Who Should Occupy Occupy?
Occupy Spring didn’t amount to much of an event, and to the extent that they mention the Occupy movement at all, many mainstream media outlets have proclaimed that Occupy is over. Before he died, Andrew Breitbart initiated Occupy Unmasked, a pseudo-documentary film purporting to reveal the dark secret that Occupy was a revolutionary group led by anarchists – a fact that was patently obvious to anyone that spent five minutes at an encampment.
In, Occupy Wall Street, Year Two, the Village Voice believes that OWS is carefully planning their next move:
The obituary of the Occupy Wall Street movement has been written and rewritten hundreds of times in the year since the movement first burst into the national consciousness. …
As Occupy plans its own anniversary and the movement prepares to enter its second year, organizers find themselves in something like the role of particle physicists studying the readouts of a cyclotron: Something bright and hot happened in Zuccotti Park for a few months last fall. What was it? What was the magical formula, the combination of circumstances so powerful it could transform so many people who visited the park and capture the imagination of an entire nation, while reframing the popular conversation and inspiring hundreds of sympathetic uprisings across the country, from Los Angeles to Kalamazoo? Can they replicate it?
Some of the critical ingredients of that first flash are gone, maybe forever. Police and institutional powers seem determined to deny the movement the physical space that was so central to its early days.
Closer to where I roam, Occupy Baltimore continues to act in small ways, mostly getting behind Occupy Our Homes. Today OB announced plans to protest the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, which I had never heard about before. It’s Our Economy tells us why we are unlikely to hear about it from official sources:
Trade negotiators and corporate lobbyists from the United States and throughout the Pacific Rim will be meeting at a fancy resort in Leesburg, Virginia outside of Washington, DC from September 6 to 15 to advance the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement — an transnational corporate power grab that would affect the economy, the environment, public health and democracy itself for decades to come.
U.S. negotiators have granted approximately 600 corporate lobbyists access to the negotiating texts, but have flatly refused to tell the public what they have been proposing in our names. In fact, they don’t intend to tell us what they’ve been working on even after the deal is signed and completed….
Powerful corporate interests want to use the TPP to:
– Offshore good-paying jobs to low-wage nations and undercut working conditions globally
– Create new tools for attacking environmental and consumer safety standards
– Expand the deregulation of banks, hedge funds and insurance companies
– Further concentrate global food supplies, displacing family farmers and subjecting consumers to wild price fluctuations
– Institute longer patents that restrict access to affordable, generic medications
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a secretive, multi-national trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on its enforcement. The main problems are two-fold:
(1) IP chapter: Leaked draft texts of the agreement show that the IP chapter would have extensive negative ramifications for users’ freedom of speech, right to privacy and due process, and hinder peoples’ abilities to innovate.
(2) Lack of transparency: The entire process has shut out multi-stakeholder participation and is shrouded in secrecy.
While the people behind Occupy and the Green Party are more diligent about watching government machinations than the mainstream media, one wonders whether their movement-building tactics are still oriented towards a twentieth century revolution, depending on some sort of spontaneous uprising of workers.
Perhaps the apparatchiks behind Occupy are biding their time, forging alliances with Labor and hoping to be the framework for the next outbreak of class struggle. But are the anarchists the ones to lead? A persistent criticism of Occupy was that they had no leaders and no clear agenda. The persistent response was that having no leaders was a strength and that the agenda would develop. What I observed was that there certainly were leaders, though well-concealed, and there certainly was an agenda, though it was initially sweeping enough to appeal to many of the disaffected.
In The Degeneration of Politics, John Michael Greer concludes a long discussion of Americans’ drift from a group that actively caucused and politicked to a group that merely flocked and followed, if they did anything at all, with a dismissal of those anarchists:
I don’t suppose that my readers have yet forgotten the torrents of self-praise that came out of Occupy Wall Street and its equivalents last year, or more precisely from the activists who hijacked the mass demonstrations in New York and elsewhere, pushed consensus methods on them, used those methods to get control of the meetings and the money, and then ran them into the ground. The result, as usual, was that most of the people who had originally joined the protests simply walked away, once it became clear to them that their voices had been coopted and their concerns would not be addressed, and the activists drifted elsewhere once it became clear to them that they no longer had an audience.
Should the 99% follow some core group – the anarchists or the Greens – or should they organize themselves into a more proactive and representative group?