Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

So Occupy Wall Street Won

With 5,478 documented arrests in fewer than three months, with New York City voters, in essence, actually liking Occupy Wall Street protestors better than the mayor, with dingbat Time declaring this the year of the protester, it's safe to say the battle for hearts and minds is won. Okay, yay, we won! So… what now?

Well, one good thing to know is that the Tea Party routine is a failure. Getting big money to back candidates to go to D.C. either results in morons being moronic or results in just putting more greedy cats on the greedy gravy train. It doesn't create change; it reaffirms the status quo. So we don't have to do that!

What's really handy is that right now the national press goes local. Starting this week, reporters are all decamped to Iowa; now they're on the trail for the next eleven months. (Suckers!) Why, it's like dozens of extremely expensive and reporter-surrounded candidates are having public press events ripe for the plucking every day for the whole next year! What an utterly convenient moment for a decentralized activist community to be wanting to take part in the national conversation!

16 Comments / Post A Comment

"1 Arrested After Occupy Boston Sink Fight"

Drew Robertson (#3,552)

Well Newt Gingrich has vowed to trail Obama for the entire campaign if he gets the nomination. No reason he can't be trailed as well.

Moff (#28)

What did we win? What concrete, long-lasting change has taken place because of the Occupy protests?

(I am not hating on the protests here. I could just give two shits about the "battle for hearts and minds" or "the national conversation," and can't see why I ought to feel otherwise.)

@Moff I think you're right in that there hasn't been a "victory" per se other than a pedagogical one. The fact is that long-lasting change requires the population at large to start to view events through a different lens. Race-equality and consciousness was a project undertaken in the 20th century that still continues today, but class-equality or consciousness was one that was relegated to socialists and pinkos and unamericans.

The fact is, in order to solve a problem we all have to agree the problem exists. I think the protests have made us all uncomfortable with the status quo, and therefor have opened the door for change.

The occupy movement hasn't won, but it IS winning, and there is plenty of work to be done that, by the way, would not have been possible before this year.

Moff (#28)

@Aaron Wolfe@facebook: I'm sorry, but no, this is absurdly early even to be declaring this minimal of a victory. We were totally viewing events through a different lens in December 2001. We had genuinely started to grapple seriously with America's role as the world's sole first-world superpower, and what sort of responsibilities it might entail. CUT TO A YEAR LATER…

Long-lasting change does not require the population at large to start getting on board. You don't have to get the whole country on board before you start doing things. We don't have to all agree a problem exists to solve it. (There are still thousands of people who disagree with desegregation, and you can bet there were a shitload more back when it actually happened.)

If the Occupy movement wants to make a difference, its primary focus should be on accomplishing concrete goals on a local level (and I don't mean getting petition signatures or supporting political candidates). This "hearts and minds" horseshit is exactly that in a media environment as fickle as today's. And our default focus on the national perspective is mind-numbingly ill-considered.

whizz_dumb (#10,650)

@Moff No, it's official because there's a "Mission Accomplished" banner hanging from the lofty rafters in my 17th floor office.

turd_sandwich (#5,660)

@Moff "And our default focus on the national perspective is mind-numbingly ill-considered." with this I completely agree. however, I also think that it's necessary to focus on shifting perception. for the local acts to gain a foothold and be sustainable, the mindset that exists on society's periphery needs to start working its way into the core. if considerably more people these days still wanted segregation, I think the nation would look very different.

this said, I'm not in 100% defense of the protesters and their tactics. interested, though, in what local actions would be useful, especially since companies with global and national reach contribute so much to the economic challenges being protested.

Moff (#28)

@turd_sandwich: The range of useful local actions is so terrifically broad, it's almost irrelevant. The point is that you are not going to make a significant difference meeting multinational corporations on their own playing field. Why? Because among the greater public (including you and me and everyone but a few deeply devoted ascetic outliers!), eloquent arguments made via mass media are always going to lose out to the convenience of shopping at Wal-Mart or keeping Verizon as your cell carrier or whatever. The former might be briefly moving, but it's easily ignorable; the latter actually impinges on one's day-to-day life.

There is only one solution, and that is building genuine working relationships within a local community. The one thing the Occupy protesters definitely get right is that they are putting their bodies out there. What they are getting wrong, IMHO, is that at this point they do need objectives, and their methods for achieving those objectives need to be much more involved than holding signs or marching or getting arrested, much less posting on Facebook or Twitter.

Listen: No one, not even the guy who owns the hardware shop and listens to Sean Hannity and thinks Obama is a Muslim from Kenya, actually wants to see a kid go hungry, or a family crushed by medical bills, or whole swaths of potential customers lose their jobs even if they do work for the state. But it is very easy for the guy who owns the hardware shop to go months or years or most or all of a lifetime without having to confront the physical reality of that kid or family or those workers. Ironically, it is even easier now, despite our vastly improved communication technology, because there is a world full of media in which to get absorbed; you don't have to patronize local businesses or organizations, you don't have to leave your home to be entertained, you don't have to know your neighbors. And to a large degree we don't, anymore.

But if we did, it is just possible that instead of existing as abstractions to each other ("Rethuglicans," "Leftists," etc.) — abstractions that by definition are simple to dismiss — we would discover that a lot of us who occupy the same physical territory actually have a lot in common. Or that at least we have a lot more trouble totally writing each other off after we've talked and had coffee a couple times.

I realize how utterly simplistic this sounds (and how long it is!). But the deal is, human beings have a knack lately for assuming that a solution must be complex to work, despite all the evidence to the contrary. If we would start restrengthening our local connections, we'd have some great, powerful platforms from which to eventually negotiate with those big companies with such a wide reach. (As long as they can consistently get enough customers in everybody's hometown, they don't really care what the widely dispersed people who disagree with them are complaining about. They don't have to!)

Moff (#28)

This book gets it pretty right. It may come off as utterly simplistic too, but its recommendations are wholly in keeping with everything a careful analysis of the cultural landscape suggests. (Full disclosure: I got paid to read it, but I'm plugging it absolutely of my own volition.)

LloydBraun (#13,503)

@Clarence Rosario Gutter is a tool!

progress! Time magazine announced on Wednesday its annual "Person of the Year," awarding the title to "The Protester."

flatfootafleet (#5,753)

"Okay, yay, we won!" ahahahahahahaha

All of Wall St.

whizz_dumb (#10,650)

@flatfootafleet No shit. The bank CEO says to the Wall St. Broker, "let them think they've won something and then we can keep doing our capitalizing, uninterrupted as usual."

El Knid (#10,432)

Well, one good thing to know is that the Tea Party routine is a failure. Getting big money to back candidates to go to D.C. either results in morons being moronic or results in just putting more greedy cats on the greedy gravy train. It doesn't create change; it reaffirms the status quo.

Choire, I love you, buddy, but this is just shit. The failure of the "Tea Party routine" to achieve anything positive is owed entirely to the complete lack of merit (or even coherence) of its ideas and the total divorce from objective reality of its adherents.

Are you really arguing that it's clear that harnessing a grass-roots movement's energy into traditional political channels can't/won't produce progressive change because it didn't work out that way when a bunch of confused, angry old white people banded together and managed to get a handful of politicians elected who were either similarly crazy or just that willing to pander to go down to DC with a mandate to 'take their country back' and 'keep the government's hands off their medicare' and other nonsense that doesn't even make sense as a slogan, let alone a policy platform!?

The Tea Partyiers problem wasn't an inability to effect real change, but the lack of coherent, actionable ideas about what kind of changes they wanted to effect. Imagine a political movement with similar influence instead fighting for a) meaningful regulation of financial trade and b) serious campaign finance reform unapologetically aimed at reducing the ability of moneyed interests to dictate policy. Just imagine it.

Danzig! (#5,318)

@El Knid Why talk about the Tea Party? Talk about the hippies, talk about the Student Movement. They accomplished a hell of a lot of things, but we as a culture have agreed that hippies are like clowns – they're people you don't think about, you only have a gut reaction to. So liberals labor under the illusion that the left in this country has never achieved anything of merit through official channels.

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