dagNotes: On Occupy Wall St [Concise]
I know picking on Occupy is wildly popular, but I do get people who get mad at me when I post anything critical. And it’s always from people who participated. Because I respect your participation, here’s an explanation, my position.
I think at the beginning there was an honest push to do something. I think the GAs were flawed and catered to a kind of intellectual, liberal elite that tended to be white and male and over-educated as opposed to knowledgeable about how to work in the street and organize campaigns. At the beginning there were people who had long histories of activist organizing who were rather publicly booted, literally pushed out by the intellectuals. Idealism won out right from the start, which is always a bad sign. This isn’t speculation as most of this behavior was documented and argued about on blogs while Occupy was getting going. We all read about this and argued about it together while watching live feeds. This has caused problems that cannot be ignored, especially in communities of color all across the US who feel Occupy abandoned them. I agree and do believe Occupy abandoned them.
I’m not opposed to the movement. I’m opposed to branding it as a generalized movement. Movements to be effective must be focused. I’ve always been opposed to its name, which I find highly offensive. Occupy is a horrible brand name because it just reminds people of color what’s really at stake in many progressive and white social movements: taking other people’s shit and making it work for them. Know what I mean? For example, an effective Occupy would not have been at Capitol buildings and Wall St; it would have been in urban neighborhoods and rural locations all over the US with leaders for the movement who look like the people in the neighborhoods. And the Occupy leadership would have been recruits from the thousands of already operating radicalized community orgs that know how to get shit done. The GAs were a way around active, well-organized and useful community activist projects and a way in for wannabe organizers and academics.
Quite frankly, mind you I only followed the first three months via feeds and email and blogging as I live in Korea, it was very clear that the movement was doomed to stoners and anarchists in name only from the start. It was not focused. It was not in the right places. And it ignored the experienced members in communities of color all over the US. When I crap on Occupy, this is what I mean. I don’t deny that there were Occupy groups that we can all be proud of; don’t get me wrong. I don’t deny that people are still working hard. I don’t deny that it changed some participants’ lives. My critique is not a denial.