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

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

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    •  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

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      •  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

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        •  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

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          •  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

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            •  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

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              •  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

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