Who Speaks for Occupy?

by John Wood

I’m on some of the planning lists and was involved in the December 12th port shutdown planning and in the EGT protest planning. Usually, whether or not an action had the approval of the General Assembly came up, implying that if it did not, it wasn’t a legitimate Occupy action.

I went to my first GA meeting Sunday night. Counting me, less than 25 people showed, some of them seeking approval from the GA for an action. We had as many as 200 people at some of our planning sessions. Weren’t we Occupy, whether or not we had the approval of a handful of people that brave the cold to show up at Director Park on Sunday nights? Do the few showing up for a General Assembly speak for all of us? Are they Occupy, or is Occupy more than that?

When Occupy actually occupied the parks, perhaps the General Assembly did speak for us, since the GA was made up of those that had their asses on the line, those that occupied the parks. That’s no longer true.

I think we realize that, while the occupation of parks served a purpose, got us noticed, and established a physical presence for Occupy, physical occupation of parks is no longer viable. If anything, toward the end of the occupation of the parks in Portland, such occupation was costing us support in the community. Without an occupation, I think the GA is no longer relevant.

As we’ve moved beyond occupations, we need to move beyond the idea that the GA speaks for Occupy, or perhaps the GA needs to take on a different form, on the Internet maybe. It makes no sense for 20 people gathered in a circle at Director Park to speak for all of Occupy Portland.

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  5 comments for “Who Speaks for Occupy?

  1. paulcone
    March 2, 2012 at 5:21 PM

    Actually, John, the GAs in Terry Shrunk were often people who _weren’t_ staying at the camp, but rather, people who were still going home to their houses to sleep at night. Many attempts were made to get people were in the camp to come to the GA, but they chose not to. But that goes to your pont — the GA is often not representative. Just like our elected officials are not chosen by the majority of the population, but rather, the majority of voters — those who show up, just like at the GA.

    • March 3, 2012 at 8:31 AM

      Well said to the both of you, John and “Paulcone”

  2. John Wood
    March 3, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    I’m not advocating doing away with the GA. I’m actually attending and participating in GA meetings now. Because of my work schedule, it’s about the only Occupy meeting I can attend. In the last meeting, expanding voting on proposals to include those watching on Live Stream was proposed, which I think is a good idea.

  3. Flintridge
    March 3, 2012 at 9:37 PM

    The United States government has been subsidizing corporate offshore development of manufacturing since as early as the 1980’s. I knew then that our economy would fail as this would pull the buying power away from Americans and give it to those whose values are very different than Americans’. They simply don’t purchase the frivolous things Americans purchase. Americans have always been the “consumer” of the world; but the corporate need to satisfy stockholders with at least 3% growth will always force them to find ways of cutting costs at the American worker’s expense.
    The problem is that this system cannot sustain itself; however, our government and those people who prosper from it will never admit this fact.
    The president of a company at which I worked once admitted that: “We don’t care what happens a hundred years from now.”

  4. Flintridge
    March 3, 2012 at 9:45 PM

    Is no one compiling issues to which we can petition the government? After all, that is our right and with enough signatures, they HAVE to respond.

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