get ready for a General Strike May 1

The call for a global general strike beginning on May 1 is exciting and with luck, millions of people will rise up and shut down the economy — but we need to make sure any general strike has a strong foundation, moves our struggle in a positive direction and addresses regular people who aren’t already active within the occupy scene. Calling a general strike — in which everyone in every industry and job is asked to risk their livelihood by walking out — is a dramatic act. If successful, it would mean stores and factories would close, transport would cease to function, and day-to-day commerce would grind to a halt.

There is a risk that those calling for the strike are being romantic and impractical — getting ahead of themselves. Most of the hundreds of occupations around the country are just in the beginning stages of the long, difficult process of building social connections to large numbers of regular people in the community — a necessary pre-requisite for effectively pulling off a general strike. While building an effective general strike is a major long-shot, it is not entirely impossible given the powerful social contradictions disclosed by the occupy movement, which the mainstream political and economic system is incapable of addressing.

Some of the calls for action circulating as Slingshot goes to press that try to explain why there should be a general strike need additional thought and work. For example, the call to action issued by Occupy LA reads, in part, “The goal is to shut down commerce worldwide and show the 1% we will not be taken for granted, we will not be silenced, WE WILL NOT MOVE until our grievances are redressed.”

Now is not the time to reduce the beauty of the occupy phenomenon to protesting-as-usual in which we organize events for the sake of organizing them — without really believing our own rhetoric or aiming to succeed — or in which we beg our rulers to redress grievances for us. This concedes that those in power are legitimate and have a right to retain their power. Why should we beg them for crumbs rather than uniting to topple them?

We have to ask whether we really want any of the things those in power can give us? The reason so many of us occupied across the country is that the political and economic systems are broken. Our votes, our job searches, our compliance with bureaucratic rules, our passive acceptance of corrupt power structures — none of it got us anywhere. Within the occupation, we dismissed our faith in the failed system and instead built our own solidarity, community and power to begin to redefine what is important in the world and destroy the structures of power that stop us from living the lives we really want.

In a redefined world, the capitalists, the bankers, their politicians and the whole modern power structure will be as irrelevant and ridiculous as the kings, serfs and slavery of 200 years ago seem to us now.

Occupy is, fundamentally, about class struggle. The wealth gap between the majority of people who work for a living and the tiny fraction who skim off most of the money by virtue of owning stuff, not by working, has reached a breaking point. Anything the rulers own was created by us — those who work. Yet decades of propaganda have sold many people on the idea that we need the rich as “job creators” and that if they get richer, their wealth will eventually “trickle down” to those below.

The first phase of the occupy movement has been about gathering strength, recognizing our numbers, grasping community, and liberating a wide-ranging critical discussion of the existing power structure. The crucial role of opening up dialog cannot be overstated. It is hard to remember how unfashionable and difficult it was to talk about class inequality and economic injustice just a few months ago. Slogans like “we are the 99%” articulated something everyone knew, yet few wanted to openly discuss. We have to start by killing the businessman in our heads.

But as powerful as standing up against gross economic inequality felt last fall, the occupy movement can’t succeed by just being against things. We are for a new kind of world and while part of it is about money and a fair distribution of wealth, our real power comes from something deeper. Being for something new brings us creative, courageous, passionate juices that arise from love. That is one reason why our occupations felt so meaningful — we were building a community and creating libraries, kids villages, medic tents, general assemblies, rather than just being against something.

The key to a new world is not just re-distributing money in a more reasonable fashion. Rather, the key is exposing the big lie behind the corporate rat-race that the 1% are pushing — that our lives are mostly about money and things and that a pay increase or a fatter bank account will give us satisfaction. Capitalism requires constant economic expansion, which means the system has to constantly psychologically manipulate us to want more, buy more and work more. The list of material goods and services that defined a “good life” in 1950 would be considered poverty in 2012. And the things we want now won’t seem like enough in another ten years, unless somehow we step off the hamster wheel.

In developed economies like the US, we’re way past the point where more stuff improves our lives. The typical suburban house keeps getting bigger, cars and electronics keep getting more sophisticated and super stores are stuffed with products. Many people are always seeking the next new thing or experience but when they get there, it always feels somehow empty. The system expands by transforming things we once did for ourselves, our families or our communities into services provided by industry — entertainment, cooking, grooming, healthcare, childcare. The economic machine expands voraciously, addressing its own needs for growth rather than human needs for freedom, connection and engagement.

Psychologically, many of us suffer fallout from these economic imperatives and assume that bigger is always better, leading us to try to improve the size and scale of our protests and actions, rather than concentrating on the quality of our actions. So if an occupation or protest is good, the next action has to always be bigger, more disruptive, louder.

The most important aspect of the early days of the occupy movement was not size, per se, although it was important that the moment spoke to people and that a lot of people plugged in. Rather, the novel thing was the way we felt at the occupation — the amazing sense of engagement, agency, community and dialog.

Those days and those experiences were so powerful to so many of us that now, our attempts to re-create those feelings may paradoxically make it more difficult for us to move forward. Feeling so good is like crack — we want that feeling back. But you cannot organize the surge of excitement that was present at the birth of the occupations — it happened because conditions were right and we were lucky enough to be there to experience it. That doesn’t mean we can’t keep things moving, but there is a danger in trying to simplistically re-create the particular tactics or symbols of particular moments rather than staying aware of the mood now and letting that be our guide as tactics change and evolve.

Calling a global general strike can be a reasonable tactic to respond to social conditions, but for it to be relevant it has to be part of an integrated struggle — it has to evolve organically from our lives and our communities. It has to be big but also deep, touching grassroots and hearts. We have to go beyond making big actions for their own sake if by doing so the exercise feels alienating or meaningless. To avoid that, we have to figure out how our actions will keep us present, build community, encourage critical thinking, create dialog, while discrediting and de-legitimizing the system. How can we point out the a
bsurdity of a system where a handful of people control everything because of a few numbers on a computer screen? Billionaires and their fortunes are the modern equivalent of the divine right of kings.

Engaging and changing minds is way more crucial than providing “colorful visuals” for media consumers. Our actions have to avoid becoming just another part of the modern media spectacle — we are not faceless numbers at a protest. How can we avoid getting distracted by traditional traps — endless ritualized struggles with the police or boring engagements with election year politics — and instead focus on creating an alternative narrative outside of the currently available categories? To keep the scene moving in a positive direction, we have to focus on as big a picture as we can conceive and bring up ideas not currently on the table.

While autonomous action has been a key strength of the occupy movement, and the original Wall Street occupation came out of an autonomous call from Adbusters magazine rather than consultation with the community, we may now be suffering from too much of a good thing as many occupations, organizations and individuals all simultaneously call ambitious, sometimes national actions like the multiple, simultaneous calls for a general strike. There is a fine line between an autonomous action and an adventurist action. It is probably impossible to get a good balance between autonomous action and actions designed by committee that, after going through too many general assemblies and quasi-bureaucratic hoops, become mushy, watered down exercises that appeal only to the lowest common denominator. Still, we can think about the tension and try.

As Slingshot goes to press, there are three months left to build a national general strike. That’s not long for a traditional gradual organizing campaign, but an eternity for a wildfire or an idea whose time has come. Resistance can easily take off if it tastes delicious in everyone’s mouth. This has to go far beyond the relatively small pockets that occupied last fall, and that only will happen if we keep our mind on the quality of the process and the feeling of engagement and participation. We can make the general strike if we do it for ourselves and the world we are creating and if we do it with love in our hearts.

Radical Action Art

Art might have been dead for some time. It was killed by Jackson Pollock, for instance, who was bolstered with the help of the shadow government in the United States (spelt C.I.A.). His images were used to promote an image of the U.S. as a place of rough edges that would presumably be a reflection of the freedom to be found in the West – a conscious juxtaposition to the Soviet threat to empire. So for a time America became the place for blue jeans, bubble gum, discordant music, and abstract expressionism. It was an easy move to be made, an erasure of the socially conscious art currents of the time. “What unrest? We have jazz.” It was in this environment that the Situationist International could call the beats the “right wing of the youth revolt.”

The elements of this youth revolt that made it into dominant histories were disparate, to put it simply: bohemian tenements churned out a few generations of artists who reflected the American way. With coffee sitting in their guts, the new American art produced what was little more than glorified navel-gazing. These constructed images of revolt were impressed on the minds of generation after generation and simplified until any real political content they might have contained was trivialized if not altogether lost. Art rebellion took little more than an expensive drug habit and some paint.

Open an art magazine today and what you will find are a bunch of pretty pictures, that much is true. But for what? None of it actually brings anything new to the table. Trends in the art world reflect esoteric traditions (be it abstract expressionism, or pop surrealism, or so-called degenerate art, etc.) strung together by the happy art students of yesteryear. Beneath the trade magazines is another oil-saturated beach… Beyond the niche magazine rack, though, is a world of artists who are now actively resisting the depoliticization of art practice. This wave of political artists knew that everything else seemed old and tired because it was, that one was only a part of one’s time with an awareness of the networks of power that shape our daily lives.

“Contemporary art is, first of all, an art activism for us, and not the piles of the art-rubbish kept in the galleries,” says Natalia Sokol, member of the actionist art collective Voina. Formed in Russia in 2005, Voina started by planning and executing anonymous street actions that would lay the foundation for the group and its more public incarnation. Voina, meaning “War,” developed a means of guerrilla street theatre that might find its origins just as much in the Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers as Antonin Artaud.

By 2008, Voina was executing actions that they themselves began to publicize online through video documentation. Their actions conisted of social antagonism on a grand-scale – from a 60 meter phallus that overshadowed the Russian police headquarters to an orgy in a Moscow museum (during elections, nonetheless), Voina in a sense broke the mold for anarchist action. In the production of a short film, they gave themselves the excuse to overturn police cruisers: in the end passing the ball to whomever is willing.

Voina is a reflection of a new Russia that has now been dealing with capitalism and its supportive bureacrats for sometime. Dominant media narratives present the Russian context as anachronistic, with Voina’s attacks being seen as a natural product of a backwards society. The question as to how the situation might be similar in the U.S. is altogether avoided. For many, the sort of antagonism found in the movements of Voina would be out of the question in a more developed democracy, or ignored as they often are. But it is clear that the failures of democracy-in-the-name-of-capitalism are making themselves more and more apparent across the world. “Nowadays, when even hope for democracy in Russia is ruined,” says Voina conspirator, Alex Plutser-Sarno, “painting flowers and pussy cats or making any other ‘pure’ art, lacking a socio-political content, is to support the right-wing authorities.” Plutser-Sarno prefers a skull-and-crossbones.

It is true that the present generation’s art has been energized with radical social and spatial ideas. Art, however, has always been influenced by the “political.” In the West, we might think of classic examples such as David’s Death of Marat (a leader in the French Revolution), Picasso’s Guernica, or Shepard Fairey’s Obama poster. It’s not by the accidental hazards of information distribution that more marginalized art from the undercurrents of culture and the “undeveloped” world have not been more widely circulated. As Judith Butler once unfortunately said at a bourgeosie art happening in SF in the Spring of 2011: (QUOTE)

Here are some examples of politicized art from the fringes: Maria “Marusya” Nikiforova’s paintings and sculptures created in an interim time between fighting as an anarchist revolutionary in pre-Soviet Russia, Theatre of the Oppressed workshops in Latin America, posters made by the Association of Artists for Freedom of Expression (1st Palestinian Intifada), anti-apartheid prints from the Screen Training Project in Joahnnesburg, the San Francisco Digger’s free/widely attended concerts, and woodcuts depicting the Gwangju uprising against the brutal South Korean military in 1980.

Just as the African National Conference’s contribution and leadership for the anti-apartheid movement is often over-commemorated at the expense of less-celebrated leaders and parts of the movement (SUCH AS), so has American “Progressive Art” taken center stage to fringe art movements such as squatter punk art.

Some radical art is in plain sight and simply needs the right contextual history to understand it: have you ever gazed closely at the murals in the SOMA Rincon annex post office in San Francisco? The artist, a Frenchman named Anton Refregier, was forced to censor his own work when officials had a look at his paintings of union victories and the enslavement of Native Americans by Spanish missionaries. This 1948 work remains a blatantly anti-colonial and anti-capitalist bit of propaganda, though it resides over the gateway to another mural inside the Rincon building. The Rincon building’s newer mural (created in the 1980’s) references Refregier’s style through the trappings of neo-art deco revival. However, the content all but laughs at Refregiers’s message and triumphs the censoship that clipped its wings. The 1980’s mural is mostly about shiny technocratic futures where everyone will pertly go about processing data on computers, smelting more steel for high-risers, and developing new drugs in the pharmaceutical industry.

We can therefore dismiss the idea that art has not been “radical” or “politicized” until now. That’s certainly how it feels most of the time, and that’s what a contemporary art current called ‘Experimental Geography” has attempted to address. The “experimental” part of that moniker refers to a fluid, non-dual definition of art. Art should be about expoding boundaries, not creating new constrictions. The “geography” part is about the spatial, social, and political awareness that artists re-adopted, revived, and hoisted up on their shoulders as part of the important tools of activist/ artist work. What did Natalia Sokol means when she said “Contemporary art is, first of all, an art activism for us” ? If neoliberalism is based upon a culture of conquest, plunder, cartesian measurement, categorization (often racialized), and mapping, then the art of resistance must understand the spatial aspect of our society and world, as well. Geography, in the cotemporary sense, is not about knowing about the capitals of all the countries of the world. Instead, it draws from two major philisophical wells: Marxism and the production of space. Geographers are influenced by Marx by his idea of production. Just as commodities are made, so are ideas and cultural artefacts, albeit in different ways. Thus, one of the most important questions that contemporary experimental geography asks
is not “Is this art?” but “How was this art produced and how will it in turn produce new socio-political realities?” The logic is, then, that if a work of art is produced through the vain attempts of rich art students to gain sexual partners, and it comments little if at all on any political or social struggle, that it is not worth much at all as a piece of art.

Instead of telling the reader what experimental geogrpahy is, one beautiful example called the “Transborder Tool” can help show the point of this new wave of art action. The “Transborder Tool” was created by a collective with ties to the University of California, San Diego. The B.A.N.G lab created a simple geographic information systems software-supported platform for cheap cell phones. The result? A cheap, easy, mobile way to access information about where to find water, food, and shelter used by undocumented immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexican border. Included with the tool was poetry recited by members of B.A.N.G. The author of the poems said of her work “(The poetry) acts as one of the Transborder Immigrant Tool’s internal compasses, clarifying the ways and means by which I and my collaborators approach this project as ethically inflected, as transcending the local of (bi-)national politics, of borders and their policing.” The collective who created the tool thus made powerful statements against nationalism, national borders, and the destruction of human life and hindrance of free movement that go along with such products of modern nation-states. The”experimental” part was plain: a détourn of two technological emblems of power: Geographical Information Systems Science (GIS) and cell phone technology, turned on their heads. The experiment had mixed results: some lauded it as an important reappropriation of technology. Glenn Beck wept piteously on FOX about the terrorist-intellectuals who “believe in overthrowing the government of the United States of America.”

Contemporary geographers and contemporary experimental geographers are influenced by Marx, but they are equally inspired by a man called Le Febvre. Le Febvre believed that the new spatial code, rather than texts, maps, and graphics, would be action. A spatial code of action would mean that ideas about space (borders, militarized zones, plazas, shopping malls, billboards, foreclosed homes owned by banks…) are now most effectively communicated through action as opposed to symbolic language. Artists have followed suit, whether that means to organize flash-mob style street theater or to communicate a call to radical organizing through symbolically communicated art. A poster can still incite a riot, even though it is representational.

Trevor Paglen coined the term “experimental geography,” although he does not have a monopoly on the practice of such a discipline. Paglen was a graduate student in the Geography department at UC Berkeley, where he was also active in the art department. Today, he helps run a blog called “Art Threat.: Not only does Art Threat document hundreds if not thousands of works of political art, but they report on radical news and they participate in protest actions: on January 18th of this year their website went dark for 24 hours to speak out against the Stop Online Piracy Act that would shut down any website displaying or linking to copyright content. One of Paglen’s books, “I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have To Be Destroyed By Me,” is a catalog of patches worn by military personnel. The insignia denote secret “black” covert operations. His curation of these patches is certainly a work of art, but how the patches were compiled, and what kind of reaction they in turn elicit from people is of the patches in the book is called “Project Zipper.” A smiley face wearing sunglasses and a zipped smile reads “we make threats not promises.” The patch represents a secret project by the 413th Flight Test Squadron. Said one disillusioned and alienated member of the “black world” when he saw Paglen’s patches, “I’ve seen that sort of thing a lot. Those are gang colors.” The actions that Paglen’s art calls us to do is obviously to oppose the power that is derived by the United States’ government through military secrecy.

Recently in Oakland there has been many examples of radical art or experimental geography providing spatial tactics of resistance. As this issue of Slingshot whet to print, Occupy Oakland was creating large puppets to use for the Occupy Wall Street protest on January 20th. Chalk art in Oscar Grant Plaza depics a pointilllism of Guy Fawkes and colorful announcements about Fuck The Police marches. During a general assembly last fall, someone silk screened “Hella Occupy Oakland” posters depicting the city. We can look at such as poster and under stand that the call to occupy and the depiction of city buildings invite us to enter into more public spaces or foreclosed homes and claim the geographies of life, action, and resistance that have been stolen from us.

Slingshot Introduction – issue #109

Slingshot is an independent radical newspaper published in Berkeley since 1988.

Every time we make Slingshot, there’s that moment of panic when we realize all the shit we neglected to include in the paper. Yesterday, there was a huge protest in San Francisco’s financial district. There are still troops in Iraq (despite the fake pull out), as well as in Afghanistan, and these lingering wars are sucking up cash that could go to teachers. Even creepier, the recent announcement that US Marines will be stationed in Australia (?!) And what the fuck is going on with Pakistan? And all of us are biting our nails as the long-held squat (in which many of our collective’s members reside) is faced with the threat of eviction — maybe for real this time.

Part of what needs to be expressed in an unvarnished, earnest way is that we’re not okay with the way things are going and we’re turning our energy to something else. The community of people that create this newspaper want to live the struggle that has so recently engaged us to the limits of our ability — but we also want to record it. We don’t have to specialize in one task — observing or participating — in order to build powerful resistance.

We hope the existence of this project makes clear that anyone can step out against the machine and build alternatives. Making a paper is do-it-yourself — you can make it up, write it up, draw it up, figure it out and mail it out. You don’t have to be an expert or have training. If you’re thinking, struggling, writing or making art, we would love to meet you — don’t be shy — send us something.

• • •

Seen at the Seattle GA: someone made a motion to change the group’s website slogan to read: “Occupy Seattle: A Leaderful Movement” because “all of us here are leaders.” The motion was approved, but some folks immediately protested, explaining “some of us would prefer to be identified as leaderless.” The GA ultimately decided to change the website to read: “Occupy Seattle: A Leaderful and Leaderless Movement.”

• • •

While making this issue’s poster, we had a weekend-long brainstorm to come up with poster slogans. Here’s some of the ideas we came up with that we didn’t use. If you have artistic skills, please send us a poster for one of these, or an even better slogan you come up with:

• Whatever is Toppling Should Also Be Pushed

• Capitalism: Short Term Gain, Long Term Pain

• Take Action Seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously


• Forget What You’ve Been Taught – Start by Dreaming

• Cut – Baker B

• Maintain the Perpetual Moral Unhinging of the Machine

• Speak to my Ass. My Head is Sick.

• Capitalism is over, get into it

• I would think of a slogan, but my brain isn’t there right now

• Why should our virtues be grave? We like ours nimble-footed

Goodbye Capitalism, I won’t miss you at all

• • •

Slingshot is always looking for new writers, artists, editors, photographers, translators, distributors, etc. to make this paper. If you send something written, please be open to editing.

Editorial decisions are made by the Slingshot Collective but not all the articles reflect the opinions of all collectives members. We welcome debate and constructive criticism.

Thanks to the people who made this: Anka, Ant, Baker B, Bird, Claire, Cyd, Eggplant, Glenn, Jess, Jesse, Joey, Josh, Kathryn, Kazoo, Kermit, Lew, Martin, Roxanne, Samara, Solomon and all the authors and artists.

Slingshot New Volunteer Meeting

Volunteers interested in getting involved with Slingshot can come to the new volunteer meeting on Sunday, February 26, 2012 at 4 p.m. at the Long Haul in Berkeley (see below.)

Article Deadline & Next Issue Date

Submit your articles for issue 110 by March 10, 2012 at 3 p.m.

Volume 1, Number 109, Circulation 19,000

Printed January 27, 2012

Slingshot Newspaper

A publication of Long Haul

Office: 3124 Shattuck Avenue

Mailing: PO Box 3051, Berkeley, CA 94703

Phone (510) 540-0751 •

Circulation Information

Subscriptions to Slingshot are free to prisoners, low income and anyone in the USA with a Slingshot Organizer, or $1 per issue or back issue. International $3 per issue. Outside the Bay Area we’ll mail you a free stack of copies if you give them out for free. Note: they come in 1 lb. packages – you can order 1 package or up to 6 (6 lbs) for free – let us know how many you want. In the Bay Area, pick up copies at Long Haul or Bound Together Books in SF.

Slingshot Back Issues

We’ll send you a random assortment of back issues of Slingshot for the cost of postage: Send $3 for 2 lbs. Free if you’re an infoshop or library. Also, our full-color coffee table book about People’s Park is free or by sliding scale donation: send $1 – $25 for a copy. PO Box 3051 Berkeley, CA 94703.

corners of the Globe – radical community spaces

As we create a new world based on cooperation, justice, pleasure and sustainability, folks around the world are occupying spaces where we can experiment, learn, and build strength and community. Here are some new or existing radical spaces that asked to be listed in the radical contact list for the 2013 Slingshot organizer. It is exciting to see so many communities from so many corners of the globe building alternatives to the rotten economic and political systems that oppress us and are destroying the earth. While our resistance is global, each individual project is a struggle to keep going. Drop by and offer some support and a hug (if they want one). Find the updated radical contact list on our website: Happy traveling.

Earth House Collective – Indianapolis, IN

A community center that hosts concerts, classes, art, film and performance with a vegetarian cafe. 237 N. East Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204 317-636-4060,

Firehouse 51 – Modesto, CA

A social center with a library, work-space and silkscreen shop that hosts meetings, films and speakers. 410 James Street, Modesto, CA 95354

Community Center Coalition – Lancaster, PA

A space with zines and info that hosts community projects and events. 307 N. Queen St, Lancaster, PA 17603 717-393-3848

The Holdout – Oakland, CA

An organizing and events space with a bookstore and bike shop that hosts workshops, classes, meetings and events. 2313 San Pablo, Oakland, CA 94612

Casa TAller Aziz – Brownsville, TX

A workshop house for craft skill sharing with an herb garden and a hostel. 1205 West Elizabeth, Brownsville, TX 78520

Soapbox – Philadelphia, PA

An independent publishing center with equipment, instruction and skillsharing for do-it-yourself printing, art and zine making. They host events and have a zine library. 741 S. 51st St. Philadelphia, PA 19143.

Bartertown Diner & Roc’s Cakes – Grand Rapids, MI

A collectively-run / worker-owned vegan / vegetarian diner with class war kitchen classes. 6 Jefferson Ave SE Grand Rapids, MI 49503. 616 233 3219

Hungry Knife – Arizona City, AZ

A rural, collectively operated art, design and residential space. “South-Central Arizona’s Most Dangerous Arts and Crafts Collective!” 10565 W. Fernando Drive Arizona City, AZ 85123-3287 (mail: P.O. Box 3287 Arizona City, AZ 85123-3287), (520) 466-8353,

Family Visions Ctr. – St. Louis, MO

A community center/house that hosts Food Not Bombs events. 3706 Texas Avenue St. Louis, MO 63118 314-600-2762

GNU Gallery – Fort Collins, CO

A DIY art gallery / music venue. 109 Linden St., Fort Collins, CO 80524

Twin Oaks Community – Louisa, VA

A long-standing (since 1967), democratically run agrarian ecovillage / intentional community of about 100 people who share income and housing, operate community businesses, and grow about 70% of their own food. They host an annual Women’s gathering and an intentional community gathering. 138 Twin Oaks Rd, Louisa VA 23093 540-894-5126

Quimby’s Bookstore – Chicago, IL

A small press, independent publishing, zine and comic oriented bookstore that hosts events. 1854 W. North Ave. Chicago, IL 60622 773-342-0910

3rd Ave Collective Infoshop – Prince George, BC, Canada

Volunteer run with a lending library, zine collection, coffee/tea, Food Not Bombs, free internet, a gardening club, bike tools and art supplies. They host meetings, events and films. Open 7 days a week. 1157 3rd Ave, Prince George, BC V2L 1T6, Canada

Centre for Community Organizations – Montreal, Canada

A social justice non-profit with a lending library. Suite 470, 3680 Jeanne-Mance, Montreal QC H2X 2K5 (514) 849-5599

Freiraum Dachau – Dachau, Germany

An autonomous center with an infoshop and cafe. Brunngartenstr.7 , 85221 Dachau, Germany.

Underground art space AGIT – Busan, South Korea

An indy artist space that hosts parties, concerts and alternative events. 74-36 Jangjeon 1-Dong, Geumjeong-gu, Busan, South Korea 8216-866-1235;

Bingage Cafe – Seoul, South Korea

A radical cafe – send us a description if you visit. 2-22-1 Yongsan-Dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea +82(70)8748-1968

Go Straight Cafe – Taipei, Taiwan

A gathering spot that hosts events, discussion groups, fundraisers and meetings. Tingzhou Rd., Zhongzheng Dist., Taipei City 100, Taiwan (three lane 27
 Taipower building station exit first, along the alley Lyle rich left straight ahead.) +886 (2) 2365-7303

HANTENCHI – Fukuoka, Japan

An infoshop & bar – active in anti-nuclear work. Shintenjin bld 2nd floor 1-23-4 Imaizumi Chuo-ku Fukuoka-city Japan

Bar Six – Okinawa, Japan

A punk oriented bar with shows – their website has an anarchy @ at the top, but the text is all in Japanese, and I don’t read Japanese. The Google translation is beyond useless. Comes well recommended from anarchist comrades in Asia. 1-36-10 chuo Okinawa-city Okinawa Japan,

Wooferten – Hong Kong, China

A non-profit art collective that hosts workshops, discussions and performances with “social-political relevance.” Their website notes “instead of attempting an out-of-place white cube arty gallery, Woofer Ten moulds itself more like a community centre, a platform for art projects to explore new approaches in bridging the community and art making. Woofer Ten treasures the participation of our neighboring community and audiences, and see its art programs as creative interventions upon our community and society at large.” G/F 404 Shanghai Street, Kln., HongKong +852 3485 6499,

Changes to the 2012 Slingshot Organizer

• We forgot to publish a listing for the Candlelight Collective in West Bend, IN. Their address is 258 N. Main St. (Basement), West Bend, WI 53095, This is especially bad because we left them out of the 2011 organizer, too. Sorry. Note to editor: DO NOT forget this listing for 2013!

• The address for the Clear Creek Coop in Richmond, IN has changed. It is now at 710 East Main Street Richmond, IN 47374-4312.

• Sedition Books in Houston is no longer at 901 Richmond – they are reportedly looking for a new space.

• The Blood Orange infoshop has moved – they are now at 3485 University Ave. Studio 2 Riverside, CA 92507

• We managed to list the wrong address for Lucy Parsons Center for two years in a row! Now that’s dedication . . . but in the wrong direction. For 2012, they are actually at 358A Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130, (617) 522-6098. We listed them at that address in the 2011 organizer, because we knew they were going to move there at some point soon, but they didn’t actually move until December, 2011. For unknown reasons, we went back to the old address for the 2012 organizer, even though we clearly knew a year before that that they were about to move. Please visit them.

• Open Books has moved – their new address is 1040 N Guillemard St. Pensacola FL 32501-3160.

• We got mail returned from Boing! anarchist collective in Salt Lake City – no one answered their phone when we called so we’re not sure if they exist anymore or not.

• Little Sisters in Vancouver, BC got left out of the organizer – they are at 1238 Davie St. Vancouver, BC V6E 1N4 604-669-1753.

• We heard that the Roberts Social Center Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada may lose their lease in May unless they can purchase the building. Stay tuned.

• We forgot to list Utopia
Infoshop: Bělehradská 45, Czech Republic.


Accepting nominations for the 2012 Wingnut Award

Slingshot will award its eighth annual Award for Lifetime Achievement — the Golden Wingnut — at its 24th birthday party on Sunday, March 11 at 3124 Shattuck in Berkeley (8 pm). Slingshot created the Lifetime Achievement Award to recognize direct action radicals who have dedicated their lives to the struggle for alternatives to the current absurd system. Wingnut is the term some of us use to refer to folks who blend radicalism and a highly individual personal style — more than just another boring radical. Golden Wingnuts mix determination, inspiration and flair. The winner has their biography featured in our next issue, and will receive a wingnut trophy and super-hero outfit.

We’re looking for nominations. To be eligible, an individual has to be currently alive and must have at least 25 years of “service”. Please send your nominations by 5 p.m. on March 1 along with why a particular person should be awarded the Golden Wingnut for 2012 to

were you born in a barn ?!?! don't let the cold air of the NDAA in

By Discreet Music

“What’s said in this room — stays in this room.” This is a common instruction for political groups when meeting over a sensitive subject. Unfortunately people need to learn or possibly relearn this maxim. Activist papers such as this one often warn of the creeping police state, yet life goes on for most people. That is the way the state operates though — insidious maneuvers of foul play while most people continue in their distractions and keeping their heads above water. The most recent move came in the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act in the beginning of this year. It has only angered the usual watchdogs groups of civil rights and activists, but hasn’t reached the irie of say, the teenybopper set. The act essentially green lights the government to imprison US citizens without a trial — and even opens up the possibility of execution.

The proponents of the Bill assure us that the expanded powers will only apply to terrorist groups. But the vague definition of enemy combatant potentially opens the door to anyone. This grants Americans the privilege to feel what most people in the world have felt coming from the US government since 9-11. The government has already proven it’s right-leaning tendencies in carrying out their laws. One example is in downplaying the harassment and assassinations of abortion doctors while it labels Food Not Bombs — a non-violent group that feeds the homeless — as terrorist. The possibility of a mass movement in this country — one that is not right wing — being labeled as terrorist is almost predictable. With the Occupy movement becoming increasingly effective one could easily see it being smeared and labeled as outlaw.

The irony of the new provisions of the NDAA is that it empowers the US government to do what other governments have practiced for decades. Places like Egypt and Tunisia have had similar laws to terrorize the population and consolidate power, which have been a major factor in igniting the protests that started the Arab Spring in early 2011. To the people paying attention it comes as no surprise when governments act in a hypocritical manner. It is why we protest — and have been waiting for more people to protest as well.

The oppression that the NDAA precipitates is not going to be outright, but gradual. Locally, Occupy die-hards are being stopped and harassed by the Oakland police for simply being involved with the movement. There is also word from people who are arrested that they are being tagged and processed as terrorists. The government simply does not want an organized and independent people ignoring their dictates. Dig those days at the Oakland Commune where the police were chased out of the camp. It is actions like that which must never be exported out of Oscar Grant Plaza, or it would be the doom of a false order.

I don’t know if people encounter this condition in other places, but California is pretty loose. Lately I have encountered lots of people being really casual in talking in public places about shit like Occupy street protests, pot trimming or squatting. At times people are in mass transit or at other times they are at a party — the point is we are among strangers and even employees of the state. My normal approach in discussing our resistance is to be discreet. What unnerves me is the sort of pride and flaunting of illegal activity that they feel compelled to express in a loud volume. It’s not like any of us are engaged in real underground activities, yet I still have mixed feelings regarding boasting. On one hand a majority of the laws are bullshit and shouldn’t be given the dignity of obedience, on the other I do not desire to carelessly give out any information.

Still, it is better to have people out of the courts and prisons doing community work. Many of the people I described have not met the system head-on, so they have not considered the consequences of careless talk. Try a grand jury for example. In the meantime the, “What’s said in this room” mantra can apply not only to meetings, but to the protests and actions we go to. So some friendly reminders are in order:


*Don’t talk about details of an upcoming action

*Don’t mention details of actions in email, on the phone or in the mail

*Don’t talk about past actions. Don’t post photos of actions on-line or print them

Now I’m not referring to publicizing our movement or above ground actions, but rather to broadcasting a face with illegal activity. And even if you might not regard something you do as illegal political activity, it’s possible that the state will. The more they have to work to get information the less time they have to hinder our movement.

If I may mix metaphors — there’s a phrase for sex play that signifies when getting carried away with pleasure to say, “Stop” in some manner to signify when a boundary is crossed. “Safe Words” then allow for the play to continue, with accompanied grunts, groans and noises, but allow for a fun time for both parties. So let me put forth as we play “fucking the system” together that we adopt a safe word — or phrase. “Were you born in a barn?” will mean for me, “Please stop talking about sensitive information.” Find your own safe word and have a hot time as they say. We’ll need the heat to counter the intended chill of The NDAA — which goes into effect March 3.

Bulldozer Alert! still defending People's Park

Activists are organizing to resist an early morning surprise attack by a bulldozer-wielding University of California landscaping crew against People’s Park in Berkeley December 28 that reduced trees and volunteer-built gardens to sterile piles of wood chips. Pushing back to prevent future destruction invites park supporters to increase outreach about what the park means and what it has to offer.

People’s Park is arguably an occupation that’s been running for 43 years. Constructed without permission, it created a beautiful community on vacant University of California (UC) land in 1969. Clashes with police lead to rioting, police shootings that left one man dead, and a National Guard occupation of Berkeley when UC tried to seize and destroy the park. The UC has always claimed to legally own the land on which the park still sits on Dwight Way east of Telegraph, but since 1969 they have never been able to control it. Over the years, park users have practiced “user development” by building and tending gardens, trees and landscaping. Like our occupations now, it is a rare place in the city open to everyone, hosting a free speech stage and daily free food servings — and attracting many homeless people and traveler kids.

Unable to take back the park outright, the University has periodically tested the waters to gauge continuing support — tearing up gardens, destroying freeboxes and bathrooms constructed by park users and building sports courts on the park against the will of park users. Community resistance to these attacks have usually caused UC to back down.

It remains to be seen how folks will resist the most recent attack. As early as 4 am on December 28, UC bulldozers protected by police leveled landscaped garden areas and tore out and grinding up numerous fruit trees. Work crews cut down the historic Council Grove of trees that hosted many park meetings. They also cut the top off a trellis built by volunteers that had earlier been approved by UC officials after almost a year of tedious meetings. The bulldozer destroyed plum trees, native manzanita, olives, grape vines, kiwi plants, maguey, nopales cactus, and a mature rose bush as well as beautiful plants like pink amaryllis bulb flowers, pyrocantha and a palm like plant. The surprise attack came during a holiday week to minimize the number of witnesses and students in the area.

Each time UC has tried to mess with the park, its been like stepping into a hornets nest. The park is still relevant today, both as a symbol of past victories and as liberated land that still, amazingly, is mostly outside of the control of corporations and government. People’s Park exists for use, not for sale.

The best way to protect the park and scare UC off from further attacks is to use the park as a thriving venue for radical action, alternative culture, art, music and life outside of consumerism. East Bay Food Not Bombs has served lunch a 3 pm Monday-Friday at the Park for the last 20 years. Since last fall, every Sunday at noon anarchists have assembled to use the park as liberated space, inspired by liberated spaces in Greece.

While over the years the park has served as a launching pad for generations of radical activities, each new generation of students at the UC Berkeley campus generally shows up unaware of the park’s legacy or its potential. It requires constant effort to keep community education about the park alive for the students and folks in Berkeley in general. As occupations crop up across the globe, we can expect more actions to liberate land, and stiff resistance to defend what we’ve already seized. Plug into what’s going on a People’s Park, or build your own park and defend it this spring.

Conceptualizing Disruption – Republican, democrat, corporations

In the context of the national occupy movement which has wisely rejected both the corporate-Democrats and the corporate-Republicans, it isn’t too early to begin thinking about how folks might converge to disrupt the national political conventions this summer. The Republican National Convention (RNC) is scheduled for August 27-30 at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, FL, while the Democratic National Convention (DNC) will be in September 3-7 at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Even a cursory examination of the Democrats and Republicans demonstrates that they are the same snake with two heads representing the interests of corporations. On any policy important to corporate expansion and control, they share one position and act in concert to promote economic growth — which means expanded corporate control of our lives. The tiny number of issues on which they differ only put in more stark relief the extent to which they share a single platform on the really important issues of economic power.

Massive and militant protests at both the Democratic and Republican National conventions this summer can move forward a fundamental challenge to the corrupt political system in the United States. While most regular people struggle to get by and think it is obscene for a few thousand people to control most of the wealth and power in society, neither party wants to give more then lip service to inequality, since they exist to preserve the wealth gap and are funded by the richest individuals and corporations. It’s time to crash the party and expose the empty spectacle of the presidential election for what it is.

The Republicrats, the government, Wall Street, the mainstream media, etc. are all institutional expressions of a vast system of corporate domination in which powerful economic forces dominate the earth and its people. Decisions affecting everyone are monopolized in a few private hands — made for short term profit — and disregard any consideration of human happiness, beauty, sustainability or health. Somewhere in New York, a few men are paying themselves billions to decide which species will survive, who can go to the doctor, what jobs you can seek, whether the air will be clean, and what you will do, buy, and know. They meet in secret. Its not a conspiracy — its called private industry. The Democrats and Republicans are where corporations buy control of the US government for mere pennies.

Disrupting the conventions isn’t about “protesting” the Republicrats — it’s about creating a crisis that will open up dialog about alternatives to politics-as-usual and corporate control. Its about building our own power and community of resistance. The corporate media won’t accurately report it, but that won’t matter. People around the world intuitively understand what it means when thousands of people surge into the streets and create chaos.

As we’ve done with our occupations, its time to smash the veneer of “satisfaction” with business as usual. We don’t have to just take the world anymore — something else is possible and it’s happening right now. Tame marches and scripted civil disobedience actions won’t be enough. Our advantage lies in being unpredictable, refusing to operate on the system’s terms, and having fun while doing all of it. Have you ever seen a cop smile?

Believe it or not, Charlotte is called “the Wall Street of the South” because of all the financial companies located there. Police started riot training for the convention in October, 2011 and the city council has passed new anti-protestor laws in January that ban camping, body armor and gas masks based on laws passed in Denver before the 2008 DNC. Authorities in Tampa are reportedly expecting 15,000 protesters and are working with the Secret Service to define a free speech-free area around the convention in which no protests will be permitted. We can beat the expectations, can’t we?

London Prole bailout!

The 2011 London riots were borne of an intense rage and disaffection. What we witnessed was a jumbled, chaotic response to the shit the status quo is throwing at us, the end of a delicate inertia, a loud awakening from a frustrated sleep in which ‘protest’ was generalized to the point where everything was a target and everything was there for the taking. It was a protest without demands, a rebellion without a cause, a display of nihilistic anger launching itself against the totality. No platform, manifesto or programme, no leadership demanding some reform or the repeal of some piece of legislation, but a succession of confused acts of destruction that were characterized by a refusal of all the conditions of everyday life in post-industrial capitalism. A direct assault on the commodity form and the temporary halt of our retail rituals as people’s deep resentment and fury manifested itself against the high-street chainstores, just as they discovered payment for the exalted merchandise was now optional.

The London Riots had been a long time coming. Mark Duggan’s death was a spark in a tinderbox. The financial crisis and the subsequent corporate bailouts exposed the system for what it really is in essence: a parasitic political economy based on state-sanctioned and legitimatized looting. It was high time the residents of Tottenham, Peckham, Liverpool and Manchester engaged in some of their own mass-expropriations. Call it a proletarian bailout. Qualitative Easing.

Was this short-lived revolt a hyper-capitalist display of the consumerist ethic in dangerous overdrive; the quick accumulation of sweat-shop commodities and status-symbols by a decadent youth corrupted by… grime and hip hop music!?!? The mass-shoplifting opened the floodgates of materialist false-needs and desires, but here in the place of payment-at-the-till was a liberation of all these goods from their status as commodities. Instead of a price-tag was a debased and subverted exchange value – no money to perform its regulatory function, no currency to mediate or restrict – a free-for-all (re)distribution in which we took in reality all that is promised to us by advertising in abstraction. Retail capital’s feeble defense left wide open by roaming teenagers who were realizing, physically and directly, that the system only works this way because we allow it. And for a short time during the insurrections, the system was at their mercy.

As the looted sportswear, phones, nappies, booze and food were strewn over the roads in London, the carnival quickly spread to Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester. These rioters have no ideology, no political affiliation and no leadership. This is what makes them uncontrollable and dangerous. This is where their strength lies. They couldn’t have been bought off with any concession or placated by the promise of an independent enquiry: Michael Heseltine’s Garden Festival has lay in ruins for years. Theirs was a total revolt, albeit a muddled and disjointed one. What it showed was an untapped potential, a disorder that exposed the weak, vulnerable Paper Tigers of authority when faced with an enraged mob with nothing to lose.

Of course we can adopt the language of the press; these rioters were just selfish, opportunistic chavs, yobs, hoodies, gangs, proles, lumpen. Or we can start borrowing from the politicians’ discourse; these riots weren’t political, they were motivated by nothing but greed. So they say. But if we take them for their word, what could be more political than greed? This is the ultimate threat to the present (dis)order – not the Trade Union ‘movement’ or the phoney left: The former being all too cosily rooted in its historical role of integrating workers into wage-labour peaceably, acting as arbiter between labour and capital and channeling all the frustrations and grievances of their membership into nice moderate demands (or polite requests) for quantitative increases in wages or conditions, with paid bureaucrats destroying any genuine militancy or desires for a qualitative transformation with negotiations, compromises and pay settlements. The ‘radical’ left meanwhile, are still soaked with patronizing, vanguardist rhetoric and are still committed to the tired old modes of paper-pushing, representation and hierarchical organizing. Capital’s gravediggers are the recalcitrant youth, the criminals, the unemployed and the unemployable who refuse most vehemently to be absorbed into societies’ racket.

Presently, there is no political consciousness among them. No concept of the possibilities, no concept of what could be. What unites them is a shared disaffection, a general discontent and a visceral and innate hatred of the police as the most visible figures of state authority in our communities. We have not seen the (material) ‘immiseration’ of the proletariat that Marx predicted and Bakunin shunned. The ‘massification’ of the workers that he foresaw, and the advent of organized labour did not lead to our world revolution. Taylorism, scientific management, standardization, increased division of labour, de-industrialization and the rise of the service economy, Trade Unionism, cheap credit, embourgeoisement and our beloved social safety-nets (through which no-one can fall?) are all part of the same social pacification package.

As alienation, drudgery, uniformity and apathy have become the omnipresent hallmarks of our society, we have seen the corresponding perfection of assimilation techniques that have lulled many into a dull passivity. The decades of the white-collar working class, the extraction of surplus value from our cognitive labour, post-fordism, the promises and the myths of social mobility, the paternalistic welfare state, – through which we depend on Big Government for our very survival – the huge array of products available to all who are willing to sell themselves over on a temporary contract with flexible hours, the plasma screens that allow us some vicarious rest-bite from the commute, the boss, the office politics and the staff meeting, the choices in fashion and gadgets that define us and communicate who we are through the Order of Signs and Symbols, our decision to choose one ‘Made in an Eastern Workhouse’ iTwat over another. What does your phone say about you? I am Mercedes. I am what I am. I am Nikon. I’m the kind of liberal/creative type that uses a Macbook. I’m the kind of busy, metropolitan man that needs a Blackberry. Consumption, separation, representation, mediation, alienation. Late capitalism’s ‘Bread and Circuses’. And then the riots that shit on all that, whether consciously or not. A Grand Rejection of everything that’s been used to buy us off and keep us kneeling.

It goes without saying that houses going up in flames in London’s ghettoes is no call for celebration. It is also obvious that we’d have no moral qualms if they’d instead burnt out the luxury apartments of Chelsea Harbour, the offices of Canary Wharf or better still, raided the mansions of Surrey stockbrokers. But we’ll shed no tears over the charred skeleton of the SONY warehouse, the Pawn-brokers on Peckham high street or the Brixton Nandos. It is telling that swarms of police occupied the shopping districts around Oxford Street and stood guard, fiddling outside the retail Cathedrals of the West End while the suburbs burned. It is also worth mentioning a message on the so-called ‘Peckham Peace Wall’ which reads, ‘Take it to Parliament, Not to Peckham’, and the unsurprising prevalence of, ‘Feds had it coming’ post-its, or words to that effect.

But the rioters lashed out against their own immediate surroundings, against the familiar. Some even smashed through the windows of the stores in which they worked. Isn’t it obvious why? The square mile and the City of London are worlds away. Their violence had to be directed against the embodiments of arbitrary power on their streets, and not only the police. The glass facades of Carphone Warehouse and Footlocker, the purveyors of well-marketed signifiers of social status and identity, who compe
nsate staff with five pounds for every hour of tedium and humiliation and somehow expect diligence and loyalty – these were the first to go. These are the sources of our modern malaise and simmering ennui, and they deserve no more respect than the Palace of Westminster or the Tory HQ at Millbank. The rioter never gave them any.

Many on the left have only talked of ‘social exclusion’, as if our society was normally an edifice of peaceful relations that had somehow managed to forget about an ostracized ‘underclass’. As if the solution could be more ‘social inclusion’; to reabsorb these lumpen malcontents into the world of wage-labour and civil society, to guarantee them a future of minimum wage drudgery and voter registration twice a decade – some participation, some inclusion in the racket. After the banlieue uprisings in France in 2005, someone wrote; ‘Those who have found less humiliation and more advantage in a life of crime than in sweeping floors will not turn in their weapons, and prison wont teach them to love society.’

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the instinct for power in the Occupy movement

The Occupy protestors have no instinct for power. The police and their respective politicians, with the historical advantage, are well aware of this lack on the part of the Occupiers. And the aspiring police and politicians of the Occupy movement manage the revolt while others sit idly by and convince themselves otherwise. We worry about maintaining wholesome images for media representations that are instrumental to the ruling class. In altering or masking oneself for the most “on point” production, many are seemingly leaving their goals behind. All this is under the guise of pragmatism, when these practical protestors cannot even keep up with the last media fabrication.

The “practical” protestor responds to an allegation by confirming fallacious terms with their own actions. They then think of how a given issue, one that the police and their bureaucrats care about in such a noble manner, can be addressed. The lives of those in power are made a little easier as their work is completed by protestors they previously thought were so unreasonable. This is perhaps the most easily read occurrence of the self-defeating, self-management of which Occupiers across the nation are guilty.

That the self-policing Occupiers perpetually “need” to be engaged by conscious anarchists shows how short-sighted they really are. For the former, the spectacular marches are satisfying enough, as other elements are held back by the rat-wheel of teach-ins and skill-shares. The practical protestors are unwilling to think in terms of power because they truly have no desire for radical change, let alone a revolution. With mixed success, the Occupy protests have limited themselves to self-contained dead-end issues (“we should be able to do this or that or else we will fight for that allowance”). Boredom is counter-revolutionary, yet its ubiquity has only led to a new set of slightly ameliorating hobbies for many. The Occupy protests at least signify a social shift that was much needed, though – people are finally utilizing the public space that was slowly stolen over time. Will Occupy’s grandest achievement vaguely be the reintegration of the public square into our lives?

George Lakoff linguist and political theorist was one of the more exciting developments for the soft left in the U.S. because he was able to think in terms of power. Lakoff explained that political discourse for the right was very strategic – words used consciously reflected mental frameworks that played into voters’ psychology. He was looking to elevate the position of Democracts in terms of representation. Truthfulness is not necessarily held in high regard, with a focus placed on positioning in relation to the most powerful frames. “Do not use their language.” Lakoff writes, “Their language picks out a frame–and it won’t be the frame you want.” Lakoff’s writings, although superficially irrelevant to those who reject electoral politics, illustrate how strategically authorities are thinking in terms of representation. There are some very common frames used in relation to the Occupy protests which include terms like “outside agitators,” “professional anarchists,” “violent protestors,” “health and safety issues,” and one can imagine more being fabricated and employed in the future. How do we escape these frames? We must think in our own terms.

Recently in Oakland, when an internal report reflected the statistic that crime had diminished by 19%, Oakland Police Chief Jordan wrote an email to Mayor Quan’s office. In the letter, Jordan noted the strategic inopportunity of such a statistic: “Not sure how you want to share this good news… It may be counter to our statement that the Occupy movement is negatively impacting crime in Oakland.” Suddenly, past instances of stories, fed to the media by police, show themselves for the tools that they are in the hands of the state. The predictable and fallacious façade of superior moral judgment of Jean Quan and the OPD beautifully unravels before our eyes.

Lakoff believes that the act of revealing facts is not enough to change anyone’s mind. The line goes that if the left could only learn to stop using the language of the right, then conservative power would lose the reinforcement it gets from being bashed by liberals (by using the former’s terms). However, engaging in this sort of rhetoric war limited to party politics is a failed endeavor from the beginning. We can in part understand how this back and forth is limited by examining the shift in world power to hegemony.

Under hegemony, power is internalized by all who exist within such a network of power. This concept was first developed by Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci to describe a spectrum of power relations – involving both the creation and preservation of asymmetrical interdepencies. Through these dynamics of power, “[d]ominant ideological streams must be… reproduced in the activities of our most basic social units,” writes Cultural Studies theorist James Lull. Counter-cultural resistance is often absorbed and recycled into a reinforcement of such a power. The 1960s counter-cultural movement, for example, was quickly subsumed under a mountain of profitable psychedelic commodities and their respective lifestylisms – more of the same old shit covered in patchouli scented shampoo and Jim Morrison posters. Yet this is an unstable relationship – one that can at once “be actively won and secured [or] lost” (to quote some second-hand Stuart Hall, via James Lull; emphasis added). “Hegemony fails,” Lull writes, “when dominant ideology is weaker than social resistance.”

It does not take too far of a leap to imagine how Occupy protestors are complicit in reinforcing delicate balances of power. Some individuals at protests believe it is their mission to discipline others: with their tactics assuming the form of threats, physical violence, rhetoric, modeling of moral behavior (ex. scrubbing off graffiti), or snitching to the police. Regardless of the work that has been done, an acknowledgement of a diversity of tactics and solidarity among occupiers has yet to be completely fostered.

We live in a world in which the public often takes the news of blatant corruption with a wry smile and a weary shake of the head. OPD’s email conspiring with Mayor Quan – which should be considered not as an exception but the status quo – will probably scandalize the public for a moment, but it will not necessarily alter the trajectory of the Occupy movements (just as the globally prevailing orders of capitalism and imperialism did not come to a grinding halt due to thousands of Wikileaks).

The need for strategy in terms of media representations might doubly apply for activities in the streets. Actions speak louder than words. Police think in simple terms. If they are outnumbered and overpowered, they will back off. Yet the police will take any power granted to them – no matter the numbers at a demonstration. If the police can get away with giving out citations for irrelevant “offenses,” then they will if it proves fruitful (getting people to be dissuaded from protesting, for instance). A street protest establishes its own stage and boundaries that make up a territory. Police will do what they can to subvert and reorient these boundaries. What if we made it our goal to reappropriate such a tactic? We could ask ourselves how to best subvert the territory of the police. Here is where spontaneity and creativity both prove useful.

A powerful exercise would be to pay attention to the movements of both the protestors and the police. What short-term goals could we set for this action? What gets people arrested? What gets police to go away? How do we increase our autonomy, if only temporarily? A similar set of questions might apply for our interactions with the media. What terms are best suited for our current purposes? How is the media not important in relation to our actions? Can we counter anti-Occupy media fabrications with some of our own? All of these thought experiments will prove
useful in developing a positive resistance.

The instinct for collective empowerment must be cultivated. Problems faced can be positive if we are able to learn from them. This requires an active acknowledgement of as much of the picture as we possibly can be aware of. We cannot reduce ourselves to tiny windows for action and thought. The Occupy protests should incorporate a wide sampling of human experience in order to strengthen its own position. The tactics will develop only if we are willing to think critically about context and possibility. Let us not limit ourselves, but find new pathways that have yet to be discovered.