Julia steers us to this exchange between the Independent’s Joan Smith and pocket radical Laurie Penny. In it, Laurie tells us that what we’ve seen unfold over the last few weeks (and laughed at quite a lot) are merely the “teething problems” of a “movement that is trying to do something so profoundly new and exciting with politics.”
Readers may find this a strange, rather implausible construal of events, given that what we’ve seen has for the most part been predictable and, if anything, defined by a mix of hackneyed delinquency, hypocrisy and obnoxious grandstanding. Note too how any public scepticism is blamed on the rest of us not being “prepared to listen.” Which, again, is somewhat odd, bearing in mind how many hours of role-play, pretension and incoherent ranting have been fuelling our scepticism and laughter. For all the blather about “dialogue” and “creating space for dialogue,” what we’ve actually seen is much closer to monologue.
“Coming up with an action plan for a new world order takes time,” says Laurie. Yet despite the utopian bluster and mutterings of revolution, the protests seem headed for one of two conclusions. Either they fizzle out due to lack of interest, squalor and general tedium, leaving someone else to foot the bill and clear up the mess - the symbolism of which should not pass unnoticed. That, or they culminate in violence and riots. Neither conclusion invites much in the way of sympathy or hopes of a brighter, fluffier world. Laurie also tells us that the failure to generate a coherent, remotely practical set of demands is due to “attacks from a hostile press while surviving sub-zero temperatures in central London.” Yes, some people have been laughing at Laurie and her incredibly radical peers, which is beastly and mean. Plus it’s been a bit nippy. So, clearly, it’s nothing to do with the kind of people taking part, how they behave or what they actually say.
Among the more charming examples of which, this little lesson in “what democracy looks like”:
Anonymous plans to take down the Fox News Web site on November 5, according to a new video apparently released by the hacker group. The group said it is targeting the network for what it called biased news coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protests occurring in cities across the country. The network’s “continued right-wing, conservative propaganda against the occupations” is the group’s catalyst for its intention of “destroying the Fox News Web site,” a digitally generated voice on the video explains. “Since they will not stop belittling the occupiers, we will simply shut them down.”
If the message isn’t sufficiently clear, let me paraphrase:
“See the world how we see it or we will hurt you.”
But fear not. Laurie says it’s all being done “in order to model the sort of society of mutual aid and trust that occupiers would like to see.” And based on what we’ve witnessed so far, I’m sure the rest of us would just love to see that model realised on an even larger scale. No?
Update, via the comments:
Shortly after posting this, I caught part of a radio interview with one of the protestors currently obstructing St Paul’s Cathedral. He said the following (I quote from memory): “It’s a peaceful protest. I’m a pacifist. We’re all opposed to violence. The only violence has been when protestors have been evicted.” Now either our pacifist occupier is claiming that no protestors anywhere have initiated violence or resisted the police violently – which would be an outright lie – or, perhaps more likely, he’s being stunningly disingenuous. Again, let me paraphrase:
“We will not hurt you unless you try to reclaim your property from us in order to go about your lawful business.”
Or, put more bluntly,
“Do as we say and no-one gets hurt.”
As we’ve seen several times, the basic dynamic is passive-aggressive and the ostentatious concern for “consensus” applies only to The Tribe. Here’s a cop’s-eye-view of the sweet-natured pacifists “occupying” San Diego and Austin. Note the repeated cop-baiting and attempts to provoke “brutality” on camera, thus scoring those all-important victim points. In Denver, some protestors saw fit to fabricate their own “evidence” of police brutality by painting cuts and bruises on their faces prior to harassing state troopers and assaulting police officers.
The Tribe’s notion of “social justice,” so loudly declared, also leaves much to be desired. Disagree with the collective or call their motives into question and that professed compassion and sensitivity will most likely evaporate very quickly. And so we find “occupiers” fretting at length about whether they consent to being filmed – lawfully, discreetly and in a public place – while they themselves announce their intention to break the law and disrupt other people’s business. They find being filmed injurious and oppressive, precious flowers that they are. But the inconvenience and intimidation they plan to inflict on others simply doesn’t count. (And it isn’t unknown for people filming these displays of collectivist compassion to be threatened, intimidated or “accidentally” assaulted.)
Likewise, Laurie Penny tells us that she has “no problem with principled, thought-through political ‘violence’” and that smashing windows – other people’s windows – “isn’t violence” anyway. Perhaps we should assume that Laurie has no objection to her own property being “occupied” and her own belongings being destroyed by people who feel sufficiently righteous and entitled. And these non-reciprocal sentiments are hardly uncommon in the pages of the Guardian.
In the comments, Mr Eugenides says, drily, “It’s almost as if they have no self-awareness at all.” Well, Occupy Wall Street alone has no fewer than 79 “working groups,” at times amounting to half the people present, all furiously blueprinting our socialist utopia. (I use the word our loosely.) Bearing in mind this is a small-scale model of Laurie’s Brave New World – sorry, “new world order” – it seems that what the world needs more than anything is more bureaucracy. Still, it makes the protestors swell with feelings of geo-political importance and that’s what matters. I’m sure the “occupiers” will soon have lifted civilisation to loftier moral heights, where people continually hug and crime never happens.
A few more items of note.
Occupy Boston “occupied” the Israeli consulate, with chants of “Intifada! Intifada!” While at Occupy DC, where violence and intimidation erupted again, masked protestors trapped a wheelchair-bound woman, blocking her exit and mindlessly chanting “This is what democracy looks like.” Others brought small children to use as shields, a move that takes radical leftwing parenting to a whole new level.
Hm. The longer this pantomime goes on, the more Laurie’s “new world order” loses its lustre. Who would’ve guessed?