Battle for the Soul of Occupy

Round #6 - A left hook!

Occupy will come out swinging May 1 with a General Strike in 115 cities … A month of visceral nonviolent actions will follow. We will flex our tactical muscles, dream of a new world order and #playjazz like never before.

From Slavoj Žižek in today’s Guardian:

“The protesters should beware not only of enemies, but also of false friends who pretend to support them, but are already working hard to dilute the protest. In the same way we get coffee without caffeine, beer without alcohol, ice-cream without fat, they will try to make the protests into a harmless moralistic gesture.”

The clicktivists at MoveOn are channeling Occupy’s intensity into legal, symbolic rallies that bolster Democratic Party campaign promises. Check out the 80 organizations backing MoveOn’s 99% Spring: most of them are the same old lefty cabal that’s ruled over and stifled the political left for the last 20 years. But there are also some flowers among the vegetables … and we should try to get them back. Folks like the Ruckus Society or the Rainforest Action Network … groups whose bold civil disobedience inspired us all in the past. We still remember how the tactical brilliance of John Sellers, a former Ruckus Society leader, was so feared that he was preemptively arrested, charged with 14 misdemeanors, including “possession of an instrument of crime” – his cell phone – ha ha! – and held on $1 million bail during the Republican National Convention protests in 2000.

Hey jammers, let’s get some of these wild flowers back … Head over to the 99% Spring and look through the list of affiliated organizations. Decide for yourself which groups you respect then call them for a chat or send them an email or a tweet. Ruckus Society is at 510-931-6339, [email protected], @Ruckusociety; Rainforest Action Network at 415-398-4404, [email protected], @RAN… Let’s nudge our friends back into the Occupy camp in time for the May Day General Strike.

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48 comments on the article “Battle for the Soul of Occupy”

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You forgot to highlight the most important message Zizek had for #Occupy:

"They are asking us what is our program. We have no program. We are here to have a good time."

Such statements display one of the great dangers the protesters are facing: the danger that they will fall in love with themselves, with the nice time they are having in the "occupied" places. Carnivals come cheap – the true test of their worth is what remains the day after, how our normal daily life will be changed. The protesters should fall in love with hard and patient work – they are the beginning, not the end. Their basic message is: the taboo is broken, we do not live in the best possible world; we are allowed, obliged even, to think about alternatives.


I really don't think Occupy and 99% spring are mutually exclusive. If you think about the journey of Ruckus as an organization over the last decade, you would know why they would partner with this "lefty cabal" of immigrant rights groups, local community organizations and their networks, and other orgs that have a broader vision than occupy about how to build power and a future for communities that have been disenfranchised from any political process, whether you are talking about the mainstream/move on or occupy's process. I agree that occupy has given us hope that there are other possible worlds out there, but it shouldn't be considered the only movement to have done so, or the only one in the trenches doing the hard work.


I agree completely. I support many "lefty cabal" groups and I support the Occupy movement. I feel no conflict in that. The problems we face are big ones and it will take all of us, and the various groups we organize ourselves under, to truly change anything. This current paranoia and defensiveness within certain factions of Occupy towards other groups working for the same goals is a waste of energy and resources that could be used on the real work at hand.


Yeah: work work work, don't question! You sound like my boss. An effective strategy to keep us docile. Work Work Work and let MoveOn handle everything. Brilliant.


The only thing moveon have ever achieved was to call attention to the impeachment of Bill Clinton and make him out to be a victim of the GOP, instead of the lying sack of corporate shit, that he is, was and always will be.


I don't understan why there is all this fretting over MoveOn. Mother Jones has an article saying its not Occupy that is being co-opted but MoveOn by Occupy:

How Occupy Co-opted

If you're one of the millions of people who get emails from, then you've probably heard of the "99% Spring." Far from another clickable internet petition, it is possibly the largest attempt ever to train people in nonviolent protest techniques. Some Occupy types have criticized the effort as a scheme by Democratic operatives to co-opt their movement. But the reality is probably the opposite: It seems that America's best-known progressive fundraising organization is now taking its cues from Occupy Wall Street.

I didn't know what to think of the 99% Spring until I stopped by a three-hour training session—one of more than 900 being held nationwide this week—at a Unitarian church in San Francisco. My presumption was that the 60 or so gray-haired attendees would be interested in supporting Democratic candidates—after all, the event was cosponsored by the Progressive Democrats of San Francisco—but many seemed just as disillusioned with electoral politics as the folks who took over New York City's Zuccotti Park this past fall. "I believed Obama when he said he would change things and he didn't, so I quit the Democratic Party," said one middle-aged MoveOn member who asked that I not use her name. She went on to talk about about how "the deck is stacked" and "voting doesn't work anymore." She'd come to the training looking for a new way to get involved.

"It's clear that the sorts of tactics we've engaged in in the past are no longer enough," Justin Ruben, MoveOn's Executive Director, wrote in an email to his staff last week, arguing that the growing corporate influence on policy-making has left the group little choice but to take to the streets. In a subsequent interview with Mother Jones, he added, "We know that whoever wins in November, they are still going to be listening more to the 1 percent than to the rest of us because our political system is completely broken. So we don't have the luxury of not engaging in this kind of action."

David King, a social worker who led the training I attended, told me he wanted to see MoveOn focus less on electoral politics and more on Occupy-style activism. "MoveOn needs some co-opting," he said, "because they got co-opted a few years back."

From the looks of it Adbusters is waging a meaningless unduly deserved attack on an organization that seems to be more interested in changing itself than co-opting Occupy for the Obama campaign. There are probably democrats within MO that will vote for Obama but I know for a fact that there are also Occupy members who are going to vote for Obama so I don't see what the problem is. Obviously there is enough dissatisfaction with Obama and politics as usual that they'll probably see a drop on overall voters at the upcoming election.

Stop being so divisive and turning groups against each other, its counter-productive.


I've been monitoring the emails from MoveOn and Rebuild the Dream since they started affiliating themselves with Occupy. On one hand, it is good that they have kept Occupy a topic of discussion- albeit on a very limited, focused, and diluted scale. We at least owe them a "thank you" for keeping the topic relevant through the winter, after it was known that we would be quiet until this spring. However, it is time to put the computer mouse down. The effect of the "training" materials that the 99% Spring sent out were negligible. Here we have something that will continue on with words and actions- not electronic communications. It's up to all of us, as united individuals, to make our points known.

It's time to rise.


Stop cannibalizing your own. It's these same groups, that "same old lefty cabal," that helped turn people out in Liberty Park, and in occupations across the US. It's these groups that pushed for air-time on corporate owned media to raise awareness for OWS and change the tenor of our national conversation. You guys now sound like angry children who feel threatened. It's obnoxious.


MovingOn etc are Democratic party mouth pieces. These Democrats are the servants of Wall Street, do exactly as their masters dictate, and that's about it. The Democratic party is nothing but the illusion of representation for the people, functioning as a pretense of democracy as its whole reason for being. That's why over 90% of economic growth goes to the International Elite running this country. The Obama White House is run by Goldman Sachs. How dumb can you get????

All of which is made possible by the faux party of the people that just can't actually do anything that doesn't serve Wall street. Wake up for Christ's sake.


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