Quinn Norton wrote a lengthy piece on her experience as an embedded reporter at Occupy, from the hopeful early days through the aftermath of the evictions:
Because the GA had no way to reject force, over time it fell to force. Proposals won by intimidation; bullies carried the day. What began as a way to let people reform and remake themselves had no mechanism for dealing with them when they didn’t. It had no way to deal with parasites and predators. It became a diseased process, pushing out the weak and quiet it had meant to enfranchise until it finally collapsed when nothing was left but predators trying to rip out each other’s throats.
In other words, it fell to the “tyranny of structurelessness, a long-time problem for leaderless organizations. And the radical exclusivity ended up excluding almost everyone:
As the camps became darker, the women mostly left, and those who remained were grateful to just be left alone. By my count Occupy had dropped from as high as 40 percent women to less then 10 percent, in an atmosphere of sexual violence, bare intimidation and hatred. By then for a certain kind of occupier, anything with breasts was a target in the camps, either for scorn or being too sexy or being insufficiently sexy. It was never the majority, but the majority did nothing to stop it. They had a progressive stack in the GA that purported to let women speak first, but no one talked about the comments, the groping, the rumors of rapes.
One of the failures Norton identifies was the inability for both the GA and the Occupy media to self-critique. This lead to the media groups being propagandists enabling self-deception:
“One of the main reasons I wanted to have the PO separate from the GA, is I wanted, from the very beginning, a means within the process for booting people out. The GA had no such process,” he said.
His original idea was to tell positive stories from the camp. He worked with media teams from Boston, LA, Chicago, and New York, and traveled to other camps to get the stories out. In time, Rothstein came to see that Occupy’s media needed to tell all the stories of what was going on: the wonderful and the terrible. By then it was too late.
Full Story: Wired: A Eulogy for #Occupy
Another recent story on the failure of Occupy, by Thomas Frank, laid the blame mostly on the academic tone of Occupy. He makes a good point but I think overstates the case.
I’m hesitant to call Occupy “over,” what with the Rolling Jubilee and the ongoing occupation of foreclosed homes, but certainly the movement, as it originally existed, is over. But there is much to be learned from how things went down.