Skip to main content

View Diary: STRIKE: This is What a Powerful And Organized LEFT Would Look Like (277 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Nonsense (8+ / 0-)
    but Occupy also demonstrated our weaknesses (0+ / 0-)

    Organization isn't possible without . . . well . . . organization. It also isn't possible without . . . well . .  people.

    Occupy was highly organized. How do you think it sprung up in dozens of cities across the united states? By mere happenstance?  I think what you're actually stating is you want a specific type of organization which reflects your experience in hierarchical society, which you would find familiar and comforting. The problem is that kind of organizational structure tends to concentrate decision making to small groups of elites who herd the movement in directions which they autocratically decide. What gave Occupy its strength is it was decentralized and placed authority in the hands of the members, empowering each individual, and thus motivating them. Your approach would rob the rank and file of its voice by your attempt to harness the energy to your purposes, and thus sap and diffuse the energy of the very people whom you would presume to need your style of leadership.
    Utopian preaching about pie-in-the-sky ideology, doesn't bring either organization or people.
    There was no utopian preaching at Occupy that I saw, or at least not much. That occured on the sidelines by small groups of people. Mostly, there were a lot of discussions about logistics such as how to feed people, clean the parks, deal with authorities, the police, the mayors, etc., and what new forms of direct action and which tactics and strategies would be taken, and forming dozens of working groups to implement plans. Occupy was very hands-on and all about direct action.
    Only practical organizing around real issues that people care about, are willing to organize around, and are motivated to fight for, can do that. Occupy STARTED out doing that (and grew enormously when it did), but then fell into the same ole trap of utopian preaching and pie-in-the-sky ideology that the left ALWAYS falls into. And fell flat on its face.
    Occupy started out with direct action focusing "on real issues people cared about,", and that was the focus all along. And in case you didn't notice, more people attended the Occupy protests nationwide than any other protests in years. Obviously the approach attracted people far more than you're acknowledging.

    I have a suggestion for you: Go out and start your own movement, based on hierarchy and top down authority (presumably with you and your friends in the leadership position) and see if you can accomplish the same turn out, and motivate people so well that they're willing to sit in the rain and cold to protest Wall Street hegemony.

    Good luck with the effort. Many have tried to do this, but didn't succeed, until Occupy came along with it's horizontal organizational structure which empowered every member present.

    People won't take to the streets to build the socialist utopia.  They WILL take to the streets to stop excessive ATM fees.
    Um, again, there was no talk of utopia at Occupy that I witnessed. There was plenty of talk of the excesses and exploitation of the banking industry. You're pulling this notion out of your ass.
    We won't get anywhere by telling everyone what they SHOULD want. We'll never get anywhere unless we start listening to what people DO want.
    Exactly. Which is why Occupy was successful. You don't speak for the people. And your top-down organizational style would place elites at the center of the organization, dictating to the rest what the leaders believe the members want, without actually allowing them equal power in the organization.

    No thanks. The people can, and did, lead themselves.

    But that is the LAST thing the ideologue saviors want to do . . .

    :(

    Actually, Occupy had no ideological saviors. The whole point of the organization was to avoid exactly that sort of outcome. Your description is a far better fit for traditional activist organizations built around a few personalities to herd the rest according to their personal whims.

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

    by ZhenRen on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 12:46:51 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah, except... (0+ / 0-)

      Occupy pretty much failed. It failed for all the things that you loved about it. And it sure as hell was not representative of everyone. There's a reason a lot of people of color abandoned Occupy early on. And quite frankly, I wouldn't knock "traditional activist organizations." Traditional activism is what made the Civil Rights Movement so damn successful. Sure, there were massive problems in it, as there are in every hierarchy, but the Civil Rights Movement didn't fizzle out after just two years precisely because it had a hierarchy and actual leadership.

      Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

      by moviemeister76 on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 12:54:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  no, Occupy succeeded, far beyond its wildest dream (7+ / 0-)

        Occupy set out to change the national dialogue, and it did.  Far more effectively than the Dem Party ever did.

        But Occupy was set up as a debating society, not as a fighting organization. That is why it was unable to fight.

        •  You think people joined Occupy just for that? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AoT

          I agree that Occupy changed the dialogue, however, I am pretty sure that is not why Occupy started. Occupy started out of an actual groundswell of anger and frustration that our economy collapsed and only the 99% were feeling the fallout. So what if the dialogue changes if nothing concrete comes of it? In fact, I think it just made a lot of Americans a lot more cynical than anything else, which is detrimental to any attempts to make actual changes.

          Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

          by moviemeister76 on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 01:12:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  changing the language is central (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            gulfgal98, Catte Nappe

            to any change and ideological understanding.

            language comes before action, always.

            •  Yes it does (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              BlueDragon

              But if only the language changes and no one actually organizes for action, then what's the point? In the end, it makes people cynical because they are aware of the problem, but see no way to fix anything and just adjust their mindsets to accepting it.

              Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

              by moviemeister76 on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 01:19:49 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  that was its goal (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sandino, erratic

            Occupy itself never expected that it would be any more than a run-of-the-mill plain ole common protest demonstration in NYC, the same type that happen every weekend of the year.

            •  That's true of NYC (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              poco

              But I was actually referring to the groups that cropped up elsewhere. We even had them down here in NC in areas not really known for regular protests. Interesting fact: some of the folks here in NC who were in the local Occupy movement actually tried to intervene in the Moral Monday Movement and make it more like Occupy. Needless to say it didn't pan out, but what struck me was that the folks from Occupy couldn't understand why the folks in Moral Monday shunned their attempts. They were just a bunch of clueless white people in that regard.

              Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

              by moviemeister76 on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 01:23:23 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  much of Occupys difficulty was simple inexperience (5+ / 0-)

                We haven't had an actual progressive movement in the streets since the 60's and the 80's, and most of Occupy wasn't even around back then. So Occupy had very few experienced organizers (and because of its inability to differentiate "leaders" from "bosses", it didn't listen to the few it DID have).

                The only model Occupy had before it was the Arab Spring Uprisings, which themselves failed because of lack of organization.

                (And before the ideologues have a cow again, let me once more repeat that ORGANIZATION does not equal HIERARCHY, so spare me your sermons.)

                •  Yes that's what struck me (5+ / 0-)

                  I have read a lot about the early history of the Civil Rights Movement, dating back to the turn of the 20th century. It was amazing to read about how terrible so many of the activists actually were in the first decade or so. It took decades for the people involved to gain enough experience at being able to effectively organize. Of course, the way it's taught in our high school history classes, most white Americans come away with the idea that the Civil Rights Movement started with Brown Vs. Board of Education, rather than the truth which is that it had taken decades of active work just to get to that point.

                  And you make a very good point about their inability to differentiate between leaders and bosses. And about the Arab Spring. Not sure it could have gone any other way, though. The only people with experience were older, and the young people seemed unwilling to trust them.

                  Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

                  by moviemeister76 on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 02:44:41 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  At the same time (4+ / 0-)

                I agree that many OWS groups drifted too far into discussion about "how" it would govern intself in some ideal egalitarian way. But the point remains, it did change the discussion, and it did light the kinds of sparks that could catch fire in actions like Moral Monday, the Wisconsin Solidarity Sing Alongs and even the reaction in Austin up to and during Wendy's filibuster. (Not to mention really creative efforts that continue, like Overpass Light Brigade)

                “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

                by Catte Nappe on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 02:46:48 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  In my experience that discussion (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mahakali overdrive, Catte Nappe

                  was driven largely by demands from outside Occupy. Things were fine and running well until people outside the movement started insisting on ideological commitments that we hadn't bothered with previously. It was then that the method of organization became increasingly a focus of discussion because to put forth ideological commitments we had to have a method of organization that was more than just practical. I think this should be one of the lessons from Occupy. Don't let people on the outside force your hand when it comes to ideology. We were succeeding without ideology and we would have kept succeeding if we hadn't given in to the press and various other establishment groups that insisted we needed a demand and an ideology.

            •  Not at all (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mahakali overdrive

              It was never intended to be just a run of the mill protest.

      •  Martin Luther King (6+ / 0-)

        borrowed heavily from Gandhi and Thoreau, who both had anarchist leanings.

        Gandhi was influenced by Tolstoy, an anarcho-pacifist, and had anti-state leanings. So did Thoreau.

        So it's ironic that you attack the desire for a lack of hierarchy and authoritarianism.

        Anyway, Occupy didn't say it spoke for everyone. It reflected the consensus of those who were present. Many of the more conventional activists (white and black, male and female) couldn't abide with the horizontal organizational structure, and they wanted a form of seniority (since, you know, they were so, so much more experienced) which would have given them more of a voice than others in attendance, and when they weren't immediately heeded, they left, as was their choice.

        When activists came and told us to get back to conventional political methods, and weren't obeyed, they left in a huff, declaring Occupy to be [insert criticism here], when the real reason for their frustration is that most in attendance wanted the horizontal structure.

        I'll thus suggest to you what I suggest to others with these criticisms: Try to go out and form your own direct action movement, based on hierarchy, electoral politics, elite leadership of seasoned activists who mainly call the shots, and see how far you get (in this modern era of complacency), and how much interest you create, sufficient to spark off a mass movement across the country with people so motivated they give up their jobs to support a movement by sleeping in parks in the rain and cold, while poked and prodded by police.

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

        by ZhenRen on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 01:30:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  you could not be more wrong (4+ / 0-)
      I think what you're actually stating is you want a specific type of organization which reflects your experience in hierarchical society, which you would find familiar and comforting.
      I've been an IWW member and a syndicalist for three decades now. I can assure you there is nothing I hold that advocates a hierarchical society.

      And I was with the Occupy movement from Day One, and saw firsthand how its utopian lack of organization and its inability to stick to a goal, killed it.

      You are simply seeing in my criticisms what you want to see.  And it's not there.  (shrug)

      •  Then what sort of organizational structure (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BlueDragon, Ray Pensador, mrkvica

        are you suggesting?

        Lay down some details.

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

        by ZhenRen on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 01:05:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  lenny isn't going to answer you (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ZhenRen, Ray Pensador

          he is pretty good at naysaying without concrete proposals.

        •  ever been a member of the IWW? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          erratic, ZhenRen

          THAT sort of structure.

          Built in real battle.

          •  Okay... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ray Pensador, BigAlinWashSt

            That's a start.

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

            by ZhenRen on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 01:54:53 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  a "start"? (4+ / 0-)

              Dude, I've been an IWW member for longer than most of the people on this blog have been alive. I "started" over 30 years ago.

              Will I get an apology from you for all the silly (and inaccurate) name-calling you've done here?  Or do you suffer from the same utter inability of most utopian ideologues to ever admit that they're mistaken about anything.

              (sigh)

              •  I meant it is a start (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ray Pensador, erratic

                in terms of understanding what sort of organization you prefer. I was actually trying to be accommodating.

                And I could care less how long you've been a member of IWW. I don't take that as a badge of status. I know some members I agree with, some I don't. But I support the organization since it's one of the closest to being a people's union today, besides some like the CNT in Spain.

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

                by ZhenRen on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 02:14:54 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  I would prefer (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ray Pensador

            recallable delegates, mandated, with very limited terms. I'm not a member of the IWW, but I'm familiar with it. It has historically some anarchist influences.

            Thanks for giving a more concrete reply.

            Would you want Occupy to get involved in the legislative process? What would you want in terms of goals and objectives?

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

            by ZhenRen on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 02:00:48 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  with all due respect, it doesnt matter a rat's ass (4+ / 0-)

              what goals or aims you or I have.  Reality will be what it is, and it won't ask permission from me, you, or anyone else.  Our idealistic dreams don't mean diddley-squat in the real world. That's why I never bother working out a grand utopian plan for the future. Neither reality nor history give a flying fuck what I think. (shrug)

              But let me quote from myself, in the concluding chapter of a book manuscript I did on the history of corporations and published here as a diary series:

              The most ironic thing about the 21st century mega-corporations is that they have accomplished nearly everything that the radical Socialist Party of the 1910’s wanted to do.

              The Socialist Party wanted to eliminate the private ownership of capital and replace it with collective ownership; today the corporations are not owned by individual proprietors, but by a collective body of shareholders. The Socialist Party wanted to remove ownership from management and introduce managers who held their position by election, rather than by ownership; today the corporations are run by professional managers who are hired by a board of directors that is elected by the shareholders. The Socialist Party wanted to eliminate economic competition and replace it with economic cooperation; today the corporations have become vast interconnected networks who own parts of each other through cooperative joint projects and multilateral ventures. The Socialist Party wanted to replace what they called the “anarchy of the marketplace” with planned economic production over long-term goals; today corporations try in every way to eliminate the shocks of market uncertainty by long-term planning. The Socialist Party wanted to eliminate national borders and replace them with internationalism; today the corporations have become multinational, have built up a global economic framework, and have made national boundaries economically irrelevant.

              In essence, the corporations have already socialized the entire process of production.

              Another utopian goal of the Socialist Party was “world government”, and once again, the corporations are today moving along the same path. The corporations have already built international economic structures—the WTO, IMF and the various free trade agreements--and these already have control over national economic policies and legal veto power over national laws.

              Along with the buildup of international economic power must inevitably follow the buildup of international political power. Just as the “nation” has become irrelevant economically and has been replaced by international economic structures, so too has the   “nation-state” become irrelevant politically, and will inevitably be replaced by international political structures—and the corporations have already begun that process.

              The seeds of that international political structure (the United Nations) are, of course, completely undemocratic and are dominated by the handful of wealthy powerful nations.

              But the poor nations (and poor people) of the world are now no longer powerless. Globally, progressives must force the UN to democratize, by degrees, and turn it into a real international government. It is, in essence, the very same process we have already done in the process of democratizing various national governments, but this time we must repeat it on an international scale instead. Just as we once fought for national democracy, now we must fight for international democracy. It’s not a question of whether we should have a world government or not—we already have one. The only question now is whether it should be democratic, or continue to be dominated by the wealthy and powerful.

              Fortunately for us, we do not have to start from scratch.  There already are national organizations for democracy and for social justice, for fair trade and for control over corporate power, for labor rights, environmental protection, consumer safety, etc all over the world.  What we need to do is unify those separate parts into one unified coordinated whole.  Instead of Ford workers in Detroit and Ford workers in Shanghai being in different unions (or in no union at all), we need all of them in the same union, under the same contract.  Instead of environmental groups focusing just on their own country, we need to unify them into a global environmental group which fights for the same environmental protections everywhere.

              That is how we get the beginnings of a supra-national social justice movement—by unifying all the national ones that already exist. And “unify”, doesn’t just mean “give money or moral support to each other”, nor simply “we share the same goals”.  It means unify into one global organization, just like the corporations already have. The corporations are already unified at the global level. They have already led the way.  We must follow.

              We must build up as much international power as the            supra-nationals have, until we are strong enough to do what the national social justice movements have already done at the national level—democratize the government. We need to force the WTO and the UN to become democratic in reality rather than just democratic in name only.

              How do we get the popular democratic vote in the UN or the WTO? The same way African-Americans got the vote in the US. How do we get a seat at the WTO table for labor representatives? The same way that unions won a seat at the corporate table in England and Germany. We must re-fight all of the old fights—for labor rights, for democracy, for consumer and environmental protections—but we must fight them at the international level this time, rather than at the mere national level.

              Will any of these things be easy? No. The privileged nations (including the US) will fight them every step of the way. But it must be done. The only alternative is to simply allow the global corporate elite to run roughshod over the rest of us.

              The era in which a handful of supra-national mega-corporations run the world at their whim, must end.

              http://www.dailykos.com/...
              •  Actually not true (0+ / 0-)
                with all due respect, it doesnt matter a rat's ass (0+ / 0-)

                what goals or aims you or I have.  Reality will be what it is, and it won't ask permission from me, you, or anyone else.  

                That's where you and I are very different. Each person's voice should matter in a movement. When you tell me my voice doesn't matter, or that your's doesn't matter, that's the sort of organization I will avoid, and oppose.

                This sounds like more of your notions or interpretations of dialectal materialism, and I don't accept it, necessarily.

                It starts with each individual, and that individual uniting with others. What we think, and need, and want, is the first step.  

                See, I'm one of those poor proletarians. I'm one of the people. And presumably, so are you.

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

                by ZhenRen on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 02:21:32 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  actually it is true. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  WB Reeves, mahakali overdrive

                  and you can prove it for yourself.  Go outside, shake your fist at the sky, and demand that reality adjust itself to your ideological preferences. As loudly and as passionately as you like.

                  You will find that reality doesn't care a rat's ass what you think.

                  And if it makes you feel any better, reality doesn't care a rat's ass what I think, either.  (shrug)

                  That has nothing to do with dialectical anything.  It is simple reality.

                  •  Not true (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Ray Pensador, DeadHead

                    More attempts to impose dialectics, I see. The problem with that, is that there are moments in history when someone goes out, raises her fist, and a mass of other people join in, and that "reality" to which you refer changes. You can study dialectical materialism all you want, but it won't turn you into a prophet who knows just when the revolution will begin. It's as if people who rely on this too much have become the supposed stewards of any coming revolt, as if through your philosphy you already own it. You don't.

                    For all we know, the revolution already began, at least a first wave. Or perhaps not. But it isn't up to you as a Marxist theorist. It is up to you as a working class person (if that's what you are).

                    The revolution won't be following Marx's rules by some ordained principle of dialectics.

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

                    by ZhenRen on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 02:35:07 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  well, you go ahead and keep trying that (shrug) (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Hey338Too, mahakali overdrive

                      I suspect all it will do to you is the same thing it's already done to Ray--you'll alternate between shaking your fist at the sky and then wondering why everybody else is too stupid to shake their fist at the sky with you.

                      And I have no idea when or if The Revolution (tm)(c) will begin.  That's why I don't waste my time pontificating about it.

                      •  Trapped in a double bind, I see (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Ray Pensador, DeadHead

                        Since you've determined its foolhardy to speak of sweeping change, then we should all wise up and be more practical (which you don't really define), and hence, if we all followed your advice, no one would raise a fist to authority, and thus no sweeping change.

                        A very nice, self-fulfilling rationale. But you should know that's a bunch of nonsense.

                        Even if there is no big movement that will change the direction we're heading, organizing such movements as OWS helps to teach and inform, and train people for the future. And that has made a big difference historically, such as the Spanish Revolution, for example.

                        Meanwhile... got to get back to work in my current stupid job.

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

                        by ZhenRen on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 02:52:48 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  au contraire, I want NOBODY to follow my advice (3+ / 0-)

                          As noted elsewhere, what I want is for everyone to do what they are best-suited for. That is all anyone can ask. None of us can build a castle all by ourselves.  But we can each carry our one stone and put it in place.

                          Me, I served my time.  I've been in this game for almost four decades now. I'm way past the point of shaking my fist at the sky. I leave that to others who are younger than I.

                          But when the shit happens, I'll be there.

                          Even if there is no big movement that will change the direction we're heading, organizing such movements as OWS helps to teach and inform, and train people for the future. And that has made a big difference historically, such as the Spanish Revolution, for example.
                          Indeed, that was the real gain made by Occupy.  In the end, it simply didn't matter what we won or lost.  All that mattered was that we came out of it with a larger number of experienced organizers than we had going in.  And that is how movements are made.
            •  more discussion (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              erratic
              Thanks for giving a more concrete reply.
              You'd have gotten it sooner if you'd simply asked, instead of going off your ideological nut and seeing an opponent here when there wasn't one.  (shrug)
              Would you want Occupy to get involved in the legislative process?
              Why?  That's not what Occupy was for--legislation is what we have a Democratic Party for.

              I'm all in favor of attacking the bosses on every possible front using every effective weapon. And since different people and groups are suited for different aims and methods, all I ask is that everyone use the methods and goals that they are most suited for.

              Arguments over which group or method is "the most important" are idiotic wastes of time and effort.

              One of the Left's biggest problems has always been that we have tried to form one humungous unwieldy group to do everything. It always fails.  What we need are a myriad of different groups, allied but independent, who each fight on their own particular front using the weapons they are best suited to using, whether it's legislation, civil disobedience, mass rallies, or armed insurrection. Let the bosses try to fight us all at the same time.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site