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By Daniel Ellsberg

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Ear to the Ground

OWS Prepares for Winter Hibernation

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Posted on Nov 12, 2011
Peter Woodbridge (CC-BY)

An early October chess game in Liberty Square highlights the importance of sound strategy in carrying the Occupy movement through a period of low activity in the winter.

As members of the OWS encampment in New York City head into what promises to be a brutal winter, activists with differing notions about where the movement should go next can all agree on one thing: survival.

Recent accounts of police brutality and daring acts of civil disobedience seem to have stirred little interest in the movement on the part of the mainstream press, so activists are looking to their time in the cold as an opportunity to strengthen the connections between Occupy encampments nationwide, and to dream, argue, plan and prepare for an all-out campaign to win the support of the American public next spring.

Details of the campaign will supposedly be released later this month, activists told The Guardian. —ARK

The Guardian:

Michael Premo, 29, an activist on the direct action and the outreach team, said the movement needed to reach out to different and more divergent groups. He compared the Occupy movement to the civil rights movement. “That was everything from electoral reform to complete separatism. You had W. E. B. Du Bois advocating integration and Booker T Washington arguing for separatism,” Premo said. “Du Bois and Washington were civil rights leaders on opposite sides of the black civil rights movement.

“If it’s going to include and never exclude people who feel disenfranchised by the current government system OWS can never have demands,” Premo said. “A certain segment of it can have demands. Even though I believe the movement is beyond electoral politics, some people may believe electoral politics is important.”

He said the winter would be a reflective time “to dream” and then the movement would launch its “spring offensive”.

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By ardee, November 14, 2011 at 9:03 am Link to this comment

My concern is that the movement is being co-opted by those wanting to organize and centralize decision making.  That is inappropriate to a decentralized movement.  A true decentralized movement would trust the process and not rush to organize and centralize decision making. Simply allow the process to work.  The doings of the 1% will be more than enough to generate growth in participation.

Like it or don’t progress depends upon alliances, and alliances depend upon information being transmitted and received. Thus far OWS has allowed the hostile media and the agents of chaos ( we have our own here) to malign, defame, diminish and disparage without response.

In the absence of truth lies become as truth. This is something those like Imax understand full well. This is something anarchists never seem to understand.

If there is no growth, if there is no organization, if there is no message OWS will fade away and we will have lost yet another opportunity.

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By Paul McGuire, November 14, 2011 at 7:39 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If this country is going to get set right by the work
of a political party, that party has yet to emerge. One
thing is for sure: the threadbare collections of hacks
now calling themselves Republican and Democratic
parties will not be the ones who’ll do it. The seeds
for that one are possibly being planted by the Occupy
phenomenon.

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By do over, November 13, 2011 at 11:14 pm Link to this comment

Just allow Occupy to be what it is, in cold or warm climates the participants will make choices suitable to their needs.  The movement is not going away.  My concern is that the movement is being co-opted by those wanting to organize and centralize decision making.  That is inappropriate to a decentralized movement.  A true decentralized movement would trust the process and not rush to organize and centralize decision making. Simply allow the process to work.  The doings of the 1% will be more than enough to generate growth in participation.

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By larrypsy, November 13, 2011 at 7:31 pm Link to this comment

Occupiers can seek shelter in prison if they don’t
become better organized, more focused, and controlled
- we are not in the Middle East and if we can motivate
99% to vote, IMAGINE!!!

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By gerard, November 13, 2011 at 2:47 pm Link to this comment

Interesting, the chess game implying “strategy”—presumably, what “strategy” will the Occupiers come up with?  Same old question.
  Meantime, we ought to all recognize by now that Wall Street financiers and corporate jackanapes are completely minus “strategy”—in fact, so clueless that they think it is smart to sit on balconies, drink and eat, sneer and preen—and offer nothing.
  That’s “strategy”?  And taking homes from poor and middle class people is “strategy”?  Leading the world’s economic system into abject corruption and failure is “strategy”?  Starving babies? Sending in drones?
  Blatant ignoramuses like that are actually pushovers for reform; they themselves apparently have no idea what to do but “stay the course”.  (Where have we heard that before?)If it weren’t so desperately sad, it would be the most sidesplitting comedy ever produced. 
  Occupy sanity!  Occupy faith, hope and charity!  Occupy life, youth, birth, rebirth—anything except the present holocaustic “system” of betrayal and injustice.

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By BrilliantBill, November 13, 2011 at 9:53 am Link to this comment

Why not simply say, “We’re all wondering what those on the front lines of the Occupy movement have planned for winter?” and then point to the Guardian piece as illustrative? That’s all that’s necessary, and that’s all this is intended to be. It doesn’t have to be puffed up.

First, what does “promises to be a brutal winter mean”? Does that mean it will be exceptionally cold, snowy, etc? If so, who knows enough to predict that? You can flip a coin and be exactly as accurate as professional meteorologists about next week. Does this mean that being outside in winter is itself “brutal”? While it may seem “brutal” to those accustomed to cozy apartments, offices and climes, it hardly rises to the level of “brutality.” Homeless folks have been surviving winter for years and years. Difficult? Uncomfortable? Sure. Brutal? No.

And who is it promising this brutality? If it “promises to be,” someone must have done the promising. I want to know who.

Next, what’s the purpose of picturing a chess game? The cutline, “An early October chess game in Liberty Square highlights the importance of sound strategy in carrying the Occupy movement through a period of low activity in the winter,” is meaningless. A chess game in October means nothing about winter or the “movement.”

Finally, questioning what they will do for the winter is simply a way of echoing the media’s institutional question, “What do these people want?” And “Why can’t they tells us?” And, “If they can tell us, when?” If anything meaningful is happening here, it will not fit into linear thinking. Real change never does. Perhaps a walk on a crisp autumn day will help you see that.

If you want to point to a piece in some publication, just do it and let the piece stand for itself.

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By Shenonymous, November 13, 2011 at 8:26 am Link to this comment

Occupiers, if they can, ought to move around as the weather
seasons change.  Or give reinforcement to groups in the other
regions to keep up the pressures.  The Northern latitudes are good
for late spring, summer, and early fall.  The Southern ones winter
and late fall and early spring. There is no edict that says they have
to stay in one place.  There can be itinerant Occupiers.  The entire
country needs to become infected with the idea that ordinary people
can crucially affect their lives and their government. 

Those who can follow the seasons ought to, those who can’t ought
to dig in at home and get on the Internet or other means of commu-
nication and become effective at dissent that way. They can remain
relevant.  They have to believe this is a permanent movement, it is a
newfound mind set, a way of thinking.

Forget about mainstream media.  They are only in the news business for
one thing, to produce headlines so their advertisers which are so many
as to be uncountable will own the content of the programs.

Boycotts need to become a weapon of all Occupier groups and I think
they will be surprised that the public will respond.  The change from
banks to credit unions or community banks has become the paradigm
and ought to show what real power is residual in the control of the
people.

The talk about drugs and criminals must be kept in mind but only in
the back of OWS’s collective mind.  These are calculated distractions. 
OWSers, or all Ocuppier groups need to seriously police their own and
not just turn a blind eye because the perpetrators just happen to have
joined up with an Occupier group!  This is what will prevent Occupiers
being called rabble. 

OWS, et al, ought to declare victory.  But know it is only provisional.
Victory is often short lived emotionally.  Reminders must be posted
regularly.  Pride in achievement is one key to attracting others.  They ought to use whatever victory they perceive they have achieved as
advertisement for the successfullness of their actions.

OWS, et al, ought not to be too enamored with an ideology.  The
movement needs to be able to be pliable in order to achieve the
various goals regardless of how non-hierarchical they are. Resisting
institutionalization can take many forms.  Don’t forget there is a
de facto organization, the general assembly, which is a form of
central government.  It is not simple anarchy!

Yes, what we, who cannot join the movement directly, can do is to send
resources to help.  Show support in whatever way we can.  Encourage
charity groups to provide places of refuge from the bitter weather to
fight the bitter manipulators of the operations of our country.  We can
contact them and offer to send financial support for such charity groups
who would provide such shelters.  The rest of us need to show our faith
in the OWSers and how important they have been and are.

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darkcycle's avatar

By darkcycle, November 12, 2011 at 8:13 pm Link to this comment

The hard part is going to be remaining relevant in the face of dwindling numbers of occupiers over the winter and a virtual news blackout in the MSM. My hopes are with the occupation, but finding some sort of rotation for occupiers over the winter seems essential. You just can’t maintain an occupation without occupiers….

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By gerard, November 12, 2011 at 6:29 pm Link to this comment

Me, too!  I keep suggesting that the smart thing for Eastern cities to do is to help Occupiers get through the winter with food, clothing and shelter when needed and if Occupiers come to concensus on what is needed, how and when. 
  I got good news from Philadelphia today. Quakers have offered hospitality and some facilities for refuge from bad weather.  A kithen is being used for cooking and General Assemblies can be held indoors.  So far, New York hasn’t uttered a peep. I can’t believe no individuals or groups will step forward. No room in one of the biggest “inns” in the world?  Where are the Wise Men?  Where is the Star?
‘Tis the Season!

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By ardee, November 12, 2011 at 2:52 pm Link to this comment

While winter in the north and east of our nation will be a crucial time ,one in which resolve and determination will be tested, I would hope that the activism in the warmer climes will continue unabated.

I have little doubt that the police will use the rain and snow to test the determination of the OWS folks to remain resolute, but, if they prove to be such, the movement will be far stronger in the spring.

Neither I nor anyone else I imagine can speak with accuracy to what lies ahead for this movement but I remain more hopeful than I have been in years.

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