The Occupy Movement: Crumbling Communes or Class Warfare?
“You’re a bunch of Pussies” the intoxicated passer by charged. “You can’t even run a fucking park. How do you expect to run a country let alone change the world? You come to this park and expect to be taken care of, how do you expect to topple the most powerful people and governments in the world” he asked as he swayed comically, despite the gravity of his questions and challenges.
The frustration voiced, however inappropriately, by this person is being echoed throughout occupation camps across the nation, particularly those that are more established and have developed their own infrastructure, and, it would seem, especially in the nations most established and longest lasting occupation in Washington , DC.
At first, as I lay in my tent, early this morning, and listened to the rantings of this drunk who had just awakened me, part of me, a big part of me, wanted to accept his challenge, climb out of my mummy bag, walk out into the 38 degree night air in nothing but the boxers I was wearing, and allow my fist to occupy his face. I’m not a morning person. But, as I listened to his tirade I realized that he had a point.
A strange and ridiculous meme has started in many occupations that what the occupations are supposedly doing is creating a new Utopian society in the parks, squares and commons around the country. What was initially intended to be an action based mission to destabilize and remove the ruling financial elite has become a soup kitchen, homeless shelter and circle-jerk of discussions and teach-ins about every left-wing and social issue that plagues society. The issues themselves may be very important, including the needs of the homeless, but we’ve allowed ourselves to be distracted from our cause by spreading ourselves so thin that we may prove to be what breaks our own back.
It’s as if we have a house with a massive, leaking hole in the roof. Rather than stick to the initial plan of repairing the roof before pumping out the water damage and cleaning up the damage inside, we’re spending all our time mopping the floors and drying out the linens while the water continues to pour in.
While those in the occupations with a desire to do some work and help out are pointed to the always understaffed kitchen, the anemic sanitation committee, or the information tent that offers daily tours, many occupiers are spending their days lounging in their tents, hanging out at drum circles, studying meditation and yoga, or waiting for the next issue based – rather than action based – committee meeting to use up the last of their daily hours.
“If all you want to do is live in a tent go back to the fucking suburbs and pitch one in Mommy and Daddy’s back yard” my midnight messenger instructed.
“He has a point,” I thought.
Is this the end game? Is this what we came for? Did I travel 2200 miles to build an outdoor soup kitchen and commune for disaffected youth to work out their Weltschmerz before returning home once they get bored and cold? Can we get back on track before it’s too late?
The genius of the DC police, the most experienced in the country at dealing with protests and protesters, has been to sit back and allow this to happen. At least so far. Once the occupation has suffered from the attrition of individuals committed to actual action that are becoming frustrated from running a camp usurped by people whose only mission seems to be to find new, more relaxing ways to spend their endless leisure time until the next meal has been prepared and served for them, this may change quickly.
While many occupations envy DC’s longevity and apparent security, many of the committed activists within the DC occupation are starting to look forward to the night when the DC Parks Police finally come through and not only wake up and toss out the occupiers, but wake up the occupation as well. Sixty plus days into the occupation of DC and many of those that have come to live with the Occupation Movement in the Square are spending more time fighting with each other over egos, petty issues, and access to the things they want for themselves within their dysfunctional micro-society than they are to actually contribute to their own care and sustenance, let alone answer the battle-cry that supposedly brought them here in the first place.
Several actions are being planned that will push the envelope and challenge the peace that the DC occupations have enjoyed. When that happens, those that have allowed themselves to live in an immature fantasy world in a park, and those that have allowed themselves to be distracted by their own pet causes and deliberations of factious issues, will be forced to make a choice. Focus on the singular issue that brought us here – to take back our self-government from the wealthiest 1% that control it in order to perpetuate economic and social injustice for their personal gain – or get the fuck out of the way so that those willing to do what’s necessary can get to work.
We didn’t come here to build juvenile versions of Utopian communes just to watch them crumble under the wait of their own mismanagement and lack of Mommies and Daddies to care for them. We came here to wage a war, a class war, a peaceful war, at least on our end, for now, but a war nonetheless. Occupiers need to give their heads a shake and their asses a kick. Our enemy isn’t going to just give you what you want because you came to hang out in a park. If you want it your going to have to grow up, get serious, and take it back. Unless we get on point, and on task, we’re going to distract and coddle ourselves right into extinction.
Editor’s Note: All photographs by Liam Fox.