A Strategy Primer for Occupy Wall Street
The following is part three of our new series for OWS on strategy.
The author(s) are anonymous except for those who choose to identify themselves publicly.
As the video above says, nobody can predict exactly when a revolution will start. Things move very quickly and there is little time to study strategy and tactics after the contest has already begun. Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, Metternich. Saul Alinsky and Dr. King’s non-violent direct action. Robert Greene. You won’t succeed without a grounding in these thinkers. I offer a digest of their main ideas applied to this opportunity.
A successful outcome will not occur out of happenstance and good luck or the sincere wishes of demonstrators. Rather, it will occur as the result of a sober analysis of the terrain and a step-by-step arrangement of your capabilities to bring a series of victories that set up the end-game in which you will call the shots.
Every new situation is unique and there are many roads to success. I offer guidelines, not rules.
* Know Yourselves and Your Opponents.
Have a clear idea of who comprises your movement, what their interests are and what they are capable of doing. For example, you have university students, the unemployed and military and police force veterans, among others. This group comprises people who are literate with strong Internet skills, have an abundance of energy and free time and could be adept at scouting and arranging your encampments to be less vulnerable to assault.
Know the same about the other side. “Wall Street” is great as a slogan but which firms, governments and personalities are you targeting and what needs to happen to them? No need to broadcast this information, but you should have an idea of what a successful endgame will look like, unlike…the open ended war in Afghanistan.
After you have identified them, ask yourself what they do best, what they can’t do and what they don’t understand. In this situation, after you do your analysis, you will find that asymmetrical warfare is for you.
* Play To Your Strengths and Their Weaknesses
They have the state, the courts, the police and the corporate media. You have a lot of people with a lot of time and intelligence. You have social media and public opinion. For you to win, you need to set in motion events that neutralize the opponent’s advantage and increase your leverage. You need to stay in front of events, not respond to them. You are winning now because you are being responded to, but soon the opponent will recover from the surprise and come after you.
Stay out in front of events by not doing what was expected. Don’t leave outcomes to chance and do create scenarios where you win just by staying where you are and doing nothing. In this situation, non-violence and respect for property are key because this strategy deprives your opponent of his police power to quash you in the name of law and order. If he quashes you anyway, you gain in public opinion at his expense, so there is a price to pay.
* Create Win/win set ups
For example, publicly challenge the Tea Party to hold a rally to compete with you in a contest to see who best represents the American people. A. The Tea Party declines, giving you boasting right in the corporate media, and if the media ignore you, accuse them of censorship and raise your credibility at their expense. Big win. B. The Tea Party accepts. They organize a huge rally in Scottsdale, Arizona, and the corporate media, including, of course, the Murdoch empire, trumpet the Tea Party rally. So, you ask your legions of followers to chant against Murdoch and demand the FCC pull his licenses to operate in the U.S in light of the ongoing scandal involving hacking, and you ask your followers to chant and denounce the Koch Brothers for underwriting the Tea Party behind the scenes like the Wizard of Oz while bamboozling the public into thinking the TP is a grassroots movement. The media is forced to cover these chants. Murdoch and the Koch Bros. are now paying a toll and the last word on the Tea Party is not their great rally in Arizona but the scandals dogging their paymasters. You have diluted their victory. Small win.
* Divide and Conquer
The blue line around you is solid working class. Don’t let OWS be cast by the press as a struggle between lawless Anarchists and First Responders, the heroes of 9-11. Woo the cops. Create banners that appeal to their sensibilities. Create a banner with a hot line for cops to call who want to give OWS a head’s up about upcoming police activity. The veterans among you are needed here. Reduce the will of the rank and file cops to oppose you.
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