October 03, 2011

Is #OccupyWallStreet REALLY like Tahrir Square?

It claims it is, per this story in The Nation which describes one of the leading ... er ... organizational ... groups.
Get ready for jargon: the General Assembly is a horizontal, autonomous, leaderless, modified-consensus-based system with roots in anarchist thought, and it’s akin to the assemblies that have been driving recent social movements around the world, in places like Argentina, Egypt’s Tahrir Square, Madrid’s Puerta del Sol and so on.
Let's compare reality.

If, by "anarchist," OccupyWallStreet claims to be in a line with the Seattle 1998 WTO protests, etc. (which I think it is to at least some degree), then it's NOT like Tahrir Square, at least. Anarchy was neither a strategic device, nor a goal, nor "part of the process," nor an end in itself.

Leaderless? Bullshit. The story says the protest was organized. That involves leadership. Truly leaderless movements become amorphous mobs, truly leaderless true anarchist actions, or else get leadership. Beyond that high-level thought, the setting of dates, the decision on the site to make "ground zero," etc., all involved ... leadership!

Nearly 50 years ago, folks from Tom Hayden through Martin Luther King Jr. understood that.

Next, the size of the movement, versus the MSM's alleged conspiracy in "ignoring" it at first, etc.:
The original Adbusters call envisioned 20,000 people flooding the Financial District on September 17. A tenth of that probably ended up being there that day. Despite a massive Anonymous-powered online social media blitz, lots of people simply didn’t know about it, and traditional progressive organizations like labor unions and peace groups were uncomfortable signing on to so amorphous an action.
"A tenth" is probably generous by twice. Uhh, if the younger generation is so "connected," too, lots of people knew about it, too. Some of them may have written it off as kabuki-like, especially if they were half as skeptical and one-quarter as cynical as I am, and have been for 15 years, about Adbusters.

Oh, and the claim, per a person in my Google Plus circles, that Occupy Wall Street must be leaderless because of the example of "Spartacus"? Well, Rome killed everybody after everybody said he was Spartacus. So, first of all, you might want to rethink that example. Second, continuing the true parallelism, Rome probably would have killed everybody anyway. Third, Spartacus was the leader of the revolt; just because others tried to protect him doesn't change that fact. Beyond that, I stand by what I've said on this blog post already about issues and leaders.

Finally, if Jeff Jarvis thinks the myth of a leadership, self-organized Occupy Wall Street is great, that:
1. Shows just how wrong the myth likely is;
2. Is another good reason to be skeptical of the myth;
3. Is probably another good reason to be skeptical of the reality, too.

As for the "what can I do," how many of the people already there are overloaded with Apple "devices" and other consumer tech? What the people who organized this can do is what they should have been doing years ago, if they're really that concerned.

Stop buying so much. Given that most of it's made in China, anyway, it wouldn't cost that many American jobs. Those that were threatened, in the ever-narrowing middle of the middle class, would either recognize the issues sooner ... or not.

Wall Street's excesses are, in part, a symptom of larger consumer excesses. Branding. Hyper-individuality. And more.

Update: This story about the formation of A(( is making the rounds as allegedly being further proof of determination, dedication, etc., as well as leaderlessness. Rather, I saw it as being as much about egotism and Americo-centrism as anything.

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