Thursday, March 29, 2012
Talking Strategy For A Little Bit -- And What Occupy Is Not
As a rule, I prefer to use what's on hand in order to develop strategic thinking and planning rather than try to impose a strategic template from another source.
Occupy has been up and running for more than six months now, and it has its own templates for taking action. Not all of it is strategic, to be sure, but it is surprisingly effective on its own terms.
It was really tough for me, coming from a relatively organized and hierarchical background, to deal with the way Occupy was and is operating. If it was tough for me I can only imagine how tough it was for many others who were far more rigidly programmed than I was.
I know Socialists who were freaked out about Occupy from the beginning and are still nay-sayers despite the overall success and durability of the movement to date. I'm aware of plenty of political interests and operatives of all kinds who insist that "you have to have" certain kinds of structures and strategies in place in order to have any effect at all on The Powers That Be. Parts of the nonviolence community have been having a field day denouncing the movement for its lack of strict discipline and Gandhi-esque purity.
I think that those who insist that Revolution has to be done in a certain way following a certain template of strategy and action may be missing the point. Much of that argument has been made and heard long since, and some of it has been adopted. But much of has been rejected.
Occupy is not a Sharp-style color revolution. It doesn't come from the same space, and it doesn't appear to be going in the direction of a Sharp-style revolution. From my perspective, Occupy is not ultimately about overthrow or seizing power or any of the standard revolutionary motifs that are central to Revolutionary Theory and Practice As Done By Past Revolutionary Masters.
I linked to David Graeber's "Revolution in Reverse" in an earlier post because I think it is much closer to the ideological and strategic framework that OWS and Occupy in general have "adopted" -- without any formal consensing on it -- as a working model for accomplishing the deeper revolutionary objectives of the Movement.
For the record:
It's not the be-all/end-all guidebook of this revolution by any means; I see it more as a theoretical starting point for the imagination process that's been going on throughout the Occupy movement since before there was a movement.
The key word is "imagination."
After all, another world really is possible. Making it so is not so much a matter of forcing it as allowing it, making the space for it, nurturing it, and letting it grow. That's up to us to do, not something we ask of government or corporate power. We don't need their permission, and we don't need their power to create another world. We just do it.
Starting with imagining it, which is what hundreds of groups (both formally organized and highly informal) have been doing, some of them for decades. In other words, Occupy is not starting from square one, and we're by no means operating in a vacuum. Much of the ground work for "another world" has long been in place, and many of the physical aspects of the Occupy movement have been ways of highlighting what to do and how to get there.
You take the square.
You clothe the naked, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless. You speak out against injustice, treat one another with dignity, you form communities, you foster and enable peace.
You face down oppression.
And you allow the alternatives to happen.
Pie in the sky? Sure. Magical thinking? Absolutely. Impossible? Maybe not. I don't know.
Right now I'm working on an analysis that compares and contrasts the Sharp-style revolution with what Occupy is doing. There are many parallels and many divergences. What is very clear, however, is that the premise of Occupy is essentially 180° opposite the Sharp premise of power and purpose.
"Revolution in Reverse."