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April 2012

Playing in the Dirt with Occupy

Zombie ventures into the moral wilderness of Occupy’s latest project

The farm they seized was not a working farm per se, but rather a “research farm” for the University of California, near its Berkeley campus. The only difference between the way the farm used to be (prior to a week ago) and the way it is now is that the Occupiers have transformed what was essentially a well-maintained and important open-air laboratory into a dishevelled and ultimately purposeless pretend-farm for trustafarian dropouts… The scientists themselves are for the most part royally pissed off at the Occupiers and some may have years of work ruined by the Occupiers’ juvenile prank. 

Ah, but pissing off random people is how a leftist radical gauges just how radical he is. See, for example, this. And this. And this. It’s the Occupy way

This being Berkeley, several faculty members felt a need to display their own mighty radicalism: 

Some leftist U.C. professors are lecturing today at the farm to show their solidarity with the Occupiers, including Laura Nader (famous for helping to lead the field of anthropology toward self-critical Political Correctness); Gill Hart, a Gramscian anti-capitalist; and Paul Rabinow, a deconstructionist anthropologist. What do any of these professors know about farming, or plant biology? Nothing. But hey, they know about the significance of what it means to spout off a bunch of revolutionary socialist verbiage while absconding with stuff that isn’t yours.

Property is theft, man. Well, your property is, anyway. Theirs, not so much

As these are ersatz radicals with ersatz principles, the “farming” they do is also of the pretend variety.

Breaking into gated property and “liberating” land is exciting; the tedium of then spending endless hours over the next year in the blistering heat, in order to legitimise your actions and prove you’re not just jacking everyone around — not so fun. […] Only a handful of rows, right near the entrance, were planted all along their length, from end to end. Soon enough, those rows gave way to other rows with just a few plants near the walkway, seemingly just for show. Many rows’ plantings were pretty pitiful, or perhaps just symbolic; in this case, for instance, a single full-grown leek was stuck in the ground at the start of one row, to simulate the concept of “farming leeks.” […] Prediction: Very few, if any, of these “crops” will ever be harvested, or even grow to maturity.

Why, it’s almost as if the Occupiers’ “farming” were just a pretext for fatuous grandstanding and self-admiration. Say it isn’t so. 

As the camp’s official volunteer sign-up sheet reveals, nearly 80% of the activities at the “farm” have nothing whatsoever to do with farming. 

But on the upside, they are offering workshops in yoga and poetry. Oh, and group hypnosis sessions


Meanwhile, in entirely unrelated news…  

The FBI arrested five men Monday evening, saying they had planted what were believed to be explosive devices under the Ohio 82 bridge over Cuyahoga Valley National Park as part of a May Day protest… One of the leaders of the Occupy Cleveland movement, Brandon Baxter, is one of those arrested.

Via Daniel in the comments, Jim Treacher has more background here, along with the obligatory disclaimer: “Remember, everybody: Whenever an Occupier commits a crime, he’s not really an Occupier. All Occupier crimes are completely unrelated incidents, because shut up.” Sharp-eyed readers will notice that Mr Baxter – aka Skabby, the would-be ninja of social justice - is seen tapping bongos in front of a banner that reads “greed kills.” Unlike exploding highway bridges, of course, which have no physical consequences whatsoever. 

Update 2

Continue reading "Playing in the Dirt with Occupy" »

Friday Ephemera

Caught with the cameras of Voyager and Cassini. // Czech citizens, as seen by the secret police. // Painting with light in 3D bullet time. // Bubbles inside bubbles inside bubbles (in space). // “Zambia’s forgotten Cold War space programme.” // Childhood time-lapsed. // Cardboard sculptures. // Bear meets teddy. // Alan Whicker meets San Francisco’s hippies, 1967. // Little hippo. // House malfunctionMore. // Helium-filled object with inversion drive. // Sea monkeys and x-ray specs. I used to own a pair of those. // Assorted mountaintop monasteries. // Fishy swan. // Door knocker of note. // And remember, ladies. Cooking is fun.  

Reheated (25)

For newcomers, three more items from the archives:  

Militantly Nude.  

A San Francisco “nude-in” reveals more than intended.

Some of you may register a whiff of disingenuousness in exhibitionists accusing their critics of being repressive and stuffy. Exhibitionists may be eager to dispense with clothing in incongruous locations – say, a traffic island in the middle of a busy intersection - but they desperately need an audience, preferably a clothed one, and preferably one that’s embarrassed, inconvenienced and unwilling. Those indulging in their kink for being noticed are, in effect, saying: “Hey, you. Look at my bollocks. I SAID, LOOK AT MY BOLLOCKS RIGHT NOW, YOU UPTIGHT CONSERVATIVE PRUDES!” And while I doubt many readers here are prone to fainting at the sight of withered genitals and subsiding buttocks, they may conceivably object to being made an accomplice to someone else’s psychodrama. Imagine you’re in a supermarket queue with a basket of groceries. Is the thought of some old bloke’s tackle hovering near your lettuce or freshly baked baguette a pleasing one? And isn’t that the whole point of “radical” exhibitionism - to shock, to transgress - to make others feel uncomfortable? 

Worth Every Penny

Laurie Penny champions Arts Council-funded dirt relocation. It’s vital for “social progress.”

It’s so unexpected. Pretentious taxpayer-funded noodling is vital, says beneficiary of pretentious taxpayer-funded noodling. Because Laurie believes in folly, see, ideally when done at someone else’s expense and regardless of their objections. And because without the Arts Council and its politically generic freeloading caste, all human progress would simply grind to a halt. Besides, grumbling about the extortion and misuse of other people’s money - half a million pounds of it – is, she says, anodyne and inconsequential. Presumably, taxpayers shouldn’t trouble themselves with how their earnings are expropriated and pissed away by their betters. Artists, it seems, are visionaries, not made of mortal flesh, and so sacrifice is necessary - yours, of course, not theirs. Laurie illustrates this point unwittingly and with her usual grandiose sorrow: “Is this what human progress has come to? Fighting over the scraps of money left as the markets crumble?” Oh, the indignity of not being given all the money you want just because you want it.

It’s Cool When it’s Done to Other People

The public funding of vandalism? The Guardian approves. 

The millionaire “anti-capitalist” Banksy would have us believe that “crime against property is not real crime,” though residents and business owners whose property has been defaced and who’ve been left with the cost of cleaning and repair may take a rather different, less sophisticated view. Especially given that such crime tends to affect people who earn considerably less than Banksy. Lest we forget, graffiti, like broken windows, can act as a signal to other vandals and predators. And the residents of graffiti-blighted neighbourhoods, which can subsequently become blighted by other forms of crime, may find little comfort in the notion that their own taxes could soon be funding and legitimising more of the same.

Slip into something comfortable and peruse the greatest hits

Our Betters Speak

Today’s Observer’s editorial is concerned, very concerned… 

Only radical action will begin to win the challenge of obesity. 

…and swollen with the usual urges: 

If the answers, whatever they are, involve challenging corporate power and practices, legislating to improve the content of food or even limiting individuals’ freedom to consume junk, then so be it. 

Found via Julia, whose commenter, Katabasis, adds, 

One to show people who think “progressive” is synonymous with “freedom.” 

We’ve been here before, of course. Readers may recall the Guardian’s unveiling of “passive overeating” and its sympathy with Professor Boyd Swinburn, who wants the state to “intervene more directly” in what and where other people may eat. Apparently, individuals cannot be trusted and the public must be corrected by its betters. Making food more expensive is, we’re told, “a benefit.” As I wrote at the time, 

There’s something vaguely unpleasant about a group of richer people – say, left-leaning doctors, columnists and academics - demanding constraints and punitive taxes on proletarian food. Taxes and constraints that would leave themselves largely unaffected. It seems Professor Swinburn believes the population is too stupid to live unsupervised by the state and by extension people much like himself. Our food choices must therefore be taxed or denied and we must be prodded firmly by our betters: “Soft policies such as education programmes… [are] not going to cut the mustard anymore.” 

And again, it’s all because they care so very, very much.

Radical Sameness

Why do men become communists? And more particularly, why do they become communists despite everything that we know about communism? In the last century, as many as 120 million people were murdered by Marxist-inspired regimes. And yet, certainly in the United States and in Western Europe, we have the remarkable spectacle of virtually an entire intellectual class that has been seduced by the allure of Marx’s ideas… It’s not Marx’s labour theory of value [or] dialectical materialism that has drawn people to his philosophy, and it’s certainly not the interminably boring Das Kapital.

Dr Bradley Thompson asks, “Why Marxism?”  

Thompson refers to Marx’s “angry, spitting moralism” as a chief enticement and in this longer video he elaborates on its idiocies, referring to the result as “a philosophy of malevolence.” It seems to me one can’t explain the appeal of Marxism without addressing the psychological license that it offers, specifically for coercion and petty malice. It’s a golden ticket for a certain kind of sadist. Why Marxism? Start with rationalised envy and a vindictive desire for power over others, wrap it in a drag of altruism, and then take it from there.

See also this

Friday Ephemera

I must have one, and so must you. // Lakes, oceans and depth. (h/t, Peter Risdon) // The dilemmas of victimhood poker. // The androids are coming. // Kangaroos have three vaginas. // Cat wakes owner with repeated boings. // Africa is big. // A rather pretty sea slug. // Through the clouds. // Jellyfishcam. // Jetman in the Alps. // Tiny food sculptures. (h/t, MeFi) // Assorted intersections. // What happens inside the Large Hadron Collider? // Hey, it’s that guy. // “A victim treats his mugger right.” (Opinions of “right” may vary.) // iPad docking station. // Explosives may be used to dislodge frozen cows. (h/t, Simen) // Dementia and music.

Elsewhere (61)

Heather Mac Donald on poverty and behaviour:  

We are supposed to assume that a 21-year-old mother of two should not have been expected to assess whether she and her male sexual partners were ready to support a family; it is for her to have babies and for taxpayers to provide for them. And if Temporary Assistance to Needy Families cuts off that support for failure to comply with its rules, [we are supposed to assume that] the problem lies with the law, not with the decision-making that led to the need for welfare in the first place. […] So assiduously non-judgmental is the liberal discourse around poverty that [New York Times reporter, Jason] DeParle portrays the crime committed by single mothers as the consequence of welfare reform — rather than of those mothers’ previous abysmal decision-making regarding procreation and their present lack of morals. […] Underclass poverty doesn’t just happen to people, as the left implies. It is almost always the consequence of poor decision-making — above all, having children out of wedlock.

Regarding the fallout of illegitimacy and absent fathers, see also this and this.

Related to the above, a vintage post by Peter Risdon:

One thing, and one thing only, keeps people trapped in the kind of poverty of mind where they don’t feed their children properly even when they could, and shit in their own stairwells. It’s a lack of ownership; a lack of self-reliance. It’s a lack of the very concept of self-reliance. It’s an idea that the mere thought that they should be self-reliant is immoral, evil, callous and cruel.

And a random thought from Thomas Sowell:

When politicians say, “spread the wealth,” translate that as “concentrate the power,” because that is the only way they can spread the wealth.

As usual, feel free to add your own.

Terrorising Coffee Drinkers for the Greater Good

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.

Via Brain-Terminal.

Elsewhere (60)

Or, Because No-One is Stopping Them.

Further to this and, well, just about anything here tagged ‘academia,’ Zombie visits the campus of U.C. Berkeley and hears a plan for our enlightenment:  

The main drawback of Professor Brown’s verbal style (at least from my point of view) is that he often resorts to the academics’ tried-and-true escape hatch, which is to rephrase statements as questions, so as to have plausible deniability if later confronted. Thus, for example, instead of just flatly saying something like “We should indoctrinate students with leftist ideologies,” he asks “Should we indoctrinate students with leftist ideologies?” and only after five minutes of talking in circles eventually concludes “Yes.”

For more on those “agents of change” mentioned in Professor Brown’s lecture, see, for instance, this. If you don’t find it absurd and a little sinister, try reading it again.

In entirely unrelated news, the Los Angeles Times notes that “administrators need to remind faculty of the importance of open and uninhibited discussion” - as opposed to “subjecting a captive classroom audience to a one-sided political harangue.” Because some educators have apparently just forgotten.

John Leo asks whether some academics offer students bribes to support leftist causes. Go on, take a guess.

And Kate McMillan reminds us, drily, that the children are our future.

Feel free to add your own.