After attending the GA this evening and watching Friday’s on the livestream, following and contributing to the various discussions on the question of whether this is (or should remain) a nonviolent movement, and seeing a lot of strong feelings being voiced but not anything being done about it in a formal way, I decided to draft this proposal. It’s largely a rip-off of a really excellent Greenpeace blog post at http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/Blog/choosing-a-diversity-of-nonviolent-tactics/blog/12093/, which contains a lot of great additional information for those who are interested.
What I think is important is getting a GA vote on the record ASAP so that (a) we all know whether future #OO events are someplace we feel safe being or not, and (b) what role #OO is going to play going forward vis-a-vis the broader Occupy movement….basically, are we going to rise to the occasion here, or aren’t we?
I realize this is long for the typical GA proposal. I also think this topic is significantly more complex than any we’ve dealt with as a community to date, and the majority of the crowd that isn’t up on the terminology deserves a bit of context. That said, I’d love feedback on cuts that you think still convey the key message here and don’t confuse people unnecessarily.
One last thing: yes, it’s going to be hard to pass ANYTHING addressing nonviolence (on the upside I think it would be even more difficult for people pushing Diversity of Tactics as an official position of #OO to get that approved) because of our modified consensus process that requires 90%+ approval. I don’t think the people who support Diversity of Tactics are even 1% of all the people who consider themselves part of #OO, but unfortunately on any given night they’re a good chunk of the crowd at the GA. SO, that means I want to make sure I have a really solid proposal text, and I also need to organize to get bodies out there to vote on it. Your help would be GREATLY appreciated with either or both of these pieces. Please get in touch at email@example.com to share your ideas 🙂
This proposal addresses the question of Diversity of Tactics. While any successful social movement relies on a variety of tactics, the phrase “Diversity of Tactics” is often used as a byword for condoning acts of violence.
Violence relies on intimidation of the opponent, with a clear threat of destruction. It is rooted in the belief that opponents change only when they fear for themselves and their possessions. A key feature of many high-profile protests has been the government use of paid undercover agents to foment and carry out acts of violent provocation. Supporters of Diversity of Tactics consistently fail to address this question: If throwing rocks and smashing property are such powerful threats to capitalism, why does the State pay people to do it? The answer is that security forces recognize how much such tactics help them do their job: controlling and repressing protests, while justifying their enormous budgets with dramatic media images.
Nonviolent tactics are rooted in the belief that opponents can be forced to concede and change through organized mass noncooperation. This is about People Power becoming strong enough to challenge and change corporate and governmental power structures. A radical, nonviolent mass movement can impose far greater political costs on the system than a few smashed store windows. A movement that condones violence is easy to discredit, derail, and repress.
This proposal is a call for specific answers to three basic questions regarding Occupy Oakland’s potential official recognition and acceptance of Diversity of Tactics:
1. What tactics are going to be explicitly excluded? (For instance, will throwing projectiles, molotov cocktails, setting fires, etc. be rejected?)
2. How will we actually prevent the rejected tactics and behaviors from happening?
3. If rejected tactics happen anyway, how should we distance ourselves from them?
Until such time as these questions are answered by a General Assembly vote (or series of votes), in the interests of the success of the Occupy movement and physical safety of all its participants, this proposal further calls for Occupy Oakland to reject Diversity of Tactics.