Monday, November 21, 2011

What Lack Dooms a Movement?

Is it imagination? Foresight? Self-understanding? Some combination of all of the above? Roll the tape!

First, let's jump to around the 22:20 mark to hear 1960s commune member Molly Hollenbach describe the bold, egalitarian social experiment in her own words:
We didn't use the word "system" but we very much thought of the whole group, of ourselves as connected - that there was a group sense, a group feeling. That was our whole purpose: to be fully connected to each other and to have this group sense of the organism of the many who act as one. ...It would be like a dance, where we're creating a new kind of society, freeing each person to be fully themselves in the group. But we're all affecting each other at all times, like an organism of many who act as one.
Now let's skip ahead again to about 54:15 to hear what happened to these hierarchically-flat proto-societies:
[The communes] all failed. Most lasted no more than three years, some for less than six months, and what tore them all apart was the very thing that was supposed to have been banished: power. The commune members discovered that some people were more free than others. Strong personalities came to dominate the weaker members of the group, but the rules of the self-organizing system refused to allow any organized opposition to this oppression.
Molly Hollenbach elaborates:
...The very rules that kind of set up this egalitarian group resulted in the opposite of the dream. They resulted in creating a hierarchical structure in which some could be dominant over others... because everyone is not equally powerful in their voice against one other person.
This returns us to that Baudrillardian place wherein desire and power are interchangeable, and therefore desire has no place in the schema of power. The personal is the political, but not in the sense usually meant.

But before we disappear up the simulacrum of our own post-structuralist ass, what does this mean for the Occupy movement? Well... how about this?

Ergo, may I now suggest that we stop applauding the movement merely for making us feel good about ourselves and finally focus on the more concrete issue of achieving results?

1 comment:

JM said...

It's been much more powerful in California:

And also, to many, achieving results means co-option: