Some Objections To Occupy May 1st

<table><tr><td>From <a href="http://libcom.org/blog/some-objections-occupy-may-1st-23042012">Libcom</a>

By now you’ve probably heard about how in various cities <a href="http://occupywallst.org/article/may-day/">Occupy has called for a general strike on May 1</a>. The call seemed to originate from a number of different circles, although the most influential circle seems to have been a group of people involved in <a href="http://anewworldinourhearts.net/">several anarchist organizations</a> and/or the IWW. Their influence can be seen in how widely the call was circulated, in <a href="http://occupymay1st.org/">the websites set up</a> for Occupy May 1st, and in some the <a href="http://libcom.org/gallery/may-1st-2012-posters-graphics">decent looking posters and images</a> they put out.

Regardless of the source of the call, it has been taken up in a variety of ways by Occupy groups in New York, Los Angeles, Oakland, Minneapolis, Boston, Seattle, Denver, Long Beach, Detroit, and Oklahoma City, among other places. The media has been reporting on it and it’s probably fair to say that this could be the biggest May Day since <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_United_States_immigration_reform_prote... immigration protests of 2006</a>.</td><td><img title="TGFANWIOH WTMFWBN!!!" src="http://anarchistnews.org/files/pictures/2012/robotmay1.jpg"></td></tr></...

As the call has spread around and become something inseparable from Occupy as a movement, there have been a number of objections or concerns about a May 1st general strike. Some of them even come from people in the IWW or those in the radical left who we would presume would be on board. Here is my attempt to quickly address some of the most common ones.

<strong>“A general strike is irresponsible and will make people lose sympathy with Occupy.”</strong>

This comes more from the perspective that movements are about publicity and a battle of positions, primarily though the mainstream media. I don’t want to lessen the role that media plays in affecting our movements and efforts, but this shouldn’t be a main consideration of what we do or how we do it. The media is composed of mostly large businesses that are tied to numerable other large businesses and rely on them for their existence. It is largely a reflection of the interests of the rich or politicians, and it very rarely will be in favor of groups or actions which undermine this. Look at much of the coverage of Occupy; a lot of it is neutral or even positive up to a point where Occupy calls into question the pillars of our society, then the typical associations with violence, “Communism” or “hippies” are trotted out to delegitimize what the movement says. Let us also not forget how they ignored us until the police viciously attacked us in New York.

<strong>“Organized labor was not/is not being consulted.”</strong>

In a number of cities our friends in Occupy are talking with the larger mainstream unions and there is some level of participation, even if unofficial, between the two. But let’s not forget that the mainstream unions are tied up in labor law and contracts that were specifically developed to prevent such a linking between them and social movements and dish out major consequences (including massive fines and jail time) for exceeding the restrictions put upon them.

Unions also are on the decline and have been for a while. Only a small amount of the American workforce are in unions, and many workers (especially younger ones) have had almost no experiences with them. This makes ties to the rank and file much more difficult and can result in only having ties with staff and officers, who are not necessarily the people you want to be in contact with when it comes to mobilizing the membership to take part in such a thing as a May 1st general strike.

<strong>“May Day is for immigrants/Occupy is co-opting May Day”</strong>

Anything that Occupy as a movement turns its eye towards has received words of skepticism and territorial claims by individuals and groups who have been involved in specific issues prior to Occupy's emergence. At first, radical left activists looked at Occupy as encroaching their turf. The people attending the occupations were unfamiliar, not in their social circles. In places like Oakland, as the encampment moved towards worker issues, some union leaders and groups close to unions glared suspiciously at some erosion on their monopoly of 'worker issues'. <a href="http://newsone.com/1950365/how-occupy-wall-street-co-opted-the-million-h... sentiments</a> in regard to race have been expressed around the Trayvon Martin case. We see this also with May 1st and immigration.

May Day or May 1st is, strictly defined, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Workers'_Day">International Workers Day</a>. A day in which martyred Chicago anarchist labor organizers are remembered. A day in which the old workers movements have flexed their muscle in a demonstration of numbers and power. But it has also been a day for dystopian 'socialist' regimes to display to the world their weaponry. In the early 70s, <a href="http://libcom.org/library/ending-war-inventing-movement-mayday-1971">May 1st meant massive student protests against the Vietnam war</a>. And yes, in recent years, in the United States, its been a day centered around the rights of immigrants.

However, whether using the rhetoric of the 99% against the 1% or the traditional language of working class vs. the ruling class, the participants in both the Occupy movement and the immigration rights movement are linked. Neither one 'owns' May Day. The additional involvement of other movements with May Day is something to be welcomed.

<strong>“It’s not going to be a ‘real’ general strike”</strong>

Some like to say or imply that a “real” general strike is something which unions call for, and then people strike, in the formal definition of the word. Sometimes, general strikes <a href="http://libcom.org/history/seattle-general-strike-1919">do happen this way</a>. Other times they start with other, more unofficial action or wildcat strikes that spread. On May Day 2006, for instance, millions of people just called in sick. Those who say May 1st won’t be a “real” general strike, are probably right. What will happen will most likely resemble <a href="http://libcom.org/library/oakland-general-strike-days-days-after">what occurred in Oakland on Nov. 2, 2011</a>. Personally, I don’t think what it’s called matters much.

Remember that the reason that the term general strike is even in the vocabulary of U.S. social movements again is because of <a href="http://libcom.org/library/general-strike-didnt-happen-report-activity-iw... IWW’s efforts in Wisconsin</a>. It was an important concept and we did a lot of admirable work towards this concept, but as someone who was there, I don’t think the strategy we engaged in (working through official union decision-making structures) was a realistic way to push for a general strike. However, I think that if we succeeded that it would a “real” general strike and the possibility did exist.

We also don’t really know what a U.S. general strike in 2012 will look like. The last time an official one happened here was 1946. The workforce and society in general have changed drastically since then. Our workplaces are more fragmented. Solidarity and worker combativeness isn't something that can be assumed as a given anymore. The forms of resistance that we take will often look different from past struggles. <a href="http://libcom.org/history/articles/us-rail-strikes-1877">General strikes of 1877</a> didn't look the same as those in the 1930s/1940s, why would one today look like ones from 70 years ago?

<strong>“What about May 2nd?”</strong>

This is a good point. What about the day after? The week after? The month after? It is up to the participants of Occupy May 1st to make sure this May Day is something much more than a mere mobilization of people to protest, but the opening shot in a new era of Occupy where we take on issues relevant to our daily life. Work, unemployment, immigration, and housing aren’t just some vague issues that are mentioned within the context of the upcoming elections, but are very real experiences that make up, for better or worse, who we are. They are also things we have the most power to change or even (if we wish) to eliminate as problems. As people who wish for a new world, we should welcome the opportunity to place organizing back into the context of our lived experiences.

<em>A version of this will appear in the May 2012 issue of the Industrial Worker</em>

Comments

How about Occupy Sucks?

- a patriarchal, middle-class, pro-state, reform-capitalist, liberal, snitching, police-collaborating, hetero-sexist, sexist, racist, nationalist, producerist , propertarian, non-violent fundamentalist, co-opting, ignorant, arrogant movement. I'm sure that I'm leaving a lot out.

General Strike? -ok- (not gonna happen tho). With Occupy? Fuck no.

Let's have an anarchist Mayday, not an occupy one.

^^^This. Fuck occupy.

MANARCHIST HAYDAY.

Take politics of all people on look at this fucking oogle and everyone in dgr claim they represent your shitty version of anarchy.

make illogical assumptions to avoid contact with people not like me

As much as I hate labels, and sure most of these are blanket statements, that is essentially the culture of Occupy. I say that from extensive personal experience. All it takes is for the goddam liberal, loud, pea-brained slackivist donkey show to get in there (and you don't need many, you need just a good handful of fucks) and be very obnoxious and domineering so that all the anti-authoritarians leave. I mean, who wants to work with such shitty people? But that is literally what happened. ...and I suck with it until the very end in OSD, even when all my anarchist friends left. Until those aforementioned people created a motherfucking culture that I no longer want to be a part of. For blocking shit like "90% consensus" proposals [sic] I have been harassed and threatened with physical violence. Lol... they use anarchist as a derogatory term in that camp. So I see no reason as to why I can't call them second-rate hippie consumerist fuckers. Or worse... just "liberals".

*clink* Cheers.

After a cold ass night on the concrete a fucking liberal had the nerve to bike up to me while I had a blanket drying on the bushes (hippy mace!) and my sleeping bag laid out for a very tired very adorable puppy pile and she said, "We can't have camping gear laying out." And being educated in the Socratic method (har har) I asked, "Why?" And she said, "We don't want it to look like we're camping." That's probably because she wasn't camping, she needed her mattress filled with baby condor feathers and her warm shower I'm guessing. So again I asked, "Why?" And of course, she said, "Because we don't want any problems with the police." "Well then what kind of revolution are we gonna have, lady!" I said. And the answer, of course, was the kind where we turn a movement into a petty power struggle tinkering over things to present before City Hall. So I politely told her to fuck off and informed her that, beyond all her wildest dreams, she was not the boss of me just because I was poorer and younger.

Moral of the story? Occupy liberals hate puppies.

Another funny occupy story: after all the squatters had given up Occupy being anything interesting we were sitting under a tree across the street from their SQUARE (an apt term) when a local socialist kid began picking up trash out of the gutters in his boxer shorts, his eyes saggy and dark from sleeping out, his hair disheveled, looking rather insane. So my buddy leans over to me, and says pointing at him, "The state of socialism in America today." HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR!

Squatters, the true revolutionists. LOL

Hey, in our little town of Ashland, OR we really are about as revolutionary as it gets, and we do everything we can to empower people and jam the system in our own little way. Yeah, if we tried to bust windows the cops would literally call us by name so that's not very smart, but the pigs do spend more time dealing with all the complaints against us than on anything else.

If you can't deal with some white haired liberal being an idiot you are seriously doing it wrong.

That said, Occupy in its initial incarnation was done a long time ago. Making blanket statements like the one above is just as stupid as clutching on to the idea of what Occupy was in October. The people obsessed with holding a park and the oogle anarchists who are to whatever for Occupy/Life are made for each other.

Well yeah, each Occupy is different in each town, but in my town that statement is true for me. And from what I gather, it is more true than not about most Occupies. Let the liberals waste their own time, I'll keep organizing in my own way which I feel is more effective use of my energies.

Oh, I dealt with it. But when you are steadily being surrounded by dumbass white haired liberals one by one and all the interesting people drop like flies then... there's a point when you say fuck it and move on to other things.

This is from experience, I tried, many of us have.

1. Generalize group of people
2. Form insurrectionary folk band
3. Play at local ARA/FNB benefit
4. ??????
5. Profit?

i dont think insurrectionary folk bands exist...at least i hope not. thats more like big tent anarchy

blackbird raum. surprisingly excellent, I say this as someone that hates folk punk.

what is particularly insurrectionary about raum?

everything

Oodles of oogles

nothing is guaranteed to produce insurrection. RAUM express sympathy with the position. Clown bands like Ghost Mice express sympathy with cops having "hippies and punks" inside of them.

Occupiers sure sound like anarchists by those descriptors.

glad someone said it

Glad people who think that don't ever do anything worthwhile and keep their bullshit drama away from me!
Gb2college loser.

Prepare the way for useful comments that will only increase the anarchist movement. Yay anarchist news!!!

make sure to stock up on food the day before.

make sure to stock up on flat-screen tvs the day of.

make sure to stock up on life insurance and mortgage payments in that order.

Where does Alex Jones come up jokes as brilliant as this (in this case written by kurt nimmo): "Residents are now being prepared for pre-planned and orchestrated violence by Marxist political groups and their anarchist shock troops funded by bankers and globalist foundations and coordinated by the CIA. Chicagoans may get to experience what it is like to live under military siege and martial law if they do not take the advice of condo management companies and head out of the city on May."

An @ that formely half-way listened to him (more so democracy now and chomsky) until reading the black bloc papers, and then all of the lies about black bloc in infowars "articles" during toronto, and also marching with RAANistas and getting some actual exposure to @'s and @. Then I left that shit behind for good (and occasionally glance at the site for laughs). Some of the most intelligent and skeptical people I've ever known are still caught up in that shit, completely hung up on 9/11 truth, and an @ that has gone way too paranoid off that stuff "they're coming for us man--i don't know what we're gonna do."

Does anyone know how popular the site is? Just curious.

We have shock troops? Wow that's a confidence booster.

So wait, if we're all funded by bands and the cia why do we need names like anarchist or communist? I mean, c'mon we're all one big group now. So, before the cia and summits existed? Umm...

No no no. We (anarchists) are the shock troops of the Marxists...well...maybe Alex got that part right, but let's not hold it against him.

Oh the fucking lulz.

I could go on about this for awhile. Apart from the instances you mentioned check out his Seattle 99 documentary where he basically accuses the entire black bloc of being CIA.

My personal opinion on it is that Jones believes in Libertarian Party type politics and that is where his analysis comes from. He wants the anti-surveillance anti-prison movements to be guided by his politics. It is much easier for him to paint anti capitalists as a false flag than to engage them ideologically.

His sites are pretty popular. Conspiracy theories are popular. People want to believe in something, specially something that absolves them of a. guilt and b. having to do anything about it.

Alex Jones is 85% truth, 15% lies (I don't know the exact percentages, it's just a paraphrase from Hemingway who described his fictional works thusly). He's entertainment/distraction/disinformation and so is most of the rest of talk radio, Amy Goodman being a notable exception.

Oh, and the official legend of the events on September 11, 2001 is complete bullshit, fabricated by the same company that was busy at work in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963.

no no no no no!

things people say don't have a measurable truth value, they have arbitrary points of reference, narratives, and meanings all of which are contestable. this is as true of amy goodman as it is of anyone on television. the fact that an individual 'fact' is demonstrably false is only one (and probably the least interesting or helpful) way to question what someone is saying.

ITT we try to decipher the roller...

TGFANWIOH WTMFWBN!!!

This Good Fucking Analytic Wankery Is Ours, Hooligans

What The Mother Fuck Will Be Now!!!

To Go Forth And Not Wither In Our Holes

We'll Take the Most Fucking Whimsical Boat of Nihilism!!!

This Gobbledygook Finageling And Nonsense Will Identificationate Our Hearts:

Women-to-Trans-to-Male-to-Female-to-Women-Born-Nothing!!!

the best comments on @news only happen when it's late and people are drunk

Late. Check.
Drunk. Check.

Time to go a-trollin'!

it's afternoon

Late enough.

This Gives Fucking A New World In Our Hearts Whimsy That Might Facilitate Worlds Beyond Nothingness!!!

In an industrial economy a general strike had impact--but what does it mean in a service based economy? How do you seize or slow the means of production at a taco bell?

burn it to the ground??

Occupy, vandalise, fortify, and steal /everything/.

I thought libcom was the I.W.W.'s website?

libcom is not formally recognized as an IWW affiliated site, but the discourse there is dominated by a minority of platformists who aggressively ridicule any who question their ideological agenda. In a way this is understandable because it is british dominated, and we know how class division is foundational to british culture. Otherwise it has some interesting anarcho-communist content, however trollin/strollin is banned, which is why I prefer @news.

How do you go on a strike in a day that you're not supposed to work anyway?

You mean I should work on my holiday? Fuck you!

Last time I checked, May 1, 2012 is on a Tuesday...

may first is a holiday in places other than the u.s.

"The call seemed to originate from a number of different circles, although the most influential circle seems to have been a group of people involved in several anarchist organizations and/or the IWW. "

LOL no

SUPER NO

Anyone that has been involved with Occupy* knows that anarchists are where we've always been -- super marginal and out of touch.

Marginal yes. Out of touch, sometimes. Each town's Occupy is different, but generally speaking, I'd still rather organize with anarchists in a historically sensible and strategic manner than the bullshit single-issue reform-based mind-numbing group think of Occupy myopia.

I'm not a big fan of the IWW or those platformist groups but I was aware that they were circulating a call that caught on with some Occupys back in December or January. *shrugs*

Worst. Comment. Thread. Ever.
i just wasted a whole minute of my life

And how many seconds did you waste reading the article?

should have spent it helping to figure out the roller with us!

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
CAPTCHA
Human?
P
E
9
k
v
u
v
Enter the code without spaces.
Subscribe to Comments for "Some Objections To Occupy May 1st"
society