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City Hall of Mirrors

As cities around the US bully Occupy groups around on park verges and college campuses, we here in Colorado Springs have not remained unscathed. Monday morning saw our friendly neighborhood “Homeless Outreach Team,” (HOT), and a much less friendly contingent from the city’s code enforcement office dismantle the previously permitted Occupy site at Acacia Park in downtown Colorado Springs. A surprisingly good-sized group materialized after midnight to vocally express displeasure at the actions of the city as rendered by the police and what appeared to be a rather callous batch of contracted laborers hired to accomplish the actual dismantling. No one got beat up or gassed. The permit surrounding which had developed controversy in our little microcosm is gone and we will now be required to redefine, restructure, and proceed without it. Personally, i feel it to be a good riddance even though we here in Colorado Springs seem to be experiencing a bit of disorientation as a result.

Dan and M.J. of the HOT team, (a redundancy, i know, but common parlance), were present for the dismantling of the tents that had been a fixture at our protest site. Some 50 or so protesters managed to flood the scene, even at the late hour of the event. Despite the relative peace between authorities and Occupiers here, the police present were fully prepared to inflict harm if we protesters had engaged in any form other than the sometimes obnoxious yelling. The whole scene, not unlike other aspects of our unusual local manifestation of the Movement, produced and continues to produce a sense of extreme ambiguity in my own psyche. I like to think of Dan and M.J. as friends, at least in a provisional sense, but i have no choice but to acknowledge that none of my closest friends would ever even think of putting me in jail or beating me up, even if i piss them off.

Tuesday a fairly large group of Occupiers attended a City Council meeting with a previously established agenda, none of which was to address Occupy directly, though it would be difficult to conjure a government meeting with an agenda that pertained to no issue encompassed by Occupy at this juncture. My own experience at the council meeting felt very much like an exercise in futility. A gentleman preceded us Occupiers with a request to restore city funding to his non-profit that helps supply transportation to disabled city residents. As the council and mayor did with our objections next, they seemed to tolerate the man’s speech and then perfunctorily ignore it. No indication of interest or intention to act was in evidence. Aimee Cox, serving as some sort of city liaison, distributed a few sheets describing the city’s appeal process in a few sentences. The remainder of the council meeting involved investment strategy and plans to extract additional money from residents in the form of utility rate hikes.

The minutiae to all this wrangling is just about as pointless to describe as anything i can picture. The clearest vision afforded by the whole scene is still one of a struggle to get things from those that control them on the one hand, while struggling to keep people from getting things on the other. There remains a sense of entitlement held both by those with little, and by those generally smug players with much. I remain convinced that the current state of affairs is fully unsustainable. The global takeover of industry and commerce by factions that appear fully unconcerned by any consideration other than personal enrichment has led to a scenario in which those at the winning end of that paradigm are in as much trouble as anyone else. Sure, if our supply of food, energy, shelter, and so on becomes insufficient those with more clout in hand may well be able to hold out rather longer than those otherwise equipped. A few survivalists will likely outlast inner city dope fiends; but what’s the point? Is the object of human interaction to feel smugger than the next guy? Who gets to feel the smuggest?

Directly attacking the intractable problems of human interaction seems as futile as ever. No amount of negotiation seems effective enough to overcome the entrenched cultural aversion to cooperation and insistence on coming out on top that has produced such a three ring circus of a society. Observe that Colorado Springs’s Mayor Bach is in office after a campaign financed largely by real estate and development interests. Really, now, do we need more buildings around here, or aren’t these activities really just the outcome of individual efforts to scrabble up money? Think about that a moment. How much human activity is nothing more than bullshit make-work designed not to be productive, but to shift money around? How much useless crap does Madison Avenue convince us we need for no better reason than to supply income to its players. I’m suggesting that most of the stupid jobs we Occupiers hear we should get so often are self-destructive bullshit. That the great majority of laws and regulations we have allowed to overwhelm our hard-won liberty, spawning the parasitic legal industry, the real estate industry, the huge regulatory bureaucracies of governments all around, and in fact most of the “work” we humans do is utterly pointless. I’m suggesting that we humans will, in fact, need to rethink our entire interaction with one another if we are to survive our own more ridiculous tendencies.

I’m hardly the first person to posit this notion. Jeremy Rifkin, for one, discussed the ideas i merely hint at above in rather more depth in his 1995 book, The End of Work. Of course, suspicious religious folk have raised an uproar at the mere mention of Rifkin for decades now, claiming him to be a Devil-worshiper, among other things. The sad truth seems to be that fundamentalists in this country and others, of Christian orientation and others, seem content to allow their Creator’s handiwork to burn to ash rather than to work together with anyone else to resolve the problems we humans have cobbled together to our own collective detriment. As little as i relish the sort of fight that generally ensues from arguing about spiritual matters, i’ll be finding it necessary to head in that direction in upcoming posts. Hold on tight, and please feel free to engage….

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