|Sent time:||Tuesday, October 11, 2011 7:23:23 PM|
|Subject:||SPAM-LOW: Re: [september17discuss] MoveOn.Org and Friends Attempt to Co-Opt Occupy Wall Street Movement|
Demonstrators with the Occupy Wall Street protests in Zucotti Parkin New York, October 7, 2011. Protests in Wall Street section of NewYork enter their third week, with similar efforts springing up inBoston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle. (Photo: Michael Appleton /The New York Times)
Gandhi once said  ofgrowing movements of social protestation, "First they ignore you, thenthey laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." The trajectoryof the ever-evolving and growing Occupy Wall Street movement followsthe same pattern almost to a "T," with slight variation.
Now, apply that model to the most recent public relations andmarketing ploys of organizations like MoveOn.org, the ascendant"Reclaim the American Dream Movement" and the general segment ofsociety author and journalist Chris Hedges calls the "Liberal Class" inhis most recent book titled "The Death of the Liberal Class " (of which the former two are both apart).
In so doing, one can observe a perfect case study of the liberalclass in action, in four distinct acts, with one exception: "then theyfight you" can be replaced with "then they attempt to co-opt yourmovement."
Act One - Getting Ignored: In the early planningstages of Occupy Wall Street, few eyes were on those working behind thescenes to make this vision a reality. With little funding backing theircause, the activists calling for this action, to those even paying anyattention to them at all (few and far between), seemed quixotic or atthe very least, overly optimistic. This was the case even to thosehighly sympathetic to the cause and its accompanying ideology.
How in the world does a rag-tag bunch of activists take on thefinancial power center of the world that calls the shots politically instatehouses around the country, on a federal level and around theworld? Because the task was such a monumental undertaking, theseactivists were essentially ignored all throughout the planning stagesand into the opening days of the occupation itself.
The liberal class, predictably, was nowhere to be seen in theplanning stages of Occupy Wall Street, wholeheartedly ignoring thefact, or simply not even knowing the fact, that this occupation was inthe works.
Act Two - Getting Laughed at: Once it was seenthat, while not yet a movement, the people occupying Wall Street had,at the very least, legitimate grievances, the liberal class resorted toscornful tactics like mockery of the type of people in the movement -ad hominem attacks, if you will.
The scorn was well-depicted by liberal environmental blogger,Grist's David Roberts, who tweeted ,"I've been reading about #occupywallstreet for the last hour or two& it's just horrific. Practically designed to discredit leftistprotest." It was also on perfect display with liberal blogger DavidAtkins, who mockingly tweeted ,"If you want to #occupywallstreet, 1) shave 2) wear some decent clothes3) coordinate signs about inequality 4) get a media spokesperson." Thediatribe proceeded for multiple tweets, Atkins having listed ten points.
In a post titled ,"What's behind the scorn for the Wall Street protests?" Salon.comblogger Glenn Greenwald aptly explained their behavior and tactics,writing, "Any entity that declares itself an adversary of prevailinginstitutional power is going to be viewed with hostility byestablishment-serving institutions and their loyalists. That's just thenature of protests that take place outside approved channels, aninevitable by-product of disruptive dissent: those who are most vestedin safeguarding and legitimizing establishment prerogatives ... aregoing to be hostile to those challenges. As the virtually universaldisdain in these same circles for WikiLeaks (and, before that, for theIraq War protests) demonstrated: the more effectively adversarial itis, the more establishment hostility it's going to provoke."
The liberal class, though, quickly realized that Occupy Wall Streetwas gaining traction, with leaders of the left like Francis Fox Piven ,MichaelMoore , Naomi Klein ,Cornel West and Joseph Stiglitz joining the cause in solidarity, and its leaders realized that it mustco-opt the movement while time is still on its side.
Act Three - Co-Option: With Occupy Wall Streetoff the ground, but its longevity still in flux, MoveOn.org and itscousin, the Center For American Progress , and Van Jones' Reclaim the American Dream Movement , were nowhere to be found. Instead,they were busy planning the Take BackThe American Dream Conference ,which took place from October 3 through October 5.
"Taking back the American Dream," Jones said in an interviewappearing on AlterNet ,will be a three-step process.
First, the planned November 17 "Rising Tide of Protest ," a protest, led by the Reclaim the American Dream Movement , will be held in a network ofcities throughout the United States. As FireDogLake's David Dayen explained ,"[The] November 17 protests announced by the American Dream Movement... [are] a one-day protest across multiple cities across the countrythat organizers hope will be a massive activation of their supporters."
Second, an amalgamation of coordinated house meetings and onlineteach-ins. "We're going to try to get a million leaders in Americaonline and talking with each other. And that's going to be a majorpiece," said Jones.
Third and most importantly to an organization "powered by," (aka aproject of) MoveOn.org ,which among other things, is an organization that raises campaign moneyfor Democratic Party candidates, Jones said the 2012 elections are avital piece of the puzzle. "And then there's a third piece and it's new- and it seems to have escaped people's notice - and that's that we'vesaid we're going to run 2012 people for office in 2012. Now, that's abig deal," Jones stated.
"We're talking about U.S. senators who want to run as AmericanDream candidates - soon to be announced. We've reached out to the HouseDemocratic Caucus; there are House members who want to run as AmericanDream candidates," he continued.
What this translates to, in layman's terms, is the very process ofco-opting a growing movement of democratic resistance and trying toreplace it with a sales pitch to go out in 2012 and vote Democrat.Jones and the Democratic Party operations in disguise, namely the likesof MoveOn.org and the Center for American Progress, are taking a pageout of the Dick Armey and Koch brothers' Tea Party co-option playbookwith this one.
Indeed, many forget that before the Tea Party was an Astroturfmovement funded by Armey and the Koch brothers, it was an enragedgrassroots movement, led mostly by Ron Paul libertarians .Then it got co-opted and now it is a rotten pawn of corporate elites.
If Occupy Wall Street organizers are not careful, this could alsobe their destiny.
Act Four - Win or Be Co-Opted? That Is the Question: OccupyWall Street, now three weeks into the occupation, now finds itself in apivotal moment. Will the nonpartisan, anti-establishment movement allowitself to be co-opted by the Democratic Party serving powers that be,i.e. by the MoveOn.orgs and Center for American Progresses of theworld, or will it remain a strong, left, independent force that growswith each passing day and strikes fear into what the late sociologistC. Wright Mills calls the powerelite ?
One thing is for certain - the liberal class is working overtime toco-opt a burgeoning social justice movement.
Exhibit A: On October 5, Day 19 of Occupy Wall Street, MoveOn.orgsent out an email calling on clicktivists (as opposed to activists) to"Join the Virtual March on Wall Street." "The 99% are both aninspiration and a call that needs to be answered. So we're answering ittoday, in a nationwide Virtual March on Wall Street to support theirdemand for an economy that serves the many, not the few ... Join in thevirtual march by doing what hundreds have done spontaneously across theweb: Take your picture holding a sign that tells your story, along withthe words 'I am the 99%,'" wrote Daniel Mintz of MoveOn.org.
John Stauber is a longtime critic of organizations like MoveOn.org and Center forAmerican Progress, and founder of the Center for Media and Democracyand co-author of "Toxic Sludge Is Good for You," a book that exposeshow corporations and vested interests work to co-opt movements forchange. In an interview, he stated, "Don't be fooled. This willprimarily be an effort to co-opt the language and energy to salvageObama and the Dem Party. This is how you co-opt movements. The OccupyWall Streeters are not leader oriented. Van Jones will become the voiceof this in the mainstream,"
"The same thing happened to anti-war in 2007. MoveOn.org was, tothe mainstream, the voice of that movement," Stauber continued. "It iseasy to read between the lines. For one thing, there is no criticism ofObama in the 'Reclaim the Dream' messaging and marketing. No one with anational reputation is going to do anything to undermine hisre-election efforts. There is huge money in supporting Obama andnothing but pain and punishment in not - both desperation and selfinterest are driving this at this point in time."
As Stauber alluded to, one only has to look a few years down thememory hole to see that, as William Faulkner wrote in "Requiemfor a Nun ," "The past isnever dead. It's not even past!"
In an article about how the Democratic Party, teaming up withMoveOn.org and other like-minded apparatchiks, viewed the Iraq war as a"gift" to wield for electoral purposes in the 2006 elections, Stauberwrote, "And how have the Democrats treated their gift now that theycontrol Congress? The Democratic House and Senate have continued tofund the war while posturing against it ..."
Later, in that same piece, Stauber juxtaposed the operatives withIraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), an organization that is againstimperialistic foreign policy no matter who is in office, writing,"[IVAW] are not the concoction of a liberal think tank or PR firm; theyhave very little funding; they are not avoiding criticism of Democrats;and they are not playing political games trying to bank-shot Democraticcandidates into the White House and Congress in 2008. They are in opennon-violent revolt against US foreign policy, criticizing politiciansof all stripes who would exploit the war for political gain."
Fast forward five years and a nearly parallel situation exists. Anindependent and democratic economic justice movement, ground zero ofwhich exists at the power center of economic injustice, namely WallStreet, has now spread to every corner of the country in some form orfashion within the framework of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
The Democratic Party vultures are waiting to swoop in, steal thethunder and then make sure the focus is on electing Democrats, who arejust as much to blame as Republicans for the ascendancy of Wall Street.If anything, they are even more to blame for the pacification role theyplay in co-opting the overwhelming swath of the left time and timeagain, no matter what horrible policies they pass.
Will Occupy Wall Street of 2011 be a repeat of the Iraq war of2006? Similar forces are at bay, that is for certain.
It will all depend on activists deciding whether they choose to beused as a "gift," or if they choose to remain independent of the forcesof co-option.
Act four, to say the least, should be interesting.
|< PREV||INDEX||SEARCH||NEXT >|