Monday, October 19, 2009

Occupy, Resist, and Produce

"There's only so much protesting can accomplish. At a certain point, you have to talk about what you're fighting for."

While at work tonight (tending a mostly dead-bar: amidst the occasional dance-party, I was essentially paid to read essays -- my kind of salary), I read this essay: Are We Addicted to Rioting?

I think this essay makes a lot of good points and, more importantly, asks a lot of really vital questions that some of us aren't asking.

If you roll a dumpster at the police, why are you doing it? To prove a point? To block a street? To open a street? To cause a diversion to pull off another action? To impress the media? To impress your friends? To get it out of the way? To get it in the way? These are relevant questions, far more relevant than whether or not it's morally acceptable to roll a dumpster around. But then you must ask yourself why you are trying to achieve that tactical goal. Are you blockading a meeting? Are you causing chaos to make the summit look bad? Are you trying to get media attention? Do you want revenge on the police? Then you must ask yourself why you are blockading the meeting or causing chaos or trying to get on TV. Who are you trying to effect? Who's your base? If you want media attention, who are you trying to reach out to? What is your message for them? If you are trying to cause chaos, what is the purpose? Who is it serving? How is it advancing your goals? What effect will it have on your movement next week, next month, next year? What is the follow-up to all of this?
I think these are the kind of things we need to be asking ourselves. As individuals, as comrades, as we gather up arms in solidarity, I think we need to be thinking about why we're doing what we are doing. How our actions will ricochet and what effects and after effects those actions will have. We need to take good, hard looks at ourselves and really ponder our own motivations, what pushes us to fight, and how hard we are willing to do the grit in the teeth, backbreaking, hair pulling, tedious day to day work. The work that makes us feel like our tongues are bleeding and our fingers are breaking. The work that makes us feel like, sometimes, we're taking two steps backward with every step forward. The work that is bleary-eyed and anything but glamorous.

So, while writing this blog entry, I'm watching this:

The Take

There's a slogan that comes from this video: Occupy, Resist, and Produce. Just recently, I was talking with a comrade about the state of modern literature about anarchism. I mentioned how disheartening it is to me that so much of the language we use to articulate the struggle is entrenched in negativity, in destruction, in "smashing the state". There is nowhere near enough literature out there based in positivity, in creation, in joy and wonder. Where is the joyous outpouring? The sense of hope? I know it's out there, and I find it saturated in many of the late-night conversations we have with one another, shoulders tense with passion, leaning toward one another like parentheses holding tight a well guarded secret, stumbling over our words and shaking with fever and the possibility of what-could-be. But where is it in our literature? It is a sprinkling, an echo.

While I understand that criticism is necessary, that serious inquiry and investigation are of crucial import, I think we need to take more time to revel in the glorious madness we call life. We need to dance in the streets, to embrace with earnestness and without fear, and to come to live with both a tenderness and a fire. That's the only way we're going to win: it's love, not hate, that will get us through this.

"It's a dignified struggle, full of beautiful experiences. But we have a big obstacle. The same people who dragged us into misery and unemployment, those who took everything from us, are now trying to come back."

We can't fucking let them.

1 comment:

Kelley Ann Hornyak said...

You're an incredible writer. You know this piece is much deeper than I am (lol), but I do agree with you. On a micro vs. macro level, with your point being the macro and my life being the micro, I experience this daily. I get entrenched in the negativity trying to break past all of it, when focusing on the joy and the good things would get me much further. Looking forward to that novel, and anything else that your genius brain inspires you to produce! :)