What We Have Here Is A Dead Occupy
Over the weekend I pointed out on the Twitter that the Occupy group, seven to eight hundred strong, that had traveled to Charlotte was parading around the financial district, each member with a specific grievance all their own. The obvious absurdity of the march is the efficacy of marching on the mean, to say nothing of deserted, streets of the financial district on a Sunday during Labor Day weekend where at best they might have changed the hearts and minds of several dozen dozing pigeons.
This is emblematic of what the remnants of the Occupy movement has become.
Back in June, the staff at Common Dreams wrote:
“Most of the social scientists who are at all like me – unsentimental leftists – … think this movement is over,” says Harvard University professor Theda Skocpol, speaking to Reuters about the grassroots ‘Occupy’ movement that began in Manhattan last fall and sparked nationwide encampments of public spaces and opened a long-ignored dialogue about income inequality and unaddressed Wall Street malfeasance.
The guffaws of OWS activists and organizers can already be heard as the news that a Harvard professor has called the movement null and void.
But even Adbusters, the ‘culture-jamming’ magazine that help spawn the original Wall Street occupation, says that things have changed dramatically for the movement. “Our movement is living through a painful rebirth…” began its frontpage essay this week, and then quoted a Zuccoti park regular who declared, “We are facing a nauseating poverty of ideas.”
The original Occupy was a great and wondrous thing drawing attention to the disparity between the 1% and the 99% and bringing together a mixture of dedicated social activists, union members, concerned citizens, and no small amount of hipsters looking for the next ‘thing that is happening’. Unfortunately, like all street movements it soon became a crank-magnet for fringe groups who couldn’t draw enough people on their own to stuff a photo booth, the generally disaffected looking for a free hand-out and a place pontificate about how the world should work, and the Black Bloc element that just likes to see stuff burn. Because it was a people-powered movement that eschewed control for fear of being called authoritarian or fascist, Occupy began to disintegrate as the actions of the bad actors increased and the thrill of the marches diminished. That, and people got bored; that’s another thing that happens when ‘thing that is happening’ is no longer a happening thing.
Yesterday, a small contingent of Occupy The DNC or whatever they call themselves at the moment (they’re probably still planning on forming a committee tasked with selecting an appropriate and non-offensive name subject to the approval of 80% of the attendees because that is what they do best) marched in support of Bradley Manning because … well, that’s the problem. It’s called Mission Creep.
Charlie Pierce was there:
The one vehicle that might have brought income inequality inside the bubble — or, at least, might have attempted to bring it to the attention of people on their way into the bubble — was the Occupy movement. But, frankly, the performance of what is calling itself the Occupy movement here has been pathetic — a hundred or so people standing at barriers, yelling at the cops, and providing the networks with cheap-shot video that they can run forever. Back in the day, when the occupation of Zuccotti Park was really rolling, you could see the results of people willing at least to yell at the correct buildings. (They forced that appalling video of the young bankster types guzzling champagne on the balcony while the cops busted some heads. That is how you change the debate, or at least wedge yourself into a place in it.) Here, it’s a claque of people sleeping in a park and the issue on which the movement founded itself gets lost in regularly scheduled daily wanking.
“I think it’s kind of fizzled here,” Terri Bolotin said. “There doesn’t seem to be much here. Yeah, and I think there’s something about yelling at the cops. The cops are not getting paid that much either. There’s something about a class divide. You fight among each other rather than say we all have a stake in this. That kind of shouting, I don’t find particularly effective.”