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Transforming Easy Cynicism (And Other Forms Of Conformity) Into Deep Resistance

OWSBy Phil Rockstroh

In my opinion, when people opine that the OWS movement isabout--or should be about--the airing of this particular grievance or that itmust bandy this or that particular demand--they have missed the point. Ofcourse, collectively, OWS evinces a force of resistance against corporate greedand a critique of the failings of the present political system…Yet, as is thecase with any living thing, to reduce its essential nature to faciledescriptions diminishes it.

As with human perception of life itself, experiencingfreedom carries an ineffable quality, a wordless grandeur.

"Human language is like a cracked kettle drum on whichwe beat out tunes for bears to dance to, when what we long to do is make musicthat will move the stars to pity." Gustave Flaubert

Through it all, the immanent quality of and inchoate longingfor freedom remains within us: Although present, it is not always in plainview. Its presence in our lives is, perhaps, best summed up by this Irishaphorism:

"Mrs. O'Kelly, do you believe in fairies?""No, I don't -- but they're there."

Over and over again, too many well-intentioned sortscontinue to insist that it is imperative that we inform the nice people of themiddle class (nice people who, given the nature of imperium, willingly feed offthe blood of empire like the charges of a vampire) that there are well manneredworking people on site at OWS encampments -- not only spittle-launching,leftist radicals.

Excuse me, but, for many years now, so-called"crazy" leftist radicals have been damn near the only ones who havehad the clarity of mind to give a cogent critique of empire…have been willingto point out the exploitive, soul-demeaning mode of existence inherent to themilitarist/national security/corporate/consumer/ duopolistic state--and, as aresult, we have been marginalized, entirely excluded from mainstream debate anddiscussion.

Let us have a little rendezvous with reality; otherwise, theoperatives of the status quo will frame the narrative, once again, and willclaim victory by co-option. This is the method by which the capitalist statusquo has maintained its inverted totalitarian set-up since the popular uprisingsof the 1960's, by means of generous economic rewards (the perks and privilegesof the corporate state) for its defacto propagandists and exclusion from theofficial narrative for dissenters. Don't buy into the false narrative.

Personally, I refuse to eschew the designation ofanti-capitalist radical. You cannot shame me for knowing where the bodies ofempire are buried and who laid them in their graves. To the landfill of historywith capitalism--the wasteful, cracked-brained economic system that createdsaid landfill.

The preening liars at Fox News and other well-rewardedpropagandists of state capitalism will disseminate lies, big and small,regardless of our actions...that is what they do. Be cautioned: Never tap dancefor the approval of a lying, manipulative, power mad fascist. Once, you beginto do so you co-sign his narrative--thus he owns your hapless ass.

 “I’ve beenabsolutely terrified every moment of my life- 
and I’ve never let it keep mefrom doing a single thing I wanted to do.” -Georgia O’Keefe

Accordingly, the lessons of the 1960s e.g., COINTELPROoperations…reveal that when street and riot police are ordered to pull back, asin Oakland, agent provocateurs will infiltrate mass political gatherings.Withal: You can bet those masked bastards shouting hate-speak and breakingwindows are cops…He is there to draw the cameras of the corporate media towardsthe scenes of chaos and strife that he seeds in order to turn bourgeoissentiment against reform movements that might change their lives for the better…tocreate the false narrative that the police are the only bulwark the middleclass has against destruction-sowing crazies, who, if given free reign, willleave in rubble and ashes everything they hold dear.

To avoid being falsely labeled: First, endeavor, by inwardsearching and outward (even failed) endeavor, to know who you are. Then layclaim to your own identity. Otherwise, garnering the clarity required toapprehend what you're up against becomes difficult.

The Greek word for one of the three figures representing TheFates is Moira--which translates into portion. And that is key to grasping whatis happening from Cairo to Athens to New York City to Oakland. Ergo, people arerising up and fighting for the rightful and just portion of their lives andfates that have been increasingly commandeered and controlled by a corruptelite whose rule has, heretofore, been sustained by a disproportionatedistribution of wealth, privilege and power.

Across Greece, people have awaken to the knowledge that passivityis slavery--that capitalism is economic cannibalism…State capitalism, also,devours the dignity of its victims. Yet, after a time, a number of people willrise up against exploitation and will demand their portion of fate.

At this point in time, the term "general strike"holds a deep and resonate appeal. The word "general" suggests thatthe isolation of daily life experienced under the atomizing circumstances ofglobalized corporate capitalism can be upended--that there can be a sense ofunity--that a movement en mass is possible (yet not a mass movement to war, buta movement en mass towards equity and fairness) by beginning, at long last, to"strike" back--to counterpunch with focused blows those who have keptthe harsh, inequitable order of the present era in place by means ofintimidation and bribery.

Capitalism--you are a rotting, flesh-eating zombie--thereare sacred spark stippling the air around you; these sparks are borne of flamesof sacred vehemence. For too long, people have been bled dry by theheart-desiccating aspirations and dehumanizing modes of economic coercion thatmaintain the neoliberal paradigm. Moreover, the flames of resistance are onlyfanned when your apologists claim that the system in place provides the best,in fact, the only way to exist in the world and attempt to smother its growingfury with police state tactics.

The stakes are great. Much has been stolen from us:essential qualities, more valuable than money. As the populace of thecorporate/consumer state, we have been induced, by means of small bribes andhyper-authoritarian coercion, to sign a social contract that sells ouressential nature on the cheap i.e., to be defined (hence diminished) as aconsumer, a commuter, an employee, a Republican, a Democrat, a member of ademographic group, a cipher, a sucker, a bystander in one's own fate.

Don't let any system define you, narrow, then appropriate,your innate and essential self towards exploitive agendas, as does the presentsocietal set-up, for the incommensurate profits of a self-serving few--who, inturn, insist that your objections to the situation are unreasonable,outrageous, untoward--too crazy to be uttered in decent company. In short, a system in which its operatives demand thatyou stay in your place and not question the motives and actions of yourbetters.

In contrast, a radical sensibility insists you must inhabitan inner landscape wherein no state, corporation--nor any type of extant systemholds dominion over your essential self--that you inhabit a landscape that isbest navigated by your own interior lode star. Therefore, you have noobligation to justify your existence to any man or system. To even attempt todo so would deliver an injustice to your heart, for this is a state of being asimpossible to quantify as a flight of imagination--yet it exist within asimmanent as the architecture of desire.

"The main interest in life and work is to becomesomeone else that you were not in the beginning. If you knew when you began abook what would you say at the end, do you think that you would have thecourage to write it?" --Foucault

Who will you meet, where will you travel, what battles willbe enjoined and what loves surrendered to as you write the Book of Your Being?What thoughts and feelings will be discovered therein?

Will the words you etch upon the finite moments of your timeon this earth evoke deep yearning, like Wordsworth's limning of his longing tosee beyond the prison walls of quotidian experience?

 […]I'd ratherbe
A pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.
excerpt, The World Is Too Much with Us--William Wordsworth

Or will you refuse to rise, when commanded to do so, as didRosa Parks on her fateful bus commute through the Jim Crow-demeaned streets of1950s Montgomery, Alabama; or will you be seized by holy lamentation, likeAllen Ginsberg, as he howled anguished prosody into the pity-devoid face of thedevouring Moloch of the commodified empire; or will your genius be revealedlike the impertinent flutter of Groucho Marx's eyebrows on the screen ofDepression era movie houses; or will you reclaim your own heart by the act oftelling off some son-of-a-bitch of a boss, as you quit a dead end,heart-deadening job and then resolve to join the defiant multitudes at an OWSencampment?

Mainly, are you prepared to surrender to the everydaymiracle that transpires when one, fleetingly, finds the resolve to open one'sbeing to the uncertainties of freedom--when one chooses to break the hold ofthose fear-bestowing, resentment-besotted demons of banality known as EasyCynicism, Displaced Resentment, and Habitual Passivity--those disingenuous,corporate/consumer state bards of the Bardo--whose (extant and internalized)narratives have sustained late capitalism.

"Cynicism is just another mode of conformity".--Theodor W. Adorno

Don't delay: Act as if your life--if not the survival of theplanet--depends on it, because, at this point, it does.

Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in NewYork City. He may be contacted at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Visit Phil’s website:

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