since you’re not going to be
working for “the man.”

Report this
Duppy Durruti's avatar

By Duppy Durruti, October 31, 2011 at 1:03 pm Link to this comment

When will Chris write an article about the Master Class in THE Occupation?

  I suspected that internal dynamics within each movement were specific to the location but it appears that OWS is identical to Occupy London when it comes to the conflict between the Anarchists and the Communists and Socialists.

  At St. Paul’s the Communists and Socialists are quite happy to keep business as usual. Many are open about their wishes to stay there indefinitely and they routinely vote together to prevent any sort of proposals or demands from moving forward. They’ve created a monopoly on the positions that can restrict the dialogue and they control the process groups and general assembly groups by ensuring that all proposals brought forward by Anarchists are associated with a straw man they’ve fabricated ahead of time. In recent days it was the idea that Maurice Glassman supported the demands that were leaked to the guardian, and so all of the demands should be rejected. No one disputed that the demands were a good first step towards democratising the city of London, but the taint that Blue Labour cast upon them ensured they were rejected.

  Perhaps most shocking is the strong anti-intellectual sentiment that’s shared among the Communists and Socialists. Any attempt to reference past events or draw historical parallels during the assemblies is met with scorn and suspicion. Most recently an impassioned speech about the lessons that should be learned from the First International was refuted by the Communists and Socialists as being overly dramatic and divisive. They blocked all further attempts for discussion on the matter and justified the behavior by stating that no schism would occur provided no one was able to talk about it further. Obviously that’s not the case and many anarchists have already refused to participate in the process groups in protest to the manipulation of the system.

  It seems likely that the Anarchists will propose a complete overhaul of the structure of the encampment again, this time demanding that all positions of authority work on a rotational basis. Their initial proposal would have ensured that anyone who worked as a moderator and or facilitator must spend the equal amount of time working in other volunteer roles, such as the kitchen or with the security team but this was blocked before it came to their general assembly by the moderators and facilitators as being biased towards their roles. At this point the Anarchists have abandoned any hope of moving demands forward and have begun working to dismantle what they see as the classist system that’s taken hold over the last two weeks.

  A very disturbing situation exists within the Occupy London movement. It’s now clear to me how and why political parties are formed…

Report this

By Foucauldian, October 31, 2011 at 12:55 pm Link to this comment

Do you think Foucault would disapprove of OWS? 

And Marx wasn’t a post-modernist by the way.

Report this

By Foucauldian, October 31, 2011 at 12:51 pm Link to this comment

Perfect response, Spire.  Our “invisibles” have to
become part of the movement.  And if the working
stiffs who still hold on to the miserable jobs
refuse to march, fuck them; and fuck whatever remains
of the middle America which, against all odds, holds
on to its dream.  Time will soon come when none but
the die-hards shall remain on the fringe.

You don’t bring in the masses by diluting the
message.  Indeed, the time’s just ripe for the
message to reach the masses; and nothing but
anarchism (small “a” if you will) is the way out of
this mess, the only clean solution.

Hedges contrast of Bakunin vs. Marx found recent
validation in the refusal of the unions in Oakland to
take part of the general strike—a definite chink
in Marx’s theory.  “Which side are you on?”  They
still don’t get it.

BTW, previous comment referred to Anarcissie’s.

Report this
Robespierre115's avatar

By Robespierre115, October 31, 2011 at 12:46 pm Link to this comment

Great to see Hedges mention Bakunin and Marx, it speaks to the need for rediscovering radical thought, theory and action. Down with postmodernism, the coming storm requires a new age of revolutionary action and philosophy!

Report this
entropy2's avatar

By entropy2, October 31, 2011 at 12:38 pm Link to this comment

Mr. Hedges…nice to see you finally throwing the “A” word out there and giving Bakunin some due credit. Anyone who has the guts to question their 9th-grade Civics lessons should take a look at the lives and works of these folks:

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
Josiah Warren
Henry David Thoreau
Peter Kropotkin
Benjamin Tucker
Voltairine de Cleyre
Dyer D. Lum

...to name only a very few.

Once upon a time, there used to be a “left” that actually respected and stood up for working people and who valued personal liberty over top-down bureaucratic social engineering. (They called themselves anarchists and they weren’t swarthy, bearded, walleyed, bomb-throwing maniacs.) They simply knew that the concentration of power in anyone’s hands would inevitably lead to tyranny and exploitation. Sadly, they were betrayed and sold out (along with the rest of the working class) by the “progressives” at the beginning of the 20th century. We are living (and dying) with the results of the unholy alliance of that era between the conservative plutocratic elite (who look upon working people as sheep to be sheared and slaughtered) and the progressive technocratic elite (who look upon working people as drooling fools incapable of running our own lives). The bitter fruits of that era include the cartelization of the economy by the connected few, the monopolization of capital, the dedication of public education to the goals of creating subservient workers and obedient citizens, etc. Since that turning point (yes, including saints FDR, JFK and LBJ), “reform” has been nothing more than bandaids handed out after the whippings.

Try stepping back from the programming you received in our corporate-state drone factories, resist the urge to run shrieking upon hearing the word “anarchist” and give some critical thought to why we are where we are today.

Report this
BrooklynDame's avatar

By BrooklynDame, October 31, 2011 at 12:33 pm Link to this comment

Despite the fact that the protests have been ongoing for several weeks I believe
this is only the beginning.  Deregulation, union busting, tax loopholes that allow
corporations to outsource jobs but make their profits stateside and policies that
further widen the wealth gap are only a few of the issues that need to be
addressed by our lackluster Congress.  The 99% have a very real reason to gripe
and it’s about time we’re heard.
http://borderlessnewsandviews.com

Report this

By pjerome, October 31, 2011 at 12:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This kid is hardly a “revolutionist,” but has important things to say.  The most difficult part of the Occupation movement is the focus on the occupations themselves, rather than on the broader world.  This is why there are no concrete demands.  People are squabbling over sexism and racism in the ranks, over dealing with the permanent “occupiers” of public space (the homeless), and over regulating their spots.  This is not serious politics, although it is instructive and creative and useful. 

We need to be developing strategies for seizing power, for articulating the demands of the working masses (“the 99%”) in ways that resonate with them, and girding for the struggles ahead.  Kids like this know lots about living on the streets but almost nothing about how to actually overthrow the most powerful and monolithic ruling class in modern history.  I can’t say I have the answers ready either, but I know that this “revolutionist” doesn’t even know the question.

Report this

By heydbrown, October 31, 2011 at 12:31 pm Link to this comment

greglorious…..I hearya/feelya

you express that particular viewpoint/perspective, well/articulately

I just returned home [to the midwest] after a mo. or so at OWS.  I’m from the
non-street/non-survivalist/non-Friesen camp Chris references in this article,
which is the camp you clearly represent/call-home.  I did not sleep in ZP, but
rather, secured comfortable quarters to bed/shower/re-charge/etc.

The conditioned part of me shares/empathizes/relates-to your view, while at
the same time an open/aware part of me resonates with Chris’
observations/propositions

I was there in the thick of it for about a month.  It’s messy…...no doubt about
it…

...hwvr…

within the mess, Truth is, indeed, inherent/emerging

it emerges, then retracts…...emerges & retracts…..

I have more to share on the dynamic…...the inherent strengths/weaknesses, as
I see them…...and I may pop back on the thread & share them, at some point

for now, I’ll simply say I feel there’s merit in what Chris is suggesting.  It’s
challenging to see the merit from the context of a comfortable home, a vehicle
or two, food in the fridge, heat & A/C, a decent shower/bath…

...hwvr…

...here’s the thing….

if RADICAL, foundational changes are NOT realized—and not realized
relatively soon—the trajectory of this species is v dark, v bleak

irrational consciousness is not something to embrace from any representation
of the socio-economic spectrum.  That said, there’s irrationality being
expressed, presently, frm all portions of the socio-economic spectrum, clearly

The battle is not 99% vs. 1%, disenfranchised vs. mainstream, or lower vs.
middle/upper…

it’s rational consciousness vs. irrational consciousness

or, as I sometimes say…

life-affirming-consciousness vs. non-life-affirming-consciousness

if this species is going to make it, it will need to discover a way to see beyond
the boundaries of skin/body, and realize the quantum-reality…

“I have seen the enemy…..and It is *Us*...”

the universe is sending the species universal-feedback…

...that how the species is expressing/operating is not in alignment with life-
affirming-universal-principles

as expressions-of-Life…

...and ‘higher-conscious-Life’, at that…

such expression/operation is not rational

from where does such irrational-expression spring…?

it springs….in my opinion…..from an ‘unhealthy ego-consciousness’

an unhealthy ‘separateness-consciousness that does not enduringly-perceive
the *Quantum-Reality* of it’s interdependent-oneness with The-Whole…

...i.e..

it’s consciousness whose perception/expression does not reflect an awareness
of the *Oneness-Principle*

and again…...this type of conscious-expression is evident, presently,
throughout ALL portions of the socio-economic spectrum

here’s what I know…

...here’s what I saw/experienced over the past month or so…

the OWS context is the ONLY place on this planet, presently, where such
authentic exploration-of-consciousness is taking place involving all
representations from the socio-economic spectrum…

...and yes…

it is VERY messy….

it’s encouraging, discouraging, and everything in between…

...and it’s that way, I believe, because THAT’S where human-consciousness is at
this stage of It’s unfolding

Universal-Feedback is inviting the species to evolve, consciously

OWS is a preliminary-RSVP to that invitation

it’s offering the species an *OPPORTUNITY* to affirmatively RSVP to
theinvitation, as long as that invitation remains open ; 0) ; )

the challenge/opportunity, as I see it, is inspiring life-affirming-consciousness
to realize Itself more-&-more within OWS, and inspiring life-affirming-
consciousness to realize Itself more-&-more in realms [presently] beyond OWS

through such realizations, the System will begin transforming ItSelf in ways that
are more-&-more aligned with life-affirming-universal-principles…

...in my opinion… *(^_-)*

Report this

By Foucauldian, October 31, 2011 at 12:15 pm Link to this comment

A blessing in disguise?

Report this

By DH, October 31, 2011 at 12:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

So far, the OWS movement is about expressing outrage over the issue of unrestricted corporate dominance and the corresponding obscene inequality of wealth.  Eventually, once enough people have focused on the problem to begin understanding it more clearly, solutions (and demands) may be articulated—or people may simply begin practicing direct democracy in their local communities, as Michael Albert suggests.  But most people aren’t fools;  if a solution doesn’t bring about much greater economic equality, it shouldn’t be accepted as genuine. Republican proposals to accomplish this through freeing up capital are disingenuous.

Report this
Spire's avatar

By Spire, October 31, 2011 at 12:06 pm Link to this comment

re: greglorious
“We need strength in numbers to effect change of any kind. Is this what millions of the disaffected middle class are to rally behind? Anarchists, dumpster diving, Marxism, street people, traveler types?”

WTF? Maybe it’s time for you to reread the message on the Statue of Liberty. Or is this Power of the Poor too upsetting? These are the poor, regardless of how you splice and dice labels and categories. This is definitely a core of the 99%; it is also a core rapidly including folks who used to be middle class, and who by your definition are “Anarchists, dumpster diving, Marxism, street people, traveler types” —this is the new middle class and they are going to have to know these survival techniques. (My only critique is that Chris didn’t include more about long range survival techniques, like strawbale gardening – but that would be for optimists only.)

Question: WTF else can you truly be but an anarchist when all controls and laws of govt. no longer apply to you because the mythical “checks and balances” no longer work or corrupted beyond all reason?

WTF is the source of your intense and instant botheration?? After but a single month of one of the most amazing, most hopeful and inspiring events you or I will ever witness in our lifetimes—They are Occupying Wall Street! Let me rephrase that: The are fucking occupying fucking Wall fucking Street! And they represent 99% of the people. Right there, that is huge, HUGE! The Identification Is The Message. You need to appreciate the brilliance of that—maybe pick up a book on Zen.

And, WTF: they are putting their bodies on the line, every day, and now all over the world. And because they don’t shave and maybe they don’t have proper degrees, they might tarnish your image of what might garner greater support from the more proper middle class? And that you are cringing because “street people” are forming the friggin’ vanguard? In the United States, if it weren’t for “street people,” we citizens would have been fascist toast a long time ago.

Maybe you might want to talk with a Marine.
http://occupymarines.org/

Report this
Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, October 31, 2011 at 11:50 am Link to this comment

Primary participation by anarchists and communists in OWS has been overt since the beginning—see David Graeber’s article (cited previously).  The curious factor is that the ruling classes, in their intransigence and incompetence, have driven thousands, maybe millions of reformist liberals into their company, where they will begin to get ideas, as they used to say. 

I don’t know if this brings us to the doors of the Winter Palace, however.

Report this

By westcoaster, October 31, 2011 at 11:48 am Link to this comment

I was hoping for some practical suggestions, Chris. 
The movement needs imagination.  What would Abbie
Hoffman have done???

Report this
Flickford's avatar

By Flickford, October 31, 2011 at 11:38 am Link to this comment

I don’t see disunity in this piece - I see reality. Of course a movement like this
will attract the homeless and those surviving on the so-called fringe of society.
Jon Friesen’s story is nothing to be ashamed of, it is a remarkable testament to
the human spirit, it should chasten and challenge complacency, and i think it
does just that.

As part of the 5.5 million self-employed artists in this country trying to make a
living, I know how close to dumpster-diving my disenfranchised class actually
is. We have been assaulted on numerous fronts starting with the vilification of
the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities - the erosion of private
sector funding for the arts and the rapacious collection of dead artist works as
hard assets by the 1%ers - ignoring all but the top-selling high-priced living
artists. The middle-class art buying sector has totally disappeared since the
crash and we are in increasingly desperate straights. Working artists are solely
on their own today, support from foundations is feeble at best, creative work
next to impossible to find, and secondary part-time jobs in general almost
nonexistent.

I know of no other developed nation on the face of the earth that holds it’s arts
and humanities with such disdain. “American Idol” and “The Next Great Artist”
don’t count - that arts exploitation.

I see a nation whose policies has created what Chris is describing with Jon
Friesen’s life history and his class of willful activists operating and surviving on
the fringe of society. Friesen’s survival skills are astonishing not only because
of his ingenuity but also that such an intelligent and articulate person is even
on the fringe of our society. Our system places no value on the best of what
humanity has to offer - compassion and empathy - but rather on making it’s
citizens valuable consumers. But the myth of the return of consumer confidence
and staying the course holds no future, we are all becoming increasingly
oppressed by the system, and buying necessities is becoming more difficult.
The revolution is just beginning and we have a lot to learn from guys like Jon
Friesen.

Report this

By Rixar13, October 31, 2011 at 11:33 am Link to this comment

I am a 99%, and will march on… wink wink

Report this

By greglorious, October 31, 2011 at 10:22 am Link to this comment

I`ll start by saying that I admire Chris Hedges in both his intellect and his compassion. However, when I read the column ‘A Master Class in Occupation’ this morning, I was dismayed. This article could well become as divisive an issue as the Occupy movement has yet encountered.
We need strength in numbers to effect change of any kind. Is this what millions of the disaffected middle class are to rally behind? Anarchists, dumpster diving, Marxism, street people, traveler types? These terms personify the fringe within the movement that we must strive to disassociate ourselves from to have any wide reaching and ineradicable credibility.
To endow those few with the mantle of some romantics version of ‘Keeper of the Flame’ for the Occupy movement is a betrayal of common sense, Orwellian in scope.
In my mind I hear a million sighs from those within Occupy, realists like me, who comprehend the damage this could cost.I also see the sneers of our adversaries, who live for these types of miss steps.

Report this
Spire's avatar

By Spire, October 31, 2011 at 10:18 am Link to this comment

Re: Halloween
http://www.democracynow.org/2011/10/31/deadly_monopolies_medical_ethicist_harriet_washington

The fuel for the resolve of maintaining a movement like OWS can sometimes be funded through greater, more damnable, revelations of the exploits of our enemy. This clip about Medical Experimentation and Patent Rights should send a chill.

A tremendous interview! Earth IS the The Island of Dr. Moreau. During the 60s my neighbor’s son was a Thalidimide baby, such a tragedy. Now it is apparently back, this time under anti-cancer therapy. Without morality and ethics, Medicine is reduced to horror and greed.  At the very least, grooming a sick, paying population to feed bottomless shareholder greed is as anathema to “do no harm” as you can get.

The thing about GARDASIL is that now the US -the Govt- is experimenting openly on US -the people, something they previously could only get away with in vulnerable 3rd World nations. Now, our own government regards us as 3rd world—i.e. we are all niggers on this bus.  And now, kids don’t even need to get parental permission. “Hi, little girl, wanna popsicle?” (Hat tip to Good Ol’ Jerry Brown for that one.)

The veil is coming off and it is Dark. And not only dark, it is in our name.

Report this

By Buzzme, October 31, 2011 at 9:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is hilarious, to drag up Bakunin’s old bones,
again! (Not to mention Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young)

Albert Einstein Quote:

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and
expecting different results.

Report this

By Sugoi, October 31, 2011 at 9:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Those two paragraphs on Bakunin put a big smile on my face.

I’m glad that Bakunin is finally getting the acknowledgment he deserves for being one of the most prescient thinkers of the late 1800s. Marx obviously deserves a lot of credit for his insights on the nature of capitalism. But it was Bakunin who predicted the true nature of revolutions. He also was probably the first thinker to have warned against the powers of the people who are today referred to as the “new class of intellectuals,” namely, the likes of Henry Kissinger and Robert McNamara. (Incidentally, Hedges happens to be a fan of John Ralston Saul, who writes a lot about these kinds of technocrats in a 1990s book called “Voltaire’s Bastards.” It’s a great book, but behind Bakunin by about a century and a half.)

He was also the guy who basically predicted what would happen if Marxists were able to take over the state. It would, in his words, become a “red bureaucracy,” that would be worse than even the most despotic of czarist regimes. In this sense, Lenin, Mao and Stalin really prove Bakunin’s point.

It’s sad, really, that Bakunin isn’t as famous as he should be. At the same time, though, it’s no surprise.

Liberal scholars demonize him for rather obvious reasons. Marxist scholars, who make up a huge percentage of left academia, do the same to him, simply because the power of Bakunin’s ideas discredit a great deal of Marxist ideas on revolution, especially of the Leninist sort.

If you’re interested in learning more about Bakunin, you ought to check out the following of his works:

. “Statism and Anarchy”
. “Federalism, Socialism and Anti-Theologism”
. “The Immorality of the State”
. “Man, Society and Freedom”
. “On Representative Government and Universal Suffrage”

All of these can be found at the following link:
http://theanarchistlibrary.org/authors/Michail_Bakunin.html

I assure you, all of these are easy reads. Bakunin was a very clear writer, unlike a great percentage of self-proclaimed “radical” left-wing academics, who don’t seem to care whether or not their readers understand them. (cough, cough, POST-STRUCTURALISTS, cough, cough)

Report this
John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, October 31, 2011 at 8:51 am Link to this comment

Well, I hope they evolve an ecologically, economically sustainable and aesthetically acceptable micro-city within NYC which can thrive as a true nucleus over the long, long run. 

Priorities, possibilities and procedures take time to evolve.  Eventually, I hope they take that island and the country back from the banksters and do even more politically, but for now they must hunker down and avoid getting get co-opted or discredited.  They must learn to be a self-sufficient organism, a moral and social example, worthy of a massive follower-ship.

Report this

By billylutz, October 31, 2011 at 8:47 am Link to this comment

Not to the intellect does he speak
nor to the student of technique
he is not a sophist as tax records prove
logic leaning or reason soothe
dispossessed to accurately measure
the edge is not for those who waver

Pan emerges into the street
can he hold footing and not retreat
this forest rebukes a silent bower
concrete curtain through which he maneuver
no winning over minds of season
with airy lute and hooves cloven
but parry at the speed of light
where virtual image commandeers sight
market maw devouring all
spirit beast intending to kill
shake the facebook hypnosis
selfish pleasure in diagnosis
there is a battle raging silent
corporate man is David’s giant
he hacks the edges of perception
narrowed to complete abstraction
a million images carefully designed
all filtered through the human mind
while present tense goes unnoticed
like water tables 100 feet below us.

Spirit Beast must raise herself
brain suppresses what the gut repels
to deem that base reflects not God
is to deny entire the natural world.
Shall nature alone be dismissed
shall smell and touch be sensually dissed
shall progress be Man’s deathly kiss
is want and desire exclusive bliss?

“He fracks the shell to gorge the blood
He clears the land with a mighty thud
He poisons rivers with toxic mud
He genetically alters every bud”

Moore is praying in Wisconsin
the final straw is union busting
it didn’t happen with the oil disaster
ice cap melt too slow to matter
grand theft finance of the treasury
foreclosed homes or general misery.
brain entrenched in circuit routing
California aqueduct resembling
any crack that begins to leach
corporate man at the breach
to re-gyro hypnosis with rapid spin
like nuclear meltdowns only apply to Japan
Industry logic doesn’t permit talking
columned orders like soldiers marching
clients patients customers team members
we have our commands you must remember
the world is too big so don’t beleaguer
Sunday worship says follow the leader
capital bishops define the path
moral righteous through corporate wrath

Earth Christ issues from the beast
St. Pan the Baptist appeals to the least
of all we animals without mental power
brute force is our finest hour
driven by instinctual sense
virtual commons in present tense
flood the gates with primal baying
kick the doors of mass displaying
let crisis prime instinctual survival
death and rebirth is better than revival
corporate patriots say go shopping
with all life’s essence in forced co opting
while middle eyed as deluded peasants
gorging on all that’s deathly pleasant
for madness serves the basest entity
consumer human with all that vanity

Penury knows the brutal real
pitchfork sharp of talon steel
drag the middle into the fight
to raise the Phoenix must first ignite
drain the field of potential
let them panic inconsequential
in precious pause of inhaling breath
look for comfort from equally bereft
who’ve been surviving long enough
find life kinetic in the rough
find wisdom hewn from human hide
street level now intellectually alive
denying pursuit of consumer pleasure
find the greater cause is in the weather
and eddying yawns from individual slumber
in collective rage resounds like thunder

Report this

By litlpeep, October 31, 2011 at 8:41 am Link to this comment

This gets rather interesting, depending upon how true the image is to the occupying cultural substance: “proletarian revolutions, like those of the nineteenth century, constantly criticize themselves, constantly interrupt themselves in their own course, return to the apparently accomplished, in order to begin anew; they deride with cruel thoroughness the half-measures, weaknesses, and paltriness of their first attempts, seem to throw down their opponents only so the latter may draw new strength from the earth and rise before them again more gigantic than ever, recoil constantly from the indefinite colossalness of their own goals—until a situation is created which makes all turning back impossible, and the conditions themselves call out: ‘Hier ist die Rose, hier tanze’ [Here is the rose, here the dance].”

The literary trope would be more helpful were it not rather a romanticized view of C19 “proletarian revolutions.”

We all can review that history, and see the romance in them as well as the romance imported here.

But there can be value in some elevated view of one’s actions.  I prefer consciously created affirmations, but getting to these takes more work than most philosophers have time to do; some other thinkers may do better.

The point is that it is as dangerously misleading to romanticize (past or future-oriented present) because it cultivates the habit of self-deception.  This is yet another habit that sustains the corruptions of the status quo everywhere there are status quo corruptions - not just Wall Street, but Tehran, Beijing, Tokyo, Mexico City, and any place there are elites, including every business with a CEO or Director, and every parenting family.

There is more to the story than is being told, Mr. Hedges. While I respect your writing more than any other reporting from the occupy efforts, I will also be as attentive as I can for slights of prose.

It may well be true that many in OWS & kindred actions are not thoroughly self-conscious of their motives and/or habits.  That may also be true of those reporting on these beautiful emerging civic actions that all together suggest democracy is breaking out all over the US.

Report this

By balkas, October 31, 2011 at 8:10 am Link to this comment

“anarchy”, in folk usage of that label, means “lawlessness”. and even dictionary
defines or calls anarchy “lawlessness”.

and it, just like bible, quran, u.s constitution, talmund, das kapital,
komunisam, fascism, torah, mein kampf, zionism, socialism, der liebe gott,
god bless america, democracy, justice, truth, meine heimat, my country,
movement, organization, and thousands upon thousands of such, to me,
irritants, cannot be understood/known—all such concepts can ONLY BE
INTERPRETED and never known.

and each of these labels may be interpreted differently by each person [and
even from his own at diff times] and we find ourselves in deep morass and no
way out, if what we just said is not known.

and hedges interprets communism, what marx said and i interpret hedges,
obama, hitler; i.e., extract some meanings from what they said and even from
what i say to myself. and the peace inside of you grows and grows
exponentially because of such ‘knowledge’ or orientattion. try it?

so, what do i mean when i think [or we—yes i am not the only one] that no
utterance can be known—only interpreted? the way out of this quandary
would be to consider the words “interpret”, “truth”, “justice”, etc., as
undefinable terms.
in short they cannot be further elucidated and thus allowing each person
herhis inalienable right to define them as best s/he can and being right at it as
well. so be patient and listen attentively to everyone and with
respect/appreciation.
there, then, we cannot have a bad or wrong definition even of a person like
bush, palin, bachmann, mussolini, lenin, hitler, et al. they all are right by own
definition.
when it comes to killing people [in far away lands that pose no danger of
whatever kind to us, we use another idea: err, if u must err, but on side of not
killing people and let go of, say, obama’s or bachmann’s defining; or better
yet, as i do, never listen to them]]

and finally peace on earth drops on us; at least on the level or aspect of
defining terms.

if we do not recognize this fact or desirable truth [or apodictic truth-aristotle]
we are destined to forever argue about meanings in words like “democracy”,
“justice”, “peace”, “anarchy”, etc., yet never reach an agreement or avoiding the
hell it lead us thus far into and will for an eternity.

also sprachen und heute sprechen alle weisern! danke, grazie! b b vancouver

Report this

By DonMidwest, October 31, 2011 at 7:04 am Link to this comment

I was very involved in the anti Vietnam War demonstrations at Berkeley in the mid 1960’s. It was mostly students. There are generations of anarchists in the SF Bay area who were always around, but the bulk of the demonstrators were students.

The steps of Sproul Hall had speakers every day. The student leaders Mario Savio and Jerry Rubin, and others were much more articulate than the spokespersons for the “power structure.” There were noted speakers as well such as Noam Chomsky.

But the unions and police and many others did not support the effort. This time around it is the 99%. Reaching out to the various groups and doing something to integrate them to address the complex problems that our society has ignored for 30 years, nope for longer than that because we have not faced up to being a military empire. Alone and with our specific issues, we can not be heard. And the specific issues are extremely important which shows how bankrupt the political class is and the others in the oligarchy.

Here is a primer on non violent resistance from dailykos yesterday. This is yet another area to be educated on for the long term effort we face to restructure society.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/10/30/1031139/-The-Occupy-movement-and-the-wisdom-of-non-violence?via=blog_1

Report this

By Prut, October 31, 2011 at 6:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ozark is entirely correct, just like the first tea partiers were the neo-nazis, John
Birchers and other deadenders who have hung around the fringes of the
Republican Party for the past 60 years, waiting for their opportunity make a move.
They told reporters they were against government spending, instead of their real
motivation, which was that the president is a black guy.

Report this
Billy Pilgrim's avatar

By Billy Pilgrim, October 31, 2011 at 5:42 am Link to this comment

Troll Ozark: What exactly is your point? Nobody is
hiding anything. Unlike the Koch brothers lead phony
Tea Party, these protests are as spontaneous a
demonstration of revulsion at the capitalist/oligarchy
society which has plunged us into an economic
depression due to corrupt politicians in bed with
corrupt capitalists as one can expect.

Take your fake Tea Party outrage and bow down to the
Koch brothers, unless you have something cogent and
coherent to say. Stop with the McCarthy b.s., O.K.?

Report this

By Dumont, October 31, 2011 at 5:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

For those of us still on the sidelines, Chris Hedges provides some excellent reporting on the true grit of the vanguard at the barricades.  These women and men of all cultures are modern American heroes and represent a lot of what we celebrate in our diverse heritage. We can draw strength from the diversity and through cyberspace walk in the occupiers’ mocassins for now.

Report this
OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, October 31, 2011 at 5:08 am Link to this comment

In those first few days, he says, “it was the radicals and the self-identifying anarchists” who set up the encampment. Those who would come later, usually people with little experience in dumpster diving, sleeping on concrete or depending on a McDonald’s restroom, would turn to revolutionists like Friesen for survival. Zuccotti Park, like most Occupied sites, schooled the uninitiated.

Oh dear. Hedges just let the cat out of the bag.

The first few days of OWS were coy. The protestors would not tell what they wanted to replace capitalism with… and reminded each other “Dont say it, bro!” when interviewed. Check out the 50 second mark:

http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/oreilly/2011/10/03/jesse-watters-crashes-wall-street-protest

Well, now we know why they wouldnt say it. They were radicals and didnt want to out themselves in order to appeal to the masses. That was a smart coordinated strategy. OWS isnt exactly transparent. Thanks Chris.

Report this

By still trying, October 31, 2011 at 4:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Some people are waking up to how viciously they are beeing cheated by those in power. Let’s hope they find a way to make their message more widely understood in the larger society. The establishment will do everything in its power to marginalize and discredit them. Dispersed small consciousness raising groups could provide a link with those middle class folks who are becoming fed up with the disfunctional rule of the corporations and their political puppets.

Report this

Page 2 of 2 pages  <  1 2

 
Right 1, Site wide - BlogAds Premium
 
Right 2, Site wide - Blogads
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 
 
 
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 

A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion   Publisher, Zuade Kaufman   Editor, Robert Scheer
© 2014 Truthdig, LLC. All rights reserved.

Like Truthdig on Facebook