Repression, Recuperation, Revolution, and the Occupations Movement - From Tides of Flame #10
<table><tr><td>From <a href="http://tidesofflame.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/tof10read.pdf">Tides of Flame #10 (pdf)</a>
Simple, short text that could be localized and printed as a leaflet:
Within the past couple of weeks, mainstream media outlets across the country have focused their coverage of the #Occupy movement on exaggerated horror stories of bad sanitation, drugs, and violence within the campsites. Meanwhile, and not coincidentally, police harassment and evictions of the occupations have suddenly increased.
A suicide in Vermont, a shooting in Oakland, and drug overdoses in several occupations have been used to justify the police assaults. Barring such incidents, bad sanitation is trotted out as public enemy number one. In Seattle, a hypodermic needle found in the Seattle Central Community College's childcare center play yard has been blown up to newsworthy proportions. But according to an Occupy Seattle press release, a former teaching assistant at the childcare center had this to say about the needle: “Every day as part of our jobs, we picked up drug paraphernalia, needles, used condoms, cigarette butts, anything that threatened the safety of the kids. All that stuff was there way before Occupy Seattle.” </td><td><img title="but once they are gone so will the grime, the terror, and the sickness. Once Occupy* is over the sun will rise and the new day will be one that will never rain. Forever." src="http://anarchistnews.org/files/pictures/2009/cig_smoker.jpg"></td></tr><...
The fact is that the problems being blamed on occupations in cities throughout the country already existed before the first tent even popped up in Liberty Plaza, NYC. The media hype is just the latest strategy to bolster support for police action among the foolish and easily frightened. The time has evidently come for the police and the mainstream media to faithfully carry out their roles as the servants of capitalism. The mainstream media vilifies, and the police, in turn, take care of the villains
In just the past week, two of the largest and most influential camps in the United States, Occupy Portland and Occupy Oakland, were cleaned and cleared by hundreds of riot-clad police. Even the flagship Occupy Wall Street camp in New York City has been leveled.* Certainly police have evicted other occupations in smaller cities without much national attention. Seattle's own occupation is under vague threat of eviction as the SCCC administration consults with the Washington State Attorney General on how the school can untangle the legal loophole currently allowing the occupation to continue.
Thanks to a little slip by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, we now know that at least 19 city administrations and police departments have been working together with the FBI and Homeland Security to figure out how to evict their local encampments. Those surprised at these revelations shouldn't be—the entrenched political structure has every reason to desire the destruction of this growing proto-revolutionary movement. Where the state fails to destroy or significantly weaken it, we can expect to see more and more politicians moving in to recuperate the movement's energy. The state will send in master manipulators like Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata to wrangle control of the uncontrollables and funnel all of this subversive activity into the established democratic-capitalist channels.
Luckily, it is clear that many occupiers have rejected politics as usual and have embraced a method of anarchistic self-organization that actively rejects leadership and Democratic co-optation.** This doesn't mean the fight is over—far from it. It just means that those of us who want to push the occupations movement in new and more exciting directions have a great opportunity set before us. The evictions have forced the question, “What will we occupy next?”
*At this writing, a judge has ruled that the protesters can reassemble, with tents.
** Of course, there is some push-and-pull in the national occupation discourse and each occupation is unique, some with Democrats and liberals already in leadership positions.