[OPE-L:6757] Re: change the world

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Sat Mar 16 2002 - 09:56:03 EST

John H ended  [6755] with the message:

>      Love to all,
>      John

Well, thanks.  I send love back in the spirit described below.

Looking back over the 6 1/2 years of OPE-L, it is rather
remarkable how infrequently subscribers used the "L" word.
The only person who ever ended posts in a similar fashion was
former listmember Patrick ("Peace") Mason.

As normally understood, political economy has no role for the
the "L" word.  Marxists tend to view the injection of  "Love"
into political and theoretical discourse as a surrender to a
model of social change made popular in the 1960's by "Hippies"
(perhaps best captured by the lyrics of  'The Beatles"  song
"All you need is love").

Love is _not_ all you need, but this does not mean that it has no
role in theory and praxis.  If our object is not merely to comprehend
the world but to *change*  it, love _must_ play a part in the process of
change. The  next question,  though, is to ask: _what_  part must love
play in the process of revolutionary change?

I can not attempt to completely answer that question here but let me
assert that the answer is linked to the essential social process of
building  and participating in the *self-development of the working
class* (or what Toni Negri  has labeled the "auto-valorization" of the
working class.)

Put (perhaps too) simply:  the struggles of workers and peasants against
capital and the state build *communities* of resistance and struggle in
which love has an essential role in the self-realization of community.
Let me give an example from personal experience:

Beginning in 1990 I became part of a community in the Lower East
Side of Manhattan composed of squatters, homeless, peddlers, and
activists.  We fought many battles together over issues concerning
squatting, the homeless, police brutality, and solidarity work. Politically,
this was a very mixed community with anarchists -- of various kinds --
playing the largest and most vocal role.  Socially, this was overwhelmingly
a working-class community but  had a strong "counter-cultural" edge
(befitting the East Village and LES) with a large punk rock contingent
of teenagers.   We were a very *militant* community  and engaged in
many unforgettable struggles: e.g.  the struggle against the eviction of
homeless from Tompkins Square Park and the closing of that park to
the public; the assault by the NYPD on "Dinkinsville" (a homeless
encampment to the East of TSP); the evictions -- over a period of
years -- of squatter communities such as "Glass House", the 5th St.
squat,  the 13th Street squats, and the "Dos Blocos" squat.

Anyone who was there will _never_ forget how  at  3 AM  about 500
cops in riot  gear assaulted the homeless encampment in TSP in  June, 1991
and evicted them. I  know. I was there.  I was at all of the above
struggles -- and many more. I was there when we were linked arm-and-
arm at 13th Street when several hundred riot cops were sent  in to
evict the squatters.  There were police snipers on all of the surrounding
high buildings, there was a helicopter with a SWAT team hovering over
the squats, and the City sent in a *tank* to evict.  I was there on 5th
Street when the City laid siege to a squat there and ordered the wrecking
ball to destroy the building when they knew a squatter was still on the
_inside_ of the building.  I was there on 9th Street when a squat across
from "La Plaza Cultural",  where some close friends of mine,  burned to
the ground while the cops were laughing about it.

In writing the above, I realize that _part_ of the process of struggle is
_RAGE_.  But that is _only_ part -- another part is LOVE. (btw, this
formulation is not intended to express agreement with the principles of a
group _called_ "Love and Rage").  For when I think about those struggles
I can not help but recall the _enormity_ of the love and caring that we
had (and still have) for each other.  This is not accidental:  indeed it is
a  logical consequence of building communities of struggle.  Thus, when I
run-into someone I haven't seen for 10 years who was there, there is
love that passes between us for we each remember the day when we
stood next to each other  as *comrades in struggle* at TSP, or when we
were linked arm-and-arm while the riot cops tried to evict squatters, or
when we saw together the many times when we -- and fellow members of
our community  -- were arrested,  assaulted,  spied-upon, and brutalized
(and, yes, I was arrested  a number of  times myself -- and brutalized --
in the course of these struggles.) This  *experience* of struggle creates a
*bond of solidarity*  that is immensely  strong.  I have not removed myself
from that  community (although it is much smaller than it used to be as we
suffered a  series of crushing  defeats over the years) and will probably
visit some dear friends and anarchist comrades at the "C" squat later today.

I think, in various ways, that this recognition of love as an essential part
of  building a revolutionary movement is  a part of the  theoretical
projects and  praxis of Toni Negri,  Harry Cleever,  Massimo, John H,
and Mike L but I will  let the latter 3 speak for themselves.

Do others understand what I mean above? Do you agree?

In solidarity, Jerry

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