"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

Sep 30, 2011


From FireDogLake:

"The nearly two week occupation of a New York park near Wall Street known as Occupy Wall Street, initially undertaken by a few, has grown into a significant mobilization of people."

(emphasis mine)

Stupid word, mobilization.

Armies mobilize. Armies are mobilized. Industries mobilize workers. It's a hierarchy thing. Boss wants bodies moved. Bodies do what they're told. Mobilization takes orders.

People, especially free ones, gather.


fish said...

I am sure you will enjoy David Atkins advice on how the protestors could be more "effective":
Contra the spirit of the current protests, goals and strategy are necessary, even if it's as simple as a single unified demand. It doesn't have to be complicated, but there has to be something central for people to cling onto. In Wisconsin it was opposition to Governor Walker's legislation. In the Arab Spring, it's getting rid of the national dictator.

I really hate that guy.

Jack Crow said...


Atkins is the "thereisnospoon" Dem apologist?

antonello said...

Most commentators have relied upon their usual fatuous instincts. First, describe the protestors acting in concert. Second, accuse them of lacking organization. Define them by one's own game plan (hierarchy, lobbying, campaigning) and then say they're no good at it. Define the terms and win the argument. The unimpressive art of politics.

"Something central for people to cling to." The jaded fixed ideas of public relations. And what do journalists and politicos want us to cling to? Symbolism, inevitably. The same thing leaders in general want. Can't have actual substance: too volatile. It might cause a tremble in the fault lines of power.

Apparently it is not enough for protestors to exist. They must symbolize. They must be representative figures.

Perhaps the demonstrators should give a Power Point lecture. Graphs. Pie charts. Stickers. Magic markers for the key concepts; capital letters for mottoes and slogans. Or is it the other way around?

Anatole David said...

What if the protesters hired focus groups, vigorously polled, and lined up sponsors?

Madison Ave trough feeding limited attention span grumblers crying "lack of focus" echo Slavoj Zizek's "critique" of the "errant" London rioters. Liberals in different vocations have identical misgivings towards protests that forgo "unifying principles". Incroyable!

They wish to find comfort in the "order" and "simplicity" of protests. It stems from a desire to have "a story told", an agreeable and harmonious narrative that doesn't upset their digestion.(Yes, it's ridiculous and betrays the reformist bien pensant idylls of timorous aesthetes.)

An anecdote:
Flaubert laughed and made an upside down triangle with his hands when a critic voiced his displeasure with the "aimless and amoral" L'Education Sentimental. He wanted harmony, progress, an uplifting teleology. Flaubert's gesture hinted that life is not so harmonious, and mostly a degenerative process.

The Liberal zeal for "well meaning" gestures and "wholesome" endeavors attempts to straiten ways and foster harmonic facades. It is a kinder, gentler coercion. Flaubert's critic and those who criticize the recent protests because they fail to follow a code, like Aristotelian Unities, react from an urge to erase all traces of the less "wholesome" and iniquitous facets of life from general view.

Mobilization is a stupid word. When I hear I think of how it was used as a term to signify a disciplined and heroic effort to retool a war machine(Hitler's Germany). Also Ernst Junger's rancid book glorifying it...

Jack Crow said...

Personal history has left me a tad on the cautious side, in real life.

I have an instinct, if you will, against posing for police photographers.

And empty gestures.

I started off seeing this as an empty gesture, the short of shit done by bored white kids who don't know the stakes and who laugh at the funerals of someone else's lover; but upon learning how they'd organized their decision making process, it's clear to me that I misjudged the reality out of a too-familiar proximity to the mediation of their images.

Still, it's genuinely pleasing to know that they're reclaiming a social commons on terms which don't yield their sense of community to a top-down, corporatized, messaged plan.

Success and failure don't matter.

Though I'd also prefer that a few of the actual ringleaders on cap's side would have cause to sweat a sleepless night.

Jack Crow said...

That written, being there and doing stuff will only work until some police lieutenant gets bored, or until a besuited priest in the service of a mammonic temple imagines spit has fallen upon his loafers.

lambert strether said...

David Atkins's bio at Kos: 1st Vice-Chair, Ventura County Democratic Party; Executive Board Member, CA Democratic Pa

He's more than an apologist. He's a genuine paid shill.

Cabeza de Vaca said...

I really don't think CAP had -anything- whatsoever to do with organizing the Occupy protests. CAP's treatment of the protests has been mostly dismissive and snarky. I suspect they'll come around eventually (once organized labor lends the protests more gravitas), but for now the CAP crowd sounds exactly like the NYT crowd; they'd rather report on Rick Perry's latest campaign strategy.

Cabeza de Vaca said...

Also, Jack, I disagree about your mobilize/gather distinction. "Gather" sounds passive -- at least to me. Deer "gather." Candle holders at a vigil "gather." Wall Street would love to be in a country of "gatherers." It's *mobilizers* who are far more unnerving.

Cabeza de Vaca said...

so jp morgan is bankrolling the NYPD with millions. Well, that should be no surprise to any of us, but it's worth knowing it's official info:


sorry to post three times in a row, i know it's bad form.

Jack Crow said...


It's all good.

We don't agree on gathering/mobilization - but I'm thinking to the people who aren't committed.

If you're a non-pol/non-rad trying to understand what's going on in NYC, DC, Boston and the other cities, "mobilization" probably doesn't communicate what it does to people who have schooled themselves in 1920s-1970s rhetoric.

"Mobilization" carries a threat, either from rads and out ilk, or in the sense used by capitalists and army commanders. But, it doesn't threaten the established order. It plays into fears about a leftist army doing shadow work for Obama. I'm not exaggerating, here, either:


These are the 33% of Americans who also think Skousen was onto something.

Jack Crow said...


Well, damn. Thanks for the info.