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ODS: And with that… they were gone. March 8, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.
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Behold the tone of sweet reason emanating from Leo Varadkar over Occupy…

The move comes following recent calls on the protesters to leave the Central Bank plaza ahead of the St Patrick’s Day parade.
Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar yesterday said it was “regrettable” that those involved in the Occupy Dame Street camp would not consider relocating for a few days during the St Patrick’s Day celebrations.
“I think it’s disappointing that they’re not going to move the camp for a few days. I understand they feel very strongly about their politics, but I’m sure they don’t want to damage the festival,” Mr Varadkar said.

Indeed.

But his words do point up one problem with Occupy. It’s presence, even if [and when] it reestablishes itself over the next week or month or whatever, has always been contingent on the good will, or at least indifference, of the state authorities. That it wasn’t moved before this merely attests to how said state sought a time that provided them with some cover. And lo and behold, who should gift them that but St. Patrick?

And this points to a broader problem with Occupy, in that far from so far representing a fundamental break in the socio-political context it has yet to demonstrate precisely what it is – which by the way given the problems other more overtly left formations have had in the past four years is hardly unknown in these times. And part of that has to be the concentration on location.

The writing wasn’t on the wall with the removal of other ‘Occupies’ around the globe, though no doubt the Gardai and others watched carefully to learn whatever lessons were necessary, but instead from the beginning when a decision was taken to have protests at specific locations.

Indeed one person from ODS was quoted recently saying…

Whatever may happen around St Patrick’s Day, however, the occupiers say their protest, which they call a process, has just begun. “This place, outside the Central Bank, will continue to be the focus…Of course we have sympathy with the traders, and we do see that the public has lost access to the plaza. But we feel the gain, in having this focus for a process towards real fundamental change, is greater than the loss.”

Where does a movement based on location go when it is removed from that location? And while the response can be any location, or at least some other locations will serve as well, the problem is the DS in ODS. Either that has an significance or it doesn’t. If it does then to be moved on is problematic. If it doesn’t what’s the problem? And the other question is what is Plan B, or location B, and why wasn’t it put in place given that the Central Bank was always going to be a temporary site. That thought in mind it’s odd to read:

Occupiers will be also meeting with legal representatives later today to assess how to best move forward.

A garda spokesman said the force was obliged to move the camp for health and safety to ahead of the St Patrick’s Day parade, but it “remains to be seen what happens in the future”.

All this, one would have thought, would have been foreseen long long before and contingency plans set in place.

Granted 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 dissipate – albeit to judge from Helena Sheehan and others there was a considerable tapering off of activity from mid-Autumn onwards [and here note once more this - to my mind - excellent analysis].

So there’s no grounds for outright pessimism. At least not unless the experience so far is merely dismissed. The opportunity to learn from that in ways that are creative and long lasting remains.

[For more on the protests taking place this evening, thanks to shea for pointing to the WSM twitter feed, to be found here...]

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Comments»

1. shea - March 8, 2012

apparently there trying to re occupy the space again tonight

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WorldbyStorm - March 8, 2012

Good for them on one level, but isn’t that a lost cause? I’m surprised they didn’t nominate a standby/fall back space somewhere around the city centre. Or perhaps they have and I’m being too quick in my assessment.

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shea - March 8, 2012

yeah pass them every day think there numbers have been dropping off the last few weeks. maybe they couldn’t mount a plan b. something like this would galvanize them guessing theres some new people involved today.

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WorldbyStorm - March 8, 2012

Yep, looking at the pics a lot more around today than any time I’ve seen any day I was up around the CB.

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2. Starkadder - March 8, 2012

When did they pack up? I was in Dublin this Tuesday, and
when I passed near the Central Bank in the afternoon I didn’t see ODS.

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3. shea - March 8, 2012

they where removed last night. if you go on to the anarchists twitter there putting up updates http://twitter.com/#!/wsmireland

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4. Phil - March 8, 2012

When Occupy has to move on it loses just about everything, I’m afraid – above all, it loses the chance to make a statement that’s genuinely oppositional and can’t be reabsorbed into politics as usual. See this piece of mine from the LRB blog.

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WorldbyStorm - March 9, 2012

That’s a great summation of it (the LRBpiece) and your point about it losing everything if it moves in is very convincing.

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Mark P - March 9, 2012

I’m not sure how relevant that is to the Dame Street incarnation of Occupy, Phil. Here, from Christmas onwards the camp had become essentially irrelevant, with little in the way of public activity or interaction with people outside of the, visibly shrunken, camp. The most interesting recent “Occupy” related events have been the attempt to Occupy NAMA buildings, led mostly by people who had walked away from the Dame Street camp.

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5. EWI - March 9, 2012

The writing wasn’t on the wall with the removal of other ‘Occupies’ around the globe, though no doubt the Gardai and others watched carefully to learn whatever lessons were necessary

There was certainly broad co-ordination across the US between different police forces in dispersing the Occupy protests. I’d be very surprised if the ‘fraternal’ relations hadn’t cooperated across the Atlantic as well in sharing strategy and tactics.

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6. Kevin Barrington - March 9, 2012

Here comes the summer!

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7. Tel - March 9, 2012
8. Alan Rouge - March 9, 2012

I haven’t read the LRB piece linked above but in the first weeks it became apparent that some people were more focused on maintaining a camp in the one spot rather than growing a movement.

I was of the feeling that a camp or some sort of public occupation is a tactic and not the end goal in and of itself.

Most of my enthusiasm and hope for what was happening at Dame Street was spurned on by this piece – http://knaves.posterous.com/process-of-collective-gorgoning

I don’t know how many people read that – or even anything that was being posted online.

And then there was the unwillingness of full time Irish left-wing activists to try something other than the traditional tactics of spam everywhere with posters, leaflets and papers, call for marches that fail to attract people, put on meetings where it’s mainly the party members in attendance etc. etc.

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Mark P - March 9, 2012

“And then there was the unwillingness of full time Irish left-wing activists to try something other than the traditional tactics of spam everywhere with posters, leaflets and papers, call for marches that fail to attract people, put on meetings where it’s mainly the party members in attendance etc. etc.”

What do you base this claim on? You do realise that the SWP, under one of their front names, tried to get a camp going months before ODS? (As also did Real Democracy Now). For that matter, a camp is hardly itself a new and innovative and shocking tactical departure for left wing movement.

Over time, the ODS hardcore showed themselves to be rather more inward looking, and rather less capable of putting on events that “attract people” or meetings with people other than the committed in attentance than the “full time Irish left wing activists” you dismiss in this almost off-hard manner.

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Mark P - March 9, 2012

Shit, stupid html tags.

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Tomboktu - March 9, 2012

“stupid html tags”

Fixed it for you.

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Alan (@AlanRouge) - March 9, 2012

No, a camp is not a departure or anything new but allowing people have a say in the direction of a movement is.

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ejh - March 9, 2012

Ah, no it isn’t.

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CMK - March 9, 2012

Eh, what ‘movement’, Alan?

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CMK - March 9, 2012

‘call for marches that fail to attract people, put on meetings where it’s mainly the party members in attendance etc. etc.’

Alan, have you been to any of the household tax meetings? Who organised them?

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Alan (@AlanRouge) - March 9, 2012

I haven’t made it to any of the Household Tax meetings no but I have heard some of them have been interesting. Interesting largely because non-party members have showed up and taken an interest.

My comment was based on having attended public meetings previously.

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CMK - March 9, 2012

I know non-party members have showed up. But who arranged the meetings? Who’s putting the posters up, do the publicity that ensure that the non-party members come to these meetings. It’s likely to those horrible disgusting ‘party members’ who you find so unappealing.

ODS was always going nowhere. A blip, an interesting diversion, something a bit different to pass the time. But it was always going to be politically inconsequential. The establishment were probably pissing themselves laughing at ODS.

Now, the household charge campaign – largely organised by those party idiots – that’s going to create an enormous headache for the state, the establishment and the government. But, you know, organised left political parties are SOOO last century; let’s democratically deliberate in open assembly until the local superintendent decides he can’t justify the overtime bill keeping an eye on you and decides to move you on.

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LeftAtTheCross - March 9, 2012

What the party contributes to the equation is a collective discipline, a momentum which carries the work forwards more effectively in the immediate term and with more sticking power over the longer term than might otherwise (though not always) be achieved by a looser group of collaborating individuals. The party also has the ability to educate, agitate and organise with a coherent and consistent collective voice, spreading its influence beyond itself. This crops up here occasionally, the subject of political work inside vs outside party structures. Personally, as a relative newcomer to all of this, I value what the party contributes at that collective level. It’s not just about effectiveness, it’s the embodiment of collectivity, which in a sense is practising what it preaches.

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CMK - March 9, 2012

LATC, exactly. That’s why the SP/SWP/WP/WSM/Eirigi etc will continue to keep going year in, year out slowly gathering momentum etc. ODS is already history, it won’t be coming back. And the point about collectively is crucial. ‘Individuals’ don’t bring about change, groups do and organised groups especially so.

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Tel - March 10, 2012

ODS surely organised poorly attended public meetings etc.. that didn’t get out of a political ghetto same as the rest of the alphabet soup (in fact probably more so) and surely after building and running a camp in a city centre for five months or so they must by now in practise constitute an organised group, a good deal tighter than a random collection of individuals anyways!

In so far as the household tax campaign is dominated by left wing groups I would imagine a good slice of those left wing groups think of that as a weakness not a strength.

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9. CL - March 9, 2012

The homeland has to be protected, especially on that holy day of our national saint when the eyes of the world are watching.

‘An internal Department of Homeland Security report obtained by Rolling Stone shows the agency was keeping its eyes on Occupy Wall Street, concerned about potential disruptions to transportation networks and infrastructure.’

http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2012/02/29/434603/dhs-ows/?mobile=nc

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10. D_D - March 10, 2012

“”You do realise that the SWP, under one of their front names, tried to get a camp going months before ODS?””

No, but tell me more MP.

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Mark P - March 10, 2012

I’d have to go digging up the details. It was after the Spanish “indignados” movement started but before Occupy Wall Street made a local imitation more viable. A few of them camped out overnight, but there was little or no wider interest. Real Democracy Now also tried to organise a camp inspired by the Spanish example, but I don’t know if they got to the stage of staying out overnight before they gave up.

I’ve also lost track of which front name they were using at the time. It was definitely before Enough. I’m not sure off the top of my head if it was Right to Work or whatever they were before RtW.

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