AAP and the Occupy Movement

This is my response on an article on the Occupy Movement in New York.

I have also tried to draw a comparison between the ‘leadership’ aspects and practices of Occupy Movement and AAP Movement.


Our movement is leaderless and leaderful.” —Dr. Cornel West, American philosopher, academic, activist, author.

Here I would like to draw a direct connection between the Occupy Movement and the AAP movement strictly in terms of “leadership”. As the above quote by Dr. Cornel West makes the stand on leadership very evident, the movement therefore raises several fundamental questions like the need for a central leader or a central body as has always been the case in the politics of organisation and agitation.

In the episodes of The Julian Assange Show, Assange in discussion with activists of the Occupy movement raised the question of, ‘how did they manage to co-operate events’? And the answer was, a ‘common’ understanding that automatically develops when you confront the Police-State and can’t afford to be violent. They split up in small groups and and every evening AAP style mohalla meetings were taken to discuss the next day’s action where every person present could give his/her opinion. Each unit of protestors still remained autonomous and free to takes it own course. And this is what they claim led to the success (if I may say so) of the Occupy movement (while this does not seems to be true of the AAP movement due to its leaders and media-faces).

An example from history of such a common understanding among protestors in America:

As the last aspect of the opposition I should like now to mention a new dimension of protest, which consists in the unity of moral-sexual and political rebellion. I should like to give you an illustration that I experienced as an eyewitness, which will show you the difference between what is happening in the United States and here. It was at one of the large anti-war demonstrations in Berkeley. The police, it is true, had permitted the demonstration, but forbidden access to the target of the demonstration, the military railroad station at Oakland. This meant that, beyond a particular and clearly defined point, the demonstration would have become illegal by violating the police order. When thousands of students neared the point at which the forbidden road began they came upon a barricade consisting of about 10 rows of heavily armed policemen outfitted in black uniforms and steel helmets. The march approached this police barricade, and as usual there were several people at the head of the march who yelled that the demonstration should not stop but try instead to break through the police cordon, which naturally would have led to a bloody defeat without achieving any aim. The march itself had erected a counter-cordon, so that the demonstrators would first have had to break through their own cordon in order to cross that of the police. Naturally this did not happen. After two or three scary minutes the thousands of marchers sat down in the street, guitars and harmonicas appeared, people began “necking” and “petting,” and so the demonstration ended. You may find this ridiculous, but I believe that a unity spontaneously and anarchically emerged here that perhaps in the end cannot fail to make an impression even on the enemy.

Herbert Marcuse, The Problem of Violence and the Radical Opposition, 1967.


Whereas, loosely speaking, the AAP has a central leader i.e. Arvind Kejrival and a central body comprising of Yogendra Yadav, Manish Sisodia, Vishwas Kumar and others. And their recent actions too have raised eyebrows among their believers. The point that I am trying to make is, ‘What is it that drives the actions of AAP? Is it the “consensus” or the self-morality of the “leadership”?

Can AAP afford to have several autonomous units of protestors (also geographically) and chose their own course of action, but in solidarity with the whole movement? One may point out about the difference between the Occupy Movement and AAP as the former being a social and the latter being political. If so, are political movements doomed till eternity, with vertical leadership being the only option, and give up the hope for a better model of horizontal leadership?

 – takeleft@outlook.com


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