Monday, October 17, 2011


I have not had the time to follow the Occupy Wall Street movement as closely as I would like to, and have not been able to participate in it at all.  I did call 311 to file a complaint when they announced that they were going to kick the protesters out of the park for "cleaning" reasons.  I still have an NYC phone number, so I made use of it.  Hardly the makings of a revolutionary, I know.  But a full-time job and a pregnant wife can be prohibitive when it comes to participating fully in such a thing.

I don't have an all encompassing opinion of what is happening in NYC, or across the rest of America, and the globe. My main reaction is that many of the videos that I've seen have been quite disturbing.  I've seen unprovoked violence by the police - arrests that defy easy explanation, or evidence of crime - blatant misuse of power, and the broad attempts to destroy people's right to peaceably assemble, to redress grievances.

I was having a glass of wine last night and I posted a little miniature poem to Facebook.  It was part tongue-in-cheek, part expression of excitement to see people resisting abuses of power, but mostly an expression in praise of life. Though it did not mention the Occupy situation directly, it was intended to to evoke that, in part.  It was a simple verse in praise of life, or "viva," more than anything else. The timing was intended to be suggestive.

A friend responded, "What is it that we are revolving towards?  What is it that is clearly better than what we have? viva...."

Ignore the subtle confusion between the words revolving and revolution.  Revolution is a revolting against something.  It is an attempt to have power shift hands, often at the charge of misuse.  It is not a revolving towards but a resistance against.  The perhaps naive idea is that to stop something that is wrong will hopefully produce anything that is better.  The first question of his can mainly be read as a setup for the next question, which it both sets up and echoes.  It seems to be the question everybody has for the Occupy movement. What do they want? What are their demands.

I love that they have refused to state demands.

I am with those who wish to stop greedy wrongdoing, and with Wall Street there is much.  But the system is designed to defy easily articulated resistance; so instead they are just assembling and enacting out a sort of theater of discontent.  I love it.

I would never pretend to speak for the Occupy movement, or to even clearly understand their message, though their sense of irony is fantastic, and even at times vaguely reminiscent of the dada movement of the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich.  

A few things, however, seem clear enough...  They are sick of corruption. The failures of the financial world in the past several years are well documented. They are sick of the government aiding the corruption by lack of oversight, or by rolling back restrictions and regulations, or attempting to.  They are sick of paying taxes to bail out the criminal misdeeds of the very financial organizations that have created a structure that cheats them at every possible turn and then acts as if it is the failure of the economy that has caused the problem.  That it is in fact a fault of the people and the environment that they have created that is the actual issue, rather than the criminal act of betting against a system's success, the very system that you are selling to your investors.   

They seem to be sick of being fucked over and then being told that it is somehow their fault for having been fucked over.  They seem to be sick of Congress and the Supreme Court protecting corporations over citizens. They seem to be sick of the result of decades of criminality and collusion between the lawmakers and the multi-national corporations that have drained America of its resources and then blamed America for the resulting emptiness. 

So, perhaps revolving towards a better situation is all that is needed.  It is not difficult at all to imagine what might be "better than what we have."

Viva, indeed.  The word means life.

The last line of the miniature poem posted on Facebook, found below, emphasizes needs, playing on how a revolution might come: by needs, via needs.  That was the emphasis I had hoped to convey over actual revolution. That for corporations to rape the economy they should be providing jobs for the people they are raping, at the very least.  Though I have not found much happiness in having a job I prefer it to the life that I might live otherwise, for now.  

Having the government protect us from voracious corporations intent on "expanding their markets" is not a "hand-out." 

That the protesters have assembled at the capital of the financial world, rather than the center of government is both telling and appropriate, and should be protected under the 1st amendment.  That much seems clear to me, though I know many that would refute their assembling as a protected act.  It draws attention to how deeply ingrained the financial world and government are in the collusion of corruption.  Each one supports the other, one with the creation of laws to protect what should be illegal, the other financing the legislation that permits it.  

The government has ceased performing its role to protect its citizens, though they have not ceased their endless jingoist military mentioning of it.  All it takes to witness this is to do a Google search for "Occupy Wall Street" and watch some of the YouTube videos coming out of the movement, some of the unexplained and unapologetic brutality towards peaceful citizens of this nation.  

I'm not sure if it is an apocryphal story or not but there is a rumor circulating that Citibank donated an enormous sum of money to the NYC police.  There are many documented (by amateur video) incidents of police brutality in (or near) Citibank branches, even to those "customers" who have accounts there and were there to close those accounts.  There were reports that a similar thing is happening at Chase banks as well.

So, to respond to my friend... One thing that would be "clearly better than what we have" would be a government that protects the rights of its citizens to voice their disapproval at a system that works against them at every step, and then actually charges them to create and maintain that very system, then uses their tax dollars to finance the failures of criminals, and criminal wars.

Again, I don't speak for anybody but myself here, but my friend's question seemed broad enough to be both vaguely accusatory and rhetorical.  It requires practically no imagination at all to envision how the current situation might be better, and rolling back Wall Street regulations is not the answer.  The current Republican debate that is going on is very telling about how frighteningly out of touch those candidates are, but the other side has produced nothing substantial to counter them.  So....

We are left with a complete fucking shit show.

I receive my news almost exclusively through the written word rather than through visual media.  I have watched television news agencies conduct a charade of journalism, and by doing so have skewed the political conversation of this country to being little more than winners and losers, blue and red, democrat and republican, north and south, etc. and etc.....

I am profoundly uncertain about the future of America's economy.  Witnessing the parade of lunacy that pretends to be political discourse and debate brings me no assurance about the future.   

I have watched my country be deeply involved in two wars for the last 10 years, and always on the verge of one or three more (Libya, Pakistan, Iran).  I have watched our economy be destroyed, oftentimes from within, sometimes exclusively so.  I have watched it all from a somewhat detached distance, because I strongly felt that my voice was not ever going to be heard.  The Occupy movement seems to be giving voice to many and it brings me great pleasure that much of what is being voiced is the sound of the absurd.  

If nothing else it's fun to watch people be confused, angry, and vaguely scared.

That the Occupy movement has been reluctant to voice their demands shows a deep loss of faith in discourse.  I find that as appealing to their cause as any other single thing about them.  

So, instead of asking, "What is it that is clearly better" the real question seems to be, "What has worked? What has failed?"

It seems that they are sick of the string of "answers" they've been given thus far.  

So am I.

Viva! Even without the revolution...
Viva, by the only meanness necessary....

If a revolution comes, then Viva by that, yes viva by that.
Viva by resistance.
Viva by choice,

Via need, via needs.