Why Occupy Failed

Occupy Wall Street has failed.

No doubt many will protest  this judgement, noting that the unconventional movement did much to raise awareness or change the public discussion.  Others will insist that Occupy has yet begun to fight, and will be back in the Spring, pitching tents and drumming on drums in a city plaza near you.

Yet by its own measure, the movement is a failure.  “We will continue to occupy” the several Occupys assured us, “until our demands are met.”  With the dispersal of the OLA camp, the last of the 24/7 presences are gone.  The occupii exited with barely a whimper.  The many homeless, who’d swelled the occupii ranks, simply returned to their usual places of encampment.  The rest sought the refuge of that room above the garage their parents always keep ready for them.

Even had the physical occupations continued, the movement remained stalled so long as it was incapable formulating any specific goals to “occupy” for.  Three months of Working Groups and twice-daily General Assemblies could not come up with a uniform list of demands, or even a “consensus” on whether to have any demands at all.

Occupying for Occupying’s Sake

The insistance on physically holding public spaces was based on a false reading of the “Arab Spring” and Tahrir Square protests.  In Tunisia, Egypt, or Syria, where anti-government protests are quickly and brutally broken up, it was necessary to maintain a continuous presence.  In America, where the government allows its citizens to protest quite freely, a 24/7 presence is neither required nor justified.

By protesting ’round the clock, the occupii acted like cargo cultists, blindly aping the Egyptians’ tactics, treating “occupation” as some magic talisman that brings about revolution.

Before very long, the occupations became about little more than the right to occupy.  The First Amendment’s protection of free speech and peacable assembly was twisted into the right to commandeer public property indefinitely.  In places like Oakland, factions of anti-police, anti-city hall malcontents hijacked the protests.  The original bogeymen, bankers and politicians, were forgotten as the occupii directed their rage at cops, mayors and college deans.


How quickly it’s forgotten that the successful revolution in Tunisia was sparked by the death of a fruit vendor at the hands of the police.  That the protestors in Tahrir Square endured beatings and stabbings by mounted pro-Mubarek thugs.  That protesters in Syria are murdered daily, yet more keep coming out.

Here in the US, the occupii found it intolerable when Oakland restricted their protests to the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., rejected as insulting Los Angeles’ offer of free office space and farmland, cried ‘tyranny’ when New York asked for a few hours to clean Zucotti park.  If the occupii want to know real tyranny, they should visit Argentina, and speak to the relatives of the 30,000 anti-government protesters who “disappeared” during the 1970s.  They should visit the streets of Berlin, Budapest, or Prague, and imagine ‘occupying’ while a 36 ton T-54 trundles down at you.  They should google the words “tiananmen square.”

Despite their vow to “fight like an Egyptian”, the occupii couldn’t stand up to some “nudging and bumping” by police horses.  The entire movement seemed to melt when hit with a few ounces of pepper spray.  These protesters aren’t tough like the Egyptians — they’re a bunch of occupussies.

We Are Our Demands

Although several regional groups did issue lists of demands, these all proved vague and overbroad.  What started as a singular message  — end corruption on Wall Street — was diffused until every pet cause, every simmering resentment, every inchoate dream, made the roster.

For the occupi cadre, the very concept of issuing specific demands was anathema:

[N]o single person or group has the authority to make demands on behalf of general assemblies around the world.  We are our demands. This #ows movement is about empowering communities to form their own general assemblies…. Our collective struggles cannot be co-opted.

The demand for demands is an attempt to shoehorn the Occupy gatherings into conventional politics, to force the energy of these gatherings into a form that people in power recognize, so that they can … divert, co-opt, buy off, or … squash any challenge to business as usual.

The unwillingness to articulate concrete demands so frustrated sympathetic observers, they felt obliged to pitch in by drawing up suggested demands for Occupy to adopt.  In the October 12th issue of Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi offered five, narrowly-targeted goals:

  1. Break up the “Too Big to Fail” monopolies
  2. Pay for your own bailouts via a miniscule tax on stocks trades
  3. No public money for private lobbying
  4. Repeal the carried-interest tax break
  5. Ban upfront bonuses for bankers

In a December 4th editorial, the L.A. Times offered its own list of five demands for OLA:

  1. Sweeping financial reform
  2. Makes taxes more fair
  3. Combat corporate influence in politics
  4. Address rising tuition and student debt
  5. Downgrade marijuana from Schedule I status

[h/t Fionnchu]

While the last two objectives might necessitate spin-off movements (Occupy UC & Occupy Humboldt County) the Times’ list was at least a step in the right direction.

The One, Real Occupy Demand

What Taibbi, the L.A. Times, and most of America failed to realize is that, for the occupii, formal demands are moot.  For the occupii reject our present system of government as unworkable.  Occupy was envisioned not as a protest or rally, rather a revolution.  It’s one goal, one demand: to replace our current system of government with an anarchist, direct democracy.  They truly intended to camp-out in public until the rest of the world agreed to scrap our current civilization and replace it with the occupii’ vision of utopia.

David Graeber, a prominent anarchist, and one of the original organizers of #OWS, explains:

Anarchism is a revolutionary political philosophy, theory, and way of living that strives toward a more free and equal society without government, authority, domination, capitalism, or oppression. Key to the anarchist analysis is its unflinching criticism of authority, or of some people holding established power over others.  Anarchism considers government in any form … unnecessary, harmful, and undesirable…. The General Assemblies and committees within Occupy are experiments in this kind of self-management.

The occupii reject as futile any attempt at working within a system that is “absolutely and irredeemably corrupt.”  What’s the point of asking the government to reinstate Glass-Steagall or reverse Citizens United, when we’re on the verge of abolishing government entirely?  Anarchists wish to see human relations that would not have to be backed up by armies, prisons and police. Anarchism envisions a society based on equality and solidarity, which could exist solely on the free consent of participants.”

Graeber proudly points to occupi’s adherence to five anarchist principles:

1)    The refusal to recognise the legitimacy of existing political institutions — “acting as if the existing structure of power does not even exist.”  Just as Ghandi urged the Indian people to flaunt British regulations on trade, the occupii flaunted city curfews.

2)   The refusal to accept the legitimacy of the existing legal order — “[O]rganisers knowingly ignored local ordinances … simply on the grounds that such laws should not exist.”

3)   The refusal to create an internal hierarchy, but instead to create a form of consensus-based direct democracy — “From the very beginning … organisers made the audacious decision to operate not only by direct democracy, without leaders, but by consensus.”  To avoid either the co-opting of a “formal leadership structure” or a majority “bend[ing] a minority to its will”,”all decisions will, of necessity, have to be made by general consent.”

4)   The embrace of prefigurative politics

“Zuccotti Park, and all subsequent encampments, became spaces of experiment with creating the institutions of a new society – not only democratic General Assemblies but kitchens, libraries, clinics, media centres and a host of other institutions, all operating on anarchist principles of mutual aid and self-organisation – a genuine attempt to create the institutions of a new society in the shell of the old.”

Occupy = Anarchy

And now we understand.  Occupy was never about something as mundane as ending corruption on Wall Street — it was about transforming society from the bottom up. The little occupy camps were demos of the future anarchist utopia to come.  Once the American people saw anarchy in action, they’d realize that “if we are to live in any sort of genuinely [i.e. direct] democratic society, we’re going to have to start from scratch….”

Graeber admits that

We may never be able to prove, through logic, that direct democracy [is] possible. We can only demonstrate it through action. In parks and squares across America, people have begun to witness it as they have started to participate.

The occupii expected to transform society by showing everyone the wisdom & beauty of things like “Positive Speech,” a “less aggressive and more conciliatory type of communication” that avoids “negative statements which close the door to constructive debate.”  Example: “‘Don’t touch that dog or it will bite you’ could be phrased as ‘Be careful with that dog because it could bite you and neither of us would like that.'”

Leaders would be replaced by “Moderators” whose job was to “bring together the general sense of the Assembly rather than follow a protocol, Ideally, this figure should not need to exist. (everybody should respect everybody).”

In fact, all the quirks of Occupy — the GAs, the hand jive, etc. — have long been hallmarks of the heretofore pathetically inconsequential anarchist movement.  These “new forms of organization” are the anarchists’ very ideology, Graeber emphasized in a 2002 New Left Review article. “It is about creating and enacting horizontal networks instead of top-down structures like states, parties or corporations; networks based on principles of decentralized, non-hierarchical consensus democracy. Ultimately … it aspires to reinvent daily life as whole.  (Emphasis added.)

Offering a trial sample of anarchy in action is not the worst strategy, as good historical examples are hard to come by.  Tenuous claims are made to assisting the civil rights movement, Vietnam protests, women’s ERA, and the downfall of Miloslovec. The disastrous Paris Commune of 1871 (see excursus below) is sometimes mentioned, but occupii tend to omit anarchy’s crowning achievement: its crippling, via obtuseness and intransigence, of the Republican coalition in the Spanish Civil War, ushering in nearly four decades of Franco’s fascist tyranny.

Time’s Up

This article began with a declaration of Occupy’s failure.  Its founders are convinced Occupy has already succeeded far in excess of their wildest dreams.  ‘We’ve only just begun’, the occupii insist, ‘just give us more time, and we can change the world.’

Perpetual irrelevance breeds habitual indolence.  Having puttered away for decades in obscure organic co-ops & peace centers, having attended innumerable & fruitless gripe sessions in UU community halls, the anarchists who started Occupy never learned how to act decisively or effectively.  This September, they went virtually unnoticed, as usual, while engaged in their latest, futile fist-shake at society: a tiny protest near Wall St.  Suddenly and unexpectedly, OWS made the headlines — courtesy of one cop’s injudicious use of pepper spray — and ignited a dense duff of accumulated resentment among the general population.

The occupii interpreted this spontaneous public outcry as an acceptance of their radical philosophy.  “[I]f any significant number of Americans do find out what anarchism really is, they might well decide that rulers of any sort are unnecessary.”  In that, they are mistaken.  Ordinary people want direct, concrete action taken now, by leaders using the existing political and societal system.  Ordinary people are not willing to wait until an alternate utopia grows “organically” at the speed of mildew.  Ordinary people are certainly not ever going to join experimental tent communes.  Not in a million years.

The clock has run out for Occupy.  Media attention is an evanescent thing.  In this game, dirty laundry is always trumps.  Kim Kardassian and Ginger White did more do sink Occupy than any mayor or police force.

We can only hope that the radicalism and sheer idiocy of the occupii experiment did not overly tarnish the broader, sane movement to end corruption on Wall Street and in Washington.  Now that Occupy has failed, ordinary people can take over, applying the sound principles of hierarchy, leadership, focus, and working within the system.  The occupii should follow the army adage: either lead, follow, or get out of the way.  Since you’ve proven you can’t lead, and refuse to follow, y’all know what to do.

(c) 2011 by True Liberal Nexus.  All rights reserved.

Excursus — Occupy Paris, 1871  (after the jump)

Excursus — Occupy Paris, 1871

Many local Occupys fancied themselves the spiritual descendants of the Paris Commune of 1871.  It is a fair comparison.

Beginning as a spontaneous protest against the terms of the peace treaty ending the Franco-Prussian war, The Commune quickly devolved into an orgy of radicalist fantasy.  Led by “perennial iconoclasts” who unexpectedly found themselves in power, the Communards displayed no sense of urgency, wasting precious weeks convening councils and issuing proclamations, while the legitimate government rapidly marshaled forces to retake the city.

As the battles for Paris’ fortresses raged, the Commune “persisted in its zealous aims of reforming the world.”  Out of a plethora of committees poured “a mixture of incredibly irrelevant trivia and serious attempts at righting social injustice” — the Church was dis-established, the national salon re-established.  Bans were decreed on gambling, prostitution, pawn shops, baking bread at night, and urinating in public.  Meanwhile, the national bank remained untouched, quietly siphoning off bullion to the government in Versailles.

Even as government troops advanced steadily through the streets of Paris, the Communards felt it a priority to expend copious time and manpower on toppling the Vendome column — a massive edifice honoring Bonaparte.  One of the finals acts of the Commune was to reinstate the calendar of the 1792 revolution — issuing unread missives dated “23 Floreal”, etc.

The closest the communards ever came to “formulating any coherent programme” came in a grandiloquent proclamation:

The Communal Revolution, begun by the popular initiative … inaugurates a new era, experimental, positive, scientific.  It is the end of the old governmental and clerical world, of militarism, of monopolism, of privileges….

The Paris Commune’s “experimental era” lasted 72 days.


(All quotes taken from:  Horne, Alistair, The Terrible Year: The Paris Commune, 1871)

(c) 2011 by True Liberal Nexus.  All rights reserved.

16 Responses to Why Occupy Failed

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    Tamerlane, though we may disagree on occasion I have to credit you with affording me a chance to give some real thought to your well conceived essay.

    I think most of us, including many of those who took to the streets, are just fed up to the hilt with our current state of affairs. We wander around practically helpless against a small handful of people who bend and shape outcomes to fit their own agenda.

    It’s almost a given that few really care or relate to the majority and given the current slate of morons running for POTUS that belief is not about to change any time soon.

    Great piece.

    • tamerlane says:

      Thanks, Pat. Your thoughtful comments are always greatly appreciated.

      As you know, I staged a local “occupy” rally myself. I really wanted something big to happen that would change ‘business-as-usual’ and free us from that “slate of morons.”

      We can’t let perpetual failures and confabulists like the anarchists spoli this chance for us. Sane people need to take over. We do not have to “wander around helpless” any longer — the large numbers of people who turned out for Occupy, ready to do something, showed that, despite the anarchists’ bolloxes, real change is possible.

  2. Fionnchú says:

    Yes, Tamerlane, Orwell’s “Homage to Catalonia” on the POUM and the predicament of the infighting left when real unity was needed and not manipulative stunts might be wisely required reading at present or future People’s Collective Universities. OLA boasted one, where I saw at a deserted library tent when I unloaded a few boxes of donated texts (pristine samples from publishers and my own rescues from bins at work, but practical ones–public speaking, rhetoric, composition, business communication, international accounting) on the ground an old purple paperback of Elias Canetti’s “Crowds & Power.”

    Your take on anarchism’s balanced. Peter Marshall’s enormous but readable and engaging “Demanding the Impossible” (reprinted and updated 2010 by Berkeley’s [naturally] feisty PM Press) is recommended. for a survey of thinkers from the ancients on who strive to achieve, in theory or practice, the ideal of no hierarchy in determining how society works. This is not the same as “not working,” a common misconception, but one based on a grassroots, ground-up consensus rather than top-down imposition.

    Of course, the difficulty with achieving this radical change, as you and I and many testify, shows that helplessness and wandering and human mics and pot can only go so far in making substantive progress. Let’s hope the shift to taking the struggle to bank divestment, foreclosure policies, anti- “Citizens United” and campaign reform makes a real rather than a symbolic, sit-in,
    difference. Maybe change will be sparked; googling “income inequality,” I found out, has increased enormously recently.

    Last night I was reading Peter Englund’s new narrative history of twenty ordinary people caught up in WWI, “The Beauty and the Sorrow.” I’m at the point where a super-patriot seaman in the German Navy witnesses the gross inequality between the officer’s mess and the enlisted men, and how he becomes radicalized. In a few years of the war, more was done to alert such men and women to the damage done by the class system (and how it could be overthrown?) than, Englund observes, “decades of anarchist and socialist propaganda.”

    • tamerlane says:

      F, I choose the 1930’s era black flag as my image, as opposed to the more modern “A”, to underscore that this philosophy has been tested before, and found sorely lacking. The anarchists (PUOM) and similarly brain-damaged communists snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the Spanish Civil War. All in the name of principle and theory. Spain got 36 years of Franco’s boot on their throat as a result.

      Who knows what lies around the bend for America? Whatever the challenge, whatever the threat, we cannot let lunatics like the Occupy anarchists steer the ship.

      • Jed Wheeler says:

        I’d argue that a combination of Stalinist treachery, covert funding by American millionaires like Ford for Franco as well as overt support from Germany and Italy played a bigger role in the outcome of the Spanish Civil war then the Anarchists dedication to their ideals. It’s hard to blame the militias of Catalonia for failing to stop Franco when he had the support of every military power on the planet except Russia and the Russians made up for that fact by quite literally shooting their “allies” in the back as they advanced on the fascist lines.

        Also, you call the POUM Anarchist. They were actually non-aligned (ie not controlled by russia) communists. The CNT were the Anarchists. Clearly you haven’t read your history nearly as carefully as you’d like us to believe.

        Blame the fracturing of the Republican coalition if you want or the embargo by the “democratic” states that allowed aid for Franco through but blocked aid to the Republicans. You could even blame the Catholic church that mobilized its members around the world to support Franco – a man they dubbed a “defender of the faith.” Post-WWII you can especially blame the American, French, and British governments that failed to keep their promise to wipe out fascism and instead supplied Franco with arms. His dictatorship would not have lasted if it hadn’t been for patronage from America in particular. There’s plenty of blame to go around. You ignore all of that and instead blame the ONLY group in that whole mess that uncompromisingly fought him from the moment he launched his counter-revolution until the very bitter end. Kind of lame.

        All of which neatly illustrates the point that when push comes to shove liberals, marxists, and fascists can all find plenty of common ground. You all want to maintain essentially the same system after all, you just want your man as the figurehead. On the ground there’s really not much difference between any of you – it’s all about power and violence and Statism. Which is why your article so completely fails to surprise me.

        Occupy made plenty of mistakes and anarchists were by no means blameless. The trouble with direct democracy is that ‘we the people’ don’t always make the best decisions. Hopefully people learned from their mistakes and will do better next time. I’d like to think so but I won’t hold my breath. Maybe it was all a waste. I don’t think we have enough distance to make that judgement call yet. As for the kids in black, I was an anarchist for 16 years, all through my 20’s and into my 30’s and I met many passionate creative people doing their best to make the world a better place. I also met a fair number of fuckups who believed the media hype that anarchism was about breaking things and had no interest in our movement except as an excuse. There are lots of reasons I don’t call myself an anarchist any more. But articles like yours remind me why I will never, ever, call myself a liberal.

  3. Jay Floyd says:

    Though I agree with most of your points, I don’t agree with the premise that it has ‘failed’. I could be wrong of course, but I think it’s on ‘page 9’ of the screenplay — not in the denouement.

    • tamerlane says:

      It depends, Jay, on what you define as “it”. Has the broad impetus to do something about corruption failed? Not yet, but it could be brought low by foolishness and lack of focus, or simply run out of steam. Has the direct democracy experiment, that was the Occupy camps, failed? Yes. It was stillborn, as anarchy is false as a theory, and any endeavors based on anarchy are doomed to fail.

      • Jay Floyd says:

        Call me a purist, but the direct democracy idiocy has nothing to do with the original impetus of the Occupy movement. The original idea is what I refer to as ‘it’.

        • tamerlane says:

          The idea for the original OWS protest was thrown out there by the radical Adbusters. “It” was a great concept, but the freaks crawled out of the woodwork and perverted it to their own designs. As my links show, the original core of organizers at OWS were anarchists. As my other links show, the GA, the hand jive, the vibe-keepers, the horizontal, leaderless structure, etc., have long been key components of the anarchist movement. Every singly Occupy group in America ended up implementing that malarkey. The un-leaders now un-running the Occupy in my area are the same numb-nuts who’d been passing out direct democracy xeroxes at MoveOn events for the past oh how many years.

          This movement — this moment — is too important to let whack-jobs waste it on conducting some doomed “experiment.” People like you and me, Jay the Purist, who know how to get shit done, need to shove these asswipes out of the way, and take the reins ourselves.

      • Jay Floyd says:

        Well, the good thing about lighting a match in a room filled with natural gas is that the natural gas doesn’t care who brought the spark.

        Hopefully we aren’t too anesthetized to keep the fire burning.

  4. sophie says:

    The ows seem to have been raised by the newer breed of parents, who feel the need to ‘reason’ with 2 year olds, and ‘explain’ why touching the hot stove is a bad idea.. This then leads to a discussion of fire, and ends with how much mommy loves him. The stove is forgotten, until needed again, as an attention getter.
    I saw Occupy as a cry for attention, not a demand for action..Attention is fun, action is hard.
    Thanks for a serious article, well written, and with a very real point of view.
    We need legions of people who ‘get stuff done.’ A perfect definition, of the doers and the risk takers, who ultimately, keep things moving forward.

    • tamerlane says:

      “I saw Occupy as a cry for attention, not a demand for action”


      Someone could write their doctorate, analyzing the infantilism of the hard left.

  5. socalannie says:

    Excellent article, Tamer.

  6. Jake says:

    Something tells me the author really needs to read more literature into the Paris Commune. It wasn’t an anarchist utopia, despite pro-anarchist literature on the subject.

    The “‘orgy of radicalist fantasy,” “no sense of urgency” and “issuing proclamations” were far better than the endemic political and economic corruption of Western capitalist regimes today.

    Politically, the “irrelevant trivia” tackled corruption and lack of political accountability on the part of porked-out legislators and the fat cats in the civil bureaucracy. Today’s proposals for pay based on average national income are derived from what this “experiment” established. They also subjected even the civil bureaucracy to recall. Police excesses to the point of police brutality were actually dealt with and not looked upon by blind eyes, because the policing function was reorganized. The separation of church and state was not anti-religious, but was genuine because they actually confiscated church property not related to worship, not just separated religion from all schools.

    Oh, and legislators were also responsible for administrative responsibilities.

    Economically, they had emergency measures that would fit with today’s debt-ridden society. Oh, and unlike today’s municipal see-saw of development vs. home ownership, eminent domain was actually used for the benefit of workers/employees, when they wanted to Occupy their workplaces against closures and such.

    “Meanwhile, the national bank remained untouched, quietly siphoning off bullion to the government in Versailles.” True, but only Marxists actually examined the public policies of this so-called “experiment” for what they did and didn’t do. It’s a pity they didn’t seize the National Bank. Still, that failure serves as a lesson to combat the financial oligarchy presiding over today’s money supply and financial systems overall, from the still-privatized Federal Reserve to the Too Big To Fail banks.

    It’s all in The Civil War in France.

    • tamerlane says:

      Jake, you seem to think that, just because I took all my quotes for this short piece from one book, I’ve only ever read one book on the subject. You recommend Marx’ pamphlet on the Commune; I seem to recall it coming up once or twice in the history books I picked up back in the mid-eighties at Humboldt University (not the one in Arcata, CA, the one in East Berlin.) While it may have been helpful for Karl to view the Commune as an useful test-bed for future revolution, it was in no way a proto-marxist movement — it was more a forced, self-conscience redux of the first Commune.

      You’ve also missed my entire point. It’s not the ideals I have a problem with; it’s the methodology of implementing them.

      When you insist that the Paris Commune was (& assumedly, Occupy is) “far better than the endemic political and economic corruption of Western capitalist regimes today,” you surely mean “the ideals of….” I, too, think capitalism inherently sucks, that politics are corrupted by too much money & corporate influence. I supported the original goal of OWS – to end corruption on Wall St. — and even organized my own local rally.

      And the Paris Commune did put forth some laudable social reforms. The point is, the Commune failed to prioritize effectively when time was of the essence. It spent too much time debating and legislating myriad acts, both profound and trivial, when it needed to focus energies on solidifying power and preparing for the legitimate government’s assault. Occupy, with its useless GAs, made the same mistake by letting its sharply focused & powerful original message diffuse into an impotent particle cloud of grievances.

      Had the Commune tried to sell its original message (oppose the peace treaty) to the rest of the country, it probably would have failed, but at least it would have a legitimate purpose. Instead, it quickly became about its right to exist — which, technically it did not possess. Likewise, Occupy ended up being about the right to occupy public spaces, rejecting the legitimacy of municipal government.

      Finally, the founders of both movements seemed to believe that the act of founding in itself was sufficient to success. The communards thought they were channeling mojo from 1792, while the occupii had faith in the transformative power of anarchist methods once experienced by the general public. Both communards & occupii truly believed they could simply set up an alternate (‘superior’) society, and the old, rotten one would simply fade away.

      You mention some social reforms that first originated with the Commune. Many point to Occupy’s changing of the public discussion. But neither movement’s cadre had as its underlying goal the *reform* of existing society, rather its *overthrow*, via the establishment of parallel societies. Both these parallel societies collapsed after about three months, leaving its resp. old society largely unperturbed. In that, both were abject failures.

  7. tamerlane says:

    Jed Wheeler wrote:

    “you call the POUM Anarchist. They were actually non-aligned … The CNT were the Anarchists.”

    Correct. POUM = Partida Obrera de Unificacion Marxista; CNT = Confederacion National del Trabajo. My confusing the spanish acronyms is more than sufficient cause to reject my entire thesis that the ideological intransigence of both those groups seriously undermined the war effort.

    “Clearly you haven’t read your history nearly as carefully as you’d like us to believe.”

    Actually, everything I know about the Spanish Civil War I learned from MIGHTY WIND. Hugh Thomas I just use as a door stop. So cut me some slack.

    “There’s plenty of blame to go around. You ignore all of that and instead blame the ONLY group in that whole mess that uncompromisingly fought [Franco] from the moment he launched his counter-revolution until the very bitter end. Kind of lame.”

    I see all that less as blame for failure (sour grapes) than disadvantages during wartime to be overcome. The Republicans had many advantages as well: initial control of most of the cities & countryside; a fleet sitting idle in the Balearics; popular support. Yes, the French failed to send a/c as promised, but the Russian I-16s were more numerous and technically superior to the German He 51s. The key difference was, while the Nationalists were a unified bloc, the Republicans were a coalition with two members, the marxists and the anarchists, unwilling to set aside ideology in order to get things done. Wasting time and eroding support to burn churches and rape nuns didn’t help, either.

    “when push comes to shove liberals, marxists, and fascists can all find plenty of common ground.”

    Yeah, unlike anarchists, we know how to get shit done.

    “Occupy made plenty of mistakes …. Hopefully people learned from their mistakes and will do better next time.”

    There won’t be a next time. That was a fluke, golden opportunity, and the direct democracy numbnuts blew it. Plus, the mistake was anarchy itself. If you want to see how to do it right, check out Idle No More.

    “I don’t think we have enough distance to make that judgement call yet.”

    Sure we do. Occupy utterly failed to meet a single objective or to build a lasting movement. For the general public it was a passing fad, doomed as soon as the next Lindsay Lohan fiasco caught their eye. Or you could blame it on the snow.

    “There are lots of reasons I don’t call myself an anarchist any more. But articles like yours remind me why I will never, ever, call myself a liberal.”

    Thanks for stopping by, anyway. And you’re welcome back any time. But googling for answers two years after Occupy’s brief moment in the sun won’t help. The real question to ask is, why does anarchy always fail?

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