Monday, February 13, 2012

Keep Calm and Occupy

In 1939, the British government designed the poster on the right. As Wikipedia explains, the poster was "intended to raise the morale of the British public in the event of invasion."

The 'keep calm' theme has since taken on a life of its own: from 'keep calm and Cary Grant' to 'now panic and freak out', the clean lines, simple design, and telephone box red of the original poster has been a source of apparently endless inspiration for artists, tricksters, and political activists.

Of course, my favourite variation is 'keep calm and occupy'.

Since the 'failure' of J28, calm seems in slightly short supply at Occupy Oakland. Still homeless and suffering from the stress of being repeatedly set upon by OPD, OOers are engaging in deep internal debate and self-critique, and it isn't always pretty. Was J28 a bad idea, or a good idea poorly planned? How does the movement reconnect with the masses? And do the wicked reformers/liberals/anarchists/Stalinists/black bloc/live streamers realize they're destroying the movement from within?

To which I respond, 'keep calm and occupy'. Don't panic. Don't allow the City and the Chamber of Commerce to divide and conquer. Don't take the bait offered by OPD. When a smoke bomb or tear gas canister detonates nearby, walk, don't run. Engage neither in the shouty nor the smashy: resist in a thousand smaller, quieter ways. Read 'Alone in Berlin' by Hans Fallada for inspiration. Deface currency. Be unfailingly polite but firm when making a point. Wear a disguise (but not a mask). Confuse the enemy. Confound expectations.

The possibilities for non-violent resistance are limitless: from Aquapy to gingerbread City Halls, from Care Bears to Valentine's Day dance parties, all options are on the table. Allow your imagination to run free--but whatever you do, keep calm!

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