FORWARD BASE B

"Pay my troops no mind; they're just on a fact-finding mission."

Tag Archives: occupy

Fourth Generation Sovereignty

Why doesn’t the US take over Canada?  It doesn’t need to.  Both are seamlessly plugged into the same mass economy and international Western political and cultural system.  On maps, there is an independent, internationally recognized nation known as Canada but taking that too seriously is to misunderstand how the system works.

Before the Western powers twice committed mass suicide, power relationships were more explicit and required more direct maintenance.  Canada was little different back then except it was aligned with Britain instead of the US.  Instead of pretending to be a truly independent entity it openly called itself an affiliate of the British Empire.  Back then, as now, they sent their young men on command to fight pointless wars for their hegemon.  To suppose such a political unit is really sovereign when it does not even have its own foreign policy is, of course, a joke.

Most non-Western political units in the world were explicit territories of colonial overlords run at least at the topmost levels by imperial administrators.
Then, after WW2, we are told, all these subservient satrapies suddenly found their independence and the world lived happily ever after.

The former colonies established their own political systems but the new empire was founded on economics rather than politics.  The colonial administrators went home because they were no longer necessary.

The major powers needed only to entice the new local leaders into loan agreements with puppet strings attached.  If the new nominal countries had strategic resources, they often had no local infrastructure to exploit them.  Then they became dependent on international corporations to do the drilling and mining in hope of getting some crumbs.  The local leaders then owed their power to the resource extractors with their expensive equipment and engineers more than to their own people.

The old colonialism collapsed because it had become a bulky ideological affair and a big money loser.  Keeping colonies became an ostentatious display of national prestige instead of a profitable venture like it used to be.  The depletion of wealth after the World Wars and a worldwide depression in between them finally made this arrangement untenable.  Minimizing overhead, and maximizing profit was in again.  Allowing subject peoples nominal independence imposed all the costs and dangers of keeping order onto the local figureheads while they got to passively reap the benefits as absentee owners.

 Since the end of WW2 the state of affairs has more in common with the heyday of the British and Dutch East India Companies or the United Fruit Company with foreign affairs carried out primarily by economic actors working in conjunction with great powers.
In the earlier eras of economic imperialism the great powers supporting international extractive commerce were obviously sovereign entities acting with their own benefit in mind.

What makes our own age different is that the great powers are no longer clearly connected to anything we would consider a nation-state or even a well-defined empire with concrete borders.  The whole planet is fair game.  It is appropriate that those affiliated with this system of power are now often referred to as “globalists.”

I have stated before the thesis that in our age of fracture, political organization is both smaller and larger than the centralized bureaucratic nation-states we’ve taken for granted since the 1860s.  On the large scale we have vast economic zones that swallow up mere nations.  On the smaller scale we see actual sovereignty re-emerging in the form of tribes.  I call them “tribes” to contrast with 18th to 19th century ideas of ethnic groups or cultural groups monolithically united within the borders of one nation-state’s territory.

So far I’ve seen the term “fourth generation” used to refer to decentralized, non-state warfare.  I think this concept will apply to everything, not just warfare.  I see ISIS trying to found an Islamic state, a bunch of Kurdish enclaves across several different countries declaring themselves Kurdistan, growing separatist movements within the European Union, or now the emergence of the alt-right as signs of where we’re heading.

In the 21st century, having a nation-state is a strategic liability and an easy target.  A nation intrinsically defined by an unchanging territory and population can be isolated, blockaded, bombarded, or invaded.  A bunch of soldiers who put on official uniforms can’t act without making their permanent territorial unit a target for retaliation.  Even when they attack much smaller and weaker groups, they open the whole of their much larger group to counter-attack.  Soon there are many small, cohesive organizations that begin to overwhelm a mega nation that fewer care to be associated with anymore until it finally only exists on paper. 

If 1 US soldier charges across the Russian border screaming with bayonet fixed and randomly spraying on full auto, Russia technically could reasonably contemplate attacking New York City as a legitimate reaction. That soldier, if acting on orders, is a representative of all 330 million Americans.  In stark contrast, if one jihadi suicide bomber blows up some US soldiers there may be no clear idea of who to counter-attack or how to find them.

ISIS could set up in Nebraska and call it the Islamic State.  The Kurds could have Kurdistan in Oklahoma if they wanted to.  The Federation of Occupy could just have some moving tent towns.  Any of these polities would have far more real control over their affairs than Canada does.

The emerging neo-tribal, techno-tribal state exists firstly as its people, not as a territory its people are tied to.  They can choose to conceal their presence, influence the politics or not, stand and fight or try to set up elsewhere, they can be urban or rural as they please, gather all together or distribute far and wide across national borders and economic zones alike and still be united. 

The new tribes even if their members few in number and poor have a wealth of strategic options nation-states simply do not have access to.  They trade brute strength for maneuverability and flexibility, advantages that have been super-augmented by the information age.  Making this tradeoff is a winning strategy when nuclear weapons make massed brute force much less decisive than it used to be. 

It should have been immediately clear the old ways were over when US forces could not reconquer all of Korea after they decisively defeated the Chinese in combat or why the US could not simply crush North Vietnam or even shut down the Ho Chi Minh Trail supply lines that crossed international boundaries without serious political consequences.

Since then, organizations that have adapted to the post-nuclear, post-agriculturalist, post-colonial rules have met with astonishing success despite their relatively small sizes and limited resources.  Meanwhile, the nation-states have grown ever more sclerotic and impotent even as they dump infinite wealth into weapons systems that just sit there as their roads, hospitals, and power grids crumble.

The old nations are now easily outmaneuvered by both the globalists who manage the economic zones and by the techno-tribalists.  It is now a question of who ends up with the upper hand in a 4th generation age.  The new tribes began their rise as a counter to nation-states hobbled by the threat of nuclear weapons.  Now their fluid nature makes them suited to challenge an economic colonialism that is also nebulous by design.

Occupy Wall Street – History & Hardcore Trolling

Of course the idea of a leaderless movement is absurd to some degree, usually what we end up with is decentralized hierarchies. And they usually end up doing more damage to each other rather than the system. The police may nudge them, but in a situation with excessive competition, most profits are likely to be competed away. The idea of a large consensus wasn’t actually an American innovation, it was a transplanted one. It was a brilliantly executed global trolling operation.

But that’s not how Occupy Wall Street sprang to life. Without that worldly group that met at 16 Beaver and later created the New York City General Assembly, there might not have been an Occupy Wall Street as we know it today.[b]

The group included local organizers, including some from New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts, but also people who’d taken part in uprisings all over the world. That international spirit would galvanize Occupy Wall Street, connecting it with the protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and Madrid’s Puerta del Sol, the heart of Spain’s populist uprising. Just as a comic book about Martin Luther King Jr. and civil disobedience, translated into Arabic, taught Egyptians about the power of peaceful resistance, the lessons of Egypt, Greece, and Spain fused together in downtown Manhattan. “When you have all these people talking about what they did, it opens a world of possibility we might not have been able to imagine before,” says Marina Sitrin, a writer and activist who helped organize Occupy Wall Street.

Around 30 people showed up for those first gatherings at 16 Beaver earlier this summer, recall several people who attended. Some of them had just come from “Bloombergville,” a weeks-long encampment outside New York City Hall to protest deep budget cuts to education and other public services, and now they itched for another occupation. As the group talked politics and the battered economic landscape in the United States and abroad, a question hung in the air: “What comes next?”

[b]Begonia S.C. and Luis M.C., a Spanish couple who attended those 16 Beaver discussions, had an idea. (They asked that their full names not be used to avoid looking like publicity seekers.) In the spring, they had returned to Spain for the protests sweeping the country in reaction to staggering unemployment, a stagnant economy, and hapless politicians. On May 15, 20,000 indignados, or the outraged, had poured into Madrid’s Puerta del Sol, transforming the grand plaza into their own version of Tahrir Square. Despite police bans against demonstrations, the plaza soon became the focal point of Spain’s social media-fueled “15-M Movement” (named for May 15th), which spread to hundreds of cities in Spain and Italy. When they returned to the United States, Begonia and Luis brought the lessons of 15-M with them. At 16 Beaver, they suggested replicating a core part of the movement in the US: the general assembly.

Georgia Sagri, a Greek artist based in New York who was in the crowd that day, watched with dismay. She had also supported forming an assembly, having watched them take shape back in her native Greece. Sagri was tired of the same old rally with a single focus—the death penalty, jobless benefits, immigration reform, you name it. The general assembly, on the other hand, promised a discussion without fixating on an issue or a person. In an assembly, labels or affiliations didn’t matter. There in Bowling Green Park, Sagri couldn’t wait any longer, and so she and a few others “hijacked,” in her words, the August 2 gathering, wrestling it away from your average protest and back in the direction of a real general assembly.

It took some time for the group to get the hang of it—Sitrin describes the early assemblies as “quite awkward”—but when they did the New York City General Assembly, the Big Apple’s own experiment in direct democracy, was born. When the assembly hit a snag, members would refer to a document titled “How to cook a pacific #revolution,” a how-to guide for general assemblies written by the Spanish and translated into more than a half-dozen languages.

Begonia adds: “The people are not here for the American economic crisis. They’re here for the crisis of the world.”

Link

Tools for a Movement of Leaders: Lisa Fithian OWS Facilitator Workshop

Lisa Fithian has been working for nonviolent social change since the mid 1970’s. Over the years she has been a student, labor and community organizer on a broad range of issues. From environmental justice to student and worker rights, from peace and global justice to immigration and housing, Lisa continues to use a wide range of strategies and tactics and encouraged nonviolent direct action as one of the most effective strategies for change.

No sooner had the panel finished opening remarks last night than a woman scampered up onto stage and yelled, “Mic check!” It was an orchestrated effort by several dozen activists to use the People’s Mic to interrupt a forum at Town Hall—a forum in favor of Occupy Wall Street, featuring three wonks and three activists from Occupy Seattle. Their stunt replaced what was supposed to be an informed discussion of the movement with an uninformative, shout-a-thon about process that consumed most of the evening. They booed opinions they disagreed with and drove supporters out of the building.

I walked in supportive and left unsupportive,” said 69-year-old Mary Ann, who declined to provide her last name. “I’m turned off by the negative shouts, repetition, and all I can think about is a cult. And I believe in every one of their damn principles.”

Paula and Brian King also headed for the door early. “It was frustrating to listen to people shouting and interrupting,” lamented Paula. Brian added, “We are leaving because they are looking inward at themselves and their eccentric process rather than reaching out to people.”

Organized by Town Hall (and co-sponsored by The Stranger), the forum was intended to discuss the Occupy Wall Street movement, featuring three activists from Occupy Seattle and luminaries from labor, economics, and politics: Washington State Labor Council secretary-treasurer Lynne Dodson; Second Avenue Partners and progressive taxation activist Nick Hanauer; and GMMB political strategist Frank Greer. During opening remarks, JM Wong from Occupy Seattle declared that she wanted “no leadership from the Democratic Party or union bureaucrats. Nonprofits are trying to co-opt us.”

Dodson, however, politely explained that labor unions are part and parcel with the Occupy movement’s push for economic reform. “I like to consider myself a union activist, not a union bureaucrat,” she said. “This is labor’s fight, this is our fight.” Link

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan Admits 18 Cities Were Consulting on #Occupy Crackdowns

http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/731137/oakland_mayor_jean_quan_admits_18_cities_were_consulting_on_%23occupy_crackdowns/

The Occupy Wall Street media headquarters is in the midst of the frenzy at Zuccotti Park. Under a giant pink umbrella, a small group of protesters hovers over laptops surrounded by mounds of equipment covered in blue tarps. A beaten-up cardboard sign rests at their feet, the word “media” written in magic marker.

“We have people that monitor social media such as Twitter and Facebook, people that monitor the news, people that live stream — that’s a huge thing, actually, because that’s how we get a lot of our news out to our followers,” says Colin Laws, a 19-year-old from Connecticut.

A week ago, Laws was watching the streaming video of Zuccotti Park over the Internet on Livestream. And then after weeks of just watching the Global Revolution, as the Livestream channel is called, he sold his TV and all of his video games and bought a bus ticket to New York.

Link

Occupy Wall Street’s General Assembly operates under a revolutionary “progressive stack.” A normal “stack” means those who wish to speak get in line. A progressive stack encourages women and traditionally marginalized groups speak before men, especially white men. This is something that has been in place since the beginning, it is necessary, and it is important.

“Step up, step back” was a common phrase of the first week, encouraging white men to acknowledge the privilege they have lived in their entire lives and to step back from continually speaking. This progressive stack has been inspiring and mind-boggling in its effectiveness. Manissa McCleave Maharawal writes on Racialicious regarding her block. In fact, the Declaration of the Occupation of Wall Street would not have been released if not for the blocking power of a different document a week prior by the Speakeasy caucus (for non-male identified and traditionally marginalized people)

“Without the voices of the disenfranchised people of color, lgbtq, differently abled, and other marginalized groups then this will become a revolution of those with privilege against those with privilege. There is a difference between revolutionary change and just being allowed access to the power, status, and wealth of the dominant culture. And Occupy Wall Street should not be co-opted by those seeking a watered down version of this systematically murderous economic and political system.”

This movement will continue to be powerful only if it invites the poor, marginalized, oppressed and forgotten. If self-promoting egos get in the way, OWS will be sidelined. What was started as an idealist, compassionate, empathetic group of inclusive people will only continue to be relevant if it is represented by all genders, races, and sexual orientations.

Link

The “progressive stack” notion could help Wikimedia combat systemic bias in our projects.I want to immediately note here that the progressive stack is not uncontroversial in the Occupy movement: the New York General Assembly has agreed to use it, and is using it, but a couple of facilitators openly expressed ambivalence towards it. I am well aware that anything hinting at a progressive stack would be generally disliked in the Wikimedia movement, for lots of reasons.

The progressive stack is based in the premise that people who come from culturally dominant groups have throughout their lives been encouraged to speak, and rewarded for speaking, whereas people from other groups are more likely to have been ignored or silenced. Therefore, when GA participants line up in a “stack” to speak, the movement has agreed to privilege the marginalized by moving them forward, ahead of others. In practice this means that women, people of colour and gays and lesbians may get to speak before straight white men. You can read more about the progressive stack in this article from The Nationthis Feministing articlethis discussion on the Occupy San Jose site and this discussion on Occupy Nashville.

Link

You know, my trolling is always too overt, I’ve never had the subtlety needed to troll the world. I salute you OWS.

%d bloggers like this: