Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
If you wanted to promote an Occupy-sounding message, and wanted to do it from within the existing political system, what would you do? Maybe it would be “The 99% Spring.” I mentioned this in an earlier post, but it’s worth another look. What’s happening includes typical efforts to co-opt a success, and challenges to the originator of the “success” to find ways to maintain the movement.
On March 16, NYC Occupiers announced training, including Weekly Marches on Wall Street.
There was no mention of this, The 99% Spring:
April 9-15 we will gather across America, 100,000 strong … to train ourselves in non-violent action and join together in the work of reclaiming our country. …
In the tradition of our forefathers and foremothers and inspired by today’s brave heroes in Occupy Wall Street and Madison, Wisconsin, we will prepare ourselves for sustained non-violent direct action.
That sounds Occupy-ish.
From the Who We Are section:
The 99% Spring was launched February 15 with the following letter signed by over 40 movement leaders and organizations.
‘… We have a choice to make. Greater wealth for a few or opportunity for many. Tax breaks for the richest or a fair shot for the rest of us. A government that can be bought by the highest bidder, or a democracy that is truly of, … by, … and for the people. …’
This April we will launch one of the most audacious training projects in American history — a program to gear up and light up the movement.
“Audacious,” huh? You can read the entire list of signers at the link above. It includes representatives from: AFL-CIO, Rebuild the Dream, Greenpeace, Progressive Democrats of America, Get Equal, and MoveOn.org. Two questions. First, what is the relationship between The 99% Spring and the Democratic party? Second, what kind of relationship, if any, could / should there be between this coalition of “movement leaders and organizations” and Occupy?
Like Occupy, the coalition emphasizes wealth inequality, and sustained, direct, non-violent actions. They refer to public spaces, including taking “one block … at a time.” Would it be better if the two joined forces, or would having groups working from within and without the system be more effective?
An inside the system challenge can be very helpful … if the system is actually challenged. And if you can’t get Occupiers to join your party, creating a look-alike group organized by existing players in the party system could be a smart move.
… the 99% Spring is … an effort … to coalesce community organizations with organized labor to organize a series of direct actions that add to the progressive fervor of the Spring to come.
Also, check out the March 14 online issue of The Nation, including: Occupy Is Dead! Long Live Occupy!; The Purpose of Occupy Wall Street Is to Occupy Wall Street; Horizontal Meets Vertical.
At Counterpunch, for an unequivocal challenge to The 99% Spring, and to The Nation’s presentation of it, see 99 Percent Spring: the Latest MoveOn Front for the Democratic Party. The writer is identified this way: “The Insider is the pseudonym of an activist who works inside the Liberal Foundation-Funded Democratic Party-Allied Belly of the Beast.”
A new social movement has arrived on the scene and it even has a sexy brand: ‘The 99% Spring.’ …
Beyond the triumphant rhetoric lies a sober truth: ‘The 99 Spring’ is yet another … carefully planned MoveOn.org front group.
Smoking gun one: A WhoIs domain name search yields that … the Administrative Contact is none other than MoveOn.org Co-Founder, Wes Boyd.
Smoking gun two: The homepage of The99Spring.com includes a hot link that reads ‘Get Involved in the 99% Spring.’ A click on the link takes you directly to a MoveOn.org ‘99% Spring Action Training’ webpage … .
Eight “smoking guns” are identified. The last is related to The Nation, which, The Insider asserts,
… is heavily hyping MoveOn’s 99 Spring … .
As grassroots organizer Kevin Zeese points out, there is a genuine … Occupy Spring forthcoming … . The Nation conveniently leaves that one out of its issue … .
“The Insider” is explicit in perspective and conclusions:
… The 99 Spring is a front group for MoveOn.org, and therefore, as investigative journalist John Stauber ha(s) shown in articles past, yet another case study of an attempt at co-option of multiple movements … by MoveOn.
This time around, it’s both the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street. …
It has been a particularly tough task because the Democratic Party, which it fronts for, is beholden to Wall Street … .
(Quoting) … activist and author John Stauber, an expert in exposing corporate and political front groups.
‘… this MoveOn front group is key to whipping liberals and progressive activists into line to attack Republicans for the cause. The brand and energy of Occupy Wall Street are being coopted by MoveOn’s 99 Spring for this purpose … .
‘This reminds me of the … massively funded Health Care for America Now coalition backed by MoveOn in 2009 which made sure that single payer health care was ignored while the White House pushed its pro-insurance industry legislation … . In this latest case, the so-called 99 Spring, MoveOn is enlisting other NGOs to create the appearance of a populist uprising from the Left, when it’s all about keeping the rabble in line and aimed at the Republicans to re-elect Obama’ … .
Politics is messy. Activism and advocacy are frequently confused, cluttered and chaotic. All of which are reasons that it can be so tempting just to vote a party line, or simply follow the lead of a widely recognized organization. It isn’t that there aren’t some good ideas and policies in both, but neither are they necessarily what they present themselves to be: on our side.
( Spring Is Coming via Occupy Pix )