vendredi 13 avril 2012


Two sites that I often check up on to get the News are Truthout and Reader Supported News. Both are basically alternatives to Time and in fact offer and interesting sprinkle of what's in the news States' Side. They also are the only place I know of that give regular coverage to the Occupy movements and its aftermath. And of course, now that the main thrust of the movement is past, various other configurations are cropping up in its wake. One article leads to another, and you find yourself knee deep in discussions about something you in fact know nothing about!

Well that's not absolutely true. In that last article, an Occupier was blasting a 99% organizer, as if it were the enemy. I may not be up to speed about OWS or even the 99%, but I do know a little something about organizing, and I have my opinions about the relationship that should exist between the organizers and the organized. So I posted an answer. and here it is, in italics, with some added comments.

"We were then asked to come up with some ideas about direct actions we could take."

That is the key with what was 'wrong'. If you want to fight, then you have to know what to fight for. If the organizers start by asking you what YOU want to do, then I'd say they're on to something.

If you come to these 'organizing' situations expecting to be told what to do, then it is you who are subverting OWS. For the entire point of the Occupy movement is to take back power. But that means learning to chose, to think for yourself, and organize the follow through that ensures success.

As a union rep in France, nothing irritates me more than the attitude that asks 'what are the unions doing'. Because the only answer to that is what are you doing?

That being said, you had the right idea in swapping phone numbers with your neighbor. That way both can look for what you need, and share your finds with each other and with others. That's what OWS is about.

If you crave training, my best suggestion is to check out your union locally. Yes, some of the people there might be silly and self important buffoons (but they appear everywhere), but most are people with their ear to the ground. At the local level, they are your colleagues; they speak your language, but they also have the logistical support to show how your situation fits into the greater scheme of things. They have behind them decades of experience of how the world shapes your workplace and life. And how to fight back.

Yes, some of my co-workers are self important fools as organizers. And, as in France, there are several competing unions, I leave to imagine the hostilities between them. But unions as a whole have learned a lot from previous events. In 1995, a major strike broke out to fight the pension revision plan. It lasted a month, but it also sustained itself because it work from the ground up. Each local telling the general Union how to behave. An interesting prequel to OWS, in a way...

I might even add that the source of your problems might not have been with the stated goals of the seminar, but with the person in charge of running the seminar. It is not an innate talent to teach.

If the Dem's start snooping around, fishing for votes, don't slap them away, coopt them: you have the whipping hand and can shape the party's objectives. It's up to you to tell the party what ideas it should have, not the other way around. It's what the Tea Party did to the Republicans. Democracy thrives on debate, not consensus. to face radical Republican, we need radical Democrats.

It is an interesting opinion that I've noticed among my colleagues, and often those on the left (but are my colleagues, albeit working class, on the left?):  those who hold power of any kind are selfserving and dangerous...

Part of what OWS is about is wrestling power from the elites. But that will never happen if you are not willing to touch the very levers of power at your disposal.

And that the elites don't hesitate to use. It often leaves me dazed to see that people can at the same time think that politics are useless and not wonder why the wealthy pump such collossal sum into the process.

The essence of the Occupy Movement, the 99% and any other of the similar movements, be they politically affiliated or not, is the inalienable Right to the Pursuit of Happiness. That means taking your life back, not fun and games, not playing Beatnick facing off against a Cop.

It means finding your purpose in life and then offering that purpose to fill the needs of the Collective Good.

4 commentaires:

  1. All well and good, but I didn't go to Non Violent Training to come up with ideas of what to demonstrate against. I went there for training and there was none.

    Everyone seems to miss that point. Had I gone to a meeting to come up with things to demonstrate against, that would have been completely appropriate. I already have plenty of demonstrations that I'm planning to go to over the next few weeks. I don't have energy to start inventing new ones for someone else.

    Anyway, check out another blog post by another person who attended the same "training". Disappointment all around.

    While you have good points, if not a little sanctimonious, they actually don't have anything to do with the fact that I DID NOT GET TRAINING. Nor did anyone else there.

    This particular 99%Spring training may have been completely off the rails.

    1. Sorry if I sounded sanctimonious. It's the Cartesian French ideologue in me. I live politics in France (in the sense that I suffer the consequences of political decisions here and I try respond), whereas I study American politics as a "cas d'école".

      It may therefore be that certain aspects just don't transpire through the reports I read, and your post seems to fill in some of the blanks.

      Now, can I ask this: what training did you expect,and why did you go there? I must repeat how much I commend the fact that you, and many like you have decided that it isn't enough to say things much change. You're going out there and changing them.

      I have gone through twenty years of demonstrations. Some were silly, some were important, most were necessary. But none were ever the end game. And none never needed any formal training. If you know how to behave in public, then you know how to demonstrate.

      What is needed however is focus. Which brings me back to my initial question: what did you want "training" for, and why would you expect it from an instition that isn't an institution,that presents no structured point or purpose.

      Often people said the Occupy movement should hace stated demands, implying that the pros could then take over to mmet their demands. I think they were right in never reducing the movement to a laundry list if grievances. But once you decide you want to play hard ball, you should look towards those institutions that have generations of experience at the game: they know what the levers of power are and how they operate. That is what you need to know.

      If the Dems want to 'take over' the Occupy movement, you should be thinking about taking over the Dems, for that is what the financiers and the Tea Party did on the opposite side of the aisle.

      Politicians after all,are not so much decision makers as decision bearers. Who will bear your vision of governance in the halls of government?

  2. Sorry about the typos and errors: I'm working on a sticky keyboard (with no exclamation point), and it's hard to reread your text in a comments box...

    Sorry if I also sound a bit high handed...

  3. That other site will be worth a post of its own...