Why occupy? #occupymelb #occupyX

Why not?

This video of Friday morning’s eviction of Occupy Melbourne is neat.

Inspired by Dr_Tad, Mark Bahnisch @ Larvatus Proedo has some blah on Occupy Australia and the Antipodean “bubble” (October 22, 2011), talkin’ ’bout a revolution Australian exceptionalism. Why is Australia a “bubble”, seemingly insulated from the winds of change blowing throughout the world? queries Mark.

Something to do with history, apparently. That, and the fact that Australia isn’t NotAustralia (where things are different).

Speaking of bubbles, Living on a Knife’s Edge (PDF), a report released last (“Anti-Poverty”) week by United Voice, cites the following statistics with regards social inequality in Australia:

• Close to 20% of Australian workers are categorised as low-paid, an increase from 14.5% three decades ago.
• A study of working poverty found that in 2005-2006, 10% of Australians lived in poverty, or approximately 1.16 million households. Of these 1.16 million households 18% had someone in paid employment.
• The wealthiest 20% of households in 2009–10, accounted for 62% of total household net worth; an average net worth of $2.2 million per household. The poorest 20% of households, accounted for 1% of total household net worth; an average net worth of $32,000 per household.
• Low to moderate income households are resorting to increasing their levels of debt to keep up with the cost of living. RBA statistics show that in March 2011 the ratio of household debt to disposable income was 155.1%, compared to 33.7% in March 1977.

It’s not all bad news, however. While Spotless cleaners moan and groan, QANTAS CEO Alan Joyce is enjoying a 71 per cent rise, taking his annual pay package to $5 million.

More blah on why some people are angry and upset @ Occupy movement will go on as long as the people are feeling aggrieved (Mike Steketee, The Australian, October 22, 2011); Joseph Stiglitz expresses concern over bikies bankers in Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1% (Vanity Fair, May 2011). A slightly odd reflection on why (not) Occupy Melbourne here; Raili Simojoki recalls her experience here.

See also : Gramsci and Left Managerialism : Kees van der Pijl | Confronting Neoliberal Regimes: The Post-Marxist Embrace of Populism and Realpolitik (Boris Frankel) | “Crisis”.

Utopia or bust

Never in history has there been such a glaring contrast between what could be and what actually exists.

It’s hardly necessary to go into all the problems in the world today — most of them are widely known, and to dwell on them usually does little more than dull us to their reality. But even if we are “stoic enough to endure the misfortunes of others,” the present social deterioration ultimately impinges on us all. Those who don’t face direct physical repression still have to face the mental repressions imposed by an increasingly mean, stressful, ignorant and ugly world. Those who escape economic poverty cannot escape the general impoverishment of life.

And even life at this pitiful level cannot continue for long. The ravaging of the planet by the global development of capitalism has brought us to the point where humanity may become extinct within a few decades.

Yet this same development has made it possible to abolish the system of hierarchy and exploitation that was previously based on material scarcity and to inaugurate a new, genuinely liberated form of society.

Plunging from one disaster to another on its way to mass insanity and ecological apocalypse, this system has developed a momentum that is out of control, even by its supposed masters. As we approach a world in which we won’t be able to leave our fortified ghettoes without armed guards, or even go outdoors without applying sunscreen lest we get skin cancer, it’s hard to take seriously those who advise us to beg for a few reforms.

What is needed, I believe, is a worldwide participatory-democracy revolution that would abolish both capitalism and the state. This is admittedly a big order, but I’m afraid that nothing less can get to the root of our problems. It may seem absurd to talk about revolution; but all the alternatives assume the continuation of the present system, which is even more absurd…

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
This entry was posted in Broken Windows, Death, Film, History, State / Politics, That's Capitalism! and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Why occupy? #occupymelb #occupyX

  1. Aussie says:

    Did the T.V give this much coverage? If so were they fair?

  2. @ndy says:

    I haven’t watched enough TV to say. It stands to reason the eviction/s would be newsworthy. Otherwise…

  3. Aussie says:

    So true it is uncomfortable as much as it is funny.

    Well done to the protesters for keeping their cool, I imagine it would be hard when your mate is being dragged along the ground by one leg. A group of people who are sick of being controlled with large numbers of police controlling them. I’m not sure if it’s worse that the police can’t see that, or they can but still do it.

  4. ANY chance of uploading that flyer pic to cryptome @?

    I will shout youse a beer if you do.

  5. @ndy says:

    @Aussie: The police have a job to do and they do it. What they think/feel is immaterial. Those who cannot abide the culture leave.
    @Professor rat: I’m sure if you look long enough you’ll find the flyer. Took me about 5 minutes to find an uncensored img online. Doesn’t appear to be this police but could be one of many. Doesn’t identify by name, just face.

  6. Aussie says:

    Yeah, I see your point, I think, but to say it is immaterial is debatable. I’m not familiar with what the pressures are or what it might even slightly be like as a police officer. I made that comment after watching the video, so I was directing it at what I saw on that rather than police just being there doing their job. Most specifically the guy being dragged by his leg (disturbed me the most for some reason). I think what that police officer thought or felt came into the equation. So on a smaller less corporate more personal level, police need to be responsible for themselves. So yeah, I think the personal attributes of a certain (unknown) number of the officers would have heightened the outcome.

    The structure that needs changing in the police force and all the other crazy things in the world results ultimately from the structure of their minds, it is a reflection of their way of thinking, well not just theirs, most people’s to be fair. The structure of the mind has to change before the structure of anything else changing can be possible. That can happen three ways, things will change slowly and progressively, these structures will crumble forcing the change, or, all hell will break loose. It is fair to say these structures in the world are looking a little shaky, so it is probably a little late for slowly and progressively, maybe?

    From your perspective, or anyone not in the police, we can point the finger at whoever we want, see the bigger picture, the smaller picture or blame the protesters, but police officers can’t point the finger at anyone but themselves.

    Or, I missed your point.

  7. @ndy says:

    By immaterial I mean simply that, whatever their thoughts or feelings, the police have a job to do, and they do it. It’s incredibly rare–almost unheard of–for police to refuse orders in such ‘public order’ situations.

    The pressure to perform comes from their colleagues.

    I don’t think it’s impossible to understand what police think about their jobs. And sometimes their jobs involve dragging people by their legs.

    So what?

    When the protesters in City Square had been arrested and the horses were brought up to Collins Street a man came up to me and started yelling in my face “those horses are going to crush your skull” and “when I see you in the back of the van I’m going to fuck you up”. My first response was to ask him why he was saying this, but then as I looked him up and down I realised he was a cop in plain clothes (the black and yellow police boots were the giveaway). I took out my phone to take a photo of him, but he quickly turned away and ran across the intersection and across the police line. It was the first, but certainly not the last time that I had failed to realise what was happening. Before Friday I considered myself to be quite cynical, but I was never ready to believe that the police would act like this.

    Being determines consciousness, not the other way around. It’s very difficult to perform a police officer’s job without, on some level, thinking it’s the right and proper thing to do. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone if police express hatred and contempt for protesters such as these. After all, being Good, a police officer cannot do Bad. If they drag someone along the ground, it’s because that person deserves it. They are Bad, not the police officer.

    The stuff you’ve written about thinking and structures and minds expresses an idealist viewpoint. Here’s an example of a materialist perspective:

    In the social production of their life, men enter into definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their will, relations of production which correspond to a definite stage of development of their material productive forces. The sum total of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which rises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness.

    The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political and intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.

    At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces of society come in conflict with the existing relations of production, or — what is but a legal expression for the same thing — with the property relations within which they have been at work hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters.

    Then begins an epoch of social revolution. With the change of the economic foundation the entire immense superstructure is more or less rapidly transformed. In considering such transformations a distinction should always be made between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, aesthetic or philosophic — in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out. Just as our opinion of an individual is not based on what he thinks of himself, so can we not judge of such a period of transformation by its own consciousness; on the contrary, this consciousness must be explained rather from the contradictions of material life, from the existing conflict between the social productive forces and the relations of production.

    No social order ever perishes before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have developed; and new, higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions of their existence have matured in the womb of the old society itself. Therefore mankind always sets itself only such tasks as it can solve; since, looking at the matter more closely, it will always be found that the tasks itself arises only when the material conditions of its solution already exist or are at least in the process of formation.

  8. Aussie says:

    Ok, I get what you’re saying, but it’s just hard for me to see things this way. To everyone and anyone who is entitled to their opinion, I must seem that way, but I don’t see myself or my ‘opinions’ to be similar to an idealist although others might. I see it as the opposite. In the way that an idealist to most would seem impractical, I see myself as practical.

    I see it that the main purpose of people’s lives is to wake up, so instead of seeing a police officer dragging someone, I question why or when is he going to wake up. I see waking up as the only solution. I see a sane person with a insane mind not a insane person, and I suppose sometimes I just find it hard to believe that a police officer can’t see what’s wrong to the point where he or she would take it upon themselves to be a little more human. I assume police officers go to or stay in the force because their intention is to help, I am now beginning to think I might of been wrong.

    I don’t see corporate structures crumbling as a problem, I see it as what needs to happen, if it does. I think there is a larger intelligence making ‘decisions’ in the world. Even science is saying consciousness isn’t derived from the brain these days, but because consciousness can’t be known by our senses, they will not prove anything, ever. So what people see as practical, in ‘the world’ I see as pointless or irrelevant most of the time, it might be relevant indirectly though.

    I don’t think the word consciousness even applies to most people, more accurately I would just call it unconscious. The example of a materialist you posted sounds to me like someone who is unconscious. Note, I don’t think people are bad because they are unconscious nor do I think it means they aren’t intelligent. The consciousness I am talking about is a new state of consciousness. So if this is what I see through my eyes, how do I have an opinion? My only option would be to ignore the world, but I don’t want to.

    One of the biggest delusions people have is if they blame this to be the cause of that. Always looking for someone else to blame. This might be true in one way, but what people don’t realise is they made it a problem when they didn’t have to, or most likely didn’t choose to, it’s a unconscious reaction to me. Most of the time I don’t do this, but when I talk about things, it might seem that way.

    Other than that.

    I will be more selective in what I say from now on.

  9. anonymous says:

    Aussie, the riot cops enjoyed beating people. I was there from the beginning and looking all the cops in the eyes. The normal ones just looked uncomfortable and a little hostile, like they’d rather be off eating donuts or something. The riot cops appeared later. As soon as I saw the look in their eyes I knew we were in trouble. Their eyes were lit up with aggression, excited, ready for a fight. Others who saw them just walking around thought they were cold and inhuman.

    It’s the training they get as well as the culture. Some kind of weird SAS style training. It’s not all public what they do. Their whole purpose is to fight crowds, beat people up. They’re trained to enjoy hurting people and I’m sure it takes a certain type of person to sign up.

  10. @ndy says:

    Very briefly, by idealist I don’t mean ‘impractical’ or ‘overly-optimistic’, I mean idealist in a philosophical sense. So, while there’s lots of different ways of understanding this term, one way of doing so is by contrasting it with another term: materialist. In philosophy, these two concepts–idealism and materialism–developed as a way of explaining or understanding history and human evolution, and why people hold the ideas that they do. Crudely put, idealists believe that our ideas make the world; materialists believe that the world determines the content of our ideas.

    In this context, I wanted to suggest that people think the way that they do because of the way that they live, not the other way around. In other words, our ideas are determined by our material circumstances. (Marx, whom I quoted, developed a philosophy called ‘historical materialism’. With this he attempted to explain why history developed in the way that it did. Whether he was successful or not is another matter.)

    My point is that police think the way that they do because their way of thinking is appropriate to their job and the labour that they perform. So, while you may think that dragging someone by their leg in that fashion is troubling or uncalled-for, it’s unlikely that the police actually responsible see things that way. In part, this is because the meaning of any particular action is not given. From a police perspective, they’re not just dragging someone by their leg, they’re using their powers to enforce the law and to remove an unnecessary and unwanted intrusion upon the people of Melbourne; these and other actions being taken only after those subject to police violence were given ample opportunity to ‘make their point’, after ‘fair warning’, and so on and so forth.

    Today’s rant by The Angry Gnome is an excellent example of the ways in which actions such as dragging people by their leg or punching them in the face or grabbing them around the neck (and so and so forth) are framed and thereby determine their meaning. Further, actions such as these are legitimised by way of framing those subject to such violence. Thus according to The Upset Dwarf, the occupiers and their supporters were a “nasty minority” / “disaffected minority group” / “feral demonstrators” / “disruptive protest[er]s” / “an unlikely grab bag of whingers and complainers” / “trespassers” / “an un-organised rabble”. According to the Lord Mayor–who authorised the police riot–the occupiers and their supporters were a “self-righteous, narcissistic, self-indulgent rabble”; lying, violent, thugs, both comically-amateurish malcontents and–simultaneously–professionally-trained vandals, acting under the influence of sinister forces of strange and exotic origin.

    The police share these views, only would likely express them much moar crudely. Thus:

    When the protesters in City Square had been arrested and the horses were brought up to Collins Street [an undercover policeman] came up to me and started yelling in my face “those horses are going to crush your skull” and “when I see you in the back of the van I’m going to fuck you up”.

    Many police seemed to enjoy the opportunity to cause some violence. At one stage a girl I was next to was choked as a policeman pushed her against the people behind with his arm across her throat. As her face went bright red I grabbed his arm and said “let her go” at which point he pushed my head back instead, to which my sore neck is a testament. Afterwards, she asked him, in tears, “why did you choke me?” and he smiled.

    More generally: police perform a variety of activities, and police rioting is rare. Nevertheless, violence is a key function, and fundamental to their existence as the main agency responsible for enforcing the will of the state, violently and even lethally if necessary.

    From Oakland:

  11. @ndy says:

    On Monday evening Police Minister Peter Ryan emerged from his office to announce that a pay deal had been struck with the police union after an acrimonious year-long battle.

    …as he was giving his press conference, the [Police Association]’s website was trumpeting the outcome as a major win for police, revealing that its members would receive pay rises averaging 4.7 per cent a year after compounding, a one-off $1000 ”sign-on bonus” on December 1, a near doubling of penalty rates, nine weeks’ annual leave and extra penalties for short-notice rostering changes.

    Also, Oakland PD kick US Marine veteran ass!

    Scott Olsen, a Marine veteran who did two tours in Iraq, was hit by a police projectile during last night’s brutal police crackdown of Occupy Oakland. He is in serious but stable condition at an Oakland hospital. Scott’s fractured skull and brain swelling has forced Oakland authorities to announce a possible future whitewash.

  12. @ndy says:

    Shooting of Olsen may be Oakland PD taking revenge for loud-mouthed New Yawk Marine dissing comrades in NYPD.

    Or maybe not.

  13. STILL looking for a link to that flyer – the uncovered original version. Need help because I’m old and don’t have a net connection. Not trying to make you look like an anarchist activist or anything. Maybe if you can’t help you know someone who can?

  14. Aussie says:

    Ok, I’ll try put all of this together, and I’ll do that by using another example of one [of] the many aspects that plays its part in the current structure of our minds.

    Wanting: I’m using this example because it is more common, and obvious. The current state the world is in, is created as a reflection of wanting. I don’t think that is debatable.

    So as a person who is brought into this world, you can’t really blame them for wanting, it is impossible for [the] majority of people to avoid. So on this level it is the world’s fault people are like this, they have to play the game to be a part of society, or as you say our material circumstances determine our ideas. I call it the collective ego.

    On the personal level, you want things to feel complete over and over again, constantly trying to fill the never ending void. It’s rare that you will find a person who is happy to say, “I have enough now, I am happy, complete”. So greed is the outcome of this, or our ideas create the world we live in. I call this personal ego.

    So I agree with you, in this way both perspectives are true. But before I can be effective in dealing with these issues, I have to deal with the delusion myself. If you were to get five rich greedy people remove them to a deserted island and they had not dealt with the delusion, they will continue to recreate a world that reflects this delusion.

    The need for power, control, high self-esteem, happiness and whatever else that these policemen have is not as common but either way I think it is important to understand that both the personal and collective need to be addressed for the action to be more effective.

    You seem to be very clear on what is wrong which would suggest you are not overtaken by the same delusion as the police, or the world. More consciousness in your life than others is the reason you might see things this way.

    Funny thing is tho’, knowing this doesn’t seem to help me with being able to take largely effective action, and it doesn’t seem anyone is able to do so, it’s too complex to understand, too many different scenarios. But hey, the Soviet Union collapsed.

  15. @ndy says:


    As I understand it, you reckon that, in general, people want things because they’ve been socialised to do so (they’ve been brung up to want stuff). People also, in general, feel unfulfilled, and this is because our appetites are in some way insatiable (they are endless). You also believe that people behave in accordance with their desires. Thus, greedy people will be greedy wherever they happen to be (whether in a crowded city or on a desert island). Finally, you believe that knowledge is not sufficient to enable people to act effectively.


    I don’t think that desire (wanting things) is necessarily a bad thing. I also don’t think that our situation (the state of the world) may be explained simply in reference to our desires. In other words, I think that, while our desires are many, sometimes contradictory, and even perverse (we desire things that are harmful to us), in order to understand how our desires shape our world and the world shapes our desires, we need to understand the ways in which our desires are mediated (given expression) through social institutions (social in the sense that they are collective and not merely the product of our desires or our interests or our commitments). In my view, these institutions impose a structure upon our lives and regulate our desires, allowing for the expression of some and necessitating the repression of others. In general, these processes cannot be understood without also understanding their history and their function. That is, the ways in which certain desires have been expressed (or not expressed) in the past, and how particular kinds of collective human activity reproduces particular kinds of social institutions.

    One, possibly useful text which examines this issue is The Reproduction of Everyday Life by Fredy Perlman (1969).

    Re my understanding of the world and the police eviction of Occupy Melbourne: I certainly don’t believe that the police are deluded for having evicted the occupiers, nor do I believe that this–their supposed delusion–explains their action. Rather, as far as I can tell (and I know of no evidence to the contrary), the police behaved quite consciously and also quite rationally to evict the occupiers. Why they did so has a good deal more to do with the the desire of politicians such as Robert Doyle to cleanse the city of undesirable elements than it does individual psychosis. Beyond that, I think your remarks concern police psychology, in relation to which there is a considerable body of literature.

  16. Aussie says:

    Yeah ok that’s a logical outlook, just want to point a few things [ou] and I’ll leave it at that. Wanting things was only an example to make my point on why I think personal and collective are important. The wanting I am talking about is not striving to achieve things, it’s more the unnecessary wanting, the wanting that has people treated like numbers for the benefit of money. I also want to point out that I don’t think it is a bad thing, achieving material things often is in search of happiness, or high self esteem, why wouldn’t anyone want that? I am sure the police feel great about themselves to have such an important job. I just think we as a species need to learn to move on from that. I also don’t have a problem with the eviction happening, more so the way it happened (I have only watched small amounts of it tho’).

    At the end of the day, my concern is where does it stop. Hopefully before our resources run out. It is hard to convince people, but there is a happiness that comes with not desiring things, rather enjoying without the neediness. When America almost went down the drain, I bet thousands of people would love to know about this other happiness, unfortunately the world can be a little ignorant of spiritual teaching. Now I know it, I don’t want to keep it to myself. It’s too good!

  17. alex says:

    Criminal Obama murdered over 60,000 Libyan men, woman and children. This man is an arch criminal who bailed out Wall Street and has retained Ben Bernanke (head of the FED) as his personal financial adviser. Impeach Obama!!!

    [This article will appear in the November 11, 2011 issue of Executive Intelligence Review: Toward A Bill of Impeachment Of Barack Hussein Obama by Nancy Spannaus.]

  18. @ndy says:

    The demand by the LaRouche kvlt to impeach Obama has no relevance to this post.

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