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Move-In co-optation in Sag Harbor, NY

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Submitted by MontanaMaven on

From what I've read, the Dems are getting more sophisticated about how they plan on herding everybody into the voting booths. So do you fight them or use them or what?
The Plot to Coopt

The comments at the link and at Adbusters contain some eye witness accounts; some bad and some not so bad. I heard a couple callers on Dave Marsh's radio show on Sirius Left say they had attended the trainings. In general, new activists and even some old ones are just happy to find someplace to go and be among friends, but those who are tired of Meet ups and rallies, are not as easily convinced that top down is where they want to spend any time at all. But can you use them as they are using you?

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.
Groucho Marx

Submitted by lambert on

There was one here, but around 60 miles away, so I couldn't go.

You write: "But can you use them as they are using you?" That is the key question indeed.

I'm thinking, in a way, that just as the Egyptian Revolution was blowback from Otpor, so more NV training may create its own blowback from MoveOn. Need to gather some data. Perhaps we could issue a call for it...

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by Fran on

It is a front, and an attempt to co-opt, a more subtle one perhaps, as many people realize. But, maybe the training is useful, so what is the harm? etc.............

I feel there is harm. A term I find useful as a softer form of co-option is 'to neutralize'. The energy you would be putting to your true goals is being siphoned off. Gradually you start to modify your goals and actions. You start letting funding drive your program. It is very subtle. While you are off doing a seemingly good thing, it is relatively harmless compared to your initial goals. (eg. supporting Public Option instead of Single Payer HC - because it is more 'realistic, etc.)

Since this sort of thing is happening to an organization I belong to, I have done a little research, wanting to know where the funding is coming from. A fairly cursory overview led me to realize that a lot of grants are coming from pass-through groups, like The Tides Foundation. So, you do not really know who is funding it, and what their goals are.

The strength of OWS is that it IS democratic. It is NOT a top down 'organization'. I am wary of any organization that is top down, even if I like many of the things they do. Such groups, which is most non-profit organizations, are run, and decisions are made, by a small group of people. They are much more easily co-opted - and, even when not being co-opted, lack the balance that input from a wider group of organizers/ members can provide.

Question: Where is the funding for the training program coming from?

Some Links of interest:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/03/16/9...

"Not so fast, says activist and author John Stauber, an expert in exposing corporate and political front groups.

“What’s going on is very simple. Massive amounts of soft money from unions, wealthy donors and foundations such as the Tides Foundation are flowing into NGOs willing to help support the re-election of Barack Obama, and this MoveOn front group is key to whipping liberals and progressive activists into line to attack Republicans for the cause. The brand and energy of Occupy Wall Street are being coopted by MoveOn’s 99 Spring for this purpose,” he said in an interview."

http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/04/12/m...

"And who suffers? First and foremost, the 99-percent The 99 Spring claims to speak for, while professional liberal foundation-funded, Democratic Party allied activists, think-tankers, “journalists” and operatives feed at the trough of this delicious and corrupt election year gravy train."

http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/04/13/y...

This is a report from a person who attended a 'training'

"With hindsight gained by googling “MoveOn” and “co-opt” after the fact, I can’t claim that nobody tried to warn me. Many websites with left and even liberal politics had said in so many words, “Be wary of this organization called The 99% Spring. It is a Trojan horse for the Democrats.” I just didn’t read that anywhere in a timely fashion."

Submitted by lambert on

I guess my nerdiness is making me miss the social dynamic aspects of the training.

I did note that that the process starts with telling personal stories, just like the Obama campaign's conversion narratives.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

Having now been there and done that, I can smell a rat. But Move On and Van Jones and SEIU seem to be running the same playbook and getting away with it. Participants are seduced by the feel good aspects coupled with something looking like direct action in the form of a training.

Here in Montana in 2009 I met with an SEIU health care advocate who wanted a list from me of the Democrats in my county as County Chair. Turned out she was pitching support for Senator Baucus' health care endeavors in the finance committee. When I challenged her, she just shrugged and said it was the best we could do. Later at a Rehberg town hall meeting an HCAN rep showed up and people signed his "public option" petition. (By the way, he used to work for the Ford Foundation. No real conviction. Just going job to job). Health care forums were booked in small rooms and filled with pro Obama people with single payer advocates finding no room. A couple times the times of the forums were changed. I showed up and the forum was over. People get tired and give up.

Avoid these top down group efforts. Avoid these professionals. Avoid union leadership initiatives. These people are being paid to keep us all happily marching down the wrong path that ends up at a dead end called the voting booth. And this is true of both parties. Read some of the missives of original Tea Party people who believe they were duped by the establishment Republicans. Kids are being beat up. Kids are being shot and imprisoned. Our energies should be directed towards the general strike and supporting the young resisters.

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.
Groucho Marx