Last night, in Philadelphia and Los Angeles, the police moved in by the hundreds to clear out the Occupy encampments. In L.A., Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa used the tiredest excuse of them all: think about the children. In a city with at least 13,500 homeless kids (and that's just the ones that show up at schools), L.A. probably could have spent the money it used for the 1400 cops and 200 arrests at the City Hall camp on, say, housing some of the kids who don't want to be on the streets.
You can bet that we'll be hearing about more crackdowns as the winter progresses, until almost all the camps are gone. And to that, the Rude Pundit says, "Finally."
Don't get him wrong. He fully supports the occupiers and their colonization of urban spaces, the footholds of American renewal. He even understands why defending the camps has become so important. For some, whether fresh-faced, middle-class college student or unemployed middle-aged homeless person, the camps are a taste of what power and democracy are like. They are a small victory in a concrete swamp of constant indignity and degradation. Smelly, ugly, and full of sloppy dissent, the Rude Pundit thought they were beautiful. It's why he wanted and still wants people to donate stuff to the remaining encampments. If they're gonna stay, then he wants these hippie harbingers of the future fight to be safe and warm.
But the camps need to be seen for what they are and what they've accomplished: they had to come into being in order to show that there are large numbers of people willing to put their bodies on the line for a cause. They needed to remind us that the public square is not virtual and that civic engagement in the real world is necessary and vital for the reclamation of the country. That has been done. But right now the media is focusing too much on the camps as symbols and their eviction as a loss, with some even portraying the evictions as a victory over an ill-prepared, misguided, easily-mocked group of anarchists and leeches. Don't let the fuckers have the victory. Don't let them take back the narrative.
Of course the occupations have to be destroyed by the police. That was the point, wasn't it? Draw out the authorities. Get them to respond to your actions. Transform yourself into beings with your own agency, no longer objects to be acted upon. And how does that not bait the ones with the batons and the pepper spray and the ones who order them to attack?
The Rude Pundit doesn't mourn the end of the encampments in the same way he didn't mourn moving from teenage years to adulthood. Now we've seen that action is possible, that community is possible, that mass public support is possible. It's time to move to targeted direct action, and, no, that doesn't mean supporting candidates for election. That's bullshit co-opting and dilution of the movement. Leave that to Occupy Wall Street's sympathizers. It means direct confrontation, like the new effort to stop foreclosures from occurring. (The Rude Pundit will be out there next Tuesday.)
And it means that Adbusters had it right when it declared, in the heated environment after New York was shut down, "We will turn this winter into a training ground for precision disruptions – flashmobs, stink bombs, edgy theatrics – against the megacorps and the unrepentant 1%, a festival of resistance in the snow with, or without, an encampment that'll lay the tactical foundation for our Spring Offensive."
While we need to take care of the outdoor occupiers, we cannot cling to slivers of land when we have a nation to take back.
Saturday, December 03, 2011
"The End of the Occupy Camps Is the Start of the Next Phase"
The Rude Pundit: