Occupy LA: Kooks and Commies and Creeps, Oh My

Ringo is back with Part 4 of his ongoing series of photo-essays about Occupy Los Angeles. In previous installments we've touched on calls to violence and encroaching anti-Semitism. This time around we'll look at communists and crypto-communists, peaceful messages reflective of the "new tone" in politics (/s), and a whole heaping mess of all-around kookiness.

The pictures below are just a small sampling of an extensive gallery of Los Angeles Occupiers in Ringo's latest report, which you can see here:

The Occupation of Los Angeles - Part 4 - October 3, 2011 through October 13, 2011.

The OWS camp in Los Angeles is one of the largest in the country, and yet it has received very little media coverage; this on-the-scene report is your one chance to see what's really going on.

I'm fascinated by the psychological basis behind some of the OWS messages. This is a good example of what I call "Look What You Made Me Do syndrome." Until recently, LWYMMD syndrome was considered an immature developmental stage that toddlers pass through; if a child fails to grow out of it, the phase can grow into a passive-aggressive narcissistic personality disorder. But sometime in just the last few years, "Look What You Made Me Do" syndrome has become so commonplace that it is now the basis of an entire worldview for a certain sector of the population, in particular OWS youth such as the one we see here. In this case, it's the variant "Look What You Will Make Me Do"; if you don't give me something for free (college education, money, whatever), then by golly I'm just going to become a stripper! And it will be your fault. And at Occupations around the country, we see the now-universal "I racked up $75,000 in loans and it's capitalism's fault" signs everywhere, which is the past-tense version of the same principle we see here. It all boils down to an abdication of personal responsibility, instead assigning blame on outside forces. Have we become a nation of three-year-olds?

The sign originally said just "This Tent Kills Fascists," but apparently someone came along and thought that was a bit too harsh, so they tried to mollify it by adding "...with love" at the bottom. Because everyone knows that if you kill someone in a nice way, then it's not so bad!

Here we see the most succinct example of the Marxism-vs.-crypto-Marxism struggle that's tearing OWS apart. As the leaked email archives of the primary OWS organizers reveal, the original plan was to go the full crypto route -- no one at OWS was supposed to admit any Marxist tendencies, even though that was the end goal. But almost from the beginning, aggressive in-your-face communists showed up as well as overly naive indoctrinated college kids, and people were splashing Marxist verbiage all over the place. So, while some Occupiers have tried to stick to the plan and keep the Marxist endgame under wraps for now, the stratagem isn't really working because too many people have been too up-front about it. The sign above encapsulates the whole dichotomy: You give a quote from Karl Marx himself, because you want to advocate Marxist ideology...but on the other hand you don't want the reader to grasp that it's actually Marxism, so instead you attribute the quote to "Some guy." Not that anyone is going to be fooled -- the adjacent "fist-and-sickle" kind of gives the game away.

And then there are the out-and-out communists, who don't even grasp the concept of subterfuge, and spoil OWS' intended nicey-nice message. Worse than that, they reveal the actual plan — to "Turn workers' anger into communist revolution!" This of course is straight from the early Marx/Engels/Lenin playbook, whereby organizers stir up inchoate populist dissatisfaction, and then channel the rage of the unschooled masses in the proper leftward direction. C'mon, dude, where is the subtlety?