Sunday, 5 October 2014

How to make the Occupy movement better.

      I'm going to give you my harsh but honest opinion. Too often I've bit my tongue but I no longer will

       After some thinking about it I have come to the conclusion I would only be involved in Occupy again after some conditions were met. The previous incarnation of Occupy was not good enough( despite many good points) and it had a number of problems. Until those problems are widely recognised, discussed and action is taken on them then Occupy does not deserve to be reformed because it will just be repeating the same errors again and harming people again.
         I admire the desire to create a grassroots direct action alternative to the rot of political parties of all kinds and I think that is the right direction but am not convinced Occupy is the right way of going about it. Nostalgia for the past, especially for past camping which is now irrelevant, is not helpful to anyone. If Occupy is to move forward it must be more clear and coherent about what it's principles are and what it aims for. It must have a good understanding of what the problems are and what kinds of possible solutions it considers worth aiming for.
         
      From my point of view at minimal it must be willing to admit it is a left wing anti-capitalist movement(as the original OWS was supposed to be) and must exclude anti-feminist and/or conspiracy theory. It must be willing to move forward with militant radical action and refuse to be a mere talking shop.
      Before even trying again:-   If the Occupy movement stays static or does not advance or criticize it's past errors then it is truly irrelevant and deserves to stay dead because others are doing better.
      It must be more critical of itself. It must criticize the reformist, liberal ,lifestylist, conspiracy, sexist etc elements within the movement and where necessary exclude them. Hopefully a statement of principles would do so. Occupy Democrats and the like should be denounced.
       P.S. If Occupy Democracy is the next incarnation of 'The Occupy phenomenon' then it must also move beyond past mistakes and move in a more radical direction whereas there is far far far too much naivety.
       
    ANALYSIS.
    •  It must be intersectional. It must properly understand privilege.It needs a proper understanding of oppression and capitalism.  It must not fall back into the 2011 analysis that the problem with capitalism is corporations and if we have some kind of mutualism or co-operatives things will be fine. It needs to move to consider the change in global capitalism to globalization/post-fordist economy i.e the changes from factories and hard industry to the service sector, out-sourcing and 'affective labour'. It must shift it's understanding to how capitalism is propped up by sweat shops in 'third world' countries.
    •  It must have a basic set of principles to exclude conspiracy theorists, fascists, sexists etc.
    • It must be more than a mere talking shop.
    • Recognise that 99% is problematic for implying or camouflaging diversity and subsuming it into a homogenous mass which didn't help the problems of privilege and oppression existing within the camp. 99% implies it's the 99% vs the 1% which implies that the 99% is not divided within itself and/or cannot be oppression to each other which is untrue and dangerous.

    PRACTICE.

    • Camping again is not productive. It probably should focus on social centre type concepts.
    • Have a beefed up safer spaces policy expressing Intersectionality/privilege theory and prefigurative politics.
    • Resist co-option by reformism/ party politics.
    • The best examples I know of, from Occupy in 2011 were Occupy Wall Street, Occupy the Farm and Occupy Oakland..
    • Must explicitly adopt ways of challenging informal hierarchies and remain committed in principle and in practice to being a leaderless movement.
    • Occupy in the UK needs to work with Boycott workfare, UK UNCUT etc.
     BASICALLY.

    In Short , Occupy should be more substantial and less vague. It must be  more openly left wing,  thoroughly grassroots, must understand class struggle, must be  revolutionary, should at minimal be anti-capitalist , MUST BE intersectional, MUST BE feminist, should be less popular front like, MUST BE less afraid to be confrontational or offensive or divisive, should be  anti-parliamentary politics since it was formed out of dissatisfaction with them, MUST BE direct action orientated,  and MUST DO more community engagement..

    If occupiers are unwilling to do these things or unable to see what is wrong with last time then Occupy deserves to be dead for it is just harmful to an overwhelming degree despite the positives that change from it.


    It could have a statement of principles such as

    *DRAFT IDEA*
    1.  We believe the current system is not good enough. We are opposed to the political parties, representative democracy and capitalism etc.
    2.  We wish to have direct democracy
    3. we wish to bring this about by means of  collective direct action.
    4.  
     

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