It was Glass war, not class war, at Lincoln Center Thursday night, and Glass won, composer Philip Glass. It should come as no surprise that the maestro of mesmeric repetition has a knack for the “human mic.”
Occupy Museums, a group of roughly two hundred OWS-inspired protesters showed up outside the last performance of Glass’s Satyagraha Thursday. Satyagraha the opera tells the story of M.K. Gandhi’s early struggle against colonialism and segregation in South Africa. “Satyagraha” the word means “truth force.” Said the protesters to the opera-goers: “Mic Check. Mic Check: Let’s tell the truth… let’s tell the truth. Join US!”
It’s a pretty elite OWS spin-off for sure, but there was a precise policy target. In their call to action, organizers pointed up the irony of Satyagraha being performed at Lincoln Center, where in recent weeks people have been arrested and forcibly removed when they attempted to protest colonization of the arts by .001 percenter David Koch. (One of the theaters now bears his name.)
Koch’s money is not “generous philanthropy” they said, it’s a means of control. I’ve called it “philanthro-feudalism.” Out of one side of his wallet, the billionaire Koch fuels anti-tax thuggery (the worst of the Tea Party)—and then he and his brother drop cash on the influential elite to keep them at the trough. Typically, it works because with tax revenues slashed, the arts, like hospitals and schools, are desperate.
Occupy Museums also has a righteous beef with Lincoln Center’s leading corporate sponsor—Bloomberg LLC: “The juxtaposition is stark: while Bloomberg funds the representation of Gandhi’s pioneering tactics of nonviolent civil disobedience in the Metropolitan Opera House, he simultaneously orders a paramilitary-style raid of the peaceful public occupation of Liberty Park, blacking out the media, while protesters are beaten, tear-gassed, and violently arrested," they wrote.
The targets were clear, but as usual with Occupy thus far, the process, not the politics, packed the punch.
Long before Satyagraha let out, police erected a line of metal barricades, cutting “Occupy Museums” off from the opera-goers, and cordoning them off the swanky plaza, down on the “people’s” street. When they emerged at last, opera-goers stood awkwardly at a distance (some belligerent, most befuddled), warned by police not to approach.