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September 17, 2011


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Douglas Lain

The Occupy Wall Street movement strikes me as a way to do appear to offer dissent but with the assurance that nothing will change. It's a repeat of tactics from Spain that have already been shown to have failed. I hope to be proven wrong, of course.


Fay Furness

Douglas, you are so right. We show dissent and wash our hands of everything. I love the "down with this sort of thing" picture! But I question if just working on individual attainable issues is the right way either. Maybe we need to be working on a change of ideologies, a retraining à la Gramsci. We need to develop that faith, to develop that confidence. And most importantly change our deep rooted attachment to this current paradigm. Basically I don't think we're ripe for revolution because we haven't suffered enough yet. Only those with nothing to lose will really make a revolution. While the white, middle class intellectuals remain unable to lift a single finger that will contribute to their own demise. We will clap and show dissent and do all that we can to be a part of the movement without really being part of anything. When a real movement starts (the next Black Panthers of sorts, say) will we clap our hands or call them terrorists?


Jodi Dean

Yeah--I'm pretty much on the same page, even as I think that the way to ensure that nothing changes is to do nothing. I also find it curious that Spain is the model of success, unless success is measured in terms of a kind of affective build up and then, maybe this where Faye is right: what's happening is a slow changing of attitude, building of curious, building of solidarity. I watched the live feed for a while last night and started to admire the people's mic, not for efficiency (nothing efficient about it) but as a technique for producing a collective subject as the group would together repeat the words of a speaker so that others in the back could hear.

Douglas Lain

I actually quite like the idea of a people's mike as a tactic as well, and when I was involved in organizing protests against the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq I pressed to open up the protest space to allow countering views to be expressed. What I'd been thinking of was the way people jumped up on a police car outside of Sproul hall in 1964 as they debated how to handle the administration's oppression of speech. These open public debates as a part of actions, occupations, and demonstrations are important for precisely the reasons you mention. Back in 1964 the FSM was born out of such open moments, but the FSM's goal was not to create a people's microphone but rather to change the policies at UC Berkeley. The trouble with the OCCUPYWALLSTREET movement isn't necessarily tactical but strategic. Sticking with the FSM for a moment, the events at Sproul hall, the police car sit in, these things were organized and thought through in advance by what I'll call Savio's gang. Same holds for Rosa Parks and her gang. Mass demonstrations of democracy in the street seem to rely on vanguard organizing.

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