Saturday, October 1, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

I'll start by saying I'm supportive of what is happening in New York.  I am particularly unconcerned with the lack of a concrete set of demands by the protestors as some sort of mark of a "legitimate" protest.  It might be nice if they had a unified goal or set of goals, but it doesn't preclude them being an effective force for change that they don't have this (yet, at least).  It's enough for me to see some brave souls coming together to at least say the status quo isn't working.  I'm very glad to see them protesting at the real seat of power in the world, the financial districts rather than political centres.

It also strikes me that the elite obsession with understanding the demands of the protesters (like this AP piece in the WaPo) actually somewhat reminds me of the media and Republican demands that the Democrats present their own plan to dismantle Social Security back when Bush was pushing his end of SS plan in 2005.  Forcing the protestors to coalesce around a set of demands could easily divide and destroy them.

It also strikes me that in no real way did the Tea Party have any such concrete set of demands, and they still don't, and no "smaller government" is not a meaningful or specific demand.  I suppose opposition to death panels was specific enough, except there never were any death panels so it was a demand that something be ended that never existed.  Still, it's not surprising that the DFH's get a different set of standards for their protest movement than did right wingers, but it's still worth exploring how these differences manifest.

Lastly I think the media demands for a list of demands is reflective of the elite discomfort at seeing this movement form in front of them, where their models and PR says they shouldn't.   It was one thing to see these sorts of movements start in Egypt or Syria, but this one is in the United States.  They simply don't understand it, and that makes them more afraid of a few thousand hippies than they were of the millions who marched in direct opposition to the Iraq War in 2003 (which of course had a specific demand, that was easily ignored).  In that sense, it might even be a mistake for the protestors to articulate a specific list of demands.

P.S.  I really really love this:
There are twice-daily meetings called general assemblies, where anyone can make a brief announcement. The assemblies draw everyone together in a tight huddle. To avoid violating a ban on bullhorns, the crowd obediently repeats in unison every phrase uttered by the main speaker, to ensure everyone hears.
I actually heard them doing this on the live feed, and didn't understand what it was about until I read that.  "This is what democracy looks like" indeed.

No comments:

Post a Comment