Tuesday, August 04, 2015

"Occupy Love" makes a real case for communitarianism and a "Consciousness III"

There is a lot of morally significant thought-train to process in the little documentary “Occupy Love” (2012), by Velcrow Ripper.
He starts his narrative 10 years after 9/11, as the Occupy Wall Street begins to assemble. In the meantime, he visits a lot of different areas of the world were people believe their resources have been exploited and want to turn to communalism.  His mention of the “inland empire of Bolivia, in the Andes, as some kind of ideal for public participation is interesting. He visits Tahir Square in Cairo during the Arab Spring, as well as activism in Alberta’s Tar Sands and Maple Spring in Quebec. He hits hard the climate change issue. He also mentions the debt crisis in Spain and now Greece, and obviously thinks debts should be repudiated (as a parasitic rentier capitalist device). 
But the real heart of the film concerns an argument for a change in individual consciousness and heart – call it “Consciousness III” of Reich’s 1970 book “The Greening of America” which was once given to me as a present. The talks about Love and Power, as if right out of the writings of Paul Rosenfels.  Love without power falls into squishy sentimentality, while power without love leads to totalitarianism, sometimes, or more likely “the dictatorship of the rich”.
He talks about “neo-liberalism”, as society being driven by the market.  He makes the poignant point that money and “paying for things” allows people to forsake the need for more personal interdependence on one another.  He defines empathy as “I feel your hurt as if you were me.”
I recall a patient at NIH in 1962, female and not very intact, who screamed at night, “Why can’t we love everybody?”  It seems to me that if you “love everybody” you “love nobody”.  Yet, aloofness has been one of my own most controversial traits.  Some call it schizoid, or Aspergers (not quite the same).  I certainly can inspire indignation.  No, I won’t just walk in a picket line or demonstration for anyone’s specific cause.  Yet, I have no right to claim I am immune to bad luck.  Anyone can wind up in a homeless shelter if a disaster is big enough.
I did photo some of the Occupy DC in late 2011.  One African-American man got mad at me and started chasing me down K Street, demanding to speak to me “when spoken to.”  You get the drift.
No, I don’t welcome intimacy from just anyone.  Some things I see in some people do repel me.  That seems pretty common.  But the capacity to sustain intimacy, not simply following up on one’s choices or promises but the ability to take the chances to get involved and stay there, has to be a character trait.
I’ve even noticed on some volunteer experiences that it is very difficult to communicate at all with some people (“guests”).  They have not learned how to function in an individualistic society, that doesn’t even make sense to them, given the circumstances in which they had been brought up.
Life is tough for all animal species, and some individuals always dominate.  The Left can correctly say that the “rich” live off the sacrificial labor of others, inviting Maoist discipline to make everyone share the risks.  But, as the Soviets and Chinese have proven, you will always have a authoritarian, privileged class.  Individualism and libertarianism arguably gives people of modest backgrounds more of a chance.
Ripper would seem to like the world to be made up of income-sharing intentional communities, like Twin Oaks and Acorn in Virginia.  But he seems to neglect that ego is necessary: you have to lift yourself up to lift up others (like by innovation). 

It is to this film's credit that it doesn't view the solution to all the world's sustainability problems in terms of pet issues or specific causes.  Everything is connected!
The official site is here   (Gravitas Venturas).

The film can be watched on Netflix, or rented on YouTube or Amazon for $3.99.

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