Friday, January 13, 2012
Tea Partying With the Freak Brothers
Whew! These Occupy posts are far more difficult to pry from myself than their predecessors; the hands-on mechanics of putting the earlier stuff into practice in the present world, amongst the isolated pools of individuated consciousness we humans represent, each with his or her own vision of the whole, has been at the very least disorienting. I've lately revived an old motto i swiped from the good people at Oat Willie's down in Austin, Texas: "Onward Through the Fog!" How odd is it that i've recently connected with some folks that hark back to that place in ways that are deeply surreal. Oat Willie's and Fat Freddy will seem to be completely out of place in this bit, in which i mean to address the notion of cooperation amongst disparate factions, but not permanently i hope. By the end of this post, i hope to connect Occupy, The Tea Party, disparate passions, and yes, Hippies. It will be necessary to engage in some relatively surreal thinking.
Last night on a new Facebook page, "UNITE: OCCUPY," (cap lock and all), i got into a conversation about this stuff started by a guy that asked whether anyone thought a joint event between Occupiers and Tea Partiers might be possible. Sure, i said, our Colorado Springs group had lots of Tea Partiers among its earliest enthusiasts, and although many have pulled away, there still exists a close association with many that veer sharply toward the Te Party camp, especially among Ron Paul supporters. The common ground Occupy shares with the Tea Party, at least at a grass root level, is substantial. There can be no doubt of the equally substantial differences. I suspect that it would take some pretty serious ideological barnstorming to bring the two camps together, but nothing prevents the groups from at least tentative discussion to find commonalities.
Tonight our Occupy group staged a talk by Tea Party stalwart, Constitutionalist Mike Holler. Mike seemed for all appearances to be an earnest and well-versed supporter of Constitutional "fundamentalism," if you will. He peppered his talk with lots of my favorite quotes from my favorite founding fathers. He got a little testy about the revisionist history his kids bring home from college early on--perhaps indicative of one point of separation between Occupiers and Tea Partiers. Some of those are important. Occupy is international, where the Tea Party can display degrees of jingoism. I, personally, respect the earnest efforts of our Enlightenment founders, but recognize that they were flawed, and aver that their document was dated by racist, sexist, and elitist provisions and thinking that they might be excused from by noting their temporal milieu. We don't have the same luxury. Occupy is legitimately grass root, supported by sweat and blood more than funded, where TP is, or at least became very quickly corporately funded "astroturf," disingenuously proffering libertarian ideals as a smoke screen for corporate license to plunder. Occupiers are in my experience far more diverse than Tea Partiers. Socialist and Anarchist Occupiers are common, as are assorted races, genders, orientations, and religious persuasions, where Tea Partiers seem to my limited observation to be relatively homogeneously white Christian capitalist patriots. Mike interjected that both groups had been misrepresented by the media, and that seems likely to be so given that mainstream media seems content to misrepresent 'bout anything they report in this country, but Fox news and the rabid right like the Tea Party so much i have to wonder if he's fallen victim to a personal soft spot.
Mike spoke eloquently enough in his effort to simplify the Constitution, focusing on issues of freedom, and state's rights. He said very little with which i could find disagreement. He pointed out two major points of confluence between Occupy and the Tea Party--personal liberty, and a rally-cry, "No more Bailouts!" I suspect he fastidiously avoided some points he knew or at least feared might be contentious, like for example the ludicrous assertions i've heard often that environmental warnings from the scientific community stem from some kind of Satanic control scheme from the--well just from whom is never too clear. The Vatican or something. Commies, i guess. That just maybe the best way for Tea Partiers and Occupiers to interact, though, for now, concentrating on the common aversion to what amounts to Fascism. Interacting from that perspective could exclude much conversation. It could put the Tea Party in the same position as the Occupy movement, after their Fascist sponsors withdraw in horror. Whatever. We Occupiers got on just fine with Tea Party Mike--"Mr. Constitution."
Mike largely expressed notions we Occupiers could embrace. I suppose he could have done a bit of research and tailored his speech toward that end, but i think we just agree; he seemed a grassroots kind of guy, to me. He briefly alluded to schisms within the Tea Party, and there's no sensible reason to avoid acknowledging the same within Occupy. Last night's event was attended by Occupy people that have had such extreme altercations in their attempts to wrestle a semblance of ideological unity from a stubbornly liquid platform that it could easily enough have disintegrated into bedlam. I attended with my dear friend Thomas, with whom i often disagree. In fact, he and i often disagree so strongly that sometimes i feel like smacking him in back of the head. I expect he feels the same way about me at times. Maybe much of the time. Take note, war-mongers of the world: Thomas is a great guy, and even though we disagree with one another, sometimes strongly, neither of us has smacked the other in back of the head. Get it?
So here we were last night, disparate Occupiers engaging a Tea Party mouthpiece in a room full of people that have all experienced the vagaries of human interaction under a fairly pressurized circumstance over the past few months. No butterflies fluttered around the room, but no one worked up a bickering session, either. We worked together. All of us. One could recall the old adage that "The enemy of my enemy is my friend," but that would be devolution. I prefer to imagine that those with arguments present recognized the futility of scrapping amongst friends, if only below the radar of their Egos. Whether my nobler hopes for those pained souls in the room last night are valid or not, the assertions i made in these non-pages well before Occupy began remain true. The system we wrestle against is collapsing around our heads. And the solution is spiritual, to a far greater extent than it is temporal.
Fat Freddy is a comic book character that lives in Denver. Seriously. I met him a little while ago. (This only seems out of place, i promise.) Mr. Constitution Mike Holler expressed the opinion last night that our American republic, our constitutional federation of states, is in its final throes; that we are in a position where, " it's too late to save the country, but too early to start shooting." Mike seemed tentative in expressing his hope that God might pull some kind of supernatural rabbit from his celestial hat to resolve our monumental national woes. I expect he feared perturbing the often non-Christian sensibilities of the Occupiers. He needn't have worried quite so much--we may be largely skeptical of literal interpretations, but we're pretty tolerant of that sort of thing. When i met Fat Freddy--an icon of counter-cultural activism important to me since childhood, an old-school Hippie with connection to the most famous and infamous of that crowd--he singled me out and pulled me aside to explain in some detail his expectation for a spiritual upheaval in coming days. Freddy's taken up with the Urantia Book, a tome i've heard Christians disparage as devilish. I couldn't see anything devilish about what he showed me. He earnestly explained his expectation for resolution. Soon.
We had come to Denver to talk about foreclosures and bank jiggery-pokery with another guy, and pulled up at Freddy's house without knowing it. It just happened that way. These old Hippies like Tea Party fave, Ron Paul. (Follow along, now, i know it's weird, and yeah, i know a lot of Occupiers don't like Paul; i'm not sure about him myself). Also in attendance at that meeting was a woman i had been conversing with on line for quite a while in the context of Occupy. It took me nearly through the whole meeting to recognize her, because i knew her to live down in the Four Corners neighborhood of Colorado. She lives at Freddy's now. This juxtaposition is so weird that now i'm expecting the Mad Hatter, or Lewis Carroll himself to pop up at some meeting quoting from Jabberwocky. Mike Holler holds out for resolution to the country's woes in a traditional Christian context. My own suspicion, shared with J.B.S. Haldane, is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose. But somewhere in the mix i am convinced that some divine Thing many of us think of as God is deeply interested in the little proceedings here on our little blue marble and that our interactions are subsequently and necessarily thus influenced.
We live right here. We have no choice but to manage things on a coarse, physical level; but we also live, i think, on an overlapping and less tangible plane, where we have more influence than we might ordinarily imagine. At the same time, things seem to occur herethere without our conscious direction. We'll need to keep plugging away at things like grasping the Constitution, and taking on massive, quixotic quests like fighting banks and a world full of renegade, intransigent governments and power brokers, not to mention our own internal battles, as finely defined as within our own Souls. We'll need to recognize the Truth in one another, even when it's obscured by a bunch of worldly disagreement and fog. And so far as i can tell, were learning. Whatever that means.