Occupied!: I’m not buying it
Continuing in our Occupied! series, I thought I might weigh in with my feelings about the Occupy Movement. I thought I might admit upfront that I have only been watching the movement from afar. I live in Washington, DC. From what I have heard, there are a fair amount of protesters here in the District. I haven’t been down to see them and honestly, I don’t plan on it. I don’t think I’m alone in my feelings either. I would venture to say that there is a substantial portion of this nation that is educated, politically well-informed, not a part of the “one percent,” yet who still can’t jive with the Occupy_____ movement. “Why is this” you might ask. Everyone loves populist outrage. Who wouldn’t want to head out to a tent city, pretend for a few days that I am homeless, create manifestos, and destroy a Starbucks or two because they are really an arm of an evil corporate system bent on the marginalization of people and the maximization of profit at all costs.
Ok. I was being a bit sarcastic. However, I think I am not alone in the world when I say: “I still don’t get what these people want to happen.” Do they want overall structural change? I think we can say yes. Do they express apathy with the current political climate; an alienation with a Democratic system largely influenced by moneyed individuals? Yes. Their solution: squat in a park in lower Manhattan, issue Declarations, and just express outrage. But ambiguous outrage never worked for anyone, except perhaps Howard Beale.
I can’t argue with the contention that the protesters in the Occupy ______ movement share some of the foundational elements of the Civil Rights movement from the 1960s. Their Declaration states as much. They are against discrimination in the workplace. They are for basic human rights. Notwithstanding, I’ve asked myself the question: how in touch with the marginalized populace of the United States are they? A poll of 1,619 protesters in Zucotti Park yielded a response that 13% of the protesters earned more than $75,000 per year. Ask yourself this, can the person with a foreclosed home, credit card debt, student loan debt, no health insurance, and little opportunity for employment afford to live in a park for two months? How many workers in less-developed countries assembled the iPhones, iPads, and Blackberrys that the protesters use to tweet and advance their movement? What I am hinting at here is though the Occupiers may technically be in the 99% as they call it, how much of this is neo-yuppie talking points critiquing real problems, but without any specific agenda or plan to correct them?
According to the Declaration issued by the Occupy Wall Street General Assembly (yes, apparently they have formed a quasi-legislature) their outrage runs the gamut, to whit: corporate influence of the political process, employment discrimination, student loan debt, outrage at pharmaceutical patents, outsourcing, and bailouts. In sum, they are just plain mad at everything.
You’re thinking I’m minimizing the movement. You’re thinking that they are actually doing something while I’m just sitting back and arm-chairing from behind my Macbook screen. Well, yes I am. I understand that when people hit the streets, shit gets real. See Tahrir square. See the Puerta del Sol in Madrid. See the Solidarity movement in Poland. These people had concrete goals, namely, political regime change. The Occupiers are overwhelmingly left-leaning, yet haven’t backed a politician. They are angry at politicians. And Wall Street. And income distribution. And any number of other things. They are angry at the entire system. Problem is, they lack focus. They lack a plan of action. I’ve just read they will be marching from NY to DC very soon. That should be a sight indeed and I’ll be on scene with camera in hand. I just hope they have some coherent plan when they are on the steps of the Capitol. Until then, whatever they’re selling, I’m not buying it.