Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Occupy Movement and The Revolution

This sign in the Occupy Toronto campsite still stands defiantly. But of course the occupiers will be moved eventually. Because the power has the police. Just not tonight.

Occupy Toronto protesters will not be evicted tonight following a last-minute court injunction against the city’s plans to forcibly remove them...Full arguments for and against eviction will be heard Friday, with a decision delivered on Saturday.

Which is great eh? Because I can't make it down to the camp tonight, but I sure will be there on Saturday. And so will thousands of others.

In the meantime, everyone should know this: the reason The Power, and the Pig Mayor, want to evict Occupy Toronto has nothing to do with claims that it is damaging businesses in the area, or that the camp is dirty, or that the city can't winterize the sprinkler system, or that nearby residents can't use the park, or walk their dogs in it.

Because I have seen plenty of rich people quaffing fine wines and lobster at the fancy restaurant across the street as if nothing was happening. The campsite is a tourist attraction, so it's attracting more potential customers into the area.

And the camp may be humble, but it's not dirty. 

The occupiers are making sure of that...

Furthermore, if the city wants to winterize the sprinkler system NOBODY is stopping them. And there is still plenty of green space in the park, for people and dogs.

No. The real reason The Power wants to evict the occupiers is because they are scared stiff of their message. It sounds too much like REVOLUTION. And they are right about that.

The historian Crane Brinton in his book “Anatomy of a Revolution” laid out the common route to revolution. The preconditions for successful revolution, Brinton argued, are discontent that affects nearly all social classes, widespread feelings of entrapment and despair, unfulfilled expectations, a unified solidarity in opposition to a tiny power elite, a refusal by scholars and thinkers to continue to defend the actions of the ruling class, an inability of government to respond to the basic needs of citizens, a steady loss of will within the power elite itself and defections from the inner circle, a crippling isolation that leaves the power elite without any allies or outside support and, finally, a financial crisis. Our corporate elite, as far as Brinton was concerned, has amply fulfilled these preconditions.

But it is Brinton’s next observation that is most worth remembering. Revolutions always begin, he wrote, by making impossible demands that if the government met would mean the end of the old configurations of power. The second stage, the one we have entered now, is the unsuccessful attempt by the power elite to quell the unrest and discontent through physical acts of repression.

It is a revolution. For how else are we to curb the power of the robber barons, or save the planet from destruction?

In my post last night I said that losing the camps would not necessarily be a disaster because too much energy is being consumed running them. 

So a crackdown might actually help us.

“We poured a tremendous amount of resources into defending a park that was nearly symbolic,” said Han Shan, an Occupy Wall Street activist in New York. “I think the movement has shown it transcends geography.”

On Monday, Adbusters, the Canadian anti-corporate magazine that conceived of the movement, indicated that the protesters should “declare victory” and head indoors to strategize.

But every real progressive in the world should be grateful for those camps, for that's where the greatest movement for economic and social change we've ever seen was born...

And every real progressive Canadian in this old and tired country full of democratic slackers, should be grateful to the occupiers for setting up those camps, and taking their message of change to the streets. Instead of just staying at home and humping their computers.

Are you afraid of a revolution to save the planet from the brutish barons and greedsters who would destroy it? I'm not.

You can demolish a campsite, you can arrest the peaceful occupiers, or beat them, or pepper spray them. Or worse.

But you can't arrest an idea, or kill a movement, or a REVOLUTION.

Whose time has finally come...


Anonymous said...

So you plan to have a grand revolution....and replace our current system with.......with what exactly?

Simon said...

hi Way Way Up...I realize the word revolution scares a lot of people. But all we're trying to do is build a better world where the robber barons don't screw the people until they bleed, or screw the planet until it burns.
But don't worry, we're not planning to use a guillotine... ;)

Anonymous said...

Oh I'm not fearful of a small minority. If these people are advocating for a different economic/political system than my question is simply - What would this system look like? Every time there is a protest of some sort it always seems people are advocating an overthrow of the system. What exactly do they intend to replace it with?

I also hope they realize that once they have this new system in place, people will have expectations of them. Should they not live up to expectation then they in turn would likely be rebelled against in turn.

thwap said...

Way Way Up,

That's excellent. By all means, if you can't think of anything new, let's continue to allow Wall Street and other parasites to suck the lifeblood out of the world.

If you're not part of the solution ...

fern hill said...

Good post, Simon.

I see Way Way Up has found you as he/she/it found DAMMIT JANET! He/She/It is a concern troll. Word to the wise. ;-)

Anonymous said...

"a refusal by scholars and thinkers to continue to defend the actions of the ruling class"

If most scholars and thinkers refuse to defend the actions of the ruling class, but they don't get invited to go on-air, do they still matter?

The Mound of Sound said...

I think you should actually read Brinton's book. It also details what I would describe as a rebound-revolution. Sane, sensible people, usually middle-class with legitimate grievances, initiate the revolution but, once successful, they're often exhausted and easy meat for radical revolutionaries to hijack the whole thing. In the French revolution this led to "the Terror." In the Russian revolution this led to the Mensheviks being slaughtered by the Bolsheviks. It's one reason why Islamist extremists have held back, biding their time, in North Africa.

The Mound of Sound said...

@WWU - with due respect to Simon, I don't see the Occupy movement as a revolution. It simply doesn't have the makings of that sort of thing.
I see it as more of a rejection, an outright refusal to accept inequality - of wealth, of income, of opportunity.

It rejects the utterly corrosive concentration of wealth - and political power - by the very few and the subterfuge used to transform democracy into corporatist oligarchy.

In many ways, the Occupy movement is about returning to a past "system" that entails restoration of progressive equality and democracy. There is a genuine urgency to this.

Even the IMF has now released research showing that the sort of inequality that now infests the US and, to a lesser extent, other Western countries undermines their economies. The Right loves to rant about 'theft' or plots to effect massive transfers of wealth and yet, since the Reagan years, America has witnessed an enormous transfer of wealth from its middle class to its new aristocracy.

You plainly don't grasp, or at least value, the role a healthy, robust, prosperous middle class plays in a modern, developed democracy. It is a vehicle for social mobility, it provides consumer demand, and, most importantly, it is a buffer against extremism from the Left or the Right. Much of America's current woes can be traced to the loss of these social engines.

So I see the Occupy Movement as aimed more at restoration instead of revolution. And that is why, despite the inevitable setbacks along the way, it is almost certain to succeed.

Anonymous said...

Thwap...I'm simply asking what kind of system OWS tends to replace the current system with. If you want people to support your cause then you need to provide real, workable solutions rather than just continual bitching and whining.

Fern...yes "concern troll" ..mindless labelling in the absence of meaningful debate is ever so helpful.

Sound of Mound...sounds reasonable enough to me...the question then becomes....how is this accomplished?

thwap said...

Way Way Up,

You are asserting that the Occupy Movement wants to install themselves at the top of some new oligarchy.

You say this because you imagine that whatever they put in the place of the present system, they will have some sort of power that others will rebel against.

Your saying this shows that you haven't been paying attention.

It also shows that instead of wanting to work with this movement, and propose solutions to the fix that we find ourselves in, you want to carp from the sidelines and thereby support the status-quo.

As I said, if you're not going to be part of the solution then you're part of the problem.

Simon said...

hi Fern...thanks, I'm glad you liked the post. I have to admit that I had to google the word concern troll. My position is that anyone is free to express their opinions here, as long as they are not libellous or hateful. But by their words we shall judge them...

Simon said...

hi anonymous...when scholars and thinkers refuse to defend the actions of the ruling class, even if they are silenced, the legitimacy of the oligarchy will be undermined, and the writing will be on the wall. But then I'm an optimist eh? ;)

Simon said...

hi Mound...if I bought and read every book you've recommended I read...as excellent as they are...I'm afraid I'd soon be broke and have no time to blog... ;)
Seriously though, I define revolution as challenging the prevailing dogma, in this case the notion that the jungle capitalism of today is the sum of human perfection, and the end of history. From what I've seen most Occupiers want to reform capitalism not destroy it. The problem is that when cornered the beast can become even more brutish, and seek to destroy its enemies. I don't want to sound too gloomy, but I'm pretty sure that's what is going to happen...

Simon said...

hi Mound...OK I just read you're second comment and I see you agree with me. So let's just call it a R--Evolution. Until we meet in prison... ;)

The Mound of Sound said...

@WWU - You ask, "how is this accomplished?" There is no answer to that. The course of history teaches us as much. Some births are easy, some are difficult, some go horribly wrong.

You're a young parent. I'm about to become an old grandparent. There's a huge difference, one you would do well to contemplate.

My parents' generation achieved a zenith. They endured the Great Depression and they fought their World War but they survived to raise their families in the Halcyon years of the 50s and 60s and went on to retire in relative prosperity.

My generation, the original "Boomers" also had it far better than anyone deserved. No depression, no brutal mass slaughter. Only prosperity achieved within a very powerful and emergent "middle class." We made out like bandits - and we had "free love."

Your generation has little to complain of but the three preceding generations, including your own, has handed them a genuine shit sandwich and they're all going to have to take a real big bite.

I'm old enough, WWU, that I'm getting out of this (I hope) pretty much intact. I won the generational lottery. I'm also old enough that I can recall a world, an environment or ecology significantly different than what exists today. We actually used to work, all summer, to get a really fine tan. Today we all microwave in less than half an hour.

You ask how we come down from our self-destructive perch. The answer (I guess) is to return to the values and beliefs that propelled us to such heights in the 50's and 60's. It was a society led by a generation that had survived the Depression and WWII. They understood sacrifice and the common good and placed it far above the individual windfall.

But, please, don't take it from me. Take it from that great Republican, Theodore Roosevelt (not Franklin D) and take it from Abraham Lincoln and take it from that founder of conservatism Edmund Burke. Just over a century ago, Teddy Roosevelt, explained it powerfully. You can read my review of his speech here. http://the-mound-of-sound.blogspot.com/2011/08/what-we-need-now-another-square-deal.html

That harkens back to a day we must find again, a day when we all understood the fundamentals of strong, decent society.

Anonymous said...

Thwap. Please stop making faulty assumptions about me. You are wasting time on side issues. If you want to attract people to your side, what do you offer them? What plan (other than civil disobedience and camping) which ultimately will just piss people off, do you propose?

These people are upset with the current system. Yes, I get that. They don't like it and want to change it. Okay. Other than being pissed off and upset, what are they going to actually do? Do they have a concrete plan? People aren't going to listen and join you because they just hear whining and complaining. What plan do you offer them?

There are things I"m not happy with either but I'm not about to go out and yell, scream and wave a banner for days on end like an idiot these people are starting to make themselves out to be. Hell, even the Bolsheviks had a plan back in the day. Sure we see the end result but at least they had a plan and did something. All this nonsense these protesters are engaging thus far has been nothing more than mindless crap.