Corporations and their legislative operatives have retreats, so why shouldn't We the People?
by Jake Blumgart, AlterNet
The five-day Occupy National Gathering, which drew to a close on July 4, gave participants a venue to network, prioritize issues and vent their grievances with the movement. The event gave those who felt marginalized the chance to make themselves heard, with many expressing frustration at the preponderance of white males in positions of influence.
The movement’s anarchist roots were readily apparent throughout the five days, with horizontalism and a rejection of mainstream political engagement remaining at the heart of Occupy. Issues of student debt, endangered public education, foreclosure, and big bank power were clearly the dominant concerns, although the national security state, environmental issues and police brutality were also discussed. As with any political function there were a certain number of outlier ideologies, but the 9-11 Truthers and the End the Fed contingents were vanishingly small and exerted little influence. (The latter was reduced from the Ron Paul tents that sprang up at many encampments to a lone crier in a Bob Marley T-shirt.)
The National Gathering was largely concerned with maintaining Occupy’s much-vaunted "horizontalism"—a leaderless, non-hierarchal structure—while reinvigorating the movement’s flagging momentum. On the 4th a visioning process was held, where groups of three people, who didn’t know each other, met to formulate what their ideal democratic future would look like. “Another world is possible, but what does it look like? This is our question for the day,” tweeted Melanie Butler, an activist from the Wall Street occupation. Over the course of the day these groups melded together, combining lists and placing tallies next to issues that were repeatedly prioritized in individual groups’ lists. [MORE]