Monday, November 14, 2011

The Wrong Revolution

I'm gonna try and pull my head out of my ass and get some posts up this week, even if I don't do anything else. So here's the big question -- why aren't I over in Oakland catching rubber bullets? I could fucking walk there -- what's my problem?

The problem is this, my droogs -- there ain't nothing over there for me to agree with.

I don't believe the myth of the revolution. I can't think of many cases where a revolution turned out to be an improvement in terms of quality-of-life. The ability to tear down a government and the ability to build a healthy society require entirely different skill-sets, and if you got one? You probably are severely lacking in the other.

And the basis for the protest here eludes me completely. It seems as if all people want is to be seen, to be heard -- well. I've got a fucking blog for that nonsense.

The culture of protest here in the East Bay has a genuinely honorable heritage, but that heritage is gone, its last vestiges buried underneath the flung scat of the tree people. Right now all all I can hear is the wail of an angry child.

If I had any sense of a coherent message with which I could align myself coming from Occupy Oakland, I'd be there. It breaks my fucking heart that I look at that situation, and see a bunch of kids taunting the toughest gang in town. It looks idiotic. And the self-lubricating jackoffs trying to up the levels of conflict are not the kind of fools I suffer lightly. The arrogance of their position statements disinclines me to their aid.

Look. I started working as a janitor when I was thirteen. I have been hungry because I've been out of work and money. And it is very difficult for me not to see revolution in America as a middle-class sport, the kind of privileged passtime that justifies buying a bunch of Spandex and Gore-Tex and then threatening the fucking cops while in someone else's fucking neighborhood.

Normally, I don't discuss politics on the blog because I'm not well-socialized enough to really understand them, and I'd just as soon not look like a fool. But let me make a few statements here.

The problem is not the 99% versus the 1%. There is an absolute sense in which the needs of the poor and the luxuries of the rich do exist in conflict. That is not the problem we face in this crisis.

The problem is specifically the financially predatory classes, those who occupy a strange netherworld where money exists not as a means to regulate the exchange of goods and services, but rather as a thing in itself. It is their pursuit of abstract profit through the manipulation of the law that has brought us to this pass.

Anyone capable of viewing the teachings of Jesus Christ and Ayn Rand as congruous should be regarded with extreme suspicion.

I bet you think I'm joking. I'm not.

When the statement 'occupy Wall Street' first entered my consciousness, my first thought was an image of a sinking ship, and a bunch of people gathered around the snack bar protesting the prices.

Wall Street is not the problem. What's happening on Wall Street is the result of deregulation.

Don't occupy Wall Street. Don't occupy Oakland. Occupy Capitol Hill -- that is where regulation and de-regulation occur.

Or perhaps health care is the issue. Fair enough. Again, Capitol Hill.

Let me put it this way.

When Wall Street wants something done, do they send people to Wall Street? No. Where do they send people?

To Washington.

Fuck Oakland, and fuck Wall Street. We need to occupy our own damned government.


Joe Clifford said...

Couldn't agree more. I've been writing on this for a few posts now. One the one hand, I applaud the anger and people finally opening their eyes with a hearty, What the Fuck? On the other hand, I hate hippies, and I hate privileged white kids (a species to which I belong) even more. I subscribe more to the school of This Shit Is Fucked Up and It Can't Be Fixed. So stop wasting my, and your, time trying.

Sean Craven said...

Thanks, dude. I've been reading your posts, and nodding to myself. I know I'm not saying anything earthshaking here, but if I've got a choice between writing about something and dwelling on it, it takes less time to write.

Miranda Suri said...

Well said, Sean. I've been feeling like trying to articulate my response to all this stuff and haven't found the right words yet. Yours are cogent and strong, though. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Sean, to use your own metaphor... of the sinking ship... wouldn't occupying capitol hill amount to gathering around the bridge to protest bad navigation? I think if i were on said ship i would be more interested in securing a seat in a life raft. I wonder about your thoughts on what a life raft would be represented by in your admittedly cogent metaphor.

Sean Craven said...

Hey, Anonymous.

You're very well-spoken for an anonymous, so I'll assume mutual respect.

Unfortunately, in this instance, a life-raft would be to cling to those in your immediate circle in order to mutually support one-another's privilege.

Kinda sucks.

I will say that my opinion on the Occupy movement has undergone some radical changes. It's pretty clear that the US press has been manipulated in terms of coverage, and that there is more cohesion and purpose here than I previously saw.

It is also clear that this is being taken seriously at the federal and international levels.

Me? I'm horribly unsuited to non-violent protest, and with my fucking back, violence is strictly defensive.

And, frankly, as someone who's currently trying to get disability, I feel very conflicted about the idea of open protest on my part.

So. That said, it certainly is a shame that there doesn't seem to be anything I could do to support the Occupy movement. Yep, that certainly is a darned shame.

Anonymous said...

i think its fair to say almost everyone's opinion of the movement has gone through a few phases. At this point it seems clear that "occupy" has occupied wall st, capitol hill and just about everywhere in between and beyond. the message is out and the conversation is changed. Like you i am not personally involved in the protest, but like everyone i am involved in whatever the outcome will be because Im alive.
I agree with your original statement that the occupy wall street protest was like protesting the snack bar....I also still think protesting capitol hill is like gathering at the bridge.
So, the life raft again, you seem to suggest is not an option for noble patriots because it involves drawing in to a small group with privilege. Much better to be honorable and go down with the ship.
You see, everyone agrees the ship is going down. I don't think occupy has the answer. I hear most people trying to find a comfortable way to convince themselves that they shouldn't bother getting involved because it wont work or isn't worth the struggle. case in point your first commenter Joe who said "this Shit Is Fucked Up and It Can't Be Fixed. So stop wasting my, and your, time trying."
Joe, i respect that conclusion and i agree with it in a way you might not expect.
So back to the Ship, what does it represent? I suggest it is the whole system of human government, plagued for all of history by greed corruption and unrestrained ambition and all of the ugly aspects of human nature that appear when one person or group exercises authority over another. Different forms of govt. have been tried in place after place all with the original intent of balancing individual power with the common good. Checks and balances and democratic voting and constitutional law, etc etc etc. All to avoid the natural tendency of human rulers to over reach, abuse their authority and ultimately attempt to dominate their subjects like cattle. So when the going gets tough...most people find a comfy spot in a corner to hunker down and resign themselves to their fate, others "get going" in the form of protesting one thing or another. Some get busy trying to bail the water out of the hull, not as sad as hunkering but, just as futile and hopeless though maybe more noble.
And some, seeing the gravity and certainty and unfixability (Joe) start looking for the life raft.
They give up hope on the sinking ship and put there hope not in the people in the raft with them, as if they could build a new ship while afloat, no they hope in an outside rescue coming from a source they never considered when they originally signed up for the cruise.

Now if i go any further this starts to get religious and it's your blog not mine, but i will only say check Daniel chapter 2 verse 44. While you're there read the whole chapter to get the big picture and compare it with what you see happening in the world.

Thank you for extending mutual is mutual.

Sean Craven said...

Well, Anonymous, you have grasped the nut of the situation. Power and authority are corrosive to character, and attractive to low-grade individuals. Whatcha gonna do?

But this situation can be managed in small groups, if there is a strong social code and the leadership is responsible to those they lead. I think that's one of the keys -- leadership works best when it's regarded as a service position. It's just difficult to maintain this stance when there's a fierce power imbalance.

My current feeling is that the Occupy movement may be an inchoate mass for the most part, but there are things going on around it that suggest that it's being taken seriously -- and it's out of large, vague rumblings like this that sharp shocks emerge.

Daniel 2:44 was intriguing, but not enlightening. Please, if you're interested in continuing the discussion in a religious direction, feel free.

But if the discussion is going to be fruitful, we'll have to work with what promises to be a disagreement on the existence of supernatural forces, an afterlife, etc, etc.

Anonymous said...

Sean, i dont know if this post is too old to reply to, but....
the last few months have been a kind of news and information flood for my brain, so i apologize for leaving this hanging.
I am a beliver, but im not trying to convince you to be. My reasons for responding to your original post were more from an interest in political theory. There has been a lot of new information swirling around the occupy movement. creative protests, anarchist, police brutality,CIA infiltration...its all a little surreal when you step back and look at the whole picture. Most people take such strong and typically uninformed positions on the whole topic that meaningful conversation is impossible. The old right or left, red or blue approach, but that doesn't work in this case because the issues are so complex and far reaching. NDAA SOPA and all the crazy right wing Political repression stuff on one side and then the Hive mind, anarchic, internet as a god, anonymous is our leaderless leader stuff on the other.

Sean, i dont have many atheist writer renaissance oaf type friends to help me understand the issues in the news these days. Have you made any progress in making sense of the current state of ....everything?

I still apply my faith to how i expect politics to unfold. i referred to Dan. 2:44 not so much to convince you of creation and the divinity of Christ, as to inject the political theory that humans are incapable of effectively governing themselves on a global scale and are doomed to repeatedly repress/revolt/rebuild/repress/revolt/rebuild etc.
Maybe we actually need a government by a superior intelligence to overcome the instinctive deficiencies of "human nature" that keep foiling the best laid constitutions and hierarchies.

history has many examples of governing models that have fatal flaws. the latest, democracy, with all it's checks and balances, don't seem to be escaping the influence of corruption. (or should i say the corruption of influence?)

The deepest darkest core ideas of the "occupy" people seem to be based on anarchy, or a realization that any leaders beyond small circles are inherently a bad idea.
OR...some say the deepest darkest core ideas of occupy are to have a one world government, like NWO style through the UN or something. those people probably should probably stop watching so much Alex Jones :)

I don't need you to try to make me renounce my religion. I am far more interested in your thoughts on how government might Evolve through this tumultuous time.

Sean Craven said...

Anonymous, I just ran across this. Certainly, I don't mind continuing the discussion.

Right now, my feeling is that the world is undergoing a crisis of capitalism. That business conducted purely for money's sake, and in particular financial speculation, has rendered the most influential positions in our society watering holes for the predatory and the parasitic.

At the same time, the rate of deaths from violence and hunger have been steadily decreasing for a long time, and I've come to see the Occupy folks as being representative of a growing world-wide populist movement.

So I don't know how things are going to shake down. I don't think humans are particularly well-suited to governing one another -- power not only corrupts, it attracts the corrupt.

Yet good-will and a sense of common humanity are not forces to be sneered at.

Our ability to rule on a global level isn't limited by intelligence, but rather the above-mentioned humanity. As I said to a pal in my writer's group this evening, every time you buy a hamburger, you have to wonder if you should spend the money on a water filter for someone in Africa. And then you buy the hamburger.

And there we go! I'm confused myself.

Anonymous said...

so you're saying the problem is humanity's lack of sufficient humanity. ive been reading a bit about the 1880-19?? progressive populist movement in the states against standard oil and the big corporations. It is startlingly similar to today. Maybe we will see another major shift toward humanity New Deal style, They say history repeats. But that was before 24 hour news and the bloggoshpere??

But i am interested in what you mean by the reference to the death rates. Are you referring to population explosion, or something else?
i reread your original post and i like many of your quotes, like the Jesus/Ayn Rand line.

Well, i guess we are all a little confused these days. Best wishes.

P.S. Another of my favorite verses Gen 1:28 where God put people in charge of animals. But not other people.That seems to get lost on the Ayn Rand types.