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The old war horse canters again

By Michael J. Smith on Friday October 14, 2011 08:16 AM

He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.

My daughter and I got up at the crack of dawn -- before it, actually -- and went downtown to join the Wall Street occupiers in anticipation of Bloomberg's 7 AM cleanup, announced yesterday. We arrived about 5:30.

I had been quite apprehensive about it. I used to be a bold fellow about this sort of thing, but age has made me timorous; and though the NYPD were always brutes, they're a lot worse now -- too numerous, too heavily equipped with expensive lethal toys, and too eager to use them: and the human material of the force seems much more twisted, degraded, and malevolent than it was twenty years ago.

Still: somebody once said that 90% of life is just showing up, and I felt that if I didn't show up for this show-down it would be even harder than usual to look at myself in the mirror. And my daughter, who's been hanging out with the occupiers for the last few days, was also eager (though also apprehensive). So there was no choice, really.

I felt a lot better as soon as I turned the corner and saw the crowd. There were lots of people there, and more streaming in along with us. I'm no good at estimating crowd size, but the square, which is not small, was chockfull and shoulder-to-shoulder, and spilling out onto the sidewalks and streets nearby.

As always, a very young crowd, though there were a few grizzled old stagers like myself. The crowd was very revved-up and full of beans, and at the same time calm and resolute. They were clearly determined to stand their ground as best they could, but one felt none of the crazy chaotic energy of a mob.

There was a look on so many of these young faces that was really beyond praise. How my old heart went out to them. It's been a while since I've felt this pleased to be a member of our peculiar species.

Some union contingents arrived while we were there and they were lustily cheered.

There was some tension in the air as the 7 AM deadline approached. A speaker was trying to circulate information about legal aid and sort out those willing to be arrested from those not; the willing were to stay in the park, the others to retire to the sidewalks adjacent and lend moral support and bear witness. I was trying to figure out whether I was among the willing or not.

I'll never know; Bloomberg blinked. The speaker broke off and then read a communique from City Hall: the "cleanup" had been "postponed" -- if I understood correctly -- "because there are too many people in the park".

Well, that last clause, at least, was truthful -- probably the first truthful thing City Hall has said in quite some time. It was a fine moment; people cheering, hugging each other and so on.

Okay, so it wasn't Stalingrad. I expect we'll see a lot of dubious Eeyorish head-wagging about the long road ahead, about the difficulty of 'building' -- what? Whatever.

An acquaintance of mine recently reminded me of a trenchant passage in the Moor's Civil War in France, speaking of the Communards of Paris:

They have no ideals to realize, but to set free the elements of the new society with which old collapsing bourgeois society itself is pregnant. In the full consciousness of their historic mission, and with the heroic resolve to act up to it, the working class can afford to smile at the coarse invective of the gentlemen’s gentlemen with pen and inkhorn, and at the didactic patronage of well-wishing bourgeois-doctrinaires, pouring forth their ignorant platitudes and sectarian crotchets in the oracular tone of scientific infallibility.
Old Charlie was no dope.

Not Stalingrad, okay. But it's been a long time since the Ringwraiths of Mordor-on-Hudson even had to rein in their nightmare steeds momentarily. And I don't think anybody who was in the square today will soon forget how they stared down the iron juggernaut just by being there.

There are more of us than there are of them. It's a priceless insight, and the foundation of everything else.

Comments (12)

Good job MJS! That's a resume builder.

I'm here in Sacramento, but even if I was in New York I don't know if I would have had the cajones to make my way down to the park. Cops are the worst.

James Nostack:

Hey, I did practically the same thing, arriving closer to 6:30 and equally apprehensive. Nice to see the worst of all possible worlds avoided, for once.


Congratulations and sincerely, Thank you.


In related news:

Tell President Obama and Leader Pelosi to stand up to the mob," says the narrator of the spot, which the group says will air in a "substantial" buy in New York and Washington. “It’s not surprising that elements of the modern left are anti-Semitic," said ECI chairman William Kristol in a statement. "It is surprising that respectable liberals have praised the protesters while ignoring the anti-Semitism. Liberals have pretended to see nothing hateful and hear nothing hateful, and therefore have said nothing to rebuke their allies. Will they now speak up?”

The whole thing shows up as a homoerotic beerfest-cum-orgy for Nazi youth in the mind's eyes of some people.

Speaking of war horses, did you see that the Laureate has sent soldiers into Uganda?

Finally! I was wondering when he was going to do something about that place.


The back stage action here might surprise us some

Blink ?

Not sure

But the stand down certainly strengthens the OWS

So far each probe by the authorities has led to a pull back and a softening

Here in bean town mayor mumbles has utterly reversed his message since the arrest of the 100 earlier this week

Father s is exactly right

The conjuncture of growing Numbers and resolve and
A sustained popular sympathy
caused the leviathan to pause ....

For now


For now, indeed. In my darker moments of rumination today I wondered whether the relatively restrained instrumental-rationality style of Iron Mike might not ultimately be an exercise in wishful thinking -- whether in fact what our rulers really need and really want is a head-basher like Giuliani. But then that too will be educational, won't it?

But I can't be too dark today. I'm still walking on air. It was great, this morning. Hope, for me, has been for decades a matter of conviction rather than feeling. But today I remembered what it felt like.


One can be Marxist and anarchist; the categories are not quite distinct or

People can move from generalized discontent to a search for some more formal
analysis of what is wrong with capitalism. Or you can move from anarchism
to socialism or the reverse. Or from direct action to wonky incrementalism
(or the reverse).

There is also the idea of anarchist-inspired disruption of oppressive,
centralized institutions, which I take to be Chomsky's position. On the
other hand, if you work within such an institution you are focused on some
kind of ameliorative, incrementalist approach.

The formal political system -- the parties, PACs, 'big media,' big advocate
groups -- is a swamp that does not invite involvement, except as a way to
make a living. So for me 'anarchism' in the sense of extra-parliamentary
direct action, vigorous criticism of the political system (Dems included),
makes a lot of sense.


This is by max factor sawicky
in response to :

> > I feel like I've recently encountered, by random chance, a series of
> people who've said they were once anarchists but gradually "grew out of"
> anarchism and moved in a more Marxist direction.

To which the dugout had added:

> I grew out of libertarianism, but that's different, right?
> Doug
> _____________________________


Libertarianism stand alone
Is certainly not a revolutionary mind setting eh?

Anarchism at least in it's aggressive non pacifist non godwin exemplary mode is indeed
Revolutionary in the bald sense of
"Let's over throw the present state "

Okay so it's against any next state too

But first enemies first we can unite in the moves to over throw
Or at least scare up a substantive system protecting
reformative reaction

The anti liberal hazards of
social fascism not withstanding

If revolution succeeds somewhere
I take solace in this :

There's always catalonian repression to look forward to
For Or against

Contradictions among the people remain
Even as the state for a preciously brief and rragilevinterval
dissolves into stateless interzonality
Kronstadt is the Janus symbol of all this eh ?


Implicit marching order of the more militant tendency inside the OWS

Bombard the head quarters


My daughter has carefully explained the anomaly
That the wall street journal has laid out
in an op Ed by a grotesque looking
Manhattan rodent named crow-witz or something

The zucchini park is not public property hence the non eviction so far

Now I recall the rudi swept the parks clean of homelessvilles eh

But my point would be this
Occupy a chunk of central park now
That is b4 the toss out at zucchini

After organizing a massive
daisy chain of minute "persons"
That will show up in such numbers
at the park encampment
The city can't process em fast enough
Thru the tunnel trundle bundle bars and cuffs copocractic system
To actually clear the area

This requires a plan and some staff work of course
Not a strong suit for anarchopleebs
But such are the thresholds of upping the ante

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