I may receive some flak from local occupiers for some things I say here, and frankly, I hope I do. This thing called “Occupy” is at a critical juncture, and is experiencing its first wave of clearly defined dividing lines within itself. Constructive dialog would probably be very useful. As an example, I recently received a rather lengthy forwarded email that did an “ask and answer” based on the question “Is Occupy a movement or an organization?” To me, this is like asking if a Prius is a car or a design concept. While some auto enthusiasts might argue that it’s not the former, it is in fact clearly both. Debating the point is not very useful, unless you plan to refine the design, and build the next model. And something of that sort is clearly going on with Occupy. As someone who has been engaged in Occupy-related activities since before the camp in Zucotti Park, it has been a little frustrating to watch energetic, smart people engage briefly and then move along, turned off by the cumbersome assembly and meeting methods that many occupiers hold sacred, even though they may have only learned of them a few months ago. Locally, this phenomena has left Occupy Ann Arbor comprised mainly of people engaged in what I call “boutique activism”. The focus is largely on grass-roots actions for the homeless, and foreclosure assistance. There’s rarely mention of banks and politics, at least in terms of taking action of any kind. Ironic, given that the “occupy” in “Occupy [INSERT PET CAUSE]” comes from a group called “Occupy Wall Street”. On a national level though, there may be something very different going on. First of all, the 99% Declaration Working Group – which sprang from the original OWS group – is planning to select 435 delegates nationwide in June, and hold a National General Assembly on July 4 in Philadelphia. OWS, by the way, quickly went on the record stating their displeasure with this plan. Elsewhere, activist lawyer and Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig has been developing an organization called Rootstrikers. The group is clearly aligned with the Occupy ethos, and has found strange bedfellows with people like convicted GOP superlobbyist Jack Abramoff, via United Republic. United Republic is directly connected with Rootstrikers, and operates a blog called Republic Report which, in their words, is “devoted to rooting out the corruption that is so corrosive to American values”. And even established and clearly partisan organizations like the Roosevelt Institute are openly stating support for the Movement. So is this all just co-opting of the movement? I don’t think so. I think it may be the best thing to happen for the movement since the 700 arrests on the bridge last fall. And I believe it’s simply a matter of people who are “better-placed” societally doing what they can do to initiate real change. But I fear that my anarchist and socialist friends, with whom – in spite of our massive ideological differences – I have spent months cooperating with on our common values – will find this all anathema to their beliefs. Is this the next phase of Occupy, or its death-knoll?