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Who could have dreamed we'd be this successful?  Occupy Wall Street has spread across the country, around the world.  People have taken back the public squares of their own towns and cities.  The voice of the 99% is finally being heard against the blare of corporate media.  Attempts to vilify, marginalize, and caricature have been turned aside by the bond of recognition -- we are all in this together.

But the history of successful social movements says, we need to be ready to move on.  Keep the story fresh, keep bringing more people into the movement, don't get too invested in defense -- stay on offense.  So how do we build on what we've already built?

Just in the last few days, there have been hints about what's next: the general strike in Oakland, Cornell West putting Goldman Sachs on trial before a People's Court, Marvinborg's brilliant one-man protest for Move Your Money day.  Discussion below the fold for what a mass movement should do to become even more massive, plus some lessons from our old favorite, Saul Alinsky.

I'm a worrier, and a planner.  I admit that up front.  I worry that the tent cities are going to shrivel and fade, as the weather gets colder, as the police get nastier, and as the corporate media gets bored (which takes about...oh, the length of one of their 30-second commercials).  Besides, people like getting swept up in something compelling, something that's going somewhere.  We're Americans, we want something new all the time.  So part of a social movement's job is to keep it fresh.  

Part of the job is also to keep the attention focused on what matters.  All the stories about police trying to tear down tents focuses the attention on the tactic of occupying, instead of the needs of the 99%, or the message of taking back our country.  What can we do to keep people thinking about jobs vs. obscene profit, about investing in our future vs. mindless "austerity" plans, on the power of the people vs. the power of the banks?

I really loved Marvinblog's story yesterday about hitting banks where it hurts -- telling the truth about what they've done, and taking away their source of profits: us!  Handing out those flyers is such an easy tactic to emulate in every neighborhood or small town that has a branch of one of the big banks; and easy for the lazy media to cover; and gets people thinking about the right issues, without a lot distractions about whether the tactic might somehow be illegal / violent / unAmerican or all the other labels they try to throw at anyone who raises their voice.  We're planning to print out some copies and walk the sidewalks in front of our neighborhood banks this afternoon.

So that got my thinking...and got me pulling down my Grandmother's copy of Alinsky's Rules for Radicals.  (Okay, I admit, I got her that copy before she died -- she'd been a communist in the 1930's, and stayed an anti-establishment rabbler-rouser her whole life, so she loved it.)

Here are some excerpts from Alinsky on tactics -- they seem to me like they were written this week, not 40 years ago:

  • Tactics is the art of how the Have-Nots can take power away from the Haves
  • Never go outside the experience of your people.  When an action or tactic is outside the experience of the people, the result is confusion, fear, and retreat.
  • Wherever possible, go outside the experience of the enemy.  Here you want to cause confusion, fear, and retreat.
  • Ridicule is man's [sic -- okay, it really was written 40 years ago] most potent weapon.  It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule.  Also it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage.
  • A good tactic is one that your people enjoy.  If your people are not having a ball doing it, there is something very wrong with the tactic.
  • A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.  [People] can sustain militant interest in any issue for only a limited time, after which one's reaction becomes, 'Well, my heard bleeds for those people and I'm all for the boycott, but after all there are other important things in life" -- and there it goes.
  • Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions.
  • The real action is in the enemy's reaction.
  • The enemy properly goaded and guided in [their] reaction will be your major strength.
  • Tactics, like organization, like life, require that you move with the action.

Okay folks, floors open.  What's next?  What will grab people's attention, keep the focus where we want it, make the 1% furious and make them look ridiculous at the same time, and let people -- hopefully millions of people -- have a ball while doing it?


What's your favorite new tactic to add the Occupy Wall Street movement?

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| 14 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  I am old enough to have actually met (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, Catte Nappe

    Saul Alinsky. He was indeed a dynamic and vigorous man, but he was not the messiah and never claimed to be. This is a new movement for a different time. Trying to run it strictly by a recipe is not going to work.  

  •  I think we should focus on Christmas... (0+ / 0-)

    it's not that far away.

    It's the most commercial holiday we have in the US.

    Maybe it's time for a War on Corporate Christmas.

  •  Something new. (0+ / 0-)

    I love OWS. I watched close up the super wealthy get even more wealthy, while me, and my friends got less, and worked more.  I have seen this, as we all have for the past 10 years or so.   I was excited to see OWS focus on the greed of so few, and the middle class turning into minimum wage class.    So, who or what can be done to reverse this ?  The way I see it, the Republicans defend the wealthy, and the Democrats defend the middle class.  The Republicans are trying to muddy the picture.

    The Republicans want to sell the idea that OWS isn't political.  Of course they are trying to sell this, if this turned into a focused political movement, the Republicans just might get voted out of office for protecting the wealthy at all costs.  The Republicans might get voted out of office for stopping every single bill that might create jobs and actually help out some unemployed people. The Republicans might get voted out for only passing bills that are designed to reverse woman's rights, not job creation. ( How sad is that ?)
    The Republicans might get voted our of office for stopping the Democrats for creating a tax for wall street.

    It's time for OWS to focus on what would be best for the middle class, not the wealthy and vote those out of office. As we all know , the President can be blocked at every step of the way, if Republicans ( And blue dog democrats) are the majority.    
    Those that argue OWS is not a political force are those that want to avoid what would cause change, and reverse some of the damage we are protesting in the first place.

    "Hey, with religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

    by EarTo44 on Fri Nov 04, 2011 at 07:16:05 AM PDT

    •  To answer (0+ / 0-)
      who or what can be done to reverse this ?

      The republicans got where they are by taking over school boards, town councils, and library boards and moving up as they gained experience.

      We too have to take our country back from the bottom up.

      Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

      by Horace Boothroyd III on Fri Nov 04, 2011 at 08:06:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  OWS isn't, and shouldn't be, politically partisan! (0+ / 0-)

      Stick to the issues. It needs to stick to consciousness raising and mobilizing people around the issues. Individuals can figure out from there what they personally want to do electorally to impact those issues. OWS doesn't vote. People do. The whole thing will collapse if anyone tries to make it come out in favor of a particular candidate or party.

      from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”

      by Catte Nappe on Fri Nov 04, 2011 at 11:17:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Poll answer (0+ / 0-)

    All of the above (well, except maybe the pie eating, and even there I think a case could be made - dividing the pie, who gets what percent, etc.)  

    It will take all of those things, and more. Teach-ins to inform the curious or the less informed about the facts, about civil disobedience, etc. Keeping the story fresh for the media means doing more than marching somewhere every day. OWS had a special march targeting the NY homes of the wealthiest - that made it "fresh", for example. Mocke trial maybe good for one event, or perhaps twice a month, with a different and "fresh" plaintiff (i.e. don't do a different bank each time, maybe a bank one time, WalMart the next time, etc.) Creative thinking needs to come from everywhere.

    from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”

    by Catte Nappe on Fri Nov 04, 2011 at 11:11:55 AM PDT

  •  to me, the most obvious alinskyesque (0+ / 0-)

    influence in this movement is this rule:

    Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.

    by highlighting how the system doesn't adhere to or respect the constitution, they delegitimize themselves.

    our one demand? return what was stolen.

    by stolen water on Sat Nov 12, 2011 at 02:52:49 PM PST

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