Liberty Square on October 4th 2011 / Photograph by Léopold Lambert
What really matters in revolts and revolutions is what their gestation time produce in terms of inventions. To the main criticisms brought by the (old) left about the Occupy Wall Street movement, claiming that this spontaneous organization leads to nowhere in terms of agenda and expectations, I re-affirm that they are missing what needs to be looked at. The end is not important, only the continuous production of desire that we can observe those days is, and each day spent on Liberty Square is a victory over a dehumanized system (I’d like to say here that I can see the cliche in the expression “dehumanized system”, however I would like to invite everybody to think carefully about it and see how this system is working on its own inertia).
Creativity is the materialization of such of production of desire and each invention needs to be acknowledged as the movement’s achievement. The one I would like to write about in this article is characteristics of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, and whoever went on Liberty Square knows it. To be honest, I am not so sure that it is, per say, an invention of this movement, and I am already expecting some more knowledgeable readers to tell me about it, but what I call here Mic-Check can definitely be considered as an immanent implementation of democratic apparatuses.
Mic-Check is the scream that precedes any speech from anybody speaking on the Square and during the marches as (s)he requests the oral transmission of what (s)he will say (see the videos below). Indeed, the ban of any form of voice amplification device (microphone, loudspeaker etc.), rather than being an instrument of weakening the movement made it stronger and resolutely leaderless as nobody can hold a magic object that would make him (her) being the unique person heard by the rest of the crowd. Whoever has something to say, therefore speaks and whoever hears him repeat it, thus increasing the range of audibility, and by extension the amount of people participating. Regular General Assemblies have from one to two (sometimes even three) waves of oral transmissions for everything being said, and last Friday, at the meeting on Police Square near New York City Hall, one could easily counts five waves of sound.
Of course, sometimes, you end up playing the telephone game, missing or confusing fragments of information, and of course, everything that needs to be said takes substantially more time to inform than normal discourse. Nevertheless, one could argue that such a constraint forces speakers to go straight to the point (let’s be fair, it is not always the case) and therefore to expurgate speeches from any ornaments.
As I wrote in a previous article, the other advantage of such a mean of communication is to depersonalize the person speaking -which becomes an issue when celebrities and union representatives absolutely wants to be acknowledged- thus transforming one voice in a multitude. Of course, this would be a critical issue if always one person was speaking but that is resolutely not the case, this device allows anybody to be heard and therefore to continuously proceeds in strict immanent processes.
One last thing about this Mic-Check Human Technology is that, as low-tech as it seems, this mean of communication is a very literal representation of the high-tech networks used to communicate with the multitude of other delocalized bodies who participate in some ways to the movement even without being physically present. As I wrote in my last article, those rhyzomic connections are our lines of flights, our invisible defenses…