It would appear that the Occupy movement is growing, and, aside from infiltration by some violent anarchists in Rome, has continued with a pretty high degree of discipline. The most “violence” has been confrontations between the police and protesters that tend to leave folks wondering why a march, even one done in civil disobedience warrants the introduction of batons and pepper spray by the police. In other words, the images tend to be sympathetic to the protesters.
This is notable, because in the “if it bleeds it leads” culture of the main stream media (not to mention its corporate ownership), it takes a lot for protests to get coverage. Still, Occupy seems to have taken hold and it’s drawing attention. SNL is addressing it. Republicans have backed off of claims of concern about “mobs” and have tried to pivot to try to blame Obama for the complaints of the protesters.
So here’s what’s banging around in my brain this Sunday night.
The Occupiers are protesting the failings of laissez-faire capitalism, and people are listening. Of course, one question arises. If not capitalism as we know it, then what? Interestingly, that great unknown is not enough to turn folks aside from their exploration of that question.
Then it occured to me. The last mass uprising in this country took place in the 60’s. In that Cold War context, all someone arguing against the protesters of that era had to do was raise the specter of communisim and align the protesters with our nation’s “enemies” even if they were not specifically advocating communism or socialism. In a bipolar world, the questioning of one pole invited accusations of alignment with another pole. It would be enough to back down anyone who wasn’t actually a socialist.
We don’t live in a bipolar world. There is no defined national enemy that is synonmynous with “not capitalism”. I think that’s kind of a big deal, and one that could make the difference as the movement progresses.