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ODS January 19, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
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I was been thinking a lot about Occupy Dame Street before Christmas, in part because prior to this I wasn’t thinking much about it in great detail due to pressure from other fronts, so to speak. So this piece by Helena Sheehan is of particular interest in terms of analysing aspects of ODS and bringing people up to date with developments [and is of a piece with this excellent analysis]. I’d add that it is a thoughtful, self-deprecating and useful analysis which is both positive where it needs to be but unafraid of pointing to problematic issues.

I have to admit to being conflicted, though I’m not involved directly so any observations I make are at a bit detached.

There’s a lot to like about Occupy Dame Street. A number of obvious innovations, perhaps most notably the invitation of speakers to those at ODS, have been a genuine step forward in terms of potential educative outcomes and something that others could usefully emulate by rethinking where and how they have similar events. No one could dismiss out of hand the endurance of many of those at the Central Bank. And its longevity is nothing to sniff at either. I’ve wandered down a couple of times, but haven’t had the opportunity to sit in on one of their assemblies (though to judge from the video evidence may be a mixed blessing unless one has the time to devote to them).

But there are those problematic issues mentioned above. I’ve heard no end of people from more traditional left wing groups complaining about the inchoate and diffuse nature of ODS and in particular the marginalisation of that left. And it’s true that there seems to be a certain pathology as regards attitudes specifically towards the SWP, but not entirely restricted to it. Now any of us on the left will appreciate that there is a mixed history there – to put it mildly, but that said there are good people in the SWP, and beyond that again the effort they put into the work they do is prodigious as I’ve seen at first hand time and again. That – of course – doesn’t mean that the outcomes are necessarily optimal. But – even going halfway towards the ODS position, it’s far from impossible to construct processes to mitigate against any of the negative outcomes that seem to perhaps overly exercise ODS.

Sheehan in her piece neatly sums it up as follows:

These specific changes escalated to a way of talking about them as if they were sinister and evil, rather than being another force on the scene that was mobilising on the same issues. Any attempt by the SWP to relate to the occupation was seen as an attempt at infiltration.

This has, it would seem, spread to, or run in parallel to, an antipathy to the unions. Again, any of us on the left are aware of the chequered history of many/most of the TU’s. But the problem seems to be a remarkably undiscriminating attitude whereby some amongst ODS see all unions as being a problem. You know you’re in trouble when DCTU are seen as somehow being part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Trade union officials tended to get a rough ride. When Mick O’Reilly spoke, a woman screeched at him demanding that he call a general strike immediately. When Sam Nolan gave a sketch of the history of trade unions in Ireland, it was our longest session, with many people coming and going. After several hours and darkness falling, a new wave of participants were asking questions that had been asked and answered two hours before that. One young woman ranted against trade unions from a position of utter ignorance.

Granted there are other voices too, but I thought it was telling how distinctly ODS has sought to place clear water between itself and unions.

It’s practical effect has been the obvious problem that by not allowing trade union banners, whatever about party banners, that it delinks itself from a broader societal struggle, and look, as we have this week, at levels of union membership in this society – even now. They are mass organisations whatever their flaws.

But, and here’s a further thought, the very concept of 99 per cent and 1 per cent leads, in part, to a broad brush approach whereby the very starkness of that figure disguises – or avoids, some of the nuances that should accompany such analyses. It’s not just 99:1, so much as 20:80 or somesuch, and the distinction isn’t entirely irrelevant. There are tranches within various classes with more or less progressive attitudes – sure. But classes are – and I know this will come as a shock to some of you reading this – antagonistic whether that antagonism is covert or overt. And the same is true of institutions – such as unions etc which are broadly representative of classes. It is revealing to me how in the US the labor movement and the Occupy movement have made common cause and that’s because there seems to be a shared recognition that ultimately it is the working class which makes up much of the 99 and that consequently the interests of an action must be to identify with that class.

But oddly, none of this is entirely unfamiliar to me. There’s an echo of another avowedly “non politics as usual” strand.

Consider the arrival of Eamonn Ryan to speak to them – though given his centrality to the events that exacerbated the crisis he’s a curious choice. Consider Sheehan’s description of the following:

We never discussed criteria for speakers, because we assumed common understanding of the project. Until the name of Eamon Ryan appeared on our timetable. He was now leader of the Green Party, but had been a government minister, defeated in the election earlier in the year. He was a particularly arrogant exponent of the decisions that brought us to our knees. I was told that he would speak on ‘energy, no politics’, which I did not find acceptable.

I introduced the session in a civil, but less than welcoming, way, asking participants to let him have his say, but indicating that all should be able to address the politics of energy as well as to air their grievances with the last government. The discussion veered from people losing their tempers at his very presence and walking away to engaging him in ideological debate to being honoured by his presence and trying to impress him. I was astounded at the latter, especially because I had been careful not to invite Richard Boyd Barrett of the SWP, who had been elected to Dail Eireann in the recent election, or Alex Callincos, when he was in town for the marxism conference, as I thought it would inflame the situation at this stage. People who didn’t want to be tainted by association with trade unions and left parties were gushing over a politician who voted for and justified what ODS was set up to protest.

This is, to me, very telling. Here is someone with direct responsibility for aspects of our current woes, and yet he is invited to address ODS. The contradiction between express aims and this is enormous.

And it is of a piece with that previously mentioned aversion to unions, the emphasis on consensus, the disavowal by some of ‘politics’. It is all too reminiscent in some limited respects of the Green Party.

One thing over the years that struck me in my dealings with some, quite a significant tranche as it happens, within the GP was the attitude to the unions, an attitude of remarkable hostility. This initially surprised me but on reflection didn’t seem so strange at all. The GP didn’t and doesn’t self-consciously do class politics even in the inchoate and residual way of much of contemporary social democracy [of course it does in a more fundamental way, structurally and in the sense of reinforcing or sustaining certain orthodoxies]. Many of their members had little or no experience with unions, indeed few had any serious engagement with them – and due to that there was amongst some an entirely exaggerated understanding of what unions are and do. It was certainly an eye-opener to hear some of the tropes of the mainstream narrative reiterated unthinkingly as regards their ‘corruption’ and so on. And even though I know those amongst their number who fully understand class politics this isn’t reflected in their ethos or policies. I’m no Leninist, but there’s no way around functional class structures that permeate this society and that have to be engaged with politically.

The concentration on ‘consensus’ was something also found within the GP. I entirely understand the motivation for ODS in adopting this, and perhaps more particularly in the context alluded to above when some groups attempt to piggy back or worse onto protests. But having seen, at reasonably close hand how ‘consensus’ style approaches waved the Green Party towards entry to government with Fianna Fáil it seems to me that the limitations of it were as apparent as its virtues. And it was clearly as open to negative outcomes as any other representational/decision making methodology. Again, the image of leading members of the GP seated individually amongst huddled groups of members at that meeting in the Mansion House in 2007 where there were – well – Stakhanovite efforts to reach the 66 per cent required to accept the Coalition, is unlikely to leave me any time soon. And that, a party which twelve months earlier would have found the idea anathema acquiesced to entering an FF led coalition.

And as with the GP it’s useful to note that processes can appear to be more important than outcomes. This, of course, is no stranger to most of us on the left and further left. We do love our programmes – but a programme at least offers a starting point, an expression of first principles. Yet, programmes and formats are not quite the same thing and formats certainly shouldn’t be reified over outcomes.

And the antipathy to politics is problematic, not least because the demands are intrinsically political. They are de facto of the left and of the radical left. But the aversion to sharing the context with others of that left/radical left suggests some complex processes in themselves. Fears of being swamped or marginalised or of a dilution of messages are understandable, but they can seem in some respects to be the flip side of a stand-offishness or sense of ownership which is in itself self-referential and exclusivist in much the same way as the formations that it seeks to avoid being captured by [indeed in that respect there’s something too of the GP about that approach too where when questions were asked about policies they were supporting in government that one would have expected would have been anathema to them it was met with something akin to ‘but that's not the same thing at all as FF supporting such an idea. It’s us who are saying/doing this - how could we do something wrong if we are doing it?’. I exaggerate, but only very slightly, and some would say not at all].

And if this seems harsh on the GP, well it should be because for all the genuinely thoughtful approaches on some issues, and indeed the entirely correct centrality of climate change to much of what they championed, so much of what they implemented in government has been sluiced away by the likes on one P. Hogan. That’s all it took. That’s how marginal their impact actually was.

I’m not trying to suggest that ODS is the GP redux, or to suggest that because the GP was supportive of something that immediately invalidates it, or to suggest that the GP is the font of all evil, but what I am suggesting is that we have seen a formation using which took certain approaches that in practice proved to be deeply problematic and that necessitates some caution in engaging with those approaches. But nor, and this is crucial, does any of this invalidate ODS. It must stand or fall on its own feet and by its own decisions.

That said, there’s something quite… well… admirable about the effort to work out in such painstaking detail their positions on one issue and another. One can argue that it goes over the top, yet there’s a seriousness there that I think is important.

But to even phrase it that way is to point up the issue that it’s not, at least theoretically, just their positions. Not when they seek to represent the 99.

But lest this seem only like a critique of ODS, which it is in part, it’s impossible to focus on them without considering the broader picture. The thing is that ODS has a certain power precisely because the ‘traditional’ left seems to some degree adrift. We’re now three and a half years into the worst socio-economic crisis in generations in Europe and in this state and yet there’s been no phase shift in terms of representation of the left or efficacy. This is in no way to dismiss the very genuine gains, the ULA TDs, Sinn Féin’s advance, and so on. Nor to note the very concrete work carried out by people from those and a range of formations.

But it is to point that those gains don’t quite measure up to the depth of the crisis, and therefore I’d tend to support any experiments that can potentially bring us forward. So despite those problematics noted above there still seems to me to be considerable scope in ODS, both in itself as it is today and in educative terms for others. And as a libertarian socialist it seems to me that it is a manifestation – however imperfect, as all manifestations will be – of an experimental impulse that should be encouraged in itself and as exemplar across a range of areas and by other formations.

To give a small example, a left that supported/organised/enabled open air easy access ‘lectures’ and ‘schools’ around the cities and towns of this island would be one that was moving away from the rather staid and formalised models we’ve seen in the past, one that in some sense was reaching out. The idea of Helena Sheehan or Conor McCabe or Michael Taft and many others speaking openly in public places is something that I think is enormously valuable. That alone would be something to be built on if nothing else ODS did was of import. But it is of import… the simple fact of an oppositional presence, their oppositional presence, is of enormous import.

And in a way that’s why, for me at least, the 99 per cent trope doesn’t delve quite deeply enough into aspects of this – and every − society. That class structures bite deep into and cut across that 99 per cent and have to be acknowledged and engaged with and that this ultimately means moving towards a position of identifying who one stands with as much as who one stands against.

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1. Richard - January 19, 2012

I never saw 99% vs 1% as a useful analytical paradigm, even if there are certain analyses of income, wealth and power distribution that can be made to fit that ratio. Rather I saw it as a useful and appealing way of introducing the idea of class conflict into a society where class antagonisms are systematically effaced.

‘We are the 99%’ need not be a claim to represent a 99%, but merely a way of delivering a powerful symbolic coup de force against a totalising discourse that continually demands that ‘we are all in this together’. But the frame in which it gets interpreted depends on the specific historical moment, and what we have with ODS in Ireland is quite a lot of people -outside the movement- who interpreted it as a claim to represent the near totality of society, and quite a lot of people -on the inside- for whom it became a vast abstraction that enabled them to hide away from, not confront, the question of class conflict.

In the early days of Occupy Dame Street I wrote a piece where I was quite optimistic that the antagonism towards unions might fade and I argued for the need to include unions.

I wrote:

As Michael Albert alluded to in his brief talk at Dame Street today, it is not just public spaces as designated by the State that need to be occupied and politicised. Therefore to exclude the question of how to relate to unions is to exclude many people in the 99% who want to politicise places of work, and to exclude, by extension, those people whose material well-being is inextricable from the protections won through union struggles. They are the 99% too, and deciding to cast them aside could prove fatal.

But I was still hopeful. I was quite wrong on that score, though I think the networks established through the Occupy Dame Street experience will throw up other interesting manifestations that have no difficulty in working with organised labour.

However, in terms of your analysis, I would caution against the dangers of metonymy, that is, interpreting the anti-union stance of some of the most vociferous and recalcitrant elements on the scene as indicative or representative of the attitude of all of those involved.
As Helena points out in her article a lot of the initial preparation and co-ordination was done by people who had been involved in Real Democracy Now: very few of these were antagonistic towards unions per se -even if there were some who were against the notion that unions could claim to represent them. Those in the latter category did so not out of an anti-union animus but because of the perception that the main unions in Ireland had been so incorporated within a neoliberal framework, via social partnership and so on, that to appeal to them for representation would be counterproductive: the feeling was that they should be a force for democracy, and not -as I described in my piece, as motors of depoliticising consensus and downward convergence.

Here’s the piece, anyway:

http://knaves.posterous.com/occupydamestreet

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WorldbyStorm - January 19, 2012

That’s a very fair point re painting all with a broad brush, but I guess I’d think that if a process is in train where a small but vociferous minority can block the inclinations of a majority then the functional effect is that ODS assumes an anti union complexion.

What concerns me is where those who have walked away due to that minority went. I’ve been in two formations where afte splits, WP and DL, far too many who were disillusioned by those processes just walked out of activism entirely.

Btw Your own views on this throughout have been very useful.

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Richard - January 19, 2012

Thanks. Good post, by the way. I take your point about the functional effect.

I wasn’t around to witness any of the contentious assemblies, but I think there are general considerations about consensus -which lead to abstract prescriptions about either how great they are or how tyrannical they are- and then there are the specifics of the case and the concrete outcomes at a particular moment.

I mean, there was a correlation of forces there -people with no previous experience of political activity, more experienced people of different political persuasions, but mostly leaning to the left, fractional fluoride reserve lizards, and hardened political activists with well defined ideas about the type of practices and actions they wanted to see.

Clearly a consensus process in such circumstances isn’t the same as one where you have a group of people who already assent to the effectiveness of a consensus approach for the purposes of whatever campaign it is they’re involved in.

So, in terms of the functional effect (anti-union complexion – but perhaps largely from the point of view of left activists – I don’t think ODS provided any real fuel for the mainstream press to set fire to unions) as an outcome of the assembly decision, I’d be inclined to look not just at the apolitical or anti-political inclinations of a core vociferous minority as the motor of the process, but at the broader interaction between these different strands, all of whom, while participating, were supposed to be part of ODS. The reason being that I think, as you seem to be getting at in your post, that the ODS experience presents a lot of questions worth posing about the present composition of the left (in Dublin at least) and its current priorities.

Sorry if I’m not being all that clear. I’m finding it hard to think about this whole phenomenon these days.

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WorldbyStorm - January 19, 2012

“(anti-union complexion – but perhaps largely from the point of view of left activists – I don’t think ODS provided any real fuel for the mainstream press to set fire to unions) ”

That makes a lot of sense to me too. Whatever about the intricacies of the discussions at ODS they didn’t permeate to quarters that are hostile to the left, or at least not in any damaging way.

I really think that there is an educative effect. Simply by being in close proximity to left causes that has to have a sort of osmosis effect on people. It would be very itneresting to talk to them in twelve or twenty four months and get their opinions then and see how they’ve been shaped and evolved during and after the process.

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2. ec - January 19, 2012

Just a factual detail: Eamonn Ryan asked to give a talk and was scheduled . He was not invited.

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WorldbyStorm - January 19, 2012

Fair point too. And that’s grand I guess in seeing him… Though one would hope for a critical engagement with him.

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Dr. X - January 19, 2012

How is being “asked to give a talk” different from being “invited”? (genuine question)

Also, what happened with regard to the antisemitism on the facebook page?

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WorldbyStorm - January 19, 2012

I guess it’s the direction? ER asked to enter the ODS environment, he wasn’t asked to by them. Even as a courtesy I guess if I was there at the time I’d be in favour of it. But that’s what I mean as a critical engagement… he surely deserves it. No?

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ec - January 20, 2012

HE asked if HE could give a talk. That’s how it is different.

The conspiranoid vids were posted by a rogue FB page admin who is no longer involved. They were unrepresentative of ODS generally and stayed up for maybe 30 mins.

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Dr. X - January 20, 2012

Apologies for the sudden and incomprehensible lapse in my reading comprehension there. But still, why let him come and speak? Surely there can be a balance between the control freakery of the Leninists in all their 57 varieties and a total laissez-faire attitude?

Also, occupy in popular culture:

http://www.octopuspie.com/2011-10-29/488-cute-tent/

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ec - January 20, 2012

As person who put him in schedule after he asked – I have to say WBS has summed up my rationale. I got quite a bit of stick for it as I didn’t really discuss the whole idea with the rest of people arranging talks before putting him on the list. We were working hard and fast . . .

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WorldbyStorm - January 20, 2012

And I think that’s reasonable ec. It’s not as if there’s no lessons to learn from the experience of people like that, even if they don’t necessarily seem to have learned them themselves.

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CMK - January 19, 2012

You have to admire Eamon’s brass neck. Barely out of the most disastrous government in the state’s history, of which he was a trenchant defender to the last, and he’s hunting round any bandwagon that’ll have him.

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WorldbyStorm - January 19, 2012

It’s a bit of a surprise. That’s for sure.

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CMK - January 20, 2012

ec’s clarification above actually made me laugh when I saw it first. It was sooo Eamon. I daresay we’ll see Eamon’s name in lights again.

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seedot - January 20, 2012

ERs attendance was a very strange experience – he wouldn’t make eye contact but seemed at home with the chemtrails and flouride brigade. radical market solutions agogo

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3. Garibaldy - January 19, 2012

Glad to see you’ve done this WBS. I saw Helena Sheehan’s piece this evening, and thought it was worth a thread, but you’ve beaten me to it.

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WorldbyStorm - January 19, 2012

It would be interesting though to get your thoughts as well.

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4. seedot - January 20, 2012

just watched Eric Hobsbawm on BBC talking about the reception Occupy is receiving being the most interesting thing. I would half agree and think that this is part of Helena’s excellent analysis as well. But I do think it is worth looking at what it is that has this ‘resonance’ where more classical left formations or, in the language of some ODS people, brands are having.

Occupy and ODS are not one and the same but the Dublin version which has been in existence for more than 100 days definitely carries many of the international features even if like all good movements or memes it has adapted to local conditions. There is a focus on process, on trying to develop consensus and direct democracy in advance of representative forms. There is a belief in the primacy of action, of taking and managing space, although as far as I can see it currently expresses a belief in non-violent resistance only. And there is a strong suspicion of those who come with fully worked out solutions – while they may reject ‘There Is No Alternative’ the assemblies and teach ins and repeated refrain that “we don’t have all the answers” mean Occupy internationally and ODS here want to facilitate a discussion about what answers might be like. This is definitely not to say that all those who self identify as Occupy Dame Street have welcome all those who would come and discuss answers.

Personally being a 90s hippyish activist i’m comfortable with jazz hands, prefer too much democracy to too little and would probably share a suspicion of most left political formations in particular those with received wisdom instead of politics.

I think Occupy will offer more potential to stir people into activity in 2012 than most other formations and also think that ODS will cease to be the only route to engagement with the meme here in Dublin fairly soon.

I also think they are right to focus on the bond payments instead of the household charge.

One thing that is noticeable – this is a self documenting, self broadcasting movement and whatever one thinks of the assemblies (and I felt a huge deja vu at times with meetings around the irish social forum), many early ones are available even if just as a captured livestream. http://vimeo.com/31301133 is the one about the enough campaign proposal, http://vimeo.com/31849781 is the start of the eamonn ryan talk and http://vimeo.com/31907899 is the second, much more interesting half where we see peoples reactions.

It would be good if others came down to talk and listen at occupy assemblies and teach ins and try and strengthen networks of resistance that surely have to be needed in the short term.

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Mark P - January 20, 2012

“a suspicion of most left political formations in particular those with received wisdom instead of politics.”

What on earth is that supposed to mean? Who exactly are you suggesting has “a received wisdom instead of politics”?

“I also think they are right to focus on the bond payments instead of the household charge.”

What a bizarre counterposition.

The very forces pushing non-payment of the water tax / household tax / septic tank tax also bang on about bond payments endlessly. What’s more, it isn’t as if the sudden introduction of a rake of regressive taxes has nothing to do with the decision to pay bondholders.

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D_D - January 20, 2012

The reference to the focus on the bond payment is to tactical priority, I would imagine. There is room for discussion about whether all or most of the left’s eggs and energy are best placed in the houshold and water charges basket.

The advent this week of two broad based campaigns on ‘the bond’ indicates room for other issues too. Of which there are more than one other with mass potential: DEIS and the school cuts, hospitals and public nursing homes, the persisting cuts in JLCs/EROs, the cuts in community funding, the CE scheme cuts, mortgages-repossessions-housing, Vita Cortex (or other struggles which may flare up from closures). And why does no one seem to think there is a potential campaign in the wholesale axing of thousands of ordinary bankworkers’ jobs?

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Mark P - January 20, 2012

This would be the same left putting its eggs in one basket which has regularly raised all, or almost all, of these issues, which has been holding campaign meetings about hospital cuts, which was the driving force behind the establishment of a trade union activists network, which has campaigned around JLCs, which has been heavily involved in supporting occupying workers, etc?

Or would it be some other left?

There is nobody who thinks that the various flat rate taxes which are being introduced are the most important set of issues in the country at the moment. They are on the other hand a set of issues which the left is in a position to have an impact on beyond the usual run of protests, Dail statements, media appearances, publicity focused direct actions and the like. It’s genuinely tiresome to see people counterpose this campaign to campaigning around issues which are also the subject of considerable efforts from the left and which are in general aspects of the same crisis.

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ec - January 20, 2012

Lots of people are involved in various ways in both of these campaigns – but the non payment campaigns have momentum and are doing a good job of communicating broadly and getting support – and lots independent left activists see that similar momentum and public education is needed wrt to Bond payments and are choosing to focus on that – explicitly linking austerity policies to these payments of odious debts. These things compliment each other implicitly and all involved can and should explicitly support each other. I think that is implicit in seedots comment.

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seedot - January 20, 2012

On received wisdom – why would an accusation that some substitute dogma and teachings from another era bother you Mark? Surely you are active in an organisation which believes that every set of circumstances will see the class use its ingenuity to develop new modes of both resistance and present solutions appropriate to the problems and tools. I just think that many feel some solutions presented may be a little ‘tired’ and belong to another era and the use of participative democracy and assemblies with no predeveloped solutions can be empowering for new layers engaging in political activity.

yes, the reference to the household charge was indeed tactical. The household charge doesn’t offer easy opportunities to Occupy (although the council occupations are interesting) whereas the bond payments have a very convenient structure and symbolism for a loose affiliation such as Occupy to organise around. The Household charge obviously offers more opportunities to build longer term local based campaign structures which is attractive to parties interested in growth.

I did not pass a value judgement on this.

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Mark P - January 20, 2012

Seedot, at this point I have precisely zero tolerance for contentless waffle about the tired old left with its outdated received wisdom as opposed to vital and imaginative new movements, and other such vague, meaningless, self aggrandizing rubbish. Particularly when it comes, apparently with no sense of irony, from people whose “new” organisational forms and politics tend to have origins in early 20th Century Quakerism and the nearly half a century old hippy subculture.

As for there being “no predeveloped solutions”, obviously every tactical situation is different, but I’m not in any way inclined to make a general virtue out of trying to reinvent the wheel.

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Dr.Nightdub - January 20, 2012

Focussing on symbolism is all well and good but not to the point where it encourages adoption of ostrich tactics with regards to the household tax which is real and tangible.

If Helena Sheehan’s analysis is accurate, then I would’ve thought ODS, in looking for ways to re-inject some dynamism, would jump at the potential for action on the household tax, rather than airily dismissing it as being “more attractive to parties interested in growth.” That smacks of “we’ll carry on facepainting against the bondholders, you lot with the political banners can take on the household tax.”

I can understand a reluctance to get involved in political affiliations with pre-existing formations with whom ODS doesn’t agree 100%, but what I can’t comprehend is the failure to recognise shared political interests – it’s not as if ODS or People With Banners have diametrically-opposed views on the desired outcome.

Finally a question – one which I find genuinely curious and puzzling: how come in ODS’ four demands, the EU gets off the hook – are they not part of the infamous troika any more, along with the ECB and IMF?

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Mark P - January 20, 2012

My last comment should not be interpreted as a dismissal of ODS as a bunch of hippies by the way.

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seedot - January 20, 2012

@MarkP: Ah Mark, given that this conversation started from Helena Sheehans thoughtful reflection that criticised Occupys ahistorical tendencies you can take it contributors here are not presenting Occupy as some brand new wonder system, never thought of before. What might be more interesting to consider is why this particular mix of practices, slogans and tools seems to have an international resonance. But it is also important that if this movement is to grow it needs to reject the anti-intellectualism and to develop some form of class consciousness (which are obviously different but related tasks). As for reinventing the wheel – no, but sometimes we do need to re-explain it in a new language for a new audience who have been told they are square and don’t work.

@Dr Night Dub – do you mind if I borrow ‘People With Banners (PWB)’?
A huge amount of politics is symbolism – this tax symbolises all the injust exploitation or control of a regime, that encampment or banner symbolises the resistance for many people. I think the Occupy meme has a resonance right now but would definitely not seek to speak on behalf of or with any special understanding of ODS. The strong libertarian approach is something I am familiar with and I’ve never been one to deny the revolutionary potential of drumming circles and street theatre but of course resistance will be stronger if it has mass participation and we should at a minimum express solidarity with other struggles. In Helena’s analysis she talks of trying to bring an awareness of those shared political interests you talk of. Occupy is not homogeneous and there was an element present throughout the last 100 days who argued against the ‘facepainting-and-camping only’ strategy.

On your question – yeah the people i have spoken with on Dame Street were not instinctively anti-EU. Actually I often heard a naive faith in all sorts of institutions – but heard reports that the tricolour was debated as a ‘banner’ that some felt exclusionary. I think OU was in part a sincere attempt to try and address some of these shortcomings in the Dublin expression of the movement.

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5. Gerard Murphy (@gfmurphy101) - January 20, 2012

Have to admit I am a fan of the occupy movement, where it all will lead is anyones guess, but I do think that they have been successful in “outing” the 1%! Of course the 99% are more varied than Occupy would claim, but there is one thing the 99% are not? answer= the 1%. Whatever the problems people can see with them (and I come at this topic from a global view) I think they have at least ignited a debate about the fundamentals of capitalism, at a time when the true face of capitalism is been exposed. If we look at the mainstream media, the general discourse is that capitalism is in some trouble but like the following article asserts http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/nigel-farndale-capitalism-isnt-broken-it-just-needs-a-little-tweak-2990123.html it can be fixed.

The occupy movement have been instrumental in challenging on a global stage the notion of “the trickle down effect” . I believe myself that since the fall of the USSR, capitalism has entered a phase of its evolution at an earlier than anticipated time, and that capitalism has now reverted to its global position in terms of global dominance that it held pre 1929 ( but that is another debate for another time). The occupy movement in my opinion is a direct manifestation of the beginning of the end of the trickle down effect, what trickle down effect there was (if ever) is over.

Perhaps the apathy towards unions is more a reflection of anger towards union leaders rather than workers??? after all some of the salaries union leaders are drawing would place them very close to the 1% bracket!!????

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6. CL - January 21, 2012

ODS seems narrow-minded compared to its NYC, OWS counterpart. At Zuccotti park, Zizek, Chris Hedges, Richard Wolff (Marxist economist), John Samuelsen (head of the Transport Workers Union), and many other leftists all spoke. Plus all the usual left groups had a presence. (Incidentally Samuelsen’s current reading includes Michael O’Riordan’s ‘Connolly Column’).

http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-01-07/news/30603054_1_transit-workers-john-samuelsen-transit-strike/4

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ec - January 21, 2012

Narrow minded? I don’t think so. Not many leftists contributing? I don’t think so. There may have been some narrow minded people involved but it was a lot more complex an event (that’s how I see it. I don’t see it as a ‘group’) than something simply readable as ‘narrow minded’. Evidence: Here is some: http://occupyuniversitydublin.tumblr.com/ Some TU people, Some from many extant left groups etc.

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7. And with that… they were gone « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - March 8, 2012

[...] I’m simplifying this to an extent. But the energy, and indeed the innovation that was referenced previously on this site in relation to useful experimentation with open air talks and so on should not be allowed to [...]

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