Next month, activists and organizers across the country are planning to train 100,000 people in nonviolent direct action for what they call The 99% Spring. But despite borrowing one or two of the Occupy movement’s favorite slogans, The 99% Spring hasn’t been called for by any general assembly. Rather, this massive and controversial effort is coming from the institutional left — a diverse coalition of labor unions, environmental and economic justice groups, community organizations and trainers’ alliances. While some celebrate what appears to be a mainstreaming of resistance thanks to Occupy, others are crying co-option.
… Both OWS and the organizations involved in The 99% Spring encompass a wide range of views regarding electoral politics and the means for social change. MoveOn.org actively campaigns for Obama, while other participating groups like the Ruckus Society are known for more radical, issue-based campaigns involving direct action.
Still, some are skeptical that an organization like MoveOn.org must be up to something. An anonymous writer at CounterPunch has alleged that The 99% Spring is really a MoveOn.org front for the Democratic Party, here quoting activist John Stauber:
[“]In this latest case, the so-called 99 Spring, MoveOn is enlisting other NGOs to create the appearance of a populist uprising from the Left, when it’s all about keeping the rabble in line and aimed at the Republicans to re-elect Obama,” he continued.
As will be seen throughout this series on foundation-funded Democratic Party aligned non-profit groups poisoning the genuine grassroots, MoveOn.org is far from the only culprit playing this rotten and cynical game.
CounterPunch also cites former MoveOn.org employee Ilyse Hogue’s controversial article in The Nation, “Occupy is Dead! Long Live Occupy!”, which contends that Occupy’s modus operandi has outlived its usefulness — while having fired up the more established institutions. A 99% Spring, therefore, would seem to be Occupy’s grown-up, more institution-friendly replacement. The CounterPunch article has circulated on Occupy organizer email lists, spreading fears that progressive organizations are trying to hijack OWS’ energy or co-opt its message for their own purposes.
But, in the same issue of The Nation, historian Frances Fox Piven rejects the “false dilemma” between electoral politics and protest movements. Piven argues that
movements work against politicians because they galvanize and polarize voters and threaten to cleave the majorities and wealthy backers that politicians work to hold together. … [T]he great victories that have been won in the past were won precisely because politicians were driven to make choices in the form of policy concessions that would win back some voters, even at the cost of losing others.
What do you think about the 99% spring?