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Steal This Data

Steal This Data

“The rul­ing class in the Unit­ed States,” as McKen­zie Wark puts it in the recent spe­cial issue of The­o­ry and Event on the Occu­py move­ment, “is less and less one that makes things, and more and more one that owns infor­ma­tion and col­lects a rent from it.” Every time you buy a CD or DVD, even every time you stream from YouTube or Net­flix, you’re not fund­ing artists. You’re fund­ing the 1% and their per­son­al army of met­ro­pol­i­tan police, whose major inter­est right now seems to con­sist of gassing stu­dents and tear­ing down barns. What’s a polit­i­cal­ly informed media junkie to do? Prob­a­bly what you’re already doing – pirate.

No One Famous Ever Came From Here: Joe Paterno in State College

No One Famous Ever Came From Here: Joe Paterno in State College

Novem­ber 8, 2011. I was shoot­ing pool at State College’s best dive bar when the bounc­er came run­ning in, his face flushed with excite­ment. Accord­ing to TV news, he told us, the Penn State Board of Trustees had just fired foot­ball coach Joe Pater­no. Though Pater­no had already declared his inten­tion to retire at the end of the sea­son, after alle­ga­tions that he had con­doned an ongo­ing pat­tern of child molesta­tion by assis­tant coach Jer­ry San­dusky, the trustees decid­ed they couldn’t wait. Pater­no would not be coach­ing that Saturday’s home game.

A House Is a Home (with the help of bolt cutters): on occupation and its potentialities

A House Is a Home (with the help of bolt cutters): on occupation and its potentialities

Occu­py-relat­ed protests have steadi­ly increased in num­ber and mil­i­tan­cy, and so has the result­ing police repres­sion. This has only made it more urgent to to iden­ti­fy and under­stand recent impor­tant steps in the trans­for­ma­tion of the move­ment. The­se steps were most vis­i­ble in the gen­er­al strike in Oak­land, and the lat­er occu­pa­tion of the Traveller’s Aid build­ing, and they have begun to expand through­out the coun­try.

Occupy Franklin and Never Give it Back

Occupy Franklin and Never Give it Back

A week ago, may­ors across the coun­try, work­ing with shad­owy law enforce­ment orga­ni­za­tions, coor­di­nat­ed a crack­down on the occu­pa­tions in their respec­tive cities. Wash­ing­ton DC’s own occu­pa­tion was untouched. As cops cleared parks and trashed tents and famil­iar cities made it into the head­li­nes – Den­ver, Oak­land, Man­hat­tan – DC, yet again over­looked, felt like it hadn’t been asked to the dance. My feel­ings were com­pound­ed when a few days lat­er, on Novem­ber 17 – a day of action in respon­se to the crack­down, with thou­sands march­ing on Wall Street – Occu­py DC marched in sup­port of a jobs bill with the SEIU, who that day had endorsed Oba­ma for pres­i­dent. As police beat jour­nal­ists in New York, DC pro­tes­tors tweet­ed pho­tos stand­ing with arms around cops, wav­ing. As 30,000 peo­ple took over the Brook­lyn Bridge, Occu­py DC boast­ed of bare­ly imped­ing the flow of rush-hour traf­fic over the Key Bridge in George­town.

Strike, Take Over, Occupy Everything! The Story of the Bank of America 95

Strike, Take Over, Occupy Everything! The Story of the Bank of America 95

Get­ting arrest­ed, at least in my case, was slow and phys­i­cal­ly drain­ing. Before con­tin­u­ing, I should note that I draw no anal­o­gy between my expe­ri­ence of polit­i­cal arrest and the con­stant harass­ment and deten­tion that accom­pa­ny life on the mar­gins. I am not one of the men­tal­ly ill who are removed from pub­lic sight to make com­merce safe; one of the drug addicts who some­times pound their heads again­st the pad­dy wag­on walls until blood flows; one of undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants who now pop­u­late bank-owned, for-prof­it pris­ons; or one of those who attract the police because of the col­or of their skin. I was also not beat­en by the police or held with­out charges. Arrest for polit­i­cal offense, in my case, meant sit­ting for a long time in Bank of Amer­i­ca on Novem­ber 16, hav­ing ABC Live lit­er­al­ly watch my back, and wait­ing in a cold seat in an impro­vised pen for two hours. That day-after sore­ness from hav­ing my hands cuffed behind my back was my biggest phys­i­cal or emo­tion­al com­plaint tes­ti­fies to this dif­fer­ence.

Phase Two: Occupy Wall Street on November 17

Phase Two: Occupy Wall Street on November 17

Even if it were to dis­ap­pear tomor­row, Occu­py Wall Street would have already scored a mas­sive vic­to­ry. It has fun­da­men­tal­ly altered one of the dom­i­nant nar­ra­tives that under­lies the major­i­ty polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic thought in this coun­try: that as much as Amer­i­cans might be dis­sat­is­fied with politi­cians, they have no real com­plaint with inequal­i­ty, or the eco­nom­ic sys­tem that makes it pos­si­ble and per­pet­u­ates it – name­ly cap­i­tal­ism. Occu­py Wall Street rup­tured this nar­ra­tive through the occu­pa­tions and mas­sive pop­u­lar sup­port. Before Sep­tem­ber the sen­tence, “Amer­i­cans are dis­sat­is­fied with social inequal­i­ty” would have been debat­able to say the least, per­tain­ing only to a small fac­tion of left­ists and aca­d­e­mics. Now it can be stat­ed as fact, a fact that the exist­ing forces and pow­ers do not know what to say about.

Occupy Philly is Dead! Long Live Occupy Philly!

Occupy Philly is Dead! Long Live Occupy Philly!

The emer­gen­cy ses­sion of the Occu­py Philly Gen­er­al Assem­bly this past Thurs­day decid­ed, at around 10PM, to imme­di­ate­ly move from Dil­worth Plaza, where Occu­py Philly is cur­rent­ly ground­ed, to Thomas Paine Plaza. When the pro­pos­al passed, every­one broke into small­er groups, rushed to grab what­ev­er was around, and began mov­ing to the oth­er side of the street. Soon after, the police arrived, con­fu­sion descend­ed, and, not hav­ing decid­ed on any plan ahead of time, we spon­ta­neous­ly broke into three groups: the first regrouped back at Dil­worth, the sec­ond was left at Thomas Paine, and the third decid­ed to storm City Hall. At the end of it all, we were forced to aban­don our objec­tive, with­draw back to the orig­i­nal encamp­ment, and rethink the whole affair.

The Night in Which All Cows Are White

The Night in Which All Cows Are White

Philadel­phia has a large pop­u­la­tion of black, dis­af­fect­ed youth. It also has a black may­or. But when some of the­se young peo­ple began to spon­ta­neous­ly protest the obscene lev­el of urban seg­re­ga­tion and sys­tem­at­ic pover­ty of the city with “flash mobs,” it was May­or Michael Nut­ter who launched the coun­ter-attack, impos­ing the dis­ci­pli­nary mea­sure of an ear­lier cur­few in wealthy white areas. Cur­fews, as George Cic­cariel­lo-Maher points out, “have his­tor­i­cal­ly served as a racist weapon for the con­tain­ment of Black bod­ies” – but Nut­ter him­self made the point by accom­pa­ny­ing this mea­sure with an ide­o­log­i­cal assault on black Philadel­phi­ans in gen­er­al.

All Power to the General Assemblies? Or, the Strange Case of Take Artists Space

All Power to the General Assemblies? Or, the Strange Case of Take Artists Space

After the raid on Zuc­cot­ti Park ear­ly this morn­ing, what remains of Occu­py Wall Street? The library was destroyed and thrown in the garbage; the kitchen and com­mune that fed and housed hun­dreds now gone. But what about the gen­er­al assem­bly? The police vio­lence demon­strates that the rel­e­vance of Occu­py Wall Street as a polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion is by no means in its attempts, fail­ures and very real suc­cess­es at direct democ­ra­cy. It is instead a ques­tion: what is beyond democ­ra­cy in the spir­it of Occu­py Wall Street?