September 19, 2013

Note on What Happened to Occupy

Filed under: American Revolution, Civil Disobedience, Freedom — Tags: — Russ @ 6:28 am


This analysis is similar to my own. Occupy started with a wonderful action and commitment to direct democracy, but proved to be unable to develop its own movement coherence. There turned out to be no agreement on end goals, let alone operational goals, and little on strategy or tactics. In the absence of a developing movement culture, Occupy reified (Campbell’s appropriate term) the physical occupation itself, and turned the “consensus” process, which can never be anything more than a tool toward a goal, into a fetish and the goal in itself.
While the movement was right to refuse to make “demands” on governments and corporations, and was stellar in rejecting Democrat Party attempts to hijack it, it didn’t recognize that a movement must still make demands upon itself. It must still formulate its goals and impose them upon itself. Otherwise it remains incoherent, as in the end Occupy did.


November 7, 2012

Can There Be A January 1905?


A core trait of liberals and reformists is to genuflect before power, always looking and begging upward for Better Policy to trickle down from Better Elites. Liberals are basically elitists with some vague hopes for more “progressive” practices on the part of the power structure. They basically dream of benevolent despotism, and fantasize that this benevolence exists in intent, somewhere up there. This benevolence is somehow, mysteriously, prevented from realizing itself. The already classical example is the fundamentalist cult of Obama’s Good Intentions which he mysteriously cannot act upon.
Since a cult can’t get by on mystery alone and needs a more tangible explanation, the mystery is sometimes explained in terms of how those nasty Republicans thwart Obama. Of course this doesn’t explain why Obama couldn’t do what he wanted for two years of a veritable one-party dictatorship, when the Dems held both houses of Congress. Nor does it explain how the benevolence has been unable to trickle down through the executive branch bureaucracies, over which the president has vast unilateral power. But then, in the end, it’s all still a mystery.
I used the “progressive” cult of Obama as a prime example, but we see the same phenomenon everywhere hierarchies and middle classes exist. Middle class liberals and reformists look upward and dream of Better Elites, like cargo cultists worshipping an airplane high overhead.
This is an example of how the petty bourgeois mindset is simply an adaptation of the original peasant mindset, just as the modern professionalized and suburbanized petty bourgeoisie is a temporary offshoot of the peasantry. The basic mindset remains the same, and today’s technocratic worship, “if only Obama knew…”, is the same notion as the that of the Russian peasant who sighed, “if only the tsar knew…if only those nasty ministers and officials wouldn’t keep thwarting his benevolent will.”
On Bloody Sunday, January 1905, the tsar’s troops fired on a peaceful procession coming to the Winter Palace to present a reverent petition, killing and wounding as many as a thousand people. This instantly broke the spell. It was a mortal blow to the cult of the tsar’s benevolence. Never again would it be taken for granted among any significant portion of the Russian people that the tsar was an essentially well-meaning would-be benefactor who was being misinformed and disobeyed by subordinates. While this change of basic mindset didn’t permanently turn the Russian people into revolutionaries, and the 1905 revolution ended up fizzling out, it was still a permanent change, and a significant milestone on the road to 1917.
I wonder now, when we strive for a change in the basic mindset toward corporatism, let alone for a real movement to abolish it, is there any possible event which could strike off the blinders once and for all? We saw the way open police brutality temporarily boosted support for Occupy, but also the way this increased support was more of a mood than a basic shift in the state of mind. Conversely, we see how a historically unprecedented wave of Monsanto-driven farmer suicides in India, upwards of 300,000 by now, for all intents and purposes a mass murder campaign, means very little to Western liberals. So we cannot rely on moral sense to demonstrate to any significant number of middle class Westerners the difference between good and evil. If anything’s to do it, it will be something visceral and horrific, right before their eyes.
But by now, can any action, any crime, rise to the level of clarity for such willfully blind masses? Is a sea change in mindset still possible for masses still living within the intact corporate civilization? Or has corporate Gleichschaltung, “coordination” and indoctrination, reached such a terminal point that nothing large-scale will happen until the system starts collapsing of its own diseased weight?


September 17, 2012

Occupy Anniversary


I stand by my assessment that so far Occupy has not been a movement, but rather a set of tactics. As they’ve existed, Occupations could lead by moral and physical example in defying the enclosure of space and redeeming this space for humanity, obstruct specific corporate assaults, obstruct corporatist action in general, force a movement’s existence on the mainstream consciousness, provide an opportunity to publicly articulate a movement philosophy (but not with actual “demands” on the system), force the system to either back down and admit weakness or more openly display its might-makes-right nature and lack of legitimacy.
This set of tactics and instrumental principles could become part of a movement, but it’s not the movement itself. A movement needs a coherent philosophy, goal, and constituency. So far Occupy has lacked these, but has rather professed a vague suite of principles ranging from real rejection of the corporate system to standard “progressive” reformism. It hasn’t articulated an affirmative philosophy, goal, and strategy, nor is it clear for whom it’s taking action.
In the first place all this has to arise indigenously, locally. The constituency and goal will vary from place to place. This intuitive realization in the minds of most participants has served them well in rejecting attempted Democrat Party and NGO hijackings. But in the long run there has to be a comprehensive, organic movement philosophy. Given the facts of energy, ecology, and the proven practical failure and moral malevolence of corporatism, this philosophy can only be total anti-corporatism in its negative aspect, relocalization and positive democracy founded on Food Freedom in its affirmative. Another term for this affirmative is Food Sovereignty.


September 4, 2012

Occupy and Occupation


It lately occurred to me (correct me if lots of commenters have already had this idea, but I haven’t seen it) that there’s a nice symmetry between the Occupy terminology and the use of occupation as a term for “job”, what one does.
Since we need to transcend and abolish the whole malign employment model, we have use for a term which can replace “job” (too laden with cash-seeking implications), connoting the entire scope of the human economy, the whole world of our natural, rightful work, and also adding how we must take back our work from those who stole and enclosed it, in the same way we must take back physical space. Occupy has become the seminal term for this physical campaign. So we could revalue and insist upon occupation as the plan to take back our work, the actions of doing so, and the sum of whatever meaningful work we now do, whether monetarily “paid” or not.
We must Occupy our Work, we must Occupy our Occupations. This is a core democracy value and practice, living and working one’s ideal, at the same time that one’s work seeks to fully attain this ideal in every realm including the political.

May 17, 2012

There Is An Alternative

Filed under: American Revolution — Tags: — Russ @ 6:00 am


That by itself would make a good slogan for a march banner, and for a movement.

March 30, 2012

What Is Organic? (2 of 2)


Earlier I wrote about how the term and concept organic applies to a network of relations and vectors, a holism, rather than to a discrete, stagnant item which can be removed from or plugged into any context at will.
In part 1 I focused on the use of the concept to describe food production and distribution. I emphasized that organic has to mean maximizing sustainability, resiliency, interdependency rather than dependency. This implies, even if it doesn’t directly demand, social and economic justice, since any extractive hierarchy reduces our sustainability. By definition any parasite reduces this. It definitely means minimizing dependency on fossil fuels as such (and not just fossil fuels in the direct farming inputs), which means that globalization and the organic are mutually exclusive. It excludes any significant environmental destructiveness (this too means it must minimize fossil fuels in general). 
I’ll add here that organic has to mean the abolition and transcendence of the artificial producer/consumer dichotomy. Even within the food sovereignty movement this dichotomy is often insensibly taken for granted. But in truth these concepts can never be separated. One way or another they meld and define one another. Any producer also consumes, and if she’s induced or forced to separate her production from her consumption, that actually removes her producer quality and renders her a system cog, a passive and dependent consumer only. Passive consumption in general is meant to render us stagnant, and this in turn makes possible the calcification of the entire economy and polity, under corporate control. The goal of all consumerism is to eradicate all that’s organic and human and replace it with sterile conformity to tyranny.
By contrast, where we stop being passive consumers and become full economic citizens, as much as possible democratically producing our own food, and at least being fully active in knowing our food and those who produce it, we regain control over our lives and render ourselves far more resilient and sustainable, and far less vulnerable to any threat. (I’ll add that this can help reclaim our political democracy.) The producer who is organically enmeshed in such a sovereign food network is himself more resilient and less vulnerable, since he’s now part of a natural network rather than being a fungible, replaceable, expendable cog. (I’ll add in passing for now that this applies to dependency on all system concepts – the corporate form, property, legality, contracts, anything which is fraudulently purported to be part of nature but is actually a tool and weapon of an artificial, hierarchical system based on Might Makes Right.) 
This leads to another general point, that the organic is mutually exclusive with corporatism. Corporatism, even leaving aside the subjective greed and malevolence of its cadres (although this too is dire), necessarily means the maintenance of large parasitic hierarchies (the corporations themselves, the corporations as extensions of government, the government as bagman and thug for these corporations). It also necessarily means globalization, since profit extraction (the absolute imperative for any corporation) cannot function other than within an infinitely expanding growth economy. The only limit* to this is the limits of the globe itself, so corporatism must if possible expand to completely fill out this limit.
[*Soon I’ll be writing about how GMOs, as an imperialist phenomenon, are intended to as it were generate a second globe for the corporate rampage.]
This leads us to a broader vision of the organic. I’ll just mention a few examples.
1. Time banking has to be seeking the holism of a system free of money. Time banks must be envisioned as seeds of a thriving forest, not as potted flowers to be put out in the harsh cold of the command money economy.
So organic time banking and organic co-production, since it can’t sit still amid this harsh environment, must be on a vector away from and against it. For example, anywhere there’s a time bank and an Occupy action, these must seek to complement one another. If there’s no local/regional Occupy, the time bank should try to help get one going.
2. I’ve written before about how the commons is an organic thing which depends upon its environment, and the basic intellectual fraud of plunking the concept in the midst of a predatory, mercenary world, as in the Big Lie of the “tragedy of the commons”.
Just as it proves nothing about the inherent sustainability of a commons where an artificially dominant corporatism assaults and destroys it, so anyone who wants to uphold and reclaim the commons must necessarily fight to eradicate corporatism, as the two are mutually exclusive. One or the other must perish completely.
3. In the modern world, the individual is ripped out of all context, atomized, dissolved within a mass, but is still called a “citizen”. He’s even lectured by the system about his “free will” and moral agency. But in truth an organic citizen must be a full political and economic participant, fully active and self-directing within the network of community relations and vectors, enjoying the full benefit of her labor and her political sovereignty. 
David Graeber wrote extensively about this in his book Debt. This is part of how money systems were first imposed on what were previously organic economies. As I wrote here:

First, and for the vast majority of humanity’s natural history, organic communities based themselves upon close social networks, moral relations, and the sense of community obligation, including in transactions among individual community members.

Then, nascent elites, previously basing their power on direct violence and plunder, saw how they could accelerate class stratification and magnify their power by sublimating this violence by formalizing exchange and debt. To do this, they came up with money, and began measuring transactions and recording debts based upon it.

Similarly, Hobbes took the modern “civilized” individual, i.e. one domesticated into fear and mercenary greed, pictured this monster in the absence of the overawing state power, how “nasty and brutish” such persons would be under those circumstances, and then fraudulently called this the state of nature, when in fact such an atomized, distorted hominid has nothing whatsoever in common with an organic human being living within a natural economy. This fraud is at the core of the bogus “competition” ideology, which is in fact 100% artificial, and indeed requires massive propaganda, bribery, threats, fear, and violence, in order for it to make any headway against our natural humanity at all. In nature, organic human beings are cooperative.
(This is another reason the organic is mutually exclusive with corporatism, capitalism, all fetishes of competition.) 
4. Voting within electoralism, even if you admire it, could make sense only within the holism of an active, self-educating, fully informed, participatory, vigilant citizenry. This was a core principle of the first stage of the American Revolution.
But to render the individual passive, ignorant, benighted (including by systematic top-down secrecy on the part of government and corporations), “participating” only on election day, and otherwise conformist and asleep, is to render him the political equivalent of a passive consumer. The voting ideology and consumerism go hand in hand. They are identical in concept, intention, and effect.
This lays bare the fraud of calling the members of neoliberal systems “citizens”. The term organic citizen would be redundant, while to call the atomized, passive individual a “citizen” because he technically has and sometimes exercises the franchise, is a typical lie of liberals and conservatives. This is one of the many ways they join to conspire against democracy and humanity, and on behalf of corporatism.
5. There’s lots of policy ideas like MMT, the VAT, renewable energy subsidies, cap and trade, which could in theory be constructive within a holistic reform environment, if such a thing were still possible. As parts of a vast and vigorous reform front these could be good ideas.
But for any of these, you can’t wrench it out of all context, synthesize a version to be enacted within a corporatized environment, and expect it to be anything but another extractive scam in practice. (During the “debate” over the health racket bailout, professional liars like Krugman liked to compare Obamacare to structures in Switzerland and the Netherlands. As if there can be any comparison between structures which gradually developed in welfare state environments, and tossing the same thing into a gangland shooting gallery, which is what Obama has done.)
This is true of most aspects of “progressive” prescriptions. They’re non-holistic, and therefore fruitless at best, more often fraudulent and collaborationist.
6. In the end, every kind of reformism is a version of the same mentality which would take apart a natural whole food, dismantle it into a few of its identifiable discrete nutrients, declare it to be the sum of these, and proceed to synthesize each, toward a regime of processed, enriched, fortified, synthetic “food”.
The result is corporate enclosure, malnutrition, obesity, toxification, disease, impoverishment, starvation, and death.
The same is true of the entire economic and political realm. It’s true of society itself. We need a truly organic polity, an organic economy, an organic society.

March 1, 2012

Notes on Strategy and Tactics (1 of 2)


We’ve long agonized over the right mix of loyalty to principle and what works in practice. Let me stress that in revolutionary times, which these are, as a rule the right practice is the right (radical) principle.
(When we say radical, we must always keep in mind that we mean radical only from the point of view of the status quo. Objectively, it’s today’s status quo which is radical, extreme, unnatural, inefficient and impractical from the point of view of helping people live more happily, anti-human. Positive democracy, rebuilding community, anti-corporatism and anti-statism, as radical as these are from the system point of view, in fact comprise a far more moderate, common sense, rational, practical way of life. This is “radical” only from the perspective of the Status Quo Lie, which seeks to turn reality upside down.)
Under today’s extreme conditions, where the criminals are becoming more and more aggressive, while their techniques of corruption and co-optation become more and more refined, the issue of principle and tactics becomes ever more fraught. It’s a difficult tightrope.
The Occupy movement has starkly presented the dilemma.. This is especially difficult because what it really means – shall it ultimately be transformational or merely reformist – is still up for grabs. It’s within this environment that we confront easy questions like supporting the Democratic Party (No), and relatively easy ones like alliances with unions and liberal NGOs (perhaps, but never surrender physical power or dictation of the agenda, always have a Plan B ready to go in the event of an attempted hijacking, and always make a truly democratic appeal to their rank and file), as well as difficult ones like how to maximize democracy within a functioning executive structure. (How democratic the OWS structure really is has been contested.)
Meanwhile we have the mournful spectacle of movement activists temporizing with the corporate system and even selling out completely. This example may be a good opportunity for me to suggest a basic ethical rule. While this system forces us into innumerable distasteful “compromises” (since we’re forced they’re not really compromises, but coerced actions), no one’s ever entitled to become an active criminal. We may be forced to shop at Walmart, we may even have to take a normal “job” working for it, but no one’s entitled to take the job of aggressively propagating its lies, as Allen has voluntarily done here. That’s the same thing as becoming a riot cop or private thug.
(This issue will come up for me personally if, as expected, we move our farmers’ market to the parking lot of a TBTF Wall Street bank. We believe this move to a much more centrally located, more highly visible location is necessary if the market is to survive at all. As I see my position so far, I’ll work there, within reason bite my lip, but under no circumstances will I participate in any active pro-bank PR. I don’t regard that as a good position by any stretch of the imagination, but I think it’s the best I can do under the circumstances. If the move required active propaganda collaboration, I’d prefer to take our chances at the old site. In their essence Wall Street and farmers’ markets are fundamental enemies. In the end one or the other must perish completely.)
With that introduction, I’ll offer a few more suggestions, ways to look at ethical dilemmas.
One criterion I’ve often written about is the question of whether or not a proposed reform action is on a vector toward real democracy, or whether it would keep us mired in the criminal system. Obvious examples of the latter are calls to “reform” Wall Street, Big Ag, private health insurance, or to “reform” the Democratic Party by electing “better Democrats”. Since these are fundamentally criminal structures, they can’t be reformed any more than an incorrigible individual psychopath can be. They have to be abolished completely.
I’ll add that this kind of system reformism is empirically proven to fail. Just to give the most glaring example, history will never again offer such a favorable environment for “progressive” politics, a “better” Democratic party, and system-reformist policy like reforming Wall Street, than 2009 presented. The Dems had a de facto one-party dictatorship, Wall Street and corporatism itself were on the ropes structurally and politically, Obama was elected with a vast, open-ended mandate for “change”, and the people were ardent for radical reform. They thirsted for it. Reformists will never see a moment like that again for the rest of history.
So what happened? The “reform” Leaders committed treason across the board. Led by Obama, they aggressively propped up Wall Street and the rest of the system while repressing all bottom-up energy for change. In the most symbolically rich example, within days of the election Obama moved to destroy his grassroots organization by assimilating it to the Democratic Party hierarchy. This was as clear-cut as it gets, to anyone who was paying attention. That set the pace for Obama’s anti-democratic and anti-human agenda to this day. Everything has followed the same pattern.
The centerpiece of the Obama agenda was “health care reform”. In practice this was a bailout of the health insurance rackets, which were on the verge of collapse. Obama presided over a joint Democratic Party/ liberal NGO front to suppress single-payer (which the people favor), propagate the “public option” bait-and-switch, and force the beleaguered people to pay protection money, a government-thug-enforced poll tax, to buy worthless “insurance” policies. So there’s just a few examples of worthless and malignant system reformism.
By contrast, I’ve argued that time banking, while technically reformist, is on a vector toward full economic democracy. That’s because it’s explicitly subversive of “the market” and the money economy, it explicitly repudiates the privileging of capital over labor, it explicitly rejects capitalist measures of the value of various kinds of work and alleged work, and it implicitly rejects all capitalist measures of value. While most of its current practitioners consciously see it as a supplement to capitalism (and thus a “reform” measure), this is just a subjective feature. We’re only a change of consciousness away from using time banking as a potent vector away from capitalism completely.
So to sum up, where one’s in doubt a question to ask is, would a proposal, if achieved, mean real progress along a vector toward true democracy, or would it leave us more mired in corporatism and statism than ever?
In part 2 I’ll suggest several more such criteria for strategic and tactical choices.

February 25, 2012

The Bill of Rights vs. “the Constitution”


It’s an error to assimilate what’s in the Bill of Rights to “the Constitution”, i.e. to the foundation of the central government.
The drafters of the 1788 Constitution, the so-called “Federalists”, heaped scorn and contempt upon the notion of a “bill of rights”. Only filthy hippies and anarchists were licentious and paranoid enough to want such a thing. The promulgators of the plan for an imperial central government grudgingly agreed to include a bill of rights only when it looked like the Constitution, lacking this, would fail to be ratified.
So it’s wrong, both historically and conceptually, to amalgamate the centralized government plan with the guarantees of various individual, community, and truly federalist rights, and call it by one name, “the Constitution”. The intent of the planners of the central government, and the sense of their document (the main Articles), run directly counter to the spirit of this Bill of Rights. The promulgators despised it, and everyone who has followed in their stead, all who support central government and empire, have regarded it as nothing but a fig leaf to be used, abused, most of all disregarded except for propaganda purposes.
So those who today cite the Bill of Rights and “the Constitution” as something being abused and affronted by the actions of government and corporations are mistaking the fundamental nature of this Constitution, by helping dress it in the nimbus of a Bill of Rights which is fundamentally alien to it.
I can appreciate constitutional arguments as a political weapon. I make many such arguments myself. But if one lets oneself see, for example, freedom of assembly* and electing a president as two parts of an integral whole, then one has fallen for a scam meant to keep us mired in fruitless notions of “reforming” a fundamentally evil system.
“The Constitution”, as an undifferentiated, unexamined holistic notion, is nothing but propaganda. It’s not organic, in principle or practice.
*Freedom of assembly is an excellent example. The natural right can only mean bottom-up citizen assembly for direct democracy and direct action. But the 1st Amendment carefully limits it “to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”.
Thus many aspects of the Occupy movement are, by the technicality of the central Constitution, outside our “recognized” rights.
Add 2/27:
My point isn’t to disparage the argument for Freedom of Assembly and constitutional claims. But we must claim these only from and for ourselves. We can demand them only of ourselves, through direct action and movement building.
But to rely upon the government and the courts to agree is to misunderstand what the courts are for, and to misunderstand the difference between our sovereign constitution and the system’s “Constitution”.

February 17, 2012

Occupy and Land Redemption


Occupy is usually called a movement, but it’s really a strategy and set of tactics toward certain goals. It’s the most visibly vibrant element of the longer arc of the democratic movement.
One of the most promising Occupation actions is direct action against bank foreclosures, literally occupying beleaguered and abandoned homes. Occupy Our Homes is a broad coalition of actions around the country. Occupy Minneapolis is an excellent example, occupying homes in order to prevent eviction of foreclosed residents.
This Occupy action supplements older actions like Take Back the Land, which since 2006 has been identifying idle bank- and government-“owned” houses and “moving homeless people into peopleless homes”. They call it “liberating homes”. Organizer Max Rameau explains the movement philosophy.

In other cases, foreclosed homes that are not yet empty, because the people, the families living there, haven’t been evicted yet. But either way, we’re liberating those homes for families, not occupying. The banks are actually occupying our homes. We’re in there, a liberation. I think this makes for an incredible movement, where we have a one-two punch. On the one hand, we’re occupying them on their turf, and on the other, we’re liberating our own turf so that human beings can have access to housing, rather than them sitting vacant so that corporations can benefit from them sometime in the future…

We have a network of organizations. We’re not a national organization. We call ourselves a translocal network. We network local organizations. We have a nonprofit that allows organizers like myself to go and do trainings in different cities. But really, people are doing this on their own. They’re not doing it because we’re telling them to do it. They’re doing it because we just don’t have any other choice.

He explains a typical redemption:

There’s a young lady in Chicago named Martha who we moved into a vacant home that had been vacant for quite some time in Chicago. We went there, scouted out the neighborhood—and that’s through the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign—scouted out the neighborhood, looked at the house, found the house in good condition. Then we talked to all the neighbors and said, “Look, this place is empty. We have a family that needs a place to stay. We would like to move them. It will help out the family. It’ll improve your neighborhood, because you won’t have so many vacant homes in the neighborhood. We’d like to have your support for it.” And we held a press conference, moving the family in, and all of the neighbors came out and supported that. And we’re there, and the family is still there. And that’s been three months or so. And the neighbors have signed onto pledges agreeing that if the police come to try to evict that family, they’re going to block the eviction, physically block the eviction there. And that’s with the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign in Chicago.

These actions are taking place in Chicago, Miami, Boston, Los Angeles, and many other cities. Add the new Occupy surge, and we’re saturating the country with this wave of home liberation. Many citizens already credit these kinds of occupations for gaining them time and concessions, even real mortgage modifications.
(None of those reform goals will avail in the long run. Obviously we can’t really “demand” anything of the banksters, who are simply thugs and robbers. We can only abolish them. But direct action is far more important than the currently moderate words and operational goals. Direct action, wherever citizens undertake it, will always radicalize ideas and goals. It will do so as the people see how the system rejects such modest, reasonable demands, responding with lies, lawlessness, and violence. It will do so also because action itself is a democratic tonic, building self-respect, self-confidence, and a growing will to demand nothing less than all that’s ours, and to demand it only of ourselves, instead of demeaning ourselves by “petitioning” the vermin elites.)
The mortgage system is based on two basic lies:
1. The banks rightfully own the land.
2. A housedebtor has an obligation to pay the mortgage.
But here’s the truth:

1. The banks never legitimately owned the land, we the people own it.

2. Even if they had, and however we look at it, since the Bailout we the people own the banks. So all their “property” including the land reverts to us anyway.

3. Even according to their own rigged “legality”, with the MERS system having dissolved unified ownership and in many cases lost the physical note, the banks have abdicated this ownership, inadvertently dissolved it.

4. As for the mortgage contract, if it’s non-recourse then walking away is a perfectly sound, by-the-book provision of the contract.

5. Since the banks stole everything they have to begin with, since they intentionally plunged the economy into this incipient Depression and used the crash they intentionally caused to loot even more trillions, we also have the moral right to stop paying but stay in the house as long as we want. This is an example of bottom-up direct restitution.

6. Such squatting is actually positive for the community. In many regions the banks simply let the foreclosed or abandoned property rot, to everyone’s detriment.

So there’s the basic argument for complete bottom-up debt jubilee. (For an introduction to the technical aspects of how the banks have even legally forfeit their alleged ownership of the land, see here.) I’ve written lots more on the Land Scandal and the redemption we must take.
This anti-bank land redemption action, against REO (real estate-owned, i.e. bank-owned) in practice and principle, is where we’re starting out. Where must we end up?
America needs tens of millions of small farmers. This is a physical, economic, and political necessity. The only way we’ll achieve this democratic and food production imperative is to redeem our land on a massive scale from the banks and corporate gangs which have stolen it. There’s several possible ways this can happen. Going with the idea of occupations, we can look to the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) of Brazil and many other countries. The MST provides an ideal we can aspire to everywhere, even in America.

In Brazil, according to the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST), by 2002 some 8 million hectares of land have been occupied and settled by some 1 million people, most newly engaged in farming. Other countries with escalating land occupations include Paraguay, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Argentina, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, India, Thailand, South Africa, and others.
This tactic of land occupation is one of the central tactics in the contemporary struggle for land reform. The MST has set the standard for other landless people’s movements around the world. They are noted for both their success in occupying land—as measured by the amount of land occupied, the number of people settled, and a rate of abandonment of the settlements that remains well below 10 percent of new settlers—as well as for the sophisticated nature of their internal organization. The MST uses a two-step method to move people from extreme poverty into landownership and farming. They begin by reaching out to the most excluded and impoverished segments of Brazilian society, such as landless rural day laborers, urban homeless people, people with substance abuse problems, unemployed rural slum dwellers, or peasant farmers who have lost their land. Organizers give talks in community centers, churches, and other public forums, and landless families are given the opportunity to sign up for a land occupation.

Step one sees these families move into rural “camps,” where they live on the side of highways in shacks made from black plastic, until a suitable estate—typically land left unused by absentee landlords—is found. Families spend at least six months, and sometimes as long as five years, living under the harsh conditions of the camps, with little privacy, enduring heat in the summer and cold in the rainy season. As the MST discovered almost by accident, however, the camps are the key step in forging new people out of those with tremendous personal issues to overcome. Camp discipline, which is communally imposed by camp members, prohibits drug use, domestic violence, excessive drinking, and a host of other social ills. All families must help look after each other’s children—who play together—and everyone must cooperate in communal duties. People learn to live cooperatively, and they receive intensive training in literacy, public health, farming, administration of co-ops, and other key skills that can make their future farm communities successful. When people used to occupy land directly, they usually failed to stay more than few months. But when they have first been through an MST camp, more than 90 percent of them stay on their land long term.

Step two is the actual land occupation. It usually takes place at dawn, when security guards and police are asleep, and it involves anywhere from dozens to thousands of families rapidly moving out of their camp onto the estate they will occupy. Crops are planted immediately, communal kitchens, schools, and a health clinic are set up, and defense teams trained in nonviolence secure the perimeter against the hired gunmen, thugs, and assorted police forces that the landlord usually calls down upon them. The actual occupation leads to a negotiation with local authorities, the result of which may be the expropriation (with compensation) of the property under Brazil’s constitutional provision requiring the social use of land, or the negotiated exchange of the occupied parcel for a different one of equal value. In some cases security forces have managed to expel the occupiers, who typically return and occupy the parcel again and again until an accommodation is reached.

The challenge is how to get from the relatively small-scale housing occupation movement to such a vast land occupation movement. In ideas we can try to engineer and reverse-engineer strategy and tactics for this.
One important fact, which goes to the core of how to organize the movement in the first place and what its general philosophy and expressions are to be, is that on every front we’re seeking to organize and render militant the land-beleaguered (the “middle class” now being liquidated), the landless, and anyone who wants to farm, who wants to craft, who wants to break free of their “employment” (or, increasingly, their fruitless search for employment), who wants to break free of the money economy, who wants to break free of all corporate/state hierarchy.
The MST recently visited Occupy Wall Street, as part of a communion of the food movement and the Occupy phenomenon. (This was just a few days after I wrote that MST and OWS are on the same wavelength.) This collaboration in spirit promises a galvanizing collaboration in action, as the movement for relocalization, democracy, freedom, and self-prosperity continues to gather. Everywhere we see and feel how we’re on the right track. Our enemies, for all their fearsome firepower, have built their fortresses and prisons on sand. We the 99%, we the people, build upon our rock-solid landbases, the bases of our elemental humanity, which all the lies and blandishments of the rotten criminal age have not been able to efface.
We see how, for all the brainwashing, threats, and violence of the system, most people still do what they can to remain human. We see how, the moment coercion is removed, almost everyone becomes fully human again. This proves that humanity shall triumph in the end. All we need to do is fight.


December 4, 2011

This Is An Abolition Movement


The original movement fought to abolish slavery. The new movement also fights to abolish slavery.
For example, in spite of all the anguish and turmoil over what the Occupy “demands” should be (most of this being trumped up by aspiring hijackers of the Occupations), the basic demand is obvious, given the premises of the protest and the personal reasons that brought out many of the Occupiers.
I’ve already written it: Abolish Debt. Abolish Wall Street.
By this debt I mean all system debt, to banks, to corporations, to central government, to the rich, to the 1% in general. I don’t mean we should be liars and cheats toward one another. On the contrary, that’s how capitalism tells us to behave. Part of abolishing system debt is finding ways to rebuild modes of exchange based on community credit, which was the mode of core economies through tens of thousands of years of humanity’s natural history, and shall be again as soon as we abolish the monster now feeding on us.
By Abolish Wall Street I mean the finance sector as such. It’s proven fact that the banks create nothing which is necessary or desirable, but only steal and destroy real wealth. By now they are embarked upon a full scale war of aggression against the people. Even after we the 99 had trillions stolen from us (by “our” governments) to bail out the banks, they have stepped up their crimes and aggressions. It’s clear that humanity must completely purge this infinitely vicious and incorrigible parasite.
From there several abolition demands follow. To give the two primary examples, we must abolish corporations, and we must abolish system “property”.
On a more specific level, where transformation can temporarily co-exist with the more adventurous and committed branch of reformism, we must abolish GMOs, factory farms, and food commodity speculation. This is a necessary preliminary step toward affirmative food sovereignty, which is in turn necessary for our democratic and physical existence going forward. We must abolish all intellectual property, derivatives, and contracts of adhesion. This means outlawing them by declaring any such contract null and void, unenforceable by society. We can start by being clear in our minds and words that such contracts don’t exist, but are only forcibly imposed by gangsters. The same goes for 1% propertarianism and debt indenture as such.
These abolitions would wipe out the foundation of kleptocracy and the Tower of Babel built upon it.
I wrote these as notes toward clarity on where we must eschew all reformist hemming and hawing and be crystal clear on what’s necessary, what’s the end goal. One can be a reformist or an abolitionist, not both.
I wrote this piece in negative terms, what must be destroyed. I called it an abolition movement. But it’s far more than that. The negative is always a preliminary toward the affirmative: Food sovereignty, relocalization, full positive democracy, economic and political. The final consummation of history’s motion toward justice, morality, freedom, democracy.
Older Posts »