From PugetSoundAnarchists. Wed, 10/05/2011.
During the last week there have been a small group of individuals (mostly liberals and socialists hungry off their new found power) who have been attempting and sometimes succeeding at managing and controlling “Occupy Seattle”.
What follows is adapted from a critique of the occupation movement in Barcelona in order to relate it to similar problems in Seattle (mostly seen at the general assemblies and in any situation that went away from their platform)
I’d like this post to be a place for people to respond and offer ideas and experiences with subverting the control of the “Occupy” management as well as the appeal of doing so.
The forms and structures implemented by the organizers of the general assembly are not natural, but a very specific choice to centralize structures rather than decentralize them. The effect and purpose of centralization is to create a structure where the majority can not participate, but only watch and agree.
“We are creating a space to express ourselves.” Bullshit. When the general assemblies involve a handful of people on a stage or on “the Peoples’ mic”, it silences the space. when there is no assembly happening people are engaging in multitudes of meetings, conversations, and initiatives that are not controlled by anyone.
“Do we agree? We have consensus.” When a handful of people control the initiatives at an assembly, it may seem that everyone in the crowd agrees but in fact there participation is more of an absenteeism.
On Manipulating an Assembly
Whoever has the stage and launches the proposals, has it made to generate the consensus they want.
– Proposing everything as if it’s already agreed upon. Eg “We are to have the assembly at 430. We all agree on this don’t we? ” Nobody wants to be in the minority. Nobody wants to drag the assembly on any longer so those who disagree refrain from voicing that dissent which then grants the appearance of consensus.
– Avoid ideological debate. Eg “”We must love the cops onto our side.” Nonviolence is never an option, but a rule that is imposed, making proposals for peace the only acceptable initiative. Thus begins the new politicians trying to control the rage of their new flock.
– Never, under any circumstances, allow decentralization to flourish, because then your faithful masses are replaced by a crowd of people self-managed and creative, and you might lose your job as a manager of struggle.
Concrete proposals toward self-management
– Don’t allow people to be physically above the rest of us (Eg. On a stage, on a bench, etc.). Don’t allow the same people to handle the same tasks all the time.
-Speak up when you disagree.
-If there is a disagreement, instead of consensus, break into groups that can go their own ways.
-General assemblies become spaces to exchange information and resources and create an environment of collective awareness. Make proposals, but don’t force everyone to obey them.
-If we have truly no leaders, then we must allow for a diversity of action and ideas.
-Our unity only lies in a collective interest and acknowledgement of a shared struggle and pride in our autonomy.
If we don’t share the same struggle it’s because we don’t have that same interests (uncompromising cop lovers, the newly disavowed classist middle class, aspriing politicians, etc,)