In the last few days, I have come to the conclusion that I will never have to work in a conventional sense again. Occupy Wall St. has given me the freedom to actualize seemingly any genuine goal I could imagine. The ability to achieve that goal only depends on how genuine that goal is. For two months now I have aggressively networked in the most progressive environment imaginable, affording me a mass of connections so true and genuine that most of them can best be described as friendship. This process of networking was one of the first steps in creating an opening almost devoid of restrictions.
This freedom crystallized yesterday at Drew’s house as we talked about amazing machine shops where we could create cutting edge machinery to support the movement’s collective agriculture projects. I thought to myself: “I am a carpenter, pretty good with my hands, I would love to learn how to fabricate machinery, hmmm maybe I will.” Here was this idea, totally divorced from any of the community organizing I have been participating in at OWS, a job which I have no experience or connections to and I was completely confident that if I wanted, I could get on the computer for about a week, work my contacts and find the opportunity to start to apprentice in a machine shop. This is an example of revolutionary creative freedom.
Occupy Wall St. has opened a black hole of freedom in America. Those of us that live the revolt stand at the edge of that hole peering down into a new era of space time compression. Einstein theorized that space and time were one and the closer you got to the speed of light the more space and time would be compressed. From a social science perspective space time compression as described by, David Harvey “the general effect is for capitalist modernization to be very much about speed-up and acceleration in the pace of the economic processes.” Space time compression is often illustrated by the exponential decrease in the size of the micro chip over 30 years, or the exponential rise in internet users. If these are 20th century indicators of space time compression then 21st century revolutionary space time compression would be measured by the rate at which theory becomes praxis. i.e. I theorized I wanted to become a machinist and have the ability to make it praxis VERY quickly.
Theory, sometimes labeled vision, is our goal for the future of the revolution. Praxis is the actualization of that vision. Ahmed Mahr a key player in Egypt’s liberal democratic April 6th movement came to OWS one day. If one compares the population of Egypt, 80 million, to the level of political change, ousting a 30 year dictatorship, Ahmed is quite possibly the most successful revolutionary in the 21st century. At a lecture he gave he said that theory and praxis must move in parallel, theory barely ahead of praxis. If either moves ahead of the other revolutionary production and creativity will stagnate.
To clarify, the revolution has brought theory closer and closer to praxis than in any other point in the 21st century America. Theory is still a hair ahead of praxis in both revolutionary consciousness and reality, but one day they will truly move in parallel synchronicity. For now, the black hole has opened up and praxis chases at the heels of theory into infinity.
Another material representation of praxis following right on the heels of theory is the new radical fundraising model for OWS. Fundraising has been incredibly problematic withinthe movement. How does an anti-capitalist organization raise money from the 1% without being co-opted or bending our principles? The answer might comes ethos that the centralization of money is the root of all evil, therefore if one wants to procure great amounts of resources you must decentralize these resources to avoid destructive hierarchies. This idea led to the creation of the Permabank. The Permabank is a web platform that lets people exchange skills and resources. People can list small wishes, like a couch to sleep on that night, and individuals can look at that person’s profile and give them a couch to sleep on that night in exchange for a lecture on Marxism, or a massage or any skill or resource that that individual might possess. For bigger exchanges of resources, a project proposal platform gives donors a national perspective of cutting edge Occupy projects and they can choose to provide in-kind donations to actualize these projects or fund them directly. The goal of the sight is to take currency out of the human equation as much as possible, and when that is impossible at least decentralize it nationwide.
I use this example of a theoretical structure that is about to become a reality. As some of our global justice fundraisers labored to find a funding system that matched OWS’s ethical reality, they theorized about the Permabank, not knowing that a team of coders had already volunteered 100s of hours to work on that very project. Neither group knew of the other’s existence, but once the theoretical need opened in time, the praxis followed immediately behind. This could be seen as a coincidence, but this is not the case.
Connections to machine shops, alternative banking options are all very practical revolutionary applications. The magic is in the creative black hole of this moment. It’s an alchemy of creative karma trying desperately to escape out of the tiny vortex. The pressure builds and builds trying to escape out through this small crack in the world. People making machine shops or alternative banking models stand in this crack. Their inventions are not revolutionary, but the pressure for change poring over them takes their creativity. The vortex blends this creativity together and this compressed imagination pours over all of us. We bathe in enlightenment here so we cannot help but receive the greatest ideas of a generation repressed. Once the theory is thought we already stand in the swirling space of opportunity to achieve it.
The faster theory becomes praxis, the closer we get to complete revolutionary freedom. This brings us back to the machine shop example. In this space it seems that one can achieve almost any genuine goal. I can’t seem to get a job, but I can help to start a General Assembly in the Bronx, work with my heroes and push a revolution. In the past I might be able to do this, but the time between theory and praxis was much longer. The ability to actualize genuine goals so quickly has opened up an existential crisis of freedom. It is enlivening and terrifying to realize that you can do anything you want. For the revolution to succeed we must, at some point, bring this same freedom to everyone. If we are successful, the crisis of freedom will hit America like a lightning bolt of opportunity. Suddenly we will not have to deaden our consciousness from 9 to 5. Media can become a true reflection of reality and suddenly Americans will have to face the infinitely diverse revolutionary opportunities before them.
For those of us looking down that black hole of opportunity, we see the exponential rate of revolutionary actualization rushing by us and we can’t help but lose our breath at the beauty of it all. We ourselves are facing the existential crisis of freedom every day. The most experienced of community organizers quit jobs that they love to truly appreciate the creative organizational vortex that has opened around us. People leave their apartments and risk homelessness, but when theory and praxis are one, you must only think you want a couch to sleep on and it is already done.