Saturday, November 12, 2011

Occupy Wall St Protests Are Not Just a “Tactic”

File:Occupy Oakland 99 Percent signs.jpg

The mayor of Oakland, Jean Quan, recently said that the Occupy Oakland protest was merely a tactic and urged the activists and supporters to go home.

She is the same mayor who ordered the police to attack the protesters resulting in an Iraq Vet being struck in the head with a tear gas canister, causing serious injury to him.

But protest, demonstrations, civil disobedience and other such mass displays of disaffection are not merely tactics. They are essential elements of a strategy for social change.

A protest is an indispensible method and approach. Reducing demonstrations and occupations to a ‘tactic’ is to diminish the power and importance of the work of these creative people.

Protests are a key tool in a large toolbox of methods to be used by activists.

Moreover, protests can go beyond the diminutive realm of ‘tactics’ to the level of fundamental strategy and plan.

Protests brought down the dictatorships of Tunisia and Egypt.  Now, here’s a mere ‘tactic’ that created a revolution. Just how could that be? What was this more important thing that superseded a ‘tactic’? Who knows what the mayor of Oakland was saying.

Also, in US history, protests brought us the Civil Rights act. Here a “tactic” led to watershed changes in US society.

We are confused by the mayor’s remark. Let’s expand on the issue of a “tactic” in relation to other movements and forms of activism:

Is building new businesses and a new economy merely a tactic?

Is building new cultural institutions in art, media, education, healthcare etc. a tactic?

Are the movements of green, organic, natural health and animal rights simply a tactic?

Is electoral activity merely a tactic?

Is a reform organization aimed at ending political corruption just tactics?

Is the call for some sort of “revolution” a tactic? Or is this a deep felt need, whatever your interpretation of the word ‘revolution’, isn’t this necessary to broadcast to the nation? Doesn’t someone need to say it given our current world?

We are confused. If these are all simply tactics then what is the really important thing that we are missing?

What is the essential method, essential plan, essential strategy, essential paradigm, essential vision that we cannot grasp? Where is this secret knowledge that we are lacking?

What is the Mayor of Oakland saying? If everything is just “tactics”, which are minor, partial and temporary, what is the really important thing?

Maybe it is that she is the prime driver of social change? And that compared to her, everyone else is tactics? Or that some elite group behind everything is in control and will ‘guide’ the movement toward ‘ultimate victory’ – and merely dismiss the activities of individuals as throwaway tactics when they are not needed anymore?

Demonstrations and occupations are not simply tactics. They are longstanding activities. They evolve and change form but they are an essential method, a longstanding method.

There are many tools in the toolbox – protests, electoral work, building new culture, creating new kinds of businesses and much more.

We do them all because they ALL are necessary.

And we must recognize in a diverse world, some people are attracted to protests while others might be attracted to building new kinds of businesses, while others are driven to aid animals.

There are any many kinds of people, many kinds of movements, and many kinds of ‘tactics’.

The mayor has not grasped this fact.

We are dealing with a diverse phenomenon that is essentially a vast kind of united front though it has not as of yet come to self awareness and self organization in this country.

The thing to do is open up our minds and see the great variety in our social world and the many different types of personalities, then we can build a powerful movement that cannot fail.

Cage Innoye

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