The movement in Oakland is on life support

Categories: Reflections

With tonight’s pro-violence vote in the GA, Occupy Oakland has almost guaranteed it will remain a marginalized movement. I only add the qualification because I really, really hope I’m wrong.

Either OO builds on the success of the General Strike, or it becomes another failed (but oh so ideologically pure) radical movement.Tonight we got a strong indication that OO is planning to take the latter path.

Having achieved this ‘victory’, will our anarchist friends now try to oust the trades union element from OO? I ask this in all seriousness. I’ve seen young men in ‘circle A’ shirts arguing at the Plaza that unions are just as bad as governments. In fact, everyone seems ideologically suspect…except, of course,  that certain special sub-set of black clad young men apparently touched by the hand of God.

Things have come to a pretty pass indeed when an ignoramus can refer to Gandhi as a ‘misogynistic prick’…and then is cheered by the crowd.

“Women shall enjoy the same rights as men…this is the India of my dreams…I shall be satisfied by nothing else”–M.K. Gandhi, September 10 1931





12 Responses to “The movement in Oakland is on life support”

  1. john seal

    That’s a very interesting and informative video. However, it barely touches on Gandhi’s attitude towards women, and provides zero evidence that he was a ‘misogynist prick’.

    “Of all the evils for which man has made himself responsible, none is so degrading, so shocking or so brutal as his abuse of the better half of humanity-to me, the female sex, not the weaker sex.”–M. K. Gandhi, September 15 1921

  2. camig

    What does Gandhi’s stance on women have to do with the principles of nonviolence? Einstein cheated on his wife and was arguably also a misogynist. Should we stop basing our understanding of the physical universe on his theories of relativity?

    I don’t have an opinion on the vote tonight, but this is Irrelevance 101.

  3. think!

    Thank you for posting this. This is what we have been trying to say all along.

    Nonviolence is the only position we can take if we are to succeed.

  4. Tlahtolli

    I wrote the proposal.

    Hey, I really, really want this movement to work, and I apologize if my poorly-worded proposal got in the way. The intent was to bridge the differences between the violent/non-violent camps to keep the movement, but it looks like I succeeded in uniting pretty much everyone against the proposal.

    I realize that the non-violence issue IS important, and a make/break deal as David has been saying all along. It should be a divisive thing, but at the same time, I’m glad we’re at least having this conversation about what violence is and isn’t.

    Please, please read the post “Non-Violence Needs to Happen NOW”. It’s a repost of an open letter to the Occupy community that CLEARLY explains why “a diversity of tactics” isn’t going to work for us.

    I feel like I owe David an apology. David, you’ve been right all along, and I’m sorry I couldn’t listen at the time. I stand behind an official statement declaring that Occupy Oakland will be non-violent and not engage in property destruction from here on out.


  5. Nemo

    There was no “pro-violence” vote today.

    There was a motion to endorse a march from Oscar Grant/Frank Ogawa plaza to an undisclosed location for the purpose of occupying it. That motion failed to attain consensus (or even OO’s modified consensus). In other words, it failed.

    There was another motion that was introduced out of a non-violent impulse, but it was soundly defeated by people holding a wide array of beliefs, including pacifists who felt that it would have granted tacit approval to individuals wishing to incite violence or engage in acts of vandalism, and others who felt that it undermined the solidarity of the movement and opened the door for protestors to engage in violence against other protestors in the name of non-violence.

    As for your comment about there being exclusionary factions inside of the Occupy Oakland movement, you are right. Not all of them are to be found among the camp’s anarchists.

  6. john seal

    Point taken, David. My upset at the apparent inability of OO to make a coherent anti-violence statement coloured my perception of the vote tonight.

    I don’t pretend to be an expert on Gandhi, but that statement was clearly designed to intimidate and draw the blood of pacifists at the GA. Will the gentleman who made it next dredge up those old womanizing charges against MLKJr, and will the crowd bay in approval when he calls him a prick, too?

  7. David Heatherly

    You’re right…. I’d like to think that there weren’t 10,000 people marching on the Port of Oakland who actually want to create a violent overthrow of the U.S. government. But there are 2 or 3 hundred of those people here who are royally fucking it up for all the rest of us, largely because we can’t get the message out about when and where we’re going to take a sensible vote about the same type of non-violent resolution that has already passed Occupy Wall Street’s GA and most others in the nation. So the people who tolerate violence (most actual campers who tolerate violence don’t take part in the most stupid crap that happens, as well all pretty much know, but they are, let’s just say, “enablers”) are able to still prevent a 90% consensus. And that is depressing and demoralizing for anybody who hopes for the Occupy movement to gain traction among the American public in general.

  8. David Heatherly

    @ John Seal — I want to agree with most of your points… but there was no “pro-violence vote” in Oakland tonight. Pretty much everybody was against that proposal, it was poorly worded and contradictory. Those of us there who wanted to vote against all pre-emptive violence and pointless vandalism were turned off by the language in the proposal which was very confusing, and mentioned kidnapping and all kinds of crazy stuff. It had a phrase in it where it advocated there being “a time and a place” for violent action. I respect if you supported that proposal, but I consider myself a pacifist and I didn’t support it.

    Now as far as the one person’s comments about Gandhi, whether or not he would fit into the modern idea of a liberator of women, was in poor taste and a provocative statement. But hell, I’ve made quite a few in my life. Especially now, I mean we are all upset. It wasn’t disturbing that he said that, and maybe there’s truth in it, but it was kind of disturbing to see how quickly everybody cheered it, as if it was just this sentiment of “fuck you, non-violent protestors.” I’ve noticed the violent element congregates on the South side of the plaza.

    The fact in and of itself that there is a genuine pro-vandalism and pro-violence faction in Occupy Oakland forces me to begin distancing myself from it, and also urging my friends in the wider Occupy movement to begin considering proposals to urge Occupy Oakland to adopt a stance against violence and vandalism.

    There is a moment here for the whole movement, not just Oakland. I’ve visited Occupy Santa Fe, and talked to people online from all over the USA. There is a kind of romanticism about Oakland within the national Occupy movement. Some of it is true and deserved, because we are a unique community with things to offer the whole nation; lessons we’ve learned through our long trials with fascist police brutality and under-funded education and a whole list of problems. And we are a diverse community, a pretty damn well educated and cultured community despite all the obstacles to the people who grew up here, and if we can get that whole diverse community behind us, we can change the world. But right now, Occupy Oakland and the community of Oakland are disconnected, because the community can’t see how we are benefiting them through our actions up to this point.

  9. mizpat

    @snufkin, please provide citations. If Gandhi himself wrote these words, it should be easy to do.

    @john seal, I watched tonight too. Occupy Oakland is on the verge of bringing the whole Occupy movement down, because it is escalating actions as we speak in the mistaken assumption that all those thousands participating on strike day will follow them anywhere. Very sad. We needed this movement desperately, and it had such promise. (No, it won’t die overnight, but it will die without an explicit commitment to nonviolence.)

  10. snufkin

    During Gandhi’s time as a dissident in South Africa, he discovered a male youth had been harassing two of his female followers. Gandhi responded by personally cutting the girls’ hair off, to ensure the “sinner’s eye” was “sterilised”. Gandhi boasted of the incident in his writings, pushing the message to all Indians that women should carry responsibility for sexual attacks upon them.

    Gandhi believed Indian women who were raped lost their value as human beings. He argued that fathers could be justified in killing daughters who had been sexually assaulted for the sake of family and community honour.

    “he believed menstruation was a manifestation of the distortion of a woman’s soul by her sexuality”.

  11. Lori

    The proposal failed because it wasn’t clearly articulated. It wasn’t really a proposal. It was a speech, and sort of a suggestion, but the language did not define or specify any real action for the GA to vote to condemn or support. It was poorly written and undefined. It was not really proposing anything. What exactly would we have been voting for? They need to get back and do a lot more work on it.