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View Diary: The 7 Sins of Occupy (53 comments)

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  •  I don't know (1+ / 0-)
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    Futuristic Dreamer

    Any serious occupiers who aren't bitter and frustrated at least some of the time. I don't know any non-serious occupiers who aren't bitter and frustrated at least some of the time. I don't know that having a background as a professional organizer represents any sort of dividing line here.

    Methinks you might be bitter and frustrated with past experiences you've had with professional organizers. But you know what? Assuming motives and experiences about people you've never met is a highly inexact science.

    •  Not exactly mere assumptions (2+ / 0-)
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      SethRightmer, Desi

      You've left a lot of clues about your intent, as well as your disposition.

      Your title, in particular, speaks volumes.

      I saw many old timers who seemed to be movement activists who essentially couldn't get used to being equal to everyone else. They felt as if they'd been demoted. That loss of status was what allowed many members to experience having a voice that for the first time was heard.

      In the hierarchical model, status that members accrue come at the expense of status to someone else, just as in capitalism, wealth that some members accrue come at the expense of wealth to others.

      You speak of bitterness and frustration as if that is universally experienced in Occupy, but leave out the joy of camaraderie and the feeling of empowerment that is truly a big part of the movement.

      If bitterness is all you saw, you missed out a lot. And you certainly can't speak here for all of Occupy (and that is the whole point, isn't it? That no one person speaks for all?).

      "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

      by ZhenRen on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:30:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Telling (0+ / 0-)

        It is telling that you seek to focus on who is speaking instead on what is said.
        and
        This is a post about crappy negative stuff. Why would anyone think that is all there is? Of course it's not a complete picture.

        •  The fact is, I have focused on what you've said. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SethRightmer

          I'm pointing out that it is a distortion of Occupy. The title, especially, distorts the picture. We live in a headline society, where many will never get past the words in big bold letters, The Seven Sins of Occupy.

          From the standpoint of a smear, it makes sense. What other purpose could that serve?

          "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

          by ZhenRen on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:52:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's constructive criticism (0+ / 0-)

            A lot of us who've been deeply involved with occupy are trying to move forward from how the movement started, and create something more sustainable. Introspection, and discussing what the movement did wrong is important in that context.

            This diary has important lessons for activists far into the future.

            I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

            by Futuristic Dreamer on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 01:40:22 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  But presentation IS important. (3+ / 0-)
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              ZhenRen, clenchner, Desi

              So the choice in title is not ideal.

              Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

              by Horace Boothroyd III on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 02:22:23 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  I don't agree (1+ / 0-)
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              Desi

              The diarist misses the point and draws incorrect conclusions. And seems to not mind giving Occupy a black eye of a headline. That isn't constructive.

              And as to lessons, it isn't the kind of lesson many of us took away from Occupy.

              "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

              by ZhenRen on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 02:44:45 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I've spent the last year living & breathing Occupy (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                clenchner

                And these issues have come up in many conversations, especially lately.

                One of Occupy's values, right or wrong, is to deal with our problems in the open instead of hiding them because it's better press. This diary holds true to that spirit of Occupy. The headline does much less to give Occupy a black eye than numerous ill advised livestreams, which I've begrudgingly learned to tolerate.

                It's healthy for us to examine what Occupy did wrong, and what can be done better in the future.

                I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

                by Futuristic Dreamer on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 04:30:39 PM PDT

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                •  Dealing with problems in the open (0+ / 0-)

                  doesn't include a title that doesn't inform, but rather smears and misinforms. Occupy has never tolerated smears of its message. And it has never tolerated sabotage, and has always tried to identify provocateurs.

                  Brandishing your "credentials" of having been "breathing" Occupy does not inspire me to shrink from my criticisms of the motives and intent of the author.

                  The denigration is obviously a deliberate intent in this blatant hit piece, and I can only wonder what sort of "occupier" would indulge in this behavior, much less support it.

                  I have no idea who either of you are.

                  "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

                  by ZhenRen on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 10:15:52 AM PDT

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                  •  This is no hit peice (0+ / 0-)

                    I've heard it all in GA before.  You need to look beyond the title. None of the things listed here are things Occupy denies. Just different opinions on the way Occupy deals with some things, and the way the writer thinks Occupy should deal with those things better.  Mistakes were made. Let's be open about that, and move forward learning from them.

                    I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

                    by Futuristic Dreamer on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 02:27:43 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Nonsense (0+ / 0-)

                      The hyperbolic title, and the rather caustic rhetoric of the diary, all give the sense of a hit piece.

                      Go back and read it.  The tone is pretty obvious.

                      Sorry, not buying this. The whole notion of this being a sincere, constructive criticism is ludicrous.

                      And since you're okay with telling me what I "need" to do, perhaps you should go read about the underpinnings of the foundation of the Occupy movement, the consensus model, horizontalism, non-hierarchical approaches to decision making, etc.

                      I don't have a lot of time at the moment to respond to the diary point by point, but it is way off base about just about everything that is asserted.

                      Yep, I'm one of those with the "fetish" (the description used by the diarist) of wanting the people to lead themselves, without the need for rulers and leaders to tell us all how to think.

                      "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

                      by ZhenRen on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 06:03:33 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  That came off a bit more (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Futuristic Dreamer

                      abrupt than I had intended. I should have taken the time from the outset to answer more cogently my differences with the points made in the diary.

                      I'm familiar with the issues raised, and yes, they have been much discussed at occupy gatherings, but what is striking about this diary is the diarist just happens to dislike just about every approach used by Occupy.

                      After this list of grievances, one is left wondering if the diarist liked anything about Occupy.

                      The pattern he weaves with his rhetoric tells the story. Reread the diary. Look at the overall pattern.

                      I realize that many people share the diarists criticisms. I've heard them all before, as well.  The problem is, the solutions to these criticisms would be to revert back to the approaches used by more mainstream groups, which in the last several decades have failed to accomplish any goals. We're still heading inexorably toward that crevasse, if we can't turn back this stampede to ruin. Many of us see these more conventional approaches as having failed.

                      If we adopt a hierarchical model, elect OWS leaders, and pursue such things as electoral goals and fielding of candidates, I could easily turn the tables and launch into a plethora of criticisms of THAT approach. It works both ways.

                      For example, it has been noted by scholars of the worker's movement of the early 20th century that when the workers became highly organized and elected leaders, and created hierarchy in their ranks, which diverted attention to the electoral process within the unions, that they accomplished less than in the movement's early beginnings when its direct action protests and strikes were more spontaneous and coming from the grassroots of the worker's own membership, collectively. Diverting all attention to electoral politics is not always the path to success. One could argue that getting everyone working for candidates is a good way to get attention away from direct action, precisely because direct action works.

                      Which is why I'm a bit skeptical when people show up telling OWS to do exactly that: Get back into line and work within the system.

                      I'm not so naive as to ignore the history of the wealthy class using this ploy in past eras. They understand ways to manipulate activists far better than most of us understand.

                      OWS may not be to everyone's liking. It never pretended to be universally appealing (for that, you must turn to the Democratic party which opposes such things as torture on one hand while tacitly endorsing it on the other.)

                      There's a lot more to say about this, but I've spent too much time already. Got to go.

                      "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

                      by ZhenRen on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 10:09:50 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Occupy goes too far in one direction, (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        clenchner

                        and it's not effective.

                        I don't think we should work "in the system", or try to recreate the system, but I would like to see an alternative that functions better than Occupy does.

                        Leadership happens naturally, instead of accepting natural leadership when it occurred, the culture at Occupy actively suppressed that natural tendency instead of embracing it.  We don't need a definitive hierarchy, but it wouldn't hurt to allow people who earn the trust and respect of the community to make some decisions instead of having multi-hour meetings about details.  

                        The lack of even informal leadership lead to a lack of accountability and discipline (mainly self-discipline) among many participants. It's hard for people who would naturally take up a leadership position not have the ability to make decisions that need to made, and it's hard to find a way to tell your friends that they need to do what they said they would do, or to get people to do work instead of goofing off, without being in a position where the community sanctions your right to do that.  It's hard to find the self-discipline to do work that needs to be done, when others don't seem to care if you do it or don't do it, especially in the midst of constant distractions.

                        I love the way Occupy involved many people from all walks of life, but there were a lot of people who joined, without contributing anything, who harassed other participants and disrupted meetings. As a smaller woman I'm particularly aware of this. While I believe we should be an open movement that involves everyone, we need a way to deal with people who aren't there for the cause, who are disruptive, and make those of us who are there for the cause feel unsafe.

                        Failure to address these things on ideological grounds is a big part of why Occupy wasn't more effective as a mass political movement. There has to be a better way than absolute equality, where no consideration is given to what you've done, and traditional hierarchy. The labour movements you speak of had unofficial leaders, as did most effective historical movements. Very few, if any, effective historical movements placed the value on horizontalism and inclusiveness that Occupy does. Maybe we should look to them for a better model?

                        I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

                        by Futuristic Dreamer on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 12:46:16 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Well... (0+ / 0-)

                          In my area, Portland, Oregon, which purportedly had at one time the largest occupy camp in the nation, there were people who often were disproportionally up in front of the group facilitating, and guiding us along. I think many of us recognized that some had a talent for certain activities, and there was a tacit allowance of that. The difference is such "leaders" are recallable at any time the group decides they aren't acting responsibly to the group.

                          This is the difference that people on all sides of this fail to understand. People can be appointed by consensus to fulfill certain positions and responsibilities, but they don't have fixed terms making them a dictator by contract for given periods of time. In larger groups, there is no workable way to manage affairs except by smaller working groups or affinity groups, etc., appointing a spokesperson who stands in for the group for which he/she is acting as a spoke. Every decision can't be micromanaged by a large group. But the important decisions should be a group decision.

                          People who are part of an affinity group would make decisions that involve the expertise of that perticualr group. For example, I'm active as a beekeeper. If there were an affinity group that met to discuss beekeeping, that group would make decisions based on the expertise of the group. A group of computer engineers wouldn't likely have any input to a beekeeping affinity group, other than, say, to decide that bees are important to society, or not. But they wouldn't have much to say about, for example, what kind of hive design to use, or what strain of queen to use as stock. But a beekeeping affinity group would report to the larger group of their activities, of which larger, important decision regarding the role of bees in a society would be subject to review and agreement.

                          This is my understanding of how this could function. Its just a matter of working things out in the practical world, while keeping in mind, always, that no one person should have some sort of authority over another person's life that isn't justified as necessary by everyone involved. And of course, there is a need for balance in all of this to make it workable.  

                          But such spokespeople do not get to make major decisions that affect an entire people with impunity. They must confer with the group, and must act in accordance with the decisions that come from the group. Smaller, everyday activities and decisions would be allowed by people in these positions, but only with complete transparency.

                          The one thing that makes this sort of relationship different is all such appointees would be recallable when the group decides it is necessary. There would be no exceptions to this.

                          The problem with implementing a system like this is most people aren't familiar with it. So. of course it would take time to build up experience with this until it becomes comfortable.

                          I agree that there is a kind of "soft" leadership where people whose talents are best for certain positions naturally surface. But they don't have power that comes from the position. They serve at the will of the people, and not the other way around.

                          This is completely workable, if people have the will to do it. The problem is people have far more experience with the prevalent model of hierarchy, and just can't envision any other way.

                          But given the current state of the world, obviously this model isn't working, even if it seems more effective and convenient.

                          "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

                          by ZhenRen on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 03:31:51 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Oh boy... (0+ / 0-)

                            My browser is acting up, and just posted this before I'd edited... before I'd finished.

                            "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

                            by ZhenRen on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 03:34:47 PM PDT

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                          •  That's how things were supposed to work (0+ / 0-)

                            But that's not how things worked. People second guessed decisions made in other groups without understanding how those decisions were made.  People were encouraged to step back when their natural leadership talents came out. People who disagreed about little decisions had five hour meetings with the whole group.  The people who had the initiative and self discipline to get things done got a bunch of crap from people who disagreed with minor decisions they made.  Things didn't get done. Some decisions that needed to be made (especially those involving money) never got made.

                            When people did get things done they did it behind closed doors, without transparency, because the large group's process was too cumbersome to let things get done. The instance on absolute horizontalism, transparency, and inclusiveness failed, and ended up being none of those things. All the real work happened in closed groups and in private, without the groups even having good communication because bringing things to the large group meant spending a lot of time arguing and little being accomplished.

                            This is how I think things should work, "All such appointees would be recallable when the group decides it is necessary. There would be no exceptions to this." But that's not how things worked. We were so obsessed with horizontalism that we didn't have appointees to hold accountable.  Moving forward we need to chose appointees, give them specific privileges and responsibilities, and then hold them accountable.

                            I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

                            by Futuristic Dreamer on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 04:57:22 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Well, of course! (0+ / 0-)

                            These were people figuring all of this out as they went along. Think of the achievement if we could all make this work.

                            Portland is still going strong with spokes-councils, and is still active, and still planning, using the model. I've had to pull away only because of my horrible economic situation. I can't afford to go into town anymore, having pretty much lost everything, my home, my employment and I'm living on very low income.

                            If it weren't for that, I'll still be active. I still try to get to the bigger events, and these are still occurring.

                            "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

                            by ZhenRen on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 05:50:26 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Wish I'd seen what Portland was doing right (0+ / 0-)

                            earlier, as the two Occupies I've worked with have pretty much entirely dissolved due to internal issues such as the ones described in this diary.

                            If Portland has appointees that are replaceable at will, no wonder they still exist when many other Occupies are gone or nearly so.

                            I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

                            by Futuristic Dreamer on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 06:47:12 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Portland has had its share of problems. (0+ / 0-)

                            It seems that enough people have stayed with it that it has survived. There are a lot of people in Portland who really seem to "get" what this is supposed to be all about. No one can say this has been easy... but at times it has been truly wonderful, and a good group has formed.

                            "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

                            by ZhenRen on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 09:41:11 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I've seen awsome groups form in other places, (0+ / 0-)

                            but in many cases those groups are looking for new ways to do things because they're frustrated with the failures in Occupys methods.

                            One of the most common new structures I've seen is horizontal style meetings where only certain people are invited.  That destroys accountability & transparency (creates the elitism the author complains about), but allows things to get done. There has to be a better way.

                            I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

                            by Futuristic Dreamer on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 12:01:05 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

        •  I'm in my 50s. (0+ / 0-)

          I felt a bit ignored a few times, but I was treated with great respect by the younger crowd. The sense of the group, the "vibe" as it were, was one of allowing all comers to have the opportunity to voice their thoughts, and these kids were tired of older people who've basically fucked up their futures, their entire world, coming in to a movement to take charge, yet again, and push their voices down.

          I saw that right away.

          Here's a narrative of one of my experiences with Occupy:

          http://www.dailykos.com/...

          "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

          by ZhenRen on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 12:07:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I've been a professional organizer (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ZhenRen, Desi

      But one of the lessons I learned was that I am not the White Knight, come to save the ignorant peasants. I am the one who listens to people, who makes them feel empowered to solve their own problems.

      I don't know you, but I do know White Knights, and the things they say sound a lot like the things you say here. And I know that, despite your protestations about assuming motives and experiences, that is exactly what you do in this essay.

      But the insider-jargon word ‘Horizontalism’ alerts one to the presence of a fetish, where form precedes function, and where the only sure outcome is the departure of most participants.
      Fetish? Assuming motives and experiences.
      But where NVDA starts with strategy and mass movements, Direct Actionism starts with tactics and what are often smallish groups of young, white, male leaders aching to recreate a certain scene from Les Mis.
      Christ on a Crutch. What are you doing here? Assuming motives and experiences.

      Look, pretty much all you do in this essay is assume motives and experiences you know nothing about. That, and construct straw men, poison the well, and whine about how nobody let you into the special elite Occupy inner circle.

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