Occupy L.A. – Return of the Radical Imagination

by Timothy Malone

Abstract – Occupy L.A. – Return of the Radical Imagination

 

There is debate in mainstream media representation, academia, and within occupations themselves as to the nature of the Occupy Movement, whether it is reformist or radical. This paper makes the claim that the Occupy Movement, and Occupy L.A. in particular, is an irreducibly radical, anarchist experiment in social organization and resistance. This radicalism core can be traced to four intersecting dynamics:

  1. The General Assembly
  2. The creation of alternative social structures within the margins of existing society
  3. The refusal to provide a comprehensive list of demands to traditional power-centers
  4. The transnationality of the Occupy Movement

This paper uses activist-oriented ethnographic research tools, including participant observation and interviews with Occupiers in Los Angeles. It also explores anarchist theory including the work of Noam Chomsky, Mikhail Bakunin, and Naomi Klein in order to frame developments at Occupy L.A., so as to illuminate the radical structures undergirding occupations.

 

 

Keywords: Occupy L.A., General Assembly, Demands, Transnational

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Occupy L.A. – Return of the Radical Imagination

By Timothy Malone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anarchist Studies: http://www.lwbooks.co.uk/journals/anarchiststudies/styleguide.html

 

 

Context for Occupation in Los Angeles

 

“If then all of a sudden, there were a bunch of jobs tomorrow: at low pay, working people’s nails back to the bone. Would people be happy again? Would they be satiated, happy with that? Are we not going for enough, here? Can we be happy with that? I don’t think that’s the right answer.”

– Gabriel, Occupy L.A., October 1st, 2011

 

I first received notice of ‘general assemblies’ being held at Pershing Square in preparation for the October 1st ‘Occupy Day’ from activist friends on Facebook, through an event invitation. I followed the link provided to a fan page for ‘Occupy Los Angeles’ that, at the time, had forty-six followers. I sent a private message to an anonymous administrator of the Facebook page:

Me: “Hello. My name is Timothy Malone, and I am a graduate student at Claremont Graduate University. I am also an anarchist/activist with an interest in documenting…the formation and development of Occupy Los Angeles. Can you, perhaps, give me some guidance about how to proceed, organizers to talk to, etc.?”

Response: “Sounds good to me. I don’t have the authority to grant you access. Why don’t you come to the general assembly tonight, and present your project to the group? I’m sure they’ll give you an open hearing” (Anonymous, Personal Communication, September 28, 2011).

That night, I left for Pershing Square in Downtown Los Angeles. The date was September 28th, three days before tents would first be pitched on the lawn of City Hall.

As of the writing of this paper, the Occupy Los Angeles Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/occupyLA) has approximately 50,000 members. At the peak of occupation in late November, 485 tents crowded Downtown Los Angeles’ City Hall, and the occupation went from a marginalized movement of activists, dismissed and ignored in mainstream representation, to a leading news story locally and nationally. On the night of eviction, the LAPD co-opted the technique of ’embedding’ reporters in the Iraq and Afghan war, restricting the potentially hundreds of media representatives from accessing Occupy L.A. in its moment of confrontation.

Over fifty eight days of participation in Occupy L.A., what became clear through participant observation, interviews of occupiers, and through planning and participation in actions was that the Occupy movement in general, and Occupy Los Angeles in particular, represent the re-emergence of a radical potential after a long period of repression and effective marginalization of leftist-radical alternatives to the two-party system. By radical, I mean solutions to a series of social/political/economic problems that begin with an engagement with the structures of neo-liberal institutions, as opposed to using the mechanisms such as the ballot box, free-market solutions, or increasing regulation which they provide. Radicalism is an institutional engagement, a struggle with the forms provided in a democratic society to exercise political agency, and a demand for new forms. It is a rethinking of what it means to be a citizen and new types of action to put political agency into practice.

Such a desire for radical engagement grows out of recent historical failures of traditional liberal and reformist institutions to address the needs and desires of those who see themselves as occupiers, combined with an effective ideological attack on radical theory and repression of organization. This history can be traced to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and is embodied in Francis Fukayama’s theorization of the ‘End of History.’ “The triumph of the West, of the Western idea, is evident first of all in the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to Western liberalism” (Fukuyama, 1989, p. 2). Neo-Liberal capital would have no rival nor fetter to its ever-expanding market construction, barrier-penetrating process of multinational globalization, as all radical alternatives and institutional engagement were tied with the failure of the Soviet Union, thus making radical engagement/institutional alternatives seem ridiculous, impossible, and futile in mainstream representation. Radical solutions were ideologically relocated beyond the bounds of the thinkable.

Radical Movements once again emerged in the late 90’s with the anti-globalization struggle, but were soon rolled back as post-September 11th, 2001, organizers were afraid to sound anti-American or to be equated with ‘America’s enemies,’ or to seem divisive in a time of ‘national unity.’ In 2003, the radical imagination began to reawaken with an international protest movement forming to challenge the United States invasion of Iraq[i], only to be effectively sidelined and marginalized by traditional liberal organizations such as Moveon.org and labor unions channeling radical energy into the reformist (the degree of effective reform perhaps limited to an unpredictable degree, to many liberal hopefuls) liberal establishment and the election machinery of Barack Obama, and his ‘hope and change’ marketing scheme, brought to the American public by the same P.R. companies who market consumer goods.

Participants within Occupy L.A. sense a fundamental limitation in traditional American politics. In interviews, one question I asked all participants: “What brought you out to the street, to participate in this movement? Why Occupy?” “We need to stop the undue influence of corporations in politics. People can’t be represented as long as money is the most important thing in the system” (Heidi, Personal Communication, October 1, 2011).

Jessica: “I’m sick of money being the guiding hand in politics; the way power gets allocated to a select few and political freedom has been squashed. Candle light vigils, marches… that stuff doesn’t work anymore. We need to come together in solidarity and show that we can actually get things done; they need to take the people seriously, and not the money” (Jessica, Personal Communication, October 1, 2011).

Occupiers almost universally assert that democrat-republican politics are pre-emptively co-opted by concentrations of capital, rendering citizens political agency deeply constrained outside of acts of civil disobedience (protesting, occupying, etc.). Occupiers seek a radical engagement with the political, social, and economic structures animating capitalist/post-industrial society. The mechanisms by which such an engagement should take place are often disparate. Nonetheless, occupiers are engaged with the political system at a meta-level, interested in reformulating structures, as opposed to operating within them through electoral processes, campaigning, lobbying, etc.

 

What Makes Occupy Radical?

            Many commentators in the media, in academia, and within occupations themselves have questioned the nature of the Occupy Movement, is it radical or reformist? This paper attempts to reorient the question of ‘how radical is Occupy?’ from an exploration of individuals’ political identities, to an examination of Occupy institutions, and how people participate and think about them. Arguments against Neoliberalism are not primarily voiced though the individual attitudes, beliefs and political identifications of occupiers. The very existence of Occupy Movement institutions, and the values that undergird them, is the argument. The way Occupations have organized themselves, institutionally, serves as a challenge to the existing institutions of western societies such as capitalism, representative democracy, the corporation, etc. To counter Fukuyama, history is not at its end. Occupy institutions engage in a discourse through their very existence with normative institutions as a demonstrative challenge. They also engender a discourse amongst the participants of Occupy; institutions/structures operate on individual consciousness, expanding one’s idea of what it means to have agency, to be a citizen in a democratic society. It is through participation in Occupy institutions that participants develop and refine an anarchist consciousness, defined as hostility to illegitimate authority, and a perception that many political, social, and economic institutions in which occupiers spend their daily lives are unnecessarily hierarchal and illegitimate.[ii]

This irreducible radicalism at the heart of occupy can be witnessed as operating across four intersecting dynamics:

  1. The institutional structure of the General Assembly and the consensus decision-making model.
  2. The creation of alternative structures within the shell of the old system, not in theory, but in practice. The Occupy movement serves as a model, has a demonstration effect to its participants and its observers that people can manage their own affairs in a directly democratic fashion.
  3. The third principle is the way occupiers have navigated the demand for ‘demands’ from traditional power centers.
  4. The fourth radical principle at the heart of Occupy is its transnational foundation. Because Occupy is engaged with an international adversary, finance capital and multinational globalization, its focus necessarily super-cedes states, and imagines and constructs a world of alternatives in which people share an interconnected struggle.

These four dynamics form the radical engine of occupation that drive it forward, potentially protecting it from co-optation by the liberal establishment, as well as drawing ire from apologists of the status quo: the traditional left-right spectrum (from democratic ‘liberal’ to Republican ‘conservative’), and others who would seek to marginalize and co-opt the movement. Occupy is irreducibly radical; in fact, an anarchist form of social organization and resistance. It forms a challenge to the necessity and legitimacy of the neo-liberal capitalist order and the sovereignty of State power, by positing anarchist forms of social organization in its place.

 

Methodology

This project is an exploration of anarchist theory as it relates to the Occupy Movement and Occupy Los Angeles, in particular. I attempt to fuse anarchist theory with data and information gathered from activist-oriented ethnographic research I conducted while a participant of Occupy L.A. I describe this research as activist-oriented ethnography, because of my position: not just an observer, I was and continue to be an active participant in Occupy Los Angeles.

My aim is not to objectively study Occupy L.A., but hopefully to aid in its success; to answer questions that have emerged amongst occupiers in conversation of which I have been a part, or am aware of. I intend to shore up our internal understanding of who we are, what’s new about what we do, that can enable us to move confidently into the future. This project also should serve to clear up questions any misunderstanding about the nature of Occupy held by people outside the movement: are we reformist or radical? What makes Occupy ‘radical?’ What are our demands/should we have demands? What have we done successfully? My research also answers questions indirectly, such as ‘should we embrace or resist the support of traditional centers of ‘left’ power, including but not limited to the Democratic Party and labor unions?’

I have documented developments from September 28th until November 30th, the night that LAPD stormed and evicted the encampment at City Hall; 58 days and nights of occupation. One core refrain constantly heard in General Assemblies is that no one individual has the right to speak for Occupy L.A. Therefore, I speak only for myself, through the use of tools such as participant observation and anarchist theory.

The ethnographic part of my research consists of interviews I have conducted with about sixty occupiers on site at Occupy L.A, twenty of which have been expansive. My interview questions were composed of an ever-evolving set of questions that changed as conditions on the ground changed. All interviews were conducted on site, first at Pershing Square, then at City Hall (Solidarity Park), and in associated marches and actions. I have tried to pay attention to getting as representative a sample as I can across ages, racial identification, gender, and sexual orientation. I have tried to represent traditionally marginalized voices. How successful I have been is for others to decide: it was coded in my methodological attempt to document Occupy LA. I also did a lot of participant observation, for example, in trying to document how the General Assembly works. I have had dozens of conversations with activists off site, as well. Conversations on social networks and livestreams are a regular and dynamic component of what it means to be a participant of Occupy L.A. I did not camp at site due to the fact I have a 10-month old-daughter at home that requires my presence. I engaged virtually when I couldn’t be on-site.

For the sake of self-disclosure, I must state that I self-identify as an anarchist, thus am in sympathy with the structures and intentions, as I see them, of the Occupy movement. Let the reader also recognize that I’m a 36 year old, white, relatively privileged male. Though I have tried to be conscious of the privilege that carries in this work, and within Occupy Los Angeles, these are living, breathing dynamics. Questions of white privilege and patriarchy are right at the heart of current debates happening in General Assemblies, and my position precludes me from being the best judge of my success with regards to ‘checking my own privilege,’ as we say in the Occupy movement.

 

Anarchist Literature Review

Mikhail Bakunin first theorized the principle that for a political revolution to be successful, the proletariat must have practice with self-management over the future institutions of society. In addition, the very institutions and structures required to weather the transition from capitalism to socialism must be developed in immediacy, and fully operable if the social revolution wished to avoid a slide into a permanent totalitarianism. The creation of such institutions and their management by participants are both realizations of the Occupy Model.

      Noam Chomsky has modernized traditional anarchist theory to contemporary social arrangements, including an anti-authoritarian analysis of the media system and the modern corporation. His historical review of successful anarchist projects throughout history and a clear explication of the potential for an internationally federated system of autonomous units describe an alternative to the Neoliberal order, the seeds of which can be seen in the Occupy movement.

Naomi Klein’s work on the IMF and World Bank, financialization of the economy, and the multinational corporation allows for observers of the Occupy Movement to trace the context for Occupation. The “Shock Doctrine” is a theoretical framework that allows for recognition of austerity policies implemented around the globe in response to manufactured fiscal crises, thus giving coherence to an analysis which recognizes seemingly disparate social movements (Occupy and the Indignados movement in Spain, for example) as deeply interconnected.

Peter Marshall and George Woodcock’s historical treatments of Anarchism allow for the locating of the Occupy Movement within a larger historical tradition, as well as recognizing the previous success of particular institutional arrangements found at Occupy L.A. in past social movements.

 

Anarchist Principles and Values Undergirding Occupy Institutions

From observation of General Assemblies and committee meetings, and through conversations and interviews with occupiers over the course of encampment, it became clear that increasing democratic participation is a core value amongst occupiers in Los Angeles. The more democracy, individual voice and control over decision-making are expanded, the better. Because Occupy was largely formed outside of traditional hierarchical institutions, people who first began the occupations and those that subsequently arrived were relatively equal in traditionally recognized power.[iii]

This attitude and practice of extending participatory democracy emergent from a situation of relative political equality has meant that despite political identification, occupiers have formed institutions and structures that are participatory and horizontal; institutions envisioned in anarchist theorization. Through not violating the a priori norms of ‘democracy,’ and I define democracy as an attempt to achieve equality in decision-making and power, participants have created anarchist institutions and are engaged in anarchist practice. While many original planners of Occupy L.A. were trained or are familiar with anarchist theory, direct/participatory democracy or some variant thereof, many participants were not. What is of interest for this study is that these principles were desired by participants in the formation of Occupy L.A., exercised throughout the process of occupation, and are the most valued and defended elements of the Occupation to occupiers themselves, regardless of their political identification or orientation. An anarchist structural arrangement is taken for granted as the realization of ‘democracy.’

Occupy organizers have new ways of thinking about how to build our movement. We need not have redundant conversations about why liberal reformists are limited in imagination, or Ron Paul supporters are making a masked argument for unrestrained capital. We don’t need to change people’s minds. For everyone agrees that the anarchist model, this shared notion of participatory-democracy is the way Occupy L.A. should be structured. It may not be called ‘anarchist’ on the ground, at Occupy L.A. but no one seems to care. We have discovered a ‘strategic essentialism’ at the core of the Occupy movement, to borrow from Gayatri Spivak (Spivak, 1993). It may be called inclusivity, or equal voice amongst participants. We need not all agree that what Occupy is doing is fundamentally anarchist, because Occupy L.A. has successfully institutionalized anarchist principles of social organization. It is the essential ground from which structures of power emerge.  Occupiers are not willing to trade these organizational principles for short-term political victories; only to make them more responsive, more anarchistic, participatory, and effective.

As described above, these anarchist institutions and values can be witnessed as operative across four intersecting dynamics: the general assembly meeting, the formation of alternative structures within the margins of existing society, the refusal to provide a concrete list of demands to traditional centers of power, and the transnationality of the Occupy Movement. These dynamics will be addressed in detail, below.

 

First Radical Principle: General Assemblies

“What is a popular assembly? It is participatory. It is open. It is deliberative. It is decision-making. It CONSTRUCTS CONSENSUS. It is based on free association; nobody is here if they don’t want to be here. It embraces respect. And it is made up of assembled persons…. This is a general assembly.”

– Esteban, Occupy L.A. Planning for Occupy Day – General Assembly, September 30th, 2011

 

Whether or not the General Assembly at Occupy L.A. is explicitly recognized as anarchist, the model has been theorized by the anarchist tradition since the 1700’s (Marshall, 1984, p. 4). The term anarchism bares some negative connotation, largely due to popular misunderstanding, linking the term to disorder and chaos. As a political theory, the anarchist tradition has always meant, in reference to itself, a complex, ordered, systemic arrangement, with the minimal amount of illegitimate authority or unnecessary constraint on individual flourishing. The tradition also recognizes the need for community in order to allow for such individual flourishing. Anarchism is a theory in which power flows from the bottom up in all institutions, and all authority must justify itself, as serving the interests of its constituents (Chomsky, 1970). This theory is embodied in the General Assembly.

The General Assembly meeting – its processes and its committees/affinity groups – form the core structure of the Occupy movement not only in Los Angeles, but across the country and even internationally. The concept of General Assemblies has its roots in anarchist tradition, in particular the Spanish Revolution of 1936 – perhaps, the largest-scale, successful anarchist project in history (Woodcock, 2004). In more recent manifestation, the general assembly model is employed in the Indignados movement in Spain, which emerged May 15th of 2011 in response to the European fiscal crisis and lack of confidence in Spanish politics, and in the anti-austerity movement in Greece, emerging May 5th of 2011.

            Appropriately enough given this history, it was actually participants of the Spanish Indignados movement, currently residing in Los Angeles, that trained potential occupiers in the general assembly model prior to Occupation on October 1st. in Pershing Square, Downtown Los Angeles.

            The situation was similar in the original formation of Occupy Wall Street, in New York. Activists with experience in other horizontally structured movements have played a foundational role in developing the architecture of occupation. David Graeber describes a situation on August 2nd in New York City, a planning meeting for some kind of action on Wall Street in September. When he arrived, the same old ‘verticals’ were present – activist organizations with hierarchical structures – giving speeches and planning a traditional march.

“But as I paced about the Green, I noticed something. To adopt activist parlance: this wasn’t really a crowds of verticals—that is, the sort of people whose idea of political action is to march around with signs under the control of one or another top-down protest movement. They were mostly pretty obviously horizontals: people more sympathetic with anarchist principles of organization, non-hierarchical forms of direct democracy, and direct action… My Greek friend looked at me and I looked at her and we both instantly realized the other was thinking the same thing: “Why are we so complacent? Why is it that every time we see something like this happening, we just mutter things and go home?” – though I think the way we put it was more like, “You know something? Fuck this shit. They advertised a general assembly. Let’s hold one” (Bennett, 2011, pp.2-3).

                

To the chagrin of the ‘verticals,’ Graeber and his associates did indeed hold a General Assembly in another part of the park. As the meeting conducted by the verticals fell into disarray, people made their way over to the general assembly and the end, the “horizontals” had won out. Occupy Wall Street would not be led by the traditional activist organizations and hierarchy, but would instead be structured as a General Assembly, run on consensus.

These are the anarchist roots of the Occupy Movement. From the larger Occupation Sites in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Boston, the General Assembly has become the default organizational structure of all Occupations. Despite the political identification of occupiers, when they attend General Assemblies and participate in actions coordinated through them and consented upon, they are, in fact, participating in horizontal structures; doing ‘anarchy.’

 

How Does the G.A. Work?

A general assembly is a regularly held gathering of ‘all who are present and wish to participate.’ In Occupy L.A., the general assembly was held nightly at 7:30 pm. Currently, post-eviction, G.A.’s are held every other day in Pershing Square with a themed G.A. every Saturday. The General Assembly is the only body in any particular occupation that officially has the right to ratify decisions, to speak for, or to make official proposals on behalf of an occupation. The General Assembly, an anarchist structure, is the official decision-making body of Occupy L.A.

             The basic premise of the G.A. is to give all participants equal power and voice. It is a consensus model, meaning that the entire collective must agree on a proposal before it can move forward as ‘consented’ upon by Occupy L.A. In original G.A.’s, committees were proposed by participants in a general discussion of what needed to be done. Media, facilitation, social networking, finance, food, etc. committees all formed, and were ratified through full consent of GA participants. If occupiers wish to be a part of a committee, they show up and instantly are a ‘member’ of that committee. Committees proceed on the same consensus model as the General assembly.

Participatory-democratic in structure, the G.A./consensus model allows for even a lone voice of dissent to block a proposal. Those who feel voiceless may, at least in theory, feel their voice powerful enough to singularly block an action. It is an ultimate defense of minority rights, but also deeply susceptible to abuse. General Assemblies, for this reason require a good deal of faith and good intention to maintain functionality. Someone wishing to derail need only block everything from moving forward, thus throwing a monkey wrench into its machinery.

Affinity groups also developed – these are committees not necessarily functional, and do not require the consent of the General Assembly. They may also bring proposals to the G.A., but the key difference is that Affinity Groups do not relate to the functional necessity of the occupation. Study groups, entertainment events, and particular identity/ideological blocks formed to discuss their interests within Occupy L.A. are all examples of types of Affinity Groups at Occupy L.A.

 

G.A.’s in practice at Occupy L.A.

An interview question I asked occupiers: “How do you feel about the General Assembly? Is it an effective tool?”

 “It takes a long time to get to consensus, to get everyone’s opinion. But everyone’s voice is heard. In the end, when the decisions made, we all made that decision together…. If consensus hasn’t been reached, that issue will keep presenting itself ‘till it gets resolved….” (Grayson, Personal Communication, November 28, 2011).

 

“Consensus is really cool. It counts voices rather than votes. It takes a lot of compassion and listening to the most marginalized voice in order for the group to move forward” (Lisa, Personal Communication, November 27, 2011).

           

Though recognized as a rather cumbersome process to get to consensus, most felt it was worth the effort, that consensus was really the only way to give voice to people that are largely voiceless in the dominant political configuration.

“I mean, it’s so simple, it’s kind of genius. People feel voiceless. The answer is to give everyone a voice” (Grayson, Personal Communication, November 28, 2011).

But there were serious criticisms of the G.A. at Occupy L.A., which revolved around the inexperience of people in managing this newly empowered voice. Described as an immaturity, or lack of experience, some occupiers felt that others may abuse this situation of ‘equal voice’ through monopolization of conversation, a refusal to listen, or an unwillingness to keep an open mind. I interviewed several people who had spent time in other occupations, one of whom was A.K. He described himself as one of the original organizers of Occupy Wall Street. He made some comparisons between the Occupy L.A. General Assembly and others he had been a part of.

 “The way it is in New York, and in some other places, its very effective. The way it’s done here? Not so effective. It’s very divisive. People don’t understand that the consensus process is supposed to be an open process. You don’t come with a finite idea that you won’t budge on… the consensus process means that you not so much compromise, but move… You can come to the G.A. with red on your mind. Everybody has either red or green in their mind. When you leave the G.A., you’re all decided on blue. That’s the purpose of the G.A. They don’t even hard block anymore. They just get upset” (A.K., Personal Communication, November 28, 2011).

 

A further critique of the General Assembly at Occupy L.A. was formulated by people of color, queer, and feminist affinity groups. Employing an analysis of the intersectional dynamics of power including, but not limited to, patriarchy, white privilege and hetero-normativity, the critique asserted that once systemic mechanisms of repression are lifted as in the flattening of electoral hierarchy or economic domination of the political process, many internalized and real privileges remain to particular groups, as well as conditioned norms of interaction, beliefs and experience.

An illustrative example of the potential of intersectional forms of power and privilege to disrupt solidarity and to derail the General Assembly process can be observed through the movement’s resolution of its relationship with the L.A.P.D. and City Hall. Attitudes among occupiers on the ground that I spoke with varied on the issue of how to handle the police. Attitudes ranged between the following two poles:

 A late-20’s, white, male occupier had the following to say about relations with the L.A.P.D. “We need to remember that the police are part of the 99%… we need to encourage them and help them realize that communication is really the best way to solve things” (Anonymous, Personal Communication, October 15, 2011).

 Holding the opposing view, a hispanic male in his late 20’s asserts:

 “Official communication, dialogue with the police? I think it’s gonna be on uneven ground. The police and the city… are pretty much against what the Occupation movement is, you know, bringing to the forefront – the question of land, of self-representation, self-determination. I don’t even think it (Occupy L.A.’s relationship with the city) even really stopped the police from trying to subvert, repress the movement, so I think in the end, its just gonna hurt us more” (Anonymous, Personal Communication, October 15, 2011).

 

Attitudes swung between these two poles. There were also differing degrees of emotional investment in the issue amongst occupiers. Some thought the question terribly important, while others did not. What this meant in practice was that outspoken and motivated minorities on both sides of the issue took the lead to see their ideal realized as the proper relationship between Occupy L.A. and the city.

One particular affinity group, representative of communities of color that have experienced and organized around issues of police brutality in the face of these pressing questions, these varying attitudes, wished to conduct trainings on how to deal with police brutality, should the need arise. Other Occupiers felt that to hold such training would serve to unnecessarily antagonize the L.A.P.D. Some of the occupiers who opposed police brutality training had been part of a city liaison team, and had been developing an ongoing dialogue with city officials and the police department, with the stated goal of maintaining a peaceful, non-violent space.

This issue would come to a head early in the Occupation within the General Assembly, eventually resulting in the anti-police brutality affinity group feeling sufficiently marginalized by the General Assembly; enough so that their affinity group left Occupy L.A.:

            “During the General Assemblies on the first and second day of occupation, we witnessed fundamental breakdowns in the consensus process, resulting in undemocratic decision-making… Any discussions or proposals at the GA criticizing or objecting to collaboration with the police are immediately shouted down by the leadership… we have been prevented from making plans for strategic responses to police aggression … OccupyLA has excluded the concerns of people that have long experience with the police in their neighborhoods and also in protests…

Although the overall Occupation movement nationally aspires to use participatory democracy and the consensus process to be inclusive of the people, the efforts by the leadership to maintain informal control have prevented discussion or recognition of patriarchy, white supremacy, classism, heteronormativity, and other layers of oppression that exist in the broader society, which continue to be perpetuated within this “occupation” (Decolonize LA, 2011).

 

In this case, the G.A. seems to have failed dramatically to live up to its ideal of radical inclusivity. Its failure provides a couple of lessons. While recognizing that these events transpired very early in the occupation (Days one and two), structures of authority that developed prior to the G.A. were able to informally influence G.A. proceedings though tactics of domination, exclusion, and ‘shouting down.’ It became obvious that a power block(s) formed, based on ideology, racial identity and differing class experiences and history with the police department. Through sheer will, an informal authority exercised their will upon an outspoken minority through tactics of intimidation.

In a perfect world, committees, affinity groups and trainings would be developed to deal with the emergence of these informal forms of authority and coercion. In the case described above, the informal authority was too powerful, and overrode these dynamics, leaving particular members vulnerable, marginalized and willing to walk away from the movement; in this case, those most vulnerable to police abuse; a double victimization.

For the purposes of this project, it is important to note that while the General Assembly failed to live up to its promise of horizontalism, equal power and voice, it is still the desire of those marginalized to see it achieved. While noting the failure of the General Assembly in Occupy L.A., the anarchist structure itself is sill described, in the above critique, as desirable. The author claims a failure to live up to its potential of radical inclusivity. The question then becomes, does the G.A. have the flexibility, the fluidity inherent in its structure to deal with the emergence of ‘patriarchy, white supremacy, classism, heteronormativity, and other layers of oppression that exist in the broader society?’ Theoretically, it does. Perhaps it was so early in the Occupation that the structures were not developed in order to ensure the safety of marginalized groups within Occupy L.A., the dynamics were too personal, and too intense to be solved prior to a splitting of camp. What the example demonstrates is that to exercise domination, one had to violate the procedure of the General Assembly itself; to step outside of its official and normative rules and procedures. To prevent such occurrences in the future, it would seem to be a matter of strengthening the procedure, participation and practice of the General Assembly.

The open question is: will Occupy L.A’s G.A. evolve to meet the challenges that emerge derivative of being enmeshed in a patriarchal, hetero-normative, racist, classed society? It is an open question. Committees and affinity groups form to remediate these dynamics, but require democratic participation from those who would most benefit from attending them, which sometimes happened over the course of occupation, and sometimes did not. In the case presented above regarding the police brutality affinity group, trainings were proposed, but were denied even the right to be conducted.

For Occupy L.A. to live up to the standards of a truly anarchist social experiment, it must strengthen its capacity to keep informal authority from developing, through its institutional structure. Otherwise, the ideal of a horizontal social arrangement is only so much rhetoric masking abusive power. This failure does not signify a failure of Occupy L.A.’s anarchist experiment in its entirety, but points to tendencies that need to be addressed.

Despite criticisms, some rather devastating as in the case of Decolonize LA, the general assembly/consensus model has succeeded in liberating radical engagement and imagination of many G.A. participants. It is a new way to do ‘democracy.’ One unquestionably beneficial dynamic of the general assembly model is the degree to which the individual directly contributes to the conversation or is engaged. Whether its on a committee or consenting/ blocking an action in a G.A., this is a different type of engagement, of direct voice. It’s riddled with problems, but at the same time, has the potential to at least speak concerns absolutely marginalized in mainstream discourse.

Though there were criticisms of the General Assembly in action, everyone I spoke with agrees that the general assembly model is a desirable way to organize our efforts. That’s important, for Occupy L.A. is an open-process in flux, moving towards a goal of anarchist social organization. The degree to which occupations can remain committed to radical democratic praxis, and can continue to be self-interrogating with regards to questions of power and privilege, will determine the success of the movement.

 

Second Radical Principle: Construction of the New World in the Shell of the Old

“This movement looks a lot like the way I would like to see people administer their own workplaces and neighborhoods; democratic general assemblies, participatory democracy and absolute horizontalism. No parties, no non-sense about trying to take over the state.

It’s really about people taking care of each other, taking responsibility for their lives, their communities, their workplaces.”

Brian, Occupy L.A.

 

It has been theorized by anarchists that people come to consciousness of their own potential, and the society’s revolutionary potential, through doing. Whether or not a disaffected liberal-democrat considers himself an anarchist, or knows anarchist history and theory, when occupying they take part in anarchist social structure. The lesson learned, through doing, is that elites – whether of the capitalist manager, Democratic Party, or Marxist vanguard variety – are not necessary. People are fully capable of managing their own affairs from the bottom up in ever more complex arrangements of participatory democratic structure.

First formulated by Mikhail Bakunin, called ’emancipation through practical action’ this principle served as challenge to traditional Marxism with its material dialectic, and its stages of history; that only those societies at a certain level of industrialization can achieve liberation and equity in power (Marshall, 1984). Anarchists have asserted that we must build organizations, institutions, and develop consciousness within the existing margins of society. For if people are to someday manage their own affairs, they must have practice with self-management; in communities, in work places, in schools and in political movements challenging capital and state control.

Whereas traditional Marxists advocated a vanguard taking state power, then instituting mass scale education programs which would shift consciousness of the people (Lenin, 1920, pp. 1-2), anarchists have consistently argued people must be empowered, living in a self-directed fashion, if the ‘revolution’ is to be successful. It is in the doing of anarchism that consciousness shifts; to an anarchist, consciousness is largely epiphenomena of the institutions and social structures in which one is located.

The revolution would be not an explosion, but a slow accumulation of victories and ‘liberated spaces,’ and a reliance on an interdependent connection of self-managed institutions as the institutions of capital and the state, which functions on its behalf, become more and more burdensome, illegitimate, repressive and fall into crisis:

“One of the reasons why I’ve been involved with it (Occupy L.A.), is that… it says, ‘we have a right to be here,’ and to live and do anything we need to, as a group… not as individuals in our own separate little realities.

It’s taking the responsibility for ourselves and the people that are a part of this to deal with actual things that are relevant to us; everything that has to do with our daily lives – not having to work for someone else that’s totally alienating to us….” (Ernesto, Personal Communication, November 5, 2011).

 

On any given day during Occupy L.A.’s physical encampment, there were structures and committees in place providing a variety of services to keep the camp functional. Their was the food tent, serving meals to upwards of 500 people, including occupiers, the local homeless community, and others in need of a meal. No one was ever turned away. A makeshift library was constructed, a finance team soliciting and managing donations, a self-representing media collective was established. Their were study groups, trainings, and an Occupy L.A. Open University, dedicated to providing an education in Occupation, the theory undergirding the movement, as well as historical context; security forces, living quarters, and entertainment. Solidarity Park was a functional community existing within the margins of greater Los Angeles. What Ernesto references in the above quote is the lived experience of alternatives. Through the daily experience of Occupy L.A., not only were Occupiers physical needs met; they were validated in their imagining and desire of alternatives. Experience not only confirmed the theoretical idea that another world is possible,’ but it was lived day to day.

When asked about what he would like to see the Occupy Movement accomplish, another occupier answered:

 “It would be to liberate space… What it means to liberate is something we are still trying to figure out… we have community here. If it could proliferate we could start to see each other as our best resources. We want to infuse that in the places we are, in the spaces we create….” (Aquias, Personal Communication, November 5, 2011).

 

Ernesto adds:

“I want to see, spread out, the same consciousness that went into the creation of this space (Occupy L.A.). We are in the midst of a system that consciously denies the nature, the very existence of this space. To proliferate it, to make this tactic relevant everywhere: to schools, to workplaces, to homes…” (Ernesto, Personal Communication, November 5, 2011).

 

            This idea of spreading the model out, from homes to communities to workplaces is the anarchist principle of an accumulation of liberated spaces. Through living in, or experiencing an anarchist social experiment, the relevance of the model to other areas in one’s life became obvious to Occupiers as a preferable social arrangement to those more authoritarian.

.           Though these alternatives existed on a relatively small scale compared to the larger society, they provided occupiers an opportunity to think about how to develop and manage institutions in line with their radical imaginings of what a future society could look like. Because these alternative institutions were actually operable, experienced by participants, issues relating to their facilitation arose which may not have been predictable from purely abstract theorization. Occupiers were also able to form revolutionary attachment to such structures, to come to rely on them.

            With the eviction from physical encampment, occupiers have come to miss solidarity park. This longing is an ideological and resistant force on the institutions and structures of the larger society deemed non-representative of the interests of those who occupied. It is through the creation and managing of such institutions that the idea settles in: ‘this is possible. We can actually organize society differently, and it works.” And once it works, Occupiers are less likely to let such a vision and an actuality be destroyed by the authoritarian arm of status quo institutions.

 

Third Radical Principle: An Ambivalent Response to the Demand for Demands

“We don’t have varied agendas. We are against Neoliberal Economics. Look it up.”

– Sign held by Occupy L.A. protestor, November 22, 2011

 

The question of demands has been an issue at the heart of the Occupy movement, nationally and in Los Angeles. The question animates not only discussion in the occupations themselves, but in mainstream media representation of the movement. It is often asserted that Occupy has no demands, or that demands are so disparate as to be meaningless. The very question arises from some assumptions that need to be teased out before proceeding; the main question being, who is asking us for demands? Relatedly, is providing a list of demands to traditional centers of power (whether the political system, mainstream media, the intellectual class, etc.) the strategy occupiers should adopt?

            Occupy L.A.’s not providing a list of demands is a radical tactic. To make a demand on the political system, as one of my interviewees argues, is to grant legitimacy to those who require such demands be made:

“This thing in New York has only been happening for 12 days, and already, the media is like… what are their demands… what are their demands? And the second you’re like, well these are our demands, you’re saying that this is a legitimate political system… and it’s not….there’s no voice anymore for the common citizen… so it’s not a legitimate political system” (Alex, Personal Communication, October 1, 2011).

 

For to have demands may limit the very discourse, constrain it within a traditional liberal democrat/conservative republican binary. If you have a demand on someone, or an institution, and they answer it, your reason for being ceases. To refuse to provide demands, a refusal to grant legitimacy, is a radical gesture that ensures relevance – namely, to develop institutions that are legitimate.

As opposed to granting the traditional centers of power the right to meet demands, thus functioning in a reformist fashion, Occupy L.A. effectively asks, in response, for political representatives to attend a General Assembly. The very anarchist political formation is in fact a demand; for the political system to itself radicalize, to invest in people the right over their own person, denied in our political and economic system to the degree available in the Occupy model. The ‘demand’ is for the political and economic system to dismantle itself as an illegitimate form of authority.   

Occupiers do not have a series of demands for the political system, but have imagined together and lived a different way to do politics; to answer all of the multitude of social ills facing the current political configuration requires institutional redesign. Ask about the particular problem, and you’ll get a ‘demand.’

“What you need to understand is that what brought people together is not a ‘demand,’ but an emotion. Maybe anger. Everyone’s been affected on different terms…. So the demands are endless. It’s fucking difficult… there’s a lot of things that can be addressed. It’s a movement, not a protest…” (Steven, Personal Communication, November 27, 2011).

 

            The liberal democratic establishment cannot accommodate this reconfiguration, so why offer specific ‘demands,’ except to demonstrate occupiers’ separateness from traditional centers of power? The lack of demands, the inability of media pundits and apologists to wrap their minds around the ‘demand question,’ functions to create an irrevocable breach. It is a chasm of incommunicability between traditional centers of power and the Occupy movement where resolution becomes impossible. To surrender to the demand for demands would be a failure of Occupy, a re-integration of dissent in the folds of the state-corporate nexus. For traditional political authority to submit, necessarily means their willingness to self-eviscerate, to dismantle, which they structurally cannot, will not, do. It is a locking down in respective camps in preparation for a long-term struggle at the institutional level, not within the institutions of liberal representative democracy, but between these institutions and their radical alternative. It is the beginning of a dialectic.

Media often represents the demands they are able to perceive, extract or manufacture from Occupy as bearing no connection. In reality, they are deeply interconnected, and largely reactive to a multinational arrangement of globalized capital, its capacity to influence political systems internationally, domestically and even locally. Not a protest, but a social movement; directed towards an a-temporal, yet historically situated neoliberal system with deleterious effect in interlocking and wide public spheres. This is not the Occupy Movement’s weakness, as is often asserted, but precisely its strength. Occupy L.A.’s ‘demands’ exceed the institutional capacity of traditional centers of power to meet them. The singular demand is for a new set of institutions that can. The beginning of such institutions can be witnessed as operative within Occupations themselves. The only demand is radicalization.

 

Fourth Radical Principle: The Transnationality of the Occupy Movement

‘People of Egypt! We stand with you! From Cairo to California! In Love! And In Solidarity! We are WITH you!”

Occupy L.A. Statement of Solidarity with Egyptian Protestors, November 28, 2011

 

There is another radical foundation at the heart of the Occupy Movement: its transnationality. Dominant narrative represents the Occupy Movement as largely national in character, bound to particular cities in the United States – New York, Boston, Oakland, Chicago, and Los Angeles. On particular ‘big story days,’ such as the October 15th International Day of Action, mainstream reporting depicts riots in Rome, or protests in Greece and London. The tone and tenor of the representation limits the explicit connection that exists between these transnational sites. They are reported as disparate; only loosely connected. They are not ‘one action,’ but protests in separate places, separate times. Such a stance performs a couple of ideological functions:

            First, the movement appears smaller, less organized, and less directed than it really is. As opposed to a transnational social movement, directed at the multinational-corporate/financial system, the Occupy movement and respective encampments are represented as concerned only with domestic politics, and relatively fractioned off from one another.

Second, by not recognizing the Occupation Movement as entwined with actions in Tahrir Square in Egypt, the Indignados movement in Spain, the striking students in Chile or the anti-austerity protestors in Greece, a shared antagonist remains hidden. Though it manifests in particular places differently, effecting policies specific to particular countries and regions, the neoliberal economic order and the process of multinational globalization is the site of resistance, across actions and movements. This must remain hidden, for this neoliberal economic order is profoundly undemocratic, super-cedes states (and thus their democratic mechanisms) and invisibility is one of the primary mechanisms by which it is able to perform its work. The transnationality of Occupy, directed at international structures of finance and capital, is not recognized in mainstream discourse for to recognize this fact necessarily illuminates structures of authority that are largely effective because of their invisibility.

Naomi Klein, in her work The Shock Doctrine, describes an international order of finance and capital that maintains an effective veto power over the developments of nations and societies through loans and structural adjustment programs. Countries in financial crisis, whether that crisis be historical, as in the case of the formerly colonized countries, or a more contemporary one suffering the effects of political transition, war, natural disaster, and/or environmental devastation may appeal for a loan to the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. Money is loaned to meet the immediate needs of the country, or to benefit a voracious power elite in the case of autocratic societies, on the condition that the political leadership ‘structurally adjust’ its political system and economy: open up its markets to foreign investment, aka multinational capital. It is the imposition of a development model that has been shown to lead to massive wealth extraction, rising inequality and the construction or solidification of domestic elites linked to transnational capital, resulting in capital flight (Klein, 2007).

It is within this context that social movements, including Occupy Los Angeles, across the world began to emerge – most visibly in Egypt, Spain, and Greece. Though the ‘demands’ of these protestors, these movements, perhaps seem disparate on the surface to some lacking context, or are intentionally represented as such by those who benefit from systemic arrangements, it is easy to see their interconnection if the framework of international capital driving social and economic crises across national boundaries is understood.

By recognizing the transnational character of finance and corporate globalization as the preferred site of resistance, the Occupy Movement, along with the indignados in Spain, anti-austerity protestors in Greece, etc. radically re-imagines political engagement from domestic struggles to international ones, and reveals to its participants as well as those who comment and analyze structures heretofore invisible.

By creating structures within the shell of the old, and through developing a transnational connectivity and analysis of corporate globalization and financialization, Occupy forms a challenge to the necessity of the state itself, by developing communities of solidarity and shared sentiment outside the state system and across national boundaries.

To Occupiers in L.A., the transnational connections are universally recognized. Every single subject I interviewed when asked, “Do you feel connected to movements outside the United States; for instance, Egyptian protestors in Tahrir or the Indignados in Spain?” answered in the affirmative. That’s rather remarkable, given the scant attention paid to the transnational character of the Occupy Movement in mainstream representation.

 “It’s totally connected. If you look at the basic power structure of the world, like, take Egypt. You’ve got a U.S. supported puppet ruling Egypt, repressing Egyptians with American weapons. We all saw those pictures with the tear gas canisters: ‘made in the U.S.A.’

The police violence we see here is a soft version of the violence this country exports to places like Egypt; countries in the Middle East. People are seeing that it’s an interconnected thing. It’s not like certain problems are just found in certain countries… it’s a global movement, perspective, that’s fueling this” (Ernesto, Personal Communication, November 28, 2011).

 

Aquias adds:

“This couldn’t have happened (Occupy L.A.) if it hadn’t happened over there (Egypt). But that also points to our privilege. We don’t have to put up with the same sorts of prior repression that existed before the protest; and now, the present repression. Last night on the news, 36 people in Tahrir were killed. Killed! …by the police, by people who sympathize with the power structure. They’re still fighting” (Aquias, Personal Communication, November 28, 2011).

           

A recurrent theme running through Occupy L.A. participants’ commentary, as present in the quotes above, is the concept that we are relatively privileged in the United States; and that that privilege confers a responsibility. It is a responsibility to keep struggling, to use our relative freedom to agitate not only in our own interests, but for those in Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Greece and all of the other places with populations engaged in a struggle in which we are all deeply connected.

 “I feel very connected right now, because of the death toll; the injuries. I take personal responsibility for that… with Spain as well. I’ve been on the phone with (organizers) from Spain, who are coordinating the Spain occupation. I feel personally connected to these people. We HAVE to accomplish something. Cause those 35 people that died in Egypt, they will have literally died for nothing if we don’t do something. I was in those cloak and dagger meetings to get this thing afloat, and now…. Here we are. (A.K., Personal Correspondence, November 28, 2011).

 

            Occupy L.A.’s General Assembly structure is shared with the Indignados in Spain and the anti-austerity protestors in Greece. International activists have participated in international movements and organized occupations. Networks of communications, such as ‘Interoccupy’ conference calls have been conducted with international participation. Joint actions on October 15th, November 5th and December 1st all speak to the transnationality of Occupy. Participants imagine themselves as deeply connected with activists all over the world engaged in similar struggle, with particularized and local characteristics.

 

 

Conclusion

Through these four intersecting dynamics – the general assembly, creation of the new within the margins of the old, a refusal to provide a list of Occupy demands, and the transnationality of Occupy – Occupy L.A., in conjunction with other occupations nationally and internationally, has developed the foundations for a radical alternative to neoliberalism and capitalist-democracy.

The General Assembly eviscerated the need for representative democracy (and its lobbyists), and by calling for its adoption in multiple spheres, also illuminates the fundamentally totalitarian nature of many of our dominant institutions, including the corporation. Living the new within the shell of the old demonstrates that alternatives, even if small in scale, are possible. They shift consciousness amongst participants from an idea existing in people’s heads about a different world, to a lived experience that is worth defending and extending, as liberative. The refusal to provide a comprehensive list of demands functions as a demand in itself: for institutions that embody the principles of Occupations including horizontalism and equal voice. The transnationality of the Occupy movement recognizes the development of institutions and networks outside the bounds of the State, thus illuminating its arbitrary and repressive role across different locales. These four dynamics function as the irreducible radicalism at the Heart of Occupy L.A. Despite the attempts at co-optation by moveon.org and others[iv], the stealing of slogans without the approval of the General Assembly, and disseminating them from vertically structured, politically stagnant reformist institutions so radically undermines the intention and institutions of the Occupy Movement as to be an act of betrayal.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Slavoj Zizek spoke of the Occupy Movement, and what we can hope to accomplish. “Something will have to be done. But let’s face it – openly – the tragedy is that… I don’t know, we don’t know… what effective form can replace (the) capitalist-democratic system the way we have it now” (Zizek, 2011).

I think that Occupiers in Los Angeles would disagree. Occupiers push for increased democratization and further empowering voice; the flattening of hierarchy, across multiple spheres, social, political and economic. To counter Zizek, the “tragic” thing may be to realize that we do, in fact, have the solution to our current predicament of neoliberalism and capitalist-democracy. We know exactly what to do; extend anarchist principles of social organization throughout the social field to every institution illegitimately structured by hierarchy. There are powerful forces that will resist this drive towards greater democratization. There is no guarantee of victory. We must stare the real world in the face, and it is frightening,

It is not a matter of lacking a road map, a strategy. In this present moment, it is purely a balance of power: a matter of force. Numbers, concentrations of wealth able to control representation and messaging; police forces are what keeps ‘revolution’ from being realized in larger scale. But larger scale success is not a prerequisite for having the solution. What is ‘tragic’ is the balance of power weighted to the status quo, no guarantee of capitalist implosion, or successive stages of history. By positing that ‘we don’t have the answers,’ Zizek in fact aligns against those who are actually living solutions to presenting problems/dynamics, on the ground, through his de-legitimization of the anarchist, horizontal model.

            Which brings us to the contemporary moment. Occupy has been evicted from physical encampments. Many of the voices I spoke with at Occupy LA speculated that there was something special about maintaining physical space. It was read as an opportunity to demonstrate to ourselves and to outsiders that much of what we accept as natural, is not. Judith Butler for one asserted the importance of occupying a physical space through time, as it meant the protest never went away. Even when asleep, the protest is happening (Elliott, 2011).

Others at Occupy L.A. have spoken of the eviction as liberation, a blessing in disguise. Occupations could, like seeds scattered, form mobile and multiple occupation sites – new parks, bank lobbies, in front of foreclosed homes, blocking eviction. These hopes have largely been realized in disparate actions, though media representation is down. Occupiers have blocked foreclosures, they have marched and staged demonstrations. Though General Assemblies have seen a decline in numbers over the winter months, actions have continued. There is a general strike planned for May 1st, nationally and internationally. Core organizers have remained committed to developing and strengthening ties, networks and structures that will form a stable ground for this movement, nationally and internationally, that participants can come back to. This radical alternative has so far survived after eviction, and is growing. As the Occupy LA motto says,  “spring is coming.” And we are all anarchists, now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

List of References[v]

 

  1. Bennett, Drake. David Graeber, the Anti-Leader of Occupy Wall Street. Bloomberg Businessweek, 26-October-2011. Retreived from http://www.businessweek.com 12/1/11 http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/david-graeber-the-antileader-of-occupy-wall-street-10262011.html

 

  1. Chomsky, Noam. Concision in the Mass Media. Audio Lecture. Retrieved from Youtube. 12/1/11 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlL2Jj-kCNU

 

  1. Chomsky, Noam. Government in the Future. Audio Lecture. Retrieved from Youtube, 12/1/11. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kPlEJlmWuc

 

  1. Decolonize LA. (2011, October 16). Statement from Decolonize LA [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://unpermittedla.wordpress.com/2011/10/16/statement-from-decolonize-la/

 

  1. Elliott, Justine. “Judith Butler at Occupy Wall Street.” salon.com. Salon, 24 Oct. 2011. Web. 01 Dec. 2011

 

  1. Fukayama, Francis. (1989) Have We Reached the End of History? Retrieved from http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a228233.pdf

 

  1. Klein, Naomi 2007. The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. New York, Metropolitan Books.

 

  1. Lenin, Vladimir. (1920) “Left-Wing” Communism in Germany The Leaders, the Party, the Class, the Masses. Marxists Internet Archive. Retrieved from http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/pdf/Lenin_Left_wing_Communism.pdf

 

  1. Marshall, Peter 1984. Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism. Oakland, PM Press.

 

  1. Spivak, Gayatri 1993. Outside in the Teaching Machine. New York, Routledge.

 

  1. Woodcock, George 2004. Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements. Ontario, Broadview Press.

 

  1. Zizek, Slavoj. Talk to Al Jazeera. Video Interview. Retrieved from Youtube, 03/29/12. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Qhk8az8K-Y


[i] According to the BBC, In February, between six and ten million people protested the potential for a United States military invasion of Iraq. Cities with major actions included New York, London, Barcelona, and Rome and in many other cities in which national leadership had vocalized support for the invasion. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/2765215.stm

[ii] Illegitimate in the sense that hierarchy does not contribute to greater efficiency or effectiveness in the case of these institutions, but simply as mechanisms for ensuring control and limiting popular influence.

[iii] These terms will be qualified later, as disparities in privilege soon emerged with a flattening of the more visible forms of economic and political power. Occupiers almost reflexively assert a demand for ever-greater democratic control in decision-making and participation.

 

[iv] The ‘99% movement’ is one such attempt of employing Occupy rhetoric, without approval from General Assemblies. http://the99spring.com

[v] The submission guidelines for Anarchist Studies provides list of references examples for books, journals, and collections. Where no examples were provided, as in the case of online newspaper articles and youtube videos, citations follow the APA format as provided in Dianne Hacker’s online citation guide: http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/resdoc5e/RES5e_ch09_s1-0002.html

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