Politics Are Changing … So Is Revolution

John Likes The Guardian …

But sometimes they just seem a little off. Take this piece for example, where Micah White suggests that the Women’s March might just be a dud.

Without a clear path from march to power, the protest is destined to be an ineffective feelgood spectacle adorned with pink pussy hats.

and then goes on to compare it to the ‘failed’ Occupy movement …

As the co-creator of a raucous pro-democracy meme that inspired months of Occupy protests in 82 countries. I can tell you that raising awareness and getting media attention is never enough. Frankly, neither brings the people closer to sovereign power.

Ok – I am not saying that Micah is wrong. I mean, who am I to question the self-proclaimed co-founder of Occupy. But I am saying he is short changing what Occupy did. Sure, the media wrote it off because ‘nothing happened’, ‘there were no leaders’, ‘no clear demands’ … and so nothing could be measured … but then

Douglas Rushkoff:

… answering a question as to whether he saw Occupy as a success.

I do agree it wasn’t entirely successful in traditional terms. But I think it was the first prototype of a different approach to activism. It’s what we call horizontalism, both a leaderless and leaderful movement that teaches mutual aid and support. You see others doing this even more successfully.

And we kinda know that Micah agrees with him – here they are talking together on Rushkoff’s podcast back in September last year.

I think the issue is that the media is viewing the other side of the political coin using last years lenses. They need to wake up – and start to use this years. Failure to do so will result in them absolutely becoming irrelevant.

Graham goes back to source…

and not a very reliable one, if you ask many current Occupy people (yes, it does continue, though in a much looser format  — as a binding and organising principle for disparate activists, really). Micah White is widely regarded in Occupy circles as an opportunist, laying claim to things he did not originate and now building his own brand on the back of it. Occupy’s consensus-based organisation draws from movements such as feminism and the Zapatistas; the initial call to action came from a Canadian radical magazine. The name of Micah White seems conspicuously absent from both sources.

But Graham … replies John

It must be true – I read it on the internet. And Wikipedia says:

Micah M. White is credited with being the co-creator, and the only American creator, of the original idea for the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Oh wait – there are two sources quoted for that claim

  • Adbusters – which Micah was the editor of, and
  • The New Yorker – where Micah is mentioned three times, but not specifically credited as co-founder.

I see what you mean. Then again, I am pretty sure he did a lot more than I did!

And he certainly seems to be very much behind the Women’s Movement.

Graham, er, “clarifies”

Yes, there was a nasty spat, and one too typical of informal organizations, with early members attempting to set their visions of the movement in a concrete that also served their personal purposes —

I believe that #Occupy was a “social movement IPO” – early adopters who stayed true to the path should be given stipends.— Micah White (@LeaderlesRevolt) December 11, 2013

which in this case involved attempting to take control of intellectual property — the iconic Occupy image, which they proceeded to advertise for sale as a poster, and the Twitter account. Neither went down well —

Adbusters took issue with the poster sale “undermining the entire message of the movement,” and urged Occupy Solidarity Network to abandon the campaign.

“Think about all the people who put their asses on the line, risked jail and police brutality, gave their time, energy and reputations … and you’re selling the poster? You’re turning the movement into a parody of itself and proving all of the critics right,” Adbusters wrote in its response email.

Ownership of intellectual property of leaderless movements — now there’s a topic… Wonder how the Zapatistas might have handled it?

“Just run that by us again – you’re taking our logo, selling it as a poster, and keeping the money?”

John …

“Sí”