Why Occupy Failed

I got invited to speak at a conference in which i did not pay enough attention to the program. It turns out to be very new agey, and it might be too exotic/woo woo for me.  I did like the intro presentations about polarities though.

The best part so far - not either/or dualities but polarity dynamic tensions

The best part so far – not either/or dualities but polarity dynamic tensions

During one of the speeches a presenter said, “The reason that Occupy Wall Street failed is they rejected the idea of leadership.”  This struck me as wrong for two very different reasons.

The first is Occupy did not fall, it was pushed.  Dozens of police raids across the US displaced occupiers from their parks.  Remove the freedom to assemble and you eliminate free speech protests.

Oakland was the center of some of the worst police violence in the country

Oakland was the center of some of the worst police violence in the country

The second reason is that Occupy did not fail.  Oh, it did not succeed in getting banksters thrown in jail and it did not end income inequity in the US.  But it did change the conversation about these topics.  In New York itself, mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio vowed to tackle the “Tale of Two Cities” income disparity issue and won, in part, on this issue.  Similarly, one could argue Obama’s efforts to raise the minimum wage may well have been emboldened by this movement.

More importantly, Occupy gave birth to a whole collection of initiatives including Occupy Sandy, which outperformed both FEMA and the Red Cross after the superstorm hit the East Coast.  In many cities Occupy morphed into anti-evictions groups.  In Eugene, Occupy Medical still provides free medical services to populations that would otherwise have no access.  And these are just initiatives i know of because i work in these cities.

You should only hope that when you are dead, you have this much going on.

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About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

3 responses to “Why Occupy Failed”

  1. richard w. lisko says :

    that’s right. tell it like it is, brother pax.

  2. Nexus says :

    An interesting take on Occupy from someone who wished it had succeeded better: http://www.thebaffler.com/articles/to-the-precinct-station
    Excerpt follows:
    “Why would a pamphlet clearly intended as a sort of Common Sense for the age of Occupy be filled with declarations such as this:

    — Our point of attack here is the dominant forms of subjectivity produced in the context of the current social and political crisis. We engage four primary subjective figures—the indebted, the mediatized, the securitized, and the represented—all of which are impoverished and their powers for social action are masked or mystified.–

    And dear god why, after only a few months of occupying Zuccotti Park, did Occupiers feel they needed to launch their own journal of academic theory? A journal that then proceeded to fill its pages with impenetrable essays seemingly written to demonstrate, one more time, the Arctic futility of theory-speak?

    Is this how you build a mass movement? By persistently choosing the opposite of plain speech?”

    • paxus says :

      Occupy was a decentralized movement, it had lots of voices, including disaffected academics. Pay no attention to the dogma behind the curtain. Lot at what the group and its thousand splinters actually did. From Sandy, to anti-eviction, to Occupy Health, to Occupy Tesla and far more

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