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View Diary: Nothing Stops OWS From Re-forming As it Should Have Been (146 comments)

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  •  Some people do it because it's right. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens, ballerina X

    Some people do it because it gives them a stage for melodrama.

    •  Really? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheMomCat, DeadHead, Johnny Q

      Who got a stage from #OWS  (better not say me because I was infamous long before that).

      •  A large number of political agendas (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Larsstephens, bevenro

        with very limited if any connection to the 99%.

        •  What do you think connects with the 99%? (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TheMomCat, DeadHead, Johnny Q, Kickemout

          More and better jobs?

          •  That sounds about right to me. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Larsstephens

            Make the message about jobs, make the face of the movement ordinary working people who dress in their work clothes, and make the demands something that regular working folks can relate to like a living wage, benefits, and better working conditions.

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

            by JamesGG on Tue Sep 17, 2013 at 09:52:09 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  If that is you, then (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ek hornbeck

              go ahead and do it.  You seem to be advocating that the movement must have appropriate window dressing.  That line of thought is outdated and ineffective.  When you focus on optics at the expense of commitment, you get the poor results advocacy groups have logged over the past 30 years.  To eleaborate on your optics obsession, no one has stopped ordinary working people in their work gear from taking a leading role in OWS.  You want to put a certain face on the movement, without any consideration for whether the correct "characters" want to assume that role.  

              •  I think you're misunderstanding me. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                flowerfarmer

                First, let's do away with the notion that the people who are the face of a movement are "window dressing," as if that is somehow unimportant.

                It's a given that the movement, in order to succeed, must become larger than it currently is; in order to do that, it needs to get other people on board, people who would not have otherwise been inclined to join. In order to do that, the movement needs them to be able to identify with the movement—its aims, its goals, and its membership—and think "these people represent me."

                To that end, the composition of the movement is hardly "window dressing"; the message and the face the movement is putting out to the wider world is, in many ways, a determining factor in whether the movement will catch on or whether it will fade. Does the wider population think the movement represents them? If the answer is "no," then the movement is destined for irrelevance.

                Second, you're inaccurate in suggesting that I'm "focusing on optics at the expense of commitment"... as I write below in another comment, the whole point of returning this movement to working people, and bringing it back to jobs, is to increase commitment by making it about a collective mission and achievable and measurable goals rather than about some nebulous bullshit like "consciousness raising" or "self-expression."

                That involves a greater amount of commitment, because it involves subordinating one's own ego and desires—for "self-expression," to feel like they "did something," for consummatory rhetoric—to the mission and the collective. It's about seeing the collective mission as the primary goal—something worthy of sacrificing one's ego, one's health, or one's life.

                "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                by JamesGG on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 07:32:45 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I understand you (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  ek hornbeck

                  I just disagree.  And I can tell you from my experience with gay rights groups that your focus on the face of the movement is counterproductive.  You equate the face with the message.  I don't agree that people must have a perfect messenger to join a movement.  The Occupy movement was quite successful in rallying people to their cause because they were stating the truth that was suppressed from public discourse:  that there are different rules for the 1% and the 99%.  Please provide some examples of movements in the past 40 years that adhere to your model and were successful.  I would cite the Act Up and Occupy movements as two examples of a contrary approach.  The former was extremely successful.  I would also argue that Occupy has had a greater impact on economic discourse than any other progressive movement during this timeframe.  

                  I also find it a bit counter-intuitive to argue that for a movement to succeed it must become something other than what it is.  (Excuse the diction.)   It's like saying, this bicycle would be much improved if it had an engine.  But, if it had an engine, it wouldn't be a bicycle.

                  •  I don't know that that's true. (0+ / 0-)
                    The Occupy movement was quite successful in rallying people to their cause because they were stating the truth that was suppressed from public discourse:  that there are different rules for the 1% and the 99%.
                    Except that I think they weren't quite successful in rallying people to their cause. From what I saw, the primary people participating in Occupy (as in, the people actually Occupying) were most of the same folks who were already involved in the protest movement.

                    There wasn't any kind of mass buy-in, in terms of convincing people outside the usual protest crowd, that Occupy represented normal working people's interests and that normal working people should join the Occupy movement.

                    While I completely agree that the 1%/99% message was very effective, Occupy wasn't able to leverage that effectiveness into the kinds of numbers of people on the ground that would enable them to wield any kind of economic, cultural, or political power.

                    They got a lot of soft support from people who agreed with the message of the 1%/99%, but whose agreement didn't translate into actually joining the Occupiers. Did it affect the discourse? Sure. But what did that effect translate into, in terms of changes to the economy on the ground? I'd say not much.

                    You mention Act Up, and I actually think the discussion over LGBT rights is illustrative here... because I think the turning point for the LGBT rights movement has really started to take shape as straight people have stopped seeing the face of LGBT rights as the gay-pride parades and bacchanalia bullshit the right-wingers were trying to use to paint all LGBT folks, and started seeing the face of LGBT rights as their brother or friend or cousin who wanted pretty much the same normal life that straights wanted.

                    We're seeing a shift now because straights can identify the struggles of gay men and lesbians to get jobs, meet someone, and raise a family, with their own desires to do those things... it is becoming about "here is how LGBT folks are like us," rather than "here is how LGBT folks are unlike us."

                    Act Up was successful, I don't deny that, in part I think because it was about a specific grievance (HIV/AIDS) rather than a grab bag of issues—but ultimately, the turning point for LGBT rights isn't coming because of disruptive movements. It's coming because more and more people are realizing that gay or straight we're all in this together, and finding themselves able to empathize with their gay or lesbian friends, family members, etc. who are suffering from discrimination and hate.

                    I also find it a bit counter-intuitive to argue that for a movement to succeed it must become something other than what it is.  (Excuse the diction.)   It's like saying, this bicycle would be much improved if it had an engine.  But, if it had an engine, it wouldn't be a bicycle.
                    So is it about the movement, or is it about the goal? If it's about the movement itself, then yeah, changing the movement necessarily alters its definition.

                    But if it's about the goal—an economy that works for more people and distributes more of the wealth equitably, where folks can find jobs that will provide for their and their families' needs—then changing the nature of whatever strategic movements bring us closer to that goal doesn't affect the definition of the goal.

                    With a goal-minded emphasis, movements are judged not on the basis of their own character or properties, but on what measurable and tangible effects they achieve in furthering the goal.

                    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                    by JamesGG on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 11:02:17 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You still fail to provide any examples (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      ek hornbeck

                      of your approach working.  It really shouldn't be difficult for you.  

                      Your assessment of the development of the gay rights movement lacks sufficient substance.  Our acceptance has been a long slow process that has at its core the political importance of being open and out of the closet.  I will note that the early gay rights groups  (eg Mattachine Society)subscribed to your view- that we must put on the most unthreatening, unoffensive face.  They were bourgeois groups that were very concerned with window dressing, how do we look to straight people?  Although I respect the work they did because everyone will fight their battles in the way they think best, they were largely unsuccessful.  The movement got its jolt from drag queens and poorer folks who engaged in direct civil disobedience.  The Stonewall rebellion marks the birth of the gay rights movement, not the manifestos and actions of the Mattachine Society, for a reason.  It was an honest political action against police oppression, without any concern for whether it would make us look bad.  You want to ignore the significance of this event or the significance and efficacy of the Act Up movement because they do not fit your narrative.  There is no basis in history or reason for this blindness.  You ignore (or are not aware of) the years of battles to de-pathologize homosexuality, to obtain job protections at the local and state levels, to combat overt homophobia (look up Anita Bryant).  There's a long history that you simply cannot ignore in favor of this magical thinking view that it is our presentation as dull, uninteresting pseudo-suburbanites that has led to our success.  The gradual ascendance of GLBT acceptance does not fit into your model for the reasons I stated.  

                      As for the blockquoted text, perhaps I was unclear.  My point is that one cannot divorce the movement's methods from its message.  The methods are the means that the group believes are most effective at achieving their goal. When one changes the methods, the nature of the group necessarily changes.  Act Up is illustrative here.  Act Up was defined by its aggressive civil disobedience actions, its effective images and slogans, and the angry commitment of its members.  (It also operated under a consensus model similar to the one you and diarist denigrate OWS  for using.)  If Act Up operated like the Mattachine Society, it would have been a different group.  That does not mean that one cannot have two groups working for the same goal, employing different methods.  This is where my problem with your and the diarist's view arises.  Instead of dismissing OWS for not being the group you want it to be, you should form your own group to employ the methods you think will be more successful.  There's room for your aproach and OWS's.  However, I get the distinct impresssion neither of you are interested in engaging in that work.  

                      Again, where are your examples?  If your method is so much more successful, you should be able to provide any number of examples?  How do you arrive at the certainty of your rightness without recourse to historical examples?  

          •  The holy trinity are jobs, healthcare, and (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JamesGG, Larsstephens, flowerfarmer

            education.  If those are taken care of, the rest tends to take care of itself through ordinary processes of civil society.  Civil Rights led directly from the economic successes of the New Deal, and would have faced much greater hurdles if the challenges of the Depression had been extended for an entire generation.

    •  Why not just admit that you (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      flowerfarmer, Johnny Q, ek hornbeck

      are threatened by or at least uncomfortable with, forms of activism that are foreign to you.  Don't try to disingenuously cloak it in some false sense of trying to make the movement better.  It's actually unseemly.

      This is a question I generally abhor when tossed around here, but it seems appropriate on this occasion.  Please tell us what you are doing to bring about the form of activism you promote in this diary.  I think if you are going to cast snide, derisive remarks at OWS and argue that they will only achieve success if they follow your approach. please show us how you are leading on this front.  Clearly, it's hollow to advocate an approach if you are not willing to take the lead.  So, let's hear it.

      In the meantime, what do you find objectionable about people advocating in the manner that is right for them?  What is threatening about that?  For me, I have no trouble accepting the idiosyncrasies (if you will) of OWS because they are sincere, are fighting a good cause, and are energized.  They should be encouraged to multiply.  I have a hard time understanding the reasoning that wants to condescend.

      One final point- the approach you advocate is not novel.  There are many examples- NAACP, NOW, HRC, AFL-CIO, etc. ad nauseum.  None of these groups, following your recipe for success, have shifted the public debate on issues of economic and social inequality within the past 30 years the way OWS has done.  You cannot ignore this simple fact.

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