To the left of the stage, someone hung up a police-pig piñata, while yet another douchebag rang a Tibetan singing bowl, to get us all in a peaceful Buddhist hypnotic trance before taking out our rage on the piñata scapegoat.
The Fuck Police were on hand to put the kibosh on any hanky-panky. But not to worry…
Captain Anarchy is here to save the day!
It dawned on me during this rally why the current “Occupy” movement feels so grating and unpleasant compared to our idealized collective memory of the 1960s: back then, they had great music as the soundtrack to the revolution. But where is the K-Tel-worthy soundtrack for the Occupation? Where is our Bob Dylan, our Jefferson Airplane, our Country Joe and the Fish?
I don’t know who this guy is, but he was actually pretty talented. I nominate the song that he sings here, “We Are the Ninety-Nine Percent” as the official theme song of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
I guarantee you will be humming it long after reading this report!
Behind the stage someone hung up a huge (but still managing to be barely legible) “Death to Capitalism” banner.
Speaking of which…I won’t harp on this, but overt anti-capitalism was the theme of the day, and all sorts of unsubtle messages and groups were on display. A small sampling:
Our friend Karl. (Disorientingly, someone held up a somewhat out-of-place Tea-Party-esque “We have taxation without representation” sign in the background.)
Our friend Ho Chi Minh (with Mr. Obama-motto “Forward” in background; the guy has a talent for juxtaposition!).
A bovine (in all senses of the word) fan of the FMLN, the Salvadoran communist group.
Someone hawking Red Flag, to “Mobilize the Masses for Communism.”
Needless to say, the Revolutionary Communist Party showed up, as they always do at every Occupy event. Do take note of their globe, which depicts either a polar ice cap extending as far south as Italy, or perhaps is it a hurricane centered on the North Pole? Are they implying that the Earth is headed for a new ice age?
And of course, Che.
But it wasn’t all communists. Mostly it was anarchists, or just generic anti-capitalists who haven’t given much thought as to what might conceivably replace capitalism.
This sign had me really scratching my head. If capitalism is the end of human infancy, and if we’re all supposed to grow up, does that mean he wants us all to embrace capitalism? I think he probably meant that “The end of capitalism would be the end of human infancy,” but let’s not clue him in that his sign means the opposite of what he thinks it means.
The range of extreme ideologies led to some hilarious vignettes. Here, for example, a guy from the ultra-libertarian anti-federal government conspiracy site InfoWars somehow convinced a guy with a “Single Payer Health Care” hat to sign a petition — even though one advocates the abolition of governmental authority and the other advocates the exact opposite, a totally centralized economy and power structure. WTF???
Nostalgia for the ’60s (in this case, the Paris uprising of May, 1968) underpinned the whole atmosphere.
And then there was nostalgia for the 1880s, when anarchism first exploded onto the political scene. Here, a woman carefully reads the history of the Haymarket Riot, which is glorified and glamorized in the Occupy version of history; a golden moment that we all seek to re-create.
Speaking of which…
Back on the main stage, a member of “Modesto Anarcho,” a notoriously militant and violent anarchist group, gave a rousing speech that was so extreme it even started making some of the girls in the audience a little nervous. The video of his speech is four minutes long, but well worth a listen. In it, he savagely attacks the Occupy movement as being too moderate, too passive, and too open to being co-opted by lily-livered liberals and totalitarian communists. In his mind, Occupy is already contaminated by acquiescence to the status quo, and needs to be discarded. We need to skip any intervening steps and rush straight to the end of civilization right now: smash it all, tear everything down, eliminate all existing rules, laws and customs of society and start again.
If this was the ’60s, then Occupy would be the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society), and this guy would be Bill Ayers, trying to transform it into a terrorist army like the Weather Underground. Amazing how history repeats and repeats and repeats.
When I get a spare moment, I’ll try to do a transcript; until then: watch the video, to see where our future lies.
And here’s the opposing viewpoint. Par-tay!!!
And to get that party started, we can have a “Free Pussy Riot.” I’m not sure I even want to visualize what that might be like. (Update: Commenters have noted that this shirt is likely a reference to the Russian anti-Putin punk band “Pussy Riot”.)
But one group must be excluded from all that partying: No fun for you, GOP!
How about this for a new fashion fad: Noose necklaces! You saw it here first.
More fashion trend-spotting from the rally: Anti-capitalist pirate…
…Black Panther gun moll…
…Euro-chic class warrior…
…and anarchist mime.
After the revolution, this is what your medical care will look like. Out: Doctors. In: Druidic Occupy medics!
There was a grand total of one counter-protester: a guy from the paleo-conservative Constitution Party tried to bait the anarchists with a sign that said “Occupy Attacks Working People,” but strangely, everyone mostly just ignored him.
Even when some of the street battles raged around him, he only managed to attract a couple of opponents.
If you’re curious about what was written on the upside-down flag shown earlier: it said “Imperialism in Distress.” I was amazed that an Occupier actually knew that an upside-down flag was traditionally a distress signal, and not just a generic way to indicate one’s anti-Americanism, as protesters these days universally assume.
Unlike at previous Occupy Oakland outbursts, there was very little mention of race this time around. But a poster advertising an upcoming “Court of Black Justice” by a Black Nationalist group reminded everyone that the issue was not to be forgotten.
The Israel/Palestinian conflict also made precisely one appearance, in the form of a young woman riffing on the problem of the whole “occupy” definition (i.e. it’s good in Oakland but bad in Palestine).
So…every criminal is rich? Really. It’s strange how so many of them seem poor. What I think he meant was “All rich people are criminals,” but in his attempt to be clever, it came out sideways.
Yeah, stealing a cop’s badge will suddenly grant you the authority he once possessed! Yes, it’s that easy.