The Daily Princetonian published a short article on Thursday, May 3rd, covering Occupy Princeton’s May Day 2012 activities. The article was based on several interviews given at Princeton prior to May 1st, as well as on the information gathered by one of the reporters who joined Princeton students on May Day in New York City. Here’s the link to the article: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/05/03/30872/
Although the article is yet another example of poor journalism on the part of the Prince, loaded, as always, with inaccuracies and quotes placed out of context, the issue I would like to address here is somewhat different albeit related. The published piece proves that it’s not necessarily money or special interests that govern the content produced by the media, but it’s often the writers and editors themselves (in this case mostly the latter) whose minds are so rigidly programmed to think in a certain way that they simply are not capable of comprehending certain concepts and articulating them.
What I’m alluding to are two specific things included in the article. First, it refers to Occupy Princeton as a “chapter” of Occupy Wall Street. Second, it acknowledges me as the “chapter leader.” Anyone who has ever taken two minutes to learn about the Occupy movement immediately becomes knowledgable of the fact that Occupy is a non-hierarchical, decentralized, and horizontal movement. There are no chapters or leaders, but rather a broadly shared set of social values and a mutual belief in processes of consensus-based decision-making and non-violent resistance. The term “Occupy” represents only a general agreement with those values, processes, and tactics – not any formal affiliation with anyone or anything.
All resolutions and activities carried out by Occupy Princeton and other similar groups are based on the common views of those who wish to participate in their open, collective decision-making processes. Moreover, one does not even have to identify as a “member” of Occupy or with its shared values to get actively involved; Occupy is a space for deliberating local, regional, national, and international issues and deciding on common courses of action. Pretty much all of Occupy Princeton “members” are involved in other student organizations, and many Princeton students who don’t identify as “Occupiers” take part in campaigns originated in Occupy assemblies.
It would be absurd to think that talented Ivy-leaguers working for the Daily Princetonian could not research the most fundamental nature of the Occupy movement as presented above. I am but one of endless people who have written or talked about it in the past and continue to do so in the present. It could possibly be just another incident of carelessness on behalf of the Prince editors who do have a stressful job, but the fact that the article screws up something so elementary about the topic it is covering makes me think that there is something more to it.
I believe that our sociopolitical institutions and culture so thoroughly ingrain in us a certain understanding of organizational structures and distributions of power within them and within society in general that it becomes extremely difficult to break free from positivist beliefs about the role of hierarchy and authority in any association of people. The Prince editors are one of many victims. The good news is that it’s difficult to overcome, but not impossible if we decide to constantly challenge our beliefs – something that may not be encouraged enough here at Princeton.