We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Looking Back on Occupy

Click here to access article from Bureau of Public Secrets. It is an English version of an email interview with Ken Knabb by the French journal L’Échaudée

Knabb provides an excellent assessment of the recent activist phenomenon called the Occupy Movement in the US. I think after reading this, you will understand that the Occupy Movement has had an important impact on the consciousness of many people which will become manifest in many other modes of expression in the days to come. It also created new organizational forms which is likely to shape political organizing in the future:
Instead of relying on a few leaders or specialists, we could draw on an incomparably vaster pool of human knowledge and creativity that no one was in any position to dominate. For any problem, any number of people might come up with a workable solution. At its best this reflected a sort of “communism of ideas” in the sense that people were less concerned with who “originated” some idea, let alone who might “own” it, and more involved in the practical use of ideas, rapidly weeding out the ones that could not pass the test of experience and refining those that could. This collective process also reduced the traditional emphasis on “authors” and “texts.” ....

This manner of spreading also had the unforeseen effect of creating an unusual degree of autonomy among the different Occupies. ...“each of the new occupations and assemblies remains totally autonomous. Though inspired by the original Wall Street occupation, they have all been created by the people in their own communities. No outside person or group has the slightest control over any of these assemblies. Which is just as it should be.” .... Amid all the differences between the Occupies in different cities, no one ever dared to suggest that any Occupy should defer to any other. ...this had two great advantages: “the proliferation of autonomous groups and actions is safer and more fruitful than the top-down ‘unity’ for which bureaucrats are always appealing. Safer, because it counteracts repression: if the occupation in one city is crushed (or coopted), the movement will still be alive and well in a hundred others. More fruitful, because this diversity enables people to share and compare among a wider range of tactics and ideas.”