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18 September 2014 03:29 (South Africa)
Opinionista Chris Vick

"Occupy South Africa": Waging class struggle, the Playstation generation way

  • Chris Vick
Today I put myself “at the forefront of organised, peaceful and legal resistance” – I became part of something called Operation Ubuntu, which is celebrating “World Revolution Day” on Saturday by occupying the street outside the JSE and a garden outside Parliament.

It feels a bit like playing Playstation.

I decided to start by signing up for the global resistance movement which has inspired Operation Ubuntu’s “Occupy South Africa” – something called The Plan.

I must say, was a lot easier than the last time I joined the resistance in the 1980s. Becoming a member of the ANC underground then involved a rather furtive recruitment process, writing out your CV in the third person (in case it fell in the wrong hands and someone thought you had actually volunteered to be a “terrorist”) and sitting through endless discussions with your handler on the dialectics of the National Democratic Revolution.

These days it’s much easier – you just get online at www.whatis-theplan.org, the website that puts itself at the heart of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. And if you want local membership, you just become part of the Occupy South Africa group on Facebook.

Voila! You’re an instant internet economic freedom fighter…

You’ll find me listed as a member of The Plan’s global website as “chrisvick3”. I’m a bit rusty at this resistance stuff, so I only worked out later that you’re supposed to use a cool, subversive character-name when you register to protect yourself from capture: “Become a registered member to access the site,” they warn. “This is a security protection of this site and the members of this site.”

I should have guessed what I was in for from the computer-game look and feel of the website itself. Its masthead is a logo of a headless man in a suit and text that looks like it’s stolen from the X-Files:

“The Plan.

One year. Three phases. A world of change.

The forefront of organized, peaceful and legal resistance”.

Because of the dangers, the website insists that you can only join this covert organisation by going through a seemingly rigorous and stringent test – well, not really: you just to have to accept their terms and conditions (damn Ts&Cs apply even in the global resistance). Curiously, this includes not posting anything that contravenes any French laws (did they colonise the world while Blackberry was down, I wonder?) or using SMS-style language: “Please make an effort on grammar and spelling. SMS-style language (eg r u sk8ing?) is not advised…”

That security-check and rule-check over, I was in: a new recruit, ready to take on Wall Street today and, thanks to the South African chapter on Facebook, to take on the JSE on Saturday (even though it’ll be closed).

First, I decide to imbibe some global anti-globalisation inspiration from my fellow freedom fighters in the United States. The Plan’s website is literally bursting with inspiring anecdotes of class struggle, all of them penned by people carrying more than a whiff of Mortal Kombat: there’s Unyeildingresolve. Crazydiamond. Anonymousvictim. SonOfPlunder. Voiceofthevoiceless. And my personal favourite, Anarchitect. Wish I’d thought of that one.

Soon, though, I was feeling a little disillusioned. It’s clear the WITPers in other parts of the world either have a lot to do – or very, very little. I’ve seen tweets by Chris Rock with more content than most of the postings, and some of my new comrades were starting to get a little cheesed off just after a few days of camping out on Wall Street.

Take “R-C-B”: “Americans have a long history of protesting to the point where they are attacked, and then simply bending over and taking it up the ass,” he complains.

He, clearly, couldn’t walk the talk like an Egyptian. And it didn’t take long before a cadre named “Pabs” responded: “Are you always such an obnoxious prick or are you just an armchair warrior angry at the world because everyone hated you when you were a child?” he asked.

It’s a war out there, and I was starting to understand the nom-de-guerres. You wouldn’t want one of these guys arriving at your house with a camp-chair, a crash helmet and a cooler-box for “Occupy R-C-B’s Crib Day”.

And so, because I know The Truth Is Out There, I decided to localise my search for knowledge.

I found that, as is the case in the rest of the world, our Occupation leaders are anonymous or operate on the www.occupysouthafrica.org.za website under noms-de-guerres. They include our own Ubuntu brother leader, “Joe Hani” (I know where he gets his surname, but I’m not sure if his first name is in memory of Joe Slovo or Joe Soap) who has even customised his avatar into a Proudly South African version of the man from The Plan:

The Plan

Joe Hani (as seen on Facebook)

And, even though our struggles may be miles apart from the people in Wall Street, our local organisers have also neatly embraced their language.

Try this:

“Operation Ubuntu is a leaderless resistance movement with people of many colours, genders, sexual orientations, religious and spiritual beliefs and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. The People come as the People. Another thing we have in common is that we have woken up from our sleep. We have changed within – now we can co-create without – nobody is going to do it for us. No Deity is going take away our free will and create Paradise for us – we have to lovingly do it ourselves. No alien race is going to land and re-create it for us, it is up to us as ONE.”

Sadly, as is the case with many other resistance movements, the sheer brilliance of Occupy South Africa’s rhetoric has gone almost completely unnoticed by the capitalist running dog media. And I’m sure it has absolutely nothing to do with Operation Ubuntu’s lack of an alternative vision.

As a result of the media neglect, Facebook is the place we organise and meet – although the response so far has been a bit disconcerting: only 160 of South Africa’s 4.6 million Facebook followers have “liked” the page. While 181 have said they “may” be attending (I guess it depends on the rugby), 337 have said they’re definitely not coming. But there’s still three more days to mobilise, comrades…

The good news, though, is that plans are continuing across the nation: there was a planning meeting in Johannesburg just last night (11 October), at that bastion of South African revolutionaries – the parking area at Zoo Lake Bowls Club (they presumably couldn’t meet inside in case the venue was bugged by the Forces of Darkness).

I couldn’t quite make it due to iMaverick’s deadlines but I can confirm that the meeting happened – a chap named Andrew Bennie (or is that his nom-de-guerre?) posted this on the “Occupy South Africa” Facebook page around 8:30pm:

“Thanks for the meeting tonight. Details of the DLF Million Climate Jobs Campaign Meeting tomorrow evening are: 17:00, Wits Central Block (the building with the big pillars). Let's continue the planning for Saturday tomorrow night with township activists”

The bit in brackets about Wits Central Block being “the building with the big pillars” is his, by the way.

Now if the urge takes you and you want to be part of World Revolution Day, what’s the WITP-endorsed way of getting there?

I have an answer: Log onto the WITP website. Before you can even read the safety warning, you’ll be confronted by one of those floating notifications that there is a message for you. Click on it, as I did, and you’ll be offered a brand new Mini Cooper – a real one, not something from “Need for Speed” – by some capitalist insurance company that has clearly infiltrated the website for advertising purposes.

I kid you not: Occupy Wall Street has been occupied by Wall Street.

So on Saturday morning, once I’ve walked the dogs, had a double espresso at Vovotello, checked out the new suits at Paul Smith and hosed down my new Mini, I think I’ll idle over to Sandton and check out the occupation – chrisvick3, global anti-globalisation warrior.

But I think I’ll take my Playstation with me. Just in case… DM


  • See Rebecca Davis’ earlier piece on “Occupy South Africa” on  Daily Maverick.
  • Chris Vick
chris vick new.jpg

Chris Vick has been active in media and politics for the past 25 years.  He runs Black, a communications consultancy, and recently hosted the PowerHour on PowerFM98.7. His email address is chris@codeblack.co.za, and on Twitter he is @chrisvick3.


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