[Insert Emma Goldman Quote About Dancing Here]
Republished from a comrade. Viewable in original form here
The activist and founder of the OccupyWallSt.org website Justine Tunney was covered in the Pando Daily for making some adoring comments
about her current employer, Google. “Google is the one company I don’t hate. I think Google is actually doing things that are making the world a better place,”
she said, despite the fact that Google is doing things to make the world a shittier place. Google funds right-wing groups
like ALEC and Heritage Action, is a threat to privacy
, and recently showed no remorse in outing a transwoman
. Obviously, they provide many products for free, but that’s not charity, it’s a business model.
It’s infuriating that a founding Occupy member would sell out her beliefs the moment they cease to be convenient, but it’s hardly surprising. Before I had even arrived at the Occupy LA camp, I saw a post on the Occupy LA forums hawking Occupy branded T-shirts, of which a portion of the proceeds would be donated to the Democratic Party. With little time for comment moderation and capitalism being shamelessly driven by profit (hence the protest), I decided to give the movement another chance, and assumed that no true Occupier
would engage in such blatant appropriation of political momentum.
Never Trust a Roc-A-Fella
Unsurprisingly, my naive assumption was wrong. Mario “King of Occupy LA” Brito, a union organizer and antiwar activist, declared himself “media liaison” of Occupy LA, and used this title to get access and coverage*. Later, there was Malcolm Harris, the egghead who charges five-fucking-grand for speaking fees, and so on. We can go on enumerating hucksters and shitwads who capitalized on the Occupy brand (indeed, that’s how this post was originally imagined), but what would be the point? Occupy is (lets be frank: was) a brilliant and fiery attack on the fundamental problems in this damned country and planet, and there was clearly something good about it.
That’s why, after more than two years, I cannot further endure the slander, so let me say it: Occupy was fun. Like a cold riot, it was beautiful: communal, destructive, and mindless, the only meaningful reaction in the face of a farcical political system that makes molasses of debate. To surrender to obviousness to avoid being misunderstood, Occupy LA was about sex, drugs, and having fun. A two-month celebration, a claiming of a lifetime of spring breaks and parent-funded college experiences denied to the uneducated and unemployable, it was a blast. At Occupy LA, I had a fantastic time of staying as inebriated as I could and getting laid. It is simply dishonest to deny that this experience was shared by a great number of the people at the camp, and that they were at there to enjoy that experience, and I will no longer suffer the deniers of what a great time it was.
It’s always BONGO’clock somewhere!
The deniers of this reality are less interested in reporting truth, and more in highlighting the “good” occupiers who went to useless general assembly (GA) meetings who exemplify whatever they think Occupy was about. The opinions of drugs and junkies, apparently, are not good enough for serious political discourse. But why not? These people were at Occupy because they believe a community devoted to having as much fun as they’d like while helping others have as much fun as they’re having, and capitalism was not serving that goal.
Working is generally not fun, and working a dead-end, minimum-wage, essentially useless job that you have to work forty hours a week to make ends meet is not fun. Capitalism, dare I say, is not a lot of fun — not for me, anyway — and all the air-quotes entrepreneurs who beat off to The Social Network can’t change that. In fact, I’m going to guess that most people who dream of being the “next Zuckerburg” mostly dream about having a lot of money and being able to choose your hours and when you work on something you enjoy. The people who were there “just to get high” have specific things that they don’t like about their lives, and if liberal politics has any future, it has to include their experience.
Have I told you about the time I was at Occupy and took acid? I got some acid from the neighboring tribe — we had tribes, it was a system that worked — and played music and got drunk and talked about things that seem heavy when you’re on drugs and on the edge of a drum circle, and then wandered about through the tents and all the flaps looked like enormous labia, and I felt like I was in a Georgia O’Keefe painting. That was indisputably fun.
Now, that whole time, do you think I spent a minute thinking about the GAs? Of course not, because as where most of Occupy was fun, the GAs were not. Not because politics aren’t important, or because logistics can’t be exciting, but because as time went on the amount done there approached zero. It was like every ridiculous thing about ineffectual student groups on campuses across the country (or what I imagine they’re like, I never got further than community college).
Let’s listen to someone to say exactly what the person before them just said! Yay!
You know where things did get done? At the nightly meeting to find enough money to buy a handle of bottom-shelf vodka. (At the time, I could tell you the price of a Rite-Aid brand bottle down to the penny.) If we didn’t drink it straight, it was mixed into a five-gallon bottle of Jungle Juice, a concoction of hard-liquor, box wine, and pruno. These nights ended in the Naked Dance Party, a silly pretense to make sure everyone got laid. Now, that’s some community organizing you can believe in!I was like them, once. I felt guilty for not going to meetings, for only being involved in the sanitation committee (we picked up trash, we were pretty direct action-y as far as committees go), and gave the people I got drunk with shit for not caring about the movement.
It was an argument with the chief of the Love Committee (it sounded corny at the time, too) that changed my mind. He had led a group of scummy Occupiers to chant a prayer to disrupt a GA. I was of the opinion that was a dick move, which he didn’t deny, but rather asked me to consider what damage he had done by interrupting a piece of kubuki where nothing actually got done. He was right, and I had to rethink everything I believed about why I was there.
The “Juan” Percent, and yes: “You’re all a bunch of assholes!”
My time at Occupy was, without exception, the best time of my life thus far. A tragedy of our times is that the greatest model of society I have ever had the pleasure to be a part of was crushed by cops before it had a chance to fully incubate and spread. Two questions of which we’ve been demanded an answer: why did we not make ourselves more presentable, and what exactly did we intend. The first: we didn’t care what you idiots thought. The second: to live as you saw us live. At Occupy, the battle was won. It was more or less how I envision the world after the revolution. We weren’t there to make war with metaphor, but to live in actual freedom. We sought joy for all, and achieved it through cooperation.
You want a caveat? I’ll give you a stinking caveat: Occupy lead to real and tangible activism. It certainly changed the discourse, and it became a lot easier to say that one thinks that the rich — particularly, bankers — are making a mess of the country and world. You could also point to Occupy Sandy, or various other direct action efforts associated with the movement that have been well-covered elsewhere. Still, it is essential to keep in mind that these were possible because of the joyous nature of Occupy, something missing from protest movements.
Dance! Dance! Revolution!
When I read that Occupy was a political movement, I don’t think it’s wrong as much as it misses the point. It was a modern Ghost Dance, a breathing fantasy of the world without the fascists. That dream, protected by momentum, was deferred, and now we must actually and literally rid the world of the plutocrats. I’ll admit, I’m still drunk with the taste of liberty, and can sometimes still taste it, but it is that feeling that will shake the outmoded politics and circle jerking, but indulge me a few prescriptions. We must:
1. Know what’s wrong
Not even why, just what. Before slavery could be abolished (in name), we had to be able to say something to the effect of, “it’s a shitty thing to do to force people to work against their will and keep them in captivity.” Similarly, work sucks, is largely unnecessary, takes up too much of our time, and is more-often-than-not unfairly renummerated. These are fundamentals.
2. Know our enemies.
To pick just one, Richard Bruce “Dick” Cheney. We’ve got to know their names, their crimes, and maybe even their home addresses.
3. Actually hate them.
“Love thine enemy” might look good in needlework, but Jesus — and this is being more than fair — was a weirdo and advice only makes sense if you’ve got an afterlife to justify decades of getting fucked over by your oppressors. There’s nothing wrong with hate, people, and the supposed risk that it will drive you to cruelty is outweighed by the dopey conversations about morality that lead to inaction. We can go ahead and forgive them once this economic system is strangled and a new world of mutual support is built in the ashes of the old, but until then, we ought to do everything we can to disarm these creeps and dismantle their order that makes slaves of us all.* As a matter of getting things straight, this post implies that Mario Brito did not attend Occupier Alex Weinshenker’s funeral. I did
, and saw Brito there, with his son.
Pigs hate “parties” even more than anarchists, it seems…
The author is correct about our mistake back in 2012. Mario Brito
, while being a total piece of shit who went from OccupyLA to the SEIU to [corrupt-as-fuck] Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon’s staff and finally to organize with the TEAMSTERS at UC Berkeley
attend the funeral. He’s still a piece of fucking shit, though. We at OLAASM
acknowledge this mistake.
(ed. We also humbly disagree with the author’s seeming assertion that “know your enemy” means necessarily knowing individuals. Getting rid of Dick Cheney wouldn’t solve shit. There are a thousand, sinister, crusty old white male fucks waiting to be him. Our enemies are systems, not individuals. But this is still a great piece! And we wouldn’t weep if something happened to Dick Cheney, either.)