Anarchy Park*

The Organizers vs. the Organized in Zuccotti Park

All occupiers are equal — but some occupiers are more equal than others. In wind-whipped Zuccotti Park, new divisions and hierarchies are threatening to upend Occupy Wall Street and its leaderless collective.


All belongings and money in the park are supposed to be held in common, but property rights reared their capitalistic head when facilitators went to clean up the park, which was looking more like a shantytown than usual after several days of wind and rain. The local community board was due to send in an inspector, so the facilitators and cleaners started moving tarps, bags, and personal belongings into a big pile in order to clean the park.

But some refused to budge. A bearded man began to gather up a tarp and an occupier emerged from beneath, screaming: “You’re going to break my fucking tent, get that shit off!” Near the front of the park, two men in hoodies staged a meta-sit-in, fearful that their belongings would be lost or appropriated.

Daniel Zetah, a 35-year-old lead facilitator from Minnesota, mounted a bench. “We need to clear this out. There are a bunch of kids coming to stay here.” One of the hoodied men fought back: “I’m not giving up my space for fucking kids. They have parents and homes. My parents are dead. This is my space.”

Other organizers were more blunt. “If you don’t want to be part of this group, then you can just leave,” yelled a facilitator in a button-down shirt, “Every week we clean our house.” Seth Harper, the pro-drummer proletarian, chimed in on the side of the sitters. “We disagree on how we should clean it. A lot of us disagree with the pile.” Zetah, tall and imposing with a fiery red beard, closed debate with a sigh. “We’re all big boys and girls. Let’s do this.” As he told me afterwards, “A lot of people are like spoiled children.” The cure? A cold snap. “Personally, I cannot wait for winter. It will clear out these people who aren’t here for the right reasons. Bring on the snow. The real revolutionaries will stay in -50 degrees.”

“The sunshine protestors will leave,” said “Zonkers,” a 20-year-old cleaner and longtime occupier from Tennessee. (He asked that his name not be used due to a felony marijuana conviction.) “The people who remain are the people who care. You get a lot of crust punks, silly kids, people who want to panhandle … It disgusts me. These people are here for a block party.”

Another argument broke out next to the pile of appropriated belongings, growing taller by the minute. A man named Sage Roberts desperately rifled through the pile, looking for a sleeping bag. “They’ve taken my stuff,” he muttered. Lauren Digion, the sanitation group leader, broke in: “This isn’t your stuff. You got all this stuff from comfort [the working group]. It belongs to comfort.”

And as I spoke to Michael Glaser, a 26-year-old Chicagoan helping lead winter preparation efforts, a physical fight broke out between a cleaner and a camper just feet from us.

“When cleanups happen, people get mad,” Glaser said. “This is its own city. Within every city there are people who freeload, who make people’s lives miserable. We just deal with it. We can’t kick them out.”

In response to dissatisfaction with the consensus General Assembly, many facilitators have adopted a new “spokescouncil” model, which allows each working group to act independently without securing the will of the collective. “This streamlines it,” argued Zonkers. “The GA is unwieldy, cumbersome, and redundant.”

From today’s battles, it’s not yet clear who will win the day: the organizers or the organized. But the month-long protest has clearly grown and evolved to a point where a truly leaderless movement will risk eviction — or, worse, insurrection.

As the communal sleeping bag argument between Lauren Digion and Sage Roberts threatened to get out of hand, a facilitator in a red hat walked by, brow furrowed. “Remember? You’re not allowed to do any more interviews,” he said to Digion. She nodded and went back to work. But when Roberts shouted, “Don’t tell me what to do!” Digion couldn’t hold back.

“Someone has to be told what to do,” she said. “Someone needs to give orders. There’s no sense of order in this fucking place.”

Lord of the Flies rulz!

(*with apologies to Larry Niven)

About Myiq2xu - BA, JD, FJB

I was born and raised in a different country - America. I don't know what this place is.
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17 Responses to Anarchy Park*

  1. votermom says:

    Communism requires authoritarianism because it is hard to break people away from that outdated notion of private property.
    Which is also why re-education is required.

    • WMCB says:

      “From each according to his labor/ability, to each according to his need” has never ever worked, and can’t. Because it flies in the face of human nature.

      We are hardwired to think “To each according to his labor/ability”. We are reward-based animals, and want and expect reward for our striving. We are also evolved and generous animals, who do not mind sharing to some degree. And when it’s couched as sharing, we usually will. But the minute someone else lays hands on what is ours and yells “MINE. I have a RIGHT to it!” we bristle.

      Liberals used to win the argument for social safety nets by pointing out the generous nature of Americans, while still holding loyal to the idea of capitalism and private property and that you deserved every penny of what you worked for, even if you were rich. But wouldn’t you like to put some of it to use to alleviate suffering and cushion the blows for others? That worked.

      When the argument becomes “You have no RIGHT to what you have, gimme some, I have a RIGHT to it.” then you are going to lose that argument. Sorry, but you will. Urging class compassion works. Urging class warfare does not.

  2. Mary says:

    LOL! As I read the entry, I was thinking Lord of the Flies, too.

    It breaks down, slowly. The so-called “true believers” get angry, and start asserting more authority than the underlings were told to begin with. The underlings grumble, the authoritarians get frustrated and push harder.

    It melts down.

    Nothing new under the sun, ya know?

  3. WMCB says:

    Personally, I cannot wait for winter. It will clear out these people who aren’t here for the right reasons. Bring on the snow. The real revolutionaries will stay in -50 degrees.”

    Glad to hear the organizers now openly admitting what they are all about. This isn’t about passing some laws to rein in the finance sector and prevent future bailouts. It isn’t even about taxes. It’s about revolution.

    Sorry, but the vast majority of the American public, even those who agree with you on an item or two, aren’t big on revolution.

  4. WMCB says:

    My favorite part of the article was the drummers getting pissed off at their high taxes:

    To Shane Engelerdt, a 19-year-old from Jersey City and self-described former “head drummer,” this amounted to a Jacobinic betrayal. “They are becoming the government we’re trying to protest,” he said. “They didn’t even give the drummers a say … Drumming is the heartbeat of this movement. Look around: This is dead, you need a pulse to keep something alive.”

    The drummers claim that the finance working group even levied a percussion tax of sorts, taking up to half of the $150-300 a day that the drum circle was receiving in tips. “Now they have over $500,000 from all sorts of places,” said Engelerdt. “We’re like, what’s going on here? They’re like the banks we’re protesting.”

    No, you idiot, the organizers were not behaving like the banks, they were behaving like the government.. You had it right in the first paragraph. It’s so cute that you are upset over drumming all day and night and contributing a lot to the movement, only to see The Man come take half of what you made and redistribute it how they see fit.

    What’s that you say? You have issues with how they are running things? You’re not too sure where the money they took is going? Money seems to disappear like water? Maybe you think they are blowing a lot of that money on stupid things that are not even necessary? Well, you are obviously a selfish capitalist jerk who HATES the poor. Anyone who complains about taxes and has any reservations whatsoever about paying more to an out-of-control, barely accountable govt hates the poor. It’s a rule.

    If you complain again, you are going to be told NOT that they are going to cut out some redundant fliers, or the funding for the 3rd working group on consciousness raising. They won’t be cutting funding for Koala to question women whether they really want to stick to their story that they were rape-raped. Those things will stay funded. No, you are going to be told that because you are such a selfish selfish bastard, all the food tables are going to go away tomorrow, and the protestors will starve.

    And it’s your fault, you selfish prick.

  5. yttik says:

    It is kind of funny to watch people try come together with these visions of utopia and “power to the people.” I always want to say, you don’t really know the people very well, do you?

    I really believe that democracy, capitalism, what we have in America, is one of the best systems people have ever put together. It’s far from perfect, but the alternatives are so much worse. Human beings just aren’t yet ready for the kind of utopia where everything is shared and we all have an equal voice. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  6. votermom says:

    FYI – I scheduled a post — feel free to change the time on it if needed.

  7. DeniseVB says:

    I often wonder if there may be another country that would work out better for them ? One that already has their demands met and grievences solved ?

  8. angienc says:

    Bwahahahahaha! Didn’t take them long to realize that “General Agreement” direct-democracy paradigm doesn’t work.

    Of course, they could have known that if they’d been the least bit observant at any family Thanksgiving dinner instead of texting on their phones or listening to their Ipods.


  9. 1539days says:

    I checked in a little on the blog wars. Sky Dancing has apparently come out of the woods, noticing how pictures of the “hot chicks” of the protests and rapes are being ignored by the leaderless leadership. TC has lost another flank. Other than Obots, the Occupy supporters are getting few and far between.

    • Pips says:

      I don’t read SkyDancing anymore and hardly ever go, but as I used to read, I never doubted what their position regarding OWS would be. So your comment made me curious.

      As it turns out their position isn’t retracted by this “hot chick” stuff. days, the post is written by “quixote”, an admirable, intelligent, unequivocally pro-woman/ feminist commenter with great integrity. I didn’t really see any of the regulars backing her up? But then I could only bear to read halfway through the comments as it became too painful to continue. Reminded me of the “good old days” when the two Swedish women who had, against their will, had unprotected sex with Julian Assange were shredded to pieces by so many female posters! No one mentioned, no one forgotten.

      You can also witness “quixote”s strength and integrity in this thread at Corrente, Misogyny at Occupy Wall Street, discussing the same issue.

      • Pips says:

        Heh, from the Corrente thread:

        goldberry (RD): “What really bothers me is the stupid shit that comes out of some of those women’s mouths. This is not the off Broadway version of Hair and I swear that if I trip over another yoga diva meditating in the middle of a tight thoroughfare, I’m going mic check her in her ear.”

        Reply from “dirac”: “I’m actually a meditator, so I’m happy to hear that they are doing that there. Don’t knock it ’til you try it.”

        Lol! Don’t know if “dirac” has been following the “Try it, you’ll like it” back-and-forth. 😉

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