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Another 50,000 hits on Youtube.
January 21, 2012 4:49 AM   Subscribe

Is a tent clothing? Is someone wearing a tent illegally squatting? Is the person recording it all very annoying? (SLYT) There are so many things to think about here. The guy in the background makes it hard to concentrate on those things, but they're there.
posted by h00py (66 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yes, the person recording this is very annoying.

My jury is still out on the tent-dress.
posted by dabitch at 5:08 AM on January 21, 2012


Where's the ball-girl when you need her.
posted by Fizz at 5:19 AM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fashion police?
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:20 AM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


We've become a world where poor decisions are responded to by poor decisions. Perhaps, in the long run, it all balances out.
posted by HuronBob at 5:25 AM on January 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think one has to be reasonable when distinguishing between articles of clothing and domiciles. I'm sympathetic, but I want a clear difference between something I wear and something I live in. To me, if it includes a fireplace and a kitchen, it's more of a home. If it has pockets, it's probably clothes.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:27 AM on January 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


"This is gonne be the next viral video that gets 50,000 hits on the internet."

I'm sorry I contributed to that.

I personally am disappointed in the protestor. I don't know the context, but thinking about the restrictions on American Occupy areas, it's hard to imagine that wearing a tent isn't a wilful attempt to get around those restrictions and goad the authorities for a purpose that is something other than standing up for reform. These things, I fear, become the sideshows and distractions that hamper the movement from growing.
posted by Miko at 5:30 AM on January 21, 2012 [10 favorites]


If you're really clever, you Occupy with a synthesis like the jacket-tent.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:38 AM on January 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


I would like a jacket tent with a jetpack. Then I could fly away if the police came to take my jacket tent off.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:44 AM on January 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


It was the whole 'oh this is so ridiculous' reflex reaction I felt upon seeing the first part of this combined with my subsequent feeling that these cops just need to back off on the whole removing of the tent thing and subsequent hair pulling and squealing and unnecessary escalation of drama that made me decide to post this.

The guy in the background is all about the drama.
posted by h00py at 5:46 AM on January 21, 2012


Her name is Sara and she's lovely. This occurred after the Melbourne City Council had issued notices claiming that it was illegal to bring "objects or things" into public parks, or to have political signs there (because they constituted "advertising"). The protesters sued, and the case will be heard in March--it's expected to set a pretty significant free speech precedent in Australia.

But even while the legality of the notices was before the courts, the Council sent in police every single day to tear down and carry away the tents and sleeping bags of the Occupiers, usually at around midnight, during rainstorms when possible. That's when the Tent Monsters were first invented, to flummox the Council and hopefully get them to back away while the courts decided whether their actions were unconstitutional. The footage of the police and council workers walking away in dumbfounded silence was widely distributed and was obviously highly embarrassing to the police, hence their aggressive reassertion of their force monopoly when they attacked Sara.

Just for perspective, even if someone's wearing something they shouldn't, or carrying something illegal, the police can't just storm up to them, slash it off them with a knife, and then walk away with it, leaving the "offender" weeping on the ground.

We just got this message today:
"Yo Melbourne it's Chris Seerden aka Tent Monster Rush from Santa Cruz, Ca. In Washington DC at the moment. I just want to say thank you for inspiring me. I saw your videos on youtube and what happened broke my heart. So I took it within myself to be in solidarity with you as a fellow Tent Monster here in the US. I use my Tent as a political sign representing Homelessness-Corporate Greed-Education-Equality. My dream is to have at least one or more Tent Monsters in every Occupy, then come together at a large event together as one. Hope to ttys.. Much Love OCCUPY!!!"
posted by wwwwwhatt at 5:46 AM on January 21, 2012 [11 favorites]


Does this tent make my butt look fat?
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:55 AM on January 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


This video treads a fine line between documentation of civil rights violations and advocacy for eugenics.
posted by d2w at 5:55 AM on January 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Love the tent monsters video. Reminds me of the Beatles, somehow. I support the tent monsters.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:56 AM on January 21, 2012


That's when the Tent Monsters were first invented, to flummox the Council and hopefully get them to back away while the courts decided whether their actions were unconstitutional.

I get it, but this is why this kind of thing vexes the hell out of me. What has happened is that the authorities have successfully turned the protestors' attention and messaging from one about the failures of our economic and political systems to one about a power struggle between local policy and protestors in which each is trying to assert the upper hand. It's Occupy saying 'neener' to the police, and it doesn't reflect well, unfortunately.

I am in total solidarity with Occupy but we need to be always thinking about strategy, strategy, strategy - this kind shenanigan is not keeping eyes on the prize. It's sideshow and allows the status quo another day to yawn and turn the page. The decision is in the courts; a good strategy would have been to say "OK, let's set aside the tent thing, and create another, new type of action in the meanwhile that will focus on the core messages."
posted by Miko at 6:03 AM on January 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


It's Occupy saying 'neener' to the police, and it doesn't reflect well, unfortunately.

Evidence from within the movement strongly contradicts this. We received a huge amount of support when this got around. American Occupiers in particular seem to love it, and the general feeling is that the video showed cops intimidating a harmless young protester in a way that carried strong overtones of structural sexism. The role of the state isn't a sideshow.
posted by wwwwwhatt at 6:08 AM on January 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'd like to see that kind of "don't bullshit me you're pretending to use a tent as a dress" police attitude used on wall street types who pretend financial innovation isn't but sophisticated risk shifting.
posted by elpapacito at 6:15 AM on January 21, 2012 [22 favorites]


The guy recording it all is seriously annoying. He detracts, badly, from her message. MHO, of course.
posted by h00py at 6:18 AM on January 21, 2012


You may be receiving support from people already within the movement, but it doesn't read as well as to people who are marginally in support but don't fully understand and don't like to see needless antagonization with authorities. In these videos I see a handful of people intentionally taunting the police and pushing against the spirit of a restriction they were asked to observe. I see the red-haired young woman, in particularly, gleefully dancing and harassing the police, even following them to a location away from the original protest area, and clearly enjoying herself. Then I see when the consequences arrive - whether or not these consequences are right - she retreats to a legalistic stance about the letter of the law and what it should allow about the confiscation of something on your person. This looks a bit like trying to have it both ways.

This may be about the 'role of the state,' but it is not directly about the difficulty of people to support themselves in an economy skewed to favor the rich or the manipulation of the political system by corporations and the wealthy. In other words, it is the kind of Occupy spinoff that detracts from the central issues which are of critical concern to the millions of people disempowered by much larger systemic issues nationwide. That seems to be completely lost in things like this.

There is a tendency for people in protest situations to get caught up in what seems like the tremendously important immediacy of situations of conflict with the authorities. You are living in the midst of it, tracking every incremental development, and strongly bonded together with camaraderie and a sense of mission. IT does feel important to be in it. Sometimes those conflicts are tremendously important and revealing and can win sympathy from people not in the movement - the pepper spray incident, in which people were not openly taunting the cops, was an example of that. This kind of thing I'm afraid leaves me and others who care about the major issues cold. I think while you can make an argument that state power protects the status quo, that is not the thing most evident to my co-workers, my parents, friends of my family, and people who have not yet set foot into an Occupy protest but are thinking now about whether or not this movement is for them. I know that some people in the movement feel rah-rah about these sorts of things, but other people in the movement, even at the non-organizational edge like myself, find this a total distraction from building a strong and broadly based consensus around the critical economic and political issues that are limiting opportunity and harming regular folks worldwide.
posted by Miko at 6:21 AM on January 21, 2012 [10 favorites]


Was she nude underneath? I hope so, as that to me would easily qualify as a sexual assault. I know it would have been tough, but rather than just scream and cover up, the right play would have been to stay very visible and naked, scream "rape" and "give me back my clothes"...
posted by Meatbomb at 6:22 AM on January 21, 2012


Was she nude underneath?

From the other video you can she's wearing something with sleeves and something on her legs.
posted by Miko at 6:23 AM on January 21, 2012


If so too bad, because it does lead to the argument "you are just draping a tent over yourself" rather than "these are my clothes and you have stripped me naked in public".
posted by Meatbomb at 6:27 AM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reminds of another thing I've wondered about. If you cut the top part from a pair of underwear, and sew them inside the waist of a pair of jeans, then your pants aren't really hanging down, the waist of what was once underwear is now just part of the pants, right?
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:37 AM on January 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Miko makes sense, as is her wont.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:39 AM on January 21, 2012


If you cut the top part from a pair of underwear, and sew them inside the waist of a pair of jeans, then your pants aren't really hanging down, the waist of what was once underwear is now just part of the pants, right?

What difference does it make and to whom?
posted by biffa at 6:39 AM on January 21, 2012


What difference does it make and to whom?
posted by biffa


Some places have passed statutes against wearing pants that hang down in that hip hop style.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:43 AM on January 21, 2012


This was from close to a few months ago at Treasury Gardens where there were ever increasing, absurd restrictions being placed on the protesters about what could and couldn't be placed on the ground. The simple idea of a blanket spread on the grass for a normal picnic became against council rules. You couldn't rest a protest sign on the ground as it became "advertising in public spaces." Not allowed.

My understanding was that Treasury Gardens was offered as an alternative, expansion site for the original camps. I thought "cool", the city can sustain a protest and dialogue. I was wrong.

The argument shouldn't have been with the police. With a few notable exceptions, the ones I met and spoke with were reasoned people performing their jobs. The idiots that manage the city though. Ugh. The early days of the protest seemed so hopeful and inclusive.

This particular event happened shortly after I wasn't able to follow the groups anymore. I'd been photographing a lot of the original stuff and did some follow up. Physical issues caught up with me. I think I have shots of the woman in the tent. Pre tent though.
posted by michswiss at 6:48 AM on January 21, 2012


In these videos I see a handful of people intentionally taunting the police and pushing against the spirit of a restriction they were asked to observe. I see the red-haired young woman, in particularly, gleefully dancing and harassing the police, even following them to a location away from the original protest area, and clearly enjoying herself. Then I see when the consequences arrive - whether or not these consequences are right - she retreats to a legalistic stance about the letter of the law and what it should allow about the confiscation of something on your person. This looks a bit like trying to have it both ways.

There are no both ways. If the police can't handle non-violent taunting, they shouldn't be police. They are here to protect and serve the public, including their right to free expression, not to suppress all forms of protest at the direction of political and economic leaders. How can they expect to handle an actual emergency if they can't handle a single person wearing a tent dress?

Asymmetrical police violence and abuse of power exists because people don't speak up, and the police are virtually never punished. Blaming the protestors when ill-trained and poorly informed police overreact is saying that regular citizens have more responsibility to keep order in public places than the police, which makes me wonder why we have police in the first place.

And if your answer to all of this is that the police have to act the way they do because they have to consider every person is a possibly violent criminal, just think about that for a minute.
posted by deanklear at 6:51 AM on January 21, 2012 [10 favorites]


Yes, of course. It was ill-thought-out.

This is what has me worried: from Counterpunch,
Despite these glorious achievements, however, OWS does not seem to be growing. The initial excitement and novelty of the movement has dissipated, and the public has become almost indifferent to watching commando-like police raids and evictions of protesters from most of their encampments. Many of its potential allies such as larger numbers of working people seem to be taking a wait-and-see stance toward it.

Several nationwide polls clearly indicate that the movement has stalled. While polling results need to be viewed with caution, they cannot be ignored either, as their findings are by and large consistent
Reuters:
More than half of those surveyed by Ipsos were unsure how they felt about the movement -- which prides itself on being leaderless -- while a third sympathized with the protesters and 13 percent had an unfavorable view of the group.

Yet when told more about the general objectives of Occupy -- to protest social and economic inequality, corporate greed, the power of the financial sector and the global financial system -- sympathy for the group rose to 53 percent from 33 percent.

"This shift in favorability suggests the movement could have greater support if they communicated their goals more clearly. Until then, the primary response will continue to be a lack of awareness," said Ipsos spokeswoman Keren Gottfried.
We have a populace in the Western democracies that is strongly in support of the central agenda. But they also are not being encouraged to step forward into the movement, and they are increasingly alienated by tactics they can't endorse or even envision themselves partaking in, and at times are actively embarrassed by. We are as close as we've been in my lifetime to bringing a real democratic reform agenda before the people, and without better strategy and a continued reliance on carnivalesque skirmishes, we are about to just totally blow it. Many of these people who are potentially in support are low-hanging fruit who can be plucked by any populist effort which addressess itself directly to them. That can continue to be the right and its free-market and financially libertarian ideology, as it has been throughout the last four decades, or it stands some chance, finally, of being a movement for and by the people in their own favor. Right now, we're leaving a lot of people behind or just alienated, hesitant, out in the cold. We're just pissing the momentum away unless we come up with something smarter.

If I were in the position of organizing protest actions, I would first encourage everyone to think long and hard about why there are there, what they are doing and who they are doing it for. And I would be looking to activate strategies that reach into living rooms and classrooms and cafes and civic gatherings and start moving people on the continuum from the 'crowd vaguely in support' end toward the 'true believer and member of the movement' end. I would encourage people to consider the ways their willingess to engage with the mechanisms of state power in the manner of protests like these only reifies that state power and is complicit in creating a performance whereby it emerges looking only stronger and more inevitable.
posted by Miko at 6:52 AM on January 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


While this clip is not from the US, it plays into this serious dissonance between the endless harrassment the occupy protesters are subjected to in exercising their first ammendment rights (no megaphones, no tents, no umbrellas, even no sitting down at some points) and the absolute and total untroubled immunity of big money buying politicians.

How can actual, literal, speech be this heavily regulated while the figurative quasi-speech errected with the CU decision is treated as totally "hands-off"?
posted by patrick54 at 6:58 AM on January 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think it's too soon to tell, Miko; it's not like the forces that caused the protest (massive equality and unemployment) have eased. In the northern hemisphere, it's winter; many of the protesters have taken the attitude of waiting till spring, though in Dallas, where it's not been seriously cold, a small core continues to meet and plan.

We can all sit around and criticize from outside, that's easy; knowing what will happen in the future is not. And going by media articles is a mug's game; the media is not only frequently wrong, but owned by people who have a vested interest in controlling the narrative.
posted by emjaybee at 7:00 AM on January 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


urmph, I mean massive inequality.
posted by emjaybee at 7:01 AM on January 21, 2012


I'm not only going by media articles, but I'm sharing them to shore up what I know is not an invidivual perception only.

I do think there's still a lot of hope for this movement, and I'm as hopeful as you about a spring renaissance, but it will grow only if we organize it in the right direction. I think it's a fool's game to play slap-me with the police and would like to see much, much, much more emphasis on outreach.
posted by Miko at 7:04 AM on January 21, 2012


Some places have passed statutes against wearing pants that hang down in that hip hop style.

I hadn't heard that. I guess the kind of regime that would introduce that kind of law wouldn't be inteterested in hair splitting over attaching parts of the undies to the trouser.
posted by biffa at 7:16 AM on January 21, 2012


How can actual, literal, speech be this heavily regulated while the figurative quasi-speech errected with the CU decision is treated as totally "hands-off"?

Money is the most important thing. It is more important than the message, than facts, than human lives, than the law, more than anything. Money is the only thing that matters in this society. OWS does not have money so they are wrong and should be destroyed. Corporations have money, and therefor everything they do is valid and should be lauded.

Citizen, you will be reported for reeducation.
posted by fuq at 7:29 AM on January 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


We have a populace in the Western democracies that is strongly in support of the central agenda. But they also are not being encouraged to step forward into the movement, and they are increasingly alienated by tactics they can't endorse or even envision themselves partaking in, and at times are actively embarrassed by.

I agree. The willingness of OWS to be coopted as a marginal exercise saddens and frustrates me. Public theater is great, but it has to bridge to something else -- ideally electoral politics, or perhaps some kind of mass movement, or something. Insular and entrenched activist theater is the wrong direction.
posted by Forktine at 7:58 AM on January 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


If I were in the position of organizing protest actions...

You are.
posted by howfar at 8:03 AM on January 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


At some point, the Occupy movement suckered itself into becoming wholly about the First Amendment. This is a shame, because somewhere in the morass of economic and class disparity there's real complexity and an opportunity for some genuine progress, and these protestors are instead concerned with a pretty simple legal issue that they're 100% misinformed about.
posted by red clover at 8:13 AM on January 21, 2012


I getcha, howfar, and in theory I could take an organizational role, but I have decided that in this movement at this time I can't be a leader of protest actions. I have already organized a teach-in on corporate money in food politics for Occupy Boston which is on hold pending spring, but beyond that, I will do things in support as a follower but don't have time to be a leader. I'm already a volunteer regional head for a nationwide activist group, I'm in graduate school and have a full-time job at which I coordinate events, plus I coordinate a three-part winter performance series. I'm willing to be active in Occupy and share my thoughts and ideas from past work. But I, like millions of people, have limited time and an organizational role is not one I currently seek. I love that the movement is individually empowering but this individual does not have the time - or train fare - to go hack through the GA meetings week after week to make my ideas known and move them forward. Call on me for whatever I can do episodically and remotely, and I will be able to do some of those things. Taking on this movement as my main project now will not be possible in the coming few months, and we'll see where things are then.

Time crunch, logistics - just reality for a lot of people. Even the people who you most want emailing their representatives and spreading the word of actions they support but can't directly manage. Make room for them.
posted by Miko at 8:15 AM on January 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


We have a populace in the Western democracies that is strongly in support of the central agenda. But they also are not being encouraged to step forward into the movement, and they are increasingly alienated by tactics they can't endorse or even envision themselves partaking in, and at times are actively embarrassed by.

It's a recapitulation of the 1960s. SDS radicalized into the Weathermen & law enforcement radicalized into COINTELPRO. Someday we'll actually learn from history instead of just reliving it.
posted by scalefree at 8:21 AM on January 21, 2012


Metafilter: How you can you determine that this is clothing or............a tent?
posted by lazaruslong at 8:23 AM on January 21, 2012


At some point, the Occupy movement suckered itself into becoming wholly about the First Amendment.

When nobody's allowed to create a platform defining the ideology of the group, the only thing left is that everybody should be allowed to speak. They've got the self part down cold but they've completely missed out on organizing.
posted by scalefree at 8:25 AM on January 21, 2012


When nobody's allowed to create a platform defining the ideology of the group, the only thing left is that everybody should be allowed to speak.

Have you considered that the main problem with American society is that not everyone is allowed a voice (metaphorically) to speak with? Simply being about to provide a truly free and open forum may be so radically progressive that you and other cannot even see it as a progressive act? The authorities surely see it as a threat to their legitimacy and it isn't even understood yet.
posted by fuq at 8:30 AM on January 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


WUNC displays are the heart of a social movement. They demonstrate:

Worthiness
Unity
Numbers
Commitment

I understand that the anarchist roots of Occupy militates against unity, and as a scholar I think that's cool and interesting. As a citizen, I just want to point out that forgoing unity has a price.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:31 AM on January 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


I agree. The willingness of OWS to be coopted as a marginal exercise saddens and frustrates me. Public theater is great, but it has to bridge to something else -- ideally electoral politics, or perhaps some kind of mass movement, or something. Insular and entrenched activist theater is the wrong direction.

Is that really all OWS does? To say that a movement with at least hundreds of thousands of followers are all engaged in "insular and entrenched activist theater" sounds like a page out of a disinformation campaign.
posted by deanklear at 8:45 AM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I understand that the anarchist roots of Occupy militates against unity

That seems either a surprising reading of anarchism or a troubling interpretation of unity. Unity as commitment to the individual and collective needs of other people is at the very heart of anarchism. Unity as a shared commitment to an ideology that one must subscribe to or reject is what I would characterise as conformity.

Resistance to the need for, or desirability of, conformity is reason to hope that Occupy will be a less brittle radical reformist movement than those that have preceded it. I think that Miko is largely correct to argue that getting side-tracked into repeating the same confrontations over and over again is something of a waste of time. However, I also think that the only real strength Occupy has is the ability to include such activities within its broad church, without feeling the need to exclude either those who engage in them, or those who disapprove of them.

Infighting and fragmentation are the twin banes of radical movements. Fragmentation always favours those most ruthless, ego driven and willing to co-opt themselves to the current political system. I'm not sure how high a price I am willing to pay to resist this but it is very high indeed.
posted by howfar at 8:47 AM on January 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Simply being about to provide a truly free and open forum may be so radically progressive that you and other cannot even see it as a progressive act?

I'm still not seeing the mechanism that connects your radical free and open forum to social and/or political change.

It's a recapitulation of the 1960s. SDS radicalized into the Weathermen & law enforcement radicalized into COINTELPRO. Someday we'll actually learn from history instead of just reliving it.

I disagree. The problem I am seeing with OWS (and I very much hope I am wrong) is that it is marginalizing itself into street theater; the problem for the Weathermen was that it turned out that they were wrong and there was not a huge proletariat mass ready and waiting for their Maoist vanguard leadership. (Luckily for the Weathermen, they were mostly from well-off white families and most of them escaped prison because of the openly illegal methods that were used by the authorities; the repression against the Black Panthers and other minority groups was far more violent.)

But I would very much agree that there is a similarity between OWS and the SDS just before it fragmented, in the enormous concern for, and time spent on, incredibly trivial political nuances that are offputting to anyone outside. Those endless general assembly meetings aren't how you connect with and involve regular people with busy lives, like Miko describes, any more than the late-period SDS infighting over different flavors of socialism helped them connect to the majority of Americans.
posted by Forktine at 8:50 AM on January 21, 2012


re: tentative pockets=clothing definition from twoleftfeet, above

I think we should remember why we oppose pockets for women [previously]
posted by chapps at 9:30 AM on January 21, 2012


Why are Melbourne councillors and police such pricks?
posted by KokuRyu at 10:44 AM on January 21, 2012


Unity as commitment to the individual and collective needs of other people is at the very heart of anarchism. Unity as a shared commitment to an ideology that one must subscribe to or reject is what I would characterise as conformity.

Anarchism is also an ideology, and one that any participant in the organizational structure of Occupy has had to subscribe to or reject.
posted by Miko at 12:36 PM on January 21, 2012


I don't know about the rest of you, but Occupy Seattle is meeting every day, and is planning events and actions that are going on all the time.

Occupy Seattle.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:51 PM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unity as commitment to the individual and collective needs of other people is at the very heart of anarchism.

You appear to have missed 100+ years of effort to redefine anarchists as violent nihilists. I remember telling someone about the "strike bike" factory takeover in Germany and she was absolutely convinced that anarchist collectivist bicycle makers who weren't being yelled at to produce more faster by a management structure focused of pleasing the investors would make crappy bicycles a la the Simpson's "Do What You Feel Day".

Instead of occupying Wall Street we need to occupy some more factories. There are plenty of empty ones, so it's not like anyone would notice.

At first.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:06 PM on January 21, 2012


Anarchism is also an ideology, and one that any participant in the organizational structure of Occupy has had to subscribe to or reject.

I'm not sure how that addresses my point. Isn't there something to be said for explicitly attempting to avoid making such subscription a requirement of participation? An attempt to seek unity through embracing diversity?

I have more than enough experience of real radical politics to know that this is a lofty and probably unattainable ambition. However, when I hear people saying that "forgoing unity has a price", it only seems reasonable to point out the huge price the radical left has paid in attempting to forge unity.
posted by howfar at 1:26 PM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


And the price it might pay now is achieving nothing despite its best chance in decades.
posted by Miko at 3:04 PM on January 21, 2012


I'm involved in my local small town's Occupy. I'm also involved in another group with a more clearly defined ideology. The two different groups do somewhat different things. Both are useful: talking with people who agree with me fairly closely, and talking with people who agree on a basic tenet that the current economic and political system is unfair but otherwise have a wide variety of views about exactly why this is so and what the appropriate solutions are. Both are still in the getting-going/organizational phases, but have the potential for pushing useful change in the world. There's no one single correct way to do activism.

Another thing to keep in mind about Occupy is that, as I see it, a significant part of the importance of this movement is the experiences that it gives the people involved. A large group of people, even just since September, have been trained in consensus-building and directly democratic decision-making processes, and have had the experience of seeing a different economic model in action as well if they spent time at an Occupy encampment.
posted by eviemath at 3:41 PM on January 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


At some point, the Occupy movement suckered itself into becoming wholly about the First Amendment.

This video took place in Australia. We don't have a First Amendment. When you try to engage in any kind of activism that really threatens the foundations of your social order, the state will push back, and you will have to test what you can achieve, and frame it in terms most people understand; that's what's happening.
posted by wwwwwhatt at 4:10 PM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


All well and good, and yet I still am concerned with Forktine's point: how does this produce change? How does this connect to action that produces structural change?
posted by Miko at 4:17 PM on January 21, 2012


And the price it might pay now is achieving nothing despite its best chance in decades.

Of trying to forge unity? I probably shouldn't have used "forge" and "forgo" in the same paragraph, because I'm not sure you're responding to the distinction I'm drawing.

To try to respond to what you and forktine seem to be getting at. My outsider's understanding of what happened to SDS in the late '60s is that it fragmented as a direct result of being unable to contain competing ideologies. My reading about and experience of radical politics in Britain and more generally suggests to me that a major, perhaps the major, problem that radical movements (at least in the developed world) suffer is a dissipation of energy through infighting and fragmentation.

Therefore, I am inclined to (somewhat hopefully, I acknowledge) see Occupy's resistance to an ideological identity as a feature, rather than a bug. It seems to me an attempt to deal with one of the central problems that confronts us in radical politics.

I also acknowledge that mere survival is not enough (I'm no Leninist!). I would suggest that the key to Occupy achieving structural change is probably through a shared practice, rather than a shared ideology. Direct community outreach, visible presence, confronting abuses of power, teaching, squatting, public occupation. A highly visible network of people affiliated to a broadly similar cause, using identifiably shared techniques seems to me the important thing, not a futile attempt to translate that into something like an electoral message.
posted by howfar at 4:31 PM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would suggest that the key to Occupy achieving structural change is probably through a shared practice, rather than a shared ideology.

Xan I quote this when I talk about Occupy in other fora? :)
posted by eviemath at 4:49 PM on January 21, 2012


Hmm, interesting reaction-time lesson there: I in fact noticed that I typed "Xan" instead of the intended "Can", yet apparently not soon enough to interrupt my finger pressing down on the button to post my comment.
posted by eviemath at 4:50 PM on January 21, 2012


I in fact noticed that I typed "Xan" instead of the intended "Can"

Or at least you think you did. From your perspective it might as easily be an artefact of perception as one of reaction. You may have pressed, then noticed the Xan, then noticed yourself pressing.

As you can see, I am so rarely pithy that, when I am, I am delighted to have my pith shared. Quote away!
posted by howfar at 4:57 PM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


How does this produce change? How does this connect to action that produces structural change?


I don't think there has ever been a social movement that worked in such a systematic or predictable way.

Sometimes bizarre cultural interventions play into a broader effect of a movement.

Sometimes different parts of a movement take contradictory paths (one group is doing art workshops with kids while another is hanging from a bridge with a big banner for news coverage while still another lobbies their government reps with carefully conducted research) ... yet somehow they all drive things forward.

I have a great photo from Seattle 99 WTO of a woman dressed in a crazy colourful striped outfit with an odd hat, and holding a sign that says "Teamsters and Turtles: Together At Last" ... she became the emblem of the unifying moment of environment and labour for years. But first she was a crazy lady that wore outrageously silly things and had a simplistic slogan. (I also fondly recall the anti-fascist marching band, still warms my heart to think of them!)

Could such disparate efforts succeed without each other? Maybe, but probably not as far as they do all jumbled together.

I do think, however, that social activists must resist becoming self referential to the point that they only make sense within their own peer group.
posted by chapps at 9:31 PM on January 21, 2012


I would suggest that the key to Occupy achieving structural change is probably through a shared practice, rather than a shared ideology.

Shared practices create communities. Shared projects can alter the state's policies. But both require a shared ideology.

One thing that might help would be to look at the history of successful social movements, and to try to define what makes them successful. I highly recommend Charles Tilly's book Social Movements: 1768-2004 for this purpose. He originated the "WUNC" criteria. (It's also worth looking at dissenting voices like David Graeber's Direct Action: An Ethnography.)
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:22 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think there has ever been a social movement that worked in such a systematic or predictable way.

That's sort of counter to reality. Most social movements have created a mechanism for legislative and representational change by calling for specific political actions and making those actions easier for citizens to take. Sometimes Occupy seems like only half a movement for this reason - great at getting attention, raising awareness and discussing issues, but bad at moving people to take action for structural changes.

But both require a shared ideology.

Or even an agreement on specific issues or actions which can function as a coalition among people with differing ideologies.
posted by Miko at 9:09 AM on January 24, 2012


Occupy's resistance to an ideological identity as a feature

I think those establishing the terms of participation are ideologues, though, and it frustrates me that they're blind to their own insistence on all participants adopting their beliefs as to how to structure the movement. I mean, in merely suggesting that outcomes be established I'm basically excommunicated as "not getting" the fundamental meaning of the movement. I disagree and think it important to be heard. Awareness is a means to end. Without an end it becomes noise. Awareness alone does not restrain globalization, remove corporate money from politics, put food on the table or create opportunity. Do the people in the movement care about the outcomes for individuals, or do they care most about adhering to abstract principles and continuing demonstrations indefintely?

This was a very interesting piece on the involvement of Adbusters and the decision to manage the movement along principles of anarchism.

Direct community outreach, visible presence, confronting abuses of power, teaching, squatting, public occupation....

What for? To what end? Without a planned-for outcome, these are just pastimes.
posted by Miko at 9:17 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Adbusters link

If I do this one more time I'm going to cry. It's a strange tic my right hand has developed which means I don't hit the shift key to get double quotes which screws up the link. it's weird.
posted by Miko at 9:18 AM on January 24, 2012


Excellent protest theater. Seems way too polite and professional to be any way cop baiting will be anything but noise. Frankly, poor payoff: protests need more (attractive) naked people, Especially In Good Weather.

"Shame" and "The whole world is watching, " are the "more cowbell" of the post-video street movement.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 4:06 PM on January 25, 2012


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