Will the Occupy movement be able to work with others? Will the Occupy movement be co-opted?
The Stranger is reporting in Occupy Seattle Disrupts Pro–Occupy Wall Street Forum, Drives Away Supporters.:
No sooner had six panelists finished opening remarks last Saturday evening than a woman scampered onstage and yelled, “Mic check!” It was an orchestrated effort by several dozen Occupy Seattle activists to use the “People’s Mic” to interrupt a forum at Town Hall—a forum in favor of Occupy Wall Street, featuring three wonks and three activists from Occupy Seattle. Their stunt replaced what was supposed to be an informed discussion with an uninformative shoutathon about process that consumed most of the evening. They booed opinions they disagreed with and drove supporters out of the building.
Apparently, some of the Occupy people are afraid that the forum was an effort to wrest control from them. “Indeed, the group resisted connecting even with their most ardent supporters. During opening remarks, Wong declared that Occupy Seattle wanted ‘no leadership from the Democratic Party or union bureaucrats. Nonprofits are trying to co-opt us.'”
Some people have suggested that the people who disrupted the forum were agents provocateur, planted by reactionary forces in an effort to discredit the Occupy Movement. That is not my impression, nor the impression of a friend who attended the event.
Occupiers refuse to work not only with Democrats, fearing co-option, but also with Labor and groups like MoveOn. Authors like Christopher Hedges and Glenn Greenwald encourage this division on the Left by saying that Labor, advocacy groups like MoveOn, and the Democratic Party are hopelessly sold out.
Chris Hedges says in this interview:
I do not think there is any danger of this [Occupy] movement being seduced or co-opted by Moveon.org, which is a reprehensible organization, or the Democratic Party or anyone else, or the Teamsters.
I think Hedges is extreme.
Similarly, Glenn Greenwald says in Here’s What Attempted Co-Option of OWS Looks Like:
SEIU’s effort to convert and degrade the Occupy movement into what SEIU’s national leadership is — a loyal arm of the DNC and the Obama White House — has become even more overt WH-aligned groups such as the Center for American Progress have made explicitly clear that they are going to try to convert OWS into a vote-producing arm for the Obama 2012 campaign.
I’ve heard that the Center for American Progress is centrist. Is what Greenwald says about SEIU true? He writes:
Having SEIU officials — fresh off endorsing the Obama re-election campaign — shape, fund, dictate and decree an anti-GOP, pro-Obama march is about as antithetical as one can imagine to what the Occupy movement has been. And pretending that the ongoing protests are grounded in the belief that the GOP is the party of the rich while the Democrats are the party of the working class is likely to fool just about nobody other than those fooled by that already. The strength and genius of OWS has been its steadfast refusal to (a) fall into the trap that ensnared the Tea Party of being exploited as a partisan tool and (b) integrate itself into the very political institutions which it’s scorning and protesting.
The Tea Party merged into the GOP and pushed it further to the right. The way things are headed now, there will be continued antagonism between the Occupy Movement and the Democratic Party and other bastions of the Left, especially if it turns out that the Obama Administration is involved in the recent dismantling of Occupy encampments around the country.
It will be difficult for President Obama and groups like DSCC to paint themelves as anything other than allies of Wall Street. But MoveOn and Labor are natural allies of the Occupy Movement.