Why we didn’t let Larry Gossett speak at Decolonize/Occupy Seattle


Editors Note 1/18/2012: Our critiques are specific to the actions of Mr. Bocanegra, not of El Comite, an organization he is a member of. We specifically critique not only Mr. Bocanegra’s sexist and ageist behavior, but more significantly in this incident, the authoritarian way with which he asserted his political views. His actions and words express the politicial differences among us, with Mr. Bocanegra insisting that the energies of this emerging movement be channeled into the Democratic Party and chiding us for our foolishness when we disagreed. This was our fundamental difference with him and it was around this difference that his sexist and ageist behaviors came through. We understand that his views do not represent that of the organization, El Comite. 

We also recognize that there were members of Decolonize/Occupy Seattle who behaved inappropriately on Oct 22nd 2011. As a community, Decolonize/Occupy Seattle is addressing such behaviors. As participants in this emerging movement, we hope that collectively we can create a healthy space that supports broad participation.

*

The Decolonize/Occupy movements have taken us all by storm. What had previously been pain, anger and frustration individualized and experienced in isolation, is finding expression through mass public settings, among large numbers of people. It is this first step toward solidarity and community building, that will be the building blocks of a deeper struggle against the oppressive forces of white supremacy and capitalism.

It is however, precisely the uncontrollable and mass nature of this upsurge that strikes fear in the hearts of Democrat and Republican party politicians. Obama’s Democrat party has shown that it is on the side of big capital, the banks and the mortgage firms — willing to use tax payer money to bail them out, to fight imperialist wars, and then impose intensive austerity measures on the rest of us. The banks, rather than the people, are too big to fail. It is no surprise that the Non Profit Industrial Complex, the birth child of the Democrat party, and the career activists who tow their line, also plays the same role. Election year is coming up, and everyone wants a slice of the Decolonize/Occupy pie to boost their vote counts.

On Saturday, Oct 22nd 2011, myself and another queer person of color, both who have been active in the Decolonize/Occupy Seattle movement, experienced first hand the authoritarianism of activists who are tied to the Left wing of the Democratic party. My comrade who share similar thoughts as myself will be collaborating with other womyn of color on a more extensive letter. I name the individuals concerned because it is important for accountability and transparency reasons. The individuals involved in the incident today have far greater resources than me and my comrades do. There is already a power differential, and transparency is our best defence.

There have been attempts within the activist circle to downplay what happened as merely personal beef. However, the events that went down then have important political lessons that the grassroots Decolonize/Occupy movement in Seattle needs to learn from if it is to maintain an independent pole that does not collapse into the Democratic Party 2012 electoral machinery. Attributing what happened simply to individual personality traits misses that point.

The Oct 22nd rally had primarily been organized by the People Of Color (POC) caucus and Hip Hop Occupies. Some of our members had reached out to groups like El Comite and the Martin Luther King Jr Celebration Committee because we hoped to have people of color community members join us. Many of us had been active in the Decolonize/Occupy Seattle actions since the beginning and had been frustrated by the racism and sexism that we experienced. Organizing this rally on the Oct 22nd National Day Against Police Brutality, was aimed at making sure Decolonize/Occupy Seattle also had a strong message and presence against police brutality that had disproportionately terrorized communities of color. However, we were shocked to realize that we faced a battle on two fronts. One against clueless, white liberal racism, and another against movement elders who condescendingly disrespected our work.

Shortly before the Decolonize/Occupy Seattle rally at 12pm, I was told that Juan Jose Bocanegra, a prominent member of the activist community, was going to emcee the rally. It is unclear how this was decided. However, because he is a member of the MLK Celebration Committee, which among other groups had sponsored the rally, I did not think twice of it. I would find out that this was a mistake.

I was told shortly after, that Mr. Bocanegra had asked Larry Gossett, King County Council member and Democrat politician, to speak at the rally. With other members of the POC caucus, I approached Mr. Bocanegra to let him know that Decolonize/Occupy actions were not spaces where politicians could speak at. It is part of a broader principle of not wanting to be coopted into being a Democratic party front. This is one of the defining features of the Occupy movements across the country. In fact, the People of Color caucus, which the organizers were a part of, had then been working on a statement explicitly stating that. Besides, the speaker list was already full and it would be unfair to bump someone off the speakers list to let a politician speak.

Juan Jose Bocanegra proceeded to question my intentions. He insisted that Larry Gossett was a well known civil rights activist, former Black Panther Party member, and a huge advocate for the Black Community. In fact, he said that our refusal to let him speak at the Decolonize/Occupy event, was a “disgrace to the Black community.”

I responded saying that our refusal to let him speak was not aimed at disrespecting the Black community or the MLK Celebrating Committee. I asked if there were other members in the group who could speak instead of Larry Gossett. I also pointed out to him that there were several dedicated Black activists that are a part of the Decolonize/Occupy Seattle movement and building the occupation everyday. Many of them are also involved in Hip Hop Occupies. They are prominent grassroots activists, and none of them are Democrat party politicians or individuals tied to the establishment. Mr. Bocanegra’s convenient attacks on us simply because we refused to let Larry Gosset speak, was opportunistic and unprincipled.

It is also important to add that Juan Jose Bocanegra’s presentation of Larry Gosset was one sided. Many of the Black activists who had put in a lot of energy into the Decolonize/Occupy Seattle movement, had experienced Gosset through the incidents that took place around the African American Heritage Museum back in the 1990s. Gossett and several grassroots Black activists had had disagreements and run-ins around the project. Their tension had led to an evacuation of the militants who had occupied a school for the purposes of building the museum and a radical Black community center. Mr. Bocanegra’s negation of the experiences of the many Black activists who had experienced state violence under Gosset’s leadership, willingness to cover up Gossett’s role in this important incident by simply dismissing their experiences, was shocking.

We asked Mr. Bocanegra to simply respect the efforts of a grassroots movement that was trying to be independent of party politics. Mr. Bocanegra responded with anger, contempt and condescension. He claimed that our movement building efforts were pointless without the endorsements and involvement of people like Larry Gossett. He also tried to make it seem as if we had allowed the Mayor to speak at previous rallies, and was being racist by not allowing Larry Gossett to speak. We responded saying that the Mayor had been at Westlake, but had not been invited to speak. We had both been consistent and fervent in our opposition to allow the Mayor to coopt this movement. We had also been outspoken about our critiques against the gentrification efforts and displacement of people of color by the Mayor’s policies.

Subsequently, Mr. Bocanegra told us, in front of many witnesses, that if Larry Gossett was unable to speak at the rally, then no one would be able to speak at the rally. Then, we were unsure about what he meant. We would find out in an awful, shocking way.

It tuned out that the individual, Bob Barnes, who was responsible for the sound system of the day at Decolonize/Occupy Seattle, is a friend of Juan Jose Bocanegra. He, like Mr. Bocanegra, insisted that if Larry Gossett was unable to speak, then he would shut down the sound system for the rally and prevent Hip Hop Occupies from performing. The event was already delayed at this point because of the drama and confusion.

This was unprincipled behavior. How is it that these two individuals, who claim to be for grassroots movement building, would sacrifice a public action and rally, just so a Democrat party politician and King County Council member could speak?

This came as an extreme shock to all of us and left us confused and demoralized.

Eventually, after a 45 min delay, Mr. Bocanegra got on stage, and asked Mr. Barnes to turn it on. He started off with a diatribe criticizing the principle to not ally ourselves with specific parties and politicians. He clearly did not understand that what had built this movement so far has been its ability to prevent itself from simply becoming a political electioneering platform, and that it expressed peoples’ genuine discontent and frustration with the system. He had nothing much more than that to say about this emerging Decolonize/Occupy movement.

*

It is important to publicly address this incident. First, because my version of what happened would be distorted given the power and social standing of the people whom we are confronting. Myself and others stuck up for what we believed are the basic principles of the Decolonize/Occupy movement, which is that our mobilization and organizing cannot be coopted into the hands of Democratic Party politicians given that they have, once again betrayed the interests of the working class. The mobilization of so many thousands of people around the country now emerges from a need for an alternative to the Democrats and Republicans, both of which are mechanisms that banks, corporations have used to oppress us, especially communities of color.

We believe that this movement has the ability to shift and realign the political terrain in this country if it gains power and strength. For this reason, Democrat party politicians will try to coopt this struggle. When they are unable to, they will send individuals from the Non Profit Industrial Complex, the very institutions whose livelihoods depend on the continual functioning of the capitalist system. Their goal is to reform this system, not to fundamentally change it. Rather than grassroots activists, they are career activists. To maintain their positions, they are willing to sacrifice and put on hold, the inspirations and potentials of the rest of us who want deeper, further changes.

For many activists, it may be shocking to see a movement elder use such authoritarianism to silence our emerging movement. However, it is not unusual for several leaders from the 1960s movement who currently work in the government, or for non-profits, to use their movement credentials to try to control and contain movements of our generation. They, like the state, fear our potential to displace them when we too, shift the political paradigms of our generation. If we believe that the Decolonize/Occupy movement will continue to grow, or that new upsurges will emerge and thrive in the ebb and flow of struggle, then it’s time we get used to challenging this sort of movement policing behavior.

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21 Responses to Why we didn’t let Larry Gossett speak at Decolonize/Occupy Seattle

  1. Sycorax says:

    Hey JM, thanks for sharing this story! Its important to learn from different experiences we are all having at the occupy protests. Was thought provoking to read.

    A few thoughts-
    Am curious whether there was any ability to engage in a democratic/decision process around determining the emcee and/or an official position on democrats speaking? at occupyoakland we had a GA vote on allowing politicians and democrats to speak. I’ve heard (though it is not confirmed) that at one point Mayor Jean Quan showed up to speak and I think she was told she had to get on stack because no one has special privileges at the camp. (Which I thought was cool.)

    I am wondering if the ability of one person to usurp the action could maybe also point to a necessity of building organizational structures for decision making and discussion when it comes to planning events. Do you think so? To clarify- not a challenge, a genuine question. Its always really hard to “democratize” event planning because for pragmatic purposes, (that logistical stuff has to be confined to committees or people will be forced to have 8 hour GA’s), but i think we really benefitted at occupyoakland from raising the political question of collaboration with democrats early on in the GA for discussion. Am wondering why that discussion was taking place specifically in the people of color caucus?

    Am with you in your frustration and anger, though it sounds like you are doing great work. Applaud you for principled and transparent hashing out of the issue — good modeling of the politics in the method! Much Love!
    <3

    • Fray says:

      Sycorax, these are really helpful questions.

      The question of our relationship to politicians had been one of ongoing debate. A lot of folks, including militant POC, radicals and revolutionaries, and folks who are new to the scene but know better than to trust politicians, had been advocating for Occupy Seattle to not collaborate with them. Basically, the POC caucus was the first group that got their act together enough to bring a specific proposal to the GA stating that. (Actually, now that I say it, I think other folks might have brought it to the GA before and it got voted down/blocked, or it got voted for and then overturned. That sort of thing was happening a lot early on and I definitely haven’t attended every GA.)

      I personally think that Decolonize/Occupy Seattle probably shouldn’t have a built-in structure for planning events. Or, at least, there shouldn’t be an “event planning” committee. Of course, when the GA approves an event, it should be more transparent how that event is getting planned so that people can join in, work doesn’t get duplicated, etc. There have been a lot of problems with that. I’ve viewed it as a product of our own lack of experience and resources, dealing with constant crises from the cops, and undemocratic practices by some folks (some of whom DO have more resources such as legal training or access to media equipment). But I definitely don’t think it’s possible to plan events in the GA, like you say, and I think creating a formal committee that carries out event decisions of the GA would get bureaucratic. Frustrating as it can sometimes be, the decentralized, ad hoc nature of the work groups suits the “united front coalition” nature of Decolonize/Occupy Seattle better.

  2. Damn good stuff! Fuck all politicians and recuperators! Rank and file only!

  3. Anna says:

    This is a very interesting piece and raises a lot of important issues in grassroots movements about the role of politicians and the dynamics between organizers that can sometimes result in conflict. As a Seattleite currently living in New Orleans, I appreciate the work the POC and Hip Hop Occupies are doing for the movement and I find it truly inspiring, especially with some of the pushback you all recently received about changing the name.

    I do have one question. The way the article is written suggests that El Comite and the MLK Committee are separate entities that are trying to coopt the movement. But aren’t some members of El Comite and MLK Committee also members of the POC Caucus? I didn’t get the impression that there was so little collaboration and the conflict was so cut-and-dry since there is a significant amount of cross-membership in all the organizations you mentioned.

  4. Thank you for an explicit description of yet another example of power over that requires young adults to be recruited to participate in their own demise in order to perpetuate co-conspiracy in politics while in the midst of POC’s intent to liberate. Thank you for standing your ground and achoring the Decolonize/Occupy intentions.
    See Link on American Colonization and Imperialism in Hawaii
    http://www.hawaii-nation.org/

  5. Thanks for sharing this experience with the movement. I completely understand your experience and I’m so impressed with the politically mature and principled way you’ve handled this episode thus far. Experience is such a great teacher. Several years ago, I was at a national convention for a socialist organization. During a discussion period, everyone was allotted a specific time limit during which to speak and then they would be cut off. I was awestruck when one of the oldest and most politically experienced members of the organization, one whom everyone would turn to for wisdom and a lesson to learn, spoke on a question for his allotted time and when the chair called time, he stopped speaking mid-sentence and stepped backwards. There have been times when I’ve been the most experienced person in a meeting and I try to make sure I help others learn to become leaders rather than impose my own leadership. In doing so, I’ve learned that those who I might prejudge as politically naive or immature have a lot to teach me.

  6. Carrie Hathorn says:

    I support you and I hope you will sign your name because your experience is real and you should be recognized for what you did for our movement. Honestly, I don’t think you need to defend yourself because the point is clear – this is a movement that will not allow itself to be co-opted by politicians or democrats – you and your comrades stood up for our movement and you should feel freaking proud! In terms of the specific experience with Juan Bocanegra of El Comite, I completely believe you as I also had a bad experience with him in 2006 just before the massive immigrant rights demonstration. I was organizing with Youth Against War and Racism and working closely with Latino youth who were organizing student walkouts and actions in Seatac. Our first interaction with Juan was when he came to check out one of the student walkouts, but once we started having meetings with him about the larger immigrants rights movement things went bad and quick. My fellow organizers had a conflict with Juan and they stopped talking, shortly after that I had my own conflict with him. I can’t remember all the details (much of it was over email) but I was pretty shaken up. Soon after I concluded that he was a liberal and bought into the establishment, where as we were radicals, socialists and anarchists. Essentially we split with him over the politics of the march – he and his organization is tied to the democratic party and worked to control the movement including by silencing radicals like ourselves. El Comite claims to represent immigrants but in reality they only represent the interests of the Democratic party. They did organize a huge march and rally but it had the most watered down politics (they even passed out U.S. flags) and they did exactly what you said – put politicians on stage claiming credit for the march, rather than displaying immigrants and workers who are fighting back and kicking ass. We organized a smaller rally mobilizing a more left-wing crowd with speakers who spoke about U.S. imperialism, the racist attacks and scapegoating of immigrants and the impact of NAFTA on Mexicans and more. Folks from the crowd were invited to speak and it was very inspiring. The huge march was also inspiring but only because of the sheer numbers of people standing up and fighting for their rights – but it was disappointing how the movement got co-opted. I hope others will do what you did and stand up for our working class movement. Thanks! Carrie

    • Carrie, I was one of the youth organizers with El Comite and with MEChA at UW and was privy to much information from this time period in 2006. I can’t speak for what happened to you personally, but I can say, for a fact, that you are very simplistic in your analysis.

      El Comite is, and always has been an organization rooted in the immigrant community and is comprised of immigrants and their non-immigrant allies. Second, the flag comment is completely asinine. We never passed any flags out. Furthermore, we didn’t provide explicit instructions for bringing flags (this was a personal choice by different groups who attended). Also, the point of the march and mobilizations had absolutely nothing to do with flags. People could’ve come out with Mickey Mouse flags, for all we cared. The point was to make a resounding public statement that we weren’t going to take any right-wing shit and that we weren’t going away without a fight. On that same note, the plan was to also coordinate and engage in a massive, coordinated strike, with the intent to shut the major urban cities down. So to make such a blanket assertion is intellectually dishonest.

      We don’t receive funding from democrats, or green partiers, or communist partiers or anyone of that sort. Your comment is absolutely insulting. In fact, we called out the Dem Senator from Camano Island for her role in pursuing an anti-immigrant drivers’ license measure earlier this year. In fact, the session was shut down, mostly as a result of our efforts and those of immigrant speakers who came from Eastern Washington to condemn these xenophobic, racially-tinged proposals.

      Also, I remember clearly that this was in the midst of the Bush-era PATRIOT Act, where people from our immigrant communities were being disappeared at will. Throughout the process we endured death threats, misinformation campaigns, the dispersal of flyers claiming that the march was cancelled, and our security teams found a white supremacist with a sub-machine gun in one march and another with two molotov cocktails in the other march. Given the tense environment, we weren’t about to get sloppy and have our folks get hurt out of some bullshit adrenaline junkie whims. We now know, that we were correct in pursuing these safety measures as Seattle still has one of the largest most vibrant immigrant rights movements in the country.

      Could we have organized some details differently? Absolutely. I personally don’t deny that. It was a learning process and through said process I was able to fine tune some of my organizational skills as most activity was confined to campus with anarcho-syndicalists and other leftists. But again, coming back to your claim, though you are in the right as far as the communication breakdowns, you also fall into your own privileged status. When shit went down, they weren’t going to go after you. They were going to go after US! In fact, it has been our community, and our neighborhoods that have seen the backlash for shutting down H.R. 4437 in 2006.

      We have to live with that day in and day out, whereas you can simply move away at any given moment. We however, don’t have that luxury. And to have to endure your nonsensical attacks on us is a complete insult.

      I merely ask you to weigh the facts, and look at these events from the point of view of those in our community. We don’t need “leftist” white folks to “liberate” us or to “teach” us how to organize. We have a long history of resistance. It’s ingrained in our culture from resistance against invaders in Tenochtitlan in the 1500s to resistance against globalized neo-liberal economics, as evidenced with New Years day 1994.

      Check your privilege and chauvinistic practices at the door.

      Gracias.

      -Oscar

  7. Pingback: Why we didn’t let Larry Gossett speak at Decolonize/Occupy Seattle | Trial by Fire

  8. P says:

    I agree that Non-Profits and (more importantly) Labor Unions generally act as Subsidiaries and apologists of the Democratic Party. To continue to be independent, I think the Occupy movement can do a few things:

    *Continue to attack Banks and the Finance sector, which are pillars of the Democratic Party and popular targets in the eyes of the majority of the people

    *Ally ourselves with union members to push for support of the General Strike building in Oakland. I’m cynical, but union member rebellion against their bureaucracies may be possible as the Oakland moment is deepening and broadening the struggle. This could be a powerful tool for building this movement and driving a wedge between their unions and the Democrats.

    *Be patient, respectful and tactful, without compromising our ideas. I think this is a movement precisely because it’s composed of people new to street actions, protest, etc – not just the seasoned activists or left groups that use the correct lingo or share our exact political ideas. This movement is rapidly and organically evolving, growing and learning and quickly learning lessons in the streets. For example: learning about the role and nature of the police from the way it is responding to us, than hearing some person yell “fuck the police” or engaging people with confused ideas about the police in ways that are off-putting. The police brutality and crackdowns on peaceful demonstrations in Democratically-controlled Cities has shown that the Democrats discrediting themselves in the eyes of the movement.

    Lastly: Will it be possible to grow this movement in communities of color as long as it continues to defend, rationalize, apologize and try to ALLY(!) itself with the Police?

    • gila says:

      Bocanegra and his Rainbow Coalition cronies have repeatedly tried to water down the politics, tame organic outrage amongst working class people, and generally co-opt and take credit for the organizing work that younger radicals have engaged in. i have experienced this multiple times in less than a year. When called out, he and his “friends” privilege bait “newer” organizers for being younger and for supposedly not having the wisdom of an “elder” or for not being “from the community (which can mean being white or not being part of the “Respected Progressive Seattle club”). Being called out for what they are (protectors of the Democrats and status quo) really infuriates them, and they will try to slander the name and work of anyone who has the courage to do so.

      Glad you did it. Very impressive. i completely support your actions, words, and analysis. Hopefully the terrain is changing in Seattle, so that people like Boca can no longer control the energy and movement of oppressed people in this city. Hopefully your standing up to him in public, and his public rant further discredited him in the eyes of young people of color and working class people in the city. Ha ha… i would love for him to see this report you wrote, and all the support you’re receiving for it. Good work.

  9. Yalonda Sinde says:

    As a seasoned organizer I find it inspiring to see youth that take a stand and fight for a cause. My only issue with this account of what happened though, is that it is done over the internet which is a public forum that can be shared on Facebook and live in cyberspace. Is this the new school way of holding people accountable? I come from a time in activism when we pulled our brothers and sisters aside and addressed our beefs personally and then moved on so we could do this crucial work.

    This piece feels much like you are putting people on blast. Why does there need to be this sort of public explanation for what happened? Is there some reason people who were not involved in the conflict need to read about this this way? Since there are two sides of any story, is there an opportunity for the people mentioned in this account to respond and offer their side too?

    Activism is supposed to be heartfelt work, centered in the heart and done with love. While I don’t condone the type of disrespect you speak of regarding the actions of Boca and Bob, I don’t think they deserved to be put on blast over the internet.

    Is this what activism in Seattle is coming to? If we make mistakes with one another do we risk seeing our name and details of disagreements put over the internet for all to see?

    I’ve been a part of many movements and there was always, always, drama. That comes with the territory. I’m all for telling someone they are in the wrong, but not in a public forum like the internet where it could harm them for years to come.

    • gila says:

      Actually, this is not an isolated incident, as the testimonies from some of the commenters demonstrate. Many militants (particularly younger ones) who refuse to submit to the Democratic Party politics that Boca and a few other “elder activists” uphold and ruthlessly defend, have been subjected to his wrath and public condemnation. Before condemning this piece as an act of passive-aggressive public slander, think about the history of interactions that many people have had with Boca and his friends. There have been numerous instances when some of us who disagree with Boca’s authoritarianism have sought to discuss it with him face to face, however the result is that he blows up and becomes even more authoritarian. He and others like him are not interested in reflecting on the critiques that other activists offer. Instead, any critique is twisted by him into “you don’t respect your elders. You’re too privileged and inexperienced. If you don’t listen to me, then i’ll make sure you can’t talk to anyone.

      When this happens again and again (as it has), it becomes necessary to put them on blast, publicly. And when they actually try to physically force masses of people to do what they want (which happened during the anti-police protests last winter, in the form of Boca trying to force doors shut on a large number of people to keep them from going on a spontaneous march), the option of civil, face-to-face discussion goes out the window. Plus you can rest assured that Boca and others have bad-mouthed the members of Black Orchid Collective, as well as various anarchists, and other radicals all over Seattle. The difference is that they do it behind closed doors to a captive audience, in a way that those he is talkin shit bout don’t have a chance to respond; while a public, online, blog post does allow Boca and others to respond.

      i know many who have been silenced, devalued, and ridiculed by Boca and his friends. In fact, it is so bad, that i know people who have sought out Boca for advice because he does have a wealth of experience. Unfortunately, all he did was dismiss the organizing as misguided, “too radical,” and all sorts of other reformist insults. In my opinion, it is way past time that a critique of Boca, his friends, and their authoritarian ways was made public.

      Hopefully hard copies of this account/critique can be handed out at Occupy tomorrow so that all those who witnessed Boca’s unilateral decision and ridiculous rant can get some background on what led up to it, and the history behind it.

  10. Carrie Hathorn says:

    I have to agree with Gila – I’m glad Boca and Bob were put on blast publicly on the internet because otherwise I would have never heard about this. The reality is Boca and Bob aren’t our “brothers and sisters” and we can’t just pull them aside to talk about the issues we have with them because they don’t see us as equals, and we aren’t in struggle working side by side because let’s face it – we and they have different goals so they aren’t our comrades. Boca in particular treated me and my comrades like shit once a falling out occurred with my comrade he then bullied me via email and tried to discredit me for working for immigrant rights because I’m white, yet he works with other white activists on immigration. Basically, in there is a group of Seattle liberals (who Boca and Bob are apart of), most of who run or work for non-profits who deem some white activists “good white people” and others not good. Once he and others realized I was a radical (rather than a democrat) and that I and my youth organization wasn’t going to do whatever we were told, I got written off and I’m sure slandered. Yet the same thing happened to people of color (they just don’t use race as the excuse) which was the case with my comrades who are Latinos. Once Boca realized that they were “too radical” and that they wouldn’t fall in line with the democratic party and had other political ideas, strategies and tactics, they too were written off.

    I think this post, although a little defense, does our community a service because it is clear Boca and others will continue to act in this manor and the OWS movement in Seattle needs to create a strategy to either remove these democratic apologists from the movement or put them on blast so hard they stop their controlling and condescending behavior (I can give you a list of other people who like them are people to watch out for and not to trust easily). Also to be clear, I don’t know any of the other people who posted on this blog about their experiences with Boca but it makes me feel better to know that the incident that occurred with me and my comrades was not a isolated incident, it also makes me angry that he has continued to treat younger radicals in this way at least since 2006. This situation has enraged me but I’m so proud of the organizers who stood up to him. If anyone wants to discuss this off line, please hit me up calni27@gmail.com

  11. HenryHughes says:

    Way late to the party here, but I want to thank you for this excellent microcosmic account of an institution swooping in to take over–yet again. No one is better at it than the political party that has always taken for granted what passes for “the left.”

    While we’re at it, I continue to be chagrined at Occupy Seattle’s posting of sectarian left and labor union nonsense on the calendar. Why is is not CLEAR that the Occupy movement (tendency? call?) is expressly something ELSE?! How is it that OS makes some big deal out of working to win the “support” of the Seattle City Council?! If Occupying works, city councils will come BEGGING to “support” the new world, but it will be much too late. Thank goodness.

    From one of many similar OWS communiques:
    “It is time for us to come together and build a new world through the power of the individual and the community. We are not here to make requests of a corrupt political system – we are here to take our lives back into our own hands. We are not acknowledging subservience. There is no higher power than the power of the people. We are not asking for assistance. We are declaring independence. Our demand is not to those in power, it is to those individuals still silenced. Join us.
    “We are the 99%. We are not afraid. We are not waiting. We are working to make a better world.”

    Seems clear as a bell.

  12. Carol Isaac, OS says:

    From the top…”I was told shortly after, that Mr. Bocanegra had asked Larry Gossett, King County Council member and Democrat politician, to speak at the rally. With other members of the POC caucus, I approached Mr. Bocanegra to let him know that Decolonize/Occupy actions were not spaces where politicians could speak at. It is part of a broader principle of not wanting to be coopted into being a Democratic party front. This is one of the defining features of the Occupy movements across the country. In fact, the People of Color caucus, which the organizers were a part of, had then been working on a statement explicitly stating that. Besides, the speaker list was already full and it would be unfair to bump someone off the speakers list to let a politician speak.”

    I am just learning this story. You did SOOooo right. We let Licata know too that he couldn’t come and be anything but treated equally… talk with people, and get on stack if you want to come to a GA. He never did come. : )

  13. Figures don’t lie. And opportunists run from them. Bear witness to the math. This is what makes most amerikkkans, and their social-demokkkrat/workerist apologists, economic parasites and political opportunists:

    “Another assumption Marx made was that the incomes of the direct producers under capitalism, which for Marx mostly meant the industrial workers, would be reduced to subsistence or sub-subsistence. This is because in a pure model competition between capitalists results over time in equalization of technique. So, the only way left for a capitalist to increase profits is to reduce wages.

    So much did Marx think this an inevitability of capitalism that Marx identified the value of labor-power with the bare minimum necessary to keep the worker reproducing his labor from day to day. Although this immiseration of direct producers does bear out in much of the Third World, it hardly characterizes any worker in the United States except perhaps some negligible undocumented workers at the very edges of the economy. Often, this does not even characterize the situation of prisoners who are forced to produce. Even those who produce in the First World obtain a wide range of incomes, all of them well above the value of labor-power as set by Marx.

    Their incomes and standard of living are so high as to make them generally happy with their lot within the system. They align with the imperialist system. Even though Marx was wrong about the exact details of immiseration, this view of value allows for what is seen today. Under Marx’s model, it is possible for value to be transferred from direct producers to others. It is also possible for value to be transferred from direct producers to direct producers. In other words, First World direct producers can obtain a share of the surplus that originates in the Third World. Even if a direct producer in the First World is adding to the global social product through his labor, at the same time, he is subtracting from the global social product the same way that other exploiters do. He is obtaining a share of value from the Third World. This offsets whatever value he produces. This makes him a net-exploiter, just like members of other exploiting classes.”

    More here….
    http://llco.org/revisiting-value-and-exploitation/

    “Taking the entire globe, if North America and Western Europe can be called ‘the cities of the world’, then Asia, Africa and Latin America constitute ‘the rural areas of the world’. Since World War II, the proletarian revolutionary movement has for various reasons been temporarily held back in the North American and West European capitalist countries, while the people’s revolutionary movement in Asia, Africa and Latin America has been growing vigorously. In a sense, the contemporary world revolution also presents a picture of the encirclement of cities by the rural areas. In the final analysis, the whole cause of world revolution hinges on the revolutionary struggles of the Asian, African and Latin American peoples who make up the overwhelming majority of the world’s population.” — Lin Biao, Long Live the Victory of People’s War!

    More here…
    -http://llco.org/equality-and-global-alignments/

    Also, listen to this:
    http://uhurunews.com/radio/playaudio?resource_name=african-internationalism-vs-pan-africanism-global-economic-crisis

    It’s way past time to genuinely side with the world’s proletariat, especially in a country where there is little to none. One’s personal narrative is immaterial, bourgeois, and a straw-man of distraction when set next to those who make a $1/ a day (or less) in an amerikkkan-owned factory in an amerikkan-controlled 3rd world country.

    That’s why the suicide bomber targets ALL amerikkkans and why Prof. Ward Chruchill referred to 9/11 victims as “little Eichmanns”.

  14. jubayr says:

    sorry to hear you all are going through this, but it seems like this is a little par for the course. what is mean is this: i don’t think it’s a coincidence that the sectarian attacks are occurring only after Occupy has all but come to an end. with a retraction in the activity of the class comes the reassertion of the ruling ideology of the ruling class. with a collapse in material activity, idealist notions and conservative and reactionary ideologies begin to reassert themselves yet again.

    many times sectarian debates occur because organizers and the Left have nothing better to do. what i’ve heard from the Bay Area confirms this. tendencies and individuals who, in the past, would not or could not work together were able to come together and help Occupy realize its implicit proletarian character. this is not to say that these differences were dead and buried, but that they were not based on the material realities of the moment of Occupy, and further they may indeed re-emerge in a partial and new form in the future. the ideas of regroupment and rapproachment began to take material form.

    this is difficult to predict, because as we are (hopefully) only at the beginning of consistent mass activity, the trajectory of this activity is still only hazy, and only after going through a series of events can we better grasp the logic of communist activity in the current period, since the old debates expressed the logic of another time. this is, what i think Lenin had in mind, when he discusses “continuity” in WITBD. it’s the difference between plotting 2 points on a graph to determine trajectory versus plotting multiple points. if only momentarily, a New New Left was created in practice.

    the activity during Occupy created openings and ruptures that caused maybe only a partial break with the old ruling ideas. it’s hard to tell what if any gains were made during Occupy. the overarching populist character of many of the Occupies means we still have a long way to go especially in cities where the Left is pretty small and underdeveloped. the way the Democrats were all to easily able to recapture mass activity in Madison is further confirmation of this characterization of the current moment. as i put it to another comrade, Occupy represented a qualitative leap in activity, but it only means an acceleration in the quantitative development of our work; our work, by and large, has not made a qualitative leap, and it may be some time before it does. the class and a New Left are only taking our first steps; we’re still learning to walk.

    in a partial response to Sycorax, who began the comments on this post, i’m reminded of a line by Luxemburg in her pamphlet “Marxism or Leninism”:

    “Marxist theory offers us a reliable instrument enabling us to recognize and combat typical manifestations of opportunism. But the socialist movement is a mass movement. Its perils are not the product of the insidious machinations of individuals and groups. They arise out of unavoidable social conditions. We cannot secure ourselves in advance against all possibilities of opportunist deviation. Such dangers can be overcome only by the movement itself — certainly with the aid of Marxist theory, but only after the dangers in question have taken tangible form in practice.”

    put simply, Luxemburg notes that there are material reasons for the presence of opportunist elements in the movement that cannot be solved by organizational structures. from my own perspective, Luxemburg is only half right, and so Sycorax’s question — representing the other half — is also half right.

  15. mamos206 says:

    Good points Jubayr. I think we’ve seen this happen in Seattle too – first the anti-police brutality struggle and then Occupy helped bring together revolutionary tendencies that otherwise would not have worked together. They also created a situation where revolutionaries could act with enough freedom to experiment and learn from our successes and failures together, without constant disruption and assault from opportunists, cultish sectarian ideologues, and institutions like nonrpofits and union bureaucracies that prop up the hegemony of the state and the ruling class. I am not sure that Occupy is collapsing or that this period of openness is closing, but I do think that Occupy is at the very least in a point of transformation, and ruling class forces, especially the Democratic Party, and making a hard push to close off possibilities of a qualitative leap in class struggle emerging out of that transformation. It’s still unclear whether they’ll succeed or not. The key thing is that revolutionaries must remain open, non-sectarian, and collaborative to the best of our abilities. We must find ways to continue to work together, and focus questions of alliances and regroupment on this broad, open-ended common work where we can judge our successes and failures based on real world practice and critical, theoretical reflection on this practice. I think the multi-tendency revolutionary action committees that have emerged in Seattle, Portland, and Oakland may provide a forum for this to happen. Even if the Occupy movement dies out (which again, is not a guarantee), hopefully enough militants have developed a rhythm of common, non-sectarian, open ended practice where we can try to launch the next round of struggle together. Hopefully we can avoid the pattern that had happened for the previous decade, where mass activity would rise then quickly fall, and only a handful of people active in it would come around small revolutionary circles, or “centers” that would generally remain separate from each other locally and divided by tendency. I do think something new is happening here that goes beyond that pattern. But we’ll see. The pressures toward fragmentation you describe are real, and could definitely reemerge if movement potentials become completely closed off.

  16. jubayr says:

    a couple things.

    first when i said “what i’ve heard from the Bay confirms this.” i meant to imply that it was mass activity that allowed parts of the Left to push past some of their perceived differences.

    second, mamos206, you said, “I am not sure that Occupy is collapsing or that this period of openness is closing,”

    i didn’t mean to imply that as a general position, but i can see how that could be inferred from my comment. i would say that, for now, Occupy, as a specific form and a specific moment of struggle is or has receded. i wouldn’t go so far as to say that the whole period is coming to close, only this particular moment and form.

    Occupy was a symbolic occupation that reached its limitation. it needed to transform into concrete work, and it seems that this has occurred in a partial way with the home defenses, port shut downs and other types of work. it’s Luxemburg’s infamous characterization of the movement from political to economic forms of struggle (and vice versa) from her pamphlet Mass Strike, although perhaps it is not occurring precisely on the terms of the “political” and “economic.”

    at this point it’s hard to say that the concrete work is occurring or growing on the scale that Occupy did, and i think that’s to be expected. from what i’ve seen and heard this is not the case, and so old ideas now have the ability to regain some traction with those individuals who have left the stage of activity. i’m wondering if we can use the movement from Occupy to these concrete forms of work as a scale to judge the growth of communist ideas.

  17. Pingback: Longview, Occupy, and Beyond: Rank and File and the 89% Unite! | Advance the Struggle

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