There has been a great deal of talk in the Occupy movement around the fear of co-optation. The latest round of debate has been around the 99% Spring movement. Adbusters has sounded the alarm with the cry “#DefendOccupy.” The basic premise of the current debate is whether MoveOn.org is a bogeyman that is stealing the ideas of Occupy for its own ends, which some claim are as a “front group” for the democratic party.
In reality, the 99% Spring movement is a coalition of 60 different grass roots groups, one of which was Move On, none of whom are claiming leadership. The impetus, which aims at training 100,000 people in direct action techniques, certainly draws inspiration from Occupy, and explicitly uses the 99% terminology that Occupy popularized.
For me, fear mongering on the part of Adbusters and others is simply that -- fear. Division. Separation. And harkens back to very old fashioned elitist energy that I have encountered in movements throughout my experience as an activist.
It makes me a little sad. We need to grow the spirit of Occupy, not divide it into ideological factions. It’s a meme, and to try to “protect it” is hypocritical -- one of the ideas behind Occupy is the spirit of open source.
No one owns Occupy. So everyone owns it. You can’t have it both ways -- either it is an organization, which needs to copyright itself, or it is true to it’s principle. Open, shared, available to all. Or at least, the 99%. Which we at Occupy Love expand to the 100%.
Hell, Glen Beck just started selling Occupy Love t-shirts on his web store. That is a kind of co-optation that strikes close to the bone here, but did we freak out? No, we laughed about it. If the right wing wants to Occupy Love, then let them.
Likely their version of love will be the kind of distorted, fun house mirror worldview that Beck parrots, but at the very least, they are spreading the word Occupy and the word Love into shadowy corners where we wouldn’t have expected to see it.
Co-optation happens, with extreme rapidity, in this media drenched metaverse we dwell in. The cool hunters are out there, looking for ways to cash in on whatever is the next thing. We aren’t working that way -- we aren’t concerned with ownership. We want to change the world, as effectively as possible. And that change is going to happen in a trillion ways, not in one manner. Including by reaching the people who won’t ever respond to the source itself.
Occupy is a beautiful phenomenon, a radical meme and a natural arising. It isn’t dependent on a single container, it isn’t a geographical location -- it’s a self organizing meme garden of ideas. It is not an ideology -- it’s an understanding. No one can, or should own these ideas. They need to grow and proliferate and evolve however they will, freely, without limits, without fear.
What is the basis of this set of ideas? The one thing that connects all the dots, the great dot connector itself, is love. Fierce Love is wild and free, and bigger than any attempts at co-optation. It can, and should, flow freely, everywhere, even in the nether-worlds of Glen Beck’s weirdness. Perhaps that tiny spark, even in his perverse attempt at co-optation, will light some real awareness in a closed mind that one day might lead to an open heart.
As for the “co-optation” of Occupy by the many friends and allies of Occupy that make up the 99% Spring? I say bring it on, let it grow.
A counter hashtag to Adbusters' cry to #DefendOccupy has been launched -- #GrowOccupy. Let it grow, let it flower. Adbusters -- let go of your urge to control and direct this garden into your own vision of a “pure” movement. Let it be a mongrel of many shapes and flowers, let it be old left and new left and centre left and rightside upside down and inside out. Who cares? Let it grow, let it grow, let it grow.
As Grandmother Flor deMayo recently said to me, we are no longer at the 11th hour. We are at 11.45. Time is short, time is precious, we need all hands on deck, the beautiful ship of mother earth is going down.
This is not the time for infighting. This is the time for stepping up, with all we can offer, with everyone we can engage, to create the broadest, most inclusive movement of movements in the planet's history, one that in fact has room for everyone.
We are the 100%. You can’t evict love.
- Velcrow Ripper