An American Spring is in the Air
I had the privilege of moderating (a glorified term for an on-air switchboard operator) anInterOccupy call a couple of nights ago. Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, two of the movement’s best known organizers, both very active in Occupy Washington DC, answered questions about “Occupy Phase 2,” the directions that the movement should take in the Spring. The main point was that “Phase 2” should involve setting up alternate economic structures designed to weaken the “pillars of power.” An illustration of this is setting up local alternatives to the banking system. During “Phase 2,” non-violent protest, the hallmark of “Phase 1,” was said to be important to continue. It was noted that non-violence is even more important now, amid signs that those in power may be worried that some of the pillars that keep them in power, such as local police forces, may be sympathetic to the Occupy movement. NowDC, the National Occupation of Washington D.C., slated for April, will an important step in coordinating separate occupations nationally, and for its actions to be taken to pressure Congress, when it returns from Spring recess. In addition to “Phase 2,” miscellaneous questions were addressed, including whether the movement should focus on the 2012 elections, and what to do in the period afterwards.
InterOccupy hosts several national conference calls each week to promote communication between individuals, Working Groups and local General Assemblies, across the Occupy movement. The conference calls focus on organization and special topics. The contacts allow for cross-fertilization between local groups. Tips such as “what works for us,” can be discussed, or advice on how to cope with setbacks can be shared. This particular call was in a category called “Hot Topics,” which brings in a weekly speaker (or speakers, in this case) to address issues of interest.
Alternative Economic Structures
As an introduction to the talk, Margaret Flowers referenced the “Pillars of Support” defined by Robert Helvey in his book “On Strategic Non-Violent Conflict.” The idea is that “when important pillars of support are sufficiently undermined, the government, or the opposition, collapses just as a building will collapse upon itself when its support structure is weakened and gives way.” In our society, those pillars are the police, the military, civil servants, media, the business community, youth, workers, religious organizations, and NGOs. Not every pillar has to stand at the same time, of course.
Continuing the Pressure
Non-violent protest, the hallmark of “Phase 1” should continue, as per Zeese and Flowers. Particular attention was paid to the importance of non-violence. The police are one of the “pillars.” By being non-violent, the public perceives the movement as exercising its right to free speech. When the police or other forces use violence upon a non-violent protest, the movement gathers the public’s sympathy and respect. Any violence on the part of the movement, even if provoked, hurts the movement.
The National Occupation of Washington D.C.
NowDC is in some ways an effort to kindle an American Spring. More than just an occupation in the style of OWS, it will feature planning events centered on the alternate economic structures described above, a social component to lay the groundwork for ongoing national communications and coordination, and possibly an event or action upon the return of Congress from Spring recess.
2012 and Beyond
Though not strictly part of the discussion, in response to caller questions, Zeese provided a perspective on the 2012 Presidential auction. Simply put, the conversation between President Obama and the Republican nominee is a false conversation, for what will be said is only what those nominees’ contributors allow them to say.
All of us can spread the good news. An American Spring is in the air.
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