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Forum Post: Brother, Can You Spare A Paradigm?

Posted 8 years ago on June 13, 2012, 6:39 p.m. EST by ladylibertine27 (9)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

The Occupy movement has prided itself on being non-partisan and non-hierarchical in its quest to transition the world into a Post-Consumer Age from the current political, economic, and cultural paradigm that is American capitalism. There is a stubborn fear within Occupy of co-option, whether by the Democratic Party or MoveOn.org or the unions. This fear, while warranted to a certain degree, quite frankly obstructs progress. Vicious infighting occurs over things like citizen journalists getting paid for their work, activists working with the unions, and the appearance of Occupy endorsing political organizations—with which it should be building coalitions anyway.

The internal strife plays out along two divisions: the Anarchists, who generally believe that real change can only occur if the current system is destroyed and who refuse to partner with political groups; and the Reformists, who generally think that coalition-building is an absolute necessity. Further, there is division between activists and citizen journalists, whom the former often suspect of profiting off the Occupy brand through donations or sponsorships they receive, at least in Los Angeles anyway. I fall into the latter camps, and I certainly have not profited monetarily from this movement. Equipment and travel expenses to attend protests are costly—not to mention the personal gifts of time and energy. The vast majority of those receiving compensation for their work are not even breaking even.

The people, typically anarchists, who bitch about citizen journalists getting funding for their work, usually do so in the context that they themselves are economic martyrs for the cause; that Occupy is really anti-capitalist; and that the goal of the movement is to transition to an open-source direct democracy. Basically, “If you’re getting paid, I should be paid, too… What’s yours is mine… Media is common property.” Anyone who can obtain funding should. Occupy is powered by the hard work of both activists and citizen journalists, who devote their time, energy, and money to creating actions and the media to promote them, mostly for free. Both parties have bills to pay in the meantime before they can frolic around in some communal utopia—which, by the way, not everyone is advocating.

The movement was built on a foundation of anti-crony-capitalism, to see justice done in the financial sector to the actors who caused the economic meltdown, and to address growing wealth disparity and pervasive corporate influence in politics. The demonization of media and reform-minded activists must stop in the name of solidarity. I have witnessed the defection of many sorely needed media members because a few bad apples wanted to rant and rave on e-mail threads. Hell, I’ve defected to other Occupies myself because of it. No one wants to put up with abuse no matter how passionate they are about the cause.

We, as individuals and as a movement, must take advantage of every resource that will allow us to perpetuate the cause. Much ado was made in Occupy Los Angeles (OLA) about using an SEIU union hall for media meetings. Should OLA be taking advantage of that offer? Absolutely. We can only change the system through unity. Using resources provided by unions does not mean we endorse unions themselves. Occupiers must start to be able to identify strategic partners, and to differentiate between short- and long-term goals. Accepting help allows for dollars to be allocated elsewhere, with less money coming out of the pockets of already cash-strapped activists. This fight will not be won in months, but in years, and I dare say decades. Care must certainly be taken in order to avoid co-option, but the greater threat at this point is losing motivated participants, and thereby losing relevance.

Thus, Occupy must build coalitions with other organizations of the progressive left. This statement alone has provoked much ire from people who don't believe that Occupy is a progressive movement—“We are non-partisan! We’re not progressive! We are the 99%!” Okay, well, to those not in the movement, Occupy is progressive. Its major issues are social justice issues, i.e. progressivism. So deny the label, but it will still be applied by outsiders. I may want to be called ‘Caucasian-American,’ but people will call me ‘white’ regardless.

The militantly anti-partisan/anti-voting stance of many within the movement is corrosive to gaining the traction necessary to effect major change. If we don’t mobilize the movement into a voting bloc and offer a focused progressive vision, we don’t represent a real threat to politicians. To a politician, that translates to voting, not camping. Right now the Tea Party poses a bigger danger to President Obama than we do. Armed with registered voters and ultra-conservative values, the Tea Party has become a major force in electoral politics, and it has Congress by the balls as a result. Just witness the sharp right turn of Mitt Romney's campaign during the primary to prove his record as "a severe conservative," or the defeat of old-guard Republican Senator Dick Lugar by Tea Party candidate Richard Mourdock. Hence, politicians do not take us seriously, nor do the mainstream media and the average people we seek to persuade. The common refrain is, “What does Occupy want? What are your demands, objectives, etc.?” When you see Occupiers themselves unable to answer those simple questions on camera, who can blame them?

I’ve heard some say that Occupy doesn’t need to have the solutions, that it is enough that the movement is a show of resistance to the current power structure. But that line of thinking is dangerously naïve. The rigid idealogues calling for radical systemic change, bypassing the electoral process, risk any progress that can be made in the short term. For example, getting corporate money out of politics, ending corporate personhood, and instituting public campaign financing have widespread support, and they have to be done first for any other reform to be remotely successful. The movement must coalesce around these specific policy initiatives en masse. Introducing legislation and running candidates committed to those goals should be the top priority. Barack Obama campaigned for presidency seeking change. For progressives, we envisioned and expected him to usher in, not just change, but a new paradigm. Now we must force him to deliver it.




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[-] 2 points by TitusMoans (2451) from Boulder City, NV 8 years ago

The post starts to make sense, until "If we don’t mobilize the movement into a voting bloc and offer a focused progressive vision, we don’t represent a real threat to politicians." Then, suddenly, the bell rings; another reformer intent on changing the system from within the present two-party system.

I can only support the comment by jrhirsch. Let's support the workers, not the political parties, which both represent the same minority but with two different faces.

[-] 1 points by shadz66 (19985) 8 years ago

Talking of 'paradigms', I append :

e tenebris, lux ...

[-] 1 points by Misaki (893) 8 years ago

For example, getting corporate money out of politics, ending corporate personhood, and instituting public campaign financing have widespread support, and they have to be done first for any other reform to be remotely successful.

Wrong. We could adopt the accelerated work week and those things would happen naturally, or at least the first would. "Corporate personhood" has never been a rational concern.

[-] 1 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 8 years ago

Occupy should never form coalitions with other political parties. They are the street gangs that give birth to and encourage the growth of all the corruption that infects our Democracy. Why form coalitions with groups that wage violence on our basic freedoms, and violate our rights to receive a fair wage.

Political parties, just like street gangs, serve no beneficial purpose other than empowering themselves at the loss of power of all that come under their control.

Give one good reason why we can't live without the Bloods and Crips. There are none, just as there are no good reasons to continue supporting political parties. They only exist because you have been brainwashed into believing that they benefit us, when in fact they rob us of our freedom, security, and our wealth!

So who should occupy embrace? The people! The millions of honest , hard working people who are the backbone of our Democracy, who provide the great majority of it's wealth, but who receive the smallest share of it's benefit.

[-] 0 points by stevebol (1269) from Milwaukee, WI 8 years ago

No coalitions with ANYBODY.

[-] 3 points by ladylibertine27 (9) 8 years ago

How then do you unify the 99% which by definition includes outsiders?

[-] 2 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 8 years ago

By defining them as people, not by parties, or by any other group. All labels need to be stripped off. I would be happy to even drop the name Occupy to form a new and uncorrupted larger "wave" of people united with the simple purpose of pushing for effective campaign finance reform and related political and economic changes.

This "wave" would not be a party, we would not have our own candidates. We would support any candidates on the basis of how honestly they ran for office first. If they take large donations from the few that unfairly drown out the voices of the many, they show they are already corrupt, and so will not receive our support.

[-] 2 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 8 years ago

Just the people!

[-] 3 points by ladylibertine27 (9) 8 years ago

Ok, so Republicans and Democrats are people. What's your plan for unifying the 99%?

[-] 0 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 8 years ago

There is no plan until the people decide they would like to start governing themselves again.

Without that, its hopeless.

[-] 1 points by stevebol (1269) from Milwaukee, WI 8 years ago


[-] 0 points by stevebol (1269) from Milwaukee, WI 8 years ago

Why would occupy need existing unions and what do they want with occupy? What would anarchists, democrats or any other group want with them? People have the right to protest and everyone is free to join them without forming coalitions. If I was with occupy, which I'm not, I would be very suspicious of anyone representing a group of any kind.

[-] -2 points by foreeverLeft (-264) 8 years ago

So, take the cash, partner up with whatever fringe group will have us and vote Democrat, is that about it?

[-] 3 points by ladylibertine27 (9) 8 years ago

No, that's not what I'm saying. We have to pressure BOTH parties, by introducing legislation and running our own candidates. We are a progressive movement, not a Democratic-Party one. We can accomplish some things outside the Democratic party, but by definition, unifying the 99% will necessitate partnering with it.

How do you envision the 99%?