There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear…
Here’s a video to get us in the proper mood.
I’ve taken my time in commenting on the Occupy Wall Street movement because it’s taken me some time to get my brain around it. As Buffalo Springfield sang, “what it is ain’t exactly clear.” Actually, at this point, I’m not certain what to call it. Is it Occupy Wall Street? Occupy America? Occupy Together? Part of the reason for these questions is that I currently have bookmarks for Occupy Wall Street, Seattle and Los Angeles, and I’m not sure I’ve managed to subscribe to all the Twitter feeds.
And I consider myself reasonably well-informed!
I’ll stick with OWS for the time being. There will be plenty of opportunities to refine my reporting on the situation because, folks, it’s not going away.
I was somewhat befuddled in trying to figure out what was actually happening. It’s sounded good, but so does Dennis Kucinich when he talks about a cabinet-level Department of Peace. I love Dennis, but I can’t figure out what such a department would do. It’s not the same with OWS. As I’ve watched the protests grow and spread to 200(?) American cities, as I’ve seen the mainstream coverage change from, as Jon Stewart put it, “blackout to circus”, as I’ve seen Republicans lining up to suddenly denounce the “mobs” that would pit Americans against Americans and stating that the movement can’t be allowed to gain legitimacy, it has become clear that this is not just some flash in the pan protest that’s going to simply dissipate, not with labor throwing its weight behind the movement.
It’s funny, last week we took a bunch of my old text books to Half Price books. Among them were a Global Issues workbook from 1993 and an Activists Almanac from 1994. It was kind of a big deal that some of the entries has these weird things called web addresses. The irony was that as I was doing this, I was also following the OWS Twitter feed from the Brooklyn Bridge. Clearly, my almanac was out of date. Still, it was from a class called Movements for Social Justice, and the professor seemed dismayed by the generation he was dealing with. He didn’t get why all us X-ers were not out in the streets protesting. He was waiting for the next great wave of activism.
Well, he’s got it in spades now.
Still, the question remains. Why now? Why does this movement seem to be working? Is it citizen media? Facebook, Twitter, YouTube?
Nope. The success of OWS thus far comes from one sentence.
“We are the 99%”
That is powerful. It clearly unites all people, black and white, liberal and conservative, religious and not, who are being hurt by the mess the economy is in and it attacks the system. It’s attacking corporate greed, crony capitalism and the obvious disfuncitionality of our government. It’s a movement that finds common cause with the movements of the Arab Spring and the anti-austerity protests in Europe. It’s Wisconsin taken to a national level, and the target is the richest 1% in our country as the personification of the global capitalist system that has enriched the few at the expense of the many.
That message resonates, and it won’t be silenced until changes occur. I don’t know exactly where this is going, but I think we’re headed into fascinating times.