Dispatches has received a communique from an anonymous collective called OBU, announcing a sixteen-part Manifesto. The group has stated that it intends to send Dispatches one section every week over the next four months. The Manifesto apparently meditates on the current conjuncture and calls for the formation of a diffused cultural resistance of a brand new kind. The Manifesto as a whole is entitled OBU Manifestos 1-14 (Plus Two OBU Interludes). Past sections of the manifesto can be found under our Dispatches section tab, where they will be archived as they arrive. 

OBU Manifesto #7 

OBU is also the knowledge that this incredulous pain will mitigate; it’s already doing so.   

One tries to sustain it through serial outrage at every cabinet appointment. Oh my god look who’s he’s putting in charge of… whatever it is. But what did we expect? This is what it is. Use your imagination. This has happened. Let him select every venal, self-righteous, mean-spirited, unscrupulous American willing to serve and direct him.    

OBU is not going anywhere.   

At the first meeting of “What Now?” there were 200 people. At the second meeting there were 50. Whoever comes to the third meeting is OBU, the people ready to make real plans and carry them through for as long as it takes.    

But the other people, who came to one meeting because of how they felt, that they must, at that moment, do something, make some gesture, be out of the house away from the TV and computer, must be with other people who feel the same– these people are OBU too. They’ll be back. Once you take one action, however small, you’ll take others more consequential.   

OBU knows that these are times of consequence.   

OBU strongly suspects that these times will call for quantities of courage, that each person will have to search for and summon this courage. Some will feel they were born for this, that their lives have always pointed toward these moments when boundless deep courage must be met and made into a vehicle and a structure. Others will be terrified that they won’t be able to summon the courage, or able to keep it close and act on it if they find it. The acts of opposition and disobedience that may be called for will not be just political theater, not just symbolic. Oh, we’ll take an arrest, we’ll sit down on the street and polite police officers will guide us to tables where they’ll book us and release us. People may be jailed for real, injured for real. OBU, for the most part, is not thrilled about this possibility, though some other parts of OBU are ready right now for this aspect of struggle.   

OBU is committed to non-violence. OBU will not physically attack anyone.   

But OBU is committed to the principle of the public, the public space, the commons. OBU will not permit what is public to be sold off and made into commodities. OBU will assemble. OBU will establish sites of education, culture, health care, leisure as public sites. Water is a public good; power is a public good; internet is a public good; transportation is a public good.  

OBU does not contend that all property is theft. But OBU does contend that all privatization of public goods is theft. 


OBU is …  

OBU’s task is to imagine forms of solidarity that, in the present, have no power to exist.   

OBU has reason to believe that the “news cycle” is an illusion whose purpose is to disempower.   

One must know… What must one know? The claims and counter-claims, the attacks and defenses and counter-attacks. Representative R. wove his way to the fifteen yard line where he was shoved out of bounds by Chairwoman C with a minute-twenty left on the clock. Coach Q testified for seventeen hours regarding the scandal of the breakdown in his secondary. And the Mayors of Urbo and Blurbo exchanged comic insults regarding each other’s masculinity/feminity, level of infection by tic-borne viruses, and sheer hunger for the devastating emptiness of American political life.   

Almost all of what passes for “news,” OBU asserts, is unnecessary and detrimental to understanding national or international political, economic, social, cultural, anthropological or scientific realities.   

OBU does not exist.   

Let’s jump forward and look back. In which direction will we see OBU?   

And yet, in this world, there are blessings still abundant. This chaos may be for blessing, since no one can control it. This cracked and porous world remains open.   

But we have to be smart. We have to be open. We have to have courage and must overcome our fatigue. The only light we can throw ahead of us is our vision. Vision precedes light.   

OBU is …