Skip

Weren't you the 1% who hurt me with your lies?
January 15, 2012 4:20 AM   Subscribe

We Will Survive Capitalism! flash mob with US Uncut [previously] and the Brass Liberation Orchestra
Previous BLO flash mobs include Bad Hotel [previously], Operation Hey Mackey [previously], and "PAY UP!" (demanding Bank of America pay their taxes). Speaking of BofA, in San Francisco on Thursday activists turned every Bank of America ATM in the city into an Automated Truth Machine, using special non-adhesive stickers designed to look exactly like BoA’s ATM interface. But instead of checking and savings accounts, these new menus offered a list of everything BoA customers’ money is being used for, including investment in coal-fired power plants, foreclosure on Americans’ homes, bankrolling of climate change, and paying for fat executive bonuses.

More renditions of I Will Survive Capitalism, at the November 2nd Oakland General Strike: BLO without dance troupe; larger dance troupe, without the BLO [rehearsal/instructional video]

Dancing without Borders' One People flash mob at Occupy Oakland kickstarting the November 19, 2011 Action march [instructional video, edited video of performances in Oakland and SF]

More flash mob bank protests (some amusical): Flash Protest inside a Bank of America in Brunswick, Maine demands banks pay their fair share; Occupy Philadelphia flash mob dances at a Wells Fargo; Occupy Portland sings and mic-checks inside Wells Fargo; OccupySF occupies Bank of America with a tent; OccupySF sings and dances to "Occupy Telephone" inside Wells Fargo; Opponents of Ohio Senate Bill 5 target the Huntington Bank for a flash mob. They cited the bank's campaign contributions to politicians that support the collective-bargaining reform bill. Led by officials from Progress Ohio, They sang a modified "Hang On Sloopy" in the bank lobby.

And now for something completely different, a few flash mobs by banks: employees of Lake Sunapee Bank dance at a Farmers' Market in Newport, NH; flash mob at Whitney Bank employee meeting; professional dancers hired by TD Bank perform in New York City; many dancers, percussionists, and a choir hired by Wells Fargo perform in Times Square

I began this post after following links from this tweet about the arrest of the BLO's Lauren Montana Swiger, who credited in the description of the first video as "magic wrangler, organizer, dance instructor". This 20 minute clip of SF State Journalism teacher Justin Beck's ustream follows her distraught daughter from the police station where she was arrested to the Hall of Justice where she is presently being held.
posted by finite (42 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
I would like to propose new legislation that states the following:

"Henceforth, any group intending to initiate a "flash mob", be the intent to entertain, protest, education, or amuse those not participating, shall meet the following criteria:

1. They must NOT interfere with the ongoing business of innocent bystanders.
2. There must be at least the tiniest bit of talent displayed.
3. Anyone singing must be able to carry a tune.
4. Anyone dancing must be able to do so without looking like Elaine in her infamous dance on Sienfield.
5. Any flash mob activity which frightens small children or puppies must be halted at once.
6. If a flash mob activity causes another individual to miss a connecting flight, train, or bus, members of that flash mob may be flogged.
posted by HuronBob at 6:23 AM on January 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


education=educate
posted by HuronBob at 6:24 AM on January 15, 2012


I would like to propose new legislation that states the following:

The right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances, shall not be infringed.
posted by tivalasvegas at 7:05 AM on January 15, 2012 [46 favorites]


Dance as though no one is watching;
Speak up even though your voice shakes.
posted by leftcoastbob at 7:16 AM on January 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm sure all their demands will be met.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:38 AM on January 15, 2012


"The right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances, shall not be infringed." I agree 100%, as long as they are in tune!
posted by HuronBob at 7:46 AM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Bank of America is using your money to fund coal-fired powerplants!"
"Huh. Didn't know that. Can I still get a latte?"
"Right away. Anything else?"
"Ooo, is that a pumpkin muffin?"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:50 AM on January 15, 2012


Somewhat relevant, I did a post a few years back about the many protest/street bands that participate in the annual HONK! festival in the Boston area. There are many more bands called out in the comments. I know our local group (Leftist Marching Band) has been very, very busy since Occupy started.
posted by Miko at 8:24 AM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I do wish the lyrics typically developed as protest-parody versions were a little less...clunky and hamhanded. Still, I get their point. At the very least, it's something that breaks through the wall of sameness and demonstrates personal courage in voicing dissent. I do like that the LMB sticks with a sort of classic repertoire of patriotic and protest songs and doesn't muck around with lyrics much. My favorite protest song that they've exposed me to is Bella Ciao - it's really fun to shout the chorus and it's very anguished. Imagine with a lot more brass.
posted by Miko at 8:33 AM on January 15, 2012


HuronBob, your rules make for a boring world.
posted by entropone at 8:36 AM on January 15, 2012


Singing badly is a human right.
posted by entropone at 8:36 AM on January 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


The right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances, shall not be infringed.

You are clearly an atheist Satan-worshiping Communist who Wants the Terrorists to Win!
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:40 AM on January 15, 2012


I thought she had a great singing voice..

Anyways, I'm going to state the obvious (and I know it's been said before): Until the demonstrators LOOK like average people instead of some fringe mad-max-buckwheat-in-a-headlock-hippies, then average people will never embrace the movement entirely.

These people put some work into the performance, lyrics, some choreography (?), etc., but why not take the time to LOOK AVERAGE. This would be the most effective way of gaining sympathy, plus, the media wouldn't have a shirtless, drooling, dread-locked wookie to put out as the face of the movement anymore.
posted by weezy at 8:51 AM on January 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think there's some truth to that, but that a mix works best. Part of us admires the wacky-haired tattoed person who seems really brave and independent and confident and free. But if everyone looks like that, it reads to everyone who's more conventional, quite simply, as "this movement isn't for you or about you." Occupy Wall St. starts to make headway among more conventional lifestyle groups when people who speak and look like them connect with them - that's what makes it harder to write off as a bunch of young rebels and outcasts. It can be really hard to each group to see the value of what the other group brings.

I speak as someone who's a lifelong lefty, a pretty radical-leaning feminist, very liberal-mindedand politically active person with some challenging viewpoints, but who has always looked basically, well, square - at most vaguely neo-hippie when I was younger, but really, pretty conventional. I just don't bother with trying hard to 'wear' my politics. I feel this has helped me - It's helped me in my career, and I like that I can walk up to just about anyone in this country and seem totally unthreatening; I haven't pre-sorted myself into a group for their consumption, and I expect to be taken seriously and don't send any signals other than those I can't help that you are welcome to marginalize my viewpoint. That kind of person can be a linchpin in a movement. I've never liked being rejected for the supposed conservatism of my appearance in political environments - if you want full penetration, people who look like me are going to be part of the thing.

I still don't think we should insist everyone be all straight-n-narrow because honestly, colorfulness and flair and arty independence are something we need in society, and we certainly need the creativity in the movement, and of course we are demonstrating that all people belong. But I do think the more 'regular' looking and seeming people make themselves politically visible, the better.
posted by Miko at 9:03 AM on January 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


Part of us admires the wacky-haired tattoed person who seems really brave and independent and confident and free.

And then part of us sees the wacky-haired tattooed person that looks just like the other wacky-haired tattooed people and thinks that they are actually very conformist. I'm all for being weird, but if your weird is the same as everybody else's, then it actually isn't all too weird.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:17 AM on January 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


'You go to war with the army you have---not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time' seems to work here.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 9:28 AM on January 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


But there's such a thing as thinking strategically and having an inclusive movement, and it would always be wise to make the "army you have" a lot larger, if you can.
posted by Miko at 9:30 AM on January 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Anyways, I'm going to state the obvious (and I know it's been said before): Until the demonstrators LOOK like average people instead of some fringe mad-max-buckwheat-in-a-headlock-hippies, then average people will never embrace the movement entirely.

I'm going to state the obvious as well: this happened in San Francisco.
posted by bradbane at 9:46 AM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thursday activists turned every Bank of America ATM in the city into an Automated Truth Machine, using special non-adhesive stickers designed to look exactly like BoA’s ATM interface. But instead of checking and savings accounts...

Bank of America execs trembled at this. It would not in any way alarm me as an ordinary person if I stuck my card in an ATM and saw that.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:34 AM on January 15, 2012


but why not take the time to LOOK AVERAGE

And what's the "average" look? Depends on the time of the day I guess, and the area: if you go in any financial centers between 08 and 17 it's business suite time. After that it's sneakers and "damn I look fat without a suit on" recognition time.

If anything indeed they look more colourful, more vibrant, more alive than the average TV zombie, which is what draws attention in combination with music (that's the idea behind theatrical costumes, they have to be flashy, out of the ordinary, impressive, even shocking! Average is unremarkable)
posted by elpapacito at 10:38 AM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


As usual, Miko put it beautifully. If you really want to draw the line between 1% and 99%, the latter group has to encompass a whole lot of mostly ordinary-looking people. 99% spans a huge sector of the population, most of whom have little in common culturally with colorful hippie-types.
posted by Quietgal at 12:00 PM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Every Thread.

Look ! Political Activism!

Those guys are freaks, they will never convince anyone looking like that.

I question this whole premise. I think it is more a way for people who wouldn't be involved anyway to justify that decision.

Oh and HuronBob, there are not innocent bystanders.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 12:01 PM on January 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Rhetoric espousing the evil of capitalism obviates the lemming effect of popular movements.

I would suppose that even the most vocal of these anti-capitalists would not think twice about whether it was prudent to gather together the resources needed for, say, a trip to Spain next summer . . . or a celebratory meal this weekend with friends and family, etc.

Such is Capitalism. A feature, not a bug, of thoughtful planning.
posted by RoseyD at 12:30 PM on January 15, 2012


Miko: No need to imagine, there's a few versions out there recently with brass... as seems right for what is essentially a klezmer song.

Features are gggrrrrreat!
posted by titus-g at 12:55 PM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it is more a way for people who wouldn't be involved anyway to justify that decision.

Being involved doesn't always mean growing one's hair out into dreadlocks and getting ironic tattoos. While you're out there "raising awareness," at your urban Burning Man protest/celebration, others are making tangible accomplishments.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:57 PM on January 15, 2012


Ed: I mean no need for us to imagine, if you are in brass band playing it, then you also wouldn't need to imagine prior to this.

Another version by dal collettivo punk britannico dei Chumbawamba [For the record I don't approve of their obscure hatred for Ally McBeal, either]
posted by titus-g at 1:08 PM on January 15, 2012


Thanks, titus-g. I'd heard a different rendition of Bella Ciao from them, but not that one. [also, Chumbawamba previously]

Metafilter: Protesters must NOT interfere with the ongoing business of innocent bystanders! :)
posted by finite at 1:21 PM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


> I would suppose that even the most vocal of these anti-capitalists would not think twice about whether it was prudent to gather together the resources needed for, say, a trip to Spain next summer

It's prudent to actually discover what other people's beliefs are before mocking them for something they do not believe in. Being anti-capitalist doesn't mean being against saving for your trip to Spain.

Here's how the Capitalism these people are against works.

Investors pool their capital and create some sort of business. They hire people to work in this business, and pay them the least possible wage that's economic. Sometimes this wage might be very lucrative if the skills needed are rare, or it might fairly close to the minimum a worker needs to live if the skills are common. Note that e.g. Google is not doing anything uneconomic by feeding their workers well and giving them fancy offices - they do it because they perceive it is worth the cost to recruit the specific high-quality workers they need, which is why they don't give nearly as many perks to the legion of temps they employ.

If the business is successful, then the workers are able to use their labor in this business, and create value. All the excess value created over the cost of labor goes entirely to the investors.

Socialism rejects this idea, describing the investors as "rentiers", people who are making money without contributing their labor. In the Socialist model of an economy, the workers control the means of production and therefore the fruits of their labor are divided amongst them.

Now of course both of these models are unfair. In the first model, capital tends to accrue to an increasingly small number of anti-social personalities who use their leverage to push labor prices down to the bare minimum and can extract an increasingly greater share of the results of human labor without actually contributing anything except this abstract "capital".

In the second model, who actually sets up the factories? If I take the money I've saved for my retirement and use it to set up some business, in some outcomes I end up losing my money and having a miserable old age - I surely need to be compensated for the risk I took in creating this business?

There needs to be a balance. But today the first model, pure capitalism, dominates almost completely. It's quite consistent to think that we need to move a long way back in the other direction, while still believing in "saving to go on holiday" and even "return on investment". Indeed, "Capitalism" has been very good to me, and yet I'd call myself an anti-Capitalist, simply because it should be clear to almost everyone that the extreme Capitalism that we have today in America simply isn't working out for most people.

And overall, I'd like to request a Mefi moratorium on this underlying argument, which is basically, "You're a hypocrite if you deeply question some aspects of society and yet you continue to participate in it." Very few of us can become monks or guerillas. We have obligations to family and friends and even employers - yes, even an anti-Capitalist can feel an obligation to employers. We have lives that we like - while we might be willing to give up a lot to effect change, must we start off by giving up everything?

Of course, the only way we can effect change is by changing the minds of people - and that won't happen if we require them to give up the lives as they are now before they do anything else.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:02 PM on January 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


Very few of us can become monks or guerillas.

Just friar tuck!
posted by srboisvert at 2:18 PM on January 15, 2012


Money is just the physical evidence of a set of agreements between people concerning the use of environmental resources.

The problems with capitalism arise when money is valued highly and agreements are not. Which destroys the money. . .

Agreement is the real value and requires cultivation and modification because things change. The system of agreement needs to be agreed to broadly for there to be sufficient cooperation and reasonable expectation.

Personally, I would favor Statism over Socialism, but that's not going to happen anytime soon. At least not broadly.
posted by RoseyD at 2:32 PM on January 15, 2012


I think it is more a way for people who wouldn't be involved anyway to justify that decision.

That really hasn't been my experience, especially with Occupy. In the last 6 months I've actually had a number of conversations with people who are completely in agreement with the ideas being discussed in this movement, but feel very much unsure of how and whether they should participate in it - and whether they would be welcome, or sneered at. There are a lot of people - I actually suspect the majority of Americans - who are in sympathy but are, above all, hesitant about how to plug in and whether it's really, truly for them and about them.

Of course they should just be getting involved and helping to steer it in the direction they want - but people need to be treated like people. They aren't in the "in-group" of this movement and if the movement wants to be more than an in-group, it needs to reach out and visibly contain people of all kinds.
posted by Miko at 2:33 PM on January 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


There are a lot of people - I actually suspect the majority of Americans - who are in sympathy but are, above all, hesitant about how to plug in and whether it's really, truly for them and about them.

They would feel that way no matter how the protest looked. The majority of Americans are very hesitant to join any kind of movement.
posted by hattifattener at 2:47 PM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The majority of Americans are very hesitant to join any kind of movement.

So what do you think it would take to make people feel more confident and more motivated to take action?
posted by Miko at 2:49 PM on January 15, 2012


> So what do you think it would take to make people feel more confident and more motivated to take action?

Well, at this point the bad guys have it pretty well locked up. We're in an economic game, one where for the most part the people that already have will continue to do better, and the people that don't have will continue to do worse.

I think the last election convinced a lot of people that voting can't really effect a change in the system - at most it can slow down the process.

So the upside to political involvement seems small to most people.

And the downside to protesting is severe. I think a lot of people might be willing to put up with pepper spray or a beating - I think very few people these days want a criminal record which makes them a pariah and unemployable in most "regular guy" jobs.

The Occupy movement was good in one way - it showed people that you could demonstrate and (mostly) not get arrested unless you committed a crime. On the other hand, it didn't seem to accomplish anything yet - so it's again not really evidence it's worth your while.

I can only see two things that would work. Either people get so desperate that they have nothing to lose - if you're a member of the permanent unemployed class, at least jail is a solution to your troubles - or they see an example of people participating in democracy and protest and effecting change.

However, it's in the interests of Our Lords And Masters that this second case not occur - that people do not see others effecting political change from outside the system. They allowed that to happen in the 60s, and it took a whole generation for people to get over the idea that they could make a difference - they aren't going to allow this to happen again.

Unfortunately, my reading of history convinces me that the populace rarely revolts when they're completely downtrodden - revolutions occur paradoxically when conditions start to improve, people start to believe improvement is possible, and a bourgeoisie arises with time for political involvement.

Er, so I guess I'm saying "never". :-( Or not at least until after the current system has rendered everyone so broke that the rulers have to relent somewhat and give a little back. It might be a long time...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:13 PM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


or they see an example of people participating in democracy and protest and effecting change.

I kind of see it like you do, lupus_yonderboy - that history is not full of examples of wildly successful popular revolutions against power structures. In my view, it's kind of now or never, in the most literal sense - this moment could be blown, but actually does have a chance of coming home to people. There were times when public sentiment leaned much more to tilting the playing field far more in favor of the working person, and I don't see why we couldn't develop a public sentiment like that again, but only if there is a very large and growing and sincere effort on the part of middle-of-the-road, non-wingnutty people to do so. I think there's a tenuous middle class right now that's not fully holding on anymore, and I see involving them, not a rising bourgeousie (where are they gonna rise from?), as the linchpin.
posted by Miko at 3:20 PM on January 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Miko: I do agree with you, it's "now" or never (for some value of "now").

What we need is some strong visionary leaders for our side. If the Occupy movement convinced me of one thing, it's that distributed, non-hierarchical systems are extremely good for organizing people to accomplish clear goals, but really bad at deciding and prioritizing what those goals are.

Unfortunately, my best guess is that Mr. Obama will get another term, things will continue to deteriorate (if you think the Republicans are angry and destructive now, imagine what they'll be like if Mr. Obama gets four more years!), the Democrats will continue to pander to the right, and by 2016 you'll have a dispirited population, a significant chunk of whom is permanently unemployed, who are completely sick of the Democratic Party and will probably vote Republican just to hit back.

During this time the "No Child Left Behind" kids are going to hit the workforce en masse. I don't even want to think how unemployable they are...

And there are all sorts of eventualities that might happen, any of which would make things worse. Another successful major terrorist attack would cement the security state and redirect even more money towards the military/industrial/security complex, money desperately needed to re-educate the population, fix our infrastructure and simply feed the starving.

And what about a war with Iran? Mr. Obama is playing brinksmanship with the Iranian government - is it so unlikely that neither side will back down?

"Tensions between Washington and Tehran have risen in recent weeks after U.S. President Barack Obama signed a bill on New Year's Eve that, if fully implemented, would make it impossible for most countries to pay for Iranian oil.

"Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, the world's most important oil shipping lane, if sanctions prevent it from exporting oil. The United States has said it will not tolerate such a move."

If the US really enforces the law they passed, they will in one stroke cut off most of Iran's foreign income. At that point, Iran really has very little to lose.

So I don't see any adult supervision appearing until 2020. That's a really long way away, a huge amount of damage could accrue.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:44 PM on January 15, 2012


What we need is some strong visionary leaders for our side. If the Occupy movement convinced me of one thing, it's that distributed, non-hierarchical systems are extremely good for organizing people to accomplish clear goals, but really bad at deciding and prioritizing what those goals are

With that, I completely agree. Our central problem, and I have felt this for a long time, is a leadership problem.

I don't have as dour an outlook as you regarding a second Obama term, but I'm not entirely as down on him as others, given the deck he was dealt from. But I do think there hasn't been sufficient boldness in his leadership, and certainly the Democratic Congress failed utterly. most of them are an embarrassment.

All this is easy to say, and yet I am not all that interested in running for office. I certainly don't have the money. It's about leadership - who will make the sacrifices one needs to make to lead? It's "who, me?" time everywhere I look.

I think Occupy will see a resurgence in the spring, and I just really hope it is more organized and more comprehensive in its outreach, and that some cogent leaders will emerge.
posted by Miko at 7:27 PM on January 15, 2012


Okay, hotshots--here's your flashmob instructions. Go for it.

You're welcome.
posted by leftcoastbob at 7:35 PM on January 15, 2012


I think too many flashmobs default to "do a dance." Dances get boring to watch after about 30 seconds. The idea of a flashmob is at its heart a cool idea - but why can't they be more diverse in performance style or event? Why not more theatrical, just strange? Why not more with visual art or masks or tableaux? It's always the pop-idol dance form thing. It gets old.
posted by Miko at 8:02 PM on January 15, 2012


I would suspect that the structure of the Occupy movement undermines the prospect of having any useful leader or representative. It takes a lot of effort to build a relationship with the rest of society and all of that is put at stake when you present yourself as a face of such a movement.

Leader X: We Occupiers promote good policies A and B

Random Occupy participant: Right on! And also policies J, K and L (which are crappy or which leader X in any case profoundly disagrees with and is unable to credibly defend in front of the public)

Intreviewer: Leader X, why do you promote crappy policies J, K and L?

Leader X: Umm..

Audience: Hey, new cat gifs!
posted by Anything at 1:52 AM on January 16, 2012


Miko: I think too many flashmobs default to "do a dance." Dances get boring to watch after about 30 seconds. The idea of a flashmob is at its heart a cool idea - but why can't they be more diverse in performance style or event? Why not more theatrical, just strange?

Having done some similar things in the past, oart of the reason why flashmobs default to a dance is because a dance is obviously very easy to do, and something that everyone can participate in and feel involved; also, it is less threatening to spectators than a protest, and it can be done in any space (unlike a theatrical performance) and it can be over within a few minutes.

On the flip side, this means that most flash mobs aren't terribly effective any more and look indistinguishable from marketing campaigns. I agree that people would be well-served to put a bit more effort and imagination into doing something different.

lupus_yonderboy: I think the last election convinced a lot of people that voting can't really effect a change in the system - at most it can slow down the process.

Yes, that's been the conclusion for myself and my friends. Clearly it does change things - I'd prefer Labour to the Tories - but the current political system means that they're not massively different when it comes to the big things. What the Occupy movement et al can do is help tip the scales a little to provide more room to the left to change things - but it's desperately slow.

The way I think about it these days was articulated well by Mefi's own David Graeber who has advocated for direct action:

DAVID GRAEBER — I find the word ‘protest’ problematic. With ‘protest’ it sounds as though you’ve already lost. It’s as though it’s part of a game where the sides recognise each other in fixed positions. It becomes like the Foucauldian disciplinary game where both sides sort of constitute each other. In that sense, Foucault was right: resistance is almost required to have power. Which is why I like the concept of direct action. I think in a lot of ways we’ve been going backwards. I come from the US so I know what’s going on there better, where the right to protest, to dissent, to oppose the government is explicitly enshrined in the constitution, and yet flagrantly ignored.

...

The classic example is the well. There’s a town where water is monopolised and the mayor is in bed with the company that monopolises the water. If you were to protest in front of the mayor’s house, that’s protest, and if you were to blockade the mayor’s house, it’s civil disobedience, but it’s still not direct action. Direct action is when you just go and dig your own well, because that’s what people would normally do if they didn’t have water.


I think there are too many vested interests in positions of great power within politics to make it possible to change things without a truly massive popular movement, and those sorts of things make me very nervous since they are hard to make work and can end up getting hijacked. There's a lot of mileage in digging our own wells - and creating and distributing the tools to do that digging to everyone who needs them.
posted by adrianhon at 4:35 AM on January 16, 2012 [3 favorites]




« Older An African in Guangzhou   |   Jaaam Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post