Last week, Occupy Wall Street activist John Paul Thornton from Decatur, Alabama filed for the movement’s own super PAC: The Occupy Wall Street Political Action Committee. This is a bizarre concept given that an OWS super PAC with the ability to raise unlimited corporate funds contradicts their disapproval of the Citizens United decision and goes against most of what the Occupy movement is all about.
Shortly after word of the new super PAC spread, organizers in Washington, D.C. and New York City denounced Thornton’s actions, asking him to “changed the name of the Occupy super PAC or else disassemble it completely.” Yet, The Atlantic Wire reports that as of last Friday, Thornton was planning on sticking by his PAC.
This example demonstrates a serious fault of the networked political movement. Unlike the Tea Party, OWS has not produced any clear leaders, and Micah Sifry’s argument of a “leaderfull” movement has not come to fruition at this point either. The Occupy movement effectively uses social media to coordinate efforts to “take to the streets in solidarity” (to use their wording) across the United States. Their Twitter account and blog successfully rallied occupiers for nearly six months, and although there are several activists who handle communications for each group, the movement’s lack of leadership has resulted in situations like Thornton’s super PAC flub.
Occupy and networked movements of the like have done an outstanding job at rallying large numbers of people to fight against x, y, or z, but they fail to bring these people together around a cohesive direction for change. It seems as if a leader must emerge in order for the movement to regain momentum and forge ahead in their desire to rid our government of corporate power.
The Atlantic Wire article highlighted another emerging problem within Occupy. The movement has engrained itself in modern political discussion and as a result, people are using the term “Occupy” too loosely. A large number of people are aware of OWS, but have little to no idea what the movement stands for. Again, without central leadership, activists like Thornton have taken matters into their own hands in an effort to push the movement forward—even without the approval of other occupiers.