D.A.V.I.D. #s 18, 19, 20, 21 transcripts
The cool thing about this is Shylock gets a trader in a bad position where he loans him money and the trader his ships sink and he can’t pay Shylock back. Back then there’s anti-semitism so Shylock’s a perfect villain because he’s just pure jewish evil bondsman. But he’s also human because Shakespeare didn’t write one dimensional characters so he has a lot of logic vested in him.
So he’s making his case for why he wants, actually his bond or in the plot it develops that he also accepts a pound of flesh instead of the bond. So now he’s demanding that the guy give him a pound of flesh and they’re trying to talk him out of it. They’re saying, Shylock, this makes no sense.
And so he says, they’re asking him for mercy basically, “For thy three thousand ducats here is six.” He’s saying I’ll give you six thousand ducats for the three thousand that you loaned. And Shylock says, “If every ducat in six thousand ducats were in six parts, and every part a ducat, I would not draw them. I would have my bond.” He’s very principled. He’s like, I WANT the bond, the fulfillment of the obligation. So it’s sort of like the unbending loan.
“How shall thou hope for mercy, rendering none” they ask him.
“What judgment shall I dread doing no wrong” he doesn’t believe he’s doing wrong.
“You have among you many a purchased slave which, like your asses and your dogs and mules you use in abject and in slavish parts, because you bought them. Shall I say to you let them be free? Marry them to your heirs? Why sweat they under burdens? Let their beds be made as soft as yours and let their pallets be seasons by such viands? You will answer ‘The slaves are ours.’ So do I answer, the pound of flesh which I demand of him is dearly bought. It is mine, and I will have it. If you deny me, fie upon your law, there is no force in the decrees of Venice. I stand for judgment. Answer, shall I have it?”
That’s the whole idea of the letter of the law not the spirit of the law. And I think that it perfectly illustrates some arguments I get in with people in Occupy Wall Street. This one guy in particular who manages a lot of resources; metro cards, housing, and he’s like, he’s turned me away from churches he’s turned a pregnant woman away from a church that we were housing people at because he’s like, she’s not on the list. And we’re like, well there’s rules, and then there’s the spirit behind the rule. And let’s just show compassion. And he told me once, you can’t get a metro card you’re not on the list. And I’m like, dude you know me, you’ve seen me working all the time you’ve known me since November. He’s like, if I just, Shazz, give this to you then I’m no better than George Bush and these other crony politicians who help their friends.
And I’m like, no no that’s not what’s wrong with society. We don’t need better following of rules and regulations. We actually need better values, we need better…we need more HUMAN structures…maybe we don’t even need institutions. But we need more humanity and compassion. We don’t need stricter rules and regulations. That’s sort of like an ideological split.
So he’s sort of like that guy, saying “Hey I’m completely within my rights and the law. You have slaves you have your own property. I made a contract with this guy. He owes me a pound of flesh.”
And that’s what Shakespeare and that’s what the artist does, bring up the humanity, and says “Well there’s rules and logic and there’s rhetoric, then there’s compassion.” And they’re asking him to be compassionate. And in the end he is.
A lot of times in the movement I ask people , “I understand what we’re doing, we’re trying to set up a system. We’re trying to be logical. And process is big, we were just talking about process, setting up a process by which we can be more inclusive, the occupy movement, but we also always have to have compassion. We have to have PEOPLE before PROCESSES is what I tell people. That’s just a like a phrase.
When you come to a point where you have a person on one side and you have a process on the other side, I would imagine you always want to break the process for the sake of the person. And a lot of people don’t do that. And that’s when you start to objectify people. Because that’s when you come up with an excuse to not see the person. You have your rule, your regulation, you blame the victim, you say “Well they should have known better, they shouldn’t have put themselves in that position.” All these different reasons to not be compassionate.
When I think what we were imagining in the park, and what a lot of people came out to try and change in the world. It sounds really idealistic because we live in what seems to be an uncaring world where we don’t really care about people, and we see people falling by the wayside.
Like I tell people, Wall St and society out there, has a monopoly on all the smartest people, all the most rational, all the intelligentsia, all the most complicated systems. We’re not going to fight that with smarter more efficient systems. They have efficiency in society. What we were bringing to the table was heart, was compassion, was a different style of communication.
And that’s what direct democracy was, the consensus process is people governing themselves. People actually listening to each other, and joining each other in in self governance, at the lowest level. Just coming together in a park in a public place and taking part in a discussion and then making a decision including everyone’s opinion in that discussion. You have a proposal you no longer own that proposal. CT Butler’s book, he talks about that. You’re supposed to check the ego at the door. This is a model that we actually started following in Occupy Wall Street. We don’t train up to it enough. This guy had a training in Long Island, not that many people went. He’s having a second one here in New York this weekend, not that many people are going.
Because they care about efficiency. They care about doing stuff. But really the perspective I’ve been earning is our most valuable accomplishment was the new communication that we were bringing to activism, that anarchists have been using for a while now and other activist organizations but we are actually bringing it into the mainstream, is this consensus process that you can actually have complexity built upon direct democracy, completely challenges our representative democracy.
And that would be like an anarchist tactic that you have a democratic deficit which are local municipalities that don’t seem – well our whole political structure doesn’t seem like it’s inclusive. It doesn’t seem like it’s representing us. It doesn’t seem like we have a voice in it. Corporations are drowning us out, it’s destroying the environment, it’s destroying our economy. Whether you criticize capitalism or not you can just acknowledge the effect of it. It seems like things aren’t working. And so into that discussion we’ve inserted the consensus process and direct democracy. And that’s an anarchist idea; you create a model which delegitimizes power structures and embodies your alternatives, your values. And that’s what coming to a public place, coming to a park, was all about. That’s what I’m starting to view this occupy theory was all about.
The smallest thing that we did and the most important thing that we did was come together in a public place and have a discussion in a direct democratic fashion, start organizing ourselves along those tactics. And then out of that we built complexity where we’re talking about actions, we’re talking about protests and stuff. But we haven’t really done that right. We haven’t really spent enough time learning these tools of communication and improving ourselves. That what the book’s all about, Occupy KISS. That’s why I say, wipe the lipstick off the pig.
In a lot of ways what we were doing was very simple. And it was left incomplete from the beginning. We have to go back and really spend a lot of time and energy working on those communication tools that we started off with.
It’s also an anarchist idea that in order to change society you have to change the very bonds of that society, the social relationships in that society. That’s something that Leo Tolstoy says, is that everyone wants to change humanity but not many people want to change themselves, change the human beings. So that’s the self reflection. We’re having a lot more effort projecting our criticisms on an external society and not that much effort looking inwards and trying to change ourselves, when really we’re not removed from that society. We’re all a part of that society. And external critique has to include internal critique.
That’s where art comes in. I think art holds up a mirror. So that’s what my work, and other people who are having interesting discussions, are trying to hold up that mirror to Occupy Wall St, so that way if we are replicating these structures and brining this baggage from the old ugly society into this new space that we’re creating, this opportunity that we’ve given ourselves to have this discussion, we can recognize it and we can start working on it.
I mean this is a conversation that’s been going on throughout history, the merchant of Venice. And I summarize it as objectification. When you don’t see that person, you don’t see that other individual who deserves human dignity, and you just see an object. You see lumber instead of trees, you see meat instead of animals, you see a black person or a racial epithet instead of a person. That’s where like the anti-semitism, anti-arabism anti-communism anti whatever. It’s just an excuse to objectify the other person. And the counter to that would be love. And so more loving relationships and more healthy communication.
It’s a real simple thing to say, that this whole Occupy movement was about creating alternative ways to communicate, or healthier communication patterns in society, at the very basic social level. THAT makes a lot more sense to me. It seems like a lot easier thing to promote. Upon that maybe we can build complexity of actions and everything but if we forget that, if we forget that little kernel, then everything it seems like that you do and build up upon that is going to be useless, because you’re just a protest movement, and at the very end you’re just petitioning power.
Because these power structures are built upon a different type of relationship of you vesting someone else with your democratic authority. You’re vesting representatives, representative democracy, you’re vesting the owners of capital, you’re not really questioning the power structures of your economy. And you’re vesting organizers of the movement, because you’re not really a part of the organization because the movement has lost its direct, democratic push.
And that’s what we’ll see later on. I mean, we’ll talk to other people and ask them and stuff, in Occupy Wall St. But that’s where the elitism comes in, is that from the very beginning I noticed that there was a push to, like, and the people I know they might have the best of intentions, to sort of direct this movement. Steer it. Control it. And that’s another anarchist principle; if the means aren’t in alignment with the ends, if how you’re creating the revolution isn’t with revolutionary tactics, then you’re just going to mirror power structures, you’re just replicating the society you’re criticizing.
So if we don’t create the movement through direct democracy, through consensus, then it doesn’t matter how efficient we are at protesting like May Day, all these other actions, because in the end we’re just going to create a bureaucratic system. And that’s what sort of some people notice.
How do you not?
It’s really hard. That’s what a lot of movements have gone through. How do you not create a movement of bureaucracy and elitism. But that’s the most important question we should be talking about. That’s a discussion we should be having. And that’s the void that we’re stepping into here. I mean I just summarized that points that we’re going to talk to homeboy about.
He has some interesting views because he thinks that we can work with some of the money people and with some of the organizers without being completely coopted, and we’ll talk about that. I’m a pretty hard stance, I’m like, I can’t work with that type of ideology. Unless it’s good from the ground up, completely inclusive.
But then, you can’t be perfect you know. You can’t have total inclusivity. So the truth lies somewhere in between, I think…
Yeah I’ve been wearing these clothes for like a week and a half. That’s what you do when you’re occupying, we become cartoon characters. You have one outfit, and you wear it every single day. Eventually that outfit just reeks, and you either wash it or a lot of times you have to throw it away. Because it is unsalvageable. And then you go and you find a new outfit. And so I look like some sort of banker, or maybe middle manager. My next outfit I might be a street person.
Guess where I found these shoes? Lower East Side! Isn’t that fuckin sweet?! They look nice huh. I mean you can tell they have holes in them, you can tell like…Lower East Side is a great place to find clothes. A lot of people over there like old hippies that have come up in the world and still live there because they like the culture and they like the history, they still put a lot of, I’ve talked to a lot of people who find good stuff there.
So like if they wear out something that’s fancy, like…these are expensive shoes you know? They, uhm, they’ll put them on the sidewalk know that people…because St Marks is around there and stuff, there’s some crusty people who come through there. So they know that like, their privilege isn’t shared by the entire community. It’s one of the hippiest rich communities. Like, they talk about gentrification, a lot of these communities you have to have a lot of money to live in. Like, anywhere in the Lower East Side you know, $2000 for a tiny little studio or something but, at the same time, some of them are still…even though they have money they’re holding it down. The guy who gave me these shoes is.
Or maybe they actually belong to someone. They were on someone’s car, so…(laughs) I was like, I looked around, I asked, I was like “Hey I’m taking these shoes” and I just walked off.
Alright, anarchy Leo Tolstoy. This will be good, actually. This is, when you actually start looking into actual texts, and people who talk about anarchism then you’re like, “Oh ok.”
You know, I don’t like ideology and I really, I think there’s something beyond anarchy. I think permaculture…that’s what I was getting to in my writing, is that the anarchists are really trying to get back to the farming community, back to like…anarchists are without rulers, anti-statists. And so basically what happened before the state? And anarchy is a revolution against the state, and against rulers. Within that concept there IS a revolution FOR. And that’s when you get to like farming, and permaculture, and communes. And communism is supposed to push us towards communes.
And the nice thing about anarchists is they don’t try to get into that conversation, they just say let’s empower people to create those solutions for themselves, which is sort of humble. And it’s nice because then you don’t get into a bunch of hubris. But yeah I think that’s included in the discussion. A mature discussion about anarchism, you would talk about permaculture. Just the same way you have a garden where you limit your actions, so that way you’re not constantly treating the symptoms of your missteps, but you try to get it as natural as possible, gently guiding it to a productive garden, the same thing with society. That’s an anarchist idea, is that we don’t need coercion and we don’t need institutions.
As little intervention as possible to create a thriving human society.
And so I think anarchy and farming go hand in hand. Those are the ideas I was working on recently. Because since being in Occupy, I ran across ideas of anarchism, and really cool anarchists, and I ran across ideas of permaculture, and really cool permaculturists and farmers.
Actually I, we were working to get Occupy Farms. I was like the founding member of that. We got a 56 acre farm that people were going to donate to us. Right now we have 20 farms in our community, in our network. It’s becoming huge. We’re probably going to blow up bigger than WOOF, WOOF’ing and everything if you know about that. It’s like an organic type of, I don’t even know I’ve never done it. I’m getting caught up to speed on all this stuff. You basically get into this network and you can go to farms and work for like the summer or something. I’ve heard good and bad experiences about it.
But with Occupy, that’s the cool thing when we came here is, so many resources, so many cool people and cool ideas. Just like a breeding ground, like a petri dish, of like activism. So like I meet someone who’s like, “Hey you guys should have an event up at our farm.” And I start talking to them and they’re like, “Hey we’ll give the movement our farm.” And we bring within a couple weeks, 17 people up there and we smoke a bunch of cigarettes and drink some beers and just talk and hang out, camp out, and just imagine, wow we can have like…It was up in the woodstock area. Like we can have Occupy Farms IN Woodstock. Now we have people in Vermont, we have people all over. And that’s like Occupying the food supply, food justice. Cut out the middle man. You don’t like corporations grow your own food, send it to the city. So there’s a lot of logistics involved, a lot of planning, but these are the types of big ideas that this small idea of Occupy is creating.
Which people would talk about. It was a convergence. It was all these ideas and activism under the pressure of a system which is becoming more and more coercive. People came together and created this convergence, Occupy Farms is one of those cool things. And that’s where a lot of it is coming back I’m realizing. Where anarchism is helping me get perspective on this.
So I tell people, it’s not that you have to be an anarchist or I’m an anarchist, but that’s the direction I’m headed so I might as well just acknowledge it. And I’m going to go through anarchism and seek in this wisdom and this perspective.
And then that’s our job as a generation. That’s what Noam Chomsky said. Someone asked him in an inter-occupy interview, they said “Chomsky how do we get rid of this stigma attached to anarchist?” Cause I think he identifies himself as an anarcho-syndicalist, that you should have worker collectives that own the means of production, we don’t need a state, or like, bigger institutions, administrative institutions. And so they said, “how can you get rid of the stigma of anarchism? Can you give us some advice?” And he said “That’s up for you guys to decide, it’s up to your generation. You have to re-imagine, re-interpret these ideas.” And I think that’s the way to do it.
Anarchism isn’t violent craziness. It has two definitions in the dictionary. It’s not just chaos and lack of stability, order. It actually is just the ideal that human beings can assemble themselves without coercion, voluntarily assemble and self govern.
This is Leo Tolstoy, he’s saying “On Anarchy.” He says “The anarchists are right in everything,” this is written in 1900, “In the negation of the existing order, and in the assertion that without authority there could not be worse violence than that of authority under existing conditions. They are mistaken only in thinking that anarchy can be instituted by violent revolution.” So Leo Tolstoy obviously was a pacifist. “But it will be instituted only by there being more and more people who do not require the protection of governmental power and by there being more and more people who will be ashamed of applying this power.”
A little bit of shame to the NYPD maybe would be good.
“The capitalistic organization will pass into the hands of the workers and then there will be no more oppression of these workers and no unequal distribution of earnings.” That’s Marxist. “But who will establish the works? Who will administer them?” That’s anarchist. “It will go on of its own accord. The workmen themselves will arrange everything.” That’s Marxist. “But the capitalistic organization was established just because for every practical affair there is need for administrators furnished with power. If there be work, there will be leadership, administrators with power. And when there is power, there will be abuse of it, the very thing against which you are now striving.”
So anarchists brought up that if there is work there will always be administrators and there’ll be power to be abused.
“To the question ‘How to be without a state,’ without courts, without armies and so on, an answer cannot be given, because the question is badly formulated.” Now this is Tolstoy again. The problem is not how to arrange a state after the pattern of today, or after a new pattern. Neither I or any of us is appointed to settle that question.” So that’s nice, this is the humility of anarchism, is that you can criticize it but we’re just trying to create space for a discussion.
“Though voluntarily yet inevitably must we answer the question, ‘How shall I act faced with the problem which ever arises before me.’ Am I to submit my conscious to the acts taking place around me? Am I to proclaim myself in agreement with government which hangs erring men, sends soldiers to murder, demoralizes nations with opium and spirits, and so on, or am I to submit my actions to conscience, i.e. not participate in government, the actions of which are contrary to reason. What would be the outcome of this? What kind of government will there be? Of all this I know nothing. Not that I don’t wish to know, but that I cannot. I only know that nothing evil can result from my following the higher guidance of wisdom and love, or wise love, which is implanted in me. Just as nothing evil comes of the bee, following the instinct implanted in her, and flying out of the hive with the swarm, we should say, to ruin. But I repeat I do not wish to and cannot judge about this.”
Let’s see how long this is. It’s pretty long, he’s talking about Christ. This is Christian anarchism they call it, so he’s talking about love and wisdom and blah blah blah…we’ll cut through all this, here we go…here goes a nice ending/conclusion right here…
“To use violence is impossible, it will only cause reaction. To join the ranks of the government is also impossible, one would only become its instrument. One course therefor remains: fight the government by means of thought, speech, action, life, neither yielding to government nor joining its ranks and thereby increasing its power. This alone is needed, will certainly be successful. And this is the will of God, the teaching of Christ. There can only be one permanent revolution, a moral one, the regeneration of the inner man. How is this revolution to take place? Nobody knows how it will take place in humanity, but every man feels it clearly in himself and yet in our world everybody thinks of changing humanity and nobody thinks of changing himself.”
And that’s the whole idea, is that, it’s easy to criticize and project, and harder to…hey what’s up man! You came at, we were just reading Leo-