I do wonder: Do the coordinated international May Day marches signal a kind of end to the so-called “second phase” of #Occupy, and perhaps the beginning of a “phase three”? My suspicion is that they do, but I’d like to hear other people’s opinions.
Generally speaking, I would mark this second phase as lasting from roughly either the November 15th sequence of evictions or the N17 demonstrations, through “the winter of our discontent” (i.e., decentralization, the breakdown of the chronically dysfunctional GA/Spokescouncil models, and the shift to planning for International Workers’ Day), all the way up to its culmination in the May 1 marches.
The first phase, of course, I’d date from September 17th-November 15th actual large-scale occupation of physical spaces. There was a prehistory to the occupation of Zuccotti Park that was not insignificant, certainly. Not just the Arab Spring or the European anti-austerity protests, but also the actual planning committees throughout August.
Participating in the May Day march in New York two days ago, my hope was that it marked more of a new beginning than a definitive end. It is perhaps too early to tell what the future may bring. But I remain somewhat hopeful.
If #Occupy is indeed undergoing a transition, however, then now is a time for critical self-reflection. What were relative strengths and weaknesses of the first phase as compared with the second? What were the concrete accomplishments and disappointments of each? If the various actions associated with either are to be subsumed under the motto of a “diversity of tactics,” then how do these tactics fit into #Occupy’s overarching strategy (if #Occupy has a strategy in the usual sense of the word)? What new challenges does the summer pose? Will #Occupy interface with established political institutions in the lead-up to the election cycle? If so, how? If not, what will that mean? Will the Democratic and Republican Conventions again serve as flashpoints for oppositional activism, as in the 2000 elections following Seattle 1999? Is there any danger of this turning into a repeat of the “Last Party 2000” scenario of that era?
Paraphrasing one of Platypus’ traditional refrains — “What has the Left been, and what can it become?” — I am tempted to ask: “What has #Occupy been, and what can it become?”