It’s really about sensing and knowing that a system is no longer right or just or fair and no longer [being] willing to be an exploited member of that system… Occupy Wall Street is now having, and will continue to have, a profound impact on the status quo.
Alexander Penley, Occupier. Quoted in the Guardian, October 2011.
According to police, the men were part of a larger pack of 25 people who tried to use eight-foot-long galvanised metal pipes to break the windows of the coffee shop. Terrified patrons hid under the tables, scared that glass would fall in on them… Penley, 41, was arrested and charged with assault and inciting a riot after Saturday’s incident.
Alexander Penley, smashing stuff for kicks – sorry, for “social justice.” Metro, April 2012.
As so often, the mismatch of rhetoric and behaviour is almost funny. Prior to smashing windows and hitting police officers with 8 foot long steel pipes, the Occupiers had gathered at an anarchist book fair, where leaflets and workshops promised a softer, fairer, fluffier world. (“Indigenous solidarity event with Native Resistance Network.” “Equal rights for all species.” “Children welcome!”) In this temple of warrior poets and ostentatious empathy, the “activist and educator” Cindy Milstein cooed over Occupy’s “direct democracy and cooperation”: “This compelling and quirky, beautiful and at times messy experimentation has cracked open a window on history, affording us a rare chance to grow these uprisings into the new landscape of a caring, ecological, and egalitarian society.” Occupy, says Milstein, is all about “facilitating a conversation in hopes of better strategizing toward increasingly expansive forms of freedom.” Its participants, we learn, are “non-hierarchical and anti-oppression.”
See, it’s all fluff and twinkles. It’s just that some of the twinklers like to wear masks and balaclavas – the universal symbol of friendliness and caring - while trying to shatter glass onto Starbucks customers.
Yes, it’s almost funny. But then you wonder what kind of mind doesn’t register the dissonance. And then you realise that the minds in question are probably like this one here and the minds of these caring, egalitarian people. Our purveyors of radical compassion are, it seems, much too entranced by a cartoon version of the world - and a cartoon version of themselves - to notice their own dishonesty and fundamental contradictions. Behold our betters, the titans of tomorrow.