A letter from Anarchists to "Occupy" protestors

Dear Occupiers
A letter from anarchists
Support and solidarity! We’re inspired by the
occupations on Wall Street and elsewhere around the country. Finally,
people are taking to the streets again! The momentum around these
actions has the potential to reinvigorate protest and resistance in this
country. We hope these occupations will increase both in numbers and in
substance, and we’ll do our best to contribute to that.
Why should you listen to us? In short, because we’ve
been at this a long time already. We’ve spent decades struggling
against capitalism, organizing occupations, and making decisions by
consensus. If this new movement doesn’t learn from the mistakes of
previous ones, we run the risk of repeating them. We’ve summarized some
of our hard-won lessons here.
Occupation is nothing new. The land we stand on is
already occupied territory. The United States was founded upon the
extermination of indigenous peoples and the colonization of their land,
not to mention centuries of slavery and exploitation. For a
counter-occupation to be meaningful, it has to begin from this history.
Better yet, it should embrace the history of resistance extending from
indigenous self-defense and slave revolts through the various workers’
and anti-war movements right up to the recent anti-globalization
movement.
The “99%” is not one social body, but many. Some
occupiers have presented a narrative in which the “99%” is characterized
as a homogenous mass. The faces intended to represent “ordinary people”
often look suspiciously like the predominantly white, law-abiding
middle-class citizens we’re used to seeing on television programs, even
though such people make up a minority of the general population.
It’s a mistake to whitewash over our diversity. Not everyone is
waking up to the injustices of capitalism for the first time now; some
populations have been targeted by the power structure for years or
generations. Middle-class workers who are just now losing their social
standing can learn a lot from those who have been on the receiving end
of injustice for much longer.
The problem isn’t just a few “bad apples.” The
crisis is not the result of the selfishness of a few investment bankers;
it is the inevitable consequence of an economic system that rewards
cutthroat competition at every level of society. Capitalism is not a
static way of life but a dynamic process that consumes everything,
transforming the world into profit and wreckage. Now that everything has
been fed into the fire, the system is collapsing, leaving even its
former beneficiaries out in the cold. The answer is not to revert to
some earlier stage of capitalism—to go back to the gold standard, for
example; not only is that impossible, those earlier stages didn’t
benefit the “99%” either. To get out of this mess, we’ll have to
rediscover other ways of relating to each other and the world around us.
Police can’t be trusted. They may be “ordinary
workers,” but their job is to protect the interests of the ruling class.
As long as they remain employed as police, we can’t count on them,
however friendly they might act. Occupiers who don’t know this already
will learn it firsthand as soon as they threaten the imbalances of
wealth and power our society is based on. Anyone who insists that the
police exist to protect and serve the common people has probably lived a
privileged life, and an obedient one.
Don’t fetishize obedience to the law. Laws serve to
protect the privileges of the wealthy and powerful; obeying them is not
necessarily morally right—it may even be immoral. Slavery was legal. The
Nazis had laws too. We have to develop the strength of conscience to do
what we know is best, regardless of the laws.
To have a diversity of participants, a movement must make space for a diversity of tactics.
It’s controlling and self-important to think you know how everyone
should act in pursuit of a better world. Denouncing others only equips
the authorities to delegitimize, divide, and destroy the movement as a
whole. Criticism and debate propel a movement forward, but power grabs
cripple it. The goal should not be to compel everyone to adopt one set
of tactics, but to discover how different approaches can be mutually
beneficial.
Don’t assume those who break the law or confront police are agents provocateurs.
A lot of people have good reason to be angry. Not everyone is resigned
to legalistic pacifism; some people still remember how to stand up for
themselves. Police violence isn’t just meant to provoke us, it’s meant
to hurt and scare us into inaction. In this context, self-defense is
essential.
Assuming that those at the front of clashes with the authorities are
somehow in league with the authorities is not only illogical—it
delegitimizes the spirit it takes to challenge the status quo, and
dismisses the courage of those who are prepared to do so. This
allegation is typical of privileged people who have been taught to trust
the authorities and fear everyone who disobeys them.
No government—that is to say, no centralized power—will ever
willingly put the needs of common people before the needs of the
powerful. It’s naïve to hope for this. The center of gravity in
this movement has to be our freedom and autonomy, and the mutual aid
that can sustain those—not the desire for an “accountable” centralized
power. No such thing has ever existed; even in 1789, the revolutionaries
presided over a “democracy” with slaves, not to mention rich and poor.
That means the important thing is not just to make demands upon our
rulers, but to build up the power to realize our demands ourselves. If
we do this effectively, the powerful will have to take our demands
seriously, if only in order to try to keep our attention and allegiance.
We attain leverage by developing our own strength.
Likewise, countless past movements learned the hard way that
establishing their own bureaucracy, however “democratic,” only
undermined their original goals. We shouldn’t invest new leaders with
authority, nor even new decision-making structures; we should find ways
to defend and extend our freedom, while abolishing the inequalities that
have been forced on us.
The occupations will thrive on the actions we take. We’re not just here to “speak truth to power”—when we only
speak, the powerful turn a deaf ear to us. Let’s make space for
autonomous initiatives and organize direct action that confronts the
source of social inequalities and injustices.
Thanks for reading and scheming and acting. May your every dream come true.





www.crimethinc.com/blog/2011/10/07/dear-occupiers-a-letter-f


www.crimethinc.com/blog/2011/10/07/dear-occupiers-a-letter-f