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Forum Post: OK, OWS is great -- but now what?

Posted 6 years ago on Jan. 20, 2012, 10:40 a.m. EST by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

I am 56 years old and, by nature, a peaceful man, almost a pacifist. However, any realist is aware that there are times, when conditions get bad enough and demands continue to fall on deaf ears, that violent overthrow of established regimes is necessary. Sometimes revolutions are successful and sometimes they fail. But a few FACTS are always present in any successful revolution (whether peaceful or violent):

  1. A large majority is either socially, politically, or economically disadvantaged resulting in widespread discontent. 

  2. A grassroots groundswell takes root in an attempt to organize this large body from chaotic mob into effective resistance force.  This is usually accomplished via some type of underground press. In today's world, the Internet has become the primary vehicle for this stage of the revolt. 

  3.  From 2 above, organized protests take place. This is the current stage of the OWS movement. Response from established power-elite may range from no response at all to violent suppression of protesters, resulting in physical violence, arrests, imprisonment, etc. 

  4. At some point, a GREAT leader will emerge. In all of recorded history (to my knowledge) no successful revolt occurred without a great leader or leaders.  Examples include:

A) American - Founding Fathers (Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, etc.) B) France - Robespierre and others C) Bolshevik - Lenin, Trotsky D) China - Mao Tse-Tung E) India - Mohandas Gandhi F) US Civil Rights - Dr. Martin Luther King

The leader galvanizes the followers into EFFECTIVE action, provides a single focal point for media messages, develops a platform or plan to implement once the established regime is overthrown (so that there is not a political/social vacuum created --a situation potentially worse than pre-revolt), establishes a "cabinet" of close followers to handle the details of revolt including (but not limited to) Communication Officer, Chief Negotiation or Diplomatic Officer, Armament Officer, Finance Minister, Supply Officer, etc... The KEY point here is that any revolt MUST be well thought out and intentionally planned in great detail if it stands any hope of success. 

Unfortunately, in any war there are casualties. Sometimes they become martyrs.  This is an ugly but unavoidable fact. The revolutionaries must be willing to suffer this possibility for their convictions. There is no alternative. Even "peaceful" revolutions have their tragedies (Ghandi and King for example). 

We in the US have one great advantage that other countries lack -- the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution. It was not put there so that everyone had the right to hunt rabbits or deer.  Again I want to emphasize that I AM NOT A VIOLENT PERSON NOR DO I ADVOCATE VIOLENCE to achieve goals. However, history clearly indicates that the Aristocracy in any country will do just about anything to preserve the status quo, and will ALWAYS attempt to gain more power and control over the masses (who they fear and distrust). If the OWS movement is really serious, and not just a collection of rabble engaging in "flatulence into the wind", then it is time to either "Put Up or Shut Up". Anything else is a gigantic waste of everyone's time. 

I have often pondered just what type of response would occur if 1 million citizens armed with their shotguns, rifles, and pistols marched on Washington D.C. demanding change. Of course, the U.S. military could easily defeat them in armed conflict, but what kind of message would that send around the world?

Suggestion -- invest in Kevlar and football/motorcycle helmets.



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[-] 4 points by JPB950 (2254) 6 years ago

In the age of the internet, points two and three can be run from someone's basement and don't necessarily mean there is support at all for any kind of change violent or otherwise. On points one and four, I would agree they are necessary. OWS has eschewed point four, a leader may rise up anyhow, but his acceptance by OWS as such is unlikely.

Your main problem is point one. Most people still believe they have social mobility. The ranks of the unemployed are big but not as big as during the great depression. Times are tough, but the general feeling is more that it's just another cycle. Not enough people truly believe they are "socially, politically, or economically disadvantaged". The discontent you need is superficial.

You would have a much better chance harnessing what discontent there is for positive political action through the system then thinking you could overthrow it with the limited support you actually have.

[-] 2 points by francismjenkins (3713) 6 years ago

Good remark, although I don't think the core working groups of this protest movement really expects to overthrow the system. Most I've spoken to (who have a good intellectual grasp of anarchist thought) acknowledge that these ideals represent "long term" goals, something to strive for (and overthrow isn't necessarily a good way to describe these long term goals anyway). I don't think they need to copy the tea party model, although I admit I'm not sure if I'm right about this .... but I think by avoiding the temptation to organize along the lines of the tea party, the movement will be more sustainable over time. Moreover, by keeping the focus on issues like financial and political reform, existing liberal organizations will be able to piggy back off the momentum, and use it to push for reform (albeit OWS is not really a reform movement, or at least I don't think that was the original intention).

[-] 2 points by JPB950 (2254) 6 years ago

Long term is putting it mildly, there is a blind rejection by the American public in general when any variation the term of anarchist or socialist comes up in the discussion. A change in government toward the anarcho-syndicalism, socialist, libertarian, whatever, I see as impossible. The young are easiest to win over during their academic life, but most become successful under the current system and will cling to it and defend it once that's happened. You're back to needing a major depression.

By failing to make any attempt to run candidates and change things through the system I believe Occupy has chosen a path to eventual irrelevance. Other groups will use them for their own causes as a source for marchers for a time. The issues will still be there but if you main goal is only awareness, you become worthless once that's achieved.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 6 years ago

Have you read any literature generated by anarchist thinkers? This isn't like arguing against the merits of stories in a holy book (which I think can be legitimately dismissed as mythology, without deep examination), this is a social theory (and one that has had some success in the past, albeit short lived--as it was eventually crushed by force).

What are we really talking about? Greater participation in our democracy ... are you really saying this is a bad thing? More collaboration in the workplace, is this what you have a problem with? These are ideas that can only come from the ground up, not the top down, and therefore it does require convincing people over time. It may be true that some of these ideas are impractical in our modern world, and I do acknowledge the differences in circumstances today--compared to say the late 19th or early 20th centuries. Nonetheless, the general theme encompassed by this line of thinking has merit.

If we were in fact talking about something like Leninism, then yes, it could only come as a result of very bad circumstances, but to be clear, this is absolutely NOT what we're talking about.

I'm not opposed to political reform, and I don't think the long term goals of anarchist thinkers and the idea of more conventional political reforms, are necessarily mutually exclusive ideas.



[-] 2 points by jan5245m (3) 6 years ago

Wake up america stop buying and getting services not in or from our country. if we stuck together than maybe they would bring our jobs back. At one time walmart only sold made in american products, go there today and you would be lucky to fine anything. try calling the cable co, phone co, any services and you cant even talk to am american.. wake up before we become a third world country.

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 6 years ago

It has been interesting to read the replies to my original post. Most believe that there is insufficient support among the US population to move beyond the current OWS protest stage. I can accept that, since I believe that most Americans are largely pacifists, despite the minority of violent individuals who get the lion's share of media attention (leading to the general impression that we have devolved into a nation of barbarians -- perhaps true, but probably not). 

I wish to respond, however, to the reaction of the one individual who I frightened into defecation.  This person has alleged that my original post was a call to violence. This is untrue. A careful reading will reveal that it is, if anything, a call to OWS to have clearly defined goals/objectives, determine the likelihood of success or failure in attaining them and, if determined that OWS is ultimately an exercise in futility, to abandon it and move on to more productive pursuits.

Regarding the use of violence, however, to bring about significant change, I would ask the defecator to ponder this point -- How often in human history have peace-loving people been forced into violent situations against their will, yet realizing that the violence was not only unavoidable but, indeed, necessary for the greater good? How many Americans have volunteered for the armed forces in time of armed conflict realizing that they would rather stay home and avoid getting their heads blown off, but also realizing that when freedom is threatened, they have a moral duty to respond and defend it?  There is an old adage -- "Freedom is not free!". I realize there are a lot of people in this country who would always like to take the easy way out, and that can be expressed under the guise of complete pacifism. Remember, I have said that I am almost a pacifist myself and would always prefer resolving conflict through peaceful means.  But there are times when people of good conscious can no longer tolerate oppression, and they realize that their oppressors will not relinquish to their demands, let alone negotiate an acceptable compromise. 

Here is the real problem. As I understand it (please correct me if I am wrong), OWS arose in protest to the plight of the underprivileged "wage slave" class that, in their view, represent the 99% of Americans who have watched the middle class erode during the past 30 years and now seems destined for near or actual extinction. The "greedy Capitalists" that comprise the 1% control a disproportionate share of the wealth and, thus, the power to control/influence/manipulate not only the underclass but the Legislative and Administrative branches of government.  If this is true, then the conclusion is inescapable -- an autocracy already exists behind the scenes. The "legitimate" government is a sham going through the motions of a Republic to fool the population into believing they have some degree of freedom. This keeps the 99% somewhat docile and reluctant to actual revolt. Just give them a job (no matter how terrible/dead-end), some distractions to keep them from thinking too much (TV, recreational drugs, etc.), some duties to keep them occupied (kids, causes, etc.) and you guarantee a controllable herd of sheep.  Meanwhile,  the power-elite (that Thomas Jefferson called the Aristocracy) continues to expand their influence/power year after year, decade after decade. They have the power, through control/influence (and sometimes outright ownership) of the media to brainwash the sheep into believing that wrong is right, unfairness is fair, and evil is good (pardon me if I exaggerate here only for emphasis of my point). 

If the above is true (and I personally believe it either is or is a close approximation to the reality), then a people supposedly committed to personal freedoms should not only be appalled, but indignant and, yes, outraged. They should not only consider revolution to throw off their oppressors, but should organize towards it and take back that which their forefathers fought for and paid the ultimate price to ensure -- their very lives.

[-] 1 points by RoughKarma (122) 6 years ago

Yeah, see, you did that "however" thing again regarding violence. At your suggestion, I re-read your OP. Here's what I found:

"a peaceful man, almost a pacifist. However,..." This is your first cowardly dodge of responsibility for the words that follow.

"any realist is aware that there are times, when conditions get bad enough and demands continue to fall on deaf ears, that violent overthrow of established regimes is necessary. "
This is an attempt to cast the inevitability of violence as a "realistic" assessment of the situation.

"Unfortunately, in any war there are casualties. Sometimes they become martyrs."
The use of the loaded words "war" and "martyr" are to cast this movement as a martial act and justify dying in service to it as a noble aspiration.

"The revolutionaries must be willing to suffer this possibility for their convictions. There is no alternative." You are saying there is no alternative to this "martyrdom" and trying to say that Good Revolutionaries are prepared for violence. And how, I wonder, how should we prepare?

"We in the US have one great advantage that other countries lack -- the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution. It was not put there so that everyone had the right to hunt rabbits or deer. " Ah... yes! You give us the solution to our dilemma. But even in this you are a coward. You instructively tell us what the Constitution doesn't mean, but can't bear to utter the words of what you think it does mean. If you include the missing text "... wink wink know what I mean, Vern" you can get a sense of the thing.

After this another cowardly denial of what you're doing followed by fear mongering. And then the finale. You, the Great Coward, place the challenge to manhood before us:

"If the OWS movement is really serious, and not just a collection of rabble engaging in "flatulence into the wind", then it is time to either "Put Up or Shut Up"." There is infinitely more courage and conviction in non-violent protest.

To be fair, I truly don't think you're a man of violence. I am sure that if all goes terribly wrong, you would not be there. You would be sitting on a couch somewhere, watching the television, drinking a beer,... and smiling.

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 6 years ago

Might I enquire, sir or madam, as to your age? I have already revealed mine in my OP, and only ask so that I have some context of demographic before I respond to your latest opinion.  I assume you to be a man/woman of honor and would tell the truth about it, since to do otherwise would be a lie and, therefore an act of cowardice, which you apparently have a great passion about.  

Obviously, to be accused of cowardice not once, but multiple times, requires some type of response on my part, but one of the great failings of Internet blogging like this is it's faceless quality -- one can only form judgements about another solely on the printed word -- a somewhat poor means of communication as it allows for no interpretation of subtleties that are communicated in live, verbal exchanges. 

I anxiously await your response to my request. Thank you.

[-] 1 points by RoughKarma (122) 6 years ago

I am a 55 year old white male from the midwest. Not exactly a small-town upbringing, but we knew our neighbors. Catholic upbringing and education, but not really Catholic now, just what I'm familiar with. Six years active duty 1977-1983. Married, two kids, about to be divorced. Currently laid off, but looking. My objection to your post is that I feel you are inciting people to violence, describing it as an inevitability when it is not, and then not taking responsibility for it. I feel you made the disclaimers because you, yourself, knew it would be seen as incitement without them. It also looked like you were trying to avoid a visit from the authorities. I, too, have been waiting for response, so have at it.

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 6 years ago

Well, I must admit to some surprise, as I was expecting someone younger.  However, I feel this is good as we are almost the same age and probably have some commonalities, having gone through the same amount of time on the planet (although probably having had vastly dissimilar experiences to shape our outlook).  I too am married with 3 grown stepkids and 5 grandkids. I too was laid off in March 2009 after almost 30 years straight employment and have not been able to find work.  I did not serve in the military but signed up for the draft in 1973, however, with Vietnam winding down at that point, was not called up. I have nothing but the highest respect for our military, but sometimes have questioned the use of it by various Administrations over the years.  This, of course, has nothing to do with the military personnel themselves who, being willing to put their lives on the line for our country, deserve the greatest respect and honor one can give.

If my OP has been viewed as inciting people to violence, then perhaps I am guilty of not providing enough clarity in it. I will take another crack at it below and hope that you and others can see the original intent. If after attempting this clarification you still believe I am advocating or inciting violence then, well, I don't know what to say. I would have done my best. I always try to be as clear as possible in any blog conversing with total strangers for exactly this reason.  However, I am not God and may fail to adequately get the point across.  If so, I plead guilty to the imperfections of being human. 

Here goes.

I cannot see the point of OWS in its present form. I do not understand what standing around in a park getting free meals and listening to speeches/rhetoric can EFFECTIVELY accomplish. It is true that, historically, demonstrations have had their place in raising awareness about social, political, or economic issues, but that is FAR, FAR away from some type of REVOLUTION. At the top of the OWS web page one can view a graphic of a fist with the words "The REVOLUTION continues worldwide" (my caps). To me this is laughable, if not pathetic, in comparing OWS to a TRUE revolt.  They should say "The protest continues worldwide" or "The disgruntled who stand around and complain continues worldwide".  But Revolution? Give me a break!  Perhaps that word is being used by the younger generation to give them some sense of feeling that they are doing something truly important (like the 1960s protests I'm sure you remember). Young people, as you know, are full of energy and idealism. .. I don't know.  

Anyway, my intent was to give some sense of what a TRUE revolution is like. OWS is leaderless and it has been indicated that it is unlikely to ever acquire one.  You may be able to tell that I am a lay student of history, and all TRUE revolutions have had a great charismatic leader or leaders (that is why I listed actual examples from TRUE revolutions in history).  I also stated that in any war there are casualties, and a TRUE revolution produces (unfortunately) casualties on both sides. What casualties have resulted from OWS? Perhaps there have been some and I am just unaware. If so I retract that point in advance. 

I also make no apology whatsoever for being a strong advocate for the 2nd Amendment. Although it has endured strong criticism over the years, and gun control efforts never seem to ever totally go away,  I believe there was great wisdom by our Founding Fathers in including it in the Bill of Rights. With all the guns out there in the hands of private citizens, I would estimate the chances of a successful ground invasion of this country to be just about zero, even if we had no military (I admit this is a highly theoretical point on my part). 

And yes, I HAVE pondered what a million armed citizens marching on Washington would be like, but that does NOT mean that I advocate that they do so. This country was FOUNDED on revolution, and has supported open and covert revolutions around the world for many years. Revolution is an unfortunate but apparently natural social process that takes place periodically in various locations world-wide, the most recent examples being in the Middle East. 

I am NOT trying to avoid a visit from authorities.  Fortunately, we still live in a country where the 1st Amendment right of Free Speech has not been repealed (yet). Even if I WERE trying to insight insurrection (which I am not) I would only be following in the footsteps of those who have come before me.  What does Jefferson say in the Declaration of Independence?  A small excerpt seems appropriate to my point:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

Please take particular note of the last sentence above -->      "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

That just about sums up my whole point. OWS is an affront to any TRUE revolution.

Lastly, some comments about my alleged cowardice.  I'll ignore that you decided to commit the logical fallacy of attacking the person instead of the argument (which you did several times), but consider the following. Which requires more bravery -- to discuss sticking ones hand into a fire to retrieve something valuable (that cannot be retrieved otherwise), or actually putting ones hand in the fire and do it? To discuss what it might be like to plunge into freezing water to save someone's life, or actually doing it?  To discuss the pros and cons of taking a beachhead at Normandy, or actually facing real bullets and death? And, yes, to stand around (or type around) and moan and complain about being in the 99%, or actually doing something truly EFFECTIVE about it?  This is the point I was trying to make. If I failed to make it then at least I tried my best. 

I hope this long response has cleared the air about my intentions. I can do no better. And yes, if there ever were a TRUE revolution in this country, and it's purpose was truly patriotic and not misplaced, I would try to do my small part although, at my age, it may not be a soldier on the front lines (but perhaps so, this point is probably academic). 

Thank you for your attention to this VERY long response.

[-] 1 points by RoughKarma (122) 6 years ago

Thank you for your clarification. I understand your position, now. Your OP came nowhere near explaining it.

Oddly, if it came down to it, I would fight on the other side. I dislike some things that my government does or allows to be done, but I will not see it brought down. Not ever.

Again, oddly, I agree with the irrelevance of OWS in its present form and for much the same reason. No leader.

I, also, am a student of history. I think your definition of revolution a precise one, though narrow. There are other valid definitions of the word that reflect a drastic change in thought or a paradigm shift. Violence is neither inevitable nor even helpful for that type of revolution. I understand your point, but it just seems a matter of semantics.

Bizarrely, while waiting for your reply earlier, I re-read the Declaration and pondered that very sentence, wondering what, if any, applicability it had to this situation. I decided that the provocation they had was more extreme than what there is now and even then the action was drastic. I don't believe I would have been in favor of revolution. Hard to say, though. The Revolutionary War always gets cast in a noble, almost benign way though it was bloody and costly. I prefer to use the Civil War as a model when thinking about what the other kind of revolution would be like for us.

I don't like guns. I also don't read the 2nd Amendment that way. Go figure.

You became "coward" about the same time I became "defecator." I thought ad hominem was how we were rolling.

In short, my position is that I would rather see OWS stay ineffective or cease to exist altogether than turn to violence. Success is possible without out it if they can get their act together. I hope they do. I am new to the forum and I have already seen a lot of whacko posts from both sides, but there are also a lot of good thinkers on here. Feed the good thinkers.

I do apologize for being offensive in my post. You were right to question my age. I got carried away.

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 6 years ago

oh, we all pay our lives one way or another

[-] 2 points by MsStacy (1035) 6 years ago

As far as your opening question is concerned, I think at this point they will slowly fade away. They decided at the beginning they didn't wish to actually participate in the political process and that leaves them with nothing once people are aware of the problems.

For the rest of it, there are no where near enough people truly upset with things for any kind of revolution. You can't get 60% of the nation worked up enough to even vote.

[-] 2 points by ChemLady (576) 6 years ago

If this country didn't revolt during the great depression, then I don't see how you'd ever get a revolution going today. People do like to complain,but the deep widespread discontent you say is needed just isn't there.

[-] 1 points by sabastionzgt (4) 6 years ago

Video about ows movement !!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6Xy_jN9tFg

[-] 1 points by GirlFriday (17435) 6 years ago

This is a gigantic waste of everyone's time.

You are advocating violence. I don't care how many times that you profess to be a pacifist. We have been listening to the calls for violence since the Tea Party. Give it up already. If you are 56, then you won't be on the front line. So, what is the difference between sending out young people to fight an unjust war and sending young people to die on our own soil? Nothing.

  1. Not necessarily. Not every "revolution" is going to have widespread support. Specifically when we look at those that were backed/installed by the US in places like Latin America and the Middle East.

  2. Actually, there are a wide variety of groups to choose from. Isn't there? See, given the history that I mentioned in the first point, the key is to find the group that will benefit YOU (general) the most.

  3. Then YOU (general) pick a charismatic leader that has done a few good deeds. Throw the media spotlight on him/her and squash negative press so the rest of the world agrees with it. But, not just charismatic.No....someone who is easily manipulated. Until, that person doesn't do what is wanted and then another surprise revolution comes along with another charismatic leader that is more willing to do what is desired. Successful: A)Pinochet B) Alfredo Stroessner C)Trujillo D)Batista.

This is a message that has been repeated here. I call BS.

[-] 1 points by jan5245m (3) 6 years ago

Wake up america stop buying and getting services not in or from our country. if we stuck together than maybe they would bring our jobs back. At one time walmart only sold made in american products, go there today and you would be lucky to fine anything. try calling the cable co, phone co, any services and you cant even talk to am american.. wake up before we become a third world country.

[-] 1 points by RoughKarma (122) 6 years ago

This is the kind of thread that scares the shit out of me. In spite of the disclaimer, this is a call to violence. When there is statement like "I don't advocate (fill in the blank), however......", it is a way of advocating without having the guts to say it directly. I read the responses with interest, wanting to see if this line of thought would be challenged and it wasn't. There were discussions of anarchistic philosophy and theory, but no repudiation of violence. If you can't win through the force of argument, you don't deserve to win. Violence would only trade one oppressor for another.

[-] 1 points by therising (6643) 6 years ago

I completely agree. You are getting at the heart of the issue here. Our power lies in nonviolent direct action. The poster could be an agent provocateur or just someone who hasn't read much about Gandhi and King and the powerful force of their methods.

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 6 years ago

Please see my response to your input elsewhere in this discussion. Thank you.

[-] 1 points by jomojo (562) 6 years ago

Injustice is a sentiment that millions are familiar with personally. They are unlikely to follow a new leader for fear of repeating history.

Historically praised leaders are much more powerful in history books, which to a great degree leave out the supporting cast and the merits of the losers.

Anyone who works for the well being of those who are victims of injustice is a leader in my books.

"flatulence into the wind" ...that's sick. Well, it IS in character to the rest.

[-] 1 points by AFarewellToKings (1486) 6 years ago

There is a plan out there that ain't so out there compared to going to the moon...



[-] 1 points by corporationsaremisunderstood (6) 6 years ago

wow...is this guy serious?

[-] 2 points by JPB950 (2254) 6 years ago

Maybe, I'll pretend he is serious just for the sake of discussion.

[-] 0 points by gosso920 (-24) 6 years ago

This is an excellent example of "leading from behind" - i.e., "I'm not a violent person, but I want others to arm, and 'martyr' themselves for the cause, while I stay comfortably away."

[-] 0 points by cJessgo (729) from Port Jervis, PA 6 years ago

Go ride a horse and give your brain a break


[-] 0 points by wn030 (56) 6 years ago

forget the leader part, this is 2012. ever heard of internet? you know the stuff you use when you go visit this page here? the leader will be anonymous and a result of several technical networks. now I think there are other questions: does OWS really forbid themselves to set demands, even to demand demands? -> http://occupywallst.org/forum/demands-demands/


[-] 0 points by John2342 (1) 6 years ago

Simple answer, I don't give a crap about anyone but myself. Come to my door, and I'll shoot you.

[-] 2 points by ChemLady (576) 6 years ago

Not even a little charity? I don't mind some sharing but i would agree, most of us do have a lot of self interest, have jobs and families to care for. That's part of why the revolutionaries make up such a small percentage of the population.