From PugetSoundAnarchists. Mon, 10/17/2011.
Informal Update On Occupy Seattle
We offer the following analysis of the events that have taken place within the Occupy Seattle movement. There are many problems that have been encountered and surpassed that will prove useful to anarchists that are participating in the various occupation movements within the United States.
Occupy Seattle has been in existence for just over two weeks now. In the early stages, a decision was made to maintain the occupation at Westlake Park in the heart of Downtown Seattle. Anarchists contributed to the decision to illegally hold the park which is directly next to a main traffic hub and exists in what is called the “free-ride zone,” an area where people do not have to pay for the bus. The amount of people moving through this area at all hours of the day was one factor in the site being chosen for the occupation. Another factor in the decision to occupy Westlake Park was its central location amidst a prime tourist destination and business district.
Almost immediately, a small group of people began trying to co-opt the movement and divert it to city hall. In the early stages, the mayor of Seattle attempted to use the energy of the occupation in order to increase his political currency. Under pressure from the business community (which had been losing money due to the occupation), he simultaneously applauded the occupiers who had erected tents while at the same time ordering the Seattle Police Department to tear down the tents. Hoping to permanently dissuade anyone from remaining in the center of Seattle capital, he began to spread offers of using city hall as a legal alternative to Westlake Park. These offers were disseminated through the camp by a suspicious group of people who have allegiances to the green-capitalist, social-democratic ideology of the mayor of Seattle.
The mayor then forbid the occupiers from erecting any structure or sleeping in the park at night. Despite this, a determined group of homeless street youth and other various actors held down the occupation for many rainy nights, despite the prohibitions. Hoping to capitalize on the fear and sadness of the occupiers, the acolytes of the mayor attempted to perform a coup in the General Assembly. At the beginning of one assembly, these people insisted that the police were coming at any moment and an emergency vote had to be passed regarding a proposal to move to city hall.
The vote passed, but a group of anti-authoritarians and anarchists helped passed an amendment that effectively neutralized the move to city hall. If these actors had not intervened in the Assembly, the city would have successfully co-opted the potential of the movement and invalidated the struggle of the homeless youth that had sacrificed their health to maintain a free area in Westlake Park. Over the next few days, the anarchists and anti-authoritarians isolated these green-capitalists, thwarted their plans, pushed for the continued occupation of Westlake Park and in one notable instance, helped eject a self-appointed leader who had gone behind the occupations back and held secret negotiations with the mayor.
The primary strength of the occupation of Westlake Park is its illegality. From its inception, it has challenged the capitalist values and laws that infect the minds of most Seattle residents. However, this mass experiment in physically taking space was new to many and required much sacrifice and bravery to maintain itself. Because of this, the numbers of people holding down the occupation at night oscillated between 30 and 50 people. In response to this vulnerability of the occupiers, a plan was passed by the Assembly to fill the park with 500 tents on October 15th.
Knowing they were breaking the law and violating the morals of capitalist society, dozens of people pitched tents amidst a sea of 3000 people. Only 125 tents went up in the triangular park, but hundreds remained into the night to protect the camp and celebrate the massive outpouring of support for something that was blatantly illegal. It was after this that the occupation of Westlake Park began to fulfill the first conditions of the Anarchist International’s recommendation for breaking the psychological and physical slavery imposed by capitalist domination.
The first petty laws regarding smoking marijuana were disregarded, as well as the laws regarding public drinking. With the influence of these substances becoming more visible as the night wore on, tensions began to become more apparent. Those who hated the police began to insult, taunt, and berate them whenever they walked near the occupation. Whenever someone would do this, those still infected with the disease of authority and submission began to yell at those who insulted the police. This caused over thirty fights to break out over the course of the evening.
The Anarchist International will always be a champion of chaos, and thus we found the conflicts that erupted in the occupation to be the healthiest developments imaginable. It flushed the crypto-authoritarians out, exposed them publicly, and revealed the colonized minds of many occupiers. To the surprise of many, the psychotic anarchists with their impossible ideas, delirious ramblings, and rage-filled condemnations actually brought more of the occupiers to their side. Indeed, the anarchists of the nocturnal hours were intoxicating to the others around them. Whether sitting around a graffiti covered circle, drinking champagne, pouring ink on the ground, pushing the police out of an area, helping people escape from the police, or having insane arguments with the most hypnotized of pacifists, the anarchists brought joyous chaos wherever they went.
Keep in mind, anarchists also participate in the General Assembly where they are recognized and their opinion is respected. The anarchists coming in and out of Westlake Park are also crazy people. The occupiers of the park have come to respect anarchist ideas by seeing the push to keep the occupation illegal succeed and blossom into what is today a fully transformed area that is now a temporary home for families with children, homeless people, students, and a wild medley of degenerates. The Anarchist International would like to applaud the chaos that erupted within the occupation on the night of the 15th. Chaos is terrifying to nearly everyone, but when people see it embraced successfully, they come to understand that chaos is the source of all freedom. Fear of chaos leads to laws, submission, alienation, and slavery. As the champions of chaos, we are also the champions of total freedom.
To conclude, the Anarchist International would like to recommend that anarchists involved in the occupations across the United States do not let their occupations devolve into boring replications of bureaucratic or judicial formality. Instead, champion the total freedom of the individual and the beauty of temporary affinity, transient joy, and spontaneous transcendence. The free areas that we help create will serve us in the future only so long as they are built and maintained in defiance of the law, gather their strength from the individuality and autonomy of the participants, and can defend themselves from attack.
Towards the unleashing of all evil passions
and the continued articulation of the Anarchist International