Is Occupy Oakland as Bad as They Say?
But not all is rosy in this new society. Some of the very worst customs already banned from our existing society have re-emerged at Occupy Oakland. One of the ugliest of these is segregation.
The encampment has already fractured into a series of micro-neighborhoods, just like a real city. But at Occupy Oakland, where you are permitted to live is determined by your gender and/or racial or sexual identity. Here, for example, is a roped-off "gated community" reserved exclusively for female, gay and transgender residents.
Elsewhere are tents with a "minorities only" rule.
And lest you might be so naive to think that these rules would only ever apply to the Occupy camp, and not to the city at large should the Occupiers ever take over, be aware that one of the Occupation's many demands is to "Stop White Gentrification in Oakland" -- which would mean the establishment of new laws preventing white people from moving into certain neighborhoods.
Yes, my friends, the Occupy movement has made segregation trendy again!
They aleady have this in Middle Eastern society; it's called a harem.
Didn't mean to get so heavy. Let's look at the lighter side of Occupy Oakland.
Slurp up the banality of existence with a krazy-straw of resistenc.
Finally, an idea I think everybody can agree on: Occupy Solyndra!
I'm Satanic — and I'll take bowing down to a spiritual tyrant over an Economic one any day!
To show how egalitarian and open-minded the whole Occupy Oakland movement is, they have workshops both in Marxism 101 and in anarchism. Being mutually exclusive philosophies doesn't matter -- as long as they're both devoted to destroying capitalism, we can work out the details later in a brutal post-revolution civil war. Sound familiar?
The main problem when communists and anarchists get together in the same revolution is that the communists are by nature so much more organized. As a result, they're usually more visible, and the reporters (at least the ones not trying to paper over the whole thing) assume that the communists are dominant. The same is true at Occupy Oakland -- the signage was about 50% communist/socialist, 25% anarchist/anti-authoritarian, and 25% incoherent/confused/personal. A casual observer would conclude that the protest was predominantly communist. But I suspect the anarchists and the crazies outnumber the actual communists, but they're just not as good at advertising themselves.
This sign gets it right -- socialism is basically one big across-the-board bailout of everything and everyone. Remember: If it doesn't work on a small scale, try it on a massive scale! What could go wrong?
"Possible" is a long, long way from "desirable."
Just as in a real city, the wooden "streets" among the tents were given names: the main drag was called "Free Health Care Blvd." (though somebody knocked the sign down).
One street had the interesting moniker "End Ism Rd."
The Revolutionary Communist Party even got into the act, naming the area near their tent "Red Square."
And also just as in a real city, graffiti artists had already taken to "tagging" the public streets; one funny cartoon on Free Health Care Blvd. mocked "Occuposers" who go home to Mommy and Daddy every night.
Any method for decreasing the amount of shit around here is OK with me.
A man, a tarp, a kitten, a dog, some stuff. Yes, it can be this simple. Society has been reinvented!
In a hilarious vignette that illustrates in miniature the absurd unfeasibility of the whole "green energy" scam, the Occupiers had set up a bicycle connected to a dynamo so that the computer in the media center would be powered by renewable and sustainable energy! Yeah!
Except...well, it's really really hard to pedal day and night to keep the computer running, so the media center is in reality powered by an extension cord connected to the evil carbon-belching power grid. Note the feeble and ineffectual greenish wire running from the dynamo to the computers. Oh the shame!
Multiply this problem by a billion and you have modern civilization.
And what are they producing on that not-quite-people-powered computer? Well, amongst the plethora of literature handed to me by various protesters was this orange flyer issued by the Occupy Oakland movement itself. For those who still harbor fantasies that the Occupiers really are mainstream, no really, they're just being misrepresented, the manifesto removes any remaining doubts about their revolutionary bona fides. The full text was posted on this site among others where you can read it in full. Here are a few excepts:
Occupation is nothing new. The land we stand on is already occupied territory. The United States was founded upon the extermination or indigenous peoples and the colonization of their land, not to mention centuries of slavery and exploitation.
The idea of redistributing wealth must not only be directed towards the “1%” but to all of us as well.
The problem isn’t just a few “bad apples.” The crisis is not the result of the selfishness of a few investment bankers; it is the inevitable consequence of an economic system that rewards cutthroat competition at every level of society. Capitalism is not a static way of life but a dynamic process that consumes everything, transforming the living, breathing world into objects and profit. Now that the economy has consumed every aspect of life, the system is collapsing, leaving even some of its former beneficiaries out in the cold. The answer is not to revert to some earlier stage of capitalism, such as the economic boom of the post-war years; not only is that impossible, those earlier stages didn’t benefit the “99%” either. To get out of this mess, we’ll have to rediscover other ways of relating to each other and the world around us.
Police can’t be trusted. They may be “workers,” but their job is to protect the interests if the ruling class.As long as they remain employed as police, we can’t count on them, however friendly they might act.
Don’t assume those who break the law or confront the police are “outside agitators.” A lot of people have good reason to be angry. Not everyone is resigned to legalistic pacifism; for some people self-defense is a necessary part of their everyday life. Police violence isn’t just meant to provoke us, it’s meant to hurt and scare us into inaction. In this context, resistance is crucial.
Assuming that those at the front of clashes with the authorities are somehow trying to instigate a violent situation is not only illogical - it delegitimizes the spirit it takes to challenge the status quo, and dismisses the courage of those who are prepared to do so. We all experience the effects of power differently under capitalism, and the ways in which we struggle against it will reflect that. The goal should not be to compel everyone to adopt one set of tactics, but to discover how different approaches can be mutually beneficial.
The occupations will thrive on the actions we take. We’re not just here to “speak truth to power” - when we only speak, the powerful turn a deaf ear to us. Let’s make space for autonomous initiatives and organize direct action that confronts the source of social inequalities and injustices. An occupation of public space is not an effective political act in and of itself, it must move beyond this to become a staging grounds for actions that disrupt business as usual, and it’s up to all of us to take the initiative to see this through.
Occupy. Block. Strike. Take Over.
See you on the streets!
-The Oakland Commune
Finally, the speeches were over and people started assembling for the march. Anarchists grabbed their black flags and started tweeting on their corporate iPhones: the time has arrived!
The anarchists all took their places at the front of the march, each holding an oversize cover of a book that was either banned at some point, or is popular with anarchists, or both.
And off we went on a little spin around Lake Merritt. All told, I estimate that there were about 500 of us.