Occupy was the first real opposition to the direction our country is heading since the early 1970s. It had significant successes, made significant mistakes, and was ultimately done in by an ever-growing police state. Several of our founders started their work at Occupy. It is worth looking at where we have been before moving on.
One of our allies, Popular Resistance, published Fifteen Core Issues The Country Must Face from the Occupy days. It is very similar to the Unified Platform. The New Progressive Alliance requires candidates seeking our endorsement and allied organizations to endorse the Unified Platform.
Some of the lessons learned follow.
- Do not require unanimous consent (a.k.a., "consensus"). There are always infiltrators who will vote no if only to prevent action.
- Be aware that there are always infiltrators. Accept the probability that no action you take will be a surprise. That does not mean we cannot win.
- The police have become much more militaristic in both weaponry and tactics. Have a plan that does not involve fighting them. In the short term they will probably win. (See Widespread Police Misconduct)
- Civil Rights are being systematically eroded. Books, cell phones and other personal property will be destroyed or taken without recourse. Have a back up.
- The mainstream press will under-report, ignore, or misinterpret what happened. Have a plan for getting the story out to independent media.
Anthony Noel - one of those who were there and participated - said, "I witnessed it in DC, NPA liaisons did in MN, CA, and elsewhere. None of which is meant to detract from the great work...thousands of others who believed in the promise of Occupy did and tried to do. But when consensus was endorsed as a valid governing principle, it was easy for co-option – and with this I refer more to local law enforcement in collusion with FBI and CIA than to sold-out unions or foundation-funded orgs, who were mostly dupes or hangers-on – to occur. It was no coincidence that in seemingly every working group in every Occupy camp there was ONE person who’d vote down on everything, forcing the deliberations either to begin again or to be abandoned in frustration. The question is whether we’ve learned from it – and whether we are ready to foment real protest. The question matters because if we do, we will be visited with violence from the defenders of the status quo."
We hope that others will share what they have learned.