The hot Occupy news in the mainstream media is that we are holding a National Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on July 4th. If you’re an occupier and this is news to you, then you’re not alone. Apparently the project grew out of a statement prepared by an Occupy Wall Street working group called the “99% Declaration”. While getting a fair number of up twinkles on its initial reading neither the Declaration nor the convention project which sprang from it were ever adopted by the GA.
This did not however deter the organizers of the event who formed the 99% Declaration LTD, an independent non-profit to organize, facilitate and secure a venue for what it bills the first ever Occupy National Convention. It is conducting on line elections to select national delegates (2 each) not from occupies but from Congressional voting districts.
These delegates are to meet in Philadelphia to draft the final declaration of the official “concerns” of the Occupy movement for presentation to the Congress and the President. If action is not taken on those concerns then the convention would then proceed to organize a slate of candidates to run who pledge to address those concerns once elected.
I asked myself exactly when the movement had shifted its position on not endorsing political candidates to one of not only endorsing them but running them. I decided to dig a little deeper. A visit to the groups Face book page revealed that even among those who were committed to this electoral occupation there are rifts caused by a top down leadership (A lawyer – go figure) imposing itself and those committed the Occupies horizontal GA decision making resisting that internal cooption.
The Declaration itself seems for the most part right in line with those things the Occupy movement has stood for from the onset. But beyond that one can hear the voices of a million Occupiers screaming “This is what cooption looks like!!”
It was also found that Occupy Philadelphia, before their raid, was approached by The Declaration organizers for an endorsement in mid-December of last year and flatly rejected; in part because, in their words: “Judging by their actions, either the 99% Declaration is completely out of the loop with what’s going on at Occupy Philly, or this is a deliberate attempt to co-opt our movement and use it for their own political agenda.”
This is one I would urge folks to take to their GA’s. As the American Spring dawns we will see this more and more. Those with no understanding of or respect for our processes of horizontal democracy will abound, prostituting the name Occupy and wrapping themselves in the illusion and trappings of our movement. What will our response be? Will we confront them head on? If not, how will we embrace their well intentioned followers while exposing their Mockugenda? Or will we do nothing in the hope that we can occupy their cooption from within as they have done with to us and transform it back. The last I suspect is a fool’s wish. One thing is certain. There are smart, ruthless and well funded groups and individuals out there who are planning to hijack this movement. If we don’t have a plan to prevent that, they will succeed.