And long live Occupy! Time to occupy our lives for the winter. It is time to take stock and plan for spring. Inevitably old habits and tendencies die hard. Individual spokespeople and elite committees were already forming and that is not bad but defeats what made Occupy so interesting--and exercise in emergent intelligence. Having said that there is an ideal size for groups and the GAs were getting too large to be effective. The disorganization and ad hoc quality of the GAs was great because it showed that a certain level of organization and intelligence could emerge but then it reached the law of diminishing returns.
The issue we face is not fighting the oligarchs but, rather, finding a new way of organizing ourselves into a new way of life and a new economy. This new way of life emphasizes community and human welfare as opposed to the welfare of money and profit and those that feed off of the labor of others. Let's look at what comes next.
First, we need to turn to what is known about groups and how humans function best. Generally, social scientists believe that ideal group sizes are between five and fifteen. It might be a little more but certainly not much more. Thus future Occupy groups need to be made up of small groups either organized by function or affinity. These groups ought to register as part of the movement without giving anyone's name providing some minimum amount of security. There groups could get together with other groups and participate in group actions through creating web nodes. But, for the most part, actions should be done by as few people as possible--hitting a spot unannounced, creating a bit of theater or disruption then leaving before the police come.
General Assemblies should be conducted to create a general consensus as to what sorts of things need doing and then let the small groups arrange themselves as necessary.
Second, protesters need to understand that they live in a social environment that is generally hostile to Occupy goals. The idea that "we are the 99%" is a cool slogan but it is nowhere near true. Most Americans are tribal and will support a 20% reduction or more in their own income if the oligarchs wave enough flags and pull out the Bible--that's just a fact. It will take years to move people to the idea that they are, in fact, being hustled by con men and women. The con should be the focus of all protests.
Third, the movement needs to focus not just on protest but in creating a new way of life including an alternative economy by creating collectives, cooperatives to run businesses that would provide employment, housing, food and medicine for the people in the movement where required. This would be a gradual process. For example, there are activists who make videos, write copy, perform, create ads and websites who can organize in collectives (this is quite different and has nothing to do with the small groups described above) and be run as businesses using the synergy that can come (when properly run) from sharing a vision and a focus. At the same time, there could be a directory of businesses that support Occupy who should sign up and should get all the business of those that also support Occupy. No one should do business with oligarch-friendly businesses.
Fourth, national/international boycotts should be highly focused on a few of the worst companies despoiling our lives and the earth. Boycotts can easily go viral and spread beyond the Occupy movement.
Fifth, and this is going to be the most controversial, the movement needs to reach out to the non-authoritarian right like the followers of Ron Paul who are also opposed to the emergent police state and the oligarchical set-up. Right now government is more part of the problem than part of the soulution--with the exception of a few good programs most high-stakes positions in government have either been bought or influenced by the oligarchs. As a long-time resident who has lived inside the beltway for most of my life, I can tell you that I've never seen the government more blatantly corrupt--the libertarians have a point at this time though I disagree with their political philosophy. Libertarians and other elements of the right may not always be allies but in the current struggle we have the same enemies, the oligarchs and the emergent police/propaganda state that has merged TBTF corporations and government. I know people who are on the right (who live in the south) who may not be very sympathetic to the left but who are very well-armed and don't want anybody, not government, not big corporations messing with them.
Which brings me to the matter of non-violence. I personally believe non-violence is the best path at this stage of the struggle. But I think there is an edge here we need to discuss at some point--how far do we go in resisting? Is there a role for monkey-wrenching including the destruction of property? What happens should there be massive and violent repression? I don't, for example, consider what the police have done up until now to be that bad but what if they go further?
This is just a tentative look at what we ought to be discussing. I don't pretend to really know the correct path--just want to move the discussion forward. We need to be clear here that this will take a lot of thought, commitment and discipline.