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Re: <nettime> Portland Occupation's tactical innovation
Brian Holmes on Wed, 4 Jan 2012 21:44:58 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> Portland Occupation's tactical innovation


On 01/04/2012 07:46 AM, Newmedia {AT} aol.com wrote:

OCCUPY your own *life*!!

The ONE-PERCENT is a statistical account of wealth distribution -- NOT a
useful description of *power* distribution.

I agree with Jodi, this is idiotic.

What's happening in the world right now is the perilous breakup of the extremely coherent elite reorganization that produced neoliberal globalization, cabled the planet and set up just-in-time production and distribution systems under the direction of computerized finance.

The last fifteen years of radical scholarship and political activism -- essentially since the passage of NAFTA and the formation of the WTO -- have fully analyzed the structure of neoliberalism and its historical missions: namely to regain elite ownership control over social institutions (starting with corporations themselves) and to recover profit margins after the long crisis of the 1970s. This is an aggregate class effort, not a conspiracy. It has given rise to a very distinct pattern of social relations, with a central role for the digital technologies (which Mark, bizarrely, thinks no one else on the nettime list knows anything about!).

The elite effort has been so successful as to largely eliminate organized resistance, not to speak of any attempt to impose an alternative form of social relations. Today as we enter the serious phase of a new major crisis, the neoliberal presuppositions of financial and corporate autonomy from any kind of collective mediation -- that is, any kind of social state -- have effectively created a chaotic and even suicidal relation between the banks and hedge funds, with each one staking everything on a bid to swallow the others and scale up for survival among the new global oligopolies. Yet still they impose the agenda: witness the technocratic governments in Europe, or Bernanke-Geithner in the US. In the absence of any resurgent middle- and working-class resistance, what we will get is a deepening of ruling-class control and, without doubt, a new form of authoritarian police-state capitalism.

The initial questions of this thread were passionately interesting. They were about political action: the tactics of urban occupations and the relevance of disruptive actions and strikes at the point of production. One could go further and ask about the relation between these and emerging student activism, the repossession of foreclosed housing and debtors' revolts. One could expand from the strict (and obsolete) US-centric focus, to look at the really staggering wave of protest and open revolt that continues to unfurl across the earth since the beginning of the Arab Spring. The desire and will to change society is there on the streets, but a clear understanding of how to do it is not (although even Mark agrees the change will not come from Washington - he just can't imagine that it could come from anywhere else).

To my mind, all this points to a need for new and directly useful organizing ideas (which can build partially on those of the 1990s alterglobalization movements) and also, for a philosophical exploration of the chances for a better society in the early 21st century. Instead we get some retro-narcissist exclamations about occupy your own life, no one's in control, scatter and disperse, etc.

Let's lift the taboo that still hangs over anything collective, and talk about how to act *against* the domination of the ruling class -- or the one percent, or the state-capital nexus, or whatever you want to call it -- and *for* an egalitarian and sustainable society on planet earth.

best, BH


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