Realism and Heart

How do we move forward? What compromises do we have to make, what compromises would destroy the movement? Democrats have carefully blazed out a trail that we need to avoid: compromising your values for short term gains. But we aren't going to be able to just avoid the questions.

Compromises that movements make:

  • Who is in? Who is in our coalition? Are we the 99%, representing a nice man who provides for his family and gives to charity but is a bit sexist and homophobic? Are we Occupy, a mostly young, radical group that likes to protest, gets a buzz out of it like some soldiers enjoyed their military service despite the work? This to me is the most interesting question.
  • Realists and Idealists. People with similar values some of us want to get a bill passed, others want to stay visionary. How do we keep the movement together? Do we keep it together? The Black Panthers and King, or Gandhi and the violent revolutionaries (well until they ripped the country in two and created generations of war and misery) stayed separate but in some ways the edged-movements reinforced the love-power. Occupy is dispersed and seems to have a lot of examples of both: many beautiful movements ready to grow, and Oakland which had some of the biggest and most committed community support, but has ripped itself largely apart. All the flavors of radical want to be the vanguard. Is broken glass the radical edge of our movement? Or is that reactionary silliness, and heart-work is the true radical? How do we hold together a movement?

Compromise on Issues


  1. An untrustworthy police force doesn't prove to anyone that their opponents (meaning you) are trustworthy. Successful revolutionary movements like those under King or Gandhi's leadership remained deeply brave and beautiful in the face of police brutality.

----- OAKLAND -----

In Oakland, Occupy has failed to stake at the position of realism and heart. Realism and heart is not the muddled-middle position of Obama compromising in a way indistinguishable from appeasement.

Rather, how can you have strong positions while respecting the other side, how can you always speak truth to power while respecting both the possibility that your opponents are decent human beings overall -- Gandhi managed this with the men enslaving his country, both compassionately and effectively --

Occupy Oakland, overall, has been completely non-radical in some ways: we are movement that looks like the old movements, we power ourselves with anger, a quiet person or a busy single mom is not part of our democracy because they don't have time for the meetings. The same personality types that dominate discourse everywhere else dominate here. We don't love our enemies anymore than our enemies love us. It is striking because I would guess 90% of the people who showed up for the biggest action are desperately trying to change these things, but OO has failed to transform the old world here.

We have been radical in our demands. We demand the right to have a protest where the diverse tactics might include breaking windows. We demand ideological purity.

Occupy Oakland has it completely ass-backwards: we're not compromising on the fact that we're right and have no need to respect anyone other than our own vanguard, but

Minor Branches:

My thoughts on where Occupy Oakland should go.