There is a fantastic riff at occupywinning by Jonathan Matthew Smucker. I highly recommend reading it.
it’s wrongheaded to get caught up in the elusive search for the perfect silver bullet tactic. Movements are, more than anything else, about people. To build a movement is to listen to people, to read the moment well, and to navigate a course that over time inspires whole swaths of society to identify with the aims of the movement, to buy in, and to take collective action.
For a long time, I have been thinking about the tactics of resistance and change. I really like this piece because it speaks not only to #occupy as a tactic but seems to ask many of the right strategy questions.
A tactic is basically an action taken with the intention of achieving a particular goal, or at least moving toward it. In long-term struggle, a tactic is better understood as one move among many in an epic game of chess (with the caveat that the powerful and the challengers are in no sense evenly matched). A successful tactic is one that sets us up to eventually achieve gains that we are presently not positioned to win. As Brazilian educator Paulo Freire asked, “What can we do today so that tomorrow we can do what we are unable to do today?”
In the epic game of chess, if you loose because your opponents change the rules and you don’t get as many pieces, find another game to play. The thing about #occupy that is a “different game” is not the 99% frame but what is going on among the people.
I want to offer that occupy is not a tactic. “occupy” is an organizing structure. Is setting up a nonprofit or launching a traditional coalition a tactic or an organizing structure?
Occupy is the brand but occupy doesn’t mean staying over night in the streets but something more about ownership by the people who participate. Occupy is the message that leadership is not a fixed thing. Occupy is compelling because it demonstrates and tells a story that leadership is among us. This movement is ours. Occupypolice, occupydesign, occupylaw, occupyarrest.occupyoakland, this is the sense of people ownership . The 99% frame is a reflection of a structure that is empowering because it casts a light that we also own other power tools.
We own the democracy. We can if we muster the courage own the power to reset the rules of the chess board.
Any new message discipline or change in operations that doesn’t reinforce that everyone owns occupy or can own occupy is the genuine threat to its strength.
The occupy movement and the network of the 99% is not yet functional enough to change or quickly adopt, message or movement or tactics. The people lack the connective tissue across cities, there is not enough viral people to people conversation beyond the twitter and other social media.
What can we do? Listen more and turbo charge the capacity of the people that have shown up to inspire others. We can continue to vary the offerings so that Occupy can pick up the long-tail of support not just the power users that camp and march. Focus heavily on more voices and adaptability based on the needs identified by the people that participate.
If we do that, the network will strengthen, common language will be given the breathing room to evolve and the visionaries and leaders within the occupy network will be able to guide it thru the change in operational tactics and messages. The strong network with a high tempo of people owned and lead mobilizations (online and off) will keep the movement vibrant.
One of the most important things we can do today so that we can do more and different things tomorrow is to layer across the occupy movement in the street is the layer of advocacy network structure it will so desperately need in the weeks ahead.