It wouldn’t be fair to say Occupy Wall Street has fallen apart, because that would imply it was somehow held together in the first place. But those heady days of Sept.-Oct. 2011 are long gone, and now, once-hopeful Occupiers are stumbling through the smoldering wreckage — the bad kind, not the kind they wanted — dazedly contemplating where it all went wrong.
One such sad-eyed state-smasher is Chris Longenecker, who describes himself as an “activist, organizer, and direct action trainer” and “a founding member of Occupy Wall Street’s Direct Action Working Group.” That’s quite a resume! Yesterday he took to his blog, “Seeds of Resistance,” to try to sort it all out. Tell us, Chris: What the hell happened?
While it has been widely written and discussed that Occupy Wall Street and the broader Occupy movement are at their core, fundamentally anarchist projects, very little has been written from the inside about the experiences of activists and organizers working under the Occupy banner who identify as such. While Occupy tends to operate on core anarchist structures and principles, and many of the initial organizers of OWS were indeed self-identified anarchists, the movement is losing its most experienced and radical elements at a rapid pace and many Occupy encampments and assemblies never had an experienced anarchist core to begin with.
These factors have led to a situation where many newly-identified, inexperienced anarchists, as well as others who do not identify as such, are using the tools of anarchy, such as consensus, horizontality and direct action, with no foundation for their application, or mentors to help them learn.
Kids these days! How can they call themselves anarchists if they don’t know the rules?
Blah blah blah, and then:
Many of our most experienced organizers spend far too much of their time deflecting perceived co-optation threats from progressive groups like Move On, liberal front groups like “99% Solidarity” and the “Movement Resource Group” or labor unions. While these more institutional, hierarchically organized groups have certainly tried their hardest to steer Occupy towards single-issue, reformist, or electoral focuses, we can most effectively combat them by defining who we really are through our actions and example. The thousands of person-hours wasted in conversations with these groups, and with one another about them, has certainly hurt our focus more than their actual attempts did, and these interactions led directly to the burnout and abandonment of Occupy by many of our most experienced and radical organizers.
That’s the problem with anarchosocialism: getting everyone to shut up and agree on what you want to force other people to do.
Experienced anarchists have much to offer the Occupy movement. They understand the tools of consensus intimately, as many have been practicing them in their homes and on their projects for years. In many cases, they are already self-organized into affinity groups that can pull off secure, instrumental direct actions when needed. They are committed to the task of social revolution that Occupy espouses, and are often students of previous emancipatory social movements. They have, for quite some time, been creating the structures of dual-power that Occupy will require to survive, working on projects like Food Not Bombs, Really, REALLY Free Markets, community centers, infoshops and collective houses. Many have helped organize mass mobilizations during the Global Justice movement of the 00’s that actually shut down summits and gatherings of the economic and political elite, a lineage that Occupy, with its mostly symbolic days of action, could certainly learn from. Many have been involved in the environment resistance movement, and have a plethora of advanced skills and tactics for resistance, such as lock-downs, tree-sits, tripods and equipment disruption, that many urban Occupy activists have no experience with.
I don’t get why people haven’t stuck with OWS. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with a bunch of people who talk like this? And there’s just something about the phrase “experienced anarchist” that I find pleasing. You don’t want to trust your anarchy to a bunch of noobs who’ll just screw it all up.
At least Occupiers and the rest of us can agree on one thing: Generation Z is a bunch of spoiled, delusional crybabies who want everything but don’t know how to do anything. That’s why OWS didn’t work.
Oh, and all those rapes and shootings and riots and stuff didn’t help either.
And now, a historical reenactment of the death of OWS:
(Hat tip: the mighty Iowahawk)