Tuesday, October 18, 2011
THOUGHTS ON LEADERLESS LEADERSHIP, CLASS INTEREST, CONSENSUS AND THE FUTURE OF THE OCCUPY WALL STREET, OCCUPY X MOVEMENT
As a long time anti-racist and anti-fascist activist (and as a Marxist of the non vanguard party type), I sure remember the writings of nazi Louis Beam on "leaderless resistance." Outside of the fact that the dude was one of the worst of the worst, his writing on this was interesting. Anyway, there is a lot of talk of this leaderless stuff in the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement these days. As the article below, Beams arguments make some sense for an underground resistance movement facing a monumental and virtually totalitarian enemy. However, like the author of the article below, I think it makes far less sense in building a mass movement of the OWS type.
I get the sentiment though. I have always had trouble with "leaders." It has gotten me in a pickle in too many organizations to count. I think "the leadership" always has a tendency to become overpowering and an entity unto itself. Leadership,far too often, forgets that being leaders doesn't mean being all knowing, all guiding, all powerful. Leadership too often strays, becoming a class above the rest, if you know what I mean.
On the other hand, I have also believed over the years, that every movement and organization no matter what their claim has leaders and, and therefore, needs a way to keep its leadership grounded (Mao once said, "Bombard the Headquarters" and launched the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, not for exactly this reason, since Mao was concerned with the rise of "capitalist roaders" within the Party).
A lack of leadership, especially when combined with the whole "consensus" form of decision making common to the Occupy X movement, I think, leads to confusion, lack of direction, inability to act in a decisive manner, endless meetings (General Assemblies as they are known in the Occupy X parlance). They leave the movement wide open to cop infiltration, even leadership. The combination leads to some sort of "neutral" ideology, while there really is no such thing. All actions serve the interest of a class whatever you may think. More often then not this leaderless-consensus mode will likely lead eventually today and in the white, middle class (dare I say petit bourgeois) dominated Occupy X movement in America to serving the interests not of the working class, not of what Negri calls the Multitude, and certainly not of People of Color, but instead and at best the petit bourgeois, and at worst, the bourgeois itself. Being well intentioned is good. However, it is not always enough.
Of course, right now, the Occupy X movement stresses over and over that it is in fact not a working class movement, not a socialist movement, not a revolutionary movement, not even an anti-capitalist movement. It wants to be something else. It wants to be everything else. It does not want to get stuck arguing ideology. It doesn't want to get bogged down in leftist sectarian politics. It wants to be for everyone but that 1 percent. I understand that sentiment. The reality is, in the end, that is not possible. The 99 percent are not one. The 99 percent is made up of various classes, nationalities, racial groups, etc. with diverse and often contradictory short and long term interests. At some point in time, if it lasts, this movement will have confront just what it is about and in whose interest it is acting.
That isn't easy. God knows, my generation (and, as far as I can tell, pretty much every one before us) of activists never really got this all straightened out and we approached it from a dozen different directions depending on what year it was.
I hope for more from OCW and the whole myriad Occupy X.
The following comes from People of Color Organize.