Posted 12 months ago on Aug. 24, 2013, 5:15 p.m. EST by PeterGrotticelli
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
There are forty tents up now in the square in downtown Eugene, and at least eighty occupants, many of whom have no tent.
Many past occupiers are cynical about this, but I believe we have just witnessed here in Eugene one of the most significant events in world history. We have manifested the potential of the lowered threshold of energy required for massive urban land occupation.
Previously in the United States, a very high threshold had to be reached for such an occupation to be possible. The Arab Spring, Spanish Indignado movement, a push by Adbusters and the formation of the NYC General Assembly all helped to push the energy over the very high threshold, and Occupy Wall Street resulted.
Three weeks ago, James Chastain and a couple of friends pitched their tents in a field near downtown, and re-Occupy everything has resulted. The threshold is so low now because the legal precedents, network of supporters, and emboldened homeless are all still around from the previous occupation.
While waiting for a computer, I left the library and played a game of chess with a fellow that often sits on the sidewalk with a chessboard. He beat me easily. I'm not very good at chess, because I'm not interested enough to think much about it. I much prefer a game of Occupy chess, which we can now initiate in many cities like Eugene. It's easy to master this game, because the opponents can't see more than one move ahead. In fact, I've never met another occupier who could see more than one move ahead. Hence the widespread impression that land occupation is futile, and the subsequent feeling of weltschmerz that settled upon so many former occupiers in 2012.
Though they do not see the moves ahead, there are many that have glimpses of the utopia that lies at the end of the game, like the retired Philadelphia cop that got arrested at Occupy Wall Street. When more opponents start to see as that cop did, we will be able to stop fighting, and start constructing it together.
During the 2011 Occupy movement, thoughts of the moves ahead were obfuscated by the depressing fixation on how much "shit is fucked up and bullshit." We commiserated, informed, protested, but we didn't empower ourselves in any spectacular way. Well it's time to empower ourselves spectacularly. How do we do it? Two words: land occupation. We can see some early results of land occupation with a quick look at Marinaleda, Spain: http://www.salon.com/2013/07/25/we_dont_want_police_here_land_of_the_real_life_robin_hood/
Marinaleda sets an example, but in our different context here in the US, we must develop our own unique strategies, and expect our own unique outcomes.
In Marinaleda, unemployed farmworkers - mainstream people - carried out the land occupation. But in Eugene right now, the homeless - a fringe group - are carrying out the land occupation. To expect the success of Marinaleda, we must entice mainstream folks to join us.
In 1975, a bunch of impoverished, unemployed farmworkers in Marinaleda were surrounded by the fallow fields of a few rich landowners, and the dictatorship of Franco had just been replaced by a permissive democracy. No wonder the mainstream people turned radical as fuck and occupied the land!
Engaging the mainstream will be much more difficult in Eugene in 2013. But I have an idea. If we can build a structure on occupied urban county or city (preferably county at the moment) land that stays warm and dry in the winter, we could entice young childless tenants to stop paying rent, and start living with us for free. Tenants don't move to squats because they don't want to risk severe punishment; but the occupation of county or city property without entering a building is not nearly so risky, as we saw in 2011 when the middle class joined the homeless in downtown land occupation.
I think a single small straw-bale shack would suffice. No electricity, no fancy stuff, no fucking building codes required. Anything that can stay warm with minimal firewood input, and not fall on our heads, would make the point that we can live comfortably all year, almost for free. (Or completely for free, through a work-trade arrangement with local farmers.) Makeshift composting toilets, gardens and wells could follow.
We have actual urban pieces of county land in mind, but I don't want to annoy my friends by posting in advance what those are. If it were up to me alone, though, I'd reveal them, because it's not like the opponents are going to see these moves ahead the way we can. If government goons could fully understand the rationale behind these Occupy chess move projections, they would resign and start working with us.
This next move should slowly bring the mainstream into the cause of land occupation. The United States has just enough homeless people, and just enough freedom, that we can expect Marinaledas to pop up over the next few decades all over the country.
I am open to hearing about a better next move if you've got one in mind. If I don't think it's better, it may nonetheless be better in the context of your life.
I leave it to foreigners to design strategies appropriate to their countries, as they do already.
I hear that Berkeley is warm in the winter...
Hope to see you living in or visiting the communes! Peter Grotticelli Add me on Facebook if you're also occupying or if you support the idea.