Friday Feedback: What’s Next for Occupy?

friday feedbackEach Friday, LA Progressive presents a comment we editors find to be most profound, insightful, or just plain irritating.

This week, Mark Halfmoon comments on An Open Letter to Supporters of Occupy Wall Street by David Kristjanson-Gural:

Mark said:

The man in the photo has a sign stating that in his second fight for his country, he at last now knows who the enemy is. That may be so for the gentleman. That may be true for many or most of the people in the Occupy Wall Street movement. It may be true for author David Kristjanson-Gural. But not only is it not true for a large number of Americans, the slogan on that sign itself was carried by Vietnam War veterans at least 45 years ago.

occupy veteranWhile learning that the capitalist system run amok in the hands of a cruel heartless oligarchy ruling over a plutocracy disguised as a democracy may be a surprising, eyeopening epiphany to a whole new generation of the newly awakened, there are many of us who have been well aware of this reality for a long time.

I think it is fantastic that a critical mass has been reached and masses have taken to the streets and educated, drawn in more people and got them politically active. That is a huge first step for a lot of folks and the most commendable aspect of the Occupy movement.

But since to continue to just hold signs and chant about being the 99% and it being so unfair may have reached the point of diminishing returns while the mercurial attention of the American media and public is turning to the next shiny object, the movement appears to an outsider to be scrambling for ideas to prolong its relevance.

On the West Coast, Occupy is joining the International Longshore and Warehouse Union to shut down all the ports because they have become the “economic engines for the elite,” though the union’s president appears a bit wary, saying in a letter to his members that protesters were out to co-opt the union’s cause to advance their own agenda. Some support the shutdowns but others feel they harm already struggling workers.

Personally, I don’t think shutting down ports or clashing in the streets will be very effective this time. If the power establishment wants the ports open, they will use more than the necessary degree of violence to make it so. In my opinion. The only way to have any meaningful impact on the corporate and banking giants is to have a negative effect on their bottom line.


If it is really true that the people, the so called 99%, are really sick and tired of them, it should be possible to spend all that port-blocking, getting-shot-and-pepper-sprayed energy into successful campaigns to get the public to stop supporting them with their dollars. The money voluntarily given to the 1% by the rest of us is more powerful than our votes. It’s what votes are bought with.

If we really have reached this turning point where the 99% are really ready to rebel, how do we explain the largest amount of money spent, and the largest corporate retail sales profits made in US history in a single weekend this past “Black Friday?”

To me, educating the public about how their consumer habits directly effect the power the 1% has over them more than laws do, and getting them to act on it, would truly be a way of putting the power in the hands of the people. That would be revolutionary.

Then there are the actions of the OWS people who took direct action to make a concrete difference in at least one building in Harlem:

And the Occupy Our Homes Movement that was inspired by OWS:

I think it’s time for more of this. Now that all of this enlightenment is taking place, it’s time to get

define necessity

down into the trenches and work with the people who are suffering as a result of corporate and banking greed. It may not be as exciting or get as much non-internet media coverage or express as much rage or blow off as much steam as taking to the streets, but it is a sure formula for winning hearts and minds, little by little, by word of mouth and social media. How can riot cops defeat that? What kind of negative spin can the corporate media put on it?

Are we content to use all of our energy to go out in the street, pitch a tent and holler at the greedy and complain that the plutocracy is unfair while not lifting a finger to help save its victims? Can we afford to ignore the fact that it is our rampant consumerism that really fuels the “economic engines for the elite?” That the drive to satisfy our insatiable desire for more cheap stuff makes us complicit in a dance with those who would do whatever is necessary to provide it for us, for the right price, no questions asked? That it makes us investors in our own oppression? That as the gentleman’s sign suggests, “We have met the enemy and he is us?”

Published by the LA Progressive on December 15, 2011
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