Watching Wall Street burn

 This article appeared in the Gauntlet on September 20, 2012.

It was late Saturday night in Black Rock City, Nevada — site of the infamously intense Burning Man festival. As I relished in the comedown of another acid trip, I stood witness to the burning of “Wall Street,” which stood as five full-sized buildings, ironically beautiful representatives of capitalism’s financial vanguard: corporate banks. The fire that engulfed them was immense in size, ferocity and brightness, reducing the structures to smoldering coals atop the desert dust. Raw joy and satisfaction bubbled throughout my entire being, and then, as we gathered around the remaining ashes, a peaceful stillness set in.

While the entire week of Burning Man left me with countless thoughts each to be pondered in their own right, the question of the significance of Wall Street’s burning continued to linger as one of the heaviest issues. I wondered if anyone beyond the several thousand ‘burners,’ huddled together in a dusty corner of the desert, would be tripped-out by such a politically-charged artistic act. I wondered if anyone beyond we burners could care, or even ought to care. Yet surely such an intense act could not leave our hearts untouched, nor could it be ignored by mass media or those in power.

Courtesy Tim Vargas

However, when it came time to bring sage words to the question of the significance of mock Wall Street’s burning, I was initially silent, all my thoughts had become still, just as I had been as I stood before the buildings’ ashes. But, as it turns out, that is the point. That is the significance. A fire, incomparable to any other, occurred before me and I basked in its brilliance — neither thought nor action (and especially not words) were necessary. My eyes were open, as was my heart.

For those who have had the opportunity to immerse themselves in sport, there is a moment when thought and action unite, the distinction between them melts and performance becomes singular. Being ‘in the zone,’ as it were. I receive a pass, take a shot and score — neither thought nor action guided me, as it was mindless, a moment of ‘oneness.’ Our radicality, our dream of a better world, needs this same sensation of oneness.

The burning of mock Wall Street, the significance that can be drawn from it, lies in that ‘zone’ of which I speak. The fire was a figurative and literal melting of theory and practice. Practice informed theory, like the brilliance to construct and enact a mock burning of Wall Street. And theory emerged from practice, just as the flames that leapt out of Wall Street’s windows ignited a fire in our hearts and inspires us with new ideas and dreams, while also giving us the space to construct something new atop the ashes.

For those of us who dream of a better world — those of us who know a better world is possible — the burning of mock Wall Street is an incredible gift. Moving forward, my radicality is informed by the sensation of the becoming one with thought and action, of theory and practice, just like the stillness I felt in the face of the flames. That is to say, we are hopeless without theory and hopeless without action, but when the two meet and melt together — an occasion only feasible through the stillness born in opening our hearts, which sometimes takes a fire for us to feel — then our adventures, encounters and experiments begin, in their own right and on their own terms, to create a better world upon the ashes of the old.

Age of no consent

This column appeared in The Gauntlet on March 22, 2012

You have never had consensual sex. The sex you have now is not consensual, nor will you ever have consensual sex so long as you continue to live as you do. Rape, sexual abuse and assault are merely the tip of a sexually violent iceberg. Given the direness of our present circumstances — the inherent barbarism of the social, economic, political, religious, academic and cultural corrals into which we are captured and contained — it is fair to claim that it is impossible for anyone to adequately consent to sexual activity in the present. And what’s most sinister is that we’ve been ‘educated’ to think that all is well. While it may seem harsh or absurd to think that a statement that echoes of the obscene charge that “all sex is rape” could be legitimate, to deny it suggests that one is suffering from a terrible case of false consciousness. We have become numb, no longer capable of feeling the flow of sinister authority that permeates the fabric of our lives. We are incapable of making autonomous and well-informed decisions, incapable of being in touch with ourselves and our own sexualities. We’ve been normalized to sexual violence and the vital force of our erotic passions has been drained, leaving the substance of genuine consent unobtainable.

The issues of consent cut a wide swath of possible discussions in all sorts of fields of interest, but none of them evokes as furious and emotionally infused reactions as the issue of sexual consent does. Clearly we are pressing on sensitive tissue. Dare I say that our nerves are so frayed perhaps because we, at heart, understand that something integral is lacking in our sexualities? That sexuality’s intimate core is missing, or has been stolen? Do we not sense that some grave and grievous injustice is being done in every porn film, night club, brothel, fatherly household or kangaroo rape trial? Yet we don’t face up to this reality, perhaps because we know that the rot exists not only on the periphery — in the porn flicks, whorehouses and violent rapes — but that its roots extend through the entirety of the whole, the bulk of matter, and into our very beds. Must I remind you that most sexual assaults and rapes are perpetrated by friends, family or acquaintances — and if we are finally being honest with ourselves and one another, even when we, men and women the same, tell ourselves that our sexual activity is mutually and genuinely consensual, we are refining our skills of disavowal. The behemoth that is our way of life is thoroughly infected. The laws, the language, the imagery — everything our senses can be imbued with, even one another, has been infused with patriarchy’s dominating, savage values. The same system that allows spliced and splayed ‘women’ to be devoured also liquidates our capacity to make well-informed judgements and to understand and appreciate our own sexualities. We live under the same roof, and eat the same stale, mouldy bread as the whore and rapist do.

We grudgingly accept the old cliche “sex sells,” not because we understand it as ‘truth,’ but because we aren’t allowed to believe anything else. Sex is pleasurable, erotic desire animates our lives; but that doesn’t justify the sort of logic that packages our passions into marketable, measurable and manageable hedons. Even if a seemingly innocuous phrase like “sex sells” contained a nugget of truth (although I don’t know how it would), it has been used against us, inoculating us from birth with a false sense that the hyper-sexualization of our world is an inevitable consequence of ‘human nature,’ of Homo economicus. Or worse, we tell ourselves that sexual violence is an exception, perpetrated by perverts. But we know better. We can do better. The bastions of patriarchy are far from being inevitable consequences of ‘the way things are.’ Walls do fall, whether through lack of upkeep, nature’s wrath or by our own hands. But rather than waiting for the situation to improve or placing our hopes on reform (which, lest we forget, only buries the problem deeper) we ought to take sexual and erotic freedom, and the revolutionary struggle necessary to achieve it, seriously. We must, as Wolfi Landstreicher told us, “ . . . truly allow the expansiveness of passionate intensity to flower and to pursue it where the twisting vine of desire takes it.”

No one wants to admit that their sex life is not and never has been consensual. But there is nothing fantastical and utopian about believing that it is possible to form new ways of life where we congregate with one another as autonomous equals, adequately informed and genuinely in touch with ourselves. Bringing to fruition the way we ought to live — where loving and erotic relationships of infinite variety are legitimately possible — requires overturning and annihilating the destructive order at hand, adopting struggle as a way of life, passionately and incessantly dreaming and doing. Accepting sex’s current non-consensual nature is a bitter pill to swallow, but perhaps it is just the right medicine to cure us of our sexual woes.

Against disingenuous community

This column appeared in the Gauntlet on March 8, 2012

Constantly in our ears like cheap linguistic currency is the word ‘community,’ as if each of us instinctively understands the merit of its ceaselessly repeated use, as if each of us are still intimate members, comrades, brothers and sisters of one meaningful togetherness or another. It is the intensity, the vibrancy of life, the density of presence and thought that gives genuine community its critical identity. But, to adapt a phrase from the Invisible Committee: community has everywhere already disappeared.

Continuous effort is made to sell us on the idea that the problems we face in our era — the decay of social and environmental fabrics — stems from an estrangement from communities, as if we accidentally decided to leave them behind once upon a time, and that we ought to pay heed to the various calls for a new coming together. Posted on every telephone pole, newsletter and cafe message board are posters and pamphlets begging us to assemble and reintegrate into this or that community. Are we to accept this call to community without haste? Is community actually a source of meaning or value? No, it is not. Community has become false consciousness in a world long liquidated of all vital forms — genuine community has been replaced with sanitized and homogenized relationships and norms. By accepting the vapid buzzword community we co-opt ourselves into the operations of the organs and apparatuses of domination, into a logic of submission.

Perhaps you consider yourself a member of an authentic community: you and your group share common goals, common language and common values. Perhaps you even see community as being outside of, or subversive to the violent and reductive organs and apparatuses that regulate the fabric of our lives. But none of these associations so calmly dubbed community contains the raw density of life’s vital essence: the heart of genuine community. Even the Occupy movement, which in many ways has been an effort to reestablish genuine community, is under constant threat of having its heart purged of the life-sustaining fluids. Just as porn mutates sexuality into violent obscenity, so too does ‘community’ render genuine forms of the vibrancy of life into disturbing obscenity, making it, as Jean Baudrillard would say, “immediately proffered for view . . . for devouring.”

Accepting the present form of community means, at best, acting out a pseudo-struggle, and at worst, harbouring a complacency to the frameworks and discourses that label, categorize, rape, pillage, reduce, package, market and sell. Furthermore, the boundless growth of different forms of community does not open up the space for authenticity. Rather, it directly corresponds to, as Agamben put it, the boundless growth of apparatuses, the extreme proliferation in the processes of proliferation, in which we living beings are incessantly captured. New types of community does not mean the formation of new freedoms, since that same newness is synonymous with the bulldozing finance-speak of ‘emerging markets.’

It is no longer enough (was it ever enough?) to turn on Pete Seeger’s rendition of Little Boxes while in the company of friends and imagine yourselves to be subversive. After all, there is a line of clothing, eco-friendly garbage, magazines and nicknacks — an entire lifestyle — available for such niche markets.

But the situation is far from hopeless. Genuine community is far from having been made impossible. It is always just beneath the surface, and it’s tiresome trying to continually convince ourselves of the dangers in engaging in anything remotely reminiscent of it. The question of tactics is still open, always open, as the ground is increasingly and incessantly shifting, allowing we clever of minds to act, respond or plan perpendicularities accordingly. If we ever hope to establish genuine forms of community then we must ceaselessly dream, experiment, participate, critically consider and most importantly, act.

The necessity of resistance

 This article appeared in the Gauntlet on January 26, 2012.

Our era has been polluted, perhaps to the point of terminal illness, by the mechanisms and apparatuses of an immense behemoth: the hegemonic totality called Empire. Its machinations are global in scale, and the old alliances and divisions no longer matter. It is no longer east versus west or democracy versus Islam or any other manifestation of this traditional dichotomy, but us versus the system. Whether we live in a so-called liberal democracy or under a military dictatorship, or in an economy of wealth or poverty, we all become sublimated into the dominion of Empire.

Most of us fail to see Empire for what it is: an undesirable, all-encompassing, all-consuming system, whose sole purpose is self-perpetuation at any cost and whose main tactic is pacification of the spirit. Empire seeks to reduce any things and all things to itself. Empire was once simply a cancer, an accidental mutation in the genes of one hegemony or another — but the cancerous lumps were not extracted with enough speed or precision, and now the cancer is an organism in its own right.

The organs of the organism of Empire twist and turn to produce the acidic slime that corrodes all things external, all things still dense with the intensity of life. We are left with a numbness of mind, an ultra-personalization that has bankrupted the soul, a pathological ‘individuality’ that endlessly reticulates us into the horror of sameness. And thus we find ourselves consumed and contained in the bio-political tissue of Empire.

Empire is undesirable — this is no longer open for debate. The important question is how can we annihilate Empire? What is to be done? How is it to be done? When we try to fix, reform, better Empire, all we do is make its apparatuses and organs more sensitive and supple, that is, more efficient in the constant liquidation of all alternative vitalities. We must annihilate Empire. The worry is that Empire’s enormousness, all-pervasiveness and the efficiency of its organs and apparatuses have made subversion impossible. As soon as alternative space is born — that a density of essential vitalities forms — Empire infiltrates it, its values are corroded, its terminology and turns of phrase are reduced to slogans and bumper stickers.

But subversion is not impossible; insurrection, so long as synapses are still capable of making new connections, is always possible, no matter how thin the hope. If Empire were capable of eradicating all forms of subversion, all opportunities for alternatives, then the organs and apparatuses of Empire would become obsolete, the gears and guts would grind to a halt and the human spirit would die.

We must adopt resistance as a way of life. We must be sensitive to the ebb and flow of Empire’s bio-political tissue. It is only through being perceptive to their subtle movements that one can ever create a space for subversion, and, when the moment is right, to command insurrection. We must sharpen the blades of our critical thought. One ought to be like Marx and Engels’s shopkeeper, who understands that there is a difference between what a person says and who a person is, between Empire’s appearances and Empire’s reality. We need a mental toolkit capable both of digging deep beneath the surface, and when necessary, to dissect with the utmost precision. We need a will-to-action that keeps us from passivity. The machinations of Empire have convinced us that lifestyle is bought and sold  — one needs merely to shop at the right stores to be the person they wish to be. This trick performed by Empire has led so many into passivity and sameness, into the pathological horror of ‘individuality.’ What is needed is a willingness to act.

All previous strategies of resistance have been consumed or are in the process of being consumed by Empire, but this is not a point of distress. There’s no pre-conceived formula for successful subversion beyond simple ‘doing,’ and thus there is limitless possibility for the creation of legitimate alternatives in the face of Empire. We need not digest the metaphysical baggage of our revolutionary forefathers. That is, we are without maps, or, at least, the maps we have been given are of no value to us any longer, giving us the full capacity to set sail and chart radical, new geographies. There is no such thing as being too weak or being too remote to resist Empire, as its limbs operate everywhere on all levels, and every effort is crucial. The possible expressions of resistance — the promotions of provocation — are limitless, so long as something rather than nothing is being done. It is useless to wait for the revolution to come or for Empire to destroy itself. Empire must just be opposed outright and at every opportunity.

We must establish a density of place — of vitality, capable of resistance to the global manager/administrator that is Empire. We must take seriously the words of Tiqqun: “Presence triumphing through theft, fraud, crime, friendship, enmity, conspiracy. Through the elaboration of modes of life that are also modes of struggle. Politics of taking-place. Empire does not take place. It administers absence through a hovering threat of police intervention. Whoever tries to measure up against the imperial adversary will be preventively annihilated. From now on, to be perceived is to be defeated. Learn to become indiscernible. Blend in. Revive the taste for anonymity, for promiscuity. Renounce distinction in order to evade repression: arrange for the most favorable conditions of confrontation. Become crafty. Become pitiless. To do so, become whatever.”

Empire may be an all-encompassing and all-consuming system, but subversion and the creation of alternative spaces — new densities of vitality through ‘whatever’ — is not only a possibility, but a necessity.

Of eschatological concern

This column appeared in the Gauntlet on Jan. 11, 2012

On New Year’s eve, drink in hand — as the clock geared itself towards 2011’s terminal moment — I found myself on the deck of the tallest penthouse in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, peering out on the sprawling beach city down below. Having grown weary from the inane smalltalk around me, I escaped my fellow bourgeoisie party-goers for the open air. As I watched the beach party below a fragment of conversation drifted out from the party behind me: “Well, the Mayan calendar ends this year . . .” A mere gust of words, but my mind took sail.

Many of us are familiar with the 2012 end-of-the-world scenario, wherein various astronomical, astrological, numerological, mythic and archaic phenomena have been interpreted  to strongly suggest that the end of this year is the end of all years, whether through utter catastrophe or deeply transformative events. And while scientists and scholars the world over have heavily invested themselves in attacking and deconstructing the 2012 mythos that your hippy aunt rants about every family get-together, I suggest that we ought to give it some serious consideration. After all, the world is at stake.

Eschatology, the ‘study of the end,’ ought to cause concern in every one of us. While the Mayan calendar predictions are most likely pseudo-intellectual garbage in the vein of Nostradamus or Ayn Rand, there should be no doubt in each of our minds that something deeply worrying is unfolding across the globe. Philosopher Slavoj Žižek has warned us that the domination of global capitalism that we embarrassingly tolerate has brought the world right to the edge of total catastrophe. The four horsemen of Žižek’s apocalyptic vision are ecology (impending ecological catastrophes), economy (the global financial meltdown), biology (the biogenetic revolution and its impact on human identity) and society (social divisions leading to the explosion of protest and revolutions worldwide.)

But we don’t need to face this fatalistic alignment with resignation, as the Second World War propaganda maxim “keep calm and carry on” would tell us. These end of days are an opportunity to transform the world. We can treat Žižek’s prescription of global catastrophe as a call to arms, not an admittance of defeat. The late Terrence McKenna — psychedelic-scientist extraordinaire — informed us in his 1975 book, The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens, and the I Ching, that certain patterns of ‘novelty’ underlay historic events, reaching a ‘zero point’ [extreme point] of novelty sometime by the end of this year. McKenna wasn’t interested in treating the 2012 phenomenon with a pessimistic/apocalyptic bent, but as a point of radical evolution or transformation of global consciousness — a sort of planetary awakening that would have the potential to give birth to the sort of world we presently only dream of.

You don’t need to believe that an ancient Mesoamerican society presciently predicted that the planet Nibiru will collide with Earth come Dec. 21, 2012, but you ought to realize the severity and seriousness of the situation. This end of times need not be a zero-point of devastation, but a chance to make things right, and give birth to a new society, a new consciousness, a new world.

But for such a vision to be realized we need to remember Paul Goodman: “The solution of this issue is easy, easy in theory, easy in practice . . . direct action.” No more keeping calm. No more carrying on. It’s time to act.

I left the party just before midnight. Slightly intoxicated, I wandered to the beach. There in the sand, surrounded by euphoric strangers, I listened to the countdown, then watched as fireworks erupted all across the city, beach and sea — the light flooded the skies from every conceivably corner of the city. I felt the cool of the surf wash up over my feet.

No place to study . . . each other

This article appeared in the Gauntlet on Oct. 27, 2011.

The Taylor Family Digital Library opened to considerable fanfare, but its study spaces are absurdly busy, noisy and in short supply. The majority of MacKimmie Tower closed, robbing us of a study place of solace. Coupling these concerns with the record enrolment numbers and the bureaucratic hodgepodging of both the su and campus administration, students are realizing that our campus has woefully inadequate study space. However, there is an equally pressing concern that most students haven’t yet considered: the woefully inadequate lack of sex space.

The studying of sexuality and sex in all of its scholarly manifestations is ubiquitous in the fields of academia. But in our university the having of sex and exploring of sexuality have been denied a constructive outlet. This has condemned campus sex and sexuality to secretive trysts and regretful dorm room encounters.
If our school really wants to achieve “excellence” they need to affirm sexuality and create sexual space. Sex space would undoubtedly reduce the amount of pointless and often painful one-night stands that result from the immature sex rituals of ThursDen. If we had sex space students would waste less of their days and nights ogling their fellow students, searching for a human connection or for a fuck. It’s understood that sex is a wonderful option for stress relief. I’m certain most students don’t need the benefits of stress relief explained to them. With less nights and days wasted, with our focus regained and our stress reduced, grades and emotional well-being would improve. Our burden upon services such as the Wellness Centre would certainly be reduced. The practical element of establishing sexual space would be an incredible adventure that only a closed mind would not appreciate. While there is something to be said of clandestine rendezvouses in empty classrooms, sex space would foster a better relationship to sexuality.

Sexuality is an essential aspect of humanness — it expresses itself in a bountiful plurality of beautiful possibilities. However, perhaps resulting from the hyper-sexualized sexist corporate media, sexuality within our campus has, almost entirely, been relegated to the darkest recesses of our school. Sex space is a possible means by which we can reverse this trend. Our university needs to graduate from its immature understanding of sex — a coital convocation that affirms genuine sexual values.

It’s time we Occupy Calgary

This column appeared in The Gauntlet on Oct. 6, 2011.

     “Our politics caught up with who we are,” were the words of Alberta’s new premier-designate, Alison Redford, touting her election victory. While admittedly it is certainly momentous that a woman has finally come to power, and in such regards Redford’s remark is a fair point, it is incredibly embarrassing to hear politicians and media alike believe and announce that our present politics have in any way, shape or form caught up with who we are. In contrast with Redford’s remark, I find myself sympathetic to sociologist Jean Baudrillard’s astute observation that “today, power itself is an embarrassment and there is no one to assume it truly.”

Our political sphere continues to survive on the fiction that it represents we the people, and not the hegemony of capital. In our globalized world held hostage by corporate forces the need to subvert the system and bring about serious and legitimate change has necessarily gone viral. We stand at a juncture in history where through emancipatory enthusiasm we can become the terminal illness that brings an end to a system that has long propagated massive global injustices.

Courtesy Tommi Watts

The Arab Spring, Tahrir Square in Cairo, the acampada in Spain, protests in Greece, London, Iceland and Portugal, the Occupy Wall Street movement and all of the additional Occupy movements are all united in their desire to open up new social, economic and political dialogues and avenues.

In solidarity with the multitude of international movements that have occurred, are ongoing or are yet to come, I urge all Calgarians to stand up on Oct. 15 and show that we too are interested in joining this global conversation of change.

When the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia on Dec. 17, 2010 provided a catalyst for protestors to take to the streets across the Arab world, igniting the Arab Spring, the stations of politics and media were caught off guard. They struggled to make sense of what was happening, what it meant and what brought it about. Watching coverage of these events through mainstream sources reveals that they still don’t truly understand.

Fuelled by an ongoing debt crisis, various austerity measures and an enthusiasm boiling over from the Arab Spring, movements for change have seen their opportunity and have broken out across Europe. The ongoing acampada in Spain, wherein thousands of people have gathered and are continuing to camp in Madrid’s central squares, began on May 15, 2011. The ‘social crisis’ in Greece has continued since May 5, 2010. The London protests held on Mar. 26, 2011 saw upwards of half a million people take to the streets. Early this week on Oct. 2, 2011, some 100,000 people turned up to protest in Portugal. And on Sept. 17, 2011 the Occupy Wall Street initiative got underway, setting up camp in Zucotti ‘Liberty’ park in downtown Manhattan, which continues to grows larger day by day. The “Occupy” movement– inspired by Occupy Wall Street– has already spread to San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Portland (Maine), Portland (Oregon) and is encouragingly anticipated to further spread to most major cities in the western world, including Calgary on Oct. 15.

In reporting specifically on Occupy Wall Street, major American news sources, in trying to explain what is going on, have assessed the situation as Marxism, Post-Marxism, Communism, Socialism, juvenile behaviour, the beginnings of totalitarianism, lefty-nutcase protesting, a non-serious non-event doomed to disaster and on and on and on. The world of media and politics have shown themselves to be utterly confused and somewhat disgusted by the idea of regular, autonomous people camping out on public property to participate in an attempt to create an altruistic, alternative space wherein a dialogue for serious change can be conceived and incubated. In an honest diagnosis of the present political and media culture, their inability to understand seems directly connected to their total reliance on the corporate system of greed which people, such as myself, hope to bring to an end.

The culture of corporate greed has liquidated values, resources and dignity. It has tied itself inextricably into our social and political institutions and has liquidated their cores. Noam Chomsky, in strong support of the Occupy movement, recently made the following remark:

“Anyone with eyes open knows that the gangsterism of Wall Street– financial institutions generally– has caused severe damage to the people of the United States (and the world), and should also know that it has been doing so increasingly for over 30 years, as their power in the economy has radically increased, and with it their political power. That has set in motion a vicious cycle that has concentrated immense wealth, and with it political power, in a tiny sector of the population, a fraction of 1 per cent, while the rest increasingly become what is sometimes called “a precariat”– seeking to survive in a precarious existence. They also carry out these ugly activities with almost complete impunity– not only too big to fail, but also too big to jail.

The courageous and honourable protests underway in Wall Street should serve to bring this calamity to public attention, and to lead to dedicated efforts to overcome it and set the society on a more healthy course.”

The title of Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek’s most recent major book, Living in the End Times, communicates so much about the state of current society. Our mode of political, social and economic existence has been on a steady decline– just look at our global situation– and it doesn’t take much insight to understand that its end is coming closer and closer. Žižek’s “four riders of the apocalypse” come not in the form of their traditional religious conceptualizations, but as forerunners of the “ecological crisis, the consequences of the biogenetic revolution, imbalances within the system itself . . . and the explosive growth of social divisions and exclusions” that will bring about an end-times for capital’s hegemony.

Each of the global movements that have gotten underway or are about to start face different issues, different problems, and require different solutions. While people such as myself are all connected by our desire to end the injustices of our corporate society, economy and politics, each location faces a unique challenge. Here in Canada we often play the ‘calm’ card. You hear platitudes about how easygoing and peaceful we are as a people, as if our very genetics somehow expressed a desire for non-confrontation. This, however, is a mask easily worn by Canadians, allowing each and every one of us to continually fail in participating as citizens of this nation, and as citizens of this world. We find ourselves in a malaise of mutual indifference.

Furthermore, Calgarians are especially guilty of failing to see their role in the continuing injustices occurring both in our own backyards and on a world-wide scale. The overt racism and exploitation of resources and people by economic and political agendas, the tight grip that capital keeps around our necks, is so often passed over in silence or ignorance by all of us. Calgary is, in many ways, a colonial outpost in the corporate network. So many of those in suits working in our downtown core believe themselves to be autonomous– working in the best interests of themselves, our city, our people. What they are, however, are compradors– the privileged middlemen between our vast natural resources and the corporate exploiters abroad. Our resources are extracted, roughly refined then sent elsewhere (generally south) to the benefit of the ultra-wealthy– exploited like the serfs we are. Corporatist hegemony’s social stranglehold and our tendency to apathy has deluded us, bound us, blinded us from the cruel reality in Alberta.

Courtesy Jason Park

It is the enthusiasm for emancipation from corporate hegemony that ties our movements together. Our brothers and sisters who have camped, are camped and will stay camped in the plazas of Madrid, parks across America, central squares of Arab capitals and the streets of Greece believe that now is the time to start the conversation. Revolutions of the past doomed themselves to the repetition of history through traditional modes of coercion, incomplete methods of representation and a tendency towards violence. The global injustices we currently face, propogated by the behemoth of capital that enshrouds us, can be brought to their ends through encouraging, incubating and realizing the conversation started by the global movements.

This time that we, as Calgarians, can begin our own version of this conversation that redefines our social space, bringing an end to injustices at home and abroad. As a press release from Jason Devine, an individual assisting the organization of Occupy Calgary put it:

“Occupy Calgary is a movement with no appointed leadership structure. It is an exercise in participatory democracy, where all members discuss, debate, and make decisions. Its decision-making process takes place through consensus and voting . . . While we share many of the issues raised by our sisters and brothers in the u.s. [and abroad], Calgary is a unique place with problems that are specific to it. Participants of Occupy Calgary are already developing a collective critique of our local society and our various demands for change . . . Each movement has something to say.”

It is in the wake of the end-times of corporate greed’s hegemonic control that an emancipatory enthusiasm like we are seeing across the globe can become capable of taking root, starting the essential conversations and creating the opportunities for the changes we need.