Five liberal tendencies that plagued Occupy

by Mark Bray on May 14, 2014

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The liberal tendencies of some Occupiers severely undermined the movement’s strength; identifying them will make it easier to resist them next time.

In a country so devoid of genuinely left politics as the United States, it was little surprise that Occupy Wall Street (OWS), the most dynamic American social movement in decades, surged to the fore of national politics riding a robust wave of liberal euphoria. As I argue in Translating Anarchy: The Anarchism of Occupy Wall Street, OWS never would have attained historic proportions without tapping into the pervasive despair that plagued left-liberal and progressive circles after Obama’s failure to live up to the “savior of the left” hype that was so recklessly bestowed upon him in 2008.

But it was liberal support for a movement that a core organizing group of anarchists and anti-capitalist anti-authoritarians shifted in an autonomous, directly democratic, non-electoral, class struggle, direct-action-oriented direction that made OWS popular, radical, and radicalizing. Without the anarchists it would have been ineffectual; without the liberals it would have been irrelevant. By carving out space for liberals and progressives to engage with anarchist praxis, OWS made a profound contribution to the development of anti-authoritarianism in the USA and beyond.

However, some of the most debilitating obstacles that we encountered stemmed from a number of liberal tendencies infecting a predominantly radical anti-capitalist organizing network. No, I’m not talking about attempts to turn Occupy into a voter-registration drive for the Democratic Party, or run “Occupy candidates” in local elections, or morph the movement into a new, hip political party that “breaks all the rules.” No, those tendencies were always peripheral and idiosyncratic within OWS, and they were cloaked in the stench of putrefying electoralism.

Instead, I’m referring to unacknowledged, internalized perspectives and orientations infected with liberalism through their constant exposure to the individualistic, capitalist climate we endure in this country. I hope that by examining a handful of them (space and time do not permit a complete list), we can better resist them next time.

1. Liberal Libertarianism

What do you get when an activist partially digests a skewed counter-cultural anti-authoritarianism without having rid themselves of their lingering liberalism? That’s right, a Liberal Libertarian. The Liberal Libertarian is the person who has learned enough about the potentially heinous repercussions of coercion and exclusion to renounce authoritarian organizing structures, but takes this in such an individualistic direction that they also often dismiss even directly democratic structures and reject collective attempts to prevent boisterous individuals from completely disrupting assemblies, meetings, actions or any other collective endeavor.

If, at a large assembly of 200 people, one person is screaming out of turn about an unrelated topic and won’t take several offers from nearby people to step aside and discuss the issue; and this happens often enough for it to get to the point where most people would rather leave the movement than endure such excruciating experiences; and it’s known that there are myriad infiltrators and provocateurs, sent by both state and capital, among us, then most people would agree that a plan would have to be put in place to prevent one person from shutting down the work of hundreds. Not the Liberal Libertarian.

The Liberal Libertarian would rather see our collective efforts grind to a screeching halt than see one person “silenced” for any reason under any context. The Liberal Libertarian doesn’t actually care about collective power; they simply seek individual self-realization. Take this quote from Charles Eisenstein, author of Sacred Economics, in a trailer for the film Occupy Love: ”this movement isn’t about the 99% defeating or toppling the 1%. You know the next chapter of that story: which is that the 99% create a new 1%. That’s not what it’s about.” Instead of expropriating a ruling class whose obscene wealth is drenched in the blood of millions, the Liberal Libertarian just wants to multiply interpersonal emotional exchanges.

When that outlook begins to infect organizing spaces, the result can be disastrous unless we have procedures and decision-making methods that can withstand Liberal Libertarianism’s corrosive effects.

2. Outcome Neutrality

Liberal Libertarianism is reactionary because it isn’t really about transforming the underlying economic or political system. Instead, it aims to enact a more authentic rendition of popular liberal principles. So while the liberals of the Democratic Party don’t really value freedom of speech, the Liberal Libertarians (in conjunction with left-liberals and progressives) often see nothing more important than creating free speech zones where traditional liberal values can be fully upheld.

This is often extended even to those who verbally derail the movement and in the case of Occupy Toronto even to the presence of Nazis. At an event in Toronto, a group of Occupy organizers explained how their encampment was split in half over whether to allow Nazis their “right to free speech” within Occupy.

But to make matters worse, this “free speech” liberal prefigurative politics infects outlooks on organizing and political struggle to the point where some activists consider it oppressive to promote a tactical direction or political agenda. Outcome Neutrality is the result. It dictates that any political direction that any group or community decides to take is essentially as worthwhile as any other. It incorporates a libertarian emphasis on autonomy and decentralization, but drains left libertarianism of its proscriptive content and reduces it to laissez faire (in the literal sense) left politics.

I once heard a guy at OWS with generally pretty decent politics say that he wanted to create an anti-capitalist, anarchist society, but if another society wanted to have capitalism that would be fine with him since he didn’t want to “impose” his “opinion” on others. Politics dissolved into atomized opinions floating in a “free speech” pond. As long as everyone has the opportunity to express themselves then whatever follows is just “democracy.”

Certainly some of this is derived from the important realization that activists and organizers shouldn’t tell other communities or groups what to do and instead should work in solidarity with others toward collective liberation. But while an anti-authoritarian outlook eschews hierarchical organizing strategies that confine collective aspirations to plans and blueprints designed by others, solidarity is not a blank check. Truly revolutionary solidarity strikes a balance between advocating for our anti-capitalist, anti-hierarchical politics and recognizing that these values and ideas must be freely adopted rather than mandated. Our politics must maintain an anti-authoritarian normativity if they are to avoid falling into the liberal impotence of Outcome Neutrality.

3. The Opiate of the Virtual Collective Commonwealth

The historic movements of 2011 were often reduced to technology. According to the New York Times and many others, the Egyptian Revolution “began on Facebook” with the actions of a Google marketing executive living abroad. Then “what bubbled up online spilled into the streets” and, so the narrative goes, SMS and Twitter made mass mobilizations possible. While I’m not trying to minimize the importance that innovations in communications technology have had on popular politics, from the printing press to the newspaper, from the telegraph to social media, society’s fetishization of novelty inflates the importance of the latest social media technology at the expense of less innovative or headline-worthy, but far more crucial, components of struggle.

In other words, to say that Egyptian resistance “spilled into the streets” is to miss the fact that it had been living on the streets and in workplaces, homes, neighborhoods, mosques, and churches long before any Facebook group. Sure, social media was a catalyst in the Middle East and North Africa, Southern Europe, the USA and elsewhere, but in focusing so much attention on a single catalyst we not only ignore other catalysts, we obscure the necessity of having social and economic conditions to catalyze in the first place.

And those conditions are not generated in cyberspace. The excessive focus on social media distracts us from the lived dynamics of actually-existing spheres of human sociability, and it subtly promotes a liberal prescription for political problems: that political change is primarily about disseminating isolated ideas for atomized individuals to consider, rather than organizing collectively from the ground-up and compelling our oppressors to adhere to our power. As I’ve argued elsewhere, this is a variation of what I call “the idea as motor of history,” or the notion that change follows from enough people having come into contact with a transformative idea isolated from context.

In Zuccotti Park in the fall of 2011 there were a lot of people who thought that if we could just articulate the Occupy idea to enough people they would just have to come around to it because of its sheer righteousness. But although the Occupy idea was broadcast far and wide, it was not enough on its own in the absence of strong and sustained connections with concrete struggles. Many liberals argue that all we need to do is come up the right ideas to “fix the world,” but felled-forests-worth of visionary thought has been published for some time. We don’t need another idea; we need the power to make it happen.

Although social media and 24-hour cable news rapidly accelerated the dissemination of Occupy across the country and around the world, it catapulted OWS into the spotlight before it had accomplished the organizing that needs to happen initially in order to develop the capacity to be able to incorporate thousands of new people. We were constantly playing catch-up and before we knew it the meteoric rise of OWS was followed by a correspondingly precipitous plunge once social media and cable news moved onto the next big thing.

In that way, OWS was like the pop sensation “Gangnam Style” by Korean singer Psy. For a brief window of time “everyone” sang the song and did the dance (often with an ironic detachment) just as they flooded parks and squares so they could tell their grandkids that they too had “Occupied.” But anyone who was caught blasting “Gangnam Style” (or organizing an Occupy event) a few months after it went out of style was considered hopelessly passé. Therefore, one of our most pressing questions is how to build a solid social movement that can withstand the inevitable social media hangover.

4. The Lens of the Live-Action Opinion Poll

Mainstream media coverage of political demonstrations essentially considers them live-action opinion polls that show what a large segment of the population thinks about an issue. Their liberal assumption is that the demonstration’s only value is its ability to communicate a public message to legislators. If the government accedes to the demonstration’s demand(s) it will be deemed a success, and if not (which is almost always) it is deemed a failure.

While only the most staunchly electoral activists fail to focus on the demonstration’s primary role as a catalyst for organizing society around a given issue, The Lens of the Live-Action Opinion Poll extends itself beyond its prominence in the media into how activists assess turnouts for their events. Because so many of our organizing efforts fail to generate mass support, the enormous turnouts that Occupy events generated lulled some into assessing crowds solely in terms of numbers without analyzing who the people were, what brought them out, and who they came with.

Successful movements don’t organize disaggregated, de-contextualized individuals; they organize tenants, migrants, workers, prisoners, community members, etc. based on issues directly affecting them on a daily basis. That’s part of the reason why the floods of people that surged into Occupy encampments flowed back out just as fast as they came in: the movement wasn’t sufficiently anchored in their everyday struggles.

For some new-age liberal types this question didn’t matter because through their post-identity politics they only saw a uniform sea of humanity. But this liberal discomfort with group identity manifested itself in a variety of ways such as opposition to the formation of People of Color Caucuses and organizing spaces, for example, and the promotion of a “melting pot” identity-less politics that saw everyone as “Occupiers.”

While the liberal outlook would have people lose the particularities of their oppression in an artificial unity oriented around grievances of the movement’s most well-off, a revolutionary outlook would have people find themselves through collective struggle and form links of solidarity across different planes of resistance.

5. The Myth of the Misinformed Officers of the 99%

John Steinbeck once wrote that “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” To that, I’d add, “Opposition to the police never took root in America because people see the police not as armed guardians of capital but as temporarily confused workers.” Of course, just as Steinbeck overstated the failure of socialism in America, I overstate the lack of opposition to the police, especially in working class communities of color. Nevertheless, as compared to many other countries around the world, the United States has had a deficiency of socialism and anti-police sentiment.

If you attend a relatively mainstream left demonstration in Latin America or southern Europe, for example, it’s quite common to hear anti-police epithets shouted and chanted without any audible dissent in the crowd. At an Occupy event, a cop could be brutalizing someone, yet shouting “fuck you” at the cop would inevitably attract the ire of several invariably white protesters.

A major reason for this is the misguided notion that the police are also part of the 99%. Space does not permit a full discussion of the limitations and problems with the 99% language, but suffice it to say that “the 99%,” just like “the working class,” when used politically is a normative rather than a purely descriptive phrase. So although the police work and are paid less than the 1% their entire raison d’être is to oppose the political advancement of the working class. Modern police forces emerged from Southern slave patrols and the need to repress labor disputes.

We need to eradicate the liberal notion that if we articulate our grievances precisely enough the police won’t bash our heads in. While in a few isolated cases some police officers might realize the reactionary nature of their profession and quit, they’d only be replaced by other working class people looking for some job security and authority, and their resignation wouldn’t address the structural nature of law enforcement as the bodyguard of the ruling class. You can’t reason with class rule.

Occupy didn’t come anywhere near threatening the ruling class and engaged in non-violent tactics but was, nevertheless, faced with systematic brutality. Imagine what the police would do if we managed to generate a powerful anti-systemic movement. The Black Panthers certainly found out.

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When left to fester, these liberal tendencies leave us with activists who eschew collective political aspirations in favor of detached personal opinions, spend an inordinate amount of time trying to disseminate those opinions online while ignoring interpersonal social relations, block attempts to forge a united struggle and resist disrupters and infiltrators, ignore the particularities of oppression, and defend the police even when they’re assaulting peaceful demonstrators. Those exposed to these influences oppose building power in the name of a postmodern opposition to hegemony while simultaneously drain struggles of their ability and willingness to withstand repression.

Instead, we need to construct groups, movements, and projects that nourish person-to-person bonds in neighborhoods, apartment buildings, workplaces, and communities without getting lost in how many followers a group’s Twitter account has. We need to be vigilant against the attempts of isolated people to impose their priorities on everyone else in the name of their individuality (after all, the beauty of free association implies the option of free disassociation) and use organizing structures that are durable and designed to withstand interference.

And while recognizing the importance of humility and introspection every step of the way, we mustn’t be afraid to make our case for the reconstruction of society. To see calls for a world devoid of hunger and hatred as mere “opinions” on par with capitalist appeals to augment inequality and incarceration is to fall into the liberal trap of ceding contestations of power to our enemies. Successful struggle requires an anti-authoritarian normativity that rejects the bizarre liberal notion that the perspectives of oppressors are as worthwhile as those of the oppressed.

Mark Bray is the author of Translating Anarchy: The Anarchism of Occupy Wall Street (Zero, 2013). He is a member of the Black Rose Anarchist Federation and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and has been a political organizer involved in various groups and campaigns over the years. You can follow him on Twitter via @Mark__Bray.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Connor Owens May 14, 2014 at 20:07

Great analysis. I just finished your book and it was great to be able to read this article as an addendum.

Although I think you’re completely right about liberal libertarianism and the need to maintain a reasonable degree of intolerance towards those who are clearly doing nothing but disrupt the democratic process, I fear that adopting this policy openly will end up being used against left-libertarians by right-libertarians as yet another example of how we “anti-individual” and “pro-aggression”.

I’ve lost count of the amount of arguments I’ve had with libertarian capitalists who deride any and all forms of democracy as “mob rule” and say such astonishingly ludicrous things such as “in a democracy, 51% can kill the other 49%!” And “democracy is 99 white people killing a black man!”

It makes no difference to them when you explain that anarchists propose that all directly-democratic institutions occur on the basis of voluntary association (with the freedom to disassociate at any time) and most would not even use simple majority voting but rather consensus decision-making. They still claim that anarchists want to “initiate force” against them by “forcing” them to submit to the majority.

What this really is however is despair at the absence of MINORITY rule (ie: theirs as members of the capitalist class).

They may be wingnuts at the end of the day, but unfortunately they’re ideology seems to be gaining more ground with the dissolution of traditional conservatism on the Right. I can see the next era of political conflict not between progressives and conservatives, but between left-libertarians and right-libertarians.

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Johnny Lemuria May 16, 2014 at 18:05

I have observed the behavior of ‘right libertarians’ in Occupy meetings, and I have observed the people who were derailingly disruptive. To my recollection, the ‘right libertarians’ weren’t the ones disrupting the actual assemblies. The politics of the disrupters varied, but from what I gathered, they weren’t explicitly ancaps.
I understand you have problems with them, and they may indeed be valid problems. But accusing right libertarians of being liberal libertarians just won’t wash.

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Connor Owens May 20, 2014 at 18:16

I wasn’t saying they were liberal libertarians at all.
I was simply saying that not tolerating LLs at meetings and cracking down on disruptive behaviour would end up being used by libertarian capitalists against supporters of direct-democracy. Due to them seeing it as yet another example of how we “initiate force” against them.

Frankly I’m surprised that such people would even attend democratic assemblies; seeing them as they do as “mob rule”.

Far from being LLs, they don’t seem to want anybody to be free to speak unless they own capital.

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Colin O May 15, 2014 at 01:47

This was a really fantastic read. It really spoke to a lot of the problems that I saw in Occupy Rochester, and that I imagine people felt in a lot of other Occupy spaces.

These are particularly good lessons for those of us that have continued organizing beyond the moment of Occupy.

The liberal libertarian…I like having a name for that guy!

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Steven Henry Martin May 15, 2014 at 02:00

Some good points made, things I also saw at Occupy. My major disagreement is with “the Myth of the Misinformed Officers.” On the contrary, I saw anti-cop fury as one of the movement’s major weaknesses. I couldn’t help but notice that there must be nothing more reassuring to economic elites and political conservatives to see the movement’s rage directed at the riot police and the beat cop, and to know that the wavering officers were affirmed by that rage to agree to increasingly fascistic measures.

Many successful revolutionary movements relied on dissention within the armed forces for crucial support for their cause. But here in the West, maybe that was unpalatable to the anti-cop mentality because it would take away a familiar scapegoat for their rage. So we come ready to fight a cop on the street while the bosses and the citizenry look on, shaking their heads. We know before we get there that there is no hope that any protest could physically defeat the cops in the event of a confrontation, but thats ok, because no one is serious about winning – alot of people want battle scars and arrest records the same way some people want tattoos and piercings.

It is a disastrous strategy to encourage hostility to the police. It emphasizes the battlelines at the site of protest, rather than where the street meets the bank. In addition, the police bigheads were nervous about sympathy among the police for Occupiers initially – cops were ordered not to engage in friendly conversations with them after an amicable understanding was established in those first weeks. They needn’t have worried, the anti-cop movement swiftly made sure that the cops were fed enough hatred and hostility to destroy any troubling questions they might have had.

This is not to say that the cops are just like anybody else, nor that the cops didn’t willingly engage in brutal, criminal and totalitarian behavior. It does mean an anti-cop approach ensures that creating a split becomes impossible among those cops and the ones who didn’t sign up for beating up protesters, who are basically decent people. There are many who laugh at such a basic statement of fact. If you don’t believe they exist, then I would suggest you live in an ideological bubble of your own making, one that will hamstring all future radicalizing projects to come.

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Will May 15, 2014 at 22:29

Great article and I have to say that I agree with Steven’s comments about cops. I think we have fetishized anti-police sentiments, just like we have fetishized much of the radical activist subculture. Certainly, the police as an institution is a political enemy. Certainly, the military as an institution, is a political enemy. I speak more from a military perspective. We have to remember that usually the guys in the lower ranks are from working class, marginal backgrounds and understand more than many “radicals” about the problems poor people deal with. If you have friends in these types of jobs you know what I’m talking about. They are following orders. Calling them pigs is not a good tactic, it just makes you feel cool and de-humanizes them, and in turn makes it easier on their conscience for them to beat you with a stick. There’s a human being under that uniform. As individuals they are naturally sympathetic to human needs and popular demands and they are following orders. I think we need to stop over-simplifying stuff like this. You’re not more radical just because you want to beat up a cop. We should behave civilly and appeal to the humanity in the police. This is coming from an officer in the establishment on his way out.

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Alexis May 16, 2014 at 17:53

Thank you.

I also found much to agree with in this article, but find your amendment pitch perfect. Enjoying calm, reasoned, intelligent discussion. We all get our heads off center from time to time in various ways, and it’s helpful to be able to gently work our way through it.

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Robert Wood May 20, 2014 at 22:00

I’m not in complete disagreement with you, but you make a substantial mistake in collapsing together the police with the army. The latter is frequently a non-voluntary position, brought in by the draft or other forms of coercion, while the former is an ostensibly voluntary position. Therefore, the rank and file from the army frequently play play an important role in revolutionary struggles, while the police have historically been the last hold outs of every revolutionary struggle.

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kayvee May 15, 2014 at 03:20

1. Taking a shit in a hole in a ramshackle tent city in the midst of an urban public park and expecting working class people with jobs and families and actual human souls and dignity to savor the stench, to empathize with you, see you as their saviors, and cleave towards your ‘rad’ life-syleist tourism as though it is some kind of germinal utopia.

2. Consensus decision making processes: ‘So Say We All’…i.e. the catty, insecure social dynamic of the suburban high schools the activist/saviors grew up in, carried over into the realm of ‘community organizing’ – minus any real community of course: cult of personality, the reign of the ‘protest elite’/celebrity activists, or whoever is dumb or stubborn enough to stick around, the rule of peer pressure.

3. Any reformist squinting, any fucking talk whatsoever of running candidates on any ticket for any party, any validation of oligarchical, plutocratic, representative pseudo-democracy whatsoever, any reference to lawmaking or salary caps or campaign finance reform or any such laughable horseshit whatsoever.

4. ‘Spirituality’.

5. Spectacular self-martyrdom, allowing yourself to be pepper-sprayed en masse for a photo opp, begging for it, cos people are supposed to admire your chickenshit pacisfism…any confrontation with a cop-as-aggressor that doesn’t end up with his blood on the ground.

6. For the win: The presence of petit-bourgeois, privileged ‘activists’ as politicians-in-training in any way shape or form, of identity politics in any way shape or form, of subcultural cliques, of ideological fetishism…the presence of children of socio-economic privilege in any empowered decision-making role whatsoever, the presence of privilege – not as defined by your fucking buzzfeed survey, by your ethnicity, gender, proclivities, or fucking fashion sense but as defined by your allegiance and your natural, socio-economic empathies in the Class War as it is and as it shall be.

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jamesmmm May 15, 2014 at 04:18

Good post…there’s a group of protestors who show up at Zucotti wearing masks and calling for the death of cops…true anarchism/libertarianism does no such thing and I think that this may have contributed significantly to the demise. Unless the revolution begins to look towards LOVE to greater extent, it’s unlikely that any sustained, realistic movement can take hold.

Love invariably involves sacrifice….Here’s what Mario Savio (UC Berkeley) tells us to expect:

“There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious-makes you so sick at heart-that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve indicated to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!” – Mario Savio (UC Berkeley)

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OccupyMedic May 15, 2014 at 07:01

As someone who moved out of ‘Liberal Libertarianism’ into ‘can we get some shit done please?’ during Occupy Vancouver….. All I can say is: BRAVO! You’ve nailed it.

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Former occupier May 15, 2014 at 11:25

You missed another obvious one, attitudes to sexual assault & rape.
Many occupations kept rapists & assaulters in the organisations & camps. From the west coast to the east coast to the UK and Europe, very common theme.

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Jamesmmm May 15, 2014 at 11:44

It’s true that the 1% battle cry distracts…if we want to rally around a number, we should use 35-40% of the country is content enough with the status quo. So much so that those would actually fight to preserve it. That side of the equation has the equipment and facilities to maintain.

The number of people willing to engage in the revolution with the necessary vigor is so low on account of the above.

One of our hopes may be that since their order is so hierarchical, they also tend to fight amongst themselves, more so during the times that little opposition is evident. If you can wait, please do since they must destroy each other and if we can be patient, we will win!

I have a few short articles available on request about:
1) how societies (and especially organizations within societies) form and become corrupt;
2) how most societies need someone to blame in order to continue functioning.
thanks for reading.
“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.” – Jack Layton

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fauno May 15, 2014 at 19:42
Gabriel Camacho May 15, 2014 at 21:11

Amazing! Not once mentioned the overt racism with the OWS “movement” both within the anarchist and liberal tendencies.

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dave fryett May 18, 2014 at 01:00

Examples please.

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dave fryett May 15, 2014 at 21:27

The part about social media is brilliant. And I’m glad to see such sentiments in this space because I believe this website has, on occasion, succumbed to social media fetishization.

However the rest of the piece oscillates from Intersectionalism (sorry, Mark, but it’s true) to precisely the kind of liberalism it condemns. Are not at least some of the social struggles to which Mark alludes liberal (i.e. non-radical/revolutionary) concerns? This article raises important issues, but doesn’t come close to resolving them.

[An aside: The Intersectionalist Mafia don's instructions to his goons: "Make him an offer he can't understand!"]

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Byron Sonn May 16, 2014 at 06:24

These are all valid points (I’d love to argue about the uselessness of non-violence later), but what turned me off and caused me to walk away was this: idiots talking about chemtrails and CIA mind control.

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rick trujillo May 16, 2014 at 07:30

good article…honest opinions
1. OWS fingered the mechanism where transactions occur that the incurable malignant minority owns and directs unfettered. ie Oh, wow, we thought we had a pension.
2. new tactics and new tech (using buildings to transmit messages was/is remarkable)—we’ll see this in a commercial down the road.
3. civil discourse in public squares , “es ist veboten”; proof? google OWS & cops then clk images….end of discussion.
3. the d-party invaded many assemblies with a hidden agenda to guide all into anything but independent politics…call a politician, petition city hall etc.
4. the banks were central to the general message ie givers vs takers…when ows expanded to different locales it became occupy austin, occupy sf, occupy seattle…momentum was lost and the left entered the fray to recruit. occupy got bogged down in consensus. using revolutionary rhetoric is hollow. OWS started against the banks because they shit on the american dream and created an american nightmare (Malcolm X)..
5. Occupy replaced social services for many down and out…the self serving flourished..unity against Wall Street diminished….revolutions are not about feeling good, they are about taking Power ie Cuba.
6. who tells Cuban@s what to think and do? the givers rule Cuba, the takers remain in miami….they have no say, and never will, puppets only talk back to divert attention,,,puppets have no voice, except in congress.
7. there were major victories with organized wage slaves & OWS ie oakland…showing what the broad community and militant lawful actions can accomplish.
8. an alliance is a no-no—-blacks , xican@s, mexican@s, other latinos and indigenous, cautiously observed, the rulers cleared the streets…a Pyrrhic victory for both the R&D hoax parties…..always and forever, a hoax; bogus in every way.
9. then comes Idle No More from the north…a cultural social/political, militant movement, still on the move, still leading, still embedding our thoughts with goals of, Liberating all Our Americas…this is the Unity that can remove the minority from power…this is main objective for change. Science, not the moral crap from three dessert books or western civilization, is in the wrong hands. That’s our mutual overriding problem.

10. to whom would youth rather listen to/ Mohawk, Mayan, Mapuche or the EPA?

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Ed the Medic May 16, 2014 at 15:50

Bravo Mark Bray! This is the best article I have read on OWS!

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Ralfff May 16, 2014 at 21:59

#1 & #2 are the work of anarchists with no real politics, not liberals. But if you remove the political labels, it’s a good list

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amadeus May 16, 2014 at 23:05

I’m perplexed by this because the author gives no specifics on how exactly Occupy was “plagued,” and the specifics of what that even means. Certainly he does not mean that the police breakup of the camps was a result of these liberal tendencies, right? In my own opinion occupy has succeeded.

So, without any concrete evidence of what precisely occupy’s shortcomings or “plagues” were, I see this as little more than a front to posture against liberalism. This isn’t to say I think liberalism in general isn’t deserving of strong critiques or denouncement; I just don’t see anything other than an ideological, abstract framework to do so.

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Corporate Death May 20, 2014 at 21:59

Occupy’s Liberalism was what damaged it in the first place. They took no direct action, they thought they could reform the system by working within it and they didn’t do much to win over any working class peoples. It wasn’t a revolutionary movement, but reformist.

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Corporate Death May 20, 2014 at 22:00

And seriously, cop apologists on this thread? You’re still going to let them get off after they’ve done everything to Oakland and Zucotti and Cecily? You are class collaborators.

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Stanislaw Petrovski May 24, 2014 at 14:42

Cecily hit a cop in the face with her elbow while she was being arrested. She acted tremendously irresponsibly. If all Occupiers had acted like her, there would have been massive violence.

The video clearly shows her striking the cop, and does not show him grabbing her breast.

It appears that she thereafter faked a seizure, to attempt to weasel her way out of what everyone else was going through. She does not have epilepsy.

The copy did not strike her in the breast. Her apparent bruising, which could easily have been self-inflicted, is not consistent with a breast grab.

Why can’t you people admit that there’s a distinct possibility that she’s a liar?

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Jake May 28, 2014 at 00:31

Good article. I would add ‘A tendency to believe in moral force’ to the list of liberal tendencies that really inhibited people’s ability to take effective action. You can’t shame a system into behaving differently.

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Steven Henry Martin May 28, 2014 at 06:03

To the person going off about class-collaborators: words like that are code for “ideologically impure.” I don’t have to believe in your version of the truth to be committed to justice and freedom, you don’t have a monopoly on moral rightness. I’m sick and tired of the pure revolutionary who thinks they can go around defining for everyone else who and who is not on the right side of justice.

The fact that you think of cops in New York and Oakland as basically the same people shows how black-and-white your mentality is. But of course it is, because you’ve got all the answers, you don’t need to struggle with subtleties like the rest of us class-collaborators.

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