Skip to main content

Two Lane Struggle

For much of this week I have constantly been reminded of an article by the Ignite Collective, The Objectivity of the Streets, whenever I have observed Occupy Toronto's interaction with the police.  When you have a [non]official police liaison who is one of the movement's [non]leaders, when there are rumours of other [non]leaders possibly collaborating with the cops by providing them names of the "trouble-makers", when you inform the police of your breakaway marches, and when you persistently try to make people think that the pigs are in the same camp as you––that they are part of your "ninety nine per cent"––then your movement isn't as radical as you would like people to believe.  As the Ignite Collective wrote, based on their experience within the #occupy wallstreet movement:
"What struggle for liberation would leave the NYPD intact? Or any other police force? How could we? There are of course particularities to each police force, there may be scattered “well intentioned” individuals in its body (as there are ”well intentioned” individuals amongst financial capital itself, or any other section of the ruling class). NYPD is a mobilized force that is more or less an occupying army in the hood, it is the backbone of finance capital, it is our jailers, it is our violent attackers. If we truly want to face the enemy we must recognize who our enemies our. #OccupyWallSt. has loosely put forward that our enemy is the “1%” in relation to the “99%” – we say essentially that at the very least the formulation be reformulated as the 98% against 2%, finance capital and their running dogs in the NYPD. Liberation means the end of the police!"
Thus, I was quite happy when today, at a march to the occupy site, there were no permits, the police weren't alerted, and the street was occupied without apology or liaison attempts.  Nor was I surprised when the tone of this march, in slogans and intentions, was far more anti-capitalist and far less social democrat than the other marches I have so far observed in this movement.

When the police did show up, and demanded that we only take one lane instead of two, one of my comrades started up a joke chant, "two lane struggle", that the rest of the marchers began to chant as well, and the pigs were disobeyed.  By simply beginning without permits, without a police presence, by taking the streets without the permission of the guardians of capitalism––and this process discovering that bystanders will join you, that workers will support what your political line––has always been a moment of radicalization.  When you march with the police involved, when you liaison with them and try to be "good" demonstrators, you do not begin by confronting the state even on a symbolic level; you are conceding to the state, you are marching according to its rules.

As much as I have complained about the strategy of movementism, I still have a lot of respect for the tactics of the golden days of movementism in my city.  The snake marches, the rejection of the International Socialists' attempt to make us march around the same damn block herded by the police, the confrontational occupations… Although the theory and structure for something beyond action itself was lacking, there was still radical action.  Those of us who endorsed these tactics understood that the pigs were not our friends; we even had various anti-police chants.  Although I cannot accept the ahistorical and always disproven theories of revolution pushed by this theoretical melange (sorry, no matter how many times you try to dress up Draperism with new words it's still the same idealist nonsense), at least it had a radical dimension that has been largely absent from the mainstream spaces of the occupy movement.

The fact of the matter is that, no matter how much we want to believe a movement is radical and unprecedented and filled with revolutionary potential, it will be nothing more than capitulationist unless people realize that the police cannot be part of a movement that would ever threaten the capitalist state.  And if this movement does not become something that can threaten capitalism, if there is no two line (or "two lane"?) struggle within it to push it towards an anti-capitalist agenda, then it is far from radical.  Again as the Ignite Collective argued:
"We must know in what class relation do [the police] stand to the rest of society – even the wisdom of the ancients, particularly Plato, had long judged their position in relationship to productive labor - that is the “soldier class” produces nothing, there is no actual work. Any section of the people which produces nothing however receives a wage is in fact dependent on the surplus accumulation of the whole people, which in this context takes place in the imperialist capitalist world system. They’re therefore, because of this context, parasitical to the broad working people. One can say their labor is as civil servants, that their labor is reproductive for the means of production. This in fact makes sense, but for ourselves we must point out what kind of “reproductive” work is this? Its reproductive labor which is in fact violent maintenance of the the conditions of production – whereas the sanitation worker clears the snow after the blizzard, whereas the teacher prepares (or perhaps not) the new generation to become the army of the labor, the police breaks strikes, they arrest and house labor, they murder us when commanded. In this respect their actual interests are not the same as the broad working masses and at least at this moment completely divergent from ourselves."


  1. And to add a real comment:

    I really like the Ignite Collective's analysis of the pigs in relation to reproductive labour - a topic I am very interested in. It's a very important distinction to make: They are reproducing the very conditions of production. I hadn't really thought about the pigs in that way before, so I'm glad to see this.

  2. Of course it was better than the 'occupy' ones, its been organized by actual leftists instead of wierdos.

  3. Xtina: yeah, the entire piece is great. It's both polemical and theoretical... maybe you can find a way to work it into your own work?

    Meganysta: well some of the [non]organizers of the "occupy" marches are people who rose to the Toronto activist left in the wake of the G20. Of course, these are also people who are the informal leadership figure flavour of the month: they tend to appear in cycles, become popular faces, and then drift off to some other city or into a cushy career within a few years. But yeah, there are also those [non]organizers who are involved who generally have an eclectic social dem line to organizing. I don't know if I would call them weirdos because, sadly sadly, due to the state of the left in this bloody city, and our inability to move outside of our normal organizing boundaries, we are seen as the weirdos.

    1. I think by wierdos here i was referring to believers in lizard people, drum circle hippies who want everyone to get along all the time, zietgiest, people like '13 dragons', 'Elijah' etc. At occupy i considered social democrats allies if they were based in reality and materialism to some extent and didn't talk about chem trails.

    2. What about the "love is the movement" people?


Post a Comment