Why Occupy failed in NH

Sun, 09/29/2013 - 11:52 -- webmaster

When the occupy movement was still just starting, some New Hampshire residents formed their own occupy group. A handful of libertarians and/or Free Staters (myself included) joined up, with several being founders of the group. This was an interesting and potentially significant opportunity to effect change.

As with any new organization created by individuals with different backgrounds, it took a while to come to agreements, including how the organization should be organized and run. But the primary purpose wasn't in question: to attempt to effect change on those things that 99% of people can agree on.

In the fall of 2011, mostly at the urging of the libertarian type folks who were getting annoyed at the lack of progress, the group created a set of polls to find a reasonably small set of political issues that the group could agree on. Slightly different than typical polls, those voting were given the ability to 'block', that is to vote against an issue as being something that would be so against their principles that if accepted it would cause them to leave the movement.

At the time of the poll, the issues to be voted on were written on big pieces of paper and each voter was handed an equal number of green and red stickers. They were instructed to place the stickers on any issues they wanted, in any amount - that is if you felt strongly about an issue you could cast multiple votes on it, although you would then have less votes to cast on other issues. Green stickers indicated support of the issue, red indicated blocking. Here are the resulting votes as photographed at the end of voting:

Ending corporate personhood was overwhelmingly supportedEnding patents and copyrights is not agreed onJob guarantee had almost no supportVermin Supreme didn't have a lot of supporters :-)Many were against shrinking governmentLimiting political donations to real humans got full supportAlmost no one wants to raise taxesEveryone supported full transparency in governmentStopping the wars essentially got enough supportEnding the Federal Reserve got a lot of support but not full agreement

As you can see, there were some issues where there was overwhelming support and no blocking. There were also issues that had very little support. In essence, and in the spirit of the occupy movement in general, we had discovered a reasonable platform that essentially everyone could agree on. Those of us who were wanting to make change happen said "Hey great! We can move on to trying to get these implemented, right?" We had four issues that everyone could get behind, so this should have been easy.

  • End corporate personhood
  • Only allow individuals to donate to political campaigns
  • Ensure total government transparency
  • End the wars

And this is where the failure happened, I believe. A vocal minority composed of mostly progressives/democrats/socialists insisted that their agenda be accepted. They wouldn't agree to limit the issues to those that the 99% had agreed on, but tried to keep the debate on issues open as long as it would take to get their beliefs accepted by the group. When it became clear that they weren't going to get their total agenda accepted, they tried to take over the group and effectively split it. These partisan hacks proved that they didn't actually believe in democracy, but only wanted to wield power themselves.

The weird thing is that the liberty faction, some of whom are anarchists, were at least willing to assent to the democratic system for the purpose of getting the agreed upon issues dealt with. That is, the libertarians and anarchists proved that they were more accepting of democracy than the socialists and democrats. If we liberty folks had been as stubborn as the progressives, we would have been harping on issues like ending the fed (which did have huge support).

But in the end, because the progressives/leftists didn't want to move forward until and unless their whole agenda was approved, the NH occupy movement became stymied and ineffective.

Content Category: