Is the Occupy Movement at risk of being co-opted by MoveOn, the unions, the Democratic Party, name-your-villain? About a month ago, MoveOn sent me an email requesting that I sign up to host a Sarasota training for the 99% Spring. This wasn't a personal message, mind you; I'm sure it was sent out to thousands of people in Sarasota.
... millions of jobs have been destroyed, millions of homes foreclosed on, and an unconscionable number of children live in poverty. We have to do more to fix America, and we all know it. That's why people from across the 99% movement are preparing to take action this spring in bigger numbers than ever before to fight for change.
To prepare for the 99% Spring, groups from every corner of our movement are joining forces to do something that's never been tried before. During the week of April 9-15, across America, we will bring 100,000 people together for an unprecedented national movement-wide training on what happened to our economy, on the history of peaceful direct action, and how—following in the footsteps of Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—we can take direct action this spring to challenge corporate power, end tax giveaways to the 1%, fight the influence of money in politics, and more ...
MoveOn and the 99% Spring is using the exact rhetoric of the Occupy Movement. And yet, I don't feel co-opted at all. I see no evidence of trying to influence elections or telling people what actions to engage in. MoveOn with its massive mailing lists and its ability to help people find each other locally and take action together is trying to give more people more education and tools to do direct action in exactly the same vein as the Occupy Movement. In other words, they are being helpful. Massively helpful in fact. Their goal is to train 100,000 people during the week of April 9-15.
The last segment of the training is to move into action on campaigns to win change. As far as I can tell, no single campaign is being promoted. Is this effort linked to the Democratic party? I don't have any inside information and cannot answer this question with authority. Certainly, since Occupy has now inspired imitators, things are more complicated. But take a look at the organizations that have signed on. Since the 99% Spring derives from a cross-section of organizations, this is a wonderful opportunity for coalition building. I would encourage Occupiers to take part in these trainings. And to network there. Where will you find more like-minded folks who are ready and willing to volunteer their time and energy for the same causes? Many Occupations have experienced a dwindling of active participants who show up at their actions. Many feel stretched thin, up against the backdrop of an insurmountable system. In many locations, there is a core of dedicated activists still hard at work, imagining, organizing, and publicizing. But, the more, the merrier - and the more powerful.
Click here to find a training near you.