Community & Editorial
Occupy Seattle lacks the diversity and leadership needed to make a change
It’s not the most popular opinion of late, but it needs to be said: the Occupy movement in its current form isn’t going to work.
If the goal of Occupy Seattle is really to focus elected officials on the plight of and demands for change/accountability by the people, the camp-out at the park is a failed strategy. The cost of police overtime and city hall resources put into this matter is absorbed by the tax payers
It’s probably not leaderlessness that’s the problem so much as voicelessness—there isn’t yet a sustained, nuanced, and comprehensible set of statements that evoke in words the imagination of those who don’t yet hear the music, and that expressively enhance the self-organization of direct and indirect action among those who do, or who claim to. Effective public articulation, and intelligent media communication, resonate throughout the body politic. The chant, the song, poem, debate, discourse and legislation are connected motifs of cultural, and now of ecocultural, evolution.
Blake sang it in his time:
Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!
I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land
The Port Huron Statement did also in its turn:
“Men [sic] have unrealized potential for self-cultivation, self-direction, self-understanding, and creativity. It is this potential that we regard as crucial and to which we appeal, not to the human potentiality for violence, unreason, and submission to authority. The goal of man and society should be human independence: a concern not with image of popularity but with finding a meaning in life that is personally authentic: a quality of mind not compulsively driven by a sense of powerlessness, nor one which unthinkingly adopts status values, nor one which represses all threats to its habits, but one which has full, spontaneous access to present and past experiences, one which easily unites the fragmented parts of personal history, one which openly faces problems which are troubling and unresolved: one with an intuitive awareness of possibilities, an active sense of curiosity, an ability and willingness to learn. “
And Elizabeth Warren today. . .
“You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea
I do believe there is a consensus on the need for a POC caucus. The debate comes int on the question of whether say Obama or Herman Cain should “jump the stack” in a General Assembly because of their POC status.
People of all hues are thoroughly fed-up with identity politics. We elected a president that had an African father. Is your life better now?
I am all for linking up with Occupy Olympia for any action in response to the “special” legislative session the Governor has called for November 28. Let’s go Greek on them!
General Assembly means everyone. I want the POC caucus to bring their issues to the fore. My problem becomes when caucuses (of whichever makeup, whether political, racial, gender-focused, etc.) can stop the entire working democratic process.
A walkout is a power play, regardless of whether it’s acknowledged or not.
A third of the General Assembly walked out in solidarity with the POC to discuss their concerns with the police standing less than thirty feet away. While I disagree with the reasoning of the process point raised (“the police have brutalized us disproportionately and we need to move now”), I don’t disagree with their concern.
I feel that unless it’s a life or death issue (the police are moving in with batons), GA shouldn’t just be jumped with demands of special treatment. You’re not a magical snowflake who suddenly gets to hijack the subject under discussion. Nobody. Not the [insert your faction here].
If we’re going to be a direct democracy, act like it.
Don’t sabotage discussion because you feel weird.
I’m not fond of the SPD, but it’s a Public Assembly. Acting like the police aren’t already there in plainclothes is just absurd. If people are willing to get up in front of hundreds and talk, it ought to be public, recorded and openly transparent.
If we’re going to be moving everytime police in uniform show up, we’re going to be doing an awful lot of walking. :D
Finally, somebody said it! TY Sable Verity.
Many critics are people who do nothing but criticize people who do things. I have been saying for decades that the only way to fix things is for a mass movement to take to the streets. We now have one. Since we are directly challenging the real actual power that is behind the military/industrial/political complex, we of the Occupy Together Movement fully expected to be viciously attacked with ad hominem and factually challenged assertions of various forms of perfidy from the mainstream media. I, in fact, consider it a gauge of our effectiveness. I was taken aback and outraged to receive such an attack from an ostensible
I must agree with Dana. I don’t understand the hostility towards the Occupy movement in this editorial.
The first point about costing tax-payers money is simply ridiculous. That’s like saying we shouldn’t provide support to rape victims because is costs the tax-payer money.
The point about the movement being leaderless has some merit, but the cacophony of different demands/interest groups points out the bigger picture that Americans are not being represented in our political system. It may be true that this is a flaw or concern, but clearly not enough of one to prevent this from being one of the biggest movements in recent memory. Perhaps leaders need to emerge or there needs to be better organization to take it to the next level - I don’t know. However, rather than just throw pot-shots, offer help and suggestions.
The lack of participation by non-whites is a concern. Why do you think that is? As you point out, minorities are actually more impacted by these tough times (and by our corporate political state).
But, all you can offer is “To be sustainable, Occupy Seattle must take direct action on the specific issues impacting the city
Occupy comrades should probably avoid becoming defensive when criticized by folks who clearly share their vision and support the struggle.
I agree the Ms. Verity’s opening comments about the cost to taxpayers; every strike or protest action invariably inconveniences and imposes costs upon ‘ordinary folks’...if this were a deal-breaker the civil rights movement would have ended with the Woolworth sit-ins.
However, the touchiness on the subject of the ‘leaderless movement’ silliness is misplaced. You cannot accuse someone else of ‘ignorance’ for taking your rhetoric seriously. The nonsense about lack of identified leaders making it difficult for police to disrupt the movement by targeting leaders is laughable. I wonder why Nelson Mandella, MLK, and Gandhi didn’t think of this—it would have saved their movements from the catastrophic failure they all experienced because they allowed themselves to be targeted—leaders of dissident movements are SUPPOSED to be targeted, that’s how it works. And if, as Dana Walker claims, the assertion of leaderlessness is a rhetorical formulation rather than a fact then it would seem to be either credibility-undermining hypocrisy or an off-putting post-modern smarty-pants cleverosity that would help to explain Ms. Verity’s other important observation: the rather mono-cultural nature of the movement and its (not-really-but-maybe-really) leadership.
Occupy’s defensiveness about its rather glaring lack of diversity (class as well as racial) is unbecoming a would-be democratic movement. While Dana Walker is clearly way off-base (and revealingly tasteless) with the comment “Are they waiting for an engraved invitation?”, Ms. Verity is definitely onto something when she calls for direct action.
The whole point of a mass mobilization or a direct action campaign is to push the regime to react; to invite the implicit authoritarianism underlying bourgeois and capitalist institutions. That is how and why Dr. King got himself arrested repeatedly. That is how and why John Lewis (who was—not coincidentally—denied and opportunity to speak to the GA at Occupy Atlanta) got his head busted repeatedly. To call witness both to the injustice and to the impulse to violence and fascism inherent in the system.
Perhaps the reason POC (a ridiculous formulation) have not joined the movement. Perhaps it looks a lot like privileged folks taking some time to become ‘involved’ but taking too few risks and unaware of how their ample opportunities to return to a life of completing degrees, polishing up r
Many critics are people who do nothing but criticize people who do things. I have been saying for decades that the only way to fix things is for a mass movement to take to the streets. We now have one. Since we are directly challenging the real actual power that is behind the military/industrial/political complex, we of the Occupy Together Movement fully expected to be viciously attacked with ad hominem and factually challenged assertions from the mainstream media. I, in fact, consider it a gauge of our effectiveness. I was taken aback and outraged to receive such an attack from an ostensible
The fact is that Ms. Verity’s column was ad hominem and factually inaccurate. Ms. Verity implied that we were doing nothing but sitting around in tents. We are not only planning direct action but MASSIVE direct action when the Special Session begins on November 28th. Amongst numerous plans by numerous organizations are a full-scale occupation of the capitol bulding and a ‘Torch and Pitchfork’ parade.
I still don’t know why racial minorities are underrepresented. I suspect that they very justifiably distrust white liberals. They evidently don’t yet understand that on the whole the Occupy Movement loathes liberals just slightly less than we loathe Republicans. Upon learning that Move On had endorsed our movement, several of us sent them a letter saying that we DON’T endorse Move On and to make absolutely clear that Move On absolutely does not speak for us. Our central point is that the 1% has two parties representing their interests while the 99% has none. This is not a ‘reform’ movement, this is a revolution. When Move On denounces Barack Obama’s war mongering/police state/Wall Street coddling ways then we might reconsider their postion.
As for our ‘class’ demography, the headline in this morning’s Olympian was that Occupy Olympia was becoming a homeless enclave, which they seemed to feel was a detriment but that we feel is an asset. Again, I am not familiar with Occupy Seattle, but here in Olympia we are represented by a wide diversity of ages and incomes. Our lack of racial diversity is almost certainly partly due to the fact that virtually no racial minorities live here. This lack of racial diversity is one of the only complaints I have about Olympia.
Your point about the ‘leader’s’ job is to be arrested is well taken, and the hypocrisy implicit in referring to this as a ‘leaderless movement’ was my point. (Yes, we do welcome constructive criticism.) I have never supported this particular policy for that very reason. I do support the horizontal power structure, though, for the reasons previously stated. My criticism of Ms. Verity was that she completely missed this point and took off upon a largely irrelevant and highly arguable tangent.
And FYI: There are indeed plans to shut down a local Bank of America with mass arrests.
As for the effectiveness of guerilla theatre and brass bands, they are not there to scare the Machine, they are there to make activism fun and to encourage participation. To quote Emma Goldman, “If I can’t dance at your revolution then I don’t want to come.”
Thanks for the feedback. Unlike Ms. Verity’s, yours is actually useful.
Dana Walker, re: Guerrilla theater, brass bands, and Emma Golman…OK, I get you. Point taken. Thank you for a response that was far more civil in tone than my comments to you deserved. We should all take heart that Occupy Olympia has plans for a revolution that is both danceable and forceful. I will keep my eyes more open to what’s going on there in Olympia while I celebrate the incredible work of our Oakland brothers and sisters unfolding today. Many wishes for major turnout at the capitol and torch and pitchfork action!
Dear Real Change Readers,
I lived in the Glenn Hotel when the WTO protests happened. It happened at my front door. I was a part of promoting it and involved in it. I hope Real Change will be the first to start reporting this story. If you check the web and the organization it is already happening. (Selling papers is important, and I feel this would help!)
There is something going on, and I am going to be a part of it. I have helped organize and promote protests in Bellevue, Olympia, and Seattle Washington; another big one is coming. I feel it will be a
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