this was really beautiful to read, whether you take it for your personal life or political life or occupation:
My personal perspective has to do with the idea of freedom, this idea of discovering that we have collective knowledge that brings us together, gives us strength, starts the process of discovery. This is beyond revolutionary theories, theories that we all know and have heard so often, theories that are all too often converted into tools of oppression and submission. Constructing freedom is a learning process that can only happen in practice. For me, horizontalism, autonomy, freedom, creativity, and happiness are all concepts that go together, and they’re all things that have to both be practiced, and learned in practice.
I think back to previous activist experiences, and remember a powerful feeling of submission. This includes even my own behavior, which was often excessively rigid. It was difficult for me to enjoy myself, and enjoyment is something sane that strengthens you. Under capitalism, we were giving up the possibility of enjoying ourselves and being happy. We need to constantly break with this idea. We have life, and the life we have should be lived today. We shouldn’t wait to take power, so that we can begin to enjoy ourselves in the future. We should take it now. We begin by believing in what’s possible and then we push aside all of those things that don’t allow us to create this possibility.
— neka, a member of an unemployed workers’ movement
also awesome from issue #100:
Filed in culture and random linkage, QOTD, things you can do | Tagged with #occupyart, #ows, adbusters | Comment (0)
Because history doesn’t move in straight lines but surges like water, sometimes swirling, sometimes dripping, flowing, flooding–always unknowable, unexpected, uncertain. Because the key to insurgency is brilliant improvisation, not perfect blueprints.
following up on my last #occupy post……
the Muppets have taught us so many things since 1976. and this week, they’ve taught us just how well popular Art can be used to call bullshit:
Miss Piggy was more combative and political; the puppet added that the charge was “almost as laughable as accusing Fox News of being news.”
(this is a response to this)
have the Muppets always been so intense?
anyway, i love it, and this is a great segue for me to post some of that which i recently wrote for my art school application on the subject of the current state and intersection of art vs. politics in America. this is definitively the longest post i’ve ever published, but if you’re interested, read on….Filed in art, culture and random linkage, personal favorites | Tagged with #occupyart, #occupywallstreet, #ows, adbusters, banksy, capitalism, huxley, marxisms, memetic, mimetic, shepard fairey, TED | Comment (0)
last night at the salon, a nice older woman sitting next to me asked, “so what happened with the Occupy? why did it all go so bad? it makes me so sad, i watch the news and i want to cry. i wanted good things to happen.”
“You know what you don’t see much of these days? Those moist-eyed bloggers’ odes to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Gosh, remember the columns telling us these people had a noble political agenda? Seems like just yesterday the lefty bloggers were picking through polls, telling us the American people embraced the OWS gang. But then protest turned to filth, and high-mindedness turned out to be just plain-old stench.
To write such loving tributes to OWS took extraordinary discipline, I suppose. Not to actually look (or smell) and determine who the real Occupiers (as opposed to the Occupiers refashioned for the readers of the New York Times and the Nation) were must have taken real will-power, especially since the encampments in major cities (as in the District) were only a few blocks from the journalists’ offices. Had they taken a peek or inhaled on the way to work they would have discovered the real Occupy movement.
Zack Munson reports: “There are lots of bearded folks (male and female), lots of dirty tents, some college students, the unemployed, the career homeless, some white people dancing out of rhythm to rock music played over a loudspeaker. The ‘movement’ itself is still a jumble of anti-capitalist/police/
government rhetoric and pointless noise and pungent smells.” Oh, well, who wants to write about that?”
it’s true. i haven’t wrttien about OWS/OccupyOakland in over a month, but it is not because i think the shine wore off to reveal a bunch of dirty hippies. in fact, the opposite is true. i think once the new smell and initial popculture interest wore off, who was left was a bunch of super invested people who have since then been heads-down entrenched in making things happen, not out there in the camps but in smaller working groups, in meetings, behind closed doors. see: the Alternative Banking Working Group, for example.
and despite all the negatives, the movement has been effective — causing democratic change on issues local and global, from healthcare to home evictions to school funding, not only in the higher-profile cities like New York and D.C. but also in small towns across the U.S. …. not to mentioned having kicked the door open for a lot of other progressive non-Occupy NGOs and social and cultural groups to take a stand. The Media, of course, chooses to only focus on the the bad apples. this is true for nearly every single aspect of society, not just OWS, and everybody knows it. so why don’t people question what they see on the news more often?
i told the woman at the salon to try to look up other places to read about Occupy, and that while i am not actively involved much personally, i know many amazing, hardworking people who are and i know, without any question or doubt, that they are doing good things with the right intentions.
“The breadth of this movement is one thing, its depth another. It has rejected not just the particulars of our economic system, but the whole set of moral and emotional assumptions on which it’s based. Take the pair shown in a photograph from Occupy Austin in Texas. The amiable-looking elderly woman is holding a sign whose computer-printed words say, “Money has stolen our vote.” The older man next to her with the baseball cap is holding a sign handwritten on cardboard that states, “We are our brothers’ keeper.”
The photo of the two of them offers just a peek into a single moment in the remarkable period we’re living through and the astonishing movement that’s drawn in… well, if not 99% of us, then a striking enough percentage: everyone from teen pop superstar Miley Cyrus with her Occupy-homage video to Alaska Yup’ik elder Esther Green ice-fishing and holding a sign that says “Yirqa Kuik” in big letters, with the translation — “occupy the river” — in little ones below.” – Compassion Is Our New Currency
last weekend in Oakland there was another Occupy vs. OPD clash when Occupy tried to take over an empty building. before you keep reading, WATCH THIS VIDEO.
the press and City Hall reported that the Occupiers were breaking into buildings and harrassing police and that, 6 months into the movement, all this is is a temper tantrum on the part of entitled youth and rabblerousers who should find better uses for their time and stop being a public nuisance. but here is the perspective from Occupy:
“In Oakland, thousands of active community members chose to engage in true democracy by supporting the real and pressing needs of the people. The state, which supposedly represents these people, exercised extreme police brutality and violence to protect the 1%’s vacant assets. The explicit goal of the action was to build community—to open a desperately needed community center with a library, medical care, free education and emergency housing in a city that has suffered massive budget cuts, high unemployment rates and ravaged public schools. In response, the city government poured hundreds of thousands of dollars, bullets and canisters of tear gas into declaring open war on these parents, students, workers, artists, teachers, children and veterans. These people’s only offense was to believe so deeply in the American tradition of democracy, self-sufficiency, and sacrifice for the next generation that they were willing to put their bodies on the line to make this nation the empowering democracy that we know it can be.”
And here is a journalist’s first hand account of the situation, and being unlawfully arrested: http://motherjones.com/mojo/2012/01/journalists-arrested-occupy-oakland
so yeah, there are obvious issues with people taking over public buildings and setting up DIY healthcare units etc. not up to code, health violations, blah blah blah. but what i don’t understand is why the City can’t just,……let them try? see what happens? wouldn’t that cost FEWER CITY DOLLARS AND RESOURCES than hiring an outside army of police to shoot rubber bullets at citizens, people trying to create for their communities what the government has neglected to protect or provide?
which leads me back to reiterate that the main success of this movement has been to get people to WAKE UP. maybe they’re waking up to an American Dream Turned Nightmare, but if that’s the case then if Occupy stands for anything it’s this: STAND UP AND FIGHT. OCCUPY EVERYTHING that matters to you.
The Ultimate Culture Jam
“We awoke one morning to the dark realization that humanity is being dragged into a black hole of ecological, financial and spiritual catastrophe … that our democracy has been seized by a corporatocracy … that every day two hundred species of plant, insect, bird and mammal become forever extinct … that a deluge of advertising is sleepwalking our civilization to the brink of insanity … and that unless we fight back in the most visceral and creative way possible all will be lost.
And yet, what sets our struggle apart in 2012 is that we are not fighting to save a distant future. We are not trying to prevent some terrible event that is still to come. This is not about our unborn grandchildren. Instead, many of us sense that the threshold has already been crossed; the tipping point has already happened and what we are fighting for is our present. We are living in that tragic moment of eerie stillness where the fatal damage has been done, widening cracks can be seen, yet the edifice still stands and business as usual continues … but for how much longer?
Our days may be shadowed by this dark realization, but there is reason to be deeply optimistic for “where danger is, grows the saving power also.” Never before has the tantalizing possibility of a Global Spring, a worldwide people’s insurgency for democracy, seemed as close. For perhaps the first time in human history, we just might be on the edge of an everywhere-at-once revolution against the financial fraudsters, corporate lackeys and the ideology of consumerism that has brought the Earth to the precipice of collapse.
In this, the era of the total and transcendent indignato swarm, we look to each other, not to the masters above, to find out what it will take to pull off the ultimate culture jam: spiritual insurrection.”
this post is to be continued, in the vein of CULTURAL TRANSFIGURATION: OCCUPY ART.Filed in culture and random linkage, politics and news, things you can do | Tagged with #occupyoakand, #occupywallstreet, #ows, adbusters, capitalism, oakland | Comment (0)
(and now is the time of year when i once again start nudging you to think about observing Buy Nothing Day/Buy Nothing Christmas….)
Filed in QOTD | Tagged with adbusters, banksy, BND, capitalism, consumerism, consumption, NaBloPoMo | Comment (0)
People abuse you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it.
They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.
However, you are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity.
Screw that. Any advert in public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.
You owe the companies nothing. You especially don’t owe them any courtesy. They have rearranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs.
We can’t do anything to change the world until capitalism crumbles. In the meantime we should all go shopping to console ourselves.
once again…time for the annual rant against holiday consumption and nudge toward a smarter economy….
it’s not like i don’t buy things. i do. but i try to buy them conscientiously, knowing where things come from, who made them, and how they were made and what from. i support local fashion as much as possible, shop recycled/used clothing stores, and try to avoid “made in china/sri lanka/vietnam/indonesia” when i buy something new. when it comes to food, beauty, and cleaning products, i look for the most organic/fewest ingredients/greenest thing i can find. but this doesn’t make me anti-consumer. i certainly couldn’t go a year without buying anything. in fact, i think because i am always looking for the perfect thing, the greenest thing, the most sustainable, best choice, i probably end up shopping MORE than someone who just walks into Wal-Mart, loads up the cart and walks out. i probably go to 5x as many stores looking for the best alternative, and pay more for things too, further supporting the economy.
i say this because i don’t want people to get the wrong impression when i support things like Buy Nothing Day (no shopping the day after Thanksgiving) and Buy Nothing Christmas (a radical Christian idea!). i understand that these seem extreme, and many people think futile. does it really make a difference if you shop the weekend after Thanksgiving or a week later? and aren’t giving gifts a nice thing to do?
in my mind, it’s the mindset of these activities that bothers me most – that this ritualized consumption is now an expected part of American culture, so much that people put themselves through horrid situations at the beck and call of retailers like cattle through a gate – remember the people getting trampled last year on “black friday”? – and into financial debt they can’t afford to “participate”. and, in the end, what percentage of Christmas gifts are actually something people wanted?
go ahead, consume. i’m not going to pretend that isn’t part of all our lives. but i encourage you to do it as mindfully as you can. this saturday is the first ever widely organized Small Business Saturday, with companies like American Express giving huge promotions. so maybe instead of hitting up the Best Buy and Wal-Mart on Black Friday and filling up your cart, take some time to find some of the items on your shopping lists at small businesses in your community on saturday instead. if done right, this can turn our economy around. small family businesses will thrive, artists will make a living, communities will come together. in my mind, THAT is the American way.Filed in things you can do | Tagged with adbusters, BNC, BND, consumerism, economics, NaBloPoMo | Comment (0)
i would stop _(buying) (driving) (eating) (watching) (smoking)_, but _(i/he/she/we/they)_ _(need/can’t/don’t have) _ (…..)
i would start _(exercising) (carpooling) (biking) (buying real food) (shopping local) (learning)_, but _(i/he/she/we/they)_ (can’t/don’t)_ (…..)
you keep yelling about how this is America! so why do you keep making excuses? are excuses the American Way now? or are you just too comfortable with all that you have to give anything up for what you say you want? do you actually want it?
(before you accuse me of being high and mighty, i apply this to myself – nearly every day – as much as i would anyone else)
.::.Filed in personal favorites, things you can do | Tagged with adbusters, rant | Comment (0)
“I give thanks to America, a country insane enough to declare the pursuit of happiness to be an inalienable right.”
i’m reading Susan Sontag’s most excellent book In America: A Novel, about a group of well-to-do Polish people who give up everything – for some of them including fame and wealth – to become farmers/settlers in Southern California around 1876. why would these people, who had everything, give it all up to work as field hands? the book is amazing at expounding on the thoughts/ motivations of the such early immigrants – The Dream of America was *so big* that even those who had everything in their homelands were willing to give it all up for a shot at The Dream. how many of those dreams came true?
relatedly, yesterday i shared on gReader and facebook this piece from Adbusters written by Michael Larson, a philosophy teacher from Pittsburgh:
That dominant ideal of modernity is tied to a notion of ever-expanding progress and limitless consumption. The oil crisis of 1973 signaled the onset of the postmodern malaise. “Our future was all of a sudden mortgaged,” writes Bourriaud in Altermodern. So while capital has continued expanding its reach in other areas, there has been a lingering denial – an inability to mourn the lost object and the dream’s impossibility. If this was the death of the dream, then our present reality of global warming, water and food shortages, market collapse and the continued proliferation of violent factionalism make it clear that we had better get on with mourning and confront the sorrow we have been trying to repress. Putting it off has only allowed the problems to grow.
We have had a century of continuity in which the basic operating assumptions of the economic system have been hegemonic. In fact this version of “modernity” was to have closed the book on history: We have reached the best of all possible worlds; there are no alternatives. Proclaiming the end of history intimates that our desires have been satiated and that there is nothing further to strive for.
i don’t read adbusters too much anymore because i think a lot of it IS too hopeless/ armageddonist/depressing, but i still subscribe to the online feed and what caught my eye about this one is that there has been something in my mind for a really long time now with respect to my particular demographic – educated middle class americans with plenty of food, clothing, shelter – that goes something like “WE HAVE EVERYTHING. WHY AREN’T WE HAPPY?”, which seems simple, but it is all heavy with a million questions about both of the words “everything” and “happy”, and extends way beyond myself and my community to America as a whole, and our self-image of always “the best. america is the best. the best of everything is here. it is yours to take if you work hard enough”.
but it turns out that maybe, just maybe, that isn’t true, that the American Dream was a fallacy, or, even worse: what if the “everything” isn’t enough when you get it? what if, when you get to the top run of the ladder – the house, the yard, the boat, the kids, the degrees, the “everything” – what if then that isn’t enough? it must be really depressing to get to the top and realize it’s not far enough.
my speculation is that, like the early Europeans who came from perfectly good lives with solid communities to risk everything on the American frontier, there is a part of human nature that is utterly insatiable, no matter what you give it, and that the “everything” we want isn’t as physical as we’ve been lead to believe – via consumerism, marketing – the “everything” is something intangible, and possibly unattainable. it’s what drives us as humans to do what we do. if it were attainable, how would we evolve?
my generation (X), and the next (Y) seems to be the first in a few to really FEEL this. we were taught, growing up in the 80s especially, that once certain things were attained, peace and happiness would follow. but all after our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents hard work, building industries and fighting for civil rights and freedom, those of us in the educated middle-class who have access to all the things our forefathers dreamed about, here we are, standing on the top rung of the ladder, and we’re still not happy, and the world – and the rest of the world – it’s even more of a mess than before.
that is why the one sentence that hit me most in this piece was “Jean-Paul Sartre described anguish as the recognition of responsibility and the ensuing need to act without guarantee, without hope.“ as Americans, we have a lot of responsibility in this world, as we consume most of the resources and control a lot of the politics. but what hope can we feel now about it all, when it seems we inherited a wealth of square pegs but none of them fit in what turned out to be round holes?
so then finally, the author asks:
So we find ourselves in this moment of rupture, precariously exposed to risk and perhaps devoid of hope. Can we think of these facts as possibilities? Can we confront our situation and imagine what things might be like otherwise, even without guarantees? The end of history has reached its end. Can we be the ones we have been waiting for?
i also felt a lot of this, but wasn’t able to express it, during Obama’s HOPE campaign, like all of Democratic and minority America felt like everything had been done – all the groundwork was laid out, and now everyone was pinning their future on one man/one moment that was going to seal the deal. HOPE is what Obama tried to sell us, and for the election season, we bought it. but here we are 1+ years later, and people are getting depressed because the whole world didn’t change when Obama took office.
so what about now? we have to stop waiting for the thing that is going to save us. we have to stop standing on the top rung of the ladder, thinking there is no where else to go. we have the tools to build a new future. we are what we have been waiting for.Filed in culture and random linkage, most linked/commented on, personal favorites, philosophical ramblings, things you can do | Tagged with adbusters, democracy, happiness | Comment (0)
yes, my friends, once again i am advocating a BUY NOTHING CHRISTMAS and intend to spend black friday somewhere along the northern california coast between the pacific ocean and a grove of redwoods, not a shopping mall or wal-mart for miles.
IMNSHO, if you really want to celebrate CHRISTmas…in these hard economic times, put giving to the poor at the top of your list. food banks first. i started my giving early this year and last week sent a check to the Alameda County Community Food Bank. find a food bank near you.
if not buying any gifts seems too hardline for you, and/or, although i don’t empathize, i can understand, you LIKE shopping for your friends and family, and you want to express your love and admiration for them with gifts, i suggest buying handmade, local items. use ebay or etsy.com. visit a craft fair. or hey! talk to the people in your town. i bet some of them make things. people are crafty. now, these might not be the “hot gifts” everyone (especially children) has been hypnotized by television to want this year, but i thought it was the thought that counted? or maybe you’re one who believes that the way out of this recession is through consumer spending, and running out at 4AM to Macy’s on Black Friday is part of your patriotic duty….that leads me to another thought:
people keep saying that our Democracy runs on the Dollar, and lots has been written and said recently about our politicans being bought. if that’s true, then you have POWER. think more about where you send your dollars. there’s a lot of frustration lately about companies outsourcing work and manufacturing overseas while Americans are losing jobs. there’s something you can do about that: stop buying things from overseas, and from the companies that outsource. that means you might not get that huge new plasma screen TV, or your kids might not get the hottest Made in China toys for Christmas this year. but wouldn’t you rather have a job? Wal-Mart and other huge retailers take middle-class jobs away by killing small businesses and selling imported goods, yet everyone keeps giving them their money, usually for things they don’t need. why? long ago i pledged to stop buying anything with that MADE IN CHINA label unless i really, really needed it. sometimes, it’s unavoidable. but most of them time, you don’t need it. and america doesn’t need it either. america is losing the 21st century. as this great recent NYT Op-Ed points out, “Never cede a century to a country that censors Google.”
so this Christmas, support America. please give to the poor, and as for gifts, either Buy Nothing or Buy Local. i support both.
“If you wish to be perfect, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” Matthew 19:21
…what He said.Filed in things you can do | Tagged with adbusters, BNC, BND, wal-mart | Comments (2)
When Best Buy announced its latest sales figures last month, the company reported “an unprecedented drop in consumer buying of items like flat-screen televisions,” said Ori Brafman, a business expert and an author, with his brother, Rom, of “Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior,” out since June from Doubleday Business. “But when Wal-Mart released its report last week, there was a surprise. Consumers had increased their flat-screen purchases. Somehow, because Wal-Mart feels like a bargain store, shoppers who have deprived themselves of luxury items elsewhere rationalized their purchases at Wal-Mart as ‘getting a good deal,’ ” Mr. Brafman continued. “Granted, flat-panel TV’s at Wal-Mart might run a little cheaper than elsewhere, but no financial adviser would include one on his or her list of Items to Buy During Tough Times.”
Americans may be forgoing Starbucks and stocking up on Spam, but they are also making severe “diagnostic errors,” Mr. Brafman said. “They’re stressed out, and using the wrong information” — such as the belief that buying at Wal-Mart equals saving money — “to make a decision, and ignoring all other data that contradicts that decision.”
ah, what a perfect news report on irrational consumer behavior to remind you that this friday, the day after thanksgiving, is BUY NOTHING DAY. Participate by Not Participating.
consumerism isn’t going to save us. Buy Nothing Day can be the beginning of a new holiday for america: Buy Nothing Christmas. why not just celebrate?
Filed in culture and random linkage, things you can do | Tagged with adbusters, economics | Comment (0)