An Occupier’s Thoughts On Leadership and Authority

We’ve all heard it a million times since mid-September: “Occupy is a leaderless movement.”  But what does that mean, really?  According to our friend Wikipedia, a “leaderless movement” means:

[quote author="Wikipedia" image="" w="" h="" image_align=""]Leaderless resistance, or phantom cell structure, is a political resistance strategy in which small, independent groups (covert cells), including individuals (solo cells), challenge an established adversary such as a government. Leaderless resistance can encompass anything from non-violent disruption and civil disobedience to bombingsassassinations and other violent agitation. Leaderless cells lack bidirectional, vertical command links and operate without hierarchal command.[1] While it lacks a central command, the concept does not necessarily imply lack of cooperation.[/quote]

Using this definition, is Occupy really a leaderless movement?  In a sense, yes: we have no central command center, no ruling elite, no authority figure from which to take direction.  But is this really “leaderless”?

I see leaders all the time within my local Occupy movement.  I see brave individuals bottom-lining tasks, taking initiative to make widespread change, and helping others learn how to best fight the establishment system.  I see leaders teaching everything from non-violent direct action tactics to tai chi to the philosophies of different political and economic ideologies.  Leaders are all over the place in Occupy; rather than saying we’re leaderless, I think we’re best described as a movement full of leaders.  What the Occupy movement lacks isn’t leaders, but authority figures.  From Merriam-Webster:

[quote author="Merriam-Webster" image="" w="" h="" image_align=""]

Definition of AUTHORITY



The concept of “authority” is a frequently-discussed and debated one among Occupiers, especially in light of abuse experienced at the hands of the police and other law enforcement — the epitome of authority in the eyes of most.  And, as many Occupiers self-identify as anarchists, the concept of authority is especially relevant.  Anarchy, as Wikipedia defines the term, and as most self-identified anarchists (that I’ve spoken with) understand it, is

[quote author="Wikipedia" image="" w="" h="" image_align=""]

Anarchy (from Greek: ??????? anarchí?), has more than one definition. In the United States, the term “anarchy” typically is meant to refer to a society without a

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