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An Anarchist's Report Back from Occupy Vancouver and its Port Disruption

Blog posts are the work of individual contributors, reflecting their thoughts, opinions and research.
I do not consent to your obedience!
I do not consent to your obedience!

This article represents the thoughts of one anarchist and does not necesarily attempt to represent other anarchists in the city

I was having a couple beers with a friend of mine a few months ago, who has recently come to Vancouver after a few years among the Anarchist/Autonomist milieus in Europe. He was describing to me some level of shock and dismay when he came to the conclusion a year or so ago, that "anarchists are not going to make the revolution." Being somewhat comfortable with the idea (though not 100% convinced), I thought to myself "does everyone have to use the word anarchy to describe a society without rulers where all are empowered to make the decisions that affect their lives?"

"But we have to do something" I responded.

He agreed although his cynicism told him writing projects might be more "worthwhile" than organizing anything in the context that is the tiny Vancouver Anarchist scene. I don't feel I can yet make the same decision, I spent too many of my years in life not getting out there and engaging in struggle, and I'll be damned if I go back now! Anarchists that live in a place where an actual Anarchist movement exists can probably afford to always look inward, in a place where we are little more than a tiny clique, I feel we need to reach outward and spread our ideas and tactics, as far and fast as possible, to engage alongside a multitude of people who probably don't have a goddamn word to say about their "projectuality." And so I justified spending far too much of my time at the gong show that was the Occupy Vancouver encampment.

After exactly one month of painful conversations with libertarians, meeting new comrades, forging brand new relationships with people I would never have otherwise come into contact with, and beating my head against a brick wall, the Occupy Vancouver encampment was given an eviction notice for November 21st 2011. Unlike other Occupies the Vancouver encampment chose not to stand it's ground, and instead to keep on moving from place to place until it lost what little steam it had, settling for daily general assemblies with no encampment to build relationships of mutual aid. It was around the same time that Occupy was moving around, that a call was made for the west coast port shutdowns, Occupy was at this time far too scattered and hectic to make any kind of proposal to about the action.

With only about two weeks to go, some people from the Occupy Direct Action Committee on one hand, and some Anarchists and other working class rebels on the other, decided separately to try and respond to the call.

Having very little time to organize, led to a very limited amount of outreach, and lack of focus. The Occupy side made numerous attempts at negotiations with the president of the ILWU local 500, while Jim Sinclair of the BC Federation of Labour and union bureaucrats from the ILWU refused to support the action (analysis of this here: http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/blog/relentless-rising/9378).

The more autonomous group working on the action did not have the ability to make a poster to promote the action, and with what little time it had, made a few attempts to agitate port workers by going to the dispatch centre and passing out handbills, explaining the reasons for the port shutdown (video for those unfamiliar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGqncu3wlEI). The response was profoundly inspiring with a couple port workers even going so far as to give precise directions on how to most effectively shut down the port. Knowing that there would be limited numbers involved in the action, we did not bother trying to implement either plan though the words of encouragement went a long way.

The official occupy action was called for 12 noon. This was smack-dab in the middle of the morning and afternoon shift changes and was going to result in mostly non-union, and Canadian Auto Workers Union truck drivers being blocked rather than the ILWU and non-union port workers. The resulting argument from union bureaucrats and others who wanted to restrict action (or were just lacking in analysis of class struggle), was that it was wrong to block truckers who were going to lose a day’s pay from our actions. Not that this should ever stop someone from taking action to stop the flow of capital, but that it did create a narrative within the corporate media and Occupy Vancouver about hurting “the 99%” (participants in the action were of course going to miss out on a day’s pay as well).

Since the official Occupy action was not able to mobilize an effective force at 7am to block the morning shift change, an autonomous group of Anarchists, union rebels, and people from the Occupy Direct Action Committee (about 25 people); came together and successfully disrupted the morning shift of port workers on their way into work, at the Clark Drive and Heatly Street entrances (article here: http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/story/community-solidarity-picket-blocks-access-port-vancouver/9383 Video here: http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/video/early-morning-blockade-vancouver-port/9386).

The action was highly successful in the sense that it received a lot of support from people on their way to work, and it destroyed the narrative being deployed by the union bureaucrats, and the corporate media. In spite of some of the best efforts from members of the Occupy Direct Action Committee the official Occupy action was hardly promoted through Occupy Vancouver and where it was, it became referred to as “Occupy the Ports” and made only vague references to “the 99%”. Here the morning action was once again successful at bringing the analysis back around to solidarity against police repression of the Occupy Movement, with the port truckers, and with the ILWU in Longview, WA, facing union busting and police repression as well. Following the lead from Oakland (read this: http://www.bayofrage.com/from-the-bay/the-anti-capitalist-march-and-the-black-bloc/), for about a day “we are the 99%”, became “we are the proletariat.”

At Callister Park at 12 noon only a handful of people had shown up for the official “Occupy the Ports” action. By 1:00pm about 100-150 people showed up for the action, and made their way to the McGill entrance to the port to stop trucks from entering. Meanwhile people went around the march ensuring that it wasn’t announced over a mic check, and told people about an idea to block the afternoon shift change at the 3 main entrances to the port. At about 1:30pm there was a brief standoff with the pigs, who were brandishing zap-straps to intimidate the crowd. At some point a decision made to head back to the park where the march had begun.

From the park, smaller groups got together and headed towards the Clark Drive and Heatly Street entrances (though it is still unknown as to whether anyone actually headed back to reclaim the McGill entrance).

By 3pm a large number of people had taken the Clark Drive entrance. At Heatly, police were vastly outnumbering  those blocking the entrance who numbered only about 20 people. A call was made to the Clark blockade for reinforcements which then caused the numbers to swell at Heatly while only 30 or so remained at Clark. The police soon left Heatly and over to Clark Drive to intimidate the people there, very quickly deploying an LRAD sound cannon, to be used as a loud speaker, ordering people to get off the road. Soon a decision was made at Heatly, to abandon the entrance and march over to support the others where arrests seemed impending. As we marched with a red and black flag held high, we chanted things like “Help our Friends, The Struggle Never Ends”, and “Bosses, Landlords, We Don’t Need ‘em, All We Want is Total Freedom”. (video from before the march arrived at Clark Drive: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Ij1qQNO6Rw)

Arriving at the intersection of Clark and Hastings we observed all the blockaders pushed onto the sidewalk with a line on pigs in front of them, and a line of pigs now blocking the port entrance themselves. People motioned and called for those on the sidewalk to join them in the middle of the intersection. The call was responded to by only a handful of individuals, while others stayed on the sidewalk for various reasons (fear, obedience to law and order, inability to comprehend the situation, etc.)

Before enough people could get to into the street, the police charged, pushing everyone onto 3 corners of the intersection. In the midst of the mayhem 3 people were arrested. 5 people in all were arrested in the action including 2 before the march had arrived at Clark and Hastings.

After a little while, people retook the streets and marched to the Vancouver jail for jail solidarity. About 50 people arrived at the jail, where it was eventually realized that the arrestees had been released elsewhere with bylaw infraction tickets, rather than criminal charges (another account of events that afternoon: http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/story/dawn-dusk-actions-disrupt-port-vancouver/9396).

Other Notes on the Days Actions

In Vancouver, longshore workers who are deemed full-time union members can sign up for shifts online, rather than having to wait at the dispatch centre. By about 12:30pm an abnormality was observed that out of over 200 shifts available for the afternoon only 9 positions had been filled, usually the list is next to full by well before the shift.

We may never know what the actual disruption to the port was in the form of money lost by corporations. The positive responses to the morning action and the agitation at the dispatch centre, and the information gathered regarding the shifts taken up online, will say that rank-and-file ILWU members were far more willing to respond to the call for solidarity with their counterparts in Longview, than the union leadership, and discouraging members of Occupy would like to believe.

As an Anarchist I was inspired by the response from rank-and-file union members to act outside of the constraints of collective bargaining and direction from the sellout bureaucrats. I was also inspired by the efforts of some of the occupiers to actually engage themselves with something more consise than flowery language about “consensus” and “the 99%”.

Mad props to everyone that made this happen!

For the Occupiers

No Autonomy: control by... ...consensus?

The key to a democratic state is that it keeps people participating in their own domination and exploitation. This logic is carried into Occupy Vancouver. If you choose to be part of the "occupy movement" then you are expected to adhere to the lowest common denominator within it.

In the first weeks of Occupy, a woman from within the tent council got up on the stage and declared the tent council autonomous from the general assembly, making its decisions for itself. She also declared that the encampment was now intended to be a "weapons free zone" meaning that police were no longer welcome.

A friend of mine being very inspired by the declaration, made a video about it, and posted it to the Vancouver Media Co-op (Video here: http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/video/occupy-vancouver-tent-village-cop-free-zone/8792). Perhaps he was a little too fast.

A few days later the same woman got up on stage declaring a miss-portrayal in the video and wanted to assure the general assembly that the tent council was not autonomous. She did however continue with the idle policy of declaring the encampment a weapons free zone, as a way to veil their intentions to make it a pacifist only zone.

Why the change in heart?

The ideology of democracy affords a person, or group, or community no autonomy. Her statement was obviously seen as a threat by those at Occupy Vancouver who wanted to control the actions of others, and the movement generally. Consensus can best be practiced within a group or community that has affinity with each other. Since Occupy Vancouver is a random mixture of people from the woodwork, who only officially are coming together around the vague concept of "the 99%", the idea that they could understand each other’s needs enough to consent on everything is totally false. Given the woman's pacifist tendencies, it was probably quite easy for her to change her statement, given that she too has an interest in controlling the behavior of others.

While other Anarchists around the world champion the Occupy Movement, and pat themselves on the back, for its qualities of direct democracy, my own experience in Vancouver has been that the critique that democracy is a system of control no matter how direct it is, has rung nauseatingly true.

For myself the positive side of Occupy Vancouver has been that for a month it created a space that intended to step outside of the logic of capitalism. Here new affinities have been formed with people, and I was able to effectively agitate around issues of decolonization, and the rhetoric of non-violence.

The actual eviction order was set for November 21st while the eviction began long before. In the first week of November, the Vancouver Fire Department issued an order to the camp to create fire lanes through the middle of it for easy access (in pissing rainy Vancouver!), and orders to remove “dangerous tarps” from people’s tents that were protecting them from the elements. Without gathering any kind of consensus in the general assembly, a number of individuals started moving people’s tents around, and taking down others to comply with the fire order. Here in the logic of the democratic state people are quick to participate in their own repression, and in the direct democracy of the Occupy Movement, they are free to act from the position of law and order knowing that their actions will not be opposed by the lowest common denominator at the camp, while others who just want to organize a simple demonstration or take any kind of initiative of their own are decried as not operating on the consensus of the group.

From what I can tell about the Occupy Movement in other places it appears that the most effective actions, the ones that keep the movement full of life, are autonomous actions taken by affinity groups within the movements while others are free to join in or step aside, often resulting in them being passed by the general assemblies. Oakland would never have ripped down the fences to hold a general assembly and call for a general strike on November 2nd (for those unfamiliar: http://www.occupyoakland.org/2011/10/general-strike-mass-day-of-action/), had they waited for the consent of the lowest common denominator, or the lunatic pacifists. Seattle would have never squatted a building to carry the struggle on through the winter months (for those unfamiliar: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2016886287_apwaoccupyseattlesquatting.html), had they waited for permission from the lowest common denominator, or those that fetishize law and order. The ever popular “Run on the Banks” actions would never have taken off had people decided to be controlled by the “consensus” generated in groups of people that they have no or only limited affinity with.

When the fire lanes were cleared, and the tarps removed, at Occupy Vancouver, this created a very disempowering situation where people were roped into the obedience that others had for the law and authority of the Vancouver Fire Department, and the City Government. Not to mention that the people camping were getting soaked in their tents, and numbers dwindled as a result. When the eviction order finally came there was a very demoralized crowd left to deal with it, that had done nothing to defend itself or create any kind of controversy, this as a result of a skewed concept of what consensus means.

General assemblies should not be bodies of control, rather they should be places for people to gather a consensus by sharing ideas, to learn and debate with each other with the intention of furthering the struggle, rather than limiting it. Decisions should be made by people of their own accord with victories and mistakes learned from and adjusted through experience and discussion. (http://theanarchistlibrary.org/HTML/A._G._Schwarz__From_Movement_to_Space__the_anarchist_open_assemblies.html)

May Occupy Vancouver break itself out of suffocation and stagnation!

- A friendly local Anarchist

Links on Autonomous Organization and Anarchist Intervention

http://wdandkka.blogspot.com/2009/08/autonomous-self-organization-and.html

http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=20110610123

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Comments

Insurgent G, the phrasing:

Insurgent G, the phrasing: "the experience for anarchists in Vancouver...," and "For us the positive side of Occupy Vancouver..."  indicates that this is a collective peice of writing. As it is apparently not a collective peice (indicated by the authourship) -- it's phrasing, suggests that all anarchists in Vancouver think this way. Autonomy without representation.

Word.

(This is not mean to be a critique of the content, just a request to change this phrasing)

My apologies!

Fixed!

The Success of the Port Disruption

This is an interesting and well thought out piece. I would, however, be interested to understand what you think was accomplished, with the port disruption, that has lasting value for the anarchists, OccupyVancouver, the citizens of Vancouver... whomever.

The rationle for developing consensus processes, and therefore having the patience to do so, is that this is the only way that you can massively (and INTENTIONALLY) scale the focus and intent of a large number of people.

Whatever you think of the rhetoric of what it means to be the 99%, we are certainly the group that has little (or no) financial or political power. The only source of our power is strength in numbers and the only way that this strength in numbers is realized is through coordinated activity; ideally on a massive scale.

The only structural/procedural mechanism for for getting to the point where you can coordinate activity on a large scale is by developing consensus. Sure, this requires, in some sense, catering to the 'lowest common denominator'. This is an unavoidable consequence of wanting to line as many people up in the same direction as possible.

The alternative strategy which you are espousing will, no doubt, create a bunch of noise and will irritate people a bit. It will also get a bit of press which serve to reinforce some sense that a meaningful action was conducted. It will not, however, result in enough LEVERAGE, to impact either the broader discourse, or the political process in a way that will result in anything.

Social movements are the result of large numbers of people pulling in the same direction. Typically this is represented by symbols of large numbers of people doing things together; woodstock, the million man march, Tahrir Square etc...

This is, in most cases, not the result of a consensus process. It is the result of an impetus that captures the spirit of a people... something that reflects the spirit of the times.

In North America, the power structure is very entrenched and even those that want change are deeply entrenched in the existing power structure (they have jobs, mortgages etc... that trap them). They don't, however, feel the pain sufficiently to march en masse in the streets. This is why we feel we live in a passive society... people are hard to galvanize... they are sufficiently 'opiated.'

Maybe there will be some impetus that wll result in a million people taking to the streets, who knows... What I do know is that if we are not going to wait for that time, we need to create the structures and processes to foster and generate alignment.

This is the rationale for consensus building and is the basis for the Occupy movement worldwide.

 

 

Coordinating activity: by design, or by common purpose?

Hi Sureshf -- 

To respond to your critique, I think it's true that we do "need to create the structures and processes to foster and generate alignment" -- certainly, there is a lot of social division and subtle violence that occurs in our daily relationships, leading to disenfranchisement, disempowerment, and general disenchantment with being socially engaged in ways other than the dominant (capital-oriented) modes. 

This said, how are we meant to find others who are willing to undertake daring, creative, interesting, and at times, spontaneous actions of rebellion and social change if our choices are ruled by a collective process, instead of an open invitation and an impetus to participate in one's own way? By enforcing consensus, we do not allow one another the breathing room to try new things without many feeling like like the decision resounds with "this is IT -- our NEW DIRECTION -- our NEW BRAND -- THIS IS HOW WE DO ACTIVISM NOW".

A metaphor:  If everyone in your family always had to eat their pizza with the same toppings, because those were the only ones everyone could reach consensus on, would anyone ever have their tastes really satisfied? Why not share resources (kitchen, basic ingredients) while allowing each to choose their own toppings on a personal pizza? Affinity works like this -- the larger the group, the more people within it may find that there are others with their same tastes (e.g. vegetarians). When it's time to eat, to save time and effort, those with declared affinity (the vegetarians) join up and make their own, shared veggie pizza -- but they don't expect everyone else to have vegetarian pizza just because that's what they want. Maybe some other people thought they would never like a vegetarian pizza until they saw one, and perhaps they decide to join in next time one's being made. Unless someone's threatening to burn down the kitchen, or use force to control who has access to the oven, there seems to be little problem left to deal with. Ok end metaphor before I get hungry. I hope you see my point. 

One need only look at the types of 'consensus' that exist today (largely silent consent, given out of a sense of non-participation in decision making, lack of representation, a preconception of group consensus in a group from which one does not want to be alienated,  or a lack of personal power to say 'NO' with the confidence that solidarity is to be found among those nearby) to see that if we require ourselves to always agree, instead of requiring ourselves to respect (and offer genuine critique, rather than criticism, of,)  the decisions of our autonomous 'co-occupiers', we create stagnation and discouragement. By dissociating from actions to which we did not agree under a consensus model, we rob those actors of our solidarity, and rob ourselves of the open-mindedness to consider what would motivate someone in this culture to undertake that action, sealing our own fate in reproducing the status quo. 

Among those with declared - and usually proven - affinities, the ability to act is understood to carry consequences: we must give ourselves the credit to assume responsibilty for any consequences that arise, and must give others equal credit. So you don't want to participate in a certain action because you think it's pointless and counter-productive, or dangerous, or (insert reason)? Chime in with your opinion, but don't expect others to care whether or not you consent -- in every moment of our lives we are not acting 'on behalf' of anyone but ourselves, and the sooner we can absorb that responsibility the more freely we can choose to act in the ways we wish to in our hearts. 

It would be nice if we could simply 'change the national consensus' on the social structures we uphold through consensus (ostensibly, we all 'consent' to banking, resource extraction, rule of law, etc) through dialogue and public-forum decision making. Truthfully, though, until some start enacting the 'other world' that we know to be possible, all of the conversations about good or bad tactics, or the shapes of infrastructures of resistance, still exist within the current system. As some like to say, 'be the change': this means living differently, thinking differently, and letting go of control in favour of mutual trust (it takes work!)

So yes -- we need to talk with one another. We need to hear what others think about our choices, and live with the fact that we won't always like one another as individuals or share the same immediate goals. But I think it's pretty clear that we'd all like to live, to not be poisoned and made ill by an increasinly toxic environnment, and to be respected and valued as our unique selves and for our contributions to the communities we inhabit. Since we don't know how the future will play out, all we have is now: conflict is inevitable, but dominance doesn't have to be. How we limit the freedoms of others says a lot about how much we value our own freedom, and right now I'd have to say on the large scale we're in pretty rough shape in that department. Letting go of control can mean declaring that you will do the hard work of getting through conflicts with others by working WITH them, and affirming that you do not necessarily know how their life has shaped them to come to their own point of view when it jars against your own. We have to be ok with having  differences of opinion, and with having diversity of perspective, under the larger umbrella of whatever we're trying to accomplish together.

If you love #occupy, set it free; if you love yourself, set yourself free. I hope you do. 

With much love, toward total liberation --

- Another friendly VANarchist. 

 

To Suresh To answer your

To Suresh

To answer your first question, I would say that the port disruption has lasting value for anarchists in that it revealed a potential weakness for the ruling class, that rank-and-file union workers are not as easy for the ruling class to control using mediators (union bureaucrats) as many would have previously thought. It was also a very high profile attempt at stopping the flow of capital, which can be an example for people generally to break out of their constant sense of defeat. At least those are two things that come to mind easily. It is also way for occupy itself to feel less defeated while we're at it!

It appears this "consensus" you are hoping to build is highly counter-productive to the goal of "massively scal(ing) the focus and intent of a large number of people." As you said Tahrir square etc, are the result of large numbers of people pulling in the same direction, but of course it can be added that individual participants, come with their own experiences, and capabilities, not as a homogenous group which is what the general assemblies seem to be working to create. Maybe we are the 99% percent, but we are each a lot of other things as well.

If the "lowest common denominator" is a consequence of trying to line masses of people up in one direction, then where is it going? "somewhere"? Where do you want it to go?

I'm really tired and I'll probably start rambling a whole bunch of utter nonsense if I don't go to bed ASAP, but I'll say this: I don't think the goal should be to affect the broader political discourse, but to destroy the political discourse in favor of our own discourse.

I'll talk to you in person about this next time I see you around

Coffee To Talk About Anarchy and Consensus?

Hey - I would be down for talking about this more...

Since I can't match your pseudonym with your real name I don't know if I know you... You seem to know who I am... please tell ;-)

Circle_Eh,Your thoughtful

Circle_Eh,

Your thoughtful response warrants a further response! So as to allay confusion and to be as precise in my response as possible, I will respond directly to quotes that I will take from your peice.

You say: "This said, how are we meant to find others who are willing to undertake daring, creative, interesting, and at times, spontaneous actions of rebellion and social change if our choices are ruled by a collective process, instead of an open invitation and an impetus to participate in one's own way?"

I have a couple of things to say to this:

The Scope of My Claims Relating to Consensus: First of all I am under no ways suggesting that we should operate under the consensus model for all of life’s decisions. The idea is not to create a society of robots that defers their own creativity capacity to abstract consensus building processes. I restrict this argument simply to the case of architecting a revolution in the Western Hemisphere. In doing so I am also suggesting that this sort of model might not be necessary in other parts of the world where the community at large is more activist based, more revolutionary! In our part of the world getting 10,000 to a rally requires coordinated activity. This requires some process of consensus.

Implementing Consensus Processes In Certain Situations Does Not Constrain Autonomy and Creativity in the General Case: What I want is Direct Actions at Occupy Vancouver to be endorsed by the General Assembly and, even better, endorsed by hundreds of outside organizations that decide to who up for the action! This is no way impedes you from finding a few folks who are creative and therefore dreaming up great ideas for actions. Please be creative! What I am suggesting is that the action will be more successful if you have 10,000  people show up than 100 (period).

The Pizza Metaphor:

“ If everyone in your family always had to eat their pizza with the same toppings, because those were the only ones everyone could reach consensus on, would anyone ever have their tastes really satisfied?”

There are Times When Personal Interests Are Served Through A Commitment to the Collective: Maybe this is the crux of the matter. If it were agreed by consensus that we should eat pizza every night, presumably there was a reason (or maybe many) that resulted in everyone agreeing that this was a good idea! That’s why you reached consensus in the first place! Maybe it’s because you grow veggies in the back yard and if you don’t eat them they go to waste. Maybe you eat meat for lunch and have decided, collectively, that eating veggies for dinner balances your diet.

Clearly in making this commitment there is a trade off. You don’t get exactly what you want all the time... true. What you do get (aside from the above) is a sense of solidarity with your family... a sense of being in this together. This serves you personally by building family bonds. It serves you psychologically by creating a sense of inclusion.

Yes, there is sacrifice of some sort... but, hey, you’re not five years old anymore. You don’t get to eat ice cream whenever you want.

“One need only look at the types of 'consensus' that exist today (largely silent consent, given out of a sense of non-participation in decision making, lack of representation, a preconception of group consensus in a group from which one does not want to be alienated,...”

This seems more like a critique of existing democratic processes than anything else. I totally agree that representative democracy is failing miserably and that people distrust the process (as they should), feel alienated by the process and don’t participate in the process. This is also why OV is working on Direct Democracy via the GA. So that we construct new models that address some of the issues relating to existing representative democracy. I have lots to say about this and am working on this angle on more than one level but this is not the space to get into it. Contact me personally if you want to learn more about what I am working on from political reform perspective.

“By dissociating from actions to which we did not agree under a consensus model, we rob those actors of our solidarity, and rob ourselves of the open-mindedness to consider what would motivate someone in this culture to undertake that action, sealing our own fate in reproducing the status quo.”

Right... so maybe it’s worth deeply engaging with each other to understand what motivates the actions that we want to take. This way we don’t dissociate from them and rob them of our solidarity. Dialogue will go a long way to mitigate this. We all need to talk to each other. Who knows, maybe after talking you reach consensus that it is a good idea ;-)... In implementing this strategy you remain open minded and you won’t seal your fate in reproducing the status quo!

“...in every moment of our lives we are not acting 'on behalf' of anyone but ourselves, and the sooner we can absorb that responsibility the more freely we can choose to act in the ways we wish to in our hearts. “

Are you sure about this? Do you have a girlfriend, a daughter... a mother? Do you have people that care about you? Do you feel no responsibility to others? If you don’t feel responsibility to others, why take any action at all? You might suggest that yes, I am ‘responsible’ to others, but I act on ‘behalf’ of myself. What does this really mean? There is no meaningful sense in which all actions don't have consequences. It is through consequence that the connection is between actions is made, and this becomes the source of responsibility.

Correct me if I am wrong, but you take to the streets in protest... You protest a system that is unjust. You feel this injustice because we are brothers. You are totally accountable for your actions, but only because you live in relation to others, to whom you have a responsibility. You are not an autonomous agent devoid of connection to others. Every action you take ripples through the universe and impacts others. The sooner you realize that the better. Be aware of this reality...

The occupy movement sees injustice in the world and is engaged in struggle to bring about a better world. We feel that we are more likely to bring about this change if we come together as one. Do you see things differently?

Truthfully, though, until some start enacting the 'other world' that we know to be possible, all of the conversations about good or bad tactics, or the shapes of infrastructures of resistance, still exist within the current system. As some like to say, 'be the change': this means living differently, thinking differently, and letting go of control in favour of mutual trust (it takes work!)”

I agree that part of our responsibility is to create the new world. As revolutionaries, we need to create the models and the prototypes of the world that we want to see. It is not sufficient to just try to bash down the old system. To that end, Occupy Vancouver is exploring land related strategies... There are a group of us that want to create the micro-community to which you refer. A world where alternative exchange systems replace fiat currencies and where mutual support need not be quantified.... What do you know, much like what we had at the VAG. This will happen in time.

So yes -- we need to talk with one another. We need to hear what others think about our choices, and live with the fact that we won't always like one another as individuals or share the same immediate goals. But I think it's pretty clear that we'd all like to live, to not be poisoned and made ill by an increasinly toxic environnment, and to be respected and valued as our unique selves and for our contributions to the communities we inhabit.”

Agreed! I am happy to talk at any time... I would be more interested in exploring actions that work for all of us!

“Since we don't know how the future will play out, all we have is now: conflict is inevitable, but dominance doesn't have to be. How we limit the freedoms of others says a lot about how much we value our own freedom..”

I think that associating consensus building with control is a mistake. In asking you to consider the possibility that working with us in a cooperative way so that we can get lots of people to a rally, I am fishing for points of agreement. Consensus building does not limit the scope of your freedom... It aligns your freedom with my freedom. I am not telling you not to do anything. I am saying only that I think X is a good idea and I would like you to consider doing X with me. Do you see the difference?

Furthermore, to reiterate my opening point, I make no general claims. I am a strategist who is trying to figure out how to coordinate action on a massive scale as I believe this is a necessary condition for bringing about social revolution.

I reject that idea that small, isolated actions are more effective than large coordinate actions... and I believe that consensus processes serve the purpose of making it easier to coordinate activity.

In Solidarity,

Suresh Fernando

Occupy Vancouver Organizer

 

 

Suresh

"I reject that idea that small, isolated actions are more effective than large coordinate actions... and I believe that consensus processes serve the purpose of making it easier to coordinate activity."

I think this outlines one major misunderstanding.

While autonomous organization is supposed to allow for people to take action in smaller groups of affinity without waiting for more mainstream or popular masses to sign on, the exact point of it is that this allows larger numbers of people to meaningfully partcipate in a given movement on thier own terms. The point is for more people to break out of isolation, rather than passively accept preconcieved beaursacratic processes.

One of the links I posted at the bottom of the article deals with this in far more detail. If you are intersted: http://wdandkka.blogspot.com/2009/08/autonomous-self-organization-and.html

Port/Schmort

 Subjectivety vs. Subjectivety.

While the best laid efforts of many attempt to hold a higher light in their reporting of issues and events, one has to be cautious of their own reactions which can sometimes manifest as overreactions.  Unfortunatley this artlice, while well written, has fallen prey to the common trap.

The first thing I have to question is why Occupy Vancouver (OV) would join in action with their American counterparts to support U.S. labour unions who have notorius reputations for unsavour doings.  Yes, some longshore people are facing layoffs and union busting, but what else is new?  This is part and parcel of the labour movement's life.  We may not like or agree with the layoffs but the States are in a far worse position than us economically....and their longshore people make over twice the wage that ours do....plus they pay less tax in America.  

Would it not be a big clue to OV and other port shutdown peeps that the Canadian Union equivelants did not endorse the port occupation???  And while rank and file members honked their horns in solidarity, one has to question how many they were in numbers, considering so many phone in to get the day of with pay as considered the protest a 'danger'.  Right, and my cousin's dog died so I can't come into work today.

The most burning question is the complete lack of regard for First Nations.  First off, it is clear that OV is in bed with unions http://occupyvancouver.com/admin/uploads/SKMBT_C45211111516410.pdf

Second, OV acknowldeges it is on unceded Coast Salish Territories http://occupyvancouver.com/admin/uploads/OVGADecisionMaking_001.pdf HOWEVER, when they were invited by Chief Phil Lane and the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, "The People of the Inlet." to work in circle with First Nations protocol and be an ally to their strategy and planning,  the request was ignored.  Instead, who seemed to be the main defacto leader/organizer of the Port show, decided to 'compromise' and not enter the port but to block the road for a limited time.  Compromise between two parties means engaging with the other party...this was not done therefore it was a unilateral decision and my oh my, how colonization just continues in the mind set of so many without realizing it's there.

Chief Phil and the Tsleil-Waututh announced publicly at the Rio Theatre their intentions and how winter is a time for story telling, planning and stratedgy.  They already have stratedgy and the plans are coming along , meantime they are addressing the oil sand tankers in Burrard Inlet (and the dredging of the Inlet)  through legal and other 'paper' routes.  If port action was taken it could mean higher security which could foul up their spring plans.  I could speculate that the ports are now on amber alert and may remain that way for a while.

Unilateral compromise doesn't work....you're with FN or your not, but if you are going to recognize you are on unceded lands then wouldn't it be best to become allies and work with FN circle?  Otherwise 'unceded lands' becomes an empty phrase, creating co-opting and I think we're (FN) a little more than sick of this.  Same old story.  

I watched the port action on livestream.  The cops announced through a speaker and were very loud, that they would be moving forward  , giving a MINIMUM of five minutes warning.   The woman who was holding the puter with the livestream camera and mic stayed where she was, right in front of the cop line.  The cops gave their final one minute warning then started to move and arrested her as she didn't budge.  Charge - mischief.  Yet on livestream we saw her choose, freely, not to move, and voiced that she wasn't given enough warning.  There should be video footage of this available, if  there's a will to put it up on the OV site.

For the five who were arrested, it was clear they were acting of their own volition and ignoring what the police were saying.  All i can think is the entire day was a peer show and something handily done to allow more activism notches in certain people's belts.   And I'm supposed to be impressed?

Unbridled angry young men and women are a given within most protest camps.  The thing now is to pass on warrior society teachings to create discipline and focus, thereby garnering more effective action.  Hopefully we'll be seeing  Warrior 101 workshops.  

In conclusion I feel 

1. OV should do more research before signing on to actions that conincide with other Occupations.

2.  That OV become true allies of First Nations

3. That there be recognition of 'the colonizer' in all of us and we work with anti-oppression workshops more to come to this self awareness

4. That OV become more creative and positive about action

5. That OV work from the inside and buy enough voting shares in the corporations involved with the Oil Sands (this may now be in the workings after it was suggested to a young man who seemed willing to take it on).

6.  Love , baby, Love!!!!

no compromise

While I appreciate much of your cynicism most notably in regards to Occupy's agknowledgement of indigenous nations, but continuing to advocate dialogue with the colonizing nation's government, and willingness to speak with union beauracrats even after being denounced.

This: 5. That OV work from the inside and buy enough voting shares in the corporations involved with the Oil Sands (this may now be in the workings after it was suggested to a young man who seemed willing to take it on).

  kind of voids many of the previous criticisms made

Taking part in the genocidal projects of the Canadian State and it's benefactors is one hell of a decolonization strategy.

Sure, some Vagabond!

Get 'Em From Every Angle

Where did I ever say anything about me dialoguing with the illegal government of Canada?  This is the the Tsleil-Waututh Nation's choice, not mine, but I stand in solidarity with them.  Please drop your defense shields and have a better read. 

"willingness to speak with union beauracrats even after being denounced."

Heh?

 

Working from the inside by having voting shares is an old but effective strategy...may as well hit 'em from every angle.  It's an effective tool for reaching other shareholders and influencing them ....has been used inumberable times to create better corporate practises.  Sorry if you're not familiar with this route.  Doesn't void anything.  

Every angle may attract or detract....depends where your sensibilities lay.  Myself, I won't be buying any shares in anything.  

This is all about doing research before making plans , and that's why Occupy the Ports was not effective at anything other than to piss the public off and allow for belt notches.....the 'victory' cry has been fabricated.  

If you want a clear picture of democracy please look up the Iroquois Constitution...purest form of democracy on earth because it's based on nature and we only find truth in nature.  Anything else is fabricated.

Two things

InsurgentG

Good article, except that you totally misrepresent the woman in question, her motives and intentions for trying to ban weapons from the camp. It was an attempt to try and turn the pacifists against the cops and it didn't work at all ... she's not a pacifist. It was an attempted coup that failed. Stupid pacifists can't even be manipulated by using their stupid pacifism, that's how lame they are. They do too much double-think when it comes to the pigs.

Scout_Vagabond

I acknowledge that a lot of the attempts to consult with FN have felt token and hollow when it comes to the occupy movement. It frequently disgusted me while I spent time around the camp, watching middle-class white kids don "peace paint" and beak off about what this or that "elder" gave them permission to do. It was painful to watch.

But this kind of direct action is always going to be unpopular with a whole spectrum of moderates (including most of the union brass who took us to task) and judging by your interpretation of the arrests made by police and your suggestions on use of tactics, I'd place you firmly in that camp. So by all means, do whatever you want with winter and so will the rest of us.

The FN likely have some "true allies" within the Occupy movement but as for me, I can be respectful and acknowledge colonialism without taking orders from anyone. Thanks. 

 

Sid

Actually I am not misrepresenting her in any way. I am 100% positive this woman was a pacifist as she went on stage another time and got a motion passed to make it clear that Occupy Vancouver was non-violent. She, at that time, cited that there were people there to train us in non-violent civil disobedience, and refused to engage in any kind of discussion as to the definition of violence.

sigh ...

Yeah well ... shame that you're "100%' on that because you're still wrong.

I know her personally, she's got a bunch of hand-to-hand combat training among other things that would obviously contradict your interpretation. Perhaps you approached her at a bad time or something, I don't know, I wasn't there. But knowing her, it's laughable to suggest she's a pacifist and she and I laughed about the ideas people get in to their heads before I ever read this article.

Sorry but thats the reality.

pizza!

Couple things:

Addendum to the pizza metaphor: 

- We don't have pizza every night, we have it when we've got the stuff to make pizza (and when that's what we decide we want to make). 

If we decided we wanted to have pizza every night, we'd be the Pizza Party. I don't want a Party (government), I want a Revolution and a Free Society! Perhaps this is the crux of our dissonance, that for you to sacrifice for the good of whole necessarily means denying self-fufilment. I'm not saying that every individual always must get their 'own way', but that the way we relate to one another has to be freely chosen, not encoded into some "participate in our process or don't participate in anything" kind of way. Can't I applaud an action in some remote country (for example) as being part of 'my revolution', because I can see in it our shared goals -- consensus after the fact? Why not also within the false boundaries of 'Vancouver'?

 

And also RE: "Do you have a girlfriend, a daughter... a mother?"

Patriarchy much? 

To reiterate, I do not act on behalf of anyone else, though I may act in ways that assert desires I wouldn't be surprised that others share, in ways that I hope are inviting their participation. Do I go out and assert claims that "All Anarchists think ____" or "All Occupiers say ___" simply by acting? It's not my fault if many people/media are stuck in this way of thinking, this base tokenism, which observes from without and then forms value judgements of all those seeming to fall within a lazily-defined 'group'. Trying to assert an identity politics within Occupy will crush the will of those to participate who cannot see themselves in that identity. It will take a concerted effort in order to make it identity-less, while still powerful. I think this is a common problem in any 'social justice'--oriented struggle: each group prioritizes a different branch of the same tree, identifies only with that branch, and continues to hack at it and teach others within their identiy group that THIS is the branch to get. We could all attack the root [if we can agree on what one might be -- ?], but that would mean allowing the struggle to define who we are, not the other way around. Spontaneous reactions to things as they're happening, which necessarily cannot be done under a long and arduous consensus process (but can be spontaneously consensed-upon by those who actively join in), are much different than planned actions, and I'd like to suggest that planned actions actively make space for spontaneity, by not enforcing consensus on tactics, but instead focusing on things like targets, time frames, safe spaces for refuge, food and medical support, and non-collaboration with anti-activist repression (from state/corporation 'authorities', & by those 'within' an action that would turn violent against their co-occupiers in favour of protecting state or corporate interests). 

I'm not saying anything new here, just channeling it through my own unique conduit -- love & solidarity to the freedom fighters!

 

 

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