Occupy Yourself

Occupy Liberty!

Occupy Liberty!

I’ve been Occupying the sofa recently, having damaged my back hauling around my camera, computer, and assorted gear including three sets of headphones (one of them even works) and a pair of a dead friend’s pants (long story) in my backpack to and from OccupyVancouver for a solid week.

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been paying attention. After all the whining about the cost of policing Occupy Vancouver, it seems that the police have simply stopped occupying the site: costs saved! Problem solved! If only all police were as practical and cooperative as ours!

This is what they do in Oakland: in fact, this is what they did tonight: they shot a veteran in the face.

Veterans for Peace member Scott Olsen was wounded by a less-lethal round fired by either San Francisco Sheriffs deputies or Palo Alto Police on October 25, 2011 at 14th Street and Broadway in Downtown Oakland

Somehow I have a hard time believing this is what those officers wanted to be when they grew up. But this is what they’ve become. That kind of person, and the kind that does this: tear-gassing and flash grenading a wounded woman lying on the ground and the crowd that came to rescue her.

Over on Facebook that one got me unfriended by Brooks Bayne, who maintains that the cops’s action was appropriate. He also may have been influenced in his unfriending by the fact that I said that America should be ashamed of this, and that I had higher standards for his country than he did, and my ancestors looted and burned the White House.

Well, we GAVE them a day’s warning; obviously by his “they gave them a half hour warning” rules, we were quite correct to raid that puppy and set it on fire. I can’t imagine what he’s so upset about.

So: things got ugly in Occupy. The question is, what happens now? Do things get this ugly everywhere, do they calm down, do they get worse?

The Occupy movement has diversity as a source of strength; each Occupation is slightly different, and I think this will enable things to get worse in certain places (Oakland, Detroit, LA, possibly Montreal and Ottawa) and serve as magnets for attention and outrage. In effect, the worst fascist acts will cause the rest of the world to put its metaphorical, gigantic foot down and insist that protesters not be treated this way, long before the local people are treated this way.

Oakland Police y u use tear gas on the people?

Oakland Police y u use tear gas on the people?

I could be wrong, but you can’t really describe me as optimistic. When this movement started, I was one of those people who truly believed that the ONLY way through to positive change was to put the 1% in literal fear for their lives. And I was perfectly willing to do it, too. We’ve had fifty years of peace and love and working through consensus and what the fuck has that gotten us? A world where the 99% are routinely raped by the 1%, who expect us to thank them for it and send flowers in the morning. A world where pointing out injustice causes fellow citizens to call for your arrest. A world where everyone who isn’t a victim seems to be a quisling or a rat. The Stop War coalition is nine years old, and we’ve been in Afghanistan ten, so how’s that going then? I sat through far too many meetings at Greenpeace listening to people come up with strategies for protesting lost causes while ignoring winnable, important ones because of inter-office politics. I have lost faith not only in the institutions that control us but in the institutions we created to fight that control.

But I do have faith: I have faith in the movement.

Throughout the past week of observing, occupying, participating and sharing, I’ve learned to have faith in the collective, and in the movement’s commitment to nonviolence. I’ve come to understand that not only was my way of threats and possible violence morally wrong, but it certainly wouldn’t have worked, either. It would have cut the heart out of the movement, and prevented what used to be called the Silent Majority from supporting us. And this war isn’t going to be won by the people in the tents or in the marches: it’s going to be won by the people who catch the bus down the block from the camp, the people who drive by it en route to work or shopping, the people who follow it on Twitter or Facebook or the news (whenever it gets on the news), the people to whom it occurs that they, too, have been cheated out of what once was their birthright, and that they, too, have cause to be angry. The specific forms their support will take, well, who knows? But it all depends on the movement’s continuing nonviolence and independence.

The Dalai Lama is just a troll

The Dalai Lama is just a troll

If you’d like to get involved, but don’t want your fingerprints on anything, there’s an easy way: On October 28th, Occupy Yourself. For one day, shut the system down: don’t buy anything. Don’t use electricity. Don’t consume mass media. Close accounts you don’t use, shed things you don’t need. Donate your old things to charity, or use Freecycle to put them into the secondary market.

JOIN US ON FACEBOOK! Show your support and click “I’m Attending”



A momentum is occurring
People are uniting across the world
They are sending a message
The next step is fast approaching

On Oct 28th 2011

For one day we peacefully protest in a symbol that will be felt across the globe.

We step out of the system and step back into ourselves.

Turn off all lights
Unplug all electrical devices
Abstain from using TV, radio and internet or phone.
Abstain from making any purchase of any kind
Choose that morning to cancel any services you feel you no longer need
That morning call in sick to work

Do NOTHING that generates money into THE SYSTEM.

We will send a message
We will unite

Most importantly, for one day…
We live without distraction
Read a book
Frolic in nature

On Oct 28th 2011
Step out of the system and get back to yourself

Spread the word!

Look for Versions of this video IN YOUR LANGUAGE in the occupy youself playlist and…SPREAD THE WORD!

meanwhile in Canada

meanwhile in Canada

If that’s a bit intense for you, the CBC has an anonymous poll (yeah, they’re probably pipping your IP, but big deal; if you’re worried, you should use TOR!) on What Should Be Done About the Occupy Movement and at this moment over 80% of respondents say “nothing; they’re doing nothing wrong.” Whatever your point of view, vote.

Like to mess around with Cornify in your lighter moments? Well, now you can Occupy any website with the Occupy app.

And if you’re still not inspired enough, how about a message of solidarity from the (successful) rebels of Tahrir Square?

To all those in the United States currently occupying parks, squares and other spaces, your comrades in Cairo are watching you in solidarity. Having received so much advice from you about transitioning to democracy, we thought it’s our turn to pass on some advice.

Indeed, we are now in many ways involved in the same struggle. What most pundits call “The Arab Spring” has its roots in the demonstrations, riots, strikes and occupations taking place all around the world, its foundations lie in years-long struggles by people and popular movements. The moment that we find ourselves in is nothing new, as we in Egypt and others have been fighting against systems of repression, disenfranchisement and the unchecked ravages of global capitalism (yes, we said it, capitalism): a System that has made a world that is dangerous and cruel to its inhabitants. As the interests of government increasingly cater to the interests and comforts of private, transnational capital, our cities and homes have become progressively more abstract and violent places, subject to the casual ravages of the next economic development or urban renewal scheme.

An entire generation across the globe has grown up realizing, rationally and emotionally, that we have no future in the current order of things. Living under structural adjustment policies and the supposed expertise of international organizations like the World Bank and IMF, we watched as our resources, industries and public services were sold off and dismantled as the “free market” pushed an addiction to foreign goods, to foreign food even. The profits and benefits of those freed markets went elsewhere, while Egypt and other countries in the South found their immiseration reinforced by a massive increase in police repression and torture.

The current crisis in America and Western Europe has begun to bring this reality home to you as well: that as things stand we will all work ourselves raw, our backs broken by personal debt and public austerity. Not content with carving out the remnants of the public sphere and the welfare state, capitalism and the austerity-state now even attack the private realm and people’s right to decent dwelling as thousands of foreclosed-upon homeowners find themselves both homeless and indebted to the banks who have forced them on to the streets.

So we stand with you not just in your attempts to bring down the old but to experiment with the new. We are not protesting. Who is there to protest to? What could we ask them for that they could grant? We are occupying. We are reclaiming those same spaces of public practice that have been commodified, privatized and locked into the hands of faceless bureaucracy , real estate portfolios, and police ‘protection’. Hold on to these spaces, nurture them, and let the boundaries of your occupations grow. After all, who built these parks, these plazas, these buildings? Whose labor made them real and livable? Why should it seem so natural that they should be withheld from us, policed and disciplined? Reclaiming these spaces and managing them justly and collectively is proof enough of our legitimacy.

In our own occupations of Tahrir, we encountered people entering the Square every day in tears because it was the first time they had walked through those streets and spaces without being harassed by police; it is not just the ideas that are important, these spaces are fundamental to the possibility of a new world. These are public spaces. Spaces forgathering, leisure, meeting, and interacting – these spaces should be the reason we live in cities. Where the state and the interests of owners have made them inaccessible, exclusive or dangerous, it is up to us to make sure that they are safe, inclusive and just. We have and must continue to open them to anyone that wants to build a better world, particularly for the marginalized, excluded and for those groups who have suffered the worst .

What you do in these spaces is neither as grandiose and abstract nor as quotidian as “real democracy”; the nascent forms of praxis and social engagement being made in the occupations avoid the empty ideals and stale parliamentarianism that the term democracy has come to represent. And so the occupations must continue, because there is no one left to ask for reform. They must continue because we are creating what we can no longer wait for.

But the ideologies of property and propriety will manifest themselves again. Whether through the overt opposition of property owners or municipalities to your encampments or the more subtle attempts to control space through traffic regulations, anti-camping laws or health and safety rules. There is a direct conflict between what we seek to make of our cities and our spaces and what the law and the systems of policing standing behind it would have us do.

We faced such direct and indirect violence , and continue to face it . Those who said that the Egyptian revolution was peaceful did not see the horrors that police visited upon us, nor did they see the resistance and even force that revolutionaries used against the police to defend their tentative occupations and spaces: by the government’s own admission; 99 police stations were put to the torch, thousands of police cars were destroyed, and all of the ruling party’s offices around Egypt were burned down. Barricades were erected, officers were beaten back and pelted with rocks even as they fired tear gas and live ammunition on us. But at the end of the day on the 28 th of January they retreated, and we had won our cities.

It is not our desire to participate in violence, but it is even less our desire to lose. If we do not resist, actively, when they come to take what we have won back, then we will surely lose. Do not confuse the tactics that we used when we shouted “peaceful” with fetishizing nonviolence; if the state had given up immediately we would have been overjoyed, but as they sought to abuse us, beat us, kill us, we knew that there was no other option than to fight back. Had we laid down and allowed ourselves to be arrested, tortured, and martyred to “make a point”, we would be no less bloodied, beaten and dead. Be prepared to defend these things you have occupied, that you are building, because, after everything else has been taken from us, these reclaimed spaces are so very precious.

By way of concluding then, our only real advice to you is to continue, keep going and do not stop. Occupy more, find each other, build larger and larger networks and keep discovering new ways to experiment with social life, consensus, and democracy. Discover new ways to use these spaces, discover new ways to hold on to them and never givethem up again. Resist fiercely when you are under attack, but otherwise take pleasure in what you are doing, let it be easy, fun even. We are all watching one another now, and from Cairo we want to say that we are in solidarity with you, and we love you all for what you are doing.

Comrades from Cairo.
24th of October, 2011.

And Vancouver, you stay crazy. Don’t. Ever. Change.

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28 thoughts on “Occupy Yourself

  1. Interesting. From what happened to Occupy Melbourne, there’s certainly more than one police officer who fits that description.

    Let’s be serious for a moment: police can and DO do this to the protesters; it’s part of their jobs. They have a sheet on which they list people to watch out for, etc, and of course that information is shared. And this flyer isn’t defamatory if it is true, which is a matter for the court to decide. “Innocent until proven guilty” doesn’t apply in civil cases.

  2. I always found that “burning down the White House” line amusing, since there was no Canada in 1812. But I guess that’s just being picky. As to the #occupy movement; it may get more violent in certain locales, but in Ottawa?? Have you been to Ottawa recently? If you have, I’m sorry for you…

    OK, to the heart of the matter. #Occupy yourself. As an educator, I have to wonder…Isn’t this how we should always be? Why does it have to be symbolic and on a particular day? These elements — of integrity, reflection, being self-contained, disconnecting from the “system” — they should be embedded in oneself. It’s like gratitude. Why just on Thanksgiving? Why not all the time? And before you say “it’s a start” I’ll say, “no it isn’t” — it gives people a pass, like taking a class in something and claiming you’ve learned it. Learning is life long. This project to occupy yourself should be the same…

  3. Ahem. My ancestors looted and burned the White House. What part of that is dependent on Confederation?

    Yes, if it gets violent in Canada Montreal is my first bet and Ottawa my second, because of the paranoia of the Harperites and all those embassies.

    And yes, we always should be self-aware and in the moment, but we’re not, are we? We’re trained not to be. We have to schedule it the way people schedule things like having babies because otherwise the systems that have mesmerized us into letting all of this shit go on will mesmerize us once again and we’ll go to work like obedient labour units and forget.

    Manage it for one day. If you can’t, then learn from that.

  4. Interesting that you use the word “mesmerize” in relation to our current collective state of being. It describes a liminal, unconscious state — a hypnosis. That’s the limitation on #occupy as well…People’s wiling self-hypnotic states. I suppose anything that attempts to break that spell, even for a day, isn’t all bad. But the long-term answer is what it has always been — living with presence, self-awareness, conscious of surroundings. Being “really” alive, in other words…

  5. I am going to re-post what the protestors in the Middle East said. That one hit home for me.
    So now what are you going to do? Have you ever been tazered? Have you ever had guns pointed at you from the cops with the lazers from their guns on your head like the old native woman here on the rez? Lets see how tough you are. I was raised in a war zone in Canada, they are called reserves and I am still here. Like everyone who drives back and forth to their jobs for 40 years saying to the homeless native people, Why can’t you be like me!?
    What goes around comes around…

  6. Bobby, you’re making a lot of assumptions about me, aren’t you?

    No, I’ve never been tasered. Neither have you, I bet.

    How about this: get the fuck off the reserve and down to an Occupy protest? Staying on the reserve for 140 years or so hasn’t done you much good, has it?

  7. While the occupation is turning into a battle in Oakland, down south in Orange County, California (known as one of the most right-wing counties in the U.S.), the Irvine City Council has just given the occupiers permission to camp. Previously, they had been required to stay awake on the sidewalk all night to avoid getting arrested.

    This movement has spread so far and so thickly that it won’t be over soon.

  8. Thanks for the good news; I’m really impressed. I was pretty sure Orange County would get brutal on the protesters. And you’re right, this is not going to end soon.

  9. Hi Raincoaster, I like your post! I think Occupy Yourself is a great way to show solidarity with the protesters.
    However, I’m confused by the text on the Dalai Lama photo. Is that a reference to his manner of speech or something about trolls?

  10. Ah.
    So I guess you are the 1% that doesn’t PAY for water or sewage?

    Fuck, hippies are stupid.

    Oh, almost forgot: “For one day, shut the system down: don’t buy anything. Don’t use electricity.”

    Way to “support” the movement you so vigilantly spout to have “faith in”!

    You both bought and used electricity today.
    Guess now we know what’s truly important to you.

    But hey, what’s a few FACTS in the name of bandwagoning?

  11. No, I don’t pay for water or sewage. The only place I know of where individual homeowners pay for that directly is in the far North, where people have tanks and have to get them pumped out once or twice a year.

    I didn’t buy electricity today, actually: I’m house-sitting and the circuit breakers are off at my place to save on money. So I didn’t pay for electricity today either.

    But hey, what are (note, it’s “are,” not “is”) a few facts in the name of bandwagoning.

    Seriously, enemas are cheap and plentiful in BC. If you find standard over the counter remedies won’t shift that load you’ve got, you should take advantage of our copious, professional, and affordable socialized healthcare services.

  12. Then you used someone else’s electricity to fuel your ego?
    Nice. Very bank-ish of you.
    Oh, right, it doesn’t matter WHERE you used electricity, just the fact that you DID use electricity. More on that later.

    Hope your excruciatingly microscopic savings on electricity were greater than the cost to replace all the food in your fridge. No wonder so many hippies are poor, they have an astoundingly ignorant understanding of economics.

    Wow!!! You get FREE water.
    Weird, cuz assuming (I’ll take that risk) that you might live in a house in Vancouver…well, I’ll let the OFFICIAL CITY website spell it out for you:
    “Properties with flat rate water charges are billed on the property tax notice. Metered properties are billed quarterly.”


    And if you rent — which I will definitely assume you do…well, I’m sure your landlord is smart enough to build all costs into your rent. ;) You know those darn 1%ers, always looking for ways to get rich! LOL!

    p.s. — since you actually did post something on the internet during “Occupy Yourself” day, you did indeed CONSUME electricity SOMEWHERE. As well, by posting on “Occupy Yourself” day, you incited the consumption and purchase of electricity by others so that might check out your “faith in the movement”.
    Sound familiarly like how N.American corporations and government off-shored decades of inflation to Third World countries — “It’s not happening here…so it’s not happening anywhere…so let’s keep doing it!” LOL!

    Again, ignore FACTS and LOGIC and all will be well in hippie land! LOL!

    Hope the campy campers are all bundled up for another lovely La Nina winter!

  13. Wrong again.

    The house where I’m sitting was always going to have the electricity on, because that’s the way the owner wanted it. Not my decision to make for her. But actually, it occurs to me that my use was minimized, in accordance with the plan, because I sleep in the daytime and then went straight down to Occupy Vancouver, from which I returned shortly before midnight. So I used less than an hour’s worth of electricity even though I’m running two homes.

    If everybody I knew could afford their own house in Vancouver we wouldn’t be HAVING this discussion, because the world would be a much fairer place. You know what they say about assumptions, right? So stop making them, because you’ve already established that you’re an ass.

    As for me, I’m a hippie. I’m such a hippie that I live in a Co-op, where we are all co-owners and the city charges are incorporated into our housing charges, which vary by income.

    I can see for myself that you didn’t take even the most elementary measures to reduce power expenditure, so what DID you do yesterday? Masturbate to thoughts of your mother? Oh wait, that’s Tuesdays, isn’t it?

  14. Me? Fuck, I ran my house full bore just to make all the whiny hippies cringe even more! LOL! ‘Occupy Yourself’ has been around for YEARS in the guise of ‘Buy Nothing Day’. Geez, looks as though the hippies are really sticking it to the man — biz is better than ever! “Events” such as OY and BND do NOT work.

    And no, I won’t be kept up at night by you knowing anything about my power usage or anything else for that matter. There are plenty of ways to find out plenty of things about anyone; no one is a “private” citizen any more. Live with it.

    As for paying for water and sewage: “…the city charges are incorporated into our housing charges…”, thus you do indeed pay for water and sewage — in direct opposition of your earlier statement: “No, I don’t pay for water or sewage.” Unless, that is, you earn so little money (which really is difficult to do in this country) that your co-op neighbours foot your share of the utility bill. Leech much?

    BTW, thanks for admitting you did indeed use electricity — in full violation of your faith in the ‘Occupy Yourself’ movement. Way to go, FFF. Keep the dream alive.

    Gotta love the fact-free contradictions of the self-absorbed! LOL!

    p.s. — exactly WHERE does it say the world SHOULD be a FAIR place??? That’s about as inane and ignorant as the ‘occupy’ flake who said “Life should be easy and fun”. Really? Exactly where in the Natural world is life fair, easy, and fun???


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