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View Diary: 2 years since OWS began and 99 percent of us are still getting screwed (247 comments)

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  •  Jesse is certainly not more informed (26+ / 0-)

    than Graeber, one of the key founders of Occupy. Graeber attributes the successes of OWS as deriving precisely from the fact that it stayed clear of party politics. People who wanted it to become involved in the traditional electoral approach are missing a big part of why OWS sprung up in cities all across the country.

    I'll let David Graeber, one of the core founders of Occupy, explain it, with an excerpt from his book, The Democracy Project, A History, A Crisis, A Movement:


    Almost every time I'm interviewed by a mainstream journalist about Occupy Wall Street I get some variation of the same lecture:


            "How are you going to get anywhere if you refuse to create a leadership structure or make a practical list of demands? And what's with all this anarchist nonsense - the consensus, the sparkly fingers? Don't you realize all this radical language is going to alienate people? You're never going to be able to reach regular, mainstream Americans with this sort of thing!"
    Asking why OWS refuses to create a leadership structure, and asking why we don't come up with concrete policy statements, is of course two ways of asking the same thing: Why don't we engage with the existing political structure so as to ultimately become a part of it?

    If one were compiling a scrapbook of worst advice ever given, this sort of thing might well merit an honorable place. Since the financial crash of 2008, there have been endless attempts to kick-off a national movement against the depredations of America’s financial elites taking the approach such journalists recommended. All failed. Most failed miserably. It was only when a movement appeared that resolutely refused to take a traditional path, that rejected the existing political order entirely as inherently corrupt, that called for the complete reinvention of American democracy, that occupations immediately began to blossom across the country. "

    Emphasis added.

    The Democracy Project: A History, a Crisis, a Movement by David Graeber

    The fact that Occupy is now an international household name, that nearly everyone on the planet is familiar with the phrase "the 1%" vs "the 99%", the fact that for the first time in ages the media actually reported protests, rather than ignore them, the fact that Romney began to lose ground when he began to appear just like one of those one per-centers, indicates success.

    I'm interested in exploring and developing more of these mold-breaking, game-changing approaches. Those here who want OWS to emphasis party politics and to get involved in the electoral process are missing a big advantage OWS had in staying out of electoral approaches. It was by remaining outside the system that OWS had its enormous appeal, and any OWS member who thinks it should have been more like other traditional groups is forgetting why OWS steered clear of this.

    The concept of the "1%" vs the "99%" is a good example. It wasn't about electing a specific personality, but as a concept it changed the national dialogue. And it wasn't Rachel Maddow, or Chris Hays, or some famous personality or political celebrity who sparked off this powerful theme, but the Occupy movement in parks all across the country.

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

    by ZhenRen on Tue Sep 17, 2013 at 12:39:28 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Certainly the result stemmed from the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NearlyNormal, TheMomCat

      distance from electoral politics, but I think it's absurd to call that result "success."

      •  The failure started to happen (7+ / 0-)

        when Occupy was identified with progressives specifically. Then we got written into the regular old media narrative and ignored. Organizing people from across the spectrum could have been a powerful movement, but we fell into the old style lefty box.

      •  It changed the national dialogue (27+ / 0-)

        to focus on economic inequality, which is an enormous accomplishment. It also inspired a new generation to become activists. It taught horizontal community self-management techniques, and brought many new people into embracing principles of direct democracy. It fostered greater unity and solidarity in a new generation.

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

        by ZhenRen on Tue Sep 17, 2013 at 01:03:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes fail fail (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ZhenRen, churchylafemme, caul

          It seems to have been branded into peoples' minds, largely by the media.

          Did the Ron Paul movement fail?

          Did the anti-war movement fail?

          Did the Stonewall riots fail?

          None of these protest movements resulted in immediate tangible change, but people don't feel the need to constantly refer to them as failures.

          Apparently nothing will ever teach these people that the other 99 percent of the population exist. —George Orwell

          by ukit on Tue Sep 17, 2013 at 08:18:56 PM PDT

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      •  I thought it had potential (4+ / 0-)

        but the failures were complicated.  Some part of the failure to capitalize on the masses of people turning out were due to the inability to focus on, or agree on what were, core issues.  Part was just weather.  And a lot was the violence that was used upon the citizenry.

        Whatever the causes, its a pretty clear failure in direct results, but it did provide a glimpse of the power of coming together and it validated the notion that people objected to further looting by the kleptocracy.

        75534 4-ever or until dk5

        by NearlyNormal on Tue Sep 17, 2013 at 01:41:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It was a good first step. (6+ / 0-)

        Americans are long out of practice in serious political opposition to the Powers That Be.  Frankly Kent State scared most of that generation into keeping their heads down, and this movement was met with unadulterated violence.  They did very well for representatives of a population that generally expects violence to be kept very well-controlled and far away from themselves.  There were genuine heroes, and there were many people who learned the things they need to have learned in order to become heroes.  And the real activists among them haven't quit; they've multiplied and gone underground in the best old-fashioned leftist-organization way. They'll pop up again when opportunity presents.  

        Occupy was important in that it got into public knowledge DESPITE every attempt of the MSM to play it down and ignore it.  It proved that modern social media are a potent tool for mass organizing outside of the oligarchy-controlled channels.  It made TV news about as relevant as Pravda.

        You can't expect to achieve everything on the first try.  The fact that a simple staged protest turned into a national radical movement that had to be put down with violence, and the normal bad PR that accompanies violence, was awesome.

    •  They want protesters to be part of the political (10+ / 0-)

      process...that way their message can be controlled, and the impact of their accusations minimized.

      They're terrified of people who act on principle instead of party affiliation...and there is no better of example of how that control is used for political gain than the Obama followers. You will never hear them present a logical argument to support their views. They repeat White House talking points, they ridicule, and they obfuscate, which provides cover for the president to enact policies that would have never found their way into the Democratic Party's platform in any other lifetime.

      They condemn Republicans for acting in the best intersts of corporations, while supporting the president when he advances the very same agenda.

      And the millions of people who tried to fight back -- under the OWS banner -- were labeled terrorists.

      I don't know how the system could be more corrupt.

      I agree with Jessie when he says the Republicans are behind much of the corruption, but the blame for betrying the Democratic principles that would have countered such corruption falls squarely at Obama's feet...but good Democrats, who would have condemned similar actions by Bush, pretend nothing is happening.

      That is why the solution must fall outside the political system...

    •  IMHO, the Occupy Movement was correct (16+ / 0-)

      to steer clear of partisan politics.  I have posted here numerous times that Occupy was designed to be a social movement, not a partisan political one.  It was aimed at bridging the gulf that has been created by political partisanship that had ended up dividing this country along those tribal lines when the issues for the majority of people in this country are common to nearly all of us.  This is one reason why Occupy emphasized the 99% versus 1%.

      Major political change does not come from within the establishment, but is created by social forces outside the establishment which force the establishment to change within.  

      "I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~ Dr. Cornel West speaking to Occupy Tallahassee on January 18, 2012

      by gulfgal98 on Tue Sep 17, 2013 at 02:13:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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