FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Tragicomic History of the OWS Animal Issues Working Group

Lately, I’ve become interested in the possibilities of animal-rights activists forming sub-groups within broader left-wing organizations and movements. Today, I will recount the story of brave souls attempting to do just this and failing in spectacularly-hilarious fashion. Without further ado, I present the tragicomic history of the Occupy Wall Street Animal Issues working group.

The group met only nine times, according to the New York City General Assembly. One would be stretching the definition of the word to describe some of these attempted gatherings, for which the minutes were faithfully documented, as “meetings.”

The group first met on February 1, 2012, well after Occupy Wall Street was evicted from Zuccotti  Park and the movement was on its way to irrelevance. Eight people attended this inaugural meeting, which started half an hour late. A heated debate quickly broke out regarding the costs and benefits of a horizontal-organizational model, as the group argued whether to make everyone an administrator of what one must assume is their mailing list.

“Johanna responds that she wants to feel free to e-mail information and that how the group is choking with bureaucracy and she doesn’t experience this with any other group and things are more flowing and freer,” the minutes state. “Ruth disagrees and expresses concern about changing this policy so that everyone could be an administrator. ”

But the dispute doesn’t end there. “Dan agrees with Johanna and expresses that the spirit of OWS is not to have hierarchies, and that everyone should be an administrator,” the minutes state. “Adam replies that is not a question of hierarchies but of making sure things are organized and safely reliable.”

This leads one member to threaten to quit. As the minutes say, “Johanna replies that if she is not going to have the freedom to get things done, then she is going to have (to) leave the group.” After being interrupted by a passerby asking for potato chips, the meeting was closed.

The group’s third gathering, on February 15, did not go well either. The only one in attendance, Adam was listed as the meeting’s facilitator and note taker. “Adam walked around 60 Wall Street looking for people looking for the meeting. He found no one,” the minutes state. “Adam left.”

Turnout for future gatherings was better, but not by much. The fifth meeting, for instance, boasted only three attendees. If the minutes available are complete, months passed between the fifth meeting and the sixth. Listed in attendance at the sixth gathering was a “LOUD coffee grinder,” which one guesses made talking difficult. There was no facilitator for the meeting, as presumably the tiny group had given up the pretensions it was necessary.

While the results were sadly humorous, those in the OWS Animal Issues should be applauded for attempting to inject anti-speciesist politics into broader leftist movements. Let’s hope that future attempts will be more fruitful. There is evidence that formations of the anthropocentric left can be pushed in progressive directions by what are assumably minority, pro-animal voices within them. Socialist Party USA, for instance, calls for the ban of the fur trade and animal testing for product development. Though these are obviously piece-meal proposals, if put into practice they would benefit millions of animals every year.

Jon Hochschartner is a freelance writer from upstate New York. Visit his website at JonHochschartner.com.

More articles by:

Jon Hochschartner is the author of a number of books about animal-rights history, including The Animals’ Freedom Fighter, Ingrid Newkirk, and a forthcoming history of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty.

Weekend Edition
July 10, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Lynnette Grey Bull
Trump’s Postcard to America From the Shrine of Hypocrisy
Anthony DiMaggio
Free Speech Fantasies: the Harper’s Letter and the Myth of American Liberalism
David Yearsley
Morricone: Maestro of Music and Image
Jeffrey St. Clair
“I Could Live With That”: How the CIA Made Afghanistan Safe for the Opium Trade
Rob Urie
Democracy and the Illusion of Choice
Paul Street
Imperial Blind Spots and a Question for Obama
Vijay Prashad
The U.S. and UK are a Wrecking Ball Crew Against the Pillars of Internationalism
Melvin Goodman
The Washington Post and Its Cold War Drums
Richard C. Gross
Trump: Reopen Schools (or Else)
Chris Krupp
Public Lands Under Widespread Attack During Pandemic 
Alda Facio
What Coronavirus Teaches Us About Inequality, Discrimination and the Importance of Caring
Eve Ottenberg
Bounty Tales
Andrew Levine
Silver Linings Ahead?
John Kendall Hawkins
FrankenBob: The Self-Made Dylan
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Deutsche Bank Fined $150 Million for Enabling Jeffrey Epstein; Where’s the Fine Against JPMorgan Chase?
David Rosen
Inequality and the End of the American Dream
Louis Proyect
Harper’s and the Great Cancel Culture Panic
Thom Hartmann
How Billionaires Get Away With Their Big Con
REZA FIYOUZAT
Your 19th COVID Breakdown
Danny Sjursen
Undercover Patriots: Trump, Tulsa, and the Rise of Military Dissent
Charles McKelvey
The Limitations of the New Antiracist Movement
Binoy Kampmark
Netanyahu’s Annexation Drive
Joseph G. Ramsey
An Empire in Points
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
COVID-19 Denialism is Rooted in the Settler Colonial Mindset
Ramzy Baroud
On Israel’s Bizarre Definitions: The West Bank is Already Annexed
Judith Deutsch
Handling Emergency: A Tale of Two Males
Michael Welton
Getting Back to Socialist Principles: Honneth’s Recipe
Dean Baker
Combating the Political Power of the Rich: Wealth Taxes and Seattle Election Vouchers
Jonah Raskin
Edward Sanders: Poetic Pacifist Up Next
Manuel García, Jr.
Carbon Dioxide Uptake by Vegetation After Emissions Shutoff “Now”
Heidi Peltier
The Camo Economy: How Military Contracting Hides Human Costs and Increases Inequality
Ron Jacobs
Strike!, Fifty Years and Counting
Ellen Taylor
The Dark Side of Science: Shooting Barred Owls as Scapegoats for the Ravages of Big Timber
Sarah Anderson
Shrink Wall Street to Guarantee Good Jobs
Graham Peebles
Prison: Therapeutic Centers Or Academies of Crime?
Zhivko Illeieff
Can We Escape Our Addiction to Social Media?
Clark T. Scott
The Democrat’s Normal Keeps Their (Supposed) Enemies Closer and Closer
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
In 2020 Elections: Will Real-Life “Fighting Dems” Prove Irresistible?
David Swanson
Mommy, Where Do Peace Activists Come From?
Christopher Brauchli
Trump the Orator
Gary Leupp
Columbus and the Beginning of the American Way of Life: A Message to Indoctrinate Our Children
John Stanton
Donald J. Trump, Stone Cold Racist
Nicky Reid
The Stonewall Blues (Still Dreaming of a Queer Nation)
Stephen Cooper
A Kingston Reasoning with Legendary Guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith (The Interview: Part 2)
Hugh Iglarsh
COVID-19’s Coming to Town
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail