16 October, 2011

occupy this!

yesterday was a perfect fall day - sunshine, a light breeze, the sort of crystalline aerial clarity that alberta is famous for, in a word, a perfect day for an anti-capitalist rally. i grabbed my library books* and off i went.

it was a decent turn-out. there was a nice range of people, from scruffy youths with purple hair who, i think, will pretty much protest anything, to disgruntled grandmothers to families with kids (you know the kind of families with kids i mean, right? the kinds whose kids wear delightfully daring colour combinations and hand-knit hemp hats and snack on home made granola bars (i loves me a good left-wing family, they're so aesthetically pleasing!)). there were silly signs, pompous placards and the odd witticism (toddler in a stroller had this sign taped to the front "i spit up on corporate greed," while his little sister held up one that said "even i know how to share"). ah, that feeling of togetherness, belonging, standing up for something, or against something, or something. you know, it was good.

but there i stood in the middle of all this, listening to an earnest choir sing "oh freedom" followed by the raging grannies who warbled some revolutionary ditties with an equal earnestness and i suddenly felt completely disconnected. disconnected from this earnestness, this purity of feeling and hope, these ideals. don't get me wrong, i think it is time we got angry at the growing economic disparity and the ridiculous amount of power corporations have in politics, angry at what is essentially the dissolution of any kind of meaningful democracy, but i felt i no longer have it in me to think anything will change. i guess my cynicism got the better of me, but hey, i was one more body to be counted among the 99%.

so once my sense of disconnectedness grew nice and strong, i walked away and... went shopping. but worry not, gentle poultries, i felt absolutely wretched as i perused the isles filled with glittering sweat-shop produced trinkets that i absolutely do not need, and then i bought nothing at all. take that, capitalism, you bloated swine!

*not for a any nefarious violent anti-capitalist purposes or even as a social commentary on the benefits of communal ownership, but because the public library just happens to be right there. two birds, one stone, you know...


Geneviève said...

Good work. I also went shopping after my stint at Occupy Vancouver. Well, to be fair I went and browsed through some lovely books at Chapters but had absolutely no intention of buying. But still, I did feel rather guilty too.

Alison Cross said...

If there's an occupy Frasers of Glasgow, then I can factor in a little light pilfering whilst demonstrating.....

I don't know what I think about the various occupations. I don't understand how Banking Works, nor Big Business. I fear that I could end up demonstrating against something that really, if I knew the ins and outs of it, I might actually be in favour of. Or something.

Sometimes shopping makes me feel ill - because I need absolutely nothing. But I feel that shopping will somehow....fill me :-)

Good lord, am I on the verge of Finding God????!!


the polish chick said...

actually ali, i don't think you are on the verge of finding god. i think you're simply on the verge of finding out that the whole shopping bullshit isn't all it's cracked up to be. i have to say that finding the perfect pair of pants (that's trousers to you) will make me happy but buying just anything, just for the sake of buying it, makes me sick to my gut time and time again. it's like i've grown more discerning and i like it.

the polish chick said...

also, ali, i don't understand banking or big business either, but i think what is so very frustrating is when the voice of big business or big banks has so much more clout in politics that the voice of the people.

we live in a province in canada famous (or infamous) for their oil sands, and it is a never ending source of frustration to know that they are the oil companies are the ones in whose pocket our government cozily sits. that's all.

crusty juggler said...

I don't understand what these various groups are protesting. I just don't. I want specifics and I haven't been able to find any. What exactly do they hope to achieve, from which powers do they want a response and what sort of response?
Or perhaps they're just protesting being kept in the dark: http://a6.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/296750_10150412591170792_722980791_10737046_319635756_n.jpg

crusty juggler said...
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crusty juggler said...
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the polish chick said...

actually, i got your link on first try.

and i do believe that what they are doing is important. the world is uneven and it is getting increasingly harder to even it out. banks and corporations own our governments and i feel nothing but despair when it comes to politics, so i generally just don't think about it at all.

i'm glad that somewhere out there idealistic scruffy haired youngsters still manage to believe in something, and if they're vague, well, the list of grievances is long.

personally, i protest against raisins, but nobody's listening.

crusty juggler said...

Hmm, I'm full of crap. I haven't physically ventured out to experience Occupy (Vancouver, in my case) in any way, so I feel very distanced from it. Can't really form a judgement based on an internet story or three. But I can't be bothered to go. I hate crowds. I guess that's just the sort of thinking that allows the powers that be to continue unchallenged. I like immediate results, clear goals. But you're right, PC, the list of grievances is awfully long and it's nice to know there are many people who are willing to yell out about it, and not just on a weekend when it's more convenient.

Lucy said...

On a satyrical programme on UK tv the other day, a not very clever young Tory mp was deriding the fact that the London protesters were queuing at Starbucks for coffee while calling for the bringing down of global capitalism. Her oppos said you didn't have to want to return to a mediaeval way of subsistence living and a system of barter to protest against the excesses of the banking system, and drinking a cup of [presumably fair trade] coffee didn't invalidate your opinions. And attempts to opt out of any of the benefits of the system are derided as futile and deluded too.

But I feel very ambivalent about the whole protest thing. I feel it must be done, and I'm glad youthful, and elderly, idealism still survives, but I did plenty of shouting and demonstrating back in the day, and while some things have changed and got better, I would hesitate to imagine that my very vague and un-thought-out protests had anything to do with it, and plenty of other things, such as the excesses of capitalism, have got worse. And frankly I mostly did it because I liked the sense of joining in and being anti-everything.

But, just shrugging and not raising a voice at all and letting the forces of greed and exploitation get on with it won't do, though I kind of wonder quite what and where those forces are, and if they can ever be clearly identified let alone defeated. And protest almost always degenerates into faction and destructiveness until the better people usually abandon it anyway.

We were talking the other day about how historically powers and countries have risen and fallen and given way to others, but that really now everything and everyone everywhere is so interdependent that it's probably getting to the time where we'll all go down together, and there's not much we can do about it.

Though I suppose people have always had a sense of living in end-times, probably because we always have been.

I went clothes shopping the other day and came back (almost) empty-handed and quite depressed, partly because there was plenty of stuff but it was all ugly, shoddy, ill-made, petro-chemical-manufactured junk made in China, even in the 'good' shops. (English shops were a bit better.) In a way that kind of experience is quite good though, or salutary anyway, as it reminds you that you don't really need all this crap and just go home and enjoy all the stuff you've got already. There was a poem years ago by Heathcote Williams about Tesco (a British supermarket chain, a bit down-market then) which began

'The people who run Tesco must be Buddhists:
you go in there and everything is just as it should be,
there is nothing you could possibly want.'

Sorry PC I seem to have taken over your blog, have it back.

the polish chick said...

no lucy, talk away. you captured my own sense of ambivalence perfectly. and the sense of relief i feel every time i fail to buy something when i go shopping.

Lucy said...

The 'almost' was because I came home with two jars of artichoke hearts and one of red peppers and a bottle of suspiciously discounted Gascony VDP white wine (turned out to be OK) and a big ribby sweater of inderterminate gender designation with the label cut out, the entirety of which set me back less than 12 euros from Noz, my favourite bargain store, so I didn't feel too much of a running dog of capitalism after that.