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You Say You Want A Revolution... Right?

Anarchist Opinion

It’s become one of life’s most unexpected ironies to suddenly find myself labeled “too positive.” It seems my enthusiastic support for Occupy Wall Street (OWS) has taken some of my pre-OWS comrades by surprise while simultaneously rankling a few cynical occupiers.So yeah, I’ll own up to a major shift in the tenor of my writing and public speaking since September 17, 2011 -- but it’s definitely not based on delusion or denial.

You Say You Want A Revolution... Right?

Mickey Z. -- World News Trust

Nov. 23, 2012

“Surely it is not our intention to take out bank loans to buy back our world from capitalism. Neither is it our intention to help capitalism run more efficiently.”

- Larry Law

It’s become one of life’s most unexpected ironies to suddenly find myself labeled “too positive.” It seems my enthusiastic support for Occupy Wall Street (OWS) has taken some of my pre-OWS comrades by surprise while simultaneously rankling a few cynical occupiers.

So yeah, I’ll own up to a major shift in the tenor of my writing and public speaking since September 17, 2011 -- but it’s definitely not based on delusion or denial. Rather, there are two discrete reasons that sum up my current mindset:

  1. I’ve grown close to many occupiers, consider some to be trusted personal friends, and have learned much from my interactions with all of them
  2. I firmly and deeply believe that this is our last chance to create the drastic change needed to prevent dooming future generations to a toxic, virtually uninhabitable, prison state of a planet.

Of course, just because I’m choosing process over purity and not waiting around for something “more perfect” doesn’t mean I don’t have my differences with OWS. In fact, it might be more accurate to state I have one main issue that can be summed in a basic question: Reform or revolution?

Please allow me to explain via a few examples:

1. Debt relief
We can’t buy back our lives, our freedom, our future. We can’t outspend the 1% -- nor should we ever try. That is the kind of thinking that created this mess in the first place and I very much agree with Cindy Milstein when she declares: "So hard to see hundreds of thousands being raised to give back to the same institutions we are contesting -- that are structurally part of the debt issue in the first place!”

The Rolling Jubilee is an excellent publicity stunt to expose the hidden realities behind consumer debt but let’s never forget that debt is merely a symptom and paying off a few million dollars doesn’t even dent the nearly $3 trillion in total U.S. debt.

Also, in an ironically overlooked twist, this approach is undeniably “charity” -- precisely as most occupiers are celebrating “mutual aid over charity” via Hurricane Sandy relief and recovery.

“A far, far better strategy/tactic is needed, such as collective debt refusal, collective personal bankruptcy, collective self-reduction of the costs of things, and especially, collective creation of alternatives,” says Milstein. “And in each and every case, that should involve face-to-face organizing that builds tangible, collective relations so people together can decide how they want to refuse, resist, and reconstruct."

(My recent article on the debt campaign here)

2. Voting/Lesser Evilism
In 2008, I was a very depressed radical. Mr. Yes We Can had hypnotized so much of the Left that I was certain I wouldn’t be alive to take part in the revolution. However, the Obama team miscalculated. Their marketing campaign mobilized so many people who, when they recognized the Human Predator Drone’s true colors, had to aim all that rage and passion in a new direction.

Enter Occupy Wall Street.

Unfortunately, in many cases, their rejection of the two-party farce wilted by Election Day 2012 and it was terribly disheartening to witness occupiers twisting themselves into painful contortions in a futile attempt to portray the Pope of Hope as a lesser evil.

(My recent article on the election sellout here)

3. Rejection of veganism/animal rights
All our grievances are connected... until it’s time to eat.

OWS has always been pretty clueless when it comes to food but in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, I felt ever-so-slightly confident that they’d begin grasping the big connections.

Greenhouse gases contribute to climate change. Climate change contributed to the impact and aftermath of Sandy. The impact and aftermath of Sandy resulted in folks being displaced. And the number one cause of human-created greenhouse gases is the global animal by-products industry.

Well, not only have 99% (sorry, couldn’t resist) of occupiers so far ignored these connections, many also went right to work planning “holiday” meals for the displaced... meals with factory farmed animals as the main course.

(My recent article on the vegan connections here)

Fork in the Road
There’s more, of course. I could talk about how -- while Occupy Sandy Recovery has been a revelation -- the countless images of occupiers working alongside government officials (FEMA, National Guard, etc.) make me cringe.

And speaking of cringe-worthy: #wegotthis? Talk to those with experience in post-hurricane zones and you’ll quickly learn that no one’s “got” anything yet. Not even close.

But, in-the-field hiccups aside, my bigger picture concerns all come back to the basic question posed above: Are we reformists or are we revolutionaries?

If we buy into the “change the system from the inside” myth and seek crumbs from the 1% table, we can follow the well-trodden path of compromise/surrender blazed by liberals in MoveOn, United for Peace and Justice, the Green Party, and so on.

If we choose instead to recognize the urgency of the myriad global crises, dismantle the system, and commence creating new models, we must be doing a whole lot more than putting out fires and collaborating with our oppressors.

If it’s revolution we desire, we must occupy the big connections and act swiftly and accordingly.

***

Mickey Z. is the author of 11 books, most recently the novel Darker Shade of Green. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on an obscure website called Facebook.

© WorldNewsTrust.com -- Share and re-post this story. Please include this copyright notice and a link to World News Trust.

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You Say You Want A Revolution... Right? | 7 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
You Say You Want A Revolution... Right?
Authored by: Admin on Friday, November 23 2012 @ 11:56 PM CST

I've been a ovo-lacto vegetarian for over 23 years and I've always disagreed with vegan activists who insisted on the food being prepared for the homeless be vegan (or vegetarian). This has always been disrespectful of poor people, their cultural diets and their economic situation. If you want to make a point about veganism, don't force it on other people. This sanctimonious zeal by some vegans has been one of the main reasons why I've never become a vegan.

In the case of post-Sandy relief, I think it's more important to get people fed with what's available than to make things about diet, health, global warming or whatever. You have to pick your battles. To a great extent, Occupy Sandy relief is an opportunity to put our politics into practice, in soldiarity with other people who are organizing collective relief. I just don't see why there should be any concern about diet politics in the day-to-day efforts.

Chuck

You Say You Want A Revolution... Right?
Authored by: Admin on Sunday, November 25 2012 @ 02:02 AM CST

"If you want to make a point about veganism, don't force it on other people."

This was meant as a general comment about *some* vegans, not Mickey personally, whose work on this subject I greatly respect.

My point about *some* sanctimonious vegans is that these folks are the most rabid political types I have ever interacted with.The fact that I've been a vegetarian for decades and have been supportive of animal rights activists (through being a volunteer at Infoshop News) still isn't good enough for these people because I'm not personally a vegan. They will try and convert you. I 'm never going to be a vegan. I like eggs and dairy. My choice to be a vegetarian was never motivated by animal rights, but I'm general sympatheitc to animal rights.

Chuck

You Say You Want A Revolution... Right?
Authored by: Bill Not Bored on Saturday, November 24 2012 @ 08:01 PM CST

I agree with you, Chuck. Note well that the alleged Mayor of NYC, Michael Bloomberg, attempted to force *his* food values on people when he recently banned donations of food to homeless shelters because it couldn't be tested for salt or fat content. I'm quite sure it is better to feed starving people relatively less healthy food than no food at all.

 

http://now.msn.com/hard-to-swallow-bloomberg-bans-food-donations-to-homeless-shelters

You Say You Want A Revolution... Right?
Authored by: Admin on Sunday, November 25 2012 @ 02:07 AM CST

I see nothing wrong with talking about these issues and engaging in a conversation with everybody about them. I just have some concern about insenstive activists and folks pushing their diet and/or politics on people who just want to eat after having been through hell. Maybe this isn't a problem at all.

Chuck

You Say You Want A Revolution... Right?
Authored by: Bill Not Bored on Sunday, November 25 2012 @ 08:30 AM CST

Unless I'm mistaken, your use of the symbol # and the word denial is meant to convey the idea that I am in denial about something or other, while you are . . . what? Not in denial about something or other? At the forefront of affirming something positive about something or other? By doing this, you have provided an excellent example of the "sanctimonious zeal" that Chuck mentioned.