Finis to Occupy Wall Street
Occupy Wall Street has made encouraging progress awakening Americans to the true nature of their condition and to the fact that many are willing to take to the streets in non-partisan, bi-partisan solidarity to protest crimes of big business and "cosmodemonic" financial institutions. OWS has raised spirits, invented new methods of communication, networked millions through social media and person-to-person conversations, that inform and familiarize one another with various issues, which somehow are inter-connected and related, from financial crimes and capitalism, to racism, war, and anti-environmentlism.
Great slogans were born: "We are the 99%!" "They got bailed out; we got sold out!" are but two favorites of the marching crowds. The crowds have been mixed in age, races, religions, professions, politics, opinions, tactics, strategies, and mostly have been orderly, enduring provocations and easily-provoked police brutality, and the unprofessional, amateurishness of the under-educated Press; Media who never really get it right--except for those small independent media people at "Media Central" in Zuccotti Park--who interview anybody on radio and internet television stations, for distant regions outside urban New York. But the established press can't seem to get a handle on it. Every story they write is inadequate, patronizing, misleading, derogatory or trivializing.
Oh well, that is what the Press does, and we should not be surprised; in fact we now expect it and would be surprised if it were otherwise. Press and television reports on protest activities are subjects of scorn, disbelief, and hilarity among protesters from the right coast to the left coast. How can they get it right, when we protest against the masters that they serve?
But the fact is that Occupy Wall Street for all intents and purposes is finished, in triumph and failure, because,although many were wakened from apathetic slumber, there has been 'nary a breath of investigation, exposure, indictment, or punishment of very-high-up-criminals of the financial cosmos, inhaled or exhaled where it matters: Congress. Where is our Watergate Committee? Where is our Senator Sam Ervin? Where is the national spotlight on scandalous crimes and ruinous policies, that have taken us to the brink of national bankruptcy? Why aren't the big time criminals sweating in front of congressional investigations? Why aren't they fleeing to non-extradicting nations with their trunks of oil and gold securities?
Because they know there is little to worry about. They know their power. They know the power of capitalism. They know the art of the Bribe. They know who to pay and when to pay and what it will get them. They quit sweating these periodic protests of frustration and anger in the 70s, when they learned one needs only deflect the aim, without the necessity of actually destroying movements or organizations, in order to overcome their demands. (The FBI tried with limited success to destroy the Black Panthers, the Socialist Workers Party, and others, and finally had to decide whether it was worth the embarrassment of inevitable exposure.)
As long as arrows are deflected from their targets, it's no sweat. Let them, hell, help them, organize a huge demonstration in Washington against the El Salvador War, one consuming thousands of volunteer labor-hours organizing transportation, making signs and phone calls, fund-raising, letter-writing, and building coalitions; let them get a half-million people together; we don't care. [Whisper] But make sure the demonstration is on a Saturday, when government workers are home and the Capitol is full of pleasure-seeking middle class tourists. It becomes entertainment for the spectator set.
As an alternative to this government-advantaged strategy, a mere 1,000 athletic demonstrators could disrupt Monday morning traffic all over Washington, at far less cost and to greater effect, if their aim was to impede the war machine and get national attention. Masked demonstrators blocking traffic with blazing trash containers and burning rubber tires, spray-painting video cameras, and disappearing as fast as they came. Small actions are easier to conceal, as well. Of course, I am not advocating such a thing, merely giving an example of how we can be deceived and deflected by the notion of "largeness", of massive numbers, so as never to achieve an actual objective. A hundred thousand people gather, march, shout slogans, sing songs, and go home feeling good about themselves and "the Movement." But no result beyond that, as valuable as raising the spirit can be.
In my opinion, OWS succeeded and failed. The question is, which will have the larger effect? The cops led the demonstrations; they led and channeled protesters where they permitted them to go, which, of course, was anywhere but Wall Street. Despite trapping 700 people on the Brooklyn Bridge in order to show how far they were prepared to go, and despite occasional protester defiance and tussles with the cops--who always win tussles--despite the fact that they busted at least a hundred heads, and despite the fact that no important Senators or Congresspersons are stomping their feet and yelling for an investigation, Occupy Wall Street accomplished and demonstrated the power of spontaeous and leaderless action. It was formless, and therefore difficult for foes to track, trace, predict, or stop.
But, as for control, they have it under control. The cops and Homeland Security have it under control. The formlessness, however, drives the Media pundits and politicians nuts, for they have no fixed target whom they can call child molesters, drug addicts, or communists, or whatever works to personalize, and, by association, to defame the protesters. Formlessness is the key, but it is one which is most difficult to achieve, for it must endlessly adapt and change, like water of a river, and yet have an internal order and discipline, and secret to be sure.
Maybe we can dig our way out of this hellhole.
Now, no one ever asks for my advice, which is why I give it seldom and reluctantly. After all, who am I? (We won't go into that.) But I will share this: I live a delightful, and secret, Walter Mitty-type, existence. I fancy that I am a scholar of history and war, a fairly good tactician, and an emerging strategist. I can hear you accusing me of grandiosity and narcissism; and that's okay, if you want to see it that way. But I really have studied historical movements and profound revolutions, and have the temerity to claim to know a thing or two by now, at 70, after engaging in this kind of thing for nearly 50 years, and participating, in one way or another, with numerous anti-war and human rights demonstrations from coast-to-coast; not to mention four years in the Marine Corps, and probably reading newspapers too much. I know what the Media says, and the more I have learned about the real world, the better I know what the Media doesn't dare say: the whole truth.
There are many under-educated and toady-types in the Media, and it's a crying shame. The pity is that they think they know so much.
OWS is an element of warfare; a tactic; and some strategy. The struggle between the classes, the struggle within the classes, the struggle to define national purpose, the struggle to overcome the malevolence of some who rule, and the struggle to overcome ignorance, and to make ourselves a better people and a better nation in a better world, is no less than a war of many fronts and purposes. But Occupy Wall Street is not the war; it is only another (better-late-than-never) battlefront, in another theater of war, engaged on a non-violent level here, and on more violent levels elsewhere, from Greece to Pakistan and beyond.
Some are marching for "democracy" in the United States, and they are mostly unharrassed by officialdom, if beaten-up now and then, while in other parts of the world, men and women are hung on meathooks and skinned alive, or roasted over pits of smouldering coals. Violent bursts of electricity course through their genitals. Eyes are gouged out. Hot steel is rammed up rectums and vaginas. Fingers are chopped off. Nipples are amputated with scissors, battery acid is dripped on faces, and so on and so forth, ad nauseum. It's all in the records of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and they will let you read the raw reports. The cruel inhumanity of humanity is the scandal of the galaxy.
We cannot hear, nor can we truly imagine, the painful screams of the wretched and tortured people, who have run afoul of established power in the most-lawless and violent regions. While we march peacefully, calling for "love" and "brotherhood and sisterhood," and "unity," it is not pleasant to know or imagine such atrocious things. So we mostly don't, and our demands are generalized, or provacatively exaggerated, and we end up arguing about "what kind of country do we want to be, and when can we have our democracy back?" This forces the pundits and disinvolved politicians to say we have "no focus," and to an extent, they are correct. The lack of "focus" is exactly what confuses them, and saps their power of persuasion.
But these issues, of democracy, of what kind of country we are, although they are fundamental, are not the basic issues of the day. The middle class homeowners of America mostly are workers, though unemployed they hope temporarily, and they already have an idea of what their country is, and what they want it to be, and, mostly, they like and support it. The consider themselves American patriots. They vote and fly the flag on holidays, and many are racists because all immigrant groups had to become so in order to assimilate into a white racist society, that murdered Indians and stole black African slaves. Many protesters also display the flag, claiming American patriotism, while opposing the very "values" (or the lack of them) which the other flag-wavers claim for themselves and deny to us.
To be honest, I think nationalism sucks, I think its time is over, and identify myself as an American internationalist.
For an army to succeed, it must be formless like water and secret as thought. It must be prepared to switch strategies and tactics in order to keep foes unbalanced. It must never repeat a successful strategy after the authorities are onto it, and must stay alert for new opportunities and advantages, where the foe least expects it; at his weakest position. Where our forces are weakest, our foes are strongest. When they relax their guard, thinking they have won, then is the time to advance, as water advances downhill, seeking the natural, easy channels.
We should never engage in a battle that we know we cannot win. Therefore, we must go after smaller, easier targets, and observe how our opponents react, and adjust tactics accordingly. Nothing of any real value is possible without secrecy and speed; and speed above all; which is why it is important to have healthy, spirited, athletic young people throughout the march. But youth and spirit alone are not sufficient for leadership, which must be left to the wiser, older, more-experienced, and hopefully charismatic persons, whose lifelong comittment to the struggle is proven. People like Ralph Nader, Noam Chomsky, Tom Hayden, Amy Goodman, Bob Fass, and a hundred other leaders I don't know and never heard of; but I know they are out there.
Where revolutionaries like Ho Chi Minh and General Nguyen Giap communicated with miniature handwriting on cigarette papers, eating or burning them afterward, we have a different problem keeping plans secret, and organizing people to cooperate to advance them. This is impossible without internal discipline, and the willingness to follow leaders, who have proved themselves leaders, not by seeking leadership, but by leading with intelligent thought, persuasive argument, timely action, and by example.
Perhaps our best cover is the internet itself, because of its size, because of the openess of most "social networks," and because it is impossible for man or machine to monitor all of it. And we need codes of course. But nothing will replace human-to-human interaction, and in order for human contact and cooperation to produce something of value, we must be a new kind of human being. In the anarchic structure of capitalism, which promotes individualality above social values, loyal followers are hard to find. Nobody likes taking orders. But without the willingness to do so, and without the power of belief and the glue of loyalty, leadership can achieve little, or nothing.
"War is deception," said Sun Tzu. But, as we seek to deceive, confuse and disperse the power of our foes, we must take care not to deceive ourselves. We must not fool ourselves that Occupy Wall Street is evidence that the American people are ready to undertake real and meaningful struggle; determined and successful struggle, like the early and most-violently opposed labor struggles in the United States, demands self-sacrifice, which, in such a selfish society, is more rare than an unbroken egg in an overturned refrigerator.
Who will immolate himself to draw attention to the desperation of the poor? A fellow named Morrison burned himself up in front of Defense Secretary Robert MacNamara, and it shook him to the core, bringing home to him for the first time that the Vietnam War might be a mistake. Who will be the first to die, when power-wielders finally feel threatened-enough to kill?
What will happen to the present generation of enthusiastic "revolutionaries" when they arrive at their own Kent State? and Jackson State, where protesting students were murdered by national guardsmen? (Without penalty.)Kent State, in my opinion, was the official end of the Sixties. Tuitions went up, activists were weeded from universities, and most admitted to themselves at least that they were not prepared to die in order to defend the Vietnamese, or promote a revolution in the United States.
Non-violence is my preference, and not because I'm a pacifist--I'm not--and not because I believe it can overwhelm Hitlerian violence, but because we can do no less--unarmed and unready to defend ourselves against the ultimate violence of the State. Gandhi's non-violent approach worked in India--to an extent--because the British considered themselves "civilized," and the sight of thousands being clubbed willingly to the ground disgusted public opinion and undermined imperial policy.
Dr. Martin Luther King's non-violence worked for awhile, because it was timely, media coverage was widespread and widely-watched, and at least the Kennedy Administration had some respect for public opinion.
It ultimately won't work here, however, because, not only does America have a horrid history of violence, the American people have been innured to violence by the media; and they actually seem to enjoy violence, as long as it is "the blood of others." Millions of American would like to see the cops beat the living hell out of protesters, and others want simply to shoot or burn them alive; even though they agree that the rich are out of control!
Don't kid yourself. They are out there, in numbers; and many are armed, and wishing...
I cringe when I hear a speaker say "revolution." I talked like that in my ignorant youth. As some Vietnamese revolutionary said, "Revolution is the greatest adventure in the world, especially when you know that you will win." But revolution, despite the adventure, is a civil war. I am for non-violence and reform, reform, reform, wherever, whenever, and with whatever progressive force insists on it. Civil war is destruction plain and simple. Family trauma and painful grudges last for generations, even for centuries, regardless of peace or armistice. As long as reform is possible, revolution is a non-starter.
Most revolutions really are exactly as a revolution is scientifically defined : a 360-degree turn. And most revolutions end where they began, by replacing one set of tyrants with another, slightly different set of tyrants, with a different set of laws, which nobody wants to obey, just as they did not want to obey the laws of the previous regime. So the first thing a successful revolution does, after chopping off heads, is to hire cops. And what cops? People who were already cops, persons who know how to be cops, and what a cop has to do to make people obey the current set of laws. It is a vicious cycle, and all cops carry weapons, and are jealous of the privilege.
I don't want a revolution. Neither do I want to go 180-degrees to the rear where the Luddites lurk. I want a Left Face. "LEFT face!" A ninety-degree turn--to the left. A quarter of a "revolution" will be fine for me.
So my advice to Occupy Wall Street is this: change our "focus" to Investigate Wall Street.
We have had hundreds of thousands of public demonstrations for innumerable causes since the Sixties, and demonstrations all are pretty much the same after awhile, rather boring and predictable, because, in the first place, we know our demands (to not invade Iraq, for example) are never met. They are hardly discussed, not taken seriously at all. So we must conclude that the repetition of street demonstrations is a strategy which worked, when it was new and surprising, but its present effectiveness is greatly diminished. Demonstrations make participants feel that they at least have done something important, that they have set themselves apart from the ordinary run of apolitical, uninvolved and uncaring Americans, and other, altruistic reasons. But Americans are accustomed to demonstrations now, and demonstrations are not working, because the power structure has learned how to control them, and does not give a damn for "public opinion."
But, American minds have already occupied Wall Street. Millions supported it. We didn't blockade or impede the Den of Thieves, where it is business as usual. But, we have been there and done that, where it matters: in the mind. All change begins there. Occupy Wall Street has happened. It is time to move on, and forward.
Now is the time to demand most forcefully, that a full congressional investigation, by standing committees in both chambers of Congress, press forward on investigating, exposing, indicting, trying, and punishing high-up financial criminals, responsible for much suffering, poverty, and undermining of our national security.
At present, only a Baker's Dozen of mid-level securities scam artists have been imprisoned. We must start where it is possible to start and work our way up, then down again, until certain punishent scares the hell out of irresponsible and unethical speculators, and the bosses who give them their marching orders. We must demand that they be punished severely with long prison terms, that they be fined, and that the financial and banking sectors be brought back under control of strict regulation, and for fines and taxes to make them pay back what they have stolen.
Every damned penny.