Tag Archives: postmodern politics

occupancy

occupancy” is a recent post over at The Rosewater Chronicles which links to The “Temporary Autonomous Zone” from T. A. Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism in Hakim Bey and Ontological Anarchy

“I’m still thinking. But, like a treasure hidden in plain sight, I do find it surprising that few commentators and critics are talking or writing about the concept that has helped to organize so many: occupancy. The original call to “occupy Wall Street” signified, on a basic level, putting bodies in a certain space as a metaphorical squatting (“bring tent,” the original flyer says). The term also has militaristic connotations of property seizure and violation of ownership. Even the term “occupation,” now metonymy for one’s profession or even class-identification, derives from a person located in a particular space. Unlike the Tea Party movement, which seemed to organize an inchoate swirl of rage, xenophobia, and classic “American” paranoia, the Occupy Movement started as a political gesture of space. This marks it as something more—or perhaps something other than—a politics of spectacle.

Occupancy harkens to street marching politics of old in a way that flies in the face of theories of digital mobilization or virtuality. What the Occupy Movement seems to be harnessing, however paradoxically, is a strange, postmodern politics of invisibility made possible by postmodern regimes of publicity. What I mean by this harkens to Hakim Bey’s conception of the Temporary Autonomous Zone, in a sense: insurrection occurs in spaces that have gone “unmapped” by the state. Or to use Henri Lefebvre’s notions of representation, the Occupy Movement seems to be pointing up the distinction between “representations of space” (which serve the dominant class) and “spaces of representation,” the latter concerning how people actually occupy the world with their bodies, often in ways that do not comport with dominant conceptions of space. The territory of lived lives—the structures of feeling and being in the world—exceeds what is capable of being represented.

For example, consider how long it took the MSM to get around to representing the Occupy Wall Street protest: it took almost two weeks for screen-time to reflect what New York citizens were experiencing in Manhattan. This “lag” time in “mapping” the movement represents in a homologous way the “lag” between representations of the experiences of “everyday folks” and what is perceived as consensus-reality on our many screens. My point is that Tea Party mobilization was conducted largely on the terrain of virtuality (despite some modest rallies and a Fox-News sponsored DC thing), whereas it appears that the Occupy Movement is manifesting quite differently—adding a spatial component to the temporally bound logics of publicity and circulation. In other words, occupancy is the central tactic, and the image politics of the tactic is secondary. Of course, this was the strategy of uprisings in the Middle East, presumably in countries with less sophisticated technologies of mediation and representation; clearly, however, a number of those involved in the Occupy Movement believe the spatial tactic is crucial. Those who study social movements in postmodernity would do well not to lose sight of occupancy as a strategy.

Evidence enough that the Occupy Movement is engaging in a territory map struggle are the attempts of those “on the right” who would force it into a state-sanctioned map.”

and finally

“Isn’t the reduction of social struggle to the ballot precisely the mechanism occupancy seeks to combat?”