Monday, October 10, 2011

Another strength of Occupy Seattle: the diversity of voices in the protest, unlike some other demos.

This one is an easy one. Many large protests, particularly those put on by ANSWER and other fronts for Stalinist or Maoist parties, such as the October 22nd Coalition, typically draw lots of people but don't succeed in creating continuations of the efforts. This is largely because of the hardline ideology that they make a keystone of their protests. While many folks would most definitely want to end war and eliminate racism, or eliminate police brutality, the ideological elements that the sponsoring groups of these protests put in their turn off people who would otherwise would be extremely supportive of them. Folks show up, concerned about the cause, get there, applaud for the speakers they like, then hear hardline speeches for anti-capitalist revolution, get demotivated, go home, and go back to business as usual--until the next protest happens, where the process begins again.

Occupy Seattle appears to be different. But, there is the issue of folks doing the equivalent of the vanguard parties' hardlining, while dressed up in an anarchist disguise. The truth is that when it comes down to it the things that ANSWER and others say alienates people even if it comes out of the mouths of Anarchists instead of Workers' World Party members. The same alienation from the cause will ensue. Folks should realize that in general Progressives from all levels of anti-capitalism will be much more likely to support a group that doesn't require them to commit to Revolution Now and a total and immediate overthrow of the capitalist system, followed either by its replaced by an Anarchist confederation or a hardcore Socialist state, than they are the contrary. Which isn't to say that these voices shouldn't be present. In fact, as individual I believe that much of the rhetoric is exactly what I support. They really should be included. Both forms should be there, as contributing voices, but in my opinion they shouldn't overpower the messages of folks who represent a good deal more people than they do. To put your hardline ideology out there in a my way or the highway setting, while limiting the voices of those who support more limited aims, is to put yourself forward as the vanguard whose opinions matter more than those of regular people, who aren't as 'enlightened' as you are. This, again, is true whether you're an Anarchist or a Marxist-Leninist. Same effect, different ideology. Vanguard is as Vanguard does.

Occupy Seattle definitely has room for a kind of diversity of voices that other protests don't, which is very good. If it keeps up, and there's no indication it won't, it will have the potential to attract people who otherwise would not want to participate in anything ANSWER does, whether that means anything beyond going to a single rally or march for one day or doing anything the day after the protest is over.

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