So this afternoon, Truth-Out published what I happened to be thinking at exactly the moment the article hit my inbox; the means of the Occupy Movement, from supplying at every #Occupy location (and in their article’s context, Liberty Park, New York) free medical resources, free food and drink, and even in many cases, free Wi-Fi and mobile phone charging, IS part of the goal that is desired. Nobody’s writing cheques for some freshly made soup, nor are people asking for payment for work performed; no credit cards are used for the free lectures either; the library is free. These are the resources. This is the reality of the world on a tangible level.
One of the most striking things about volunteer labor is the duration of workers’ stamina – workers who, at a wage-paying job, might well be checking the clock every few minutes. Nick the tobacconist has no plans to stop rolling cigarettes as long as the occupation of Wall Street rolls on. Says Larry the barber, “I’m going to be here until I need a break; I got a big line coming later on today.”
For anyone who follows The Zeitgeist Movement, the bolded sentence above is no surprise; it has been known for years through various studies of motivation that being paid in many cases demotivates workers at a minimum, and corrupts the job at the worst end of the scale. Daniel Pink’s book Drive collates these studies in a very useful manner. And #Occupy demonstrates people’s love to help others and become motivated in real life beautifully, if indeed on a temporally lo-fi scale.
Meanwhile in parallel, the Media blackout is as invisibly all-pervasive as ever, refusing to see the protesters as valid, or the goals as achievable or valid either, or simply ignoring the issues AND the story and bringing you the latest in international table tennis.
The media that is covering the 1,500 simul-protests is the “new media”. Social news, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube et al. Content Generated from, By and For The Street. What is less realised is that the actual process of Mass Media Ignorance will be the very thing that renders it obsolete. To understand this, it’s worth referencing a neat little passage from a book called The End of Work by Jeremy Rifkin with regard to automation of type within the New York Mass Media and the necessary consequential losses of employment;
“The International Typographers Union was one of the more militant unions in regard to automation. In 1966 its New York local was able to secure a labor agreement with New York newspaper publishers that “gave the union absolute authority over the types of technology which could be brought into the composing room.” For eight years the ITU was able to stave off the shift from hot metal printing to cold type and forestall the automation of the composing room. The Big Three newspapers-The New York Tries, the Daily News, and the New York Post-had agreed to the 1966 contract giving the ITU control over the introduction of new technology on the shop floor in the hope that the unions’ resistance to cold type would eventually bankrupt their competitors. That is exactly what happened. In that period, New York’s six smallest newspapers folded, in part because they could no longer afford the increasing labor costs associated with hot type. By 1974 the union was widely viewed as responsible for the bankruptcy of the smaller publishers and the loss of hundreds of jobs. The national media and the business community accused the ITU of being antiprogress and, worse yet, to blame for the loss of the very jobs the union had fought so hard to protect.” (Rifkin, p87)
Let’s put it bluntly; those institutions that cling on to the prevailing but problematic baggage are, by their very actions of fighting the emerging new technologies, or new social models, or sets of values, themselves destroying the very foundations their institutions rely on.
There’s no better way to herald the era of mass automation of most jobs than by aggressively pursuing profit; it will lead to automation as a money-saver, as well as an increase in productivity and accuracy of the work performed such as no human labour can match; there’s no better way to make the mass media redundant than by their own supposed self-preserving focus on irrelevant issues; there’s no better way to organise a protest against the very financial infrastructure that has caused by its retroactions the problems that are the core of the protest, than by managing and distributing resources not only equally, but also as they are needed (which is not always “equal” in the mathematical sense.)
And there’s no better way to contribute to the end the present financial system than by attempting to continually bail out an infinite growth paradigm with more borrowed money forever.
These and all future protests will subside only when the problems do. The events are a product, not a cause. The means is the end. Fighting the future with the present is like trying to silence an echo with an even louder scream. All you get back is the inverted echo, resisting and opposing louder.
And then you are still the same strange figure, yelling alone in a chasm, wondering why you might be alone to begin with.