Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
A continued search for a “leader,” if not a “savior,” from and as defined by the same Two Corporate Party System that brought us to this Occupied moment, would be, at best, to keep repeating the same mistakes. Worse, it’s to cooperate with our own continued decline. Not surprisingly, there is a great deal being said and written about the “meaning” of the Occupy / 99% movement. A part of that conversation is about leadership.
A “Statement of Autonomy” from the NYC General Assembly, is clear:
Occupy Wall Street is a people’s movement. It is party-less, leaderless, by the people and for the people. It is not a business, a political party, an advertising campaign or a brand. It is not for sale. …
We wish to clarify that Occupy Wall Street is not and never has been affiliated with any established political party, candidate or organization. …
Any organization is welcome to support us with the knowledge that doing so will mean questioning your own institutional frameworks of work and hierarchy and integrating our principles into your modes of action.
SPEAK WITH US, NOT FOR US.
And there is where many simply can’t or won’t go. “Questioning your own institutional frameworks” is too fundamental, too damn scary. On November 10, Matt Taibbi wrote a piece that speaks to this, in Politics: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the OWS Protests:
Occupy Wall Street … (is) about providing a forum for people to show how tired they are not just of Wall Street, but everything. … by being so broad in scope and so elemental in its motivation, it’s flown over the heads of many on both the right and the left. …
As the Occupy Movement transitions, with physically occupying public spaces still a key piece, but multiple other actions and ideas emerging, you can see a couple of things happening. On the Right, of course, are gleeful shouts of “Look, we made the dirty f’king hippies go away!” On the Left, we see increasing efforts to co-opt. I know I keep bringing this up, but that’s because it keeps happening.
A recent MoveOn.org mailing:
That’s why on Thursday, Dec. 1, we’re organizing ‘99% Congressional Speak-Outs’ at the local offices of our senators and representatives. We’ll expose Republicans for making it their top priority to protect millionaires instead of creating jobs—and we’ll call on Democrats to fight hard to help Americans get back to work and stay in their homes.
I’ll be interested to see how they “call on Democrats” to do something that should have been a priority for a few years now. More to the current point, this is a prime example of jumping on the bandwagon someone else built, after it’s picked up some speed. Or, as this tweet puts it: “Dirtyfknhippy RT @KBZeese: No to Co-Option: MoveOn is the Opposite of the Occupy Movement owsnews.org/?p=8891.”
I’m guessing, but don’t know, that “@KBZeese” is Kevin Zeese, who wrote, from Occupy Washington, DC :
The corporate media is anointing a false leader of the Occupy Movement in Van Jones of Rebuild the Dream.
The former Obama administration official, who received a golden parachute at Princeton and the Democratic think tank Center for American Progress when he left the administration, is doing what Democrats always do – see the energy of an independent movement, race to the front, then lead it down a dead end and essentially destroy it. Jones is doing the dirty work of a Democratic operative and while he and other Dem front groups pretend to support Occupiers, their real mission is to co-opt it. …
These Dem front groups operate within the confines of the two corrupt parties and their agenda is limited by what big business interests say is politically realistic. Rebuild the Dream is more of the same that has been seen over and over from groups like MoveOn and Campaign for America’s Future – elect Democrats is their mantra. It is their only program. And, it is bankrupt.
And then there’s this, from MoveToAmend:
Move to Amend Occupies the Courts!
Inspired by our friends at Occupy Wall Street, and Dr. Cornel West, Move To Amend is planning bold action to mark the second anniversary of the infamous Citizens United v. FEC decision!
Occupy the Courts will be a one day occupation of Federal courthouses across the country, including the U.S. Supreme Court … on Friday January 20, 2012. …
Americans across the country are on the march, and they are marching OUR way. They carry signs that say, ‘Corporations are NOT people! Money is NOT Speech!’
Grabbing on and using whatever is working is classic marketing, from movies to apps to beer to politics. And since we’re less than a year out from 2012 elections it’s no surprise that both Corporate Parties are using the Occupy / 99% movement for their own ends. Of course the Occupiers and 99%-ers make mistakes, will need to keep learning and evolving and refining and trying new things. But the very fact that they’re being used by both Left and Right argues that they’re “doing something right.”
As Larry Pinkney writes at Intrepid Report:
… Th(e) protracted struggle on the part of everyday Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people is not without its inevitable contradictions which must be addressed … . Nonetheless, an important initial victory has already been won. … the fact that the ‘OCCUPATION’ movement is bringing about a very important increase in the political consciousness of everyday people. …
… the corporate Democratic Party foxes and the corporate Republican Party wolves are attempting to exploit these contradictions in an effort to co-opt, discredit, neutralize, and ultimately destroy this growing people’s movement.
And that is one fundamental point: an actual “people’s movement” challenges the Corporate Occupation of our nation.
(Corporations Are Not People poster via Occupy Posters)