Wednesday, November 23, 2011

a more in-depth history of OWS

"No matter what happens next, the movement’s center is likely to shift from the N.Y.C.G.A., just as it shifted from Adbusters, and form somewhere else, around some other circle of people, ideas, and plans. 'This could be the greatest thing that I work on in my life,' Justine Tunney, of, said. 'But the movement will have other Web sites. Over the coming weeks and months, as other occupations become more prominent, ours will slowly become irrelevant.' She sounded as though the irrelevance of her project were both inevitable and desirable. 'We can’t hold on to any of that authority,' she continued. 'We don’t want to.'”

This is a more in-depth history of the beginnings of Occupy Wall Street. Adbusters came up with the idea and the date.  They attempted to steer it from there, but New York started their own General Assembly and pretty much did what consensus came up with from there, regardless of what Adbusters was thinking.  And as the operator of says, her site may well be replaced by some other that becomes more useful to the movement.  That's just how the ball rolls.

So Occupy Wall Street shows once again that horizontal organizing can work.  There are problems, as the article shows (the loudest people get the biggest say, for example).  But it also shows that these things can be worked out on the fly, right during the process of what you are up to.

The article also makes a great point of how some people naturally rise to be in positions where they SEEM to be in a leadership role. I consider that these people are the personality types or those with the background that give them experience or training in facilitating, organizing, etc.  The word in the article I like is "defer."  Others defer to these people because they have shown that they are capable to do certain functions. But unlike top-down movements, these people are in their position because others defer to them.  It is not that they hold a hierarchical position. It is not that they hold that position for a certain time. It is that so long as others defer to them, they hold their position.  When others decide that someone else should hold that position, consensus rules and others start to perform that function.

And it's fun to note that had the city been passive toward OWS, they might well have packed it up in a couple of weeks and moved on to their next activity.  Instead, the movement now has to first establish its right to protest before it can now move on.  The heavy-handed approach by local police to OWS will backfire everywhere.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You left out ANONYMOUS, without whose help OWS would've been only a blipvert on the media.

You left out ISM, whose global network and hard-core activists provided logistics and management support. OWS shares ISM's views about the Jewish State.

You left out many people and orgs, but these two are perhaps the most important.