Thursday, August 16, 2012

How and Why Occupy Died

Some of you may have looked at the title of this post and thought, “What do you mean Occupy died? People are still calling themselves Occupiers.” Yes, it may be true that people are still calling themselves occupiers, but here’s the thing:

1. What are they occupying?
2. What actions have been taken lately?
3. What kind of numbers and support do they actually have?

To answer the first question, nine times out of ten they are not occupying anything. Do you see any encampments in public parks in major metropolitan areas in Canaduh? NO, you don’t, because everyone is too damn scared of the cops. It’s civil disobedience; you are going to HAVE to deal with the cops, and if you are just going to go along with what the cops say, WHY ARE YOU EVEN COMMITTING THE CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE IN THE FIRST PLACE?!?!?!?

For the second question: What actions have been taken lately? As far as I can tell there has not been anything done in Canaduh under Occupy’s name for at least a few months. Everything that has happened in Canaduh has been done either under the Quebec student movement’s name, or in solidarity with the students in Quebec.

As for what kind of support and/or numbers do they actually have, not much at all.

Why is this?

This is because people have become disillusioned with how things turned out with Occupy. How so? It’s simple. People wanted to SEE ACTIONS HAPPENING, NOT JUST A BUNCH OF PAPERWORK. Which has driven me to create a new portmanteau: “activistocrat”—Activist and Bureaucrat—the definition being someone who thinks of themselves as an activist but doesn’t actually suggest any actions, just bitches about the lack of action while creating a bureaucratic nightmare for those people who actually want to get something done.

For example, at Occupy Newfoundland the activistocrats wanted to formalize the process of how we did GAs and came about to a decision (known further as the “code of conduct”). Sure it sounds good when stated like that, but what it actually entailed was writing a 3-page long document describing how our general assembly process worked. It was written with every detail accounted for and about 20-30 different articles (within 4 main sections) with EACH & EVERY ONE having to be passed by the GA. This process started about the middle of November and still wasn’t done by the time people were starting to stop going to the GAs in May. Almost every GA, some part or another of the code of conduct was brought up. With that one topic, “Code of Conduct,” almost the entire GA was taken up by a 2-hour discussion going in circles on some stupid little semantic detail with nothing else being talked about the rest of the night.

That meant for the ENTIRE winter we were dealing with this one document, which took energy away from other actions or protests that could have happened.

So how did Occupy die? ACTIVISTOCRATS.


Part 2: Saving the Revolution: What can be done?
Read Ken's previous blogpost: Why Occupy Used the Tactics It Did


Gudahtt said...

What a load of crap.
Ken, I'd expect better from you. It seems that after all this time, you still don't have a clue how Occupy works, or how to use Occupy to enact change in society. Occupy is not some kinda magic spell; no matter how much we stand around in a park, it's not going to magically make the world a better place. It won't unseat our Prime Minister, it won't effect the Middle East. You're not thinking.

Occupy is generally supposed to improve the world, yes? In order to do that, we first have to decide:

1. What is wrong with the world today?
OR, more precisely,
What kind of society do we wish to live in?

But no, you've outright opposed any such discussions in our GA's, and for what? Because we're not taking enough action? Action towards what? I don't remember you having any novel ideas. We need to think of something to do, before we start doing it.

In order for Occupy to be effective in the slightest, it would require not just dedication, but deliberation. Lots, and lots of deliberation. If that's too tedious or "boring" for you, then fine, don't participate. But the least you can do is get out of our way, and stop obstructing what is really the most useful activity we can partake in (discussion).

This blog is not the appropriate place to whine about your fellow occupiers, or post baseless criticisms. Try Facebook next time. Consider this a warning.

Gudahtt said...

Similarly, your recollection of discussing the Code of Conduct is blatantly false. You'd be sighing and complaining about it taking all night when we were only 5 minutes into discussion. I'm sorry if this bothers you, but I certainly don't intend on letting anything pass without everyone present having full knowledge of what it is. That'd be comparable to our MP's passing legislation without reading it; which, effectively, has already been happening.

And I'm not going to bother argue about the usefulness of the document in the first place, I've done that enough times already, you know what I'd say.

You're caught up in the "paperwork" and "bureaucracy" because you don't understand what such things are for. It's not about the paper, it's about the ideas. And if we don't have any good ideas, Occupy will serve no purpose.

Ian J. Matheson said...

Are you implying that all of Occupy died for this reason? Here in Occupy Nova Scotia I'm getting ready for our public discussion of Bill C-38. We have seen much lower numbers despite not having such a document. However, we haven't let these lower numbers mean we can't still organize. The students were a big part of our movement and will return soon. I think you're looking at only some aspects of the decline. If a three page document has been your undoing you may have had other problems. Occupy is in decline but I think the life span of its key ideas will be much longer.

klimax said...


I don't agree with some of your points. In my experience I've found a mild level of bureaucracy to be useful. It implies a level of planning, organization, and focus. You might be interested to read The Guardian newspaper's take on the Quebec Students' movement to get an idea of the bureaucracy that
must have existed behind the scenes:

I suggest that Occupy is still alive in the memes it has created (e.g., "the 1%"). Occupy also revived discussion around a topic that had almost died, namely the bailouts of the banks.

Further, I suggest that without the Occupy movement, the Quebec student protests might not have been nearly as effective or focussed. Nor would we enjoy the sharp criticism of our current federal government's relationship with corporations.

You might be interested to know that the head of the Bank of Canada praised the Occupy movement (see

As to whether the Occupy organization in St John's is dying, and why, and what can its supporters do now, well, those are useful questions. I encourage you to keep asking.

Ken said...

you may not agree with how i see it, but that is your decision and your opinion, and its not that i wanted it passed without full knowledge of it, its that i didnt see the point of it in the first place, we all knew how the process worked, if someone new came in and didnt know, what did we do, we informed them of how the GA process worked. WITHOUT A NEED FOR THE CODE OF CONDUCT

Ken said...

Also, bitching about fellow occupiers? WHOSE names are in the article? i can tell you: NONE. and im done with this conversation, because i already know its going to turn into a flame war thats not going to help anyone. the only thing that can be done is agree to disagree

Anonymous said...

In regards to the first comment, I do not think you've given Ken's article a fair assessment. Not only has he not suggested that there should be no discussion about how the world should be, or what's wrong with it, he also does not appear to be implying that occupy is a "magic spell".

What I took from the article, and a point on which I agree, is that that type of useful and important discussion was often put to the side in order to discuss matters regarding codes of conducts, or mission statements. I found that these discussions always took more than 5 minutes, and were always painful and draining. I always came excited to GA's, and left feeling defeated and uninspired. Had we had GA's with greater discussions of tactics, or politics (or anything other than rehashed documents), then I personally feel like people would be more interested in putting in their time and dedication to the group.

I'm not saying that there should be no organization, or that having certain rules in place to help discussions run more smoothly is completely useless, but I really feel that the "discussions" in question at the GA's tended to hinder more than help in this regard.

/g said...

action needs purpose
purpose needs action

such organization should exist to allow this and no more

Gudahtt said...

First of all Ken, I realize there were no names in the blog post. Yet, you singled out no more than a handful of people with your comments. Do you know how many people were involved in writing the Code of Conduct? Three. That's it. Others have given their input of course, and made some grammatical changes, but for the most part it was the work of three people. And who would bring it up at meetings? Me. One person. Those comments couldn't have possibly been directed at anybody else. Real subtle there bud.

I'm sorry I reacted so negatively, but you are the one that started flinging shit this time, not me. This blog is not the appropriate place to make personal attacks, and I will not allow it to happen in the future. It's detrimental to our cause, to participation. It goes against the entire purpose of this blog. I know we disagree on a lot of things, and that's fine. But you could have easily said what you wanted to say without making it into a personal attack, and that is why I lost all respect for you upon reading this post.

Gudahtt said...

Regarding the importance of the CoC, it was not meant to govern over every aspect of our General Assemblies. As has been said many times (even by you Ken), the CoC is only really useful during GA in the event of a disagreement about the rules/process. To my knowledge, that has not happened yet, which is good. So why was it useful?

"we all knew how the process worked"
For starters, this is completely false. Most of us had a general idea how GA worked, but had no clear idea of how it would work when it came down to the details. Additionally, people outside of our little circle were completely befuddled by the GA, as horizontal decision making is not exactly a common occurrence around here, so it confused a lot of potential newcomers. In creating the document, we discovered quite a few things that hadn't been decided upon yet, and I think getting them out of the way then was beneficial to the group. But more so, the Code of Conduct opened us to the rest of the world. It made us transparent. Anybody could find out exactly how we operate simply by visiting our website. I wouldn't not have felt comfortable criticizing the government for lack of transparency without making efforts to be transparent myself, so I felt it was necessary.

The document uploaded now is a rather rough copy... not easy to read. I had meant to write a better version, but... haven't found the time to do so yet. Maybe that'll be my project before school starts again.

Additionally, we didn't spend very long discussing this document at GA. It was discussed maybe 3 times, definitely not more than 5. But the topic would be brought up every GA, week after week, only to be pushed aside for some other time. We always left it until last, and then time would run out before we got to it. There was a significant amount of discussion about it, sure, but "all winter" is beyond an exaggeration. I would keep bringing it up because 1) I wanted a little bit of input, to ensure the document reflected the will of the group, and 2) I wanted it to be done and over with, so we could move on to other things. It still needs a couple of updates, and I'll be bringing that up soon as well, because I think it's important (one for the purpose of simplification, I don't think anyone will mind that one; the other to remove or update "quorum" because it has become obsolete).

Transparency and accountability cannot exist without just a little bit of "paperwork", that is the only reason I pursue it. That, and it solidifies our purpose. I have made great efforts to simplify and reduce the impact of any such "bureaucracy"; hence this document never actually being referenced. We shouldn't need to, and that's the way I meant it to be.

Gudahtt said...

"action needs purpose
purpose needs action

such organization should exist to allow this and no more "

Well said.

I don't believe in action without purpose. I will not participate in any action that lacks a clear sense of purpose. And this is why I have dedicated myself to determining what the purpose of Occupy should be, so that we can then proceed with taking action towards our goals. But one has to come before the other, or it's not worth the effort.

I believe in cause and effect. If we decide upon something we wish to change, we can take action to make that happen. We can start a whole campaign towards making it happen, and fine-tune each and every action we take to make the result we want more likely. But if we jump into action without a clear goal... well, I don't expect much to change.

Working on our vision for the future, and the goals we can all agree on, will open up a whole world of possibilities for this group.

Anonymous said...


Re: your comments "Consider this a warning" and "This blog is not the appropriate place to make personal attacks, and I will not allow it to happen in the future,"… After reading other parts of this blog, I thought this group was fundamentally against hierarchy in its pursuit of equality and horizontal decision-making. Your comments make me think otherwise.

Concensus, I thought, is not merely raising your hand at a GA until a majority of people have their hand up too. Concensus (and transparency) should be about open discussion in an open forum, such as this blog should be. Sometimes in life, you might not like what people have to say. But a transparent forum ( and as you mentioned the Code of Conduct was meant to foster such transparency) includes opinions you might not agree with or like.

If you haven't outlined the purpose of Occupy for yourself at this point, then how have you (and the group) participated in all the actions over the months? For me, Occupy is about direct action, and the purpose of going to a GA was to find people who would swarm around an idea and find a way to realize it.

And it occurs to me too, that perhaps the fact that "the topic would be brought up every GA, week after week, only to be pushed aside for some other time. We always left it until last"… was the will of the group.

Gudahtt said...

Well, I am kinda the webmaster. Someone has to take responsibility for ensuring this blog stays online and functional. If you think of a better, more horizontal way of doing this, let me know.

Open discussion is allowed and encouraged in the comments, but I don't think anyone should be allowed to post anything they want as "Occupy Newfoundland", to the main blog. A blog is not a forum. There have been many, many things posted here that I don't agree with, and I didn't attempt to stop them from being posted. If someone wants to continue to criticize the CoC in a blog post, I don't really care. But I draw the line at personal attacks.

As always, anything under the "Occupy" name is open for discussion at GA, but we don't have to get GA approval for every little thing we do. That would mean more bureaucracy and red tape, wouldn't it?

"If you haven't outlined the purpose of Occupy for yourself at this point, then how have you (and the group) participated in all the actions over the months?"

We all kinda have a rough idea of the purpose of Occupy already, we have from the start. That's kinda what we've been using. Additionally, there are many specific goals we have already agreed upon.

The CoC discussion was pushed aside because it wasn't really urgent, and because it was tedious/boring/unimportant (in most people's opinion). But that doesn't mean it wasn't useful, or that anyone disagreed with it. Trust me, I did everything I could to look for criticism, and did my best to address any I did receive.

klimax said...

Folks, if you'd care to read some really classy, thoughtful, and ultimately successful resistance, see the Pussy Riot closing statements.

Ken, you started a discussion only to quickly withdraw by stating that we can agree to disagree, and that you expect a flame war. I expect that You're better than that.

ken said...

i left the conversation because i cant think of anything else to say then what ive stated, i dont feel like repeating myself, and there is also the fact that i dont have reliable internet and have to rely on randomly finding an unsecured network to snag

Anonymous said...

Maybe consensus process wasn't the way to go. Maybe we "fetishized the process"?

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