Thursday, December 15, 2011

Conspiracy: Anonymous, Occupy Wall Street, and "Bob"

Some people think there's a similarity between the Church of the SubGenius and the Anonymous Hive, but although both are obscure internet communities that sometimes have real-life member meet-ups, the philosophies behind them are very different.  No two SubGenii are the same (if any two are too similar, one must go!) while members of Anonymous all wear the same mask, use the same logo, and strive to lose their individuality in a hivemind.

Anonymous follows "V" from the graphic novel/movie "V" for Vendetta.  SubGenii follow the teachings of J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, mythical salesman and UFO contactee.  Anons strive to have no names, be faceless replaceable units.  SubGenii take on extra names, and extravagant descriptive titles to distinguish themselves and brag.

Although some SubGenii vocally support Occupy Wall Street, it is the brainchild of Anonymous, who had been planning "Operation Empire State Rebellion" long before AdBusters thought up the catchier "Occupy!" brand name for the franchise encampments idea.

Many have asked what motivates Occupiers, since they don't have a clear set of goals they're fighting to achieve. What could possibly make so many people so passionate and determined to disrupt travel and commerce, regardless of the harm they cause other people, racking up lengthy arrest records without even knowing what victory would look like?  Why Occupy?

The short answer is, conspiracy theories.  Observing the tweet streams, videos, blogs, and fliers of OWS, it seems clear Occupiers don't offer their own solutions to the problems they complain about because they are under the impression the only thing lacking in our nation is political will.  The US government (and whoever is believed by Occupiers to really control it) could somehow fix the economy, environment, and foreign policy, if it really wanted to, so all that's needed is to put a lot of pressure on the true culprits, to force their hands and make them do good instead of evil.  Then, peace and prosperity for everyone will naturally follow.  No logistical, monetary, or safety concerns figure into Anonymous/OWS plans; it's all about making the "ruling elites" choose to do good instead of evil, by any means necessary.

SubGenius philosophy talks about a vast Conspiracy too.  It does seem sometimes like things couldn't possibly be this bad without someone having acted with deliberate malice.  Global climate change, income inequality, smog, pollution, species dying out, seemingly endless wars, wild market speculation, unjustified prohibitions, these things can seem like a plot, and many internet conspiracy theorists weave colorful explanations that tie it all together in a neat package explaining who to blame for all the world's ills.  They usually just pick whoever they personally hate most, or choose from historical "bad guys" favored by previous people who agreed the world must be run by secret evil cabals, or go with what the voices in their heads advise.

A key SubGenius teaching is that although it may seem like there's a secret cabal coordinating everything, the horrible, real truth is that there is no one at the wheel.  There are countless factions, industries, corporations, political parties, churches, movements, you name it, and they are all trying to get their own needs and goals met, constrained by varying levels of commitment to legal or moral concerns.  No one group controls everything, so there's no particular set of people you could hold accountable and force to put things right in the world.  There is a Conspiracy of Mediocrity, the result of billions of people worldwide cutting corners, being careless or heartless, greedy or close-minded, in a complex interconnected web of commerce and society.  There is no cabal.

If we want change, we have to first figure out exactly what it is that we want.  Then we have to tell other people why it's such a good idea, and convince them, one by one, group by group, to agree.  By congressional bills or a constitutional convention, we have to put our solutions in place using the voting system, which is subject to some manipulation, but not enough to thwart the true will of 99% if they all showed up.

Then we have to hope our solutions work like our theories say they should.  Unintended consequences can be devastating.  That doesn't mean no one should try to fix anything, just that they should carefully think through what they attempt.  Suddenly raising the minimum wage to $20 an hour, for example, could force many small businesses to close.  Eliminating all immigration quotas at once could flood the labor market, making unemployment even worse.  These are the kind of things Occupy should have figured out before they took to the streets to demand public attention.

I love freaky camping, drum circles, and having groovy times with awesome creative people, and it sounds like there was an element of that at OWS camps.  But it's because I love those things that I know that to keep camps sustainable, there have to be clear camp rules, like, number one, camp at a campsite.  You will need clean drinking water, hand & utensil washing stations, sanitary facilities, and protection from the elements, or you will get sick, and that sickness could spread to an entire city.

Other camp rules include not destroying parts of the Earth set aside as protected green space.  If everyone just destroyed grassy land whenever they wanted to camp, the environmental impact would be extremely harmful.  Next, keep track of who is in your camp, and make sure they're okay every day.  Call police if there's theft, rape, or fighting going on, and keep your tents separated with clear paths so that cops or EMTs could make their way through the encampment quickly in an emergency, or so that people could quickly escape if fire broke out.  Make sure no one spends two days dead in a tent because nobody knew they were in there.

I think it would be an awesome idea for people to overcome political apathy by setting up camps at actual campsites, where anyone with a tent would be welcome to stay, meet others, and discuss the issues of our times.  You could even have a cozy central fire that people could warm themselves around as they talk about our options as a nation.  You could use a real stage and ditch the creepy People's Mic, which makes it difficult for speakers to make complex, nuanced points, and for listeners to devote their full attention to listening and thinking over what's said, instead of worrying about repeating correctly.

Of course, such camps could never take the place of internet coordination and meetings, where people from all over the country could make proposals, share opinions, and vote on what the movement should strive for, but physical camps would be a nice enrichment, and a spectacle that would draw attention.  Even if camps were outside the cities, livestream would bring their message to the world.  If the streams showed reasonable people in orderly, legal camps having serious policy discussions, that would likely win a lot of support and change conversations on the right and left, like an interactive reality show for thinking, patriotic people.

It's truly a shame that OWS chose instead to create spectacles of force, declaring they were going to deliberately disrupt the free travel of their fellow citizens, and seize public lands indefinitely, attacking the very foundation of an ordered society so necessary to making rights available to all.  By insisting that it would take force to move them, they created a situation that inevitably led to force.

Those parks and streets do not belong to OWS, they're everyone's, and anyone seizing or blocking them must be removed sooner or later, by force if necessary.  OWS knew that.  They counted on it.  OWS wanted to create pictures and videos that looked like 1968, but since there's no pressing issue like the military draft, they had to make do with indignantly spouting "anarchist philosophy" jargon to explain why they shouldn't have to explain why they're in the street or what would make them go back home.

In my opinion, as a SubGenius Reverend, that is what we call Slack Vampirism, people amusing themselves, even holding dance parties, at the expense of other people's pain.  Thousands of citizens in dozens of cities have been trapped in their cars on roads, sometimes for hours, their right of way completely violated by people aiming to deliberately disrupt the city's travel.

It's bad enough when daily incompetence or an accident delays people, a group doing it on purpose, just to get attention for their signs, is really too much to expect people to accept.  There is no First Amendment right to do that; it is shamefully selfish behavior, as is setting up your private dwelling in public parks.  That is not what parks are for. The entire point of having a "commons" is that that land cannot be anybody's private house, it's for all to share.  Seizing it for yourself to live on, then damaging it, is stealing from the public, and it is not "peaceable assembly" no matter how much yoga or dubstep rave you do there.


  1. Prof. Byron BrainardDecember 16, 2011 at 1:38 PM

    Bravo and Praise "Bob"!

  2. "Call police if there's theft, rape, or fighting going on, and keep your tents separated with clear paths so that cops or EMTs could make their way through the encampment quickly in an emergency, or so that people could quickly escape if fire broke out. Make sure no one spends two days dead in a tent because nobody knew they were in there" <-- fat chance of that ever happening Rev. IMO they enjoy the chaos, they like the fact that they can rape and fight to their heart's content, just a like those notorious "rebel armies" that are running rampant in African countries. Like you said before on Twitter, they can only get away with it because OWS are generally white upper-middle-class, educated and web-connected.

  3. Yup. They're just like those raping armies. (rolls eyes at idiots)

  4. Wow, this blog is like watching what happens when somebody puts their hands over their eyes, then describes what is on the other side of their hands without looking. This has got to be one of the most pathetic things ever written -- literally reducing a group of people to a stereotype. A true charlatan here.

  5. Well stated. If they knew their rights then they would be looked at as a responsible movement instead of laughing-stocks!!!

  6. Sub-genius....ok, I'll buy that. It is patently obvious that the author has never set foot in an Occupy encampment. I'll bet that the author is not a fan of corrupt politics, or those who caused MILLIONS to lose their homes, jobs, and savings, or the amazing and unprecedented wealth disparity.

    Like many, she seems to have a knee-jerk reaction to the corporate-owned media (that's right, there are only FIVE nat'l media companies) spew.....even while agreeing with what 339,999,999 Americans know to be the reasons that Americans choose to camp out rather than sleeping in their nice warm homes.

    Sub-genius. You said it!!!!

  7. Blogs are stupid.