Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Red Ink

On several occasions this week I have felt overcome with excitement at the occupation of Wall Street. It feels like for too long Americans, and Australians, have been happy to sit back and accept the status quo dished out by big business. Finally, finally, people are standing up and saying No More.

A couple of days ago, the philosopher Slavoj Zizek spoke to Occupy Wall Street protesters at Liberty Plaza. Here's something he said that has stuck with me:

In an old joke from the defunct German Democratic Republic, a German worker gets a job in Siberia; aware of how all mail will be read by censors, he tells his friends: "Let's establish a code: if a letter you will get from me is written in ordinary blue ink, it is true; if it is written in red ink, it is false." After a month, his friends get the first letter written in blue ink: "Everything is wonderful here: stores are full, food is abundant, apartments are large and properly heated, movie theatres show films from the West, there are many beautiful girls ready for an affair - the only thing unavailable is red ink."
And is this not our situation till now? We have all the freedoms one wants - the only thing missing is the red ink: we feel free because we lack the very language to articulate our unfreedom. What this lack of red ink means is that, today, all the main terms we use to designate the present conflict - 'war on terror', 'democracy and freedom', 'human rights', etc - are FALSE terms, mystifying our perception of the situation instead of allowing us to think it. You, here, you are giving to all of us red ink.

There are videos of his speech here. Even if you only have a minute, it's worth watching just for that. As the protesters aren't allowed megaphones or any form of amplification, the crowd close to Zizek repeats each sentence after him for their fellow protesters further away.

Thank you. We hear you loud and clear.


Umatji said...

my no media diet means I know little about the world except through those I love. But this picture is so amazing. Love the post and will be clicking through when I am not going to hide and seek between each 15 words typed! Thought of you today in bike land.

Leigh @ Toasted said...

Me too.. I had no idea this was going on. One day I'll get to hear the radio news over the racket my kids make! Inspiring!

WriterBee said...

This reminds me of samizdat publications being passed from hand to hand, growing in power with each passing.

Your retelling of this story transmits it further and gives it more strength.

Well done! xx

frogpondsrock said...

I have been following the Occupy Wall street movement on twitter since it started on September the 17th. It has been interesting to watch the initial media silence, followed by the outrageous coverage by the likes of Glen Beck on Fox. I watched the march over the brooklyn bridge via the livestream and the tactics used by the NYPD. Who incidentally were just in receipt of a $4mil donation from Chase Manhattan *sigh*Thanks for the quote. Do you use twitter Meg?

Meg said...

Hey Frogpondsrock, no I don't use Twitter.

Two days ago all capital cities in Australia had their own occupy protests. PJ and I were going to to the Melbourne rally but decided against it as it was a beautiful day and there was much to be done in the garden.

I think positive protests are vital for disenfranchised communities to reclaim their voice and assert their power, but I also think the strongest message we can send big business is to spend our money elsewhere.

We have our own anti corporation, anti greed protest right here every day by boycotting every despicable company that prioritises profit over people, which is sometimes hard as the list seems to keep getting longer.