More on OWS Winning Strategy

Posted on Wednesday, 12th October 2011 @ 01:33 AM by Text Size A | A | A

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  • Consensus decision making
  • Geographic Decentralization.  Not many people in any one location. 
  • No hieararchy or bureaucracy.  A coup de tat requires a bureaucratic
    hierarchy.  To sieze control, all you need to do get the bureaucracy to
    accept your orders.  If it does, you are now in control.  Occupy
    doesn’t have a bureaucracy to sieze control of.
  • No behind the scenes space.  Everything is out in the
    open/transparent.  How do you cut a deal in a smoke filled room when
    there isn’t one?







Here’s bit of information (unfortunately, the
article is poorly written) from Fox on how Occupy Atlanta blocked a
local Congressman from speaking at their general assembly.  Essentially,
the general assembly’s rules require consensus to pass any resolution
or to allow anybody to speak.  Nothing else will do.  So, when the
Congressman (a veteran of civil rights marches and used to taking a
leadership role) asked to speak, one member of the assembly crossed his
arms in strenuous opposition.  He didn’t like the idea of people
attempting to lead the movement.  It worked.  The Congressman was denied
an opportunity to speak, and the assembly rolled on, leaderless.

Rejecting Leaders

Fluid, constrained leadership is an important part of open source
protest.  Fluid in that there are no fixed positions.  Contrained in
that it is limited to managing a single function.  There isn’t any
overarching leadership.

So far, we’ve seen fluid, constrained leadership with the Occupy
movement.  The folks that successfully accomplished the movement’s
plausible promise have faded into the woodwork, as they were supposed to
do.  However, the movement isn’t out of the woods yet: there isn’t any
shortage of people on the sidelines anxious to take control of the

Fortunately, the Occupy movement is organized in a way that makes
taking control difficult.  Here are some of them:

  • Consensus decision making (blocks leadership as per the above).
  • Geographic Decentralization.  Not many people in any one location.
  • No hieararchy or bureaucracy.  A coup de tat requires a bureaucratic
    hierarchy.  To sieze control, all you need to do get the bureaucracy to
    accept your orders.  If it does, you are now in control.  Occupy
    doesn’t have a bureaucracy to sieze control of.
  • No behind the scenes space.  Everything is out in the
    open/transparent.  How do you cut a deal in a smoke filled room when
    there isn’t one?
  • Lots more here… any more and I’d have to write a pamphlet e-book
    on it. ;->

Real Open Source

It’s important to understand that open source movements do have
leaders.  But these leaders operate differently than the leaders we are
used to seeing.  To understand this better, here’s something that I
wrote up about the Egyptian open source protest back in January.  It
applies to the Occupy movement as well:

Open source protests are composed of
people with very different views of the world brought together by a
single achievable idea.    In Egypt’s case, that’s the removal of
Mubarak.    Unfortunately, as a result of this diversity of views, open
source protests are messy.  Nobody is formally in charge.

However, this DOESN’T mean they aren’t
any leaders in the protest.  In fact, there are lots.   The extent that
anyone is a leader in a open protest like Egypt’s is based on:

Does the leader provide ways to move the
protest forward, towards completing its goal?

Do they provide good innovations and
great examples of what to do?

How closely does the leader’s stay to the
protest’s goal? If that is what they focus on, they gain stature.  IF
their goals begin to grow and become more detailed (ideological), they
lose support.

Do leaders coach or command?  If they
coach, they gain support.  If they command, they lose it.   If they
attempt to seize control, the protest will turn on them.

What this means is that leaders can
emerge in Egypt’s protest.  They offer the chance to break the stalemate
brought on by Mubarak’s survival strategy.

So. when does an
open soruce protest reject a leader?

When a leader attempts to fork the protest, by trying to
lead it towards an agenda or policy or politics only they care about,
they should be ignored/rejected/blocked.


NOTE 1:  For those of you wondering how an open
source protest gets started, here’s a short rule book I penned back in 2008
(I should expand these rules into a 30 page pamphlet and package it as
an inexpensive e-book – take a week to do).

NOTE 2:  Still looking for help on documenting the occupy movements methods on the MiiU wiki.


JOHN ROBB, USAF   retired

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