September 17th marked the beginning of the “Occupy:” movement. It finds its roots in the idea that we, the 99%, are fighting class warfare with the 1% and we are fed up with it. There is the idea that capitalism, democracy, and freedom, have been privatized and leveraged for personal gain both monetary and otherwise. Whether this is true or not has nothing to do with the actual cause. This is the kettle boiling over as the masses have had enough and simply want…something.
It started innocuously enough with about a thousand people responding to a Canadian-based site that called for the peaceful occupation of Wall St. to make their voices heard that they are tired of the corporate greed and the toxic environment that not only feeds the problem, but is at its core is profiting from it while so many others suffer. There isn’t time nor space for me to recount the events of the last three years, the wars we are fighting, the middle and lower class suffering that has occurred, or the overall tone of commentary about the poor and unfortunate rich that are being targeted in some weird version of class warfare. Suffice to say, people are tired and hungry for change, and they finally just want to stand shoulder to shoulder with their compatriots.
This kind of protesting is nothing new to me. I grew up in Oregon. The NW has been rife for protest and demonstration for decades. We had the WTO riots in Seattle. I know that people sit-in often, protest loudly, and are constantly chaining themselves together in the middle of an intersection for the purpose of one cause or another. The NW pioneered this kind of organization of the masses and we have been the ones to do it best to date. Occupy: Seattle…you knew it was only a matter of time.
All over the country we are seeing events planned out. This thing has gone viral, and ever since the protestors in NY attempted to bring traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge to a standstill, the front has been galvanized.
Charlotte, Seattle, Topeka, Detroit, Cairo, Tallahassee, and on. Occupiers are assembling in the places to let their voices be heard. But to what end? OccupyTogether.org even admits that this is a leaderless movement. A truly organic and grassroots uprising of the people saying enough is enough, but is it enough?
What are they saying in the streets?
“Banks are corrupt and corporate America has held us down for too long!” Really? Yeah, that’s not news. Big corporations are the only reason this industrialized country even exists. What, you think the railroads were built by little momand pop railroad building companies?
“Politicians are corrupt and pandering to big business as they make huge contributions to campaigns and are treated better than the people are!” No shit. Corrupt politicians who will say anything for a buck? Yeah, we can get them in bulk by the palate at Costco for fuck’s sake. Tell me something that isn’t as old as the story of humanity.
“We are sick and tired of the rich being coddled while the non-one-percenters get taxed and left with no help or recourse. It is time the rich started paying more and time that the government stopped bending over for them because they have all the money!” Keep fucking dreaming. Hell, companies are actually people now. We live in a world where “inc” has all the rights as “jr.” You think for one second that there is any going back from this? Not unless we go all post apocalyptic and start killing each other for oil, food, water, and power…wait a minute…
I have been watching the coverage, the videos, reading the articles, and I am still a little foggy on what the eventual Utopia is going to look like. What is the end goal? The end of large companies and world banks? Are we looking to tar and feather, draw and quarter, those responsible for this economic/democratic mess we find ourselves in? I doubt it, we just don’t have the horses for that.
With no clear end game and the looming eviction of the Occupy: Wall St.’ers at 7 am tomorrow, what is next? There is clearly no political party that will come out of this. The Tea Party was a well-funded conservative movement that gained a lot of traction and now has it’s hands inside the rusty gears of politics. Is “Occupy:” going to find itself a candidate? I think they did, but he hasn’t worked out so well for anyone up to this point.
The comparisons to the Tea Party movement are a little premature and a little grandiose. These are people loitering in parks and in public spaces. This is peaceable assembly, but for what cause? I’m not saying that the Tea party protestors had a clear message, but I could speculate that given enough rope and enough time with a microphone, any random occupier would eventually hang themselves in a tirade about the injustice and work there way to the idea of destroying it all and starting over again (well, maybe there is a little similarities in basic message). I don’t know if I can get there with you on that one, young blonde girl in dreadlocks, but this soccer mom in period authentic Revolutionary war outfit in the tri-corner hat is making a lot of sense. It’s all about the packaging.
What hurts the movement is that there isn’t another plan. If most protestors got their way then we’d throw every Wall St. broker in jail, close the big banks, and then rebuild democracy from the ground up. That’s the big difference between the Tea Party and Occupy:, the Tea Party had the sage words of forefathers and a Constitution to prostitute to their cause. The Occupy: movement is really gonna just be stuck with a manifesto and a couple parts of the Bill of Rights…with none of the forefather quotes to take out of context. Without some patriotic drum to beat, what it looks like is anarchy, dissent during hard times, and political mutiny (or at the very least an act of terrorism, maybe?).
It’s the protestors themselves that are hurting their own case. It’s like the crowds from Bonnaroo and Burning Man got lost on their way home and set up shop in any town they could find. Blocking the Brooklyn Bridge? Getting arrested? Shitting in the streets? Also, I have never seen so many backpacks at a protest in my life (no one take anyone wearing a backpack seriously). This is not going to play well to middle America. You just look like lazy and unemployed misanthropes. I’m not saying this is what you are, but that is how it is playing out.
I love the enthusiasm, but it’s misdirected. More than anything, if political involvement for real change is the end goal, then you blew your load too early. This will all be forgotten by January, but had this event taken place at this same time next year, than a voting base might have been able to be put in to action at the precipice of the election night. With Obama on the campaign trail and the GOP clamoring to create conservative sound bites, then you might have gotten more attention closer to the eleventh hour.
This doesn’t remind me of the Tea Party and it certainly doesn’t remind me of the uprising in Iran that got its start through the internet and social media. Though you’ve got hotlines, mailing addresses, and soon it’s own newpaper thanks to pledges at Kickstarter, this reminds me of the “Vote or Die” campaign…and we all know how well that turned out. Yeah, the t-shirt was cool, it was cool to repost links on Facebook, but it didn’t get the youth vote anywhere, and it didn’t stop Bush from getting elected. Once a movement is on MTV, it’s been dead for a week already.
I appreciate the effort, and I know you probably don’t have anywhere else to be anyway. Hang out, play bongos, chant, cheer, and march. It’s good for TV ratings and I’ll hashtag a post or two on Twitter, but don’t expect real change. It’s chaotic camaraderie at it’s best and it’s squatting and loitering all other times of the day. I support you, in theory. As does Soccer Mom Jane and Joe the Plumber, but Joe’s got a job and Jane’s got three kids to raise, so don’t expect their participation in anything but the Cliff Notes. They don’t have the time to camp out for a month in the name of a cause, and that is the major difference between the Tea Party and Occupy…priorities. Take a shower and put together a position, or get back to loitering outside Starbuck’s, hitch-hiking to Denver, and playing bongos for spare change outside a Virgin Records store. You know, the stuff you did before someone sent you an email to occupy something.http://www.avaaz.org http://www.occupytogether.org #occupytogether #OTW http://www.facebook.com/occupytogether