Forum Post: Fellow Occupy supporters - IF WE CAN ANSWER THIS QUESTION, then the power & influence of Occupy will increase exponentially
Posted 5 months ago on Nov. 24, 2012, 10:33 a.m. EST by therising
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
One of the most common critiques of Occupy by supporters and critics alike is the suggestion that the movement should shift or sharpen its focus. Somewhere within each of these well meaning critiques there is always the phrase "Occupy ought to. . ."
I'm sure I've written the words myself many a time. But now I'm convinced that such a perspective ignores one cruicial fact: Occupy is a leaderless movement. I'm not speaking in lofty terms here. This is just practical knowledge that we all will eventually have to understand and remember.
To see why this matters, it's useful to recognize a second practical truth about Occupy: It is also a "leaderful" movement as someone once put it. In that sense, we are all leaders. So if we want to shift or concentrate the focus, we literally have to do it ourselves. We have to make the case, bring others on board within the movement and bring new people in from the outside to help push. I suppose that support would come from initiating small or large public actions. These serve the dual purpose of advocating for a specific change and attracting potential supporters. Such actions could include writings, demonstrations, nonviolent protests, walk outs, sit ins, mic checks, picketing, occupations, public actions, street theater, strikes, blockades, boycotts, etc etc etc etc. Such efforts don't just offer resistance. They also have the added benefit of serving as a sort of "bat signal" for other like minded people to join in.
Bottom line, I think the movement's success or failure will depend largely upon supporters' ability to capture the imagination of the general public with a message that resonates with them on a deep level and energizes them to not just support the movement in polls but also come out into the street and talk to their neighbors and participate in actions of all kinds. THAT'S what I'm interested in. I want people to feel the energy in their bones and be drawn to something they've known all along deep down.
This is a decade long battle (maybe longer) to remove the gauze of propaganda and consumerism from our eyes and then take part in countless forms of nonviolent protest and direct action to unseat the corporate forces that have hijacked our republic.
The founders, despite their flaws built a damn good system and there's no way we're going to allow corporatists to squander the future of our children and grandchildren, our environment and our great nation. No fucking way. The genie is out of the bottle and there is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come.
So don't fall into the trap of arguing about what Occupy should do. **** The question is, what should you do? Which cause or action should you support or begin? In the end, that is the truly revolutionary question to ask. If we develop the habit of asking that question, then the power and influence of the Occupy movement will increase exponentially.
I think there will always be different focus by different groups of people within the Occupy movement and that that is very healthy. I'd personally like to see the focus on these 8 goals http://www.occupywallst.org/forum/you-may-have-seen-this-list-of-8-practical-goals-b/ because they might help stop the bleeding long enough to give us the time and space to focus on even more fundamental and important issues.
But others might feel that environmental issues like global warming, XL pipeline or fracking are even more important in terms of urgency and should be at the head of the line. Others within the movement might say labor issues are most vital at this time. The list goes on and on and I continue to hear people frustrated that the Occupy movement doesn't somehow magically focus on only one thing.
I think the solution to the "focus" issue (one that I've wrestled with as well) is to concentrate on growing the numbers of Occupy supporters rather than attempting to change the focus of existing supporters. If you think about it, you know that there are dozens, hundreds or thousands of people who identify with OWS who share your interest in any number of issues. The thing many lament, I think, is that each of us would like to have 10 times the amount, 100 times the amount of pushing on our particular items of interest.
I don't think we'll achieve that by trying to sway more people in the existing group to refocus. Instead, we just need to help bring more people to our particular part of the overall Occupy reservation from OUTSIDE the existing group of OWS supporters. In some sense, there IS no "they" in "they ought to focus Occupy on x or y". We are they. Not only is there not one captain at the helm of the Occupy ship, there also isn't just one ship. It's a FLEET of ships with serious power. It's an armada.
In the end, Occupy is an IDEA. And it's not just ANY idea, it's a revelation with revolutionary implications. And the idea has something to do with this: We are the 99%. We've felt powerless for too long. We've been divided (intentionally by outside forces and by our own weaknesses) for far too long. Once we realize that we are the 99%, the 1% of the population where power and wealth have been recently concentrated can no longer rule over us. Once we realize we are the 99%, we can begin to make decisions from a position of unified power rather than making demands from a position of divided weakness.
After a lot of thought on this, I have arrived at the conclusion that we shouldn't lament that there is a wide variety of issues that people within the larger Occupy movement are passionate about. Indeed, the great idea of Occupy as described above has the power to energize all the important efforts that we as a group hold dear. We are stronger and more agile as a fleet of big and small ships than we would be if we were one giant tanker.
There is no they. There is only we. If you think there's something the Occupy movement ought to be doing, check to see who's working on it already and join in. If no one is on it yet, start the effort yourself and invite others to join in. Whatever you are dreaming of "begin it now" as Goethe said. "Boldness has genius and power."
A NOTE ABOUT THE POLITICAL FRONT:
I honestly think the work needs to be done on both fronts (inside via political activity and outside via direct action/boycotts/sit ins, strikes, writings, etc. etc. etc.). I suppose one could debate whether significant portion of Occupy supporters / participants are willing or capable of fighting on the political front.....but I think most of those who resist political involvement themselves would still be more than pleased if groups of people pushed like hell from the inside politically while Occupy is pushing like hell from the outside.
I applaud the effort of those who are pushing like hell from the inside because they are "holding our democratic system to its word." If those who push politically achieve real results, great! If they don't, their effort is not in vain. It would then provide even more evidence that our system is broken and no one who represents the interests of the current power structure will be able to say "Oh, if you'd worked within the system, your needs would have been addressed." I think the political front is very important and that such action does not imply one is limiting one's self to working only in that realm.
If you are one of those working on the political front, I hope your are able to attract people who identify with Occupy and others as well to your plan of action and that you and you and your "subgroup" are able to push effectively. Know that others will be pushing hard from the outside as well.
Each type of pressure benefits the other's cause in the same way that those civil rights activists who supported Martin King, Jr.'s vision gained negotiating leverage from the existence of groups like those led by Malcolm X. I think some of the failures of the civil rights movement also helped Malcolm X and others like him make a case for working outside the system. I'm not in any way advocating violence of any kind. I am adamant about our movement remaining nonviolent in every way. Clearly working outside the political system does not require violence. It only requires the will to engage in nonviolent direct action.
Those who think that Occupy should recognize the potential power of the political realm to effect real change would probably argue that the political effort is one of the ships in the Occupy armada. That doesn't require those who eschew politics to be involved. And it certainly shouldn't push them away from Occupy. I think there's room for both points of view within Occupy and that they are complimentary rather than antagonistic.