23 Oct 2011
This whole Occupy movement has really generated a lot of passion. It's demonstrating the variety of opinions in America--the complicated nature of our national discourse.
It's also demonstrating America's continuing love affair with the demonstration.
We've got anarchists protesting, unified in orderly protestor conduct. We've got right-wingers protesting the protestors in the blogosphere, who were themselves protesting Wall Street during the bailouts. And the true indicator of a good protest--we've got cops flailing billy clubs and protestors egging them on, so only to deride them later on.
I think the biggest lesson learned from these protests is that it's still very difficult to say things. We've got protestors screaming real loud, but it's tough to tell what they're saying.
That's why I admire writers--they say something, put themselves out there, and back it up. (But not DimeBrothers.com--we don't try hard enough or say anything brazen enough.)
Protestors are at least putting themselves out there, but that's not nearly enough.
So far the Occupy Wall Street message is simply, "1% of people have money; 99% of people are jobless or powerless to change the system; all police officers are evil; blue collar police officers may not be that evil; we want more equal distribution of wealth; we stand around and try to take photos of stuff happening; not that much happens, so sometimes we provoke it; the 1% includes all those who are richest, anyone who is a supervisor, anyone who has any position of power, and really should be rounded up to at least 10%; our right to protest is being stomped on, even though we have permits and everything that we sometimes purposefully ignore because we like to block traffic and provoke cops to arrest us so we can continue to show how we don't have any rights." And so forth and so on.
There's not that much actually being said. The problem is that once a group that's intentionally trying to be inclusive starts saying specific things, people break off. People disagree. The movement loses momentum. Better for the movement to "win" first, then define what they've been fighting for.
This will lead to a ton of analysis later on, with debate raging over what the movement meant and means for America, what its intents were, and all that. People will spend a lot of time trying to summarize what happened, and they'll have trouble because so little has been said or done that's actually specific.
Do they want to change the system? What's the "system?" That position makes little sense.
Do they want the right to protest? They've already got it. That position makes little sense.
Do they want civil society to be heard? Everyone's listening; say something! That position makes little sense.
Do they want stricter financial regulations? That position would make sense if they claimed it.
Do they want more taxes on the rich? That position would make sense if they claimed it.
Do they want to show that people can still protest? Cool--they are! Viva democracy!
Almost anyone can point out problems. It takes another level of analysis to come up with solutions. Or to work with those you're opposed to. Or to understand how a "system" works.
So folks will go on protesting, and Internet memes will continue to proliferate. And we'll know no more than when this began. As is being demonstrated.