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+3 votes
What rationalization is there to cooperate with a populist group that ultimately does not share the same goals?

edited to change tags to something usable
edited by
Dear Sir or Madam,

It is with great interest and enthusiasm that I am applying for the position of "anarchist" at Occupy Wall Street. This position is exactly what I am looking for and is a great opportunity for me to use my skills, educational background, and experience.

My interdisciplinary education has helped me develop a firm foundation in both protest culture and Classical Anarchist Rhetoric. Furthermore, my independent projects across the United States as a protester have helped me develop and implement first-hand knowledge of both peaceful and violent protest tactics as well as the dissemination of propaganda.

I greatly admire Occupy Wall Street for creating a situation in the heart of New York's financial district which is definitely more amusing than watching television - and instead of just watching it on television, I want to bring my assets to the hearts of the action. I am sure that I can make a positive contribution to your efforts. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best Regards,
Mary Amethyst Peacebot

2 Answers

0 votes
I keep wondering if there's a way to choose five or so major issues where there exists significant overlap, focus there, and engage the enemy on those terms. This increases affinity rather than fight for solidarity -- where there is none.

Also, anarchists have the talents and history to strategize with OWS in a way that can disrupt and dismantle key institutions that stand in the way of building a truly "people first" way of living without oligarchic or corporate state ruining out lives.
by (130 points)
0 votes
ows does not share our goals, but what they are doing is clearly related to class struggle whether they wish to admit it or not. yes, hoping to"get the money out of politics" without destroying politics or money is naive, but even attempting to discuss this publically will predictably bring them into conflict with the rich and their police. anarchists can make the difference between cops "peacefuly" arresting protestors vs cops clashing with protestors. in these clashes we can find each other, and attack our enemies.
by (320 points)
What's naïve is to make an essentially majoritarian, countercultural movement out to be a crowd composed of people all from the same place in the social order. What makes you think there aren't damages being done and silences imposed by class hierarchy within the movement itself?

One absolutely awful example of this naïveté is the woman who was gang raped in Occupy Glasgow, and the subsequent move by the “Official” Glasgow protesters to keep the camp going by making deals with the police.

The anarchist fixation on militancy is stupid. Yes, we will all find ourselves in a torrent of liberty, equality, and fraternity if only we erect the barricades and commit ourselves to the streets for great justice!

To crack the cop's head or not to crack the cop's head, it is that simple! Blah.
i might agree with you, madlib, but you're not making your case well. the deals made with the cops about the rape is not an example of naïveté (nice use of diacriticals there, btw), and biofilo doesn't say that everyone in the crowd is from the same social order position.
i hope you elaborate your critique.
Yeah, it was more rhetoric than anything else. I can pontificate with the best of them.

From how I understood it Biofilo stated that the protesters' failure to adopt class struggle as an explicit mode of action is because of their naïveté about the state's relation to money, or even finance capital to be more specific. (The wording of the answer was somewhat ambiguous, though. I can't be sure.) But, on Biofilo's terms, any attempt to center an idea of class struggle in the protesters' discourse would immediately result in the clarification of the real character of the movement, and on what side they will naturally find themselves on. The imperfect form would become true and confirm the anarchists' ideas of life. I inferred that the rich and their lackeys being on one side and the movement on the other, both of definite positions in the class war, would be the expected result of this radicalization. (Otherwise, class struggle would have to dissolve the movement itself as the diversity of roles in the state apparatus collided. Right?) This is, for me, a naïve understanding what the Occupy protests are. It was definitely naïve—dangerously so—when the first round of protests in Egypt were happening, which is the focal point of inspiration for Occupy X; especially for anarchists' as they are so inspired by the Egyptians' lack of qualms about going to war. (For the record, I'm not saying naïveté is bad or totally discordant with valuable experiences and ideas. But in this case obtuse simplification is exactly that.) I am of the opinion that class struggle would, in fact, dissolve the Occupy movement. Common sense should tell us that where mystifications of the relation between state and capital arise, then social roles generated by the power of these institutions are still ordering those peopling that place. The "sheeple" or "dumb toady" idea doesn't hold up for me. It can't be as simple as them having the wrong education about the nature of civilization, with a dose of hard knock lessons sorting out the real from the ideology.

From what I've seen anarchist participants' only significant hang up about the movement, so far, has been that they want a war and the protests aren't giving them one. That's it. I haven't seen any other disagreement or problem voiced as loudly as that one.  I have a problem with this. What element of going to war, as opposed to remaining passive, transforms the protesters' complicity into radical agency? Where exactly does the difference occur in that space, in those people, in their time? I can recognize complicity with police action in Occupy X. Any anarchist could, and a handful of them have done so publicly. But how can anarchists' be so sure that warfare and expropriation directed by a different moral compass sets them farther apart from the social order, or has a greater chance of nurturing the possibilities of being against capitalism? It would appear that it did not have that effect in Egypt.

This fixation on militancy also confuses categories. I am not sure how being passively subjected to police violence versus reacting to it moves something that is only "clearly related" to class struggle into the plane of class struggle itself. This makes no sense to me since I don't understand class struggle to be the result of a spectrum of choices between militancy and civil reformism, or violence vs. non-violence—the closer one moves to the form of warfare the more one is involved in the class struggle. Class struggle is forced circumstances of hardship and conflict that result from an inversion in the relation of human beings to social wealth—a force that moves at the pace of domination, and not of the dominated. It isn't an optional clause in a proposal for the general assembly. Many times the struggle against ownership comes from a place totally alien to any idea of “class power.” This is to say it could come in forms expressive of weakness and resignation. Why is becoming powerful an appropriate therapy for what we are? Why can't we find each other when we're frail, tired, and weak?