Spencer Sunshine on rightists in the Occupy movement

Spencer Sunshine has a good article in the Political Research Associates newsletter (Winter 2014 issue): The Right Hand of Occupy Wall Street: From Libertarians to Nazis, the Fact and Fiction of Right-Wing Involvement.” As Sunshine argues, a broad range of rightists got involved in the mostly left-leaning movement, raising serious questions about inclusiveness and decentralized organizing.

Three Way Fight addressed this issue briefly in a November 2011 post, “Rightists woo the Occupy Wall Street movement.” But Sunshine’s article is much more detailed and comprehensive. Here are a few excerpts:

“Certainly, Occupy was always a largely left-leaning event. But
right-wing participation has been the norm rather than the exception
within recent left-wing U.S. movements—including the antiglobalization,
antiwar, environmental, and animal rights movements—and Occupy was no
exception. Right-wing
groups inserted their narrative about the Federal Reserve into the
movement’s visible politics; used Occupy’s open-ended structure to
disseminate conspiracy theories (antisemitic and otherwise) and White
nationalism; promoted unfettered capitalism; and gained experience,
skills, and political confidence as organizers in a mass movement that,
on the whole, allowed their participation.”

                     *                     *                     *

“While few right-wing actors see capitalism as a system to be abolished,
many are harsh critics of finance capital, especially in its
international form. This critique unites antisemites, who believe that
Jews run Wall Street; libertarian “free marketers,” who see the Federal
Reserve as their enemy; and advocates of “producerist” narratives, who
want “productive national capital” (such as manufacturing and
agriculture) to be cleaved from “international finance capital” (the
global banking system and free-trade agreements).”

                     *                     *                     *

“The point it is not so much that the Left was significantly damaged by
the Right’s presence in Occupy—though its presence did open the movement
up to attacks in the mainstream media, which wasted the time and effort
of organizers while turning off potential supporters. The deeper
problem is that right-wing groups benefited from the Left’s willingness
to give them a stage to speak from and an audience to recruit from.”

                     *                     *                     *

“Are there any practical steps, then, that activists on the Left can take to minimize participation by the Right?

“The administrators at the OccupyWallSt.org forum, the main online
location of internal discussions, took one small step after they were
deluged by conspiracy theorists and Far Right propagandists. In October
2011, they banned anyone who posted about [David] Icke, [Lyndon] LaRouche, [David] Duke, or
[Alex] Jones.

“A more proactive first step would be to endorse an anti-oppression
platform at the very start, such as the one created at Occupy Boston.
Unlike the relatively vague statement from Zuccotti, Boston’s statement
explicitly named the types of oppression that it opposed, including
White supremacy, patriarchy, ageism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-Arab
sentiment, Islamophobia, and anti-Jewish sentiment.”

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