Sustainable Political

by Daycaf Magazine

MON NOV 5TH, 2012









From the ’08 Obama Campaign to the Occupy Movement, the political and social movements that shape the contemporary American scene are build upon the backs of our youth. This unnamed and unpaid labor is the fuel that operates the political machine, that keeps the blood pumping, the engine-greased, and the cogs churning both inside and outside of Washington. 




Moreover, these youths are the precariat, a class of (non)workers who have no full-time prospects in sight—for whom there are no job-benefits, and work comes at a day-to-day, project-to-project basis, if at all. The 1990‘s picture perfect promise of a future that now seems about as alien and distant as my grandfather’s home-furnishings. Instead, the future looks as bleak as the dystopian films that haunt our contemporary cinematic unconscious—one need not look further than to Children of Men and V for Vendetta.



Within the context of the Obama campaign, the youth were sent out in droves to canvass by Grassroots Campaigns (GC), a corporation that operates on the full out alienating competition among its pseudo-employees. I know, I was one, in New York City. GC had strict policies that required every canvasser to raise roughly hundreds of dollars a day, relative to weekly group average, placing undue pressure on canvasses (whose average age was 20) and fostering intense competition among would-be-friends. There was no job security. After several weeks of stellar service and raises, I had a ‘bad spell’ and was fired.


This is the precariat class at work. 




But it was all worth it, right? NO! Worth months if not years of time, energy, and dedication from our nations’ youth, spent on a political campaign that demanded and promised real change—progress? NO! For most of the young Left, we were completely put out by the Obama administration—who never made a single progressive move towards ending, who botched real universal healthcare, who faltered in taking us out of war, and who continued Bush policies established to take away our civil liberties. In fact, Obama went further, signing into law the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which allows the police, the FBI, and Homeland Security, among others, to be able to infinitely detain any person they deem a threat, a la Guantanamo Bay. 


Any American citizen is currently a potential victim of this act, which actually ties protest in as a “minor form of terrorism.” REALLY? IS THAT WHERE AMERICA HAS GONE? IS THIS PROGRESS? 


Our freedoms on the internet have been shattered under PIPA and SOPA. 


Why were we so angry and bitter? We worked and fought our fucking asses off for months to get him elected. 


I should have heeded the advise of my elder Lefties who said, “Never trust politicians.”





I’m serious! Tomorrow is election day, and I encourage you to vote for no one! I don’t vote because I don’t want to legitimize a system that has failed me, and all Americans.  I don’t vote because I got nothing from supporting Obama the first time. I don’t vote or the lesser of two evils because I don’t vote out of fear. 


I don’t vote, because as a New Yorker, I KNOW my vote doesn’t matter. It only matters to vote if you live in Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, etc. And even still, you have to be living in a “swing county,” for any of it to make any sense. 



I don’t vote because I see the future as precarious, or as the Sex Pistols screamed, “NO FUTURE, NO FUTURE, NO FUTURE FOR ME.” These are my words as well. 






So, what did the youth on the Left do in response to a failed government  and the denial of a future we had been promised and groomed for since the 90’s? WE FUCKING OCCUPIED! WE ORGANIZED AND SHOWED HOW POWERFUL WE WERE WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, WITHOUT CAREERS OR CAREER-MINDEDNESS! WE REJECTED ALL THAT.


I was an Occupier of Wall Street since its genesis, helping to start and organize the Direct Action Working Group and obviously organized a lot of actions, marches, and did student outreach as well. 


It might have been the first time I was arrested—thrown to the ground by the Pigs, launched into a car by my head, AND THEN RUTHLESSLY beat to a pulp by three officers with batons—maybe, just maybe this was when I became radicalized. Spending    days in jail, on numerous occasions has led me to understand the ugly underbelly of the system, CONFORM ENTIRELY OR BE EXTERMINATED. WALK THE STRAIGHT AND NARROW-LINE, HAVE A MEANINGLESS LIFE, KEEP YOUR BODY PERFORMING JUST HOW YOU ARE TOLD, AND NEVER, NEVER THINK OR DREAM OF ANYTHING ELSE. 


And then, way after that thought, I became acutely aware of my privilege—how could I be so ignorant? I was given these promises, and let down by a system that had only made these promises to some of its citizens. As a white, able-bodied mostly-sis male, who was well educated, I had been given the highroad, and supported in my life at every step by the institutions that surrounded me.This would never be the case for so many people, based on pre-given conditions of race, class, gender, sex, ability and a host of other formative social barriers. 


Even if I grew up poor, and strongly disidentified with my masculinity, and had made attempts to deepen my anti-oppressive, feminist and queer perspective, I would never truly know another’s experience of oppression, nor have a full grapple on the ways in which I oppress others, and what exactly the relationship I had to systems that privilege me disadvantage others. 


Acting as an activist in NYC truly showed me the flaws in our organizing. I would NEVER have had a life that was familiar to an urban Black context. It took me 24 years to learn a lesson that many kids of color learn the hard way, at an early age: FUCK THE PIGS, NEVER TRUTST THEM, THEY ARE OUT TO GET YOU, FUCK THE STATE, FUCK THE BANKS! NO FUTURE! 


Furthermore, it takes extreme privilege to actually have grown up in a context where the cops were people on the corner of the street you could trust. This is VERY different than growing up seeing them as the army of the state, that are central main perpetrators of systematic oppression. WHY ARE THERE A MILLION BLACK FOLKS IN PRISON? WHY IS A BLACK PERSON SHOT BY A COP EVERY 40 HRS!?!??



OWS had an oppressively inclusive structure, which desired all people in NYC, especially historically-oppressed folks to be ‘included,’ meaning subjected to obnoxious White Liberality and exclusive technical language. Very often folk of color were bought in to maintain some quota, tokenizing and patronizing real people, whether or not they wanted to. 





Many causes led to the death of OWS… First among them were its fucked up and widely overlooked oppressive structure, which privileged the loud and confident (mostly  well-groomed white men), and recreated the same systems of oppression that dominates mainstream culture. The second fucked up recreation was of the police, people who went around in the camps, moralizing about a tired-out violence/non-violence divide. These self styled “Peace Police” would go on marches just to de-mask and identify to the police people who committed vandalism, without ANY idea of the danger they put these kids in, nor the larger historical necessity of some violence for social change.


The police were bad enough, but Liberal peace police have entirely alienated the radical base of OWS, the people who actually lived in Zuccotti Park and who had set up the camp.


A third reason OWS died was burnout caused from arrests…Tens of thousands of people had been arrested, often beaten up, and given annoying misdemeanor charges that they had to fight in court. With enough regularity were felony charges, resulting in a number of young kids being sentenced to actual prison time.  


I was tired of feeling like bait, fighting for a cause that became exceedingly hard to identify, within a social movement that was oppressive, informally hierarchical, and had cops within and without. 




OWS grew too large and too quick. It’s oppressive, colonizing expansiveness had another quality that quickly turned problematic—growth for growth sake. OWS tacticioners and cabalists were focused on outward growth in numbers, not about the true development of human relationships. What is another system that is driven to unchecked growth for growth sake? TRY CAPITALISM ITSELF! 


Foreshadowing OWS death was the giant megaflop of General Strike: May Day. OWS had attempted to have a massive shut down of NYC. Mass organizing with Labor Unions, Immigrant Groups—forced OWS to fit their bureaucratic large-scale organization model, with formal hierarchies, a static structure, and adoption of ineffective tactics like phone banking. It was at this point that I threw my hands up. As far as I was concerned OWS had lost all of its strengths: radical indeterminacy, form-shifting (bettering the system), a commitment to anti-hierarchical, horizontal structures, a dismissal of politics as it was… 


When it became increasingly tiring and ethically questionable to remain committed to OWS, I began to look at our goals and successes. We saw neither the Revolution we had been promised by organizers watching with Arab Spring, not did we see the lesser of two goods: the Reforms that usually follow mass protest. We were not able to keep the park: the thriving anti-Capitalist and extra-Governmental support structure that fed us and kept us healthy—physically, mentally, and spiritually. That structure was violently destroyed by the State… any attempt at doing and being without the State will be labeled “Terrorism” and subject to extreme violence.


On the other hand, our contemporary conditions have not improved: we are still precariat. We are growing. 


There still is seemingly no future for us

For us politcos


Maybe we grew up on C-Span




Spanning our childhood:

the future paved by King Clinton

and Captan Planet


with their powers combined

we can fix the environment

and keep the old growth for growth sake economy 


and what 


out with the old growth

in with then new 



and what we were promised 

was never to us given


instead, what is and was is missing


no to that

Special Advisor on South Africa


no to that

Supreme Court position


no to that

that which we were told 









the only YES


that seems CLEAR









And after all our hard work

in high school

doing what we were told

And all of the bullshit we had to 


And dicks sucked

All for…what?












How do we keep ourselves alive as political beings? 

How do we not sink into apathy?

How do we stave off the desperation of a no future future? 


What we need is to create politics of our own! 

What we need is to set our own pace. 

What we need is to take care of ourselves.

What we need is a Sustainable Political. 



Like in Aikido, or in Permaculture, 

We should be able to limit our daily behavior

To what is manageable for our bodies. 


How does it look like? 

This form of the Political needs to be founded on strong notions of COMMUNITY

They can only be expressed by real relationships between political bodies, 

between beings in common 



This is the only state of a true Political

The type that has noting to do with chads

or electoral structures


It only knows Ethical bodies, committed to resisting Empire, society, police—the a-political, on all grounds! 


We need care

of the self


Openness and love for the other,

In all their nuances, 

In everything they share out

Into community 


We need to acknowledge

the need to be creative

to design

to make 


The need to unhinge from Capitalist temporality.

This is what the post-Obama youth has to unlearn

This willing acceptance of our precarity