Monday, November 28, 2011

Occupying nomads: uniting the 99% of us

Genghis Khan †

Why it it – if the mainstream media and talking heads are right about OWS being such a bumbling failure without a message or  goal –  why is it, then, that the police, all across the US, have been ordered to mount such a violent assault against these misguided but peaceful protesters?

Naomi Wolf is speaking for all of us when she says “US citizens of all political persuasions are still reeling from images of unparalleled police brutality  against peaceful OWS protesters in cities across the nation this past week."

The answer is, of course, is that the Occupy movement is not a failure. Quite the opposite: instead it has dared to touch the third rail of American politics.  As Wolf and others have written, the Occupy movement has been attacked because it has directly challenged the the political class and corporate elite in this country.

Meanwhile, the mass media and talking heads are fiddling while Rome burns, being, as they are, well-paid front people for the powerful in this country – they are in denial, whether willfully or not, about the big picture, choosing to obsess instead on the red herring of why OWS doesn't have concrete goals.  

This is like the  entrenched establishment in Asia dismissing Genghis Khan as clueless  –  for not having a slick PR message and a list of ten demands properly vetted by an approved focus group – even as he swept across Eurasia conquering all in his path.

The difference is that Genghis Khan came to power by uniting the nomadic tribes of Asia while Occupy is coming to power by uniting the 99% of us who, up until now, were isolated, nomadic individuals and tribes. Genghis Khan conquered by military force while Occupy is conquering by celebrating nonviolence and diversity, creating a space for all to be heard, creating a community of trust and commitment, and, in the end, "showing, by its internal organization and methods of proceeding, that an alternative form of democracy is possible." *

*This last is from Peter Marcuse.   As opposed to our mass media’s obsession with Occupy goals or messages, Marcuse views the Occupation movement as having a number of roles and functions. This seems to me to be a much more productive way to understand and analyze our movement. Seven functions he lists are:
A confrontation function, "taking the struggle to the enemy's territory, confronting, potentially disrupting, the operations at the center of the problem." A symbolic function which registers a collective and "deeply felt unhappiness about things as they are and the direction in which they are going." An educational function, "provoking questioning, exploration, juxtaposition of differing viewpoints and issues, seeking clarification and sources of commonality within difference." A glue function, "creating a community of trust and commitment to the pursuit of common goals; [providing] a way of coming together in a community for those who are deeply affected and concerned. "An umbrella function, "creating a space ... in which quite disparate groups can work together in pursuit of ultimately consistent and mutually reinforcing goals ... a political umbrella, an organizing base for an ongoing alliance, not just a temporary coalition, of the deprived and discontented." An activation function, "inspiring others to greater militancy and sharper focus on common goals and specific demands ... providing space for ... cross discussions among supporting groups and interests, organizing ... events in support of ... reforms that [suggests] Occupy's own ultimate goals of change." A model function, "showing, by its internal organization and methods of proceeding, that an alternative form of democracy is possible."

†  Khan image thanks to to
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