The PJ Tatler

Co-Opting OWS: Some Reactions to MoveOn & Van Jones' "99% Spring"


Groovy! It’s all Flower Power and retro 60’s! Radical training sessions just began around the country, preparing for the “99% Spring” movement, brought to you by Van Jones and the good people at Wait a minute….I thought the 99% phrase came from a grassroots, spontaneous movement. This sounds awfully planned to me. What do the original Occupiers think about all this?

Here are a few of the reactions so far, excerpted from both articles and commenters:


We cannot be bought! We will not be co-opted! is a political lobbying organization that routinely backs Democratic candidates and was originally funded by the billionaire George Soros. is considered the “lead lobbying group” for Obama’s reelection campaign, and has overt ties to various Wall Street entities.

Occupy the East End is in no way affiliated with, nor does it wish to become so. The attempt to take over OEE is a hostile takeover attempt to capitalize on the Occupy movement as a whole. Occupy Wall Street and occupy the East End as a movement rejects the political system as a broken structure that needs to be overhauled from the bottom up.

I’m not one of those people who goes around worrying allot about co-option. I assume that if we all have the same goals, it doesn’t matter much. I didn’t think that 99%Spring was out to co-opt Occupy Wall Street.
I was wrong.


The first clue that my evening might go otherwise was the sign-up table, where there were a bunch of Obama buttons for sale and one sign-up sheet for the oddly named Community Free Democrats (are they free of community?), which is the local Democratic clubhouse. That killed the “inspired by Occupy Wall Street” vibe right there.

Check out this entire page; lots of excellent points made. Here are a few:

Thus, The 99 Spring is a sly way to list-build, and by extension, fund-raise, always at the forefront of the mind of Democratic Party fundraisers, who share a close, revolving-door relationship with

The Smoking Gun: The 99 Spring’s Pushes Buffett Rule for “Tax Fairness”

In an interview, activist and author John Stauber — who founded the Center for Media and Democracy in 1993 and ran it until 2009 — laid it out: “Democratic donors and unions have — since the 2000 Nader/Gore/Bush election — flowed millions of election year dollars into non-profit organizations and liberal media to rally progressives and create an echo chamber that can impact politics in favor of Democrats.”
“Clearly this is precisely what’s at play for the 99% Spring effort led by, Van Jones and other trusted Democratic Party collaborators. 99% Spring’s activities will surely be carefully and quietly coordinated behind the scenes to have a maximum positive impact in defeating Republicans and re-electing President Obama,” he continued.

More from  Counterpunch:, it appears, is also “in on this game,” so to speak, as Bill McKibben has signed onto The 99 Spring’s “call to action.” Furthermore, organizer Joshua Kahn Russell, formerly of the Ruckus Society and Rainforest Action Network, also sent out an email blast on the list promoting The 99 Spring’s “week of action.”

Not so fast, says activist and author John Stauber, an expert in exposing corporate and political front groups.

“What’s going on is very simple.  Massive amounts of soft money from unions, wealthy donors and foundations such as the Tides Foundation are flowing into NGOs willing to help support the re-election of Barack Obama, and this MoveOn front group is key to whipping liberals and progressive activists into line to attack Republicans for the cause.  The brand and energy of Occupy Wall Street are being coopted by MoveOn’s 99 Spring for this purpose,” he said in an interview.

That’s right, OWS. Some of the very people you have been protesting against, while you were camping in the rain in 30 degree weather, are the ones now trying to co-opt your movement. I assure you, they were quite warm and comfortable in their offices while they were putting this together.