"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Keeping occupied

Cartoon shamelessly stolen from Alison at Creekside, who got it from LeDevoir.

It appears the Occupy Wall Street movement is starting to crumble a bit around the edges. Some of the reasons are the external ones you might expect - like the Oakland police launching tear gas into an unarmed, nonviolent crowd or the steady drip of arrests and trouble sparked by police agent provocateurs and the constant efforts in the press to insists the protesters don't know what they want or understand what they are protesting about (which is, not to put too fine a point on it, utter bullshit).
Then there are the more practical reasons. The weather is turning colder and the resources that make the protest possible are running low. Simply put, most people cannot afford to spend week after week camping out in Zucotti Park or wherever else is being occupied.
Unlike the Teabaggers -- who just rolled up on their mobility scooters or arrived on Koch-sponsored bus tours, got shouty about keeping the gummint out of their medicare and waved badly spelled signs for an hour or two and then went home to watch FOX News, clean their guns and wait for their next social security cheque--the Wall Street occupiers are mostly people of working age who would rather be working. Some of so-called professional protestors or full-time activists, some are  college students, some are returned vets, some are just regular people with nothing left to lose, but most of them would much rather be working a paying job than freezing their butts off and getting threatened with a macing in the park.
No, the main threat to the occupy movement at this point seems to be the movement itself. You can only live in the parks and public squares for so long without bathrooms. The democratic nature of the movement can only be hijacked so many times by malcontents, purity trolls, single-issue hostage-takers and anarchists before the organization starts to pull itself apart. And don't lets get started on the drummers. As in any bottom-up movement, the center cannot hold indefinitely and as in any liberal movement where everyone's opinion is given equal time and consideration from the moderate to the most radical, cohesion has limited lifespan before groups start to splinter.
I think the movement is making their point, but would be better off to push hard while they still have momentum in the short term for some kind of concession in Washington that would let them declare victory and go home before attrition and cold weather whittle down their numbers or the powers that be decide that the short term PR problems a violent sweep by riot cops would bring is a lesser evil than the PR nightmare of Occupy Wall Street carrying on through Christmas.
One possible move the occupiers around the country should consider is a collective march on Washington or Wall Street in the style of the Bonus Army. You think the 1% are worried now, wait and see the panic when a million or so people from around the country converge on a single power center in numbers that would overwhelm any possible police response


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