Has #Occupy entered “Phase Three”?

Part of the Platypus contingent at May Day in New York, 2012

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.

Platypus signs at May Day in New York, 2012

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?”

6 thoughts on “Has #Occupy entered “Phase Three”?

  1. I can see you in the right corner of the banner in the top picture. Personally I would have made my parole: “Capitalism is dead, long live the Commons”. It’s just published a new book called “Commons: For a Policy Beyond Market and State”: http://bollier.org/blog/just-published-new-german-anthology-commons

    For your question if OWS has passed into phase three, I have no idea. But if you by the third phase mean the beginning of the stabilizing of the new era of the commons, the above book might bee an important contribution.

    Anyway, I’m approaching the commons from the right, and you from the left side. Hope we someday can shake hands, when we have created a new language of the commons we both understand.

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  4. Time for critical self-reflection indeed. I’d like to promote an event coming up on Wednesday in NYC that will attempt to provide a public forum for just such critical self-reflection. Hope to see Ross and his readers there…

    Marxist-Humanist Initiative invites you to a discussion in New York City
    Wed. May 9, 7:00-9:00 p.m.

    Why Did the Zuccotti Park Occupation Fail? Beyond Make-Believe Politics: How “Acting As If You Were Already Free” Led to Defeat *

    MHI supports the Occupy movement, which has galvanized dissent around the world. But we are critical of the theory underlying the Zuccotti Park occupation, and of the failure of OWS in New York to publicly discuss the occupation’s failure.

    In preparation for the meeting, please read “FAQs (and Far-Too-Infrequently Asked Questions) About the Occupy Movement
    and MHI’s Relationship to It”

    Participants in the meeting will be expected to have read these FAQs ahead of time, in order to acquire the background needed to engage with the presentations and other participants in an informed and fruitful way. Our views are very different from others’ views, including other Marxists’ views. Please go through the FAQs carefully, so that you’ll be better able to understand where we’re coming from and better able to participate in the meeting in a constructive manner.
    Open discussion at
    TRS Inc. Professional Suite
    44 East 32nd Street, 11th floor
    (bet. Madison and Park Aves, Manhattan)
    Contribution requested but not required.

    * For discussion of the notion of “acting as if you were already free,” see “The Make-Believe World of David Graeber”

  5. Pingback: The significance of art for the #Occupy movement • Social Justice Solutions

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