TOTW: Occupy 10 years later

Shock-u-py and Awe-cu-py

Around 10 years ago the first Occupy protest to grab large public attention began on September 17, 2011 in Zuccotti Park, New York City. By October, Occupy had setup camp in over 951 cities across 82 different countries, and over 600 spots in the USA. By the end of 2011 and not far into 2012 most of the Occupy spaces had been cleared by the authorities. This week, we’re taking a look back and into the future of Occupy ideas.

How did Occupy in your location go? Did Occupy have any long term impacts on your anarchist ideas and praxis 10 years later? If you had a chance to do it all over again in 2021, what would you do differently?

In their new book “OHIO: The truth behind Bob’s Lanes” by Sean Swain, on pages 205-206 they write of “Shock-u-py and Awe-cu-py”:

“Imagine Occupy on steroids. Not Occupy as it occurred, but Occupy as it could have been, as it should have been if everyone knew then what they know now. Imagine a convergence, not dozens of them all spread out, but one convergence where everyone meets, one that everyone expects to be the convergence to end all convergences, the convergence to end swivelization. Imagine a convergence that is consciously aware of its own inherent power, one that seeks to push the envelope beyond what anyone might rationally expect to be possible.

We’re talking about an insurrectionary version of Shock and Awe, an attack so incredibly overwhelming as to absolutely paralyze the enemy hierarchs’ system and make an effective response to all of the various attacks and disruptions impossible. We can turn Occupy into Shock-u-py and Awe-cu-py.”

What do you think about this “Shock-u-py and Awe-cu-py” strategy and the one convergence to rule them all? Where in the world would be best for something like this to take place?

Related reading: Occupy Everything: Anarchists in the Occupy Movement 2009-2011 edited by Aragorn!

There are 39 Comments

I won't speak for any other of the Occupy camps, but the camp in DC made me feel as if I were back in college, at the kind of party my roommate would invite me along to where he insisted I'd have a great time even though I didn't know a soul in the place — the crowd would already be off in their own cliques, their own circles, their own conversations, oozing that "we don't care to know you" vibe all over the place. Not a single person I knew or worked with in nearly 20 years of activism and activist media was there. It was as if a bunch of total strangers just parachuted into DC, set up their insular little space and did their insular little thing without making any effort to reach out and connect with the DC local activist community who'd have been more than happy to pitch in.

I was still with DC Indymedia at the time; swung by the press tent, introduced myself, slipped 'em a card, let 'em know who I was and who I was with, told 'em who I could hook 'em up with if they needed help with media, offered to donate some DVD's to the camp library... and nobody at DC IMC ever heard from 'em. Like the folks at the Occupy camp didn't even give a shit; like they just ignored me and every other activist in DC who'd been working on antiwar shit, antiglobalization, setting up the IMC, the whole 9 yards. Was like they wanted nothing to do with any activists who were actually FROM WASHINGTON DC.

The Occupy DC camp made me feel as if I were a total stranger, as if totally devoid of any kind of welcoming vibe of any kind, and it made covering their events a total drag — y'know, as if I were crashing somebody else's party. The fact that the whole scene was basically astroturfed by Adbusters Magazine didn't help things any.

Even inasmuch as the Boss Media were 101% tone-deaf and full of shit about Occupy, I had to agree — after covering Occupy for a while — that their No. 1 problem was that they issued no clear set of demands and had no clear goals other than camp out and raise hell until the cops ran them outta the place.

When we were organizing for Seattle/WTO and the IMF/World Bank, we had clear, publicly-stated goals, objectives and demands — none of this loosey-goosey "bring your own goals" horseshit.

Dang, and only a decade after your crew demanded the IMF to death and stopped the wars by posting on indymedia?! I too am shocked that new people you didn’t know weren’t falling all over themselves to respect your cred and take your lead on reproducing your activist model that had its last “success” while most of them were probably in elementary school.

Then they made babies and sent them to elementary school so they later became Facebook politicians, etc. Then this former Millenial lefty caste just became the petty bourgeoisie they already were, restarting hipster subcultures, gentrifying everthing with "small is beautiful" businesses.

Anyone willing to understand why this movement failed should look at how it proven to be a success to those claiming it a big win. They're the ones who got their thin slice of the capitalist pie. Leftcap was cap before even ancap...

Self-proclaimed “dirtbag leftist”, fan of Iranian, Chinese, and Syrian governments…

Why would a leftist admire Iran or Syria? I can accept China as a leftist father figure, but these Islamic autocracies/cleritocracies are more fascistic to be Fluggenock's bedfellows..

“Dirtbag” means socially conservative, ie, misogyny, anti lgbtq, and general racism and bigotry are all ok “because socialism”. MF seems to have a fixation on Israel…. These days anyone who openly refers to themselves as such knows exactly what they’re saying , for instance, see the recent attempt to rehabilitate Nazi Matt heimbach in the m4a4a mobilization

My personal experience of the Nov. 2nd general strike in Oakland was that it was a blast. The event was beautiful and exhilarating — even the colors in the sky were perfect! More importantly, as the first attempt at a general strike in a U.S. city in sixty-six years, I hope Nov. 2nd in Oakland can stir a long-suffering and silent wage-earning class in the United States to see the collective power we can have when we use a mass-scale workplace walkout as a political weapon against the owners of America. This is a gift to our future from the Occupy movement as a whole, and in particular a tribute to the outward-directed and working class focus of Occupy Oakland. Today in the Occupy movement, Oakland leads the way.

The ever-more-alienated internet is now saturated with exhaustively detailed first-person accounts of this event and I don’t need to add to these. I’m not out to revel in a self-indulgent buzz. The San Francisco Bay Area anti-authoritarian protest-scenester-scene is at its most limber and energetic when patting itself on its back, reveling in imaginary victories, celebrating its manifest failings as glorious victories, and proclaiming the limits of its current endeavors as the highest possible point that future efforts can aspire to.

The word ‘strike’ means “to hit with force’ (Webster’s dictionary). Except for a few large windows of some wholly appropriate businesses, nothing got hit with force in Oakland on Nov. 2, 2011. It may be years until we have some accurate figure of the number of people who actually walked off the job in Oakland on Nov. 2nd, but my guess is that it was something less than 15% of the city’s wage earners. Below 10% might be even more likely.

A “strike” that the boss gives you permission to take part in isn’t really a strike. On Nov. 2nd in Oakland this meant:

1. Employees represented by the California Nurses Association making use of their sick days,

2. Oakland City government employees were given permission from the city to “participate,”

3. And the occasionally leftist-jargon-slinging port worker’s union, the ILWU, needed to have masses of protesters block the gates to port facilities, and with this in place got an official mediator to approve of one of the port worker’s shifts being cancelled. Other ILWU members went to work during an earlier shift on the day of the general strike.

A strike has to have some forcible, breaking-all-the-normal-rules, disruptive and destructive qualities to be a true act of social or class rebellion. It has to damage the economic interest of the bosses, and this didn’t happen with the strike on Nov. 2nd. Among other negative indicators here, I haven’t seen the bourgeois media offering any public estimate of money lost to businesses from the strike. You can generally count on this after similar episodes in all those other countries where the working class has been more assertive of its interests than we’ve been. An actual one-day general strike would deliver an economic rabbit-punch to the bourgeoisie, and if they had taken a real hit this way we would have heard them acting martyred about it afterward...

...Before the strike, the call for a city-wide walkout was not publicized in an even minimally adequate way. On the Saturday night before the Wednesday strike we had a march to the Oakland City Jail with a thousand people chanting anti-cop slogans. Two nights later I walked the length of Telegraph Avenue, one of Oakland’s main streets, from the center of downtown Oakland to the Berkeley border, a distance of several miles, and saw a total of less than two dozen handbills slapped up in a desultory manner, and these mostly along a short stretch in the semi-hipsterized/gentrified Temescal District. My guess is that this paucity of propaganda applied equally to other main thoroughfares as well. So, what’s that mean? A thousand people showed up for an entertaining, lightweight, low calorie episode of anti-pig posturing, but not one fiftieth of that number had the authentic dedication and commitment to form crews with paint brushes and buckets of wallpaper paste, or with tape guns, and cover the length of the main streets of Oakland with posters and flyers, with visible public propaganda calling attention to an action that had to strike most mainstream contemporary U.S. working people as a wholly unusual, exotic and foreign idea.

The main routes of the bus system AC Transit, major bus stops and BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) could have and should have been used as a platform for the message in the form of mass postering and flyering. This did not happen in the build-up to the general strike. In the days leading up to Nov. 2nd, rank and file union members and low-level union bureaucrats came to meetings of the Occupy Oakland General Assembly. Many of these folks sincerely tried to get their unions involved in the build-up to the general strike. Some union locals generated pious statements devoid of any threat of action. Participation of unions in an effort like this is like asking the U.S. Department of Labor to organize a general strike. Unions are capitalist business organizations — they cannot be transformed into something other than this by combative members, or compelled to act as anything other than transmission belts from capital to labor that help adjust labor to the requirements of capital. Eighty years of repressive labor legislation have also tied capital’s labor brokerages at the ankles, wrists and elbows to capitalist legality and to the capitalist state. The fact that unions are sociologically made up of working class people doesn’t make them an expression of the class interests of their members, much less of the working class as a whole. The U.S. Army is for the most part made up of individuals who are sociologically working class in origin, but that doesn’t make the Army a “working class organization.”

Organizers at Occupy Oakland were probably and quite understandably overwhelmed by the task they had set for themselves in calling for a general strike, and they only had about six days to prepare for it and get the word out. Trying to get unions involved may have seemed like some kind of short cut into the world of the mainstream working class. It wasn’t. And it won’t be next time, either.

Today almost ninety percent of U.S. wage slaves aren’t members of labor unions. Among those who are union members, those who have any strong opinions at all about unions are as likely to have negative perceptions of “their” union as positive ones, and they may see “their” union as a wholly bureaucratic entity that steals dues from their pay and is either indifferent or actively hostile to their needs.

Any real future general strike has to do an end-run around unions. All future efforts of this sort will have to draw many energetic individuals to get the word out in a big way, using direct action methods, appealing to immediate needs, and do this with an uncompromising anti-capitalist message. This is no small task, and unions will do nothing to help us here.

nobody cares about this tired posturing of marxoid proletarianism. the walkabout on Nov 2nd was only a "general strike" in the fevered imaginations of leftist organizers and trade union entryists. for most of us who actually participated for longer than your usual 15 minutes of tourism, the afternoon and evening of Nov 2nd was a celebration of defiance (the idiotic police bureaucrats were smart enough to keep OPD mostly invisible) that didn't require much in the way of risk. but since there was no risk, there was no real class struggle component, and therefore the festive atmosphere of collective belonging that's so important to revolutionary upheavals throughout history doesn't fit nicely into your marxoid moralism. what Nov 2nd showed was the possibility and potential of effective solidarity that transcends workplace alienation and craft unionism. but that's not interesting to marxists and other leftists, who only see value in mass mobilizations only insofar as they resemble militarized skirmishes in their LARPing pretense of class war. sorry, not sorry that you didn't find anything valuable in your visit to other people's actions.
tl;dr -- fuck off keating

someone remark on the irony of the Occupy topic being posted on Indigenous People’s Day, which is a rebranding of Columbus Day, and how there was an attempt to rebrand Occupy as Decolonize in some places

the attempt to rebrand Occupy Oakland as Decolonize Oakland was a move by identity politicians to push their narrow (minded) agenda of white-guilt and inverted hierarchy. they enlisted some native activists in their doomed campaign, at least one of whom later admitted to being hoodwinked by the decolonize jargon and regretted her part. their attempt to rebrand Occupy -- not to add "decolonize" to Occupy, but to completely supplant it, thus decoupling the activities in the Plaza from the rest of Occupy -- was rightly seen as an overreach of narrow interests over the bulk of what was bringing various people to the Plaza in the first place. just like the several attempts to cajole the General Assembly into accepting the proposals to have Occupy Oakland adhere to Non-Violence (tm), the proposal to rebrand the occupation of the Plaza was rejected by a vast majority.

if the decolonize gang had been more adept at strategic thinking and in reading the participants, they might have been able to get folks to add "decolonize" to the official public face of Occupy Oakland (there were posters around from at least day two that had "decolonize" on them in addition to "occupy" and my crew thought it was a good idea). instead, in typical authoritarian leftist style (which apparently works well with college students), they tried to ram a 100% change down the throats of people who'd already spend weeks creating the infrastructures of the camp that allowed it to survive the brutal first clearing by the cops of 7 agencies. the folks who'd created and maintained the vibe of the camp were in no mood to accept the strident dictates of sub-maoists (most of whom were completely unfamiliar to those of us who'd been there for more than a day or two) who were not accustomed to having their shitty race politics questioned, let alone rejected. the large presence of anarchists in the Plaza and at the GAs virtually guaranteed that Non-Violence (tm) and identity politics would never find a home there.

where i live occupy was a chance for the local anarchists to put up or shut up, and they largely chose to shut up, and haven't made much of a peep since.

Plenty of anarchy was did. That’s what social anarchists fail to understand.

Actually different occupies in different cities were different. I'm glad the anarchists were active in your local occupt, but have you considered other people may have had different experiences?

What you need to consider is that anarchy was did regardless of whether there was an occupy encampment or not. Get it?

No. I feel like you're just referring to whatever happened where you lived and not understanding that in other places, different things happened. I'm no "social anarchist" i would have been happy with whatever folks chose to do, they just chose to do nothing

Maybe choosing to do nothing is doing anarchy? Relax your criteria, comrade.

Yeeeees! I believe the pure Occupancy is an individual psycho-occupancy, a phenomena which has those who pursue individual autonomy gather together to commune about the winning back of thir unique selves from the invasion of ideology.
In a way Occupy 2009-2010 was a great victory for the humble anarchs who make up critical mass and number approximately 48% of Western democratic populations with Facebook and social media capability. They disguise themselves as neo-liberal leftists to escape recriminations from authoritarian surveilance, that is why at Occupy events it seemed like the foyer of a large cinema complex at intermission, people standing around in little groups talking and keeping to themselves, on a high knowing their numbers are approaching the point of acceptance by the larger reactionary population they wish to win over without violence.
We occupied our own minds after 10, 000 years of debt!

Lmao@ individualists “disguised as” neoliberals. Individualism is a key tenet of neoliberalism. Not that anyone wants to deal with that on this site!

individualist and communalist (or wetf) ends of that particular continuum. focusing on only one of those ends does nothing but demonstrate your shortsightedness.

Individualist is such a multi-dimentional term that could never really be taken seriously because it is bantered around like a rhetorical standard stage prop used by all ideologies to describe their own unique dreams and values , unfortunately reduced to personal pride and vanity,,,,,thus the celebrity, the ultimate Western individual, an inversion the the Stirnerian individual.

Nowhere, after reading all 10,000 words and comments, is there not one mention of David Graebber, NOT ONE !
And if anyone delved deeply into the driving idea behind occupy, if they had the intellectual depth and connection, they would realize that it was impossible mathematically to occupy the entire global paradigm of debt guilt economics.

false, David is listed as author linked above, which leads to a text they wrote. please don't generalize without close prior reading.

Nope, all I can see are Sean and Aragon. How many lines down in the text is Dave mentioned? I just don't see it anywhere!

Aaaargh, I have wasted 1hr going over the entire discourse, comments aaand, THERE IS NO LIST OF AUTHORS MENTIONING DAVID!!

Its on the last line :-
"Related reading: Occupy Everything: Anarchists in the Occupy Movement 2009-2011 edited by Aragorn!"
When you open this, you will see a list of related authors this text used.

“How did Occupy in your location go?”

It was pathetic. A few seemingly vacant and untended tents on the side of the road with some illegible cardboard signs leaning on them.

“Did Occupy have any long term impacts on your anarchist ideas and praxis 10 years later?”

No. But afterwards any short-lived protest would see the appearance of tents. Kind of like how some people make a habit of bringing a folding chair to outdoor shows and events.

“If you had a chance to do it all over again in 2021, what would you do differently?”

I would still not go. Except I did pass by them on my way to other places, but that doesn’t count.

“What do you think about this “Shock-u-py and Awe-cu-py” strategy and the one convergence to rule them all?”

Is this what similar to what happened in the 2020 uprisings in various cities which were deemed “anarchist jurisdictions”? Except those uprisings were organic and not planned conspiracies, as they tend to be. The planned ones tend to be farces like that January 6 debacle a few months ago.

“Where in the world would be best for something like this to take place?”

A place with the least police and army and the most youth. Preferably during summer so that they’re not busy with school.

I was looking down at the Occupy tent city from my 56th floor penthouse with intense reddish light just as two chicks were making out in one of my 30 foot long sofas, and it was PATHETIC.

I could smell from up there the stench emanating from their tents, even through the bulletproof glass. So I called the city's police chief and sent him a bribe to evict them asap so I could safely take the chopper to Epstein's island over the weekend...

What a hilarious self-parody, anon./s

By pathetic, I did not mean to offend. It was shorthand for 1-3 tent seeming things with no people most of the time. More like props + wishful thinking.

I was not looking from affar, I walked by past it on the regular, it was on the sidewalk.

Occupy wasn’t popping off big everywhere, it was mostly a big city phenomenon. But some hopeful emulators tried in places where it didn’t catch on.

It’s untended tents or hyperbourgeois penthouses. Sorry, I don’t make the rules. True anarchs know no middle ground!

I live in one of those places. Occupy here was a lively affair with potluck and a drum circle in a gazebo at the park on Saturday night. No big surprises or unfulfilled expectations either.

I should know, I posted it myself. From its humble beginnings to its sudden growth a week later, to the siege of the "Defending the AmeriKKKan Dream" Koch shinding (where a car rammed one of us) to the reoccupation of Franklin School (shelter) to the "People's Pentagon to the Feb 4 police raid, I was there.

For all the criticisms of Occupy, it was a broad-based popular uprising from mostly left of the center. Yes, here in DC we had problems keeping Ron Paulies and others who you now see in the Trump camp out. Still, you don't see the Proud Boys shutting down Bank of America over evictions and you never will. We had some confrontations with fash/Paulies here, and there were more unhoused folks at McPherson than there ever were people even slightly to the right.

The only preplanned Occupy that I know of was the original Occupy Wall Street, which appears to have been intended from its Adbusters origin as take it over for the weekend, fight a battle with the cops on Monday, and lose it by the end of that day. Instead, the cops yielded a park and the rest is history. The rest seemed to blow up from nowhere, with Wall Street being the spark not the fire. Same thing Summer 2020: when one more vicious police murder was the "straw that brolke the camel's back" in one city after all that racial lockdown enforcement, seemingly all cities blew at once. BOTH of these were proto-insurgencies with real potential to challenge the continuation of the regime of the day had they continued to escalate. We now see yet another proto-insurgency from our enemies (some of whom unfortunately learned from Occupy) and thus many say we are now in a three-way fight.

Srsly Occupy is irrelevant in the context of today. Attempting to do this now would mean either (1) having academic lefties check your vaccine passport for squatting there or (2) having a CHUD brolover tent city (with a few grisly cigarette aunts...).

So unlike what Reddit-type liberals would like to believe, the course of history has changed last year, as these measures are not just a temporary, punctual response to a pandemic, but a whole new systematic level of regulating human activity into which the non-government agencies like activist and community groups have been also actively involved into. Not just "non-essential" services and activities.

This of course is the Klanadian context, not the US.... yet.

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