Saturday, December 3, 2011

Why the Occupy movement should avoid getting pinned down with specific goals or specific demands

A critique of the Occupy movement is that besides being leaderless, they don't stand for anything. They don't have a list of 10 demands (or whatever) that helps us understand what the movement is about. Supposedly this makes them weak minded or something.

In a meeting last night between Occupy groups in Silicon Valley, Transition Silicon Valley, and Transition Palo Alto, a very cogent apt thoughtful idea came up.

That the issues being worked on through both the Occupy and Transition Town movements are very broad in a wholistic sense. We are wholistic movements, looking at the whole system and saying the whole thing needs to be fixed.

With that observation the next thought is: If we get pinned down to any number of specific demands, that we'd stop being "The 99%" but we'd be "The 10%" or "The 23%" or something.

Why?

It is very simple. People focused on peak oil (like I am) is maybe 5%; People focused on the fair treatment of left handed SouzaPhone players are .5%; People focused on climate change and greenhouse gasses are 11.2%; etc

I'm making up numbers here .. but I think you get the point. That each specific issue is attractive to the minority that's passionate about that issue.

If we were forced to focus on a specific demand, it would limit the movement to those passionate about that specific demand. Note that I'm talking a little loosely, containing both Occupy and Transition in this even though Transition isn't properly speaking a political movement. In any case focusing on a specific demand (or 10 specific demands or whatever) would be a trap to divide us up and limit our power.

Maybe this is a known ploy by political operatives that acts to limit the power of populist uprisings. Forcing the uprising to a specific list of demands would be a way to divide the population against itself, limiting the effectiveness of the uprising.