Website Occupy Nanaimo
A blog devoted to my interests which include anarchism and social movements, history, archeology, and anything else I choose to write about.
Today at noon there was a round table discussion which I joined. Occupiers and supporters like myself stood in a circle and took turns voicing our thoughts as how to distill down the vast number of demands into a smaller package and to voice any other opinions that people wished. One man said how student loans had become a kind of debt peonage (my words not his) and how we ought to have free university tuition (like in France or Cuba.) and how a university education ought not be the privilege of a few. A woman said how Occupy Nanaimo was building a community and this sense of community is what we need to develop further. These two sentiments were re-iterated by other speakers. One man recalled how successful direct action was in saving the trees at Cathedral Grove and another of how the 911 coverup had opened his eyes leading him to support actions such as Occupy. Several spoke of the need to support local businesses since the money circulates in the community, whereas with the big box stores, the money is siphoned out.
When my turn came I spoke of the need for democracy, real democracy, not our present elective dictatorship, a democracy of neighborhood assemblies and of the workplace as well. I pointed out how the biggest obstacle to democracy was the corporation and how this institution was a creation of government and thus could be eliminated by government. I spoke of the “four corporate privileges” that ought to be eliminated – corporate personhood, limited liability, patent law and banking law.
More people joined in and were still discussing when I left to get a coffee.
The following is Ken H's comment
Occupy Nanaimo is ongoing. i live more than 20 kilometres away and I drop in only occasionally. Occupy Nanaimo quickly became a gathering place for homeless people, First Nations people well represented among them. On Friday evening i counted 32 tents and at the meeting they were planning to buy more. A woman interviewed today on CHLY was enthusiastic about the impact on homeless people. For the moment they have a place to maintain a tent with sleeping bags and access to regular meals. Homelessness is very much an issue in Nanaimo right now as there is a campaign against the opening of "low-barrier" housing in the north end of Nanaimo. Many of the homeless people do not yet participate in the general assemblies. I would speculate that many of them are not used to having a voice in anything. I am inspired by the success of Occupy Nanaimo and look forward to dropping in on them again
The “nattering nabobs of negativity” have been having their day with OWS. First “why don't they dress differently?” And of course, “they are a bunch of spoiled college kids.” Then, “they have no program, its all a mass of different demands.” and “it will easily be co-opted.” The first two brilliant responses are from the right. They said the same about us 45 years ago, but imagination was never the strong point with right-whiners anyway. Less easy to dismiss, as it comes from left as well as right, is the supposed profusion of demands. For shame, you lefties, if any group should know better it is you! (Ever heard the word dialectics ?) The right views the world in a disconnected, atomistic fashion. Thus, the various demands seem unconnected to them. But in the real world, environmental destruction, imperialism, job-outsourcing, privatization, war, corporate welfare, financial crimes, tax dodging etc., are all part of the same corporate state system. To anyone outside the right-whiner sects, this fact is as obvious as a mules ass at noon! It is brilliant on the part of the organizers not to posit a set of demands and to let the people decide themselves. If at the beginning you posit a narrow set of demands you limit the field of potential support.
As for cooptation, please do! The people have had their Obummer moment, any attempt at cooptation that lacks substance, will be jeered at. Minimally, labour and mainstream social movements will have to demand the re-institution of Glass-Segal, a Tobin tax and a tax on the uber-greed creeps. But capitalism has moved beyond the possibility of allowing even these simple demands. It will take a virtual revolution to impose elements of social democracy again. There will be so much resistance by the parasitic classes to even minor social reforms like these, that it will push the population in a revolutionary direction. We see this in Greece, as but one example. The mass demands are not for socialism, but to stop the cut-backs, to achieve the status quo ante. As Abbie Hoffman once said “the pigs are our leaders.” The state and the criminals it pimps for, are fighting tooth and nail to impose austerity on the workers, and as they do, the popular response becomes ever more militant and ever more radical.
No posting of mine has had as many negative comments as Free Will Proven a Myth During the years since, I have attempted to understand this reaction. Here are some tentative explanations.
Could it be that the upholders of the free will superstition think an attack upon free will is an attack upon freedom in general? If so, they are making the same mistake the Church made when rejecting the Copernican system in favor of the Ptolemaic. The teachings of Jesus, never rose or fell on whether the earth went around the sun or vice versa. What the Copernican reality negated was the institutional ideology of the Church which dogmatically declared for the Ptolemaic system.
What institutional ideology does the dismissal of the free will fable harm?
In the real world, most people's freedoms and choices are highly restricted. The less wealth we have, the less educated we are, the less self-aware we are, the less choices we have and the more our lives are determined for us. “Aimless” people who seemingly “do whatever they want”, in reality, have their lives largely chosen for them by their emotional problems. Yet, these emotionally and mentally messed up people are the very ones the free will types finger wag, “You chose to live this way!” as though their situation was a simple matter like which brand of cereal to buy or not. Funny though, the very people whose wealth, power and easy access to therapists, would allow them to act with a level of free will (and yet who chose to treat the rest of us as prey) don't come in for this hectoring.
I suspect that most of the rabid free will advocates fear the exposing of their superstition because they can no longer have the pleasure of feeling superior to the “outcasts”. They can no longer play the blame game. Social problems minus free will become just that, social problems. They are rooted in the system under which we live and not the fault of individuals who just didn't try hard enough.
Free will thus plays the role of prop or mask to disguise the true nature of any system of domination. Making everything the fault of the individual deflects criticism away from the reality that most people have little control over their lives because those lives are controlled by a powerful and exploitative minority.
Free will plays a role in abetting another vicious superstition, that of original sin. Humans are deemed innately wicked and the only way for us to behave decently is to repress those evil urges. Those who do not repress their base aspects do so out of weakness, indeed, given free will, have chosen to be sinners. The way to get people to freely chose to do good instead of evil is to threaten them with punishment and reek vengeance upon them when they fail to abide by our strictures.
Thus free will plays a role in propping up a judicial system which is based on punishment and revenge. Without the free will dogma, we must not seek punishment of the perps, but compensation for victims of crime. We must seek the root causes of violent crimes and institutionalize the dangerous, not as punishment, but merely to protect the populous.
One final word on free will. Like Gandhi once said about Christianity - “It would be a good idea.” But in order to have free will, we must be completely self-aware and have the ability to act upon that self-awareness. Few people have achieved that level of enlightenment, for that is what it really is. The vast majority of people are ultimately only reflections of their neuroses and psychoses. As an ideal, free will is sublime. But please don't take an ideal for reality. And most of all don't use it as a club to beat people you are prejudiced against. One day when oppression and exploitation are but vague memories – should we survive that long as a species – we will no longer be encumbered by these burdens, and actually possess a free will.
Labels: free will debate