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Chapter Two: Strategy Is Complex


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line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Chapter Two: Strategy Is Complex

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>This is chapter two of the book Occupy Strategy – which is the third and concluding volume of the series titled Fanfare for the Future. In coming weeks we will follow up with more excerpts from this volume, but we hope many readers will order it from our Online Store for yourselves, and then to pass on to others. 

 

We know strategy is contextual, changing with circumstances. Nonetheless, the common features of the starting societies of contemporary social change, the common features of the end points of contemporary social change, and the common characteristics of people and institutions as these typically and necessarily exist, do allow us to make at least a few often applicable strategic observations.

“Often applicable” means that there is a very high burden of proof needed to violate the observations or to expect results contrary to their logic. Such observations can usefully become a scaffolding around which to carefully develop what is in other respects contextual strategy.

In this chapter, then, we focus on seven areas of strategy with nearly universal applicability:

  • mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>the size of movements
  • mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>the types of demands movements need to develop
  • mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>the efficacy of institutional construction
  • mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>issues of power
  • mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>the value of spontaneity
  • mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>the organizational composition of movements, and
  • mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>the necessity of organization at all.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Agents of Revolution

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>“In a revolution, as in a novel, the most difficult part to invent is the end.”
– Alexis de Tocqueville

Who will be on the side of change? Who will oppose change? Answers to these questions are only approximate. If we said left handed people are likely on the side of change, it would mean we thought there was something about being left handed that gave people interests, inclinations, desires, and beliefs that would make them more often receptive to seeking change, so that, overall, we would find most left-handers seeking change once a movement for change was visible, serious, and growing. The movement would organically and naturally appeal to left-handers. If left-handers, as is undoubtedly the case, had no such shared propensities due to being left handed, then, as a group, their favoring social change would, instead, occur like it would for any random cross section of the whole population.

Suppose we do identify a group that is a likely agent of change, or of reaction. It doesn’t mean that everyone in the group aligns automatically one way or the other. It means only that there is a good probability of aligning one way or the other. If we orient our movements to inviting, welcoming, and empowering a constituency that is a likely agent, our effort will have considerable promise. If we, instead, invite those who are likely to oppose the movement, our effort will have little promise.

Once identifying a constituency that, by its roles in society’s institutions, has a high–or even a very high–probability of liking a movement’s aims and aligning with it, we have good reason to investigate what that constituency’s priorities are, what its hopes are, and what its agendas are, to listen to it, to work in solidarity with any efforts it already has underway, to welcome it to participate, and empower it to lead.

Okay, that’s the abstract situation. Since we are seeking to find likely potential agents of revolution because they are the constituency we should most powerfully relate to, we should not adopt manners, behaviors, values, and practices that intrinsically and needlessly alienate that constituency, but ones that welcome and empower it.

So, who are they? Different people give different answers. Suppose you think society rests on an economic base. You believe that what happens in the economy radiates influence so powerfully that all other parts of society will necessarily comply with its dictates.

You also believe that the economy divides people into classes with owners above and workers below. Owners defend existing relations to benefit themselves. Workers have the potential to favor new relations to benefit themselves. The fight over whose interests prevail is class struggle. More, if workers win over owners, and they transform the economy beyond capitalism, then, according to this view, all else in society will alter as well.

Thus you believe the agent of revolution is workers who must be cohered into a powerful movement force. Everything that divides workers–including, say, divisions over race, gender, sexuality, etc.–must be addressed whenever doing so can unite workers. It isn’t that you don’t want to eliminate racism, sexism, homophobia, etc., but that you believe the path to do that runs through class struggle, and that winning class struggle requires that the agent of change–workers–be unified in seeking economic transformation. A strategy emerges.

Now suppose, instead, that you think society rests on a kinship base. You believe that what happens in families–nurturance, socialization, etc.–radiates influence so powerfully that all other parts of society will necessarily comply with its dictates.

You also believe that kinship divides people into gender roles with men above and women below. Men defend existing relations that benefit themselves. Women have the potential to favor new relations and to fight to change the social dynamics involved. The fight over these and related matters such as gender definitions and roles and issues of living relations and relations between generations is called feminist struggle. If women and other advocates of feminism transform kinship beyond patriarchy, then all else in society will alter as well.

Thus you believe the agent of revolution is women, who must be cohered into a powerful movement force. Everything that divides women–including, say, divisions over race, class, etc.–must be addressed whenever doing so can unite women. It isn’t that you don’t want to eliminate racism, classism, etc. It is that you believe the path to that end runs through feminist struggle, and that winning feminist struggle requires that the agent of change–women–be unified in seeking kinship transformation. A strategy emerges. Different agents yield different movement agendas.

There are, of course, other possibilities, including the one that emerges from participatory theory as developed in Occupy Theory, volume one of Fanfare.

You might believe–with the authors–that society rests on the entwined relations of four spheres of social life, including economy, kinship, culture, and polity. We don’t know a priori which, if any, of these four is more dominant in defining social relations and possibilities than the others. They all could be centrally critical, something we think holds in our own societies, the U.S. and Spain, and indeed in most modern highly industrialized societies and even most societies of all types, at the present moment in history, including in this case each sphere of life being capable of reproducing the old characteristics of itself and the other three, even if the rest were temporarily changed.

You might believe–again with the authors–that each of the four spheres demarcate–by the implications of the roles they offer–contending groups in society which are typically arrayed in current societies in class, gender, community, and political hierarchies. In the event of mutual co-reproduction of the four spheres, or even short of that, in the event the dominant and dominated groups in the various hierarchies have sufficient interests and inclinations to act together and abet or disrupt efforts at change, you feel that there are many agents of change–those at the bottom of the hierarchies of power and wealth of the four spheres. In this case, too, a strategy emerges, but it diverges from what someone who thinks workers or women or blacks (say) or the politically disenfranchised are the only agent of revolution–instead encompassing all their priorities and others, as well, into one larger holistic approach.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>The Numbers Game

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>“I have little patience with scientists who take a board of wood, look for its thinnest part, and drill a great number of holes where drilling is easy.”

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>- Albert Einstein

Without Outreach, No Victory line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>“Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died.”
– Leonard Cohen