As some of you know, I began blogging to support OWS, and I’m not sorry that I did. I am, however, at a crossroads with this movement. I still unequivocally support the ideas that:
1. The level of income inequality in this country is untenable and leads to the criminalization of the poor and luxuries for the few, 2. Money plays too great a role in American politics, and 3. Neo-liberal economic policies have gutted the middle and working classes and left the nation in a terrible depression.
As for OWS’s tactics and operating principles, I am at a loss. Broadcasting the fact that you want to tie up traffic and disrupt the financial distract — and letting the world know when you plan to do so — predictably gives Bloomberg time to marshal his large army into action. It also raises the larger question, why are you doing it? What do you hope to achieve?
Social movements thrive on winnable goals, and targeted actions to achieve them. If you don’t believe me, read Saul Alinsky. I don’t see goals here. I see the potential for our movement to seem simply obstructionist, angry and unfocused.
More problematic is the fact that Occupy has been losing momentum and numbers. Here is what I think has gone wrong. Many of you will disagree and I hope that leads to a dialogue rather than simple dismissal.
1. Many of us came out last fall embracing the ideals of a better world. Our signs said, “I Care About You,” “We are the 99 percent,” “Build schools, not prisons,” and “When did greed become a virtue?” Many of those same people have gone home.
Can Occupy find a way to make mere progressives and liberals feel as welcome as anarchists?
2. This is a nation searching for answers. I think many of us hoped that by now, Occupy would have put together a blue print for changing policy. I think that didn’t happen because at its heart, it is an anarchist movement. Or at least the anarchists’ voices have come to dominate what was once a larger, more broad-based movement.
Sadly, I think this turn of events has cost us the support of the people who most needed Occupy to prevail: the single mother working two retails jobs in St. Louis as she tries to keep her home from foreclosure; the janitor who is worried about being laid off by his school district; and the student who faces $100,000 in loan debt and a decade living at home working crappy jobs.
Again, these are just a few thoughts. Let’s all talk about this and let’s do so with civility.
NYPD erecting walls around Zucotti Park ten days before the anniversary of Occupy Wall Street.
Via Rising Tide North America’s Facebook (I would link it, but you have to be friends with them cos it’s a page & Facebook won’t allow them to add anymore friends)
We’ll be at the anniversary, so if you’re interested in meeting up with us in New York, let us know!