Jodi Dean on phases of struggle
[posted to Facebook]
One benefit of the model in use at occupy wall street is the possible formation of a group, collectivity, out of folks who have a hard time thinking and acting as a group. So, if we think of the occupiers as primarily people who don’t union membership as an option and don’t see any existing parties as persuasive, then they are trying to build a different kind of group. An interesting problem they face is how to describe it–it’s not an ‘identity category’ or an ‘interest group’ or even an issue-based group. Given that absence, the non-expression of core ideas makes sense–there aren’t any so, armed by some pretty influential theory (anarchists, Hardt and Negri, Tikkun) and a read of recent politics influenced by that theory, the activists are turning (or trying to turn) a weakness into a strength. What I hope will happen is that this will be a stage (the inchoate stage wherein previously dissipated rages begin to consolidate) and that we will see another stage of more organization and specificity emerge. Graeber suggests as much when he mentions the thirty working groups. The thing is, folks committed to anarchist ‘horizontal’ organizing might be really good at one phase of struggle and a barrier at another. Graeber’s description makes it seem like unions are the ones who make it difficult for the ‘movement’ folks, but it makes more sense, I think, to recognize that their commitments can become a detriment at another point. I heard last week (maybe this has changed) that some law folks were very interested in helping with the larger first amendment issues around the protests (masks, tents) but that they weren’t getting very far because there was no ‘there’ (no substantial entity) to represent.