Fooled Again?


In an earlier installment, I noted that eight key smoking guns point to the fact that the much-ballyhooed “99-Percent Spring,” taking place from April 9-15, is merely a front group for MoveOn.org and the Democratic Party. More specifically, it is a front for the Obama Administration and the Party’s 2012 electoral efforts.

 

The article has proven contentious in many circles, and was analyzed in many lefty publications, including Salon.comTheHuffingtonPostThe Nation, TaylorMarsh.com, and Dissent Magazine, to name several. Those articles wrestled with the ongoing battle occurring between genuine, mostly volunteer grassroots Occupy activists and well-paid full-time Democratic Party-allied “activists.” ‘

 

In the main, the articles dug into the whether or not The 99 Spring was playing a constructive, supportive role of the real on-the-ground Occupy movements in cities nationwide and worldwide, or on the contrary, if The 99 Spring’s raison d’etre is simply to co-opt the Occupy movement and steal it as its own, while pooling those efforts into the Democratic Party’s electoral efforts in 2012.

These liberal commentators shared similar observations:

?      “All parties seem mindful of the dreaded accusations of co-option, but rarely does such an annexation occur overnight,” explained The Nation’s Allison Kilkenny on April 6.

?      “It seems to me that the 99 Percent Spring does indeed complement large sections of Occupy efforts – the sorts of actions, accessible to media narratives, that directly protest institutions like Bank of America, ALEC or rulings like Citizens United,” posited Salon.com’s Natasha Lennard.

?      The Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim wrote, “It’s a reflection of how the Occupy movement has forced some institutional liberal groups to radicalize — or at least appear to — to meet the new fervent climate, as stubborn unemployment and yawning inequality push activism outside the confines of traditional electoral politics.

The so-called “independent media” and news shows, such as AlterNetTruthOutThe Nation on multiple occasionsBillMoyersnewshowThe Thom Hartmann Show on two occasions, and The NationWashington Editor Chris Hayes’ show “Up with ChrisHayes,” have also offered shameless plugs and interviews for The 99 Spring’s organizers, and have been likely been “in on the take,” so to speak and in varying degrees, of this well-coordinated effort.

Co-Option 101

Above and beyond softball coverage of the prospective “movement,” though, is a fundamental misunderstanding, among all factions, of the type of co-option MoveOn.org and Friends have already achieved and continue to achieve, of the Occupy movement.

There are a number of ways to derail or co-opt social justice movements.

Government agents and/or corporate agents can go right in, infiltrate it with informants and agent provocateurs, and behave in such a way so as to delegitimize the movement in the public sphere. This is generally done by intelligence agencies and police forces, such as the FBI, CIA and NYPD, both at home and abroad.

Governments, corporations and foundations can also seduce the leadership of movements with money and power, and get organizations to work in ways palatable to them.

In this case, the co-option of the Occupy Movement has occurred in a classic fashion developed by MoveOn.org and its network of liberal foundation funded, Democratic Party allies. All claim to be “responsible progressives working for fundamental social change,” yet the reality is far more mendacious.

MoveOn.org directed networks, such as The 99 Spring, excel at the creation of dog and pony shows, pageantry, and theatrical performances to co-opt the imagery, language, and ideas of a movement, including the very idea of direct action itself.

In this case, it’s the Occupy movement, showing the servile mainstream media, as well as the so-called “left” media (with which it shares the same funding streams) that The 99 Spring is the organized, more professional, and more responsible heir to the Occupy movement, with a suave spokesman, too: Van Jones, head of the Rebuild the Dream “movement.”

For a group like MoveOn.org, the existence of an on-the-ground social justice movement, after all, is perfect — it relies on movements of this sort to co-opt for its own purposes: electing Democrats.

This all fits and coalesces nicely into what was discussed in Matt Bai’s 2007 best-selling book “The ArgumentBillionairesBloggers,and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics,” when in November 2006 –Mario Cuomo, former Governor of New York — after the 2006 elections, told an exclusive group of 100Democracy Alliance millionaire funders the following about how to win elections in 2008 (and by extension, co-opt social movements):

“You seize the biggest idea you can, the biggest idea you can understand. And this is what moves elections. Now it’s 2006 and we’re all rejoicing. Why? Because of Iraq. A GIFT. A gift to the Democrats. A lot of whom voted for the war anyway. If Iraq is not an issue, then what issues do we have to talk about?” 

Clearly, “the gift” this time around for the block for MoveOn.org and Friends is the Occupy movement and the concept (as opposed to the actualization) of economic justice.

Thus, The 99 Spring is a sly way to list-build, and by extension, fund-raise, always at the forefront of the mind of Democratic Party fundraisers, who share a close, revolving-door relationship with MoveOn.org.

Giving Angry Citizens “Somewhere Else to Go”