Enter the Vandalists
January 31, 2012
On Saturday night a group apparently semi-related to Occupy Williamsburg threw a party in a vacant condo building. The party and its riotous aftermath have been covered by the New York Times, Village Voice, and the Daily News to name a few, but so far only one statement has been released from the occupationist side: a tract posted on anarchistnews.org titled “Enter the Vandalists” and signed by the “Geiseric Tendency,” possibly a reference to the historic Vandal King.
Resorting to an automatism characteristic of their class, the gentry of Williamsburg summoned their militia to dissolve the siege being laid to a conspicuously empty palace of banality, newly erected in the heart of their spectacular playground. The vandalists had recognized the inhospitablility to life of this sarcophagus for the young professional class, and did not shy from the conclusion that it lent itself only to defilement. The object of their critique was not limited to the class for whose consumption the condominiums that cover Williamsburg are produced, but included the extreme boredom that the proliferation of these kinds of spaces induce. The prevalence of the condominium is a symptom of the spreading homotopia that is the Metropolis—the endless repetition of the same forever.
The vandalists will not reconcile themselves to merely appropriating these habitats—designed for gradual atrophy, optimized for the most comfortable postponement of death. Rather, they want to see them recycled in the urban biosphere; turned into manure from which unforeseen species might emerge.
It will not only be the police, the rich, and the reactionary press that will slam the vandalists—activists will likely join in as well, decrying the occupation as not being social enough, not populist enough. Why did it have to be a party, with booze, hip hop music, and NO RULES? Why not an attempted squat? Why was the media not called? Why was the action not ‘consensed’ upon in some public group? No one will understand the vandalists because they are not of either world; they seek neither professionalist capitalism nor professionalist activism. Perhaps if squatting a social center were still sometimes tolerated this desperate mayhem would not have occured, just as if there were anything to be gained from joining Organized Labor or Revolutionary Parties perhaps we would not see the global masses chaotically rising against singular abstractions of all authority (Wall Street, Mubarak, the IMF, Money, etc).
Activists call protests, the vandalists instead call potlucks. Potlucks of destruction.
We can expect more Occu-parties and general bad citizenry from these vandalists leading up to an ultimate act of descecration, an intelligibility strike, on May First.
While the text undermines the social element of the occupation: a criticism of property relations in a city where there are more abandoned living spaces than homeless, it also speaks to an element of occupy many of its proponents want to bury: unruliness. In Oakland after the thwarted occupation of an abandoned convention center, a group of protesters broke into City Hall, damaging everything in site and burning an American flag. A building was also occupied, vandalized, and used for a party in Minneapolis.
Some commenters, such as the poster of this fantastic Youtube video showing hundreds of Oakland occupiers evading mass arrest, have observed a sea-change in the occupy movement as its repression increases:
I have no doubt that the number of marchers will increase next time. This group started with camping – The city’s responses seem to be slowly turning them into some kind of militia.
But without the use of arms, what sort of militia is this? A commenter on this NY Post article about an occupier’s disruption of an arraignment court proceeding says:
This is exactly why Occupy Wall Street has even been repudiated by the Far Left, who want nothing to do with the anarchists, druggies, homeless, and other disenfranchised who have hijacked this movement.
Oakland and New York are now officially building General Strikes for May Day, and it is still being discussed weather the strikes will follow in a traditional mold of labor marches and picket lines, or if it will be something more in line with the developing style of the “hijackers” and “vandalists” who are keeping Occupy strong through the winter, indeed some sort of “intelligibility strike.”