Change the Game – Occupying the Winter and Beyond

by on November 21, 2011 · 18 comments

in Civil Disobedience, Organizing, Popular, San Diego, Under the Perfect Sun

Last week Adbusters, a publication that was important to the birth of the Occupy Wall Street movement, put out the following:

Occupy the High Ground!

Hey you creatives, artists, environmentalists, workers, moms, dads, students, malcontents, do-gooders and aspiring martyrs in the snow:

The last four months have been hard fought, inspiring and delightfully revolutionary. We brought tents, hunkered down, held our assemblies, and lobbed a meme-bomb that continues to explode the world’s imagination. Many of us have never felt so alive. We have fertilized the future with our revolutionary spirit … and a thousand flowers will surely bloom in the coming Spring.

But as winter approaches an ominous mood could set in … hope thwarted is in danger of turning sour, patience exhausted becoming anger, militant nonviolence losing its allure. It isn’t just the mainstream media that says things could get ugly. What shall we do to keep the magic alive?

Here are a couple of emerging ideas:

STRATEGY #1: We summon our strength, grit our teeth and hang in there through winter … heroically we sleep in the snow … we impress the world with our determination and guts … and when the cops come, we put our bodies on the line and resist them nonviolently with everything we’ve got.

STRATEGY #2: We declare “victory” and throw a party … a festival … a potlatch … a jubilee … a grand gesture to celebrate, commemorate, rejoice in how far we’ve come, the comrades we’ve made, the glorious days ahead. Imagine, on a Saturday yet to be announced, perhaps our movement’s three month anniversary on December 17, in every #OCCUPY in the world, we reclaim the streets for a weekend of triumphant hilarity and joyous revelry.

We dance like we’ve never danced before and invite the world to join us.

Then we clean up, scale back and most of us go indoors while the die-hards hold the camps. We use the winter to brainstorm, network, build momentum so that we may emerge rejuvenated with fresh tactics, philosophies, and a myriad projects ready to rumble next Spring.

Whatever we do, let’s keep our revolutionary spirit alive … let’s never stop living without dead time.

for the wild,
Culture Jammers HQ

After the raid of Occupy Wall Street in New York and the assaults on other occupations across the country, this debate is even more urgent.  Turning our attention to San Diego, it would seem that, despite a week of successful and lively actions, the options are:

1)      Stay focused on occupying the Civic Center and Mission Bay, stay on the defensive, and perhaps suffer death by slow strangulation as San Diego’s do-nothing City Council watches (and cheers in some cases) no matter how heroic the die-hard occupiers are (I think here of the folks who have been arrested and even gone on hunger strikes).


2)      Call a press conference, have a party, and declare victory in phase one and regroup, perhaps with a local, citywide summit that is planned and organized to assure mass participation and formulate an ongoing series of guerrilla actions that emphasize not the right to put up tents in public or sleep in the Civic Center, but the central message about economic inequality and the corruption of our political system by plutocracy.

Over the past few weeks I have spoken to many people, occupiers and supporters alike, and have heard some interesting ideas.  Some of these are: the notion of rotating occupations; turning the emphasis towards the issue of homelessness itself as a symbol of the disposable nature of people in our system; squatting in foreclosed homes; creating a mobile strike team; taking a break and planning for a huge, all-out day of action on Martin Luther King day; occupying politicians’ offices; performing increasingly more militant acts of civil disobedience on some of the same as well as new targets; shifting the focus to our local military industrial complex and calling for funding for a new New Deal by ending our current wars and transferring billions of dollars from defense to domestic needs; and many more.  They were all earnest proposals by thoughtful people—the best kind of political brainstorming that this movement has inspired.

Perhaps, as the Adbusters’s tactical briefing suggests (and I heard someone say at an OSD general assembly a couple weeks back and seems to be the current direction) activists could maintain a small, symbolic occupation of the Civic Center that rotates between a handful of individuals (with people taking the wee hours in shifts) while the larger work of fighting the 1% as creatively and effectively as we can is not constantly hampered by having to fight one rear-guard action after another in the service of defending a tactic rather than achieving the overall goal.

The crucial thing, in my estimation, is to make even clearer than the Adbusters briefing does that key distinction between tactics (the tools we use or the maneuvers we employ against the enemy) and strategy (what is our goal and what is our long term plan to achieve that goal?).  Tents and tarps and sleeping outside are tactics.  “Occupation,” narrowly defined, is a tactic.  How we plan to reclaim our political system from the hands of the 1% and turn our plutocracy masquerading as a democracy into something closer to the real thing is the end we are seeking the means to achieve.

Perhaps aligning the incredible direct action of Occupy with existing initiatives to reverse the redistribution of wealth from the 99% to the 1% is a place to start.  There are also ongoing battles to resist austerity measures in education and vital public services.  There is the fight against the banks and efforts to reform our political system in order check corporate power.  In sum, there is no shortage of targets—large and small.  But, if we are looking toward the long haul, framing a collective vision and then thinking about how all the moving parts connect is essential.  This doesn’t mean giving up, losing spontaneity, or being co-opted by any particular agenda or group.  It means thinking about the future strategically, together.

The victory that has already been gained is this: Occupy Wall Street has changed the national narrative by forcing the issues of economic inequality and the corruption of our political system by big money onto the center stage.  Occupiers across the country deserve praise for doing in a short time what others in unions and activist groups have failed to do despite years of effort.  The simple and resonant assertion that we are the 99% fighting against the 1% has won the day.  From here on the question is how we move from changing the discussion to achieving political, social, and economic results?  How do we change the game itself?

So, is it option one, option two, a combination, or something else?  Your thoughts, dear reader?

P.S. Remember only four more days until Buy Nothing Day.

Read more of Jim Miller’s column, Under the Perfect Sun



{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

malcolm migacz November 21, 2011 at 10:54 am

Au Lecteur

La sottise, l’erreur, le péché, la lésine,
Occupent nos esprits et travaillent nos corps,
Et nous alimentons nos aimables remords,
Comme les mendiants nourrissent leur vermine.

— Charles Baudelaire
(Excerpt )

We hold a Constitutional Convention.

I seem to remember hearing something about it ….Don’t tell me how it ends , I want to see the movie.


Arthur Salm November 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm

“The victory that has already been gained is this: Occupy Wall Street has changed the national narrative by forcing the issues of economic inequality and the corruption of our political system by big money onto the center stage.”

Absolutely. And those issues have to remain center stage; “Occupy” should illuminate “Wall Street,” not eclipse it. Flash occupations sound appealing: Get in, get the message across, get out — in twenty minutes, in an hour, in three days, whatever’s appropriate.


mr.rick November 21, 2011 at 1:09 pm

A “Constitutional Convention” wold open the document to being tampered with by the right wing. They would try to change the 14th amendment to exclude babies from non-citizen parents from natural born Americans to something. The personhood at conception concept would be in play. Two thirds majorities for tax increases. All sorts of shenanigans could be afoot. But just an amendment to define personhood as “Natural born” people would go along way towards cutting the corporate strings from our elected representatives. As in the 14th amemdment. “All (Natural) born or naturalized in the United States,… The concept is easily understood and communicated. Start there. And as far as wintering goes, maybe some Flash first amendment points, where we would be most noticed. Enough to keep everyone nimble. Both physically and mentally. Just a couple of ideas. I’m sure alot of us could come up with something. We just need to keep up the momentum we have already achieved. And be ready for any chance to do something memorable.


Steve Ruiz November 25, 2011 at 8:33 am

“cutting the corporate strings from our elected representatives”
Rick that’s a great quote you wrote, and who is the biggest taker, let me answer for you, the current white house is infested with this and this is why we are enraged.
Rick , (Obama waived all tax liability to GE) look it up, if that does not piss you off than well your not getting truthfull information.
This is being hidden from all of us because they have one billion dollars to buy your vote and have you ask for government hand outs
We have a lot in common Rick when your in a institution you get used to the repetition
Don’t let this country become just a bigger institution, without calling it our personal prison!

Rick its easy to become dependent when we our


RB November 25, 2011 at 10:41 am

Obama did not waive all tax liability for GE.
GE filed taxes based upon loan losses they had from GE Finance in prior years and laws enacted before Obama was elected. GE is a publicly traded company and their tax payments are not hidden.


Steve Ruiz November 25, 2011 at 10:10 pm

So Obama is untouchable and innocent , and he has nothing to do with this class envy , wow the bong lives on!


RB November 26, 2011 at 8:08 am

These are different issues. I was just pointing out that you should put done the bong before you talk taxes. There are hundreds of issues were Obama can be questioned, the taxes GE pays is not one of these issues.


Steve Ruiz November 28, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Obama has created more jobs “….over seas not here, GE is in bed with him , keep the damn government out of our job creation ! Wake up man your being duped this is too easy, ocuppy some common sense first!


mr.rick November 21, 2011 at 1:19 pm

The sentence should read “All (Natural) persons born or naturalized in the United States,… Thank You


malcolm migacz November 21, 2011 at 2:44 pm

States can ask Congress to call for a constitutional convention. The convention proposes amendments instead of Congress, though they also have to be ratified by the states. So this way Congress will be by-passed , as they are all controlled by invested interest ( corruption) and are the single cause for the wall street failure, and therefore can never be part of the solution. The amendment you speak of will never occur for this reason. The Congress will never act in favor of the people when given the choice to back corporations. It bypasses the usual means of reform (Congress, presidential elections, etc.) which the lobbyists and other interested parties have learned so well to manipulate. And lastly, such a convention would be free to propose solutions that would otherwise be subject to be striken as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. So this is the best solution.


Lois November 26, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Very, very true, and well presented.


James Boyle November 21, 2011 at 2:53 pm

The occupation of the civic center is little Harry Potter jumping on the back of the Troll. It is a fragile foothold on an implacable monster. It is Bold and Breathtaking. It captures consciousness and the continued occupation of the civic center is the key to a continued foothold on consciousness. Without it all is lost. That being said, the occupation must be smart as well as heroic, it must ENDURE, its indvidual members need to take at least minimum level care of their bodies consistent with that end, and Occupy needs to be conscious of sleeplessness as a potential source of division within the group. Occupy must be street warriors without weapons, the voice of the world in a world full of noise, and it must put its bodies on the line over and over again and just as many times live to fight another day. An impossible task, yet at the same time, inevitable. For all around the occupiers inside outside the civic center here there all over the world the banks and the corporations and the militaryindustrial complexes and the windup politicians they keep in their pockets will continue to blindly mechanicallly grind down on the 99% in pursuit of next quarters numbers, thereby producing the conditions on the ground that fuel both the occupation and their own ultimate demise. It is inevitable.


unWASHEdwalmaRtthONG November 21, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Whatever you do, how about inviting credit unions to the site & have them sign up new members. At work the manager put a notice on the bulletin board regarding a local credit union that will credit the new member & the old member $50 each if a new account is opened, & the manager said that he will donate the $50 to the employee. This action alone could put $100 into the pockets of the employees in about 90 days. Add that money to whatever you save from not spending on Buy Nothing Day, & you’ve got more than just chump change.
We could schedule another Day of Action for transferring money to a local credit union.
Just changing the message doesn’t change the fabric of the society.


Lois November 26, 2011 at 1:47 pm

What credit union is this? I haven’t cancelled my BOA account because I have to deal with cancelling my direct deposit which will take a while before I can join a credit union.

Thank you for the post.


michelle November 22, 2011 at 12:13 am

I’m happy to Occupy a late night into morning shift once a week. I did this last week and it was one of the most meaningful and memorable nights of my life. I talked with philosophy and politics with people I might not ever have met, we read Henry David Thoreau loudly- hoping the police within earshot, just might start to get it… These grievences of economy, the irony and etc.

I love this country and the cliche sentiments, all the landscapes, the neurotic people, all our collective successes and faults, the music and eras and “the dream” and myth memes it perpetuates. I love what America claims to defend. I love my children…I love my home… I love a lot and hope a lot and pray a lot.

So, I can give up a night here and there. I say to you “Occupy” whenever you can and with love is greatly appreciated!


Citizen Cane November 22, 2011 at 10:03 am

Yesterday the Congressional Supercommittee announced their failure to reach a concensus. This is a golden opportunity for the occupy movement to step forward and show that they can reach consensus on something. Buy Nothing Day looks like the best near term display of solidarity. I suggest that people take it to the extreme, and not buy electricity they don’t really need.

Keep in mind if you shift ot a credit union, that they might offer you a Visa debit card. You will still be feeding a Wall Street gorilla if you use the car frequently.

Barter this Xmas. Buy used presents, and you can help stem the flow of wealth to the 1%.


Citizen Cane November 22, 2011 at 10:05 am

Keep in mind if you shift to a credit union, that they might offer you a Visa debit card. You will still be feeding a Wall Street gorilla if you use the card frequently.


unWASHEdwalmaRtthONG November 22, 2011 at 2:40 pm

You are right, but typically the per annum interest rate is much lower at the credit union. I below to two c.u.’s, & the interest rate is about the same for both, about 10% per year. Compare that to the banks’ rates, especially to companies registered in the state of Delaware where the banking regulations are rather weak.


Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: