Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from October, 2011

Should the uOMSA and the PCR-RCP Ottawa have Withdrawn from Occupy Ottawa?

This post is inspired by a comment from Morgan Finch on my previous post regarding the University of Ottawa Marxist Student Association (uOMSA) and the Revolutionary Party of Canada's Ottawa branch (PCR-RCP Ottawa) decision to currently withdraw from Occupy Ottawa.  In my response to Morgan Finch I indicated that I would probably edit and revise my thoughts for a future post which I think is important for three reasons: a) my responding comment was messy and disorganized; b) my blog readers don't always comb the comment strings; c) I was already thinking about the points this comment raised.  So I must thank Morgan Finch whose well-intentioned and considerate thoughts inspired this post.


Upon reading the uOMSA and PCR-RCP's joint statement regarding their current withdrawal from Ottawa's #occupy site, and spending a short period of time writing a post about red-baiting, I found myself considering the political efficacy of their withdrawal.  Since I still feel that the …

Red Baiting at Occupy Ottawa

A recent statement from the University Ottawa Marxist Students Association (uOMSA) and the Revolutionary Party of Canada's Ottawa branch (PCR-RCP Ottawa) has revealed that the #occupy site in Ottawa represents, perhaps, the political nadir of the "Occupy Everything" movement.  Here we have a group that involved itself, concretely and thoroughly, in the occupy movement of their city and tried to use this involvement to not only serve the people but to push for a more revolutionary agenda.  In the past I have spoken of the need to openly organize as communists in these spaces and the possible potential these spaces permit when it comes to radical organizing.  Although I think this statement holds as a general axiom, I believe it is also true that, due to the very nature of this occupy movement, there will be sites and spaces in various cities that, due to class composition and a willful liberal mindset amongst those involved, are politically bankrupt.

And yet the situation…

So Many Marches, So Little Time

Today I am skipping out of a giant march from my city's occupy site partially because, after yesterday and the march described in my previous post, I am not entirely interested in going to a march composed primarily of the trade union labour aristocracy, the usual left activist groups, police cooperation––all of the "family friendly" characteristics that have become commonplace in our demonstrations.  (Confession: I am also skipping the march because I have a bunch or reading to catch up on, the rest of my group isn't going, and today I am being lazy.)  This is not to say that I have a problem with "family friendly" marches, that I boycott them because I'm some sort of super radical who only wants marches where we might possibly fight the police: I am not some macho ultra-leftist who thinks the only people who should be on the street protesting are those who are able-bodied and without children––hell, as much as I hate the limits of these marches, I usu…

Two Lane Struggle

For much of this week I have constantly been reminded of an article by the Ignite Collective, The Objectivity of the Streets, whenever I have observed Occupy Toronto's interaction with the police.  When you have a [non]official police liaison who is one of the movement's [non]leaders, when there are rumours of other [non]leaders possibly collaborating with the cops by providing them names of the "trouble-makers", when you inform the police of your breakaway marches, and when you persistently try to make people think that the pigs are in the same camp as you––that they are part of your "ninety nine per cent"––then your movement isn't as radical as you would like people to believe.  As the Ignite Collective wrote, based on their experience within the #occupy wallstreet movement:
"What struggle for liberation would leave the NYPD intact? Or any other police force? How could we? There are of course particularities to each police force, there may be scat…

Whither Thou, Communism?

Although communists continue to comprise a significant portion of the anti-capitalist left's population in Canada and the United States, ever since the fall of the Eastern Bloc and the flurry of anti-communism that triumphed with the capitalist end of history, the existence of communist organizations and individuals has largely been seen as anachronistic by the non-activist mainstream.  In the Western Hemisphere's centres of capitalism, these nightmare fortresses of advanced capital, the common discourse of communist failure and supposed atrocity––all the cold war propaganda that has been victorious since the end of the Soviet Union and the free marketization of China––has helped produce the misconception that communism and communists are a thing of the past.  And even when the typically myopic western mind is able to admit, with grudging confusion, that communism might be an ongoing reality over there, it generally is unable to comprehend the persistence of communist ideology…

Today at "Occupy" Toronto

Between the discourse that rejects every sudden social movement that is limited and imperfect, and the discourse that fetishizes every new movementist brand with the ahistorical belief that these moments are Unique and Revolutionary, is the reality of the #occupy movement.  Neither discourse is capable of providing a concrete analysis of a concrete situation; both project their own delusions, distorting reality, on this explosive but limited event.  The amount of "I will never get involved because I'm smarter and more radical" complaints are equaled only by the "I'm going to tail this movement because it is so awesome and liberating" statements.  Although those of us who are communists are supposed to be thinking dialectically, and finding the nuanced unity of opposites in our understanding of this moment, we tend to swing to either side in how we make sense of this fragile event.  Either position will result in an inability to take advantage of this opport…

Smarmy Social Democrats on the Anniversary of the Long March

Yesterday, during the initiation of #occupytoronto, the group with which I was involved brought a banner of Mao's face to our anti-imperialist march and into the occupy site.  This was appropriate because, as the person who painted the banner reminded me, today is the anniversary of the beginning of the Long March. Although I'm not always into expressing my politics through floating heads (because I think that sometimes this facialization might obscure political content), what made the banner interesting in this specific context was that it encouraged more attention and interaction than the majority of other banners that were mainly acronyms, abstract designs, and not entirely distinguishable from each other.

For most of yesterday the banner was photographed by pretty much everyone with a camera (sometimes these people asked us to pose, or asked to take a picture with Mao's head), but more importantly we were forced to interact with a constant barrage of people who wanted …

Uncritical Zeal

Since the "occupy" zeitgeist is manifesting in my city this Saturday, and since I'm going to be part of an anti-imperialist contingent that will enter the site of occupation with red flags flying, I have been following the left debates of the movement, and speaking with comrades across the border who are involved in said movement, with critical interest.  Indeed, the reason for my earlier post about the petty bourgeois boundaries of #occupy was the result of digesting innumerable interventions and polemical exchanges, as well as discussing the politics and practice of those most enthralled by the "occupy" movement with more sober and critical activists who were still involved.

As much as I still think it's important to get involved, and am excited at the possibilities this critical mass might produce in Toronto, I have been utterly unimpressed by the uncritical zeal evinced by #occupy's strongest supporters and [informal] organizers.  In my previous pos…

Anti-Imperialist Contingent March to #occupytoronto

In my previous post I discussed the ideological boundaries, the general petty bourgeois consciousness, that currently delimit the politics of the #occupy movement.  Now that it is about to arrive in Toronto, the facts I described are becoming more evident––especially when the excited organizers (or non-organizers considering the reality of the we-have-no-leaders informal leadership approach) and soon-to-be participants are making absurd exclamations like "it's time to take Canada back."  But Canada was always a colonial-capitalist nation, an imperial settlement since its inception, and these demands to return to a rosier and friendlier settler-colonial capitalist reality runs dangerously close to reactionary nostalgia.  [Tangental point for Jude and Sarah: a nod to our discussion of the politics of nostalgia!]  A desire to return to something that did not exist, a desire to make capitalism more humane like it was in "the good old days" (was it really, and for w…

Contesting Petty Bourgeois Spaces

The growth of the "occupy" movement that started on Wallstreet (and will soon arrive, for better or worse, in Toronto) has produced a discourse about the exploited 99% and the exploiting 1% that, although accurate, is being preached by a sector of people who might otherwise resist the use of such terminology.  Since this movement is currently dominated by a class of people who make up, perhaps, the top 20% of the ninety-nine in the US and Canada––and probably only four or five per cent of the global ninety-nine––the fact that it is speaking, in very broad brushstrokes, in language vaguely akin to the language of communists is extremely interesting.

At the same time, though, due to the class that is currently in command of this movement (the supposed lack of leaders does not mean, as it never does, the absence of an informal leadership – meaning, a leadership dominated by the most privileged) the discourse of the 99%, though clearly important as a starting point, is locked wi…