On the first Saturday of the celebration of this year of the Dragon, the Oakland Commune attempted to seize the abandoned Kaiser Center and to occupy it as their new home. They were met with brutal opposition from the Oakland Police and other area departments who repeatedly announced their intention to use chemical agents and cause severe injury.
People assembled at Oscar Grant Plaza and after some talk, set off through the streets of Oakland to an as yet undisclosed location. A brass band dressed in pink and black tutus with shock pick tights played. The pigs used choppers to monitor the crowd’s route and soon blocked it at Laney College. A sound system on a truck ensured that the assembly proceeded in the spirit of dance. A few dozen pigs declared an unlawful assembly and confronted the demonstrators – threatening violence and ordering the crowd to disperse through loudspeakers.The sound truck that had accompanied the march, carrying furniture for the occupation, was missing. Reports said it had been pulled over. Most apparent exits from Laney campus were blocked by OPD.
With no other way to make a decision and no contingency plan, the crowd held a cumbersome general assembly. Eventually it headed over a bottleneck bridge and dodged the police to approach Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center,
which was surrounded by fences and cops. When the crowd started tearing down the fence, police shot off smoke bombs to disorient the Communards.
The pigs in riot gear formed a line blocking Oak Street.
The Oakland Museum lay to the left of the crowd, an apartment complex to the right. The group pushed forward led by shields and reinforced barricades. The police launched flash grenades, bean bag rounds,
and gas. They attached flash grenades to smoke bombs to maximize panic and confusion among the people.
The commune responded with rocks and flares and bottles, moving forward behind shields made of trash can lids, corrugated metal siding and other materials.
Reports from the crowd say that the shields were somewhat effective in protecting against police projectiles. Though when the formation was broken, many were seriously injured.
Some were traumatized by gas.
some were hit by rubber bullets – still others others were burned by flash grenades.
Residents of a nearby apartment building brought the protestors pitchers of water to wash off the gas. The Commune retreated to OG Plaza, many of them carrying comrades.
A thousand people set out from Oscar Grant Plaza an hour later. After failing to gain access to a second building, they proceeded to a third.
The pigs kettled them in a park alongside 19th and Broadway – a location that had been occupied on a previous occasion. The crowd tore down the fences surrounding the park and escaped, only to be kettled once again outside the YMCA.
A sympathetic YMCA employee opened the door and some were able to escape through the building and out rear exits. The police became aware of both escape routes and begin attacking and trampling those who failed to escape. Those remaining in the kettle were brutalized further and forced to submit to arrest. People were held on the street in zip-ties for hours.
Those incarcerated in Santa Rita and were kept in extremely adverse conditions, threatened with separation into the general prison population and denied medical care. Bail for some was set at over $50,000.
A few hundred people kept going. In anger, some broke into Oakland City Hall – holding the space as long as they could and vandalizing it in a beautiful act of negation. More than 35 pigs from various departments came to clear them out.
#Anyone wrote “When else in recent history have 2000 people been ready to participate in the illegal action of taking over a vacant building as a political act? The success of the movein action was as an act of delegitimation of the power and authority of the state and it’s repressive forces.”
Move In Day demonstrated that the Commune needs “space that would make us permanent, make our own ways, our own ways of making things livable, a center from which our resistance could grow, prevail.” The city authorities are scared of such a possibility because they know that unlike the spaces they have offered to the Commune, such a center would allow for the development of actual dual power. They know it would function “to counter their ideas of belonging and private property and “the proper channels” of “community activity” — properly coded, surveilled, declawed.”
Those who have been blind to the war should now open their eyes to the true character of this low-intensity conflict. The police have repeatedly announced their willingness to brutalize us using military weapons to protect private property. The willingness of Bay Area pigs to kill has been amply demonstrated — there’s a reason we renamed the plaza after Oscar Grant. Although many tactical lessons should be drawn from the events of January 28th, abandoning the projects of moving inside and of engaging the Repressive State Apparatus should not be on the table. The questions that we must grapple with now are: what weapons and tactics are necessary to defeat the police? Which spaces must be taken before taking a facility the size of Kaiser Convention Center? Is a mass mobilization the most effective way to initially seize such a space or would it be easier for a guerilla group to accomplish? We need to remember that the Black Panthers in Oakland were able to organize an armed pressure group that saved Huey Newton from the gas chamber – and we need to do more than that. One reason that 0% movements should establish solidarity with the incarcerated is that we will be spending time in jail and need to learn to do so effectively.
The war has already (hardly) begun. This is not a time to fall back on a mass movement or a party to protect the working class. As #Anyone among the communards knows, the working class has been reordered since 1848. It has been globally segmented; in the US and Europe it has been “fragmented and distributed into networks colonized by rhetorics of self-management and flexibility, rendered part-time and pushed into industries devoted to sale, distribution, management and circulation of commodities … These conditions render the conversion of the working class into a proletariat, as revolutionary self consciousness, nearly impossible.” However, 0% action is possible and will continue. Insurrection involves education and conspiracy. Breathing together, we will inhale our cities.
Much love and respect to the courageous people of Oakland.
All Power To The Commune! Bring It Where You Live!
Comrades near and far, First off, thank you so much from the bottom of our rebellious hearts for the solidarity actions that took place in your cities across the country. You cannot believe what those actions meant for the morale of the Oakland Commune after the attack from the notorious Oakland police. We love you like we love liberation and we also have your back.
As you have heard or seen reported in international news now, Occupy Oakland experience extreme police repression from several different agencies yesterday after thousands of Oakland residents attempted to take over an empty building to build a social center. The majority of the arrests, however, took place later in the night on a march when protesters were kettled. The Oakland Commune was teargased, shot by bean bag and rubber bullets, and many people were severely beaten. Our situation is the following: we have hundreds of people who have been arrested and kept in three different sites. Today we had 350 people in Santa Rita jail, with others in Glen Dyer and in North County. We do not know exactly how many have been arrested but it is possibly up to 400. There is also an immense range of charges and some arrestees have multiple chargers.
We also have many cases of comrades in jail who have been injured by the police, including head injuries, and others who have vulnerabilities of concern such as medical conditions or trans gender status.
Some people have already been released but many others are held on bail until their arraignment. Some people can hold tight and others simply cannot.
Occupy Oakland has very little money to handle this situation. We need to bond people out and also make sure people get the medical attention they deserve and need. PLEASE PUT OUR DONATION INFORMATION FOR BAIL ON YOUR WEBSITE, BLAST IT ON THE INTERNET, FACEBOOK, ETC.
Part I via OccupyOaklandMedia Occupy Oakland Plans Building Takeover #J28 Posted on 24 January 2012 by Benjamin Phillips
On January 28, Occupy Oakland will take over a vacant building in the city of Oakland to establish a new home, social center and meeting space for the movement. The “Move-in” action will begin with a two-day festival at the new building site, the location of which will remain undisclosed until the day of the event. The seized building will be converted into a social center for the movement.
This building takeover/move-in action was approved by the Occupy Oakland General Assembly and signals a new direction for the Occupy movement: putting vacant buildings at the service of the community.
Despite a nationwide housing crisis and increasing homelessness, thousands of buildings lie vacant in Oakland. The Occupy Oakland Move-In Committee, which is coordinating the event, states:
“Like millions of people in this country, Occupy Oakland has no home. On January 28, Move-in Day, we’re going to change that. We’re going to occupy a large, vacant building and convert it into a social center. Come join us for the initial occupation. There will be a festival all that weekend to celebrate our new home.”
During the Occupy Oakland camp, the movement provided food, shelter, medical services and much more to anyone who asked for them. It was recently disclosed that crime in Oakland dropped by 19% during the weeks of the camp, and further, that Oakland Police Chief Jordan was aware of this drop. A letter from Jordan to Mayor Quan stated: “Not sure how you want to share this good news… It may be counter to our statement that the Occupy movement is negatively impacting crime in Oakland.”
Nonetheless, the camp was forcibly evicted twice from Oscar Grant/Frank Ogawa Plaza, on grounds that it threatened the health and safety of citizens. The OPD is being investigated for its actions against Occupy Oakland; they also face federal trusteeship after over a decade of abusing Oakland residents.
Occupy Oakland responded to the first eviction by calling for a General Strike and responded to the second with a coordinated West Coast Port Shutdown. Both events succeeded in shutting down the Oakland Port, due to the tens of thousands of supporters who were willing to defy the City in this direct action. Despite this support, since mid-December the Oakland Police Department, under Mayor Quan’s watch, has arrested dozens of Occupy Oakland people at Oscar Grant Plaza. Many were detained for days though the charges were not pursued because they would not stand up in court. As a result of this persistent repression and harassment, the movement has been unable to continue to provide food, shelter, medical care, and other services at Oscar Grant Plaza. The City, while claiming it cannot afford to provide these services itself, has spent millions of taxpayer dollars on police actions against Occupy, while neglecting the needs of its citizens.
On January 28, the day of the take-over, occupiers will rally at Oscar Grant Plaza at 12 pm at 14th and Broadway, march to the take-over destination, and Occupy. A two-day festival at the seized building location, will include special events, speakers, music, and workshops. At the end of each day, the Occupiers will hold a General Assembly to further define the uses of the building.
The Move-in Building Committee is actively soliciting requests from residents of Oakland and the Bay Area who want to get involved and have suggestions for specific uses of the space that are in accordance with Occupy Oakland principles.
City Prepared for Occupy Oakland Protest Saturday City Leaders Call on Community to Get Involved in Productive Programs to Address Social Needs; OPD Prepared to Deter Unlawful Activity
Oakland, CA — Occupy Oakland protesters have announced their intent to occupy a large, vacant building in an undisclosed location in downtown Oakland tomorrow, without the permission of the owner. At their General Assembly meetings and through other communications, they have acknowledged that this activity is illegal.
The City of Oakland welcomes peaceful forms of assembly and free speech; however, social media sites within this past month have continually announced that individuals or groups plan to target police personnel, police vehicles, property, and media vehicles or equipment on an ongoing basis.
The Oakland Police Department is aware of this threat and prepared to deter criminal activity or respond to illegal actions, including vandalism, arson, acts of violence, trespassing, and interference with officers performing their duties. Such activities disrupt otherwise peaceful and lawful gatherings and will not be tolerated.
Over the past few weeks, organizers have held marches in downtown Oakland which were billed as anti-police initiatives. During this period, about 15 arrests were made, with approximately 60% of those arrested residing outside the region or the state. Since the first encampment was removed on October 25, 2011, approximately 300 people have been arrested. The Police Department has been successful in obtaining restraining orders against individuals who repeatedly commit crimes, and are working with the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and Oakland City Attorney’s Office to explore felony and enhanced charges for people who criminally plan and/or work in concert to break the law.
“The residents of Oakland are wearying of the constant focus and cost to our city,” said Mayor Jean Quan.
At a news conference Wednesday announcing their plans, protesters presented a letter to City officials threatening to shut down the Port, blockade the Airport indefinitely, occupy City Hall indefinitely, or call on Anonymous (anarchic cyber “hacktivists”), if the City makes attempts to evict them from the vacant building or deter their actions.
“The City of Oakland will not be bullied by threats of violence or illegal activity,” said City Administrator Deanna Santana. “This community has a rich history of community engagement and progressive activism to address the very complex issues that the protesters claim to stand for—poverty, the housing crisis, homeless, social justice, literacy, education, and economic inequality—none of which can be addressed through violence, threats, or intimidation.”
She continued, “If we are to achieve economic equality, concentrate on the disparities that lead to cycles of poverty, and stop the violence that plagues our neighborhoods, we must work together, collectively, productively, and cooperatively.”
“Breaking into buildings, assaulting police officers, provoking confrontations, and vandalizing property are tactics that are counter-productive and divide our community. They drain scarce City resources away from the neighborhoods in greatest need. Oakland deserves better,” she said.
The City of Oakland calls on the community of Oakland to get involved with any one of the hundreds of organizations dedicated to feeding the hungry, fighting for fair and accessible housing, enhancing literacy, serving children, or improving the livability of our community. To help, the City has provided a list of organizations already making a difference in our community.
“The Oakland Police Department will protect the safety of all residents,” said Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan. “However, we must remind you that we will not tolerate illegal behavior under any circumstances. Those who choose to carry out unlawful actions will be arrested.”
Ways You Can Help
This is a critical time of ever-shrinking resources and programs in our City when Oakland residents need these services the most. Oakland has a long history of supporting a wide variety of productive programs designed to help make the societal changes we all want to see in this great City. Choose one, and let’s work together to make a positive change for everyone.
Homeless Prevention and Support
Homeless Housing/Service Providers–The City funds 15 different local organizations that provide shelter, transitional housing, homeless prevention, rental assistance, legal services, mental health services and services for seniors, victims of domestic violence, youth and people with AIDS. For details, call Susan Shelton at email@example.com or call (510) 238-6186.
Foreclosure Prevention and Affordable Housing
Foreclosure Prevention–The City has been working with local community groups to develop a new foreclosure prevention loan fund that will help Oakland residents stay in their homes. The City’s new blighted foreclosed properties program holds banks accountable for cleaning up blighted properties they own. The City partners with the Urban Strategies Council in maintaining the Oakland Land Trust. The City invested funds to develop Oakland Community Land Trust, which purchases foreclosed and other vacant properties and rehabilitates them for low-income home ownership.
Affordable Housing—Oakland has a long history of working to provide a wide range of housing options to keep our city as economically diverse as possible. Most recently, the City created Oakland Green-for-all Model, using Federal stimulus dollars to retrofit homes owned by low-income residents for energy efficiency and creating a jobs pipeline for workers to implement the program. Call (510)238-6225 or email Lin Chin firstname.lastname@example.org
East Bay Housing Organizations—EBHO is a 27-year-old membership nonprofit organization dedicated to working with communities in Alameda and Contra Costa counties preserve, protect and expand affordable housing opportunities through education, advocacy, and coalition building. You can participate by donating, becoming a member and serving on one of their committees. www.ebho.org or call (510) 663-3830.
Oakland Community Organizations—OCO is a federation of congregations, schools, and allied community organizations, representing over 40,000 families in Oakland. Their current issues are:
Immigration Reform and Pathways to Citizenship
Health Care Access
Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization
www.oaklandcommunity.org or call (510) 639-1444.
CausaJusta:Just Cause– a multi-racial, grassroots organization building community leadership to achieve justice for low-income San Francisco and Oakland residents. With offices in East and West Oakland and in San Francisco’s Mission District, CJJC is a force for justice and unity among Black and Brown communities. CJJC has a wide variety of volunteer opportunities, from administrative to grassroots fund raising and community organization. www.cjjc.org or call Raven at (510) 763-5877 ext. 302.
Helping Schools and Youth
Oakland Literacy Coalition—represents 41 nonprofits working in Oakland schools to help pre-schoolers through elementary aged students improve their reading and writing skills. www.oaklandliteracycoalition.org/
Mayor’s Mentoring Initiative—By promoting the need for mentors, close to 1000 adults have signed up with one of the 46 organizations that offer opportunities for volunteering or mentoring Oakland youth. www2.oaklandnet.com/Government/o/Mayor/
Volunteering in the Oakland Public Schools—At a time when local and state education funding is in peril and public schools face severe budget reductions volunteers are needed more than ever. Volunteer opportunities within OUSD’s schools provide flexible ways for volunteers to commit as much time as they have available — from one to two hours to www.ousd.k12.ca.us/19941082618751677/
Helping Reduce Blight and Enhance Beautification
Oakland Parks Coalition––recruits and supports Park Stewards who help maintain Oakland’s 120 parks. They also sponsor an annual clean-up project as well as the annual Love Your Parks Day survey. www.oaklandparkscoalition.org
Keep Oakland Beautiful and City Beautification Programs—sponsors local participation in the annual Keep America Beautiful Great American Cleanup, and promotes involvement with Earth Day, community clean ups, and the City’s Adopt-A- Spot and Maintain-A-Drain programs. This year Oakland residents donated more than 30,000 volunteer hours to Oakland clean-up programs. The City publishes a monthly calendar of volunteer opportunities, available on the city website at http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Government/o/PW A/o/FE/s/VO/OAK030034.
Sustainable Gardening and Community Engagement
City Slicker Farms—Since 2001, City Slicker Farms has been partnering with the West Oakland community to grow and distribute thousands of pounds of its own fresh produce. They offer a variety of administrative and urban agriculture opportunities for people of all skill levels. www.cityslickerfarms.org or call (510)763-4241.
Acta Non Verba, Youth Urban Farm Project—Their goal is to combat the growing disadvantage of young people of color not completing high school and attending a post secondary school by empowering them to achieve their goals through urban farming. They host a garden at Tassafaronga Recreation Center in East Oakland. Volunteer gardeners are always welcome.www.anyfarm.org or call (510) 972-3276.
Oakland Landscape Committee—Works with parents, teachers, local volunteer groups and the Youth Probation Training Academy Builds to create and maintain community and school gardens in Oakland. www.oaklandlanscapecommittee.org or call (510) 843-3828.
Urban Releaf—Since 1998, Urban Releaf has planted more than 12,000 trees in neighborhoods of Oakland and Richmond that have little greenery. Located in West Oakland, their program concentrates on working with at-risk youth organizations to promote and sustain community beautification projects. Volunteers are always needed. www.urbanreleaf.org or call (510) 601-9062.
Oakland Food Policy Council—a 21-seat council whose food policy work is about changing the “rules of the game” so that our food system will deliver healthy food, a healthy environment, a healthy economy, and healthy choices for ALL residents of Oakland. We are working to ensue that access to healthy, affordable food is a right and a reality for every Oakland resident. http://www.oaklandfood.org/home or call 510- 654-4400 x233.
Phat Beets Produce—Aims to create a healthier, more equitable food system in North Oakland through providing affordable access to fresh produce, facilitating youth leadership in health and nutrition education, and connecting small farmers to urban communities via the creation of farm stands, farmers’ markets, and urban youth market gardens. http://www.phatbeetsproduce.org/
Edible Demonstration Garden at the Gardens at Lake Merritt—The Green Heart of Oakland for Fifty Years. A seven-acre collection of themed gardens. The Gardens at Lake Merritt is located in the heart of Oakland at Lakeside Park. http://gardensatlakemerritt.org/
Community Gardening Programs: The City has 9 community garden plots available to the public for $30 per year. The City also partners with 4 nonprofit-run gardens. For details, contact Peter Collier at (510) 238-2197 or email@example.com.
Click to DONATE to Ken’s legal defense / bail fund
Ken’s Bail cost $2,000 (non-fundable) on $25,000 bail. This amount was charged to a credit card. Enough donations have come in to cover the amount. Any additional monies raised will go to Ken’s legal expenses, which are likely to be quite high. Ken has been released from the Riverside County Jail. He has a lawyer. He and his family greatly appreciate your support.
Occupy Everything editor and UC Riverside lecturer Ken Ehrlich was arrested for felony “assault with a deadly weapon” and is being held on $25,000 bail. The Press-Enterprise reports “Two protestors, identified as Kenneth Ehrlich, 39, of Los Angeles, and Humberto Rivera, 25, of Corona, were booked for felony assault on a police officer — one for hitting an officer with a handheld sign, another for hitting an officer with a metal barricade.” Witnesses say Ken was holding “a shield in the shape of a book (a la book bloc)” at the time of his arrest. Ken’s been released on bail and awaits trail.
Yesterday, during the Regents meeting held on UC Riverside campus, Regents Meeting police attacked student protestors with chemical weapons and projectiles.
The cease-fire against California students appears to be over.
Via Daily Kos
“Students from UC Riverside, protesting today’s Board of Regents meeting, were confronted by riot police, with multiple reports indicating they were fired upon with paint-filled bullets and other projectiles that injured several at the scene.
The students, many of whom are associated with Occupy UC Riverside, today protested and (ultimately) shut down a Board of Regents meeting where tuition hikes were planned to be discussed.
The meeting was adjourned when students who managed to get inside refused to be silent in the face of skyrocketing tuition costs. After the meeting was closed, the board members were escorted off of campus amidst what were, for most of the day, incredibly peaceful and nonviolent protests.
Here is a report from ABC’s local affiliate on what transpired before police began attacking protesters:
While things remained peaceful in the early afternoon, after the board members were escorted from campus, students amassed to continue their protest and were confronted by riot police – reportedly a mix of campus police and officers from the municipality – who forced them to disperse using fired projectiles that injured several protesters.”
As you know, dear reader, in the Autumn of 2011, objective economic conditions mobilized many people living in the United States. From the perspective of someone isolated in Ohio who, despite Endnotes, still cares about communization and anarchism, the developments in New York City couldn’t have gotten off to a falser start. What happened last year in NYC was not a start at all: the current historical series of international occupations began in 2008 and 2009 at the New School and on UC campuses. The campout at Zucotti Park largely co-opted these events for the sake of a “mass movement.”
Occupy Wall Street began on September 17, but people didn’t actually occupy Wall Street. They gathered in New York City’s privately held Zuccotti Park. The campers had been called-forth by a Vancouver-based liberal consumer activist group known as Adbusters™. Although some have mistaken Abusters™ for an anti-capitalist organization, prior to OWS, they were safely ensconced in the capitalist marketplace of ideas and goods, having done nothing but create an “environmentalist” “alternative” business. Posing as neo-Situationists, they ran various campaigns of “subvertisments” which subverted nothing, as if what used to be called detournment has the same effect today as it did 5 decades ago when capitalism was still expanding.
Adbusters™ instigated gentle flash mobs and “Google™ bombing,” confining their activities to the level of ideas and avoiding militancy at all costs. Their material interventions consisted of selling. Adbusters’™ goods included a glossy magazine available at bourgeois gourmet co-ops, and Blackspot™ shoes made of recycled vegan materials by slightly-less-exploited workers in Portugal. They might as well have had an ownership position in the Anti-Mall in Irvine California. None of these practices conflicted with Abusters’™ moronic ideology, which centers on the claim that we all have “authentic selves” that need to be rescued through heroic acts such as avoiding video games and spending some time away from the Internet.
In 2009, an editor at at Adbuster’s magazine, Micah White, attended one of the first occupations in the current historical series, at UC Berkeley ‘s Wheeler Hall. Despite the fact that those occupiers were motivated by a desire for communization brought on by deteriorating material conditions at the university, White decided that the action was about building “a mental environment movement [sic] capable of smashing corporations, downsizing consumer spending and building egalitarian communities” along with other such idealist nonsense. White and the rest of the Adbusters™ crew went on to co-opt the form of occupation for their own program to capture emerging revolutionary energies for a citizen’s movement made up of people already represented in the cesspool of citizenship. Needless to say, they left behind the historical content of the first occupations.
Although Adbusters™ and their associates have pretended to be revolutionaries,
they organized a reform movement aimed at getting corporate money out of politics. That sole initial demand was enough to unmask Adbusters’™ anti-capitalist front as well as any pretense they had of understanding how capitalism works. To make matters worse, anthropologist and lifestyle-anarchist David Graeber helped them plan the September event. He added to the mix a simplistic understanding of horizontality, a love for counter-revolutionary general assemblies, the myth that the people of Tahrir Square were non-violent, and a total failure to realize that the Spanish acampadas had been utterly useless.
99% + 1% = 100%
On September 8, 2011 posts started to appear on a tumblr™ called We Are the 99 Percentset up by a new york activist seemingly known only as “Chris” and Priscilla Grim, development and marketing director for the New Media Collective. Objective conditions allowed the symbol-managers’ eponymous slogan to go viral. The posts on We Are The 99 Percent mainly feature photographs of people holding up signs bearing the rather long, touching stories of their financial misfortunes. In general, the narratives go a little something like this: “I played by all the rules, tried to be a good citizen, ended up with massive debts anyways and had to suffer consequences.” Grim and “Chris” clearly intended the phrase and the blog to offer a point of political identification in order to grow a mass movement.
Unfortunately, mass movements function as apparatuses of capture. Despite the many entries on the blog, few, if any, posts articulated a systemic critique of capitalism. The founders of the tumblr™ did nothing to encourage such a critique. #Anyone can understand that they did not do so because such critiques would be against their interests. Grim’s job depends on the continuation of capitalism. Such critiques, too radical for quick consumption by a truly mass public, would limit the viral contagion of We Are The 99 Percent.
The United States, protector of market democracy, was the 99%’s homeland. Grim and “Chris” seem to have derived the figure from data distributed in popular venues by players such as former World Bank Senior Vice President Joseph E. Stiglitz. Though such articles make international references, they define the top 1%, and the other 99% in terms of the US economy. The rhetoric of articles such as Stiglitz’s address the zombie citizen-worker. The labor of that zombie establishes her national civic belonging complete with rights and responsibilities. It excludes those unwilling to submit to labor or law. Sets defined by percentages of Amerikans, such as the ones drawn by Stiglitz, limit social conflict to one between people in, and largely from, the United States. They exclude those within the US who can’t, or won’t, enter representation’s hall of mirrors. Despite their claim that they want to make themselves visible, the 99% already get represented. They want to represent themselves in a new way, aspiring to become managers of capital for 100% of citizens. Steiglitz’s article typifies the economic thinking from which the 99% emerges, a reformist Keynesian scenario within which the supposed revolutionaries desire a better distribution of capital, not its end. #Anyone who has thought about revolution for more than a day can see that Keynesian regulation constitutes part of the boom and bust cycle of contemporary capitalism.
Many of those who gathered at Zuccotti Park in September identified with the 99%. The tumblr™ title became the campers’ more or less official slogan. The national data that provided the basis for the 99% figure spoke to their barely repressed love of country. The campers patriotically renamed Zuccotti Liberty Park. Instead of challenging the dominance of capital, much of the discussion there turned to rescuing the Amkerikan dream, a rhetoric that latched onto various pre-existent slogans among electoral politicians. From the beginning, the campers dragged the tradition of politics as we know it along with them. The 99% was on a brief vacation from voting, but were destined to become a voting bloq once again.
One ought not to feel surprise that the 99% call only for a reform of capitalism and not for an end to capital. They exist in a not-so-secret complicity with the 1% that they pretend to revile. Together, the 1% and the 99% constitute 100% of those assimilated within social representation. The material interests of the 99% force the group to support the democratic process. Electoral democracy is a phenomenon indistinguishable from capitalism, while direct democracy and economic democracy are nonsensical terms. The 1% and the 99% make up “society” as a whole and they need each other.
As Herbert Marcuse pointed out a long time ago, only forces from outside a given whole can negate it.
“The outside about which I have spoken is not to be understood mechanistically in the spatial sense but, on the contrary, as the qualitative difference which overcomes the existing antitheses inside the antagonistic partial whole […] and which is not reducible to these antitheses. […] [T]he force of negation is concentrated in no one class. Politically and morally, rationally and instinctively, it is a chaotic, anarchistic opposition: the refusal to join and play a part, the disgust at all prosperity, the compulsion to resist. It is a feeble, unorganized opposition which nonetheless rests on motives and purposes which stand in irreconcilable contradiction to the existing whole.” [Herbert Marcuse, “The Concept of Negation in the Dialectic:’ Telos (Summer, 1 971): 130-132. Cited in Tiqqun. This Is Not A Program. Joshua David Jordan, Trans. Semiotext. LA 2011.]
In the contemporary United States, the 1% and the 99% make up Marcuse’s “antagonistic partial whole.” Nonetheless, the 99% has revolutionary pretenses despite being lodged firmly within the empire of capital like Leopold Bloom in Dublin. Even once and future Obama voters enjoy saying the word “revolution.” When they do, it loses all meaning.
The 99%, acts as the loyal opposition within the capitalist society. It cannot even formulate a critique of the system let alone start a revolution. Incapable of understanding itself as a diverse collection of relations, it mistakes itself for a group of individuals bound together by a desire for reform. The least radical common denominator unites the 99%. Such a low level of consciousness is an immutable feature of mass movements within the contemporary biopolitical fabric, one perhaps more pronounced in mass movements inspired by marketing professionals with day jobs that rely on the demographic logic at the heart of biopoltical governance.
Obviously, the 99% has a purely demographic form. When those who call themselves the 99% occupy a space, they do so in order to establish a provisional territory within which they can be counted. To a certain extent, elements outside the 99% have been able to instantiate other forms of life inside the provisional territories, but the 99% has so far prevented the new forms from shifting the biopolitical terrain surrounding them. The 99% can’t make war on capital’s form of life because they are part of the numerical regulation of life indissociable from democratic capitalism. They forget that they have been counted from the time of their birth and have occupied a territory since the genocide that took place in the Americas. No co-optation necessary: the 99% can’t prevent themselves from becoming a voting bloq. Starting with its name, the 99% assumes that something different will come from within the 100% and the economic relations that determine it.
#Anyone who bothers to look can find a fierce pride in being Amerikans – a pride that structures the 99%’s reformist citizen-consciousness. That pride finds its clearest expression in the 99%’s naturalized rules of membership. If the set included all of the people on earth, the 99% would become part of something close to 1% of the wealthiest individuals globally. In order to survive, they must pretend their poorly drawn Venn diagram refers to an actual state of affairs. The 99%’s new spirit of solidarity is, in fact, an old and vindictive one. It arises from the fact that their wealth comes from the exploitation of others. They conceal this from themselves by abstracting, homogenizing, and objectifying the concept of exploitation, as if it were milk in a supermarket. The 99%’s citizenship-drug produces the delirium of rights, among them the right to representation, while paralyzing the movements of 99% so severely that they can’t act in any way proscribed by the rules set up for them by capital. Incapable of seriously considering armed struggle or the seizure of indoor, unambiguously private property, they want to rebuild the Amerikan dream and voice their belief that it will “live again” and that “the Ameri[k]an way is to help one another succeed.” Sadly, Mayor Bloomberg was correct to assert that both the 99% and the 1% dream of a return to boom times — boom times based on the extraction of surplus value from someone, somewhere.
Only the magic of reification allows the 99% to understand their spirit of solidarity as a static thing that paradoxically grows while obeying strict but disavowed principles of inclusion and exclusion. The repression of the contradictions that define their membership allows this process of reification to succeed.
Neither every visitor nor every camper at Zuccotti Park was fully captured by the ideological apparatus called “the 99%.” A former student of Marcuse’s, Angela Davis, was one of the few celebrity speakers to openly discuss the striations structuring the campout and the 99% in general. She stressed the importance of a dialectic of differences, of struggle within the struggle. Davis spoke of developing the occupations’ revolutionary potential, but did not make the mistake of calling the current occupations revolutionary and thereby hollowing out that word even further.
Clearly, and perhaps less than fortunately, Davis wants to “meet people where they’re at,” so she uses the rhetoric of “the 99%,” but at least she seems to use the figure to name an element in a dialectical process that has an inside and an outside. She has been affiliated with a rather pathetic electoral politics, running for national office as a Revolutionary Communist Party member and continues to engage with Obama and his cronies. Nonetheless, she has consistently invoked those excluded from a society that pretends to be universal. In fact, she is one of the excluded. At the end of the Q & A that followed her talk in Zuccotti, she recommended that the campers identify with Troy Davis and “learn to become a dangerous class” from the prisoners who rose up at Attica in 1971.
The incarcerated and those on death row exemplify the outside described by Marcuse. In the simplest sense, society confines felons and denies them representation through voting along with other aspects of citizenship. Locked up felons don’t teach us to how to expand the 100% so that it includes them, nor do they teach us how the 99% can overcome and absorb the 1%. They teach us to destroy — to negate all extant social relations.
Naturally, Davis’s suggestions were immediately shot down by low-octane racist wannabe managers of semi-socialized capital. These Galbraithio-Keynesian’s wearing Leninist clothing felt the 99% should associate themselves with those who have power. Her attempts to change what “growing a movement” means and the reactions to them shine a light on the self-contradictory nature of the 99%.
The new spirit of solidarity reveals itself as nothing but the current face of the diffuse spectacle, social relations mediated by images which substitute death for life. The 99% clarified this when, in Washing DC, they arranged their bodies into a mass ornament, writing out 99% in a collective pose meant for aerial photography. They behave as if the spectacle were determined by the production alternative images and narratives, rather than by sets of economic relations. Predictably, their tactics and goals reflect the assumption that groups of individuals rather than sets of relations determine economies. In short they live as if trapped in a reflection on the surface of death’s mirror.
Given the renewed veneration of the first full picture of the earth taken from the moon in certain European philosophy seminars, one might think that the empire of capital has universalized death’s mirror and no one escapes potential representation as a citizen and capitalist subject. We are all reflected through a glass eccentrically, but we make a mistake when we think we have no choice but to aspire to become symbol-managers who must organize “messaging” capable of invoking a multitude desiring the socialization of capital. When we willingly accept the specular sensorium of capital’s biopolitical metaphors, we collaborate with the forces that turn us into our own bosses. Due to a parallax effect determined by class composition and the division of labor, the spectacle only reflects a part of the social whole properly, showing them to themselves as silent individuals. Some of us see on death’s mirror only distorted images of our relations. We remember that we have ears and mouths as well as eyes. Not every acoustic phenomenon communicates. As Empire’s LRAD teaches us, vibrations involve physical force.
We can make noise loud enough to break mirrors too.
Those who have no right to representation and those who refuse the stasis of rights and representation, the non-citizens without any desire to become citizens, don’t form a set. Their noise is the very possibility of the outside Marcuse wrote about. When we move as 0%, we refuse to join and play a part, we sing disgust at all prosperity and articulate our compulsion to resist with the tinkling of shattered glass. We seek to take the cities, not because we have a right to them, but because they must become communes. Position, not solidified specular identity, defines and delimits our “we.” #Anyone who moves away from capital’s empire toward the outside, #anyone who resists becomes us.
0% movements produce chaos in capital and empire. Their force increases along lines of affiance and separation based on concrete relations with others. Affiance and separation are anything but the growth associated with the 99%’s demographic counting. The constitutive disorganization and anarchistic fragmentation of 0% resistance has taught those involved that being too small to fail sometimes releases more power than being too big to fail. The lone warrior, the cell, the gang, the alliance that can shut down all the ports along a coast, the commune capable of occupying a whole city, collective sabotage, mass default: all of these 0% movements gain effectiveness from internal and external friendships and conflicts.
Although 0% movements vibrate across the globe, the region around San Francisco Bay resonates turbulently at the moment — Oakland in particular. The forces of the outside have emerged so strongly in Oakland and vicinity because of its concrete history of struggle with capital’s watchdogs. Police departments in the Bay Area have a long history of murdering unarmed men of color.
The killing of Oscar Grant on the night of December 31st 2008 to January 1, 2009 is the best known of series of deaths at the hands of police.
Those killings led to 0% actions among diverse groups whose internal conflicts and separations worked on each other to intensify the local rage. Because of these actions and the radical character of the UC occupations of 2009,
by the time OWS spread to Oakland, the anarchic forces of the outside could operate it much more effective than they could in New York City. The Oakland Communetook a plaza in front of City Hall and renamed it after Oscar Grant. Clearly, the communards do not intend to set up a co-operative alternative space, or a temporary autonomous zone. They intend to keep fighting until they turn the city itself into a commune that can serve as a base for the intensification of struggle around the world.
Though the city was eventually able to evict them, their action showed the importance of collectively taking private, indoor property as a base of operations. By exposing the willingness of the State Repressive Apparatus to act violently in defense of private property, the communards demonstrated the real stakes in our struggle. The fight against capital is a fight against the system of private property, understood as a set of social relations. The bank isn’t a quasi-public space such as Zuccotti Park. Taking it involved attempted expropriation. Unlike foreclosure occupations, the plans for a community center at the bank did not include outside activists going to a more oppressed community and doing radical charity work. The bank was taken from capital by a collective of diverse forces for the benefit of all. If we are to occupy places within which to care for one another, within which to develop our positive capacities, within which to plan, we have no choice but to defend ourselves against the intensified conflict that the state and capital will bring to us. Lessons learned in the Wells Fargo occupation have already been applied to a coming building occupation in Oakland.
Conflict also intensified on UC campuses.
The willingness of students and faculty to stand down campus police showed an ability to struggle at an increased intensity, as if, upon returning to the locations of the beginnings of this historical series, occupations had become sublated during their global travels and expressed themselves at a higher level upon their return. Communards among the activists were able to use this incident to start working on eliminating the UC administration and ending campus police forces.
The power of the communards to resonate was never clearer than during the shutdown of every port on the West Coast.
100% – 0%
Those who will not be counted do not struggle against the individuals in the 1% or against their actions; 0% struggles resist the system that produces the 100%.
The fractures created by 0% vibrations begin with positive capacities and will end in in the negation of the totality of capitalism’s economic relations.
0% movement merges lines of affiance and separation in a dialectic open to all, synthesizing the violence of capital with that of necessary resistance.
#Anybody can move through 0% positions, whether through direct action, support, care or the intensification of positive capacities.
0% noise does not sing a spirit of solidarity, it sings a circulation of bodies.
As objective economic conditions continue to deteriorate and the resistance’s diversity of tactics comes increasingly to include armed struggle imposed on it by the 100%, a dialectic of separation will redeem our vulnerability and aging.
To move through o% positions, get in where you fit in.