Occupy Boston: Menino’s Element

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Boston Mayor Tom Menino had a problem from the beginning of Occupy Boston. We, unelected,  gave a clearer voice to Boston’s 99% than the manufactured consent that dubs him as  “elected”.  His first attempt to discredit us, was to claim that the movement had been hijacked by anarchists. There were, off course, skirmishes on all levels. A working group, is in and of itself an aggregation of some amount of power. But it is the thoughtful anarchists who understand that there are methods of organization that can limit aggregation.  Power is fraught with peril.  Leadership is an aggregation of power, but if it is moderate in magnitude and transitory, the unfortunate effects can be avoided. Occupy Boston is leaderless in the sense that no-one has a permanent tenure in any position. But it does have a class structure, clicques, and other imperfections.  We have challenged a corrupt system riddled with contradictions. We occupied the 1/3 acre Dewey Square Park, we had nowhere near the resources to establish an entirely independent society. Medical acknowledged this is some important ways from the beginning. Serious conditions led to a call to EMT’s.  Because of these limitations,  it was abundantly likely1 that we would have a complex relationship with capitalist society.  It was abundantly likely1 that we would have our own contradictions.  I would hope to deal with all of these issues in the future, but for now I’ll confine myself to the conspicuous failures of both capitalist society and our attempt to do better.

Tom Menino abandoned the “hijacked by anarchists rhetoric”.  Instead he said that we had an “element” in the camp. By the time he said it, it was commonly held within the camp that we had a number of people who’s challenged lives were a threat to the well being of the entire camp.  Discussion about the “element” included homelessness, malingering, and substance abuse. Of these, substance abuse is by far the most damaging. I know because I am a homeless  alcoholic. I am not a malingerer because I have not had a drink in 26 years. I have been very busy in those 26 years. Since the Occupation, I have been even busier.

A number of people believed that a more supportive environment would help the “element” to heal. When healing occurs in capitalist society support is a big part of the story. Our mistake was  a serious underestimate of  the amount of support needed for the large number of seriously challenged people we had. We also had a serious overestimate of the magnitude and efficacy of the tools at hand. When I announced the 12 Step Substance abuse Working Group at a GA, I asked to talk with people who, like myself, are in recovery. Standard practice for a 12th step call on a single alcoholic is to have two people in recovery. There were 4 people who told me they were in recovery. One offered to help. None of them were living in the camp. I decided on the equivalent of calling the EMT’s.  We would go off site. The one other member of the working group made a map of the nearby AA meetings. We did get one notorious person to an AA meeting. I suspect he thought it would prevent him from being thrown out of camp. Fine. Capitalist courts require people to go to AA. It is a challenge for the Fellowship, because it disavows alignment with the state.  Individual members follow their conscience in signing court slips. When we encamp again, do we want to have an agreement between us and a person or persons we know to have been a problem due to substance abuse. Will we insist upon an action plan of recovery for them to stay with us?

[There’s more, but it’s time for GA]

1One of the traps that ideological left groups fall into is the idea of historical inevitability. Revolutions do happen but they are very hard to predict. They often frustrate people’s messianic urges. I too would be God, but if i understand my Hindu friends even remotely, we are all part of the godhead. The problem is not so much that i think myself to be god, but that i think that you are not – i have forgotten our unity with each other and the universe that gave birth to us.

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Occupy Boston: Eviction Liveblog
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Occupy Wall St. 2.0

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