Thursday, November 10, 2011

Now Showing: Tragedy! Coming Soon: Farce!

I realize it's a bit cheap of me to take pot-shots at the Occupy movement from the comfort of my boho-Tokyo bunker, so it was instructive to read Disaster Notes' cautiously pessimistic perspective from inside Occupy Austin. Not that I take any particular joy in knowing that the Occupations are as meekly reformist & restrictively managerial as I suspected. If you too are concerned that the ossified moralism of the Occupation's milquetoast middle-mass threatens the very "diversity of tactics" they claim to embrace, then Disaster Notes' full critique of General Assemblies is required reading.

In parallel, the dubiously-monikered Alphonse Van Worden attacks the current formulation of Occupation demands, neutered of their inflammatory potential, now mere eunuchs attending to the upkeep of the status quo:
That the demands conspicuously reject proposed mention of humanity’s rights, democracy, justice, and politely refuse any language that might bring to mind the ruling class’ lawlessness, barbarism and mercilessness, tends to nudge the discourse in the most dangerous direction, toward the legitimisation and indeed inevtiabilisation of reaction and toward faciliating the project of containing this revolt in the guise (flimsy enough, and usually disavowed) of securing some concrete gains while the getting is good.

Now at the start, these demands were proposed alongside a list of demands for an end to the state’s violence and terrorising and lawlesness and debt amnesty. That these didn’t make the cut is very signficant, and shows how “compromise” can transform a radical agenda not into a reformist one but into a reactionary gain for the ruling class.
On an immediate, practical, and modest scale, all of this suggests that perhaps the most appropriate slogan for the Occupiers is - with minor amendment to an existing favourite - "Citizens United will never be defeated!"

10 comments:

JM said...

what are your issues with the movement, exactly?

Seb said...

Please see previous post.

JM said...

Some demonstrations have been more powerful than others though:
http://hyphenatedrepublic.wordpress.com/
give em a break.h

JM said...

And moreover, what exactly would improve your view of this movement?

Mr. W. Kasper said...

Take it from me - JM only reads the title and looks at the picture. ; )

JM said...

No, I read both posts, bro.

DPirate said...

Well, liberalism is a dirty word, of course. I say that without irony or sarcasm, as it's become self-defeating in allowing itself to become conflated with political-correctness and absolute anti-violence. It's become rigid, ineffectual dogma.

Mr. W. Kasper said...

Au contraire - liberalism serves to make the (previously) unpalatable acceptable to those of a reformist/bourgeois democratic bent. Liberalism is used by the Right to re-orientate the 'centre', to normalise whatever craziness Capital needs to keep going - be it Victorian imperialism, halting The Hun, wars based on 'domino effect' theories, late 20th century neoliberalism, neocon adventures, or current austerity programs. Nick Clegg, Michael Ignatieff and Obama are liberals - they're there to rationalise policies initiated by the Right as the only 'sensible' option (however, all three of 'em rapidly lost public credibility as their missions became clearer).

Liberalism's never been 'anti-violent' - one of its few remaining convictions is that the state should hold an absolute monopoly on violence (unlike the extreme poles of left and right, that they invoke as nightmare scenarios to present themselves as the only available form of civilized government). That's even true of unelected liberals, like journalists and academics. If the state happens to be using said monopoly with extreme prejudice - well, it's the liberal's job to step in and tell us we had no other option. With a smile and technocratic language - instead of sabre-rattling or raised fists - to maintain it as 'stability'.

Seb said...

Sorry for the late response, folks - I went off the grid for a few days there...

JM, honestly, if you do read the whole posts, sometimes it ain't evident in your comments.

As for DPirate's definition of "liberalism" - I see where you're coming from, but I think what you're describing is that political specie which has more recently adopted the mantle of "progressivism." By now, "liberalism" has been too sullied by Milton Friedman acolytes & centrist wafflers to be comfortably worn by the moderate left (who, despite their reservations with capitalism, refuse to imagine a world without it).

And my man Kaspar knows who Ignatieff is (or rather, was)? Damn, you are excessively well-read. I had no idea Canadian politics was of interest to anyone outside of the Great White North.

Mr. W. Kasper said...

Ignatieff was a UK 'arts' presenter who managed to throw in anti-Iraq/Serbia rants even back then (talking about sculpture, or getting pwnd by Gore Vidal). When he was finally off the TV, he was shilling the latest Pentagon campaigns in the name of 'liberalism'. Looked like he wanted to be the Canadian Henri-Levy (fail!).

And anyway - Canada ain't that invisible! It's a damn big place, no?