Today is another Occupy anniversary for me- it was a year ago I started this website. If you were there with me that day, and told me what was going to happen over the next year I’d probably not have believed you. The past year has been Toad’s Wild Ride- 750 stories later, what I’ve learned and experienced was at par with my first year living in Moscow.
In the early days of Occupy, a large number of people involved used Facebook to share and discuss ideas. It was a great forum at first- there were many heated debates, but we all learned a lot from each other. But, as with most parts of Occupy Vancouver, there was a small (and well-coordinated) group of Activistocrats who were hell-bent on making it their own…
It’s those early Facebook conversations that sparked my writing essays about Occupy. I wrote my first essay about Occupy on October 4th- eleven days before we first setup the encampment. It was titled My Grandmother Hated Abbie Hoffman– it’s where I first shared my idea that, in order to recruit the remaining 99%, we must not do things that turn them off of the movement. I later refined my message to a shorter form- “any/all provocative acts we take should have maximal impact on ‘the system’ and minimal impact on ‘the people’.”
Unfortunately, the Activistocrats of the old-left were stuck in the days of the Haymarket Affair. They were, and still are, firmly under the belief that the best way to make change is to throw a molotov cocktail into a crowd of people. It worked well for the unions back then, so they figure it still should.
Those of us who haven’t spent the bulk of our lives around old-left revolutionaries were astounded to learn their intentions- it almost seemed unbelievable at first. Most of us had heard about anarchists, but didn’t have much depth in understanding their intentions.
We also had no clue about how high-up in the totem pole the Anarchovistocrat’s connections were. If you had told me back then that David Eby, a man who ran against BC’s Premier for her riding, was on a first-name basis with the people who organized the violence at the 2010 Olympics- well, I would have said that was quite far-fetched. That was, of course, before I learned that Eby withdrew his legal observers before the violence after the anarchists asked him to.
As I said, what I’ve learned and experienced over the past year was at-par with my first year living in Moscow…
Anyhow, a few days before I started this blog, something strange started happening on the Facebook page. One of the administrators, we don’t know who as Facebook has no audit trail, began randomly removing people’s postings that were contrary to the Activistocrat’s politics. It got real nasty, and I was worried that I’d lose the essays I posted- so, I started this site as a place to save them.
It wasn’t until three days later that I wrote my first article for this site. It was titled Eye of The Hurricane. I shared my feelings that we were in the calm before the storm. Looking back, it was quite prophetic- the rest of Occupy was like a Category 5 Hurricane followed by a nuclear blast.
The blast began the next day when Harsha Walia’s associates lit a ‘sacred fire’ in an oil barrel- the day before we were to appear in-front of a judge to discuss a possible injunction against the encampment. The CBC sent Ian Hanomansing to cover the story of the fire after occupy anarchists got into a street fight with the authorities- a fireman was bit on the leg, a police officer had their ammunition stolen. It turned-out it was all a deliberate provocation by Harsha Walia and her anarchists.
The next day, Walia showed-up with the Black Bloc at her side. Another street fight occurred, and a cop was hit in the face with a flagpole. This drove most of the non-radical people to go home that evening- Occupy Vancouver lost much of it’s steam. The anarchist Activistocrats took full advantage of the exodus that night, they stacked-the-deck at the General Assembly that night, voted to pay transportation & firewood costs for Walia’s friends to set the fire, and they made OV’s single most damaging decision that night.
What they decided was that Occupy should implement a “harm reduction” policy- meaning, that we should welcome the use of hard drugs in the encampment. This was a serious change in direction for Occupy Vancouver- and was certainly not the organization’s consensus, at least 50% of the people passionately believed that we should not encourage or allow the use of hard drugs- rather, that we should use our pull with the city help get treatment for those who needed it.
OV was officially hijacked that night, and it was never the same again. Then, two days later, a young girl died in her tent after taking a bad injection. OV spent a lot of time discussing how the problem was not unique to Occupy, and she would have taken the drugs and died in an alley if she didn’t have a tent. There was a problem with that though- had Occupy not occurred (or if we had a no hard drugs policy) she probably would have stayed at-home in Victoria. That said, after talking with one of her friends a few months earlier- it seems it was inevitable that she would go this way. It was a sad situation.
As the days went by, and I started building a focus and identity for this site, the Activistocrats became very unhappy with my writing. They were telling lies about Occupy to media, and to other occupiers- and, they were very unhappy that I wrote about my experience from an alternative viewpoint.
In Vancouver, the climax of the attacks came shortly after I began writing articles about David Eby- the darling of the NDP’s radical fringe. Lorraine Murphy (a.k.a. Raincoaster) came after me, asking me how I could dare write anything critical about a saint like Eby. It was insane, here’s a man who was directly connected to the violence at the 2010 Olympics, and it was not okay to talk about it?
I had a conversation with Tezporah Berman this spring. She said that the scariest experience in her career as an activist was when she crossed-paths with the NDP by disagreeing with their carbon credit policy. My experience was very similar to her’s- they even sent the same person after us both- Macdonald Stainsby, a leader in the Deep Green Resistance cult.
So, if I could travel back in time and change the path I chose- would I?
That’s hard to say. I’ve always had this fantasy about being ignorant and happy- not understanding the pains of the world, feeling no need to make change. If I was ignorant about the problems we have with social and physical violence in Canadian politics, I’d probably be happy not caring. But, now that I understand what’s happening at this point in history, I believe I’m on an important path.
I do, however, wish I had researched more about the culture of the Activistocrats. Things would have gone a lot better if I understood the depths of their social depravity before I experienced it first-hand. Had I understand their obvious (and predictable) patterns of behaviour, I could have avoided some of their more vicious attacks.
I was reading Bell Hooks’ Outlaw Culture today- the chapter Censorship From The Left And The Right brought back a lot of memories of the past year. She discussed experiencing the same reaction from the activist community when she published critical analysis of people’s ideas. Both sides exercise censorship- they just have different ways of getting it done.
Occupy was supposed to liberate us from the burden of the left/right paradigm- allowing us a forum where we could ‘question everything’. Many of use came to Occupy because of that dream- unfortunately, according to the Activistocrats, there were many things that we weren’t allowed to question. Harm reduction and union involvement were two of the big issues where they tried to control the dialogue. Relationships with the police and the use of violence were also high on their agenda.
I created this site so that I could write my own opinions without fear of being censored. It’s a sad truth about Occupy that I had to do this. It became a scary truth when I began to discover how many influential and powerful people have been backing the people who acted this way. Now that I’ve got started, I won’t be stopping.
The next year promises to be at least as exciting as the previous. As my research progresses, I keep getting closer to the core of how it all works, and who is involved. The Activistocrats will continue their damage, I (and many new allies) will continue to cover them. There are some really rotten apples in Canada’s political culture- by exposing them, we’ll be able to limit the damage they can do.
On that note, it looks like David Eby will be running in Christy Clark’s riding again this year. I’ve been building a special ‘don’t vote Eby’ website for the occasion- and, when the campaign gets into full swing, I will be personally campaigning against Eby- because, I honestly don’t believe that the people of Point Grey (an upper-middle class neighbourhood) would approve of what Eby has been up to in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (the poorest postal code in Canada.)
David, consider this as a shot across your bow….