An important aspect of the Occupy movement is its rejection of representative politics for a body politics in earnest. You simply have to bodily be at the center of the circulation of cities to practice this politics. Its opposite, representative politics, is being rejected by millions of people. Let’s remember where representative politics comes from, i.e., re-presentation. Your re-presentative presents you in order for you to be absent from the political debates and decisions. So actually what appears to be a politics of presence is really one of absence.
Now for many of us busy, over-worked folk this appears to be a good deal. After all, sitting through long debates and getting trained to go over government accounts is time-consuming and tedious. But in periods of crisis when you no longer trust who is presenting you again in your absence and when you no longer trust the whole apparatus of representation, the need to make your presence felt physically returns, i.e., to go back to basics and originally present yourself as a body in motion at a historic juncture ready to swerve the relations of power in your favor. The occupying mass of bodies that we have seen from Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Greece, Spain are made up of those who, for good reason, no longer trust any form of representation, whether electoral or not.
From the Nation.
YM: Yeah, I definitely think we’re in a unique moment in the development of a movement that’s not only a protest movement against something but also an attempt to build something in its place. It is potentially a very early version of what I would call a dual-power movement, which is a movement that’s—on the one hand—trying to form the values and institutions that we want to see in a free society, while at the same time creating the space for that world by resisting and dismantling the institutions that keep us from having it. Occupation in general, as a tactic, is a really brilliant form of a dual-power struggle because the occupation is both a home where we get to practice the alternative—by practicing a participatory democracy, by having our radical libraries, by having a medical tent where anybody can get treatment, that kind of thing on a small level—and it’s also a staging ground for struggle outwards. It’s where we generate our fight against the institutions that keep us from the things that we need, against the banks as a representative of finance capitalism, against the state that protects and propels those interests.
It’s surprising and it’s really encouraging because that’s something that has been missing in a lot of struggles in the past. You usually have one or the other. You have alternative institutions, like eco-villages and food coops and so on—and then you have protest movements and other counter-institutions, like anti-war groups or labor unions. But they very rarely merge or see their struggle as shared. And we very rarely have movements that want to do both of those things, that see them as inseparable—that understand that the alternatives have to be fighting, and that fighting has to be done in a way that represents the values of the world we want to create. So I do think there’s something really radical and fundamental in that, and an enormous amount of potential.
From the InterActivist Info Exchange.
If this is true, then the first question that stems from a radical politics of the commons is “how can truly anti-capitalist commons be created, recreated, and expanded”? It goes without saying that such a question points directly to the centrality of private property to capitalist accumulation—an issue that looms so large that most activists prefer to avoid it altogether. Demanding the creation and expansion of commons that are not subject to the imperative of accumulation and profit would make the divisions that are latent in the 99 percent apparent. Weary of the historical failure of actually existing socialism—and lacking large-scale models of alternative development—most Occupiers seem to content themselves with a neo-Keynesian politics that begins and often ends with demands for fiscal reform and government investment in strategic sectors such as infrastructure, green technologies, education, and health care. As we have noted above, however, these demands cannot be properly articulated as they meet the opposition of anarchists and autonomists who reject demands and focus instead on communal processes of self-valorization and self-organization. For the autonomists, the organizational forms of the movement are already functioning, in many ways, as institutions of the commons. Such a perspective fails to recognize that the vast majority of the resources managed by the movement are produced and distributed according to capitalist logic.
“ A society committed to enhancing equality, liberty, and democracy that is unable to achieve such values in practice—indeed, that is moving in precisely the opposite direction—is committed to a morally incoherent politics. If such a politics continues through time, ever greater cynicism must develop; and with it, an ever deepening sense that American society has lost its moral compass, that government policies are merely the result of power plays and brokering between interested parties that do not and cannot claim any deeper democratic or moral legitimacy. ”
Gar Alperovitz (via theamericanbear)
“Bourgeois class domination is undoubtedly an historical necessity, but, so too, the rising of the working class against it. Capital is an historical necessity, but, so too, its grave digger, the socialist proletariat.”
“ This tumultuous 2011 that’s now saying goodbye will be remembered as the year that put the voice of the people back in the street. The rage-filled yell that has gone across the world, from Athens to Madrid, passing through Egypt’s Tahrir Square or New York’s Zuccotti Park, has reminded us what we already knew: the street is of the people. ”
“ [In Economics] you learn that markets…are based on informed consumers making rational choices. …Most of you have seen ads. Is an ad trying to create an informed consumer who will make a rational choice? …. Your not supposed to notice this……if we had a market system …an ad would be a description of the characteristics of the product… that is obviously not what an ad is. It’s trying to delude you into making an irrational choice based on lack of information. In fact one of the major goals of business is to undermine the market by making uninformed consumers who will make irrational choices. ”
Noam Chomsky - Global Hegemony: the Facts, the Images, April 20, 2011. (via evokit-notes)
I’ve always thought, the evidence was right there in front of our faces, if people actually were rational actors either the marketing directors would all have been sacked or ads would target our logic centers. It is painfully clear we humans are driven by emotion, economists should be embarrassed to have hung on so long to the myth of the rational actor.
(Source: youtu.be, via theamericanbear)
“ I have contended that a hidden agenda of the Occupy Movement’s tent cities, now mostly gone, is to remove oneself from a normal, domesticated environment, with its attendant, nonstop media brainwashing via television, computer and other electronic gadgets. Freed from these insidious and poisonous mediators, one could discover other human beings, one’s neighbors, and oneself, at last. It wasn’t just a sacrifice to endure the elements and poor sanitation to feel solidarity and community. It was also an attraction, an atavistic yearning to see, hear and feel directly, and to jettison all of the soft yet stubborn, plugged-in shackles. As a sign at Zuccotti Park said so well, ‘FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE, I FEEL AT HOME.’ ”
Linh Dinh (via theamericanbear)
“ The competition between capitalists forces them to behave as capitalists. This is one fundamental reason why “ethical capitalism” is a dead end—in a world of competitive accumulation the capitalist is forced to stop being ethical or stop being a capitalist. ”
Joseph Choonara, Unravelling Capitalism (via rethinksocialism)
(Source: , via philosophy-of-praxis)