Are We Happy Yet?

The Fight Against Capitalism

In the spring we must rediscover insurrectionary forms of care.
In the spring we must rediscover insurrectionary forms of care

DAVID DEGNER

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While #OWS still encompasses within it a multiplicity of tactics, opinions, and degrees of political radicalism, the evidence is all too clear that the soul of Occupy is anticapitalist, and the desire for a different system is a desire for a protest movement whose grasp on our lives is more holistic. There has already been inspiring work done to organize in different communities, and one can envision the emergence of a dispersed network not only of general assemblies but of communes and cooperatives as well.

The old pessimism of theory beats at our backs, telling us that any developed and sustained form of communal organization can only exist as an autonomous pocket whose threat to capitalism is nil. Yet sustaining autonomous, communal forms of care is not a shift away from direct, active forms of resistance. The positive and the negative aspects of the fight against capitalism must work in conjunction with one another to mutually reinforce each other. Communes, cooperatives and other structures of social support provide a material safety net that facilitates more radical action, enabling people to strike from work and from debt obligations with the assurance that their material needs will be met when they do. Moreover, such forms of organization can begin the incredibly difficult process of building trust between those with radically different backgrounds and experiences, providing support for whoever needs it, especially those who have borne the brunt of the economic collapse.

These forms of organization will enervate the status quo by drawing participants’ time and energy away from their roles as wage laborers, salaried workers, and consumers. Of course, #OWS has already begun to do this; many of us without the luxury of highly flexible (read precarious) employment, or who haven’t already committed ourselves as full-time occupiers (and are now sleeping in churches, synagogues and generously offered private homes – and organizing during the day) already spend our office hours surreptitiously reading working group emails or occupy-related articles. Yet we aim to achieve a less schizophrenic mode of existence in which the totalizing effect of Occupy on our thoughts is reflected in the degree to which it predominates our actions, one in which our politics accords with the way in which we support ourselves. For those against capitalism this will mean testing our own boldness and examining our own perceived futures. As Daniel Marcus observed: “There can be no movement of communes if protest is merely an extracurricular activity of wage-earners: workers will have to choose whether they stand with the communes or with the bosses and administrators.”

The need for new structures of care is emotional as well as material. Many of us are beginning to realize the extent of our own dissatisfaction. We spend time with friends and lovers, but these encounters are transitory counterpoints to the anomie induced by a culture of individualism. We work towards success, but what constitutes success seems increasingly empty. Perhaps it’s unfashionable to speak of “alienation,” naïve to make claims about what forms of work or activities might begin to overcome it, utopian to believe that we could create a society in which a better life is possible. And yet we already see the possibility of these things in the near future of this movement and are already beginning to build the necessary infrastructure.

Affect isn’t just an effect, but a decisive tool of revolution. Just as the catharsis of resistance we experienced in the fall bolstered community and emboldened us to go further, more communal, self-sustaining and holistic instantiations of Occupy will further entrench and strengthen the movement. We are strongest when our resistance draws on our outrage but also harnesses our vital forces, extending to the very material and psychological basis of our lives.

In the spring we must rediscover together that there are militant kinds of community and insurrectionary forms of care.

Nicole Demby is a writer and critic living in Brooklyn. She is a member of the Arts & Labor group of Occupy Wall Street.

56 comments on the article “The Fight Against Capitalism”

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Adami

This is the first time in history that the whole world is not only financially but totally controlled by a few people with all the money.
There are no parallels in history. Yes we have had extremes of inequality in the past but they were localized. Totally new ideas are required to deal with the present situation.
The basic requirement is that money be distributed, so that all power is not in a few hands.

Anonymous

Last I checked, for most of recorded human history, power and money has been controlled by the few. Did emperors and kings and aristocracy represent the majority? No, they were a significant minority. So what you have now, in the 21st century, by historical patterns is actually a return to the norm (this is not a turn that I welcome in any way). I would much prefer (economically speaking) to return to the state of affairs in mid-20th century Western Europe/US, where the wage gap was pretty narrow.

Anonymous

While being a big supporter of OWS before it even materialized into a movement and having practiced many of the principals for decades - I am most definitely NOT anti-capitalist.

I am totally against corporate person-hood and capitalism run amok due to deregulation and corporate influence. I am for affordable education and reform. I am for affordable housing. I am for ending the practice of outsourcing of our jobs for what amounts to slave labor and a race to the bottom. I am pro-American. I am pro-human being. I am pro-union. I am for getting money the hell out of politics. I am for fixing our broken political system which no longer seems to have our interests in mind. I am for fighting for our eroding civil liberties which seem to be slipping away with each passing second (especially in Chicago). I am against our endless and senseless wars for oil. I am for the development of a real alternative energy. I am for a living wage. I am for affordable healthcare. I am for etc, etc.

I am a teacher. I am a union member. I am an artist. I am a musician. I am from Chicago. I am the 99% and if the movement is looking to truly keep the interest of the 99% in mind, it is probably best not to spout elitist, Utopian propaganda and claim that it is at the heart of the movement. If you are coming to Chicago while the whole world is watching, "it ain't gonna play". While you are certainly entitled to your take on what the movement means to you, please do not speak for the rest of us - because you do not.

Attending GAs, reading books, waxing philosophical and holding up a sign more frequently than the vast majority of others who support the movement, but have to work to support their families and struggle to keep a roof over their heads does not make you the ruling class. Please do not forget that.

WE are the 99%.

ProudAmericanCo...

This administration is one of the biggest criminal governments we ever had.... 1 example... GE paid 1 dollar in taxes last year after making billions "YES BILLIONS WITH A "B"" and our fearless leader has let them off the hook!!! now who is the 1% (Hint he resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.)

Anonymous

this is not capitalism....
the private banks of the FED
can create & own 1Trillion from 100 Billion in reserve
....that's 900% profit
....it is currency theft

no wonder they are the 1%

the power to create our currency must be returned to the Treasury (the people).

Anabell

Most people do not know that the Federal Reserve can create any amount, however large, out of thin air, and start charging interest on it, and do that to eternity.
The Federal Reserve is neither Federal nor does it have any Reserves. It is a private blood sucking institution that was set up by the Rothschilds of the world.
You and I cannot buy its shares, and our government has no control of its policy.
There is no reason why, except pure corruption at the highest levels, the government cannot print money as needed for commerce, and make the crooks at the FED face the firing squad. Nobody will miss them.
Adbusters can help educate people publishing the history of the FED.
Meanwhile do your own research on the internet, it it all there.
YOU WILL BE SHOCKED AT THE EXTENT OF CORRUPTION.

Anant

There are degrees of Capitalism. From the earliest times we had private property, we had differences in income and standard of living, and later accumulation of wealth in some families, and masters and servants etc. But today's 1% or really 0.1 %, and the 99.9% never existed before . It was a much more level playing field.

Then in the twentieth century we saw the rise of communism because of growing disparity in wealth and income, and the war cry was equality. But we did not achieve equality at all. The pigs were soon playing poker in the kitchen, and the other barn animals were even worst off. Totalitarian Communism began to crumble within a few decades, and the left leaning organizations were crushed by mighty money.

Now for the first time in human history modern technology has helped establish Capitalist totalitarianism at a worldwide scale. The accumulation of wealth in a few hands is now so extreme that they have total power over our lives. They not only control all the money and monetary policy, they control all politics, all social policies, all media, all education, all aspects of our lives, even our religious beliefs, and overwhelming majority of humanity has no say in any thing.

WHAT WE WANT IS A MORE REASONABLE DISTRIBUTION OF MONEY AND POWER.

FOUR THINGS ARE REQUIRED:
1. LEFT LEANING ORGANIZATIONS HAVE TO BE REVIVED.
2. USURY HAS TO BE OUTLAWED, SO THAT MONEY ITSELF DOES NOT MAKE MORE MONEY.
3. NEW INCOME TAX POLICY HAS TO BE DEVELOPED TO LIMIT INCOME BY INCREASING TAX WITH INCREASING INCOME. FOR EXAMPLE THE TOP TAX RATE MAY BE 90% FOR INCOME ABOVE FIVE MILLION A YEAR.
4. AN YEARLY TAX WILL HAVE TO BE IMPOSED ON ACCUMULATED WEALTH ITSELF. FOR EXAMPLE 5% PER YEAR ON ACCUMULATED WEALTH BEYOND SOME VALUE.

WE ARE GOING TO NEED A REVOLUTION TO FORCE THESE CHANGES.
IT WILL BE BLOODIER THAN THE FRENCH REVOLUTION.
BECAUSE THE MONEYLENDERS WILL NEVER LISTEN TO REASON.
SO PLEASE DO NOT DELUDE YOURSELF INTO BELIEVING THAT MERE OCCUPY WILL DO THAT.

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