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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

An Open letter to the Occupation Movement on tactics

Dear Occupiers

Hi, how's it all going then? Before I get all critical here, let me say how terribly fond of activism and over throwing elite structures of unethical commerce I am, and that you have all been a great balm to my cynical heart in terms of showing a generation of apathy that there are some amongst us who won't simply be led into the mental abattoir of uncritical modern living and who are prepared to make a stand.

For that alone, I and many other thinkers around the globe are very much grateful.

However, I hate to be a bit of a wet blanket here, but the immoral structure of vested commercial interest masquerading as the neoliberal Washington Consensus (that none of us consented to) hasn't budged an inch from your occupations.

This is dreadfully annoying.

It's dreadfully annoying because after the immoral corporate values on display after the 2008 stock market meltdown the global hegemonic economic structure is as weak and prepared for collapse as it was post 1929 when it unravelled into a depression.

It's dreadfully annoying because as former World Bank Overlord, Joseph E. Stiglitz points out in his paradigm shifting Vanity Fair article, Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%, inequality caused by a gutting of Keynesian regulation and a culture of me first and the gimmie, gimmies is still creating a world where venal 1% greed is rewarded at terrible cost to the remaining 99%.

It's dreadfully annoying because as Philosopher Thomas Pogge points out in his Priorities of Global Justice...

"One-third of all human deaths are due to poverty-related causes, to malnutrition and to diseases that can be prevented or cured cheaply. Yet our politicians, academics, and mass media show little concern for how such poverty might be reduced. They are more interested in possible military interventions to stop human rights violations in developing countries, even though such interventions - at best - produce smaller benefits at greater cost. This Western priority may be rooted in self-interest. But it engenders, and is sustained by, a deeply flawed moral presentation of global economic cooperation. The new global economic order we impose aggravates global inequality and reproduces severe poverty on a massive scale. On any plausible understanding of our moral values, the prevention of such poverty is our foremost responsibility."

...in short brothers and sisters, while the Occupation fights the good fight, it ain't winning.

Why not? It's not like you aren't right, the despicable manner in which commerce is structured to harvest wealth for the 1% at the cost to the remaining 99% is as evil a creation as any humankind has made and the only ethical response is to attack it in every form where ever it is found, yet the Occupations have mostly been killed off, may I suggest a slight tactical change?

The problem I think is that occupations by their nature are tactically static. You turn up at a venue and occupy it which is followed up by the Police arriving and beating everyone up with the sort of passion they tend to reserve for minorities when the cameras aren't rolling. I think the Occupation movement needs to evolve and become mobile. I say the Occupation create leadership teams who quietly strategize out who should be targeted next and send out the message via social networking sites to flash occupy.

Flash Occupations should become the new weapon, it would attract massive media attention as you are always occupying new targets, the occupation should last as long as the occupiers can stay (days, weeks, months - how ever long you can occupy for) while demanding direct dialogue with the target that has been selected for occupation to change whatever their practices are that have caused attention to fall upon them.

This tactic would breath life back into the Occupations, it would create a transient activist base who could move from protest to protest and become a real social movement that has purpose and direction. Sitting outside your local City Hall playing hacky sack and debating the finer points of a Tobin Tax in an anarchist styled no leaders consensus model is all fine and good, but it isn't going to force change.

When the current system of capitalism is as evil and corrupt as the one we currently are yoked to, there can be no excuses for not exploring new tactics to continue the struggle.

In the words of the great Kate Shepard, the woman who led the struggle for universal suffrage in NZ over a century ago, 'All that separates, whether of race, class, creed, or sex, is inhuman, and must be overcome'. Flash Occupations are the solution and manner in which her words should be fought with.



At 17/1/12 9:46 am, Blogger Ben Wilson said...

Interesting idea, modeled around the riots in the UK, which were organized over social media to a large extent?

It would catch attention, I'm sure. Would it change anything? Who knows. I'm not optimistic.

At 17/1/12 9:56 am, Blogger countryboy said...

Bomber ! Brilliant ! Thank you for putting [it] so succinctly . Keeping a Movement moving and avoiding having your Movement destroyed by what some activists call ' Confederates ' is the greatest challenge facing any form of activism too . People get all fired up , nostrils flare , there is much striding about ... and then ? Nothing . The status quo remains and it's business as usual . An informative little paper called ' The Dark Side of Multitude ' by an associate professor of psychology at Irvine University in California is worth a read re this subject . Again . Great post Bomber Bradbury !

At 17/1/12 10:51 am, Blogger AAMC said...

This is one of the best pieces I've read, from when the Marched on Goldman Sacs..


Naomi Klein discusses - What next?


Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone..


Examples of actions other than occupations


My favorite tactic, the Mic Check, a glance at Youtube shows many of these actions


And occupying homes


Occupy Ninjas


There are multiple tactics being employed in the rest of the world, today to mark Martin Luther Kings Bday, Jan 17th in Washington, and Spring will show a resurgence of energy.

In NZ, I just don't think the conditions are ripe yet, the social contract hasn't been visibly broken yet for the middle class. As the financial climate continues to deteriorate, graduates leave university to find there are no jobs, here or in London or Sydney, then NZ will awaken and these tactics may show their face here.

At 17/1/12 1:05 pm, Blogger countryboy said...

By the way ... I find it terribly exciting to see ideas flowing . Better than nought that will come of it . Keep those ideas coming ! No matter how outrageous it might seem ! Some brilliant mind with a good heart attached will come up with something extraordinary , you wait and see . We're Kiwis after all . I have no doubt at all that someone here will ' show the way ' , so to speak . All I want to achieve is to see roger douglas et al do prison time . That's my post Christmas wish .

At 17/1/12 2:23 pm, Blogger Ben Wilson said...

In NZ, I just don't think the conditions are ripe yet, the social contract hasn't been visibly broken yet for the middle class. As the financial climate continues to deteriorate, graduates leave university to find there are no jobs, here or in London or Sydney, then NZ will awaken and these tactics may show their face here.

I don't think it's going to play out like that. Without something unforeseen happening, we're on a hiding to third world status. For many, it's already like that. We're like the small pacific islands - everyone with real talent leaves, and people stay only for lifestyle, or family, or because nowhere else will have them.

At 17/1/12 8:55 pm, Blogger AAMC said...

Possibly Ben, but the grass is no longer greener, there will be a limit to opportunity abroad which will bring some back and prevent others from leaving.

House prices in Shanghai dropped by 33% in November, multiple economists - the ones who picked the GFC and subprime bubble - are predicting a hard landing for China, Europe and its banks are insolvent, they can't kick the can forever. And that doesn't even start to tackle the systemic problems of Trchnology and a Globalized workforce. We are on the way to third world status, as I'd the rest of the West.

I hope, that at the point at which all those engineering and Archetecture and photography and finance graduates leave, ready for a future that is no longer available to them, then we might - again I hope - see the creativity here that has been witnessed abroad.

At 17/1/12 9:20 pm, Blogger blueleopardthinks said...

I think the Occupy may well be working better than is commonly assumed.

(No thanks to the media, who have marketed it as a losing battle from the start.)

People are talking, there are columns in the paper/internet. Yahoo have one today, an interminable thread of people irritated by the activity.

This is good.

Awareness needs to be raised. Irritating people is a good start (not hard to irritate people in NZ is it? "Ooo, the grass, the grass, don't damage the grass!")

I agree with Ben Wilson, "the social contract hasn't been broken yet..." ...well not enough for people en mass to get disgruntled anyway. We are still comfortable (a majority are) Yet if NZer mainstream can be gently and regularly reminded of how interconnected our economies all are, how our system has been corrupted, how the blatant fraud will continue, how bailouts will continue, how our rights are being eroded, how unemployment will continue to be an issue, how this IS effecting our country and all these things and more will continue as 'business as usual' until enough people stand up and say NO, NO MORE!

I am of the opinion that [sadly] our Government reflects us, and will continue to act like neurotic animals who've been caged too long until we, in numbers, wake up, tune in, and stop acting like...well...sleepy hobbits...ourselves.

At 18/1/12 3:06 am, Blogger Andrzej said...

I too feel compelled to add my praises of your post Bomber, excellent! Your post resonates with my frustrations over the whole occupy campaign over recent months.

I too sympathise with the demonstrator’s goal of routing and holding those responsible of this quagmire of global corporate greed accountable, and so on, but very disappointed with the outcome of their actions and strategy.

When it all began I thought at long last the discontent of the Arab world had inspired those elsewhere to forge their path towards freedom. However as we have seen it all seemingly resulted in a childish tantrum, the type one would expect when there is a momentary stand-off by a child refusing to take a bath. Your suggestions for revitalising the occupy movement should be heeded by those concerned, and resonate along the lines of what I mulled over in my head.

From the beginning, I thought that these occupations across the world would result in each having their own representative form of leadership and network with their comrades the world over. Resulting in a credible and formidable force to champion the concerns of the ordinary person afflicted by the growing tide of injustice, but alas to no avail.

In my opinion the most serious drawback to this movement and its subsequent growth is its lack of an objective. We are facing a decline of many enlightened principles we had enjoyed and prospered upon; however will those in the cockpit ever give a passing thought to our concerns given that they are the immoral hijackers of this once fairly credible ship called government. The once good ship government over the past about thirty years has been boarded by these ultra-free-market extremists with only the myopic will to see all those subject conform to their demands, demands to ensure they profiteer handsomely and rule with the zeal of a psychotic control freak.

In my opinion, the representative democracy we have bestowed on us here and around the world has been trivialised and corrupted to seemingly, democracy is a system whereby we are blessed with the privilege over a term to elect a government from a largely two horse race to rule over us with the mandate of a dictator, where each horse in this election is neither red nor blue, but a common shade in between. No longer is government a servant of the public but of themselves.

In this age of information technology and most prominently the internet. Why is the machine of government so distant from modernity with its vast unwieldy bureaucratic workings? Given the accessibility of the internet for the public, it isn’t farfetched to imagine more public input into the decision making process with the power of the internet. I believe we live in an age with the tools at our disposal to deliver the most pure form of democracy in history, if only the will prevails.

The public shouldn’t content themselves any longer with being ruled by an increasingly hungry inefficient and unrepresentative entity. The democracy we see around us today is increasingly approaching the status of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, democracy in name only.

The occupy movement could possibly have greater clout with an objective of attaining greater democracy, similar to the will of the demonstrators in the Arab world, by changing the current unwieldy corrupt governmental systems for more democratic ones tangible with the times. Pleading with an authority which increasingly deems their subjects with disdain would likely yield limited fleeting dividends for the increasingly oppressed.

At 18/1/12 9:56 am, Blogger Ben Wilson said...

I hate to be a parade-rainer, but we have got soooo far to go before our country is as fucked as where the Arab countries even started from. It's wonderful that they're finding the mojo to start holding their leadership accountable, but there are still vast legions of people who haven't even noticed the slightest hardship here, indeed things seem rosier than ever to some, since the perception of wealth is most acute in a relative sense rather than an absolute one. So long as you're richer than your neighbor, you don't notice that both of you are actually poor debt slaves. So long as perceptions of wealth are driven by the main product of industrialism, the uber-complex gadgetry of wonder, we don't notice that the most basic things in life cost us more than ever, like shelter, food and water. And we never notice that despite centuries of process improvement, we still work harder than ever before. These facts are considered natural, even though nothing about them is natural.

Occupy is righteous, but I'm yet to see a cause like this survive without enough visible misery, and NZers are far too good at suppressing the appearance of misery.

At 18/1/12 11:34 am, Blogger AAMC said...


At 18/1/12 11:46 am, Blogger AAMC said...

Let's face it, The Washington Consensus rules our world, and it would be naive to expect the corporations that run US politics to give up power without an enormous fight, but it is unfair not to acknowledge the fact that #OWS has already had an impact on US politics, it has changed the narrative, they're talking inequality states are moving to end corporate personhood, it's short of total revolution, but if you observe it closely where it is covered, i.e. Twitter, Truthout, Think Progress, Youtube, Vimeo etc etc - not the MSM, there is a different picture.

I think it's too early to write of some fundamental change, how many years before MLK had all those people at the Washington Mall, for a movement that's a few months old, it's achieved a lot.

I think what the Left / Progressive establish finds hard to understand with it, is it's Anarchist non-hierarchical structure, it's leaderlessness. Yet this is it's potential, has the trad left achieved anywhere near as much in recent history with the pissing contest that is two party Democracy / Plutocracy?

As for it not having an objective, I suggest studying it more closely, as much as it doesn't have one single slogan outside of the 99%, there are multiple inter-related issues in the world which can't fit into a single slogan, and they have been very clear from day one - inequality, corporate personhood, money out of politics, Banker corruption, environment - pretty clear!

At 18/1/12 1:19 pm, Blogger countryboy said...

This is how I see it . Call me old fashioned .
Lets start with a people of any country under oppression .
People of that country suffering oppression have hissy fit and usually after much gun fire , destruction , bombings and atrocities , elect a government democratically . ' By the people , for the people ' , blah de blah .
People of any country go on to enjoy period of peace , prosperity and security until high prices , low wages and longer work hours start to bite .
People of any country now getting anxious and start asking uncomfortable questions of ' democratically elected ' politicians . ( Yeah fuckin right ! )
Enter Media or propaganda device to quell the masses . Tanks are rolled out into the streets in the interests of ' peace ' .
People of any country start to push for , not only answers , but to demand that politicians do the jobs they're paid well to do .
People of the any country again find themselves under oppression ...
Read as above .
Here's the thing ;
We have a perfectly good system in New Zealand . We have perfectly able politicians too . We have so much of all that's good . Superb in fact . Actually , I'd go so far as to say The Best . Over all , I'd say we were the luckiest fuckers In-the-world .
Now that change is again upon us , we're asking ' What can we do ? '
OK . What might happen if you're driving your car at 100 kph along a busy road and you decide to take your hands off the steering wheel and close your eyes ?
While we were blindly hurtling along enjoying our beautiful lives , that scum bag douglas and others and their Corporate cronies , the likes of roger kerr , deregulate our Unions which sent our whole society , the envy of the world at that time , into a tail spin . The moment we lost the right to be forced into Union protection , we lost that essential balance . What you're witnessing now is the wreckage of that event falling to Earth .
Chillingly , they did that to us deliberatly . For a dollar . Every abused , hungry kid in NZ is on their conscience !
Here's what you can do .
If your employed , become a member of your Union and get involved !
Make the politicians that undid New Zealand answerable . That latter issue is extremely important ! They MUST be made to atone otherwise what you're witnessing will intensify and worsen .
Remember ; Business is business , that's their business . A successful business person would eat their own foot if their was a profit in it . Politicians are ours ! They belong to us . Not them . We employ them for good reason . Make them do as they're told ! Currently , they please themselves . They have complete autocracy over us and they are literally selling us off .
Focus on our politicians ! That's our number one cause célèbres ! Take it to Them ! Make them answer your questions ! The questions you ask here ... ask them too and post their responses ! Open your eyes ! Above all else , we must put our hands back on the steering wheel !

At 19/1/12 12:07 pm, Blogger Andrzej said...

It’s oxymoronic to regard the political system in New Zealand as sound and then complain about the effects of the free market dogma over it, over the past thirty years. This extends to the entire democratic bloc worldwide many people value the principle of a representative democracy yet are bewildered by this 1% that call the shots. Democracy as the name suggests is rule by the people, a principle of majority rule. Clearly the current system is faltering if a minority has precedence.

Clearly the current democratic system worldwide is faltering if we see the trend, as here, of low voter turnout. It’s great to see those concerned take to the streets and fight against the growing tide of injustice, but given that the government and 1% are practically one and the same, what long term results will they achieve? Given that the ruling elite have us eating out of their hand. Will the elite perhaps grow tired of the racket and decide to ease off or merely divert attention with an engineered calamity. Looking at recent history the latter seems the more probable, with the constant threat of war with Iran on the horizon.

The people are rapidly losing their role in our democracy; our democracy might as well be regarded as a cleptocracy. Many should see sense and advocate for increased public input, we currently in New Zealand are at a crossroad with the current government deluded with the mandate to proceed with overwhelmingly unpopular policies, even though they only attained a mere minority of the eligible voters consent. A form of official online petition should have weight as opposed to the obsolete petition system officially recognised. Administratively the government, our democracy, is increasingly out of touch with the times. Haven’t they heard of the internet? Having people have to go to the lengths of producing an official primitive pen on paper petition demonstrates the system’s ineptitude in recognising the people’s mandate.

The unwieldy obsolete bureaucracy that government relies on merely provides a convenient wall between the people and the decision making process. It isn’t as if the means don’t exist to achieve a more tangible result, it’s the willingness that’s deficient. Consider the impact of online voting no doubt the youth vote would increase due to their familiarity with the internet, as well as probably being a generally more efficient system. Convenience should lay with the people’s mandate not the increasingly unrepresentative representatives.

This bureaucratic nightmare plagues the actual effectiveness of democracy today, a convenient system for the elite 1% to infect the government behind it like some zombie inducing VD while using it to wall in the masses to their selfish will. Okay, representative democracy always had it merits and faults, however today the tools exist to smooth it out into something more sincere to its name. Particularly now as democracy is increasingly being dismantled by the wealthy tyrants to achieve their own ends. People must use their foresight to consider a future of an improved hybrid direct-representative democracy or a fascist cleptocratic dystopia.

Note: Amusing how Microsoft Word doesn’t know the word cleptocracy/ kleptocracy/ kleptarchy. Can’t be a word Bill Gates likes hearing.

At 19/1/12 7:17 pm, Blogger countryboy said...

AAMC ! Ha ! My onboard Mac dictionary knows kleptocracy ! What a great word man ! Thank you for that one . Seriously though ... roger douglas ! Are you hiding under your flea ridden bed yet ? ( No disrespect to fleas . )


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