What I’m Reading: Occupy Comics #1

May 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

Occupy Comics #1 is the kind of self congratulatory work that’s great for celebrating something you already believe in, but terrible for sharing ideas, much less convincing nonbelievers.

The art and craft is as great as what you’d expect from the lauded creators in this anthology. Though it often feels like Occupiers trying to tell their own story, the book doesn’t bring anything new to the conversation. Many pieces in the anthology are nostalgic in tone,

celebrating that brief moment when the movement was a part of the national conversation. These pieces read like the movement is already over, turning 2011’s event into the type of triumphant historical fiction that Steven Spielberg does so well.  These interpretations, treating the protests in Zuccotti Park as a kind of Rorschach test of American angst, misread the anarchist intent of the Occupy Movement, removing it from its place in a long political history.

I consider anarchism a political polemic that has a symbiotic relationship to whatever system it criticizes, e.g. the mass quantities of pizzas delivered to Occupy Wall Street: the Occupiers occupied Zuccotti Park with the aid of food cooked at a business and paid for with money donated by people who exchanged goods or services for that money.  I say “symbiotic” rather than the usual “parasitic” because, only able to exist within the context of the status quo, anarchism actually reinforces the status quo.  Its arguments and actions against the ruling system serve to define and empower that system.

I also have a problem with Hakim Bey, whose ideas on Temporary Autonomous Zones greatly informed the Occupy Movement.  Bey (real name Peter Lamborn Wilson) is a proud pedophile, and an early version of TAZ was reportedly published in a “man-boy love” publication. Indeed, if you actually read TAZ, it’s pretty up front about its opinions on sex with children in its chapters on “Amour Fou” and “Wild Children” – if you can stomach them. The pedophilia really undermines the philosophy for me. (I found an extensive piece on Bey by writer Simon Sellers).

Occupy Comics #1 is an interesting souvenir of a few weeks when anarchism took center stage in the media.  You can buy it with money from your capitalist comic book shop now.

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