“Occupy Wall Street and its kindred protests around the country are inept, incoherent and hopelessly quixotic. God, I love ’em.”
By Eugene Robinson, Published: October 10, 2011
Conceptually the Occupy Movement is simple and brilliant. Occupy space. Do it with enough other people and get noticed. Do it persistently and get noticed. It builds on peaceful assembly and passive resistance. Its initial incoherence and lack of specific demands, while also brilliant will become difficult to maintain. When you add camping out to the equation, fewer people will be able to, or want to, maintain the commitment. Pushed by the press and politicians for specifics to react for or against those who remain will say things that will be taken as answers, whether those things make sense or constitute a consensus or not. It is what the idiotic do.
It is like talking about only oak trees when we need to be talking about the entire forest. Actually it is more like talking only about oak trees when we should be talking about Gaia.
The truth is simpler and therefore much harder to deal with.
The socio-economic system is skewed. It needs to be unskewed.
Camping out and extending the Occupation in time certainly has gotten noticed. It also unfortunately gives the authorities ‘legitimate’ concerns they can use to disrupt and disperse such Occupation sites. Confrontation with authority can be dangerous and scary. As the Activist says, you have to beware of annoying those who swat flies with Abrams tanks. Witness:
“The individuals who linked arms and actively resisted, that in itself is an act of violence,” UC police Capt. Margo Bennett said. “I understand that many students may not think that, but linking arms in a human chain when ordered to step aside is not a nonviolent protest.”
Remnants of Occupy 1.0 will linger. Perhaps some will flourish.
But there need to be changes so people like me can become more involved wherever we are.
I can not nor should I wait for someone else to change things for me. I need to make a commitment to myself that I can keep. Sure, its is easier to keep a commitment to others than it is to keep one to yourself, which is why the basement of the church gets cleaned out and my garage doesn’t, but if you care you commit.
I am not going to camp out. There is some truth in saying I can’t. There is more truth to admitting that I am one of Keb Mo’s Victims of Comfort.
Realistically, I can commit to spending at least an hour every Sunday between 3 and 5 in a park.
Particularly with Spring coming. I can urge friends and family and others to do likewise. It doesn’t matter what park. The more parks the merrier. Ongoing flash mobs [“The Park. Sunday. 3-5. Be there.”] It doesn’t need to be organized. The less organized it is the less it is a formal assembly and the less the authorities have to push against. Bring a sign if you want. Or bring cookies. I can bring my grandkids. But I am sure not going to deliberately walk them into a shitstorm.
The whole idea is to peacefully Occupy space. Enough people occupy enough parks often enough and it will get noticed. The message? Well mine is: “I am unhappy, I want change, and I vote.” I can keep this commitment at least through the November 2012 elections. I don’t need to sign up with anybody, I don’t need to make a commitment to anyone or anything else. I just need to show up.
I can also try to connect with my local Occupy Movement. I have not as of yet. From a remove, they seem ineffectual if well intentioned. Near as I can tell they hold rallies during the middle of the day, during the middle of the week and picket banks. I have a job and can’t attend and picketing banks is like talking about only oak trees.
They have had another problem. I have friends who went once. There was guy there with a sign that said. “A nigger in the White House brings us all down.” Well, shit. I hesitate to even quote it, but there it is. I realize that the 99% is a big tent but that has to be enough to put a lot of people off. Maybe he is gone. Maybe he wasn’t even part of the movement. Maybe I would have to make a sign that says:”There are idiots everywhere” and stand next to him. You can’t let the occasional idiot torpedo or hijack a good cause. Being a borderline paranoid I wonder if he isn’t a paid agent put in place to defuse and disrupt the movement. It would be a pretty clever stratagem.
I can also pass out my “Money Talks” postcards. As long as I can fund them and people want them I will do my best to feed that. To have any real effect, others would have to step up and do likewise. I have visions of the mail scene from Miracle on 34th Street. It is not going to happen. Neither is Mr Smith Goes to Washington.
We all have our sustaining fantasies.
This is my commitment to myself and the Occupy 2.0 Movement. I can participate without being overwhelmed.
What are you going to do? Remember, as the Activist says, make your own commitment, don’t get suckered into making a commitment others want you to make.
I leave you with George Carlin’s Final Words to the World. Some people think it is just a conspiracy rant. Others think it is God’s own truth. I think it is George Carlin making me laugh while saying some very uncomfortable things.