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An Action Against Earth Day

A small number of trouble-makers disrupted Earth Day at Ohlone College in Fremont. Fremont is also an good site for subversion since left and right ideology have not yet conditioned everyone into expecting protests to always be the same.

The assault took three phases

1) Local High School students were recruited using the ostensible ruse that a "Southern Alemeda Skate-off" was to be held at the same location as the Earth Day Activities. On the appointed day, approximately eighty skaters showed up, twenty of whom refused all pleas to vacate the premises. (Most of these were high school students knew the skate-off was fake but used it as an excuse to skip their school and come to Ohlone.)

From ten o'clock to approximately twelve, our contingent and the skaters effectively played tag with the incompetent Ohlone college security goons, moving through the split-level campus and causing a small amount of disruption.

We effectively re-assembled at the main area and held our ground against the security goons by having our contingent shout that the cops had no right to control anyone's lives.

2) At twelve o'clock, we brought out a television and smashed it after a brief scuffle and distributed leaflets to the earnstwhile ecology fetishists.

3) A blasé ecology professor read a speech that could be summarized as follows: "capitalism will soon destroy all life on earth no matter what we do. But seeing students doing ecology projects makes me feel better."

Afterwards, one of us made the following impromptu statement over the PA;

"We are here to disrupt Earth Day because it is shill for corporate capitalist control of our lives. As the previous speaker mentioned, all of the eco-friendly activities of today could continue indefinitely and the capitalist system would still destroy the planet in a short time. As long as the system of capitalist control of our lives goes on, no amount of eco-friendly rhetoric will matter.

"Here is just one example. The hole in the ozone today was not caused by aerosol cans but mainly by chlorofluoro carbons release by micro-chip manufacturing plants. These plants were mandated by the government to use these ozone-destroying chemicals after the destructive effect they had on the ozone was known and after aerosol spray cans had already been recalled. Government policy decisions fixed so that enough of these chemicals would released to keep destroying the ozone for another fifty years.

"As long as we give this system control over our lives, it will keep making decisions of this sort. `50 things you can do to save the planet' will do nothing.

"The reason the government goes to a big effort to push Earth Day is to convince people that they are responsible for the misery of their lives when they fail to save up all their garbage.

"The only force in opposition to this is people taking autonomous control of their lives in opposition to the system. For that reason, the youth here to occupy space and enjoy themselves are the only radical effort in this area. If you want to begin to fight the system, take control of your neighborhood, your school, your workplace and your life."

This sort of action in an obscure suburb is important to break capital's division of space into unruly inner city and satisfied suburbia. This action was also much more satisfying than an ordinary march or demonstration because each moment was unpredictable. We played cat and mouse with security and had to create our strategy as we went along rather than act according to some stage-managing.

A discussion group

In spring of 1992, some friends organized a discussion group around the Situationist International. This group went on for approximately six months and then broke-up with bad feelings on several peoples parts. We made some vague contacts with certain people in the group but by the end, it was obvious that none of us had learned the slightest amount from any of the discussions.

Even before the group began, I could think of several reasons it would fail. So I wouldn't claim to have done any better than anyone else - I didn't really learn anything either. Still, just because our adventure was so typical, it is useful to look at it as a kind of field study in non-communication.

The group gradually broke down into two groups. One was loosely definable as "politically-oriented" straight, white men and another was a mostly queer group of "artistically-oriented" men and women. The actual discussions had consisted in one of us reading a short passage from one or another Situationist texts and then another person giving a summary or of someone giving a simple summary. The discussions were usually done in a halting, uncertain way that seemed to me to allow anyone who wanted to interject. But the main people talking were usually the "guys."

While occasionally we would debate various points, none of the conflicts appeared in the questions being discussed. Rather the discussion group became mostly a way of people being together - when we were getting along, we were happy and when we weren't getting along we were angry. While we had a few slightly confrontational meetings, the main complaints of the groups were never directly stated. If it weren't for various harsh words repeated to third parties, I would have the impression that things had simply drifted apart.

The group seemed to fail because it counted on the transparent subjectivity of friendship to replace a conscious effort co-ordinate politics. The group was organized with the implicit, naive format of "let's just sit and talk about each article and then ideas will come." When we started the group just expecting to "sit and talk," we counted on this transparent subjectivity to smooth over the problems of different viewpoints. But instead it simply allowed us to never discussion our conflicts.

We were confronting the critical question of subjectivity in a way that had already been determined by the social conditions. This is exactly the opposite of how critical questions of subjectivity should be handled in this age of infinite falsification.

This shows the SI's subjectivist position in it's worst light. Revolutionary theory is not a matter of perfecting subjectivity. A systematic effort is needed to go beyond our conditions of subjective existence. That doesn't mean we shouldn't systematically explore the power of the revolutionary subjective. We should use and explore resources intelligently and strategically.

Today, one subjectivity cancels another subjectivity. In a future world, one subjectivity could instead blend with the other subjectivity. But our task isn't simply to simulate that future world. Since we live in capitalist society, it forces us to make the arbitrary subjectivist choices that separates people with this society. We choose aesthetics of punk rock, hippy, femme, macho, etc. We live in one or another equally boring cities each offering a different promise of protection from the general conditions of banality. As enemies of the present order, we try to also make strategic choices of what will weaken the system the most. Until we gain more power, these choices will be intertwined within the choices of pseudo-identity the system offers us.

Revolutionaries should plan-on using their small resources to help free-up a vast amount of resources once a revolutionary upheaval is under-way. The subjective misery of today's society will likely be one of the sparks that creates the next inferno. But since our perspective is to help things go as far as possible, we are confronted by the need to go beyond pure subjectivity.