With upwards of ten thousand Occupy protesters flooding through downtown Oakland yesterday to close shipping facilities there and organizers here in Los Angeles planning a full teach-in weekend with the likes of Robert Reich and Robert Scheer, the Occupy Movement has the world's attention.
And yet, the media is ever quick to point out the messiness and disorder and even Occupy forces at many of the sites are grappling with the difficulty of maintaining their encampments long term. So, which way will the Occupy Movement go?
At a conference yesterday in Watts discussing restoring voting rights for the formerly incarcerated, Harlem organizer James "Jazz" Hayden wondered if they should somehow try to tag their cause onto the Occupy Movement. "You've got your Occupy Wall Street and your Occupy LA," Jazz said. "What's next? Occupy Your Mama?"
Apples to Oranges?
In this week's LA Progressive Saturday Survey, the largest group thought the most apt historical comparison for the Occupy Movement was with the Arab Spring demonstrations in Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria earlier this year (30% of the 161 respondents), followed closely by the Wisconsin public employees state capital takeover last winter (28%). Training were the 1932 Bonus Army encampment of the nation's capital (18%), the Selma Civil Rights March (18%), and the Vietnam War demonstrations at Columbia University in 1968 (4%).
"I was a hippie back in the day," wrote one respondent. "The energy of the OWS movement is the energy of the Vietnam war protests."
A couple naysayers chipped in as well: "Your in-laws camping in your back yard permanently for free" and "Totally ridiculous -- whinny privileged kids wanting stuff."
The general consensus, however, seemed to be that this movement is unique:
"This Occupy movement has no real parallels in history. It is the most important thing happening in the world today (as Naomi Klein has written) and will determine the future of the human species on this planet -- i.e., whether there will be a future, how long that future will be, and what it will look like."
Lacking a Cohesive Vision?
Pundits have made much of the fact that the Occupy Movement does not have a clear sent of demands or formal constitution and does not operate according to Robert's Rules of Order. Our survey's respondents seemed much less troubled by those concerns, with the great majority (57% arguing that the movement is organized the vision of undoing the nation's economic inequality and another large section (30%) positing that the lack of a single focus gives the movement its broad-based strength.
"There are no simple sound-bite solutions to the current economies crisis. Our 24-hour news cycle leads folks to believe that there always should be very simple answers which are always represented of two equal positions; one from the left and one from the right; each of equal weight and veracity regardless of whether that is true or not (global warming is but one example of this syndrome)," wrote one respondent, capturing the consensus. "Life nor economics are ever that simple. However, the interviews I have heard from the movement have been for the most part rather intelligent and addressing the issue of unequal US income inequality in all it's necessary complexity. That is what we need more than anything right now; not sound-bites."
"The Occupy movement has a cohesive vision," wrote another. "Corporate media pundits don't understand it because it's outside their range of thinking. The Occupy movement is creating an alternative, democratic (lower-case "d"), consensus-based system that challenges hierarchical structures and competitive capitalist frames in favor of humane, cooperative frames. This is invaluable."
Only few worried about the movements lasting power without a cohesive vision or that it would become a magnet for every imaginable complaint (both at 9%): "It already seems to be fraying and is becoming a platform for malcontents who have interests -- legal marijuana, the Socialist Party -- that diverge from its origins as a protest against economic inequality."
The survey pointed strongly (59%) to the need for the Occupy Movement to dig in for the long haul and profoundly shape the 2012 elections and beyond. A fair number (29%) think the Occupiers should throw their weight behind effective progressive candidates of established political parties. Both sentiments, however, had their detractors:
"Throwing weight behind Progressive candidates only appeals to the far-Left and not the Middle America we need behind us to force change. The Tea Party only survived by being co-opted and wholly sponsored by billionaires shaping their agenda. By eschewing billionaire's co-opting, the 99% remain pure and their message will be heard."
"They cannot shape the 2012 elections because the Republicans have used gerrymandering, electronic voting manipulation, voter registration purging and suppression, voter ID laws, and unchecked corporate money to manipulate the elections and the votes."
A few thought the Occupiers should form a third party (7%), something like the Tea Party, or declare victory and move on (4%):
"They should create a committee to represent them with a central theme like the Tea Party, and focus on only a few demands for now, and continue to protect for the long haul."
"They've made their statement. They need now to take their passion to a new and different level. They should look for allies in other groups, rather than remain in ego-driven isolation."
Others had more radical directions in mind:
"Revolution. The existing US political system is a sham, so the Occupy movement should have (and currently has) nothing to do with it -- other than opposing it vociferously. We need to replace the existing political structures with new, democratic (lower case "d") ones. Working with in the existing structures will represent a total failure and capitulation (or co-optation) of the movement."
Occupy Movement's Lasting Impact
In comments on how the Occupy Movement should sharpen focus and what its lasting impact is likely to be, most commenters returned to the Movement's economic focus:
"Prosecuting the bankers and other financial interests that created this fiscal crisis, respecting the rights of the citizens as enumerated in the Bill of Rights, engaging in rolling direct boycotts and picketing of large corporations acting against the interests of the American people (such as closing their bank accounts and moving their investments out of the most egregious institutions)."
"Their focus is on failed financial policies and a corrupt financial system where people profit from insider trading and destroying others while legislators assist the corrupt financial leaders and condemn citizens who complain about it. The courts cater to the rich and politicians fleece the poor to provide tax breaks for the rich under policies that over a forty year period have caused a great shift in wealth that goes unchecked."
Despite recent encouraging polling trends tied to his tougher stance on the "Do Nothing Congress," President Obama came in for a few brickbats:
"I was out there the first day in San Francisco in front of Chase Bank. We MUST get a different candidate in the Democratic primary. Obama has simply not performed as we have needed. The fact that he caved on single-payer health care is THE reason Republicans took the house and almost the Senate last election. He could have filled all judicial appointments temporarily before these last Senate stunts. He just keeps dawdling and caving. He could have removed all the soldiers from all these wars. We are not out of any of them yet. He could have had the justice Department investigate the voting machines but has failed to do so. I could go on and on. We need someone else."
You can read everyone's comments on the next page about the Movement's lasting impact. We'll close with this thought:
"They have completely changed the national dialogue. We're finally talking about economic inequality, corruption, greed and the failure of our institutions to address basic economic issues. And as Oakland, Nashville, Denver and other Occupations have clashed with local authorities, we're also finally talking about civil rights, free speech, and the hypocrisy of our government officials. Here in Nashville believe it or not we have the former spokesman for the Tennessee Republican Party calling on our Republican Governor Bill Haslam to abandon is efforts to quash the occupation by passing arbitrary curfews in our Legislative Plaza. He called it a gross overreach and an assault on free speech. When liberal activists can find common ground with someone like that ... well, what can I say. It's a miracle."
Please also take this week's Saturday Survey on the Prison-Industrial Complex.
-- Dick Price, Editor
5. What will be the lasting impact for the Occupy Movement?
None, unless they actually start getting people to actually boycott particular institutions or corporations to the point that it hurts the bottom line.
Victory, come hell or high water, dammit.
Not a fortuneteller, don't know yet
The knowledge that some cities (Oakland) are fearful of their own people while other seem to encourage the free and open petitioning of their government.
I believe that if it spreads and is not crushed by Obama's police forces, it will question the alliance that bib business has with the Democratic Party and will deny Re-election to Obama and elect an independent candidate for the Presidency
Quien sabe??!! Too soon to know. Presumably the answer to this question inheres in the dynamics of the discussions you've proposed. Many thanks for this survey option!
I hope it will be jolting the silent, unequal majority out of their complacency.
Wake the public up to recognize big business doesn't have the answers to running the government and that smaller government is not the answer. Change must begin with voter finance reform.
Hard to say.
To bring attention to the economic disparities within our society; to bring attention to the lack of growth in domestic production in favor of finance markets; to bring attention to the lack of government investment in the education of the next generation.
If it succeeds - The power of the people
If it energizes a large enough voter bases it can be instrumental in creating a greater sensitivity of legislators to their constituents’ and change the face of the future with judge appointments in the federal courts and bring about meaningful change for generations to come.
Too early to tell
Its too early to say
I suspect it will be crushed by the "powers that be." If that happens, the majority of people will either sink deeper into apathy or another movement with different rules will follow.
Hopefully the eventual replacement of the capitalist economy of all for profit and class warfare. An increase in direct democracy, and citizen participation through a shorter work day/week. The abolition of poverty and reconstruction of our belief system that will enable us to stop the total destruction of our planet.
Unify the middle class
A great beginning--if,in fact it IS in fact a beginning...otherwise it will be only an interesting sympton during a crucial period of American history.
Getting more of the People active in talking to the government, the grumbling discontented to Act! And it also will show everyone how the Powers That Be will use excessive force & penalties for people who dare to say they are unhappy with the current state of affairs & want an accounting. It is a Constitutional Right for them to peacefully gather, but it is embarassing to those in Power, & how they react is quite illuminating.
That remains to be seen...
They will bring much needed attention to the inequities of wealth disposition in this country and what to do about it.
AWAKE AMERICA TO OUR NEEDS AND FLAWS
That it could be more powerful than the government itself. It takes people sticking together for a common cause.
I do not know, other then being the beginning of an awakening as of today.
The economic and political system is not working.
I hope the impact will be reform. Hope springs... Must we wait for next Spring...through the Winter of how much discontent?
MUch depends on educating the public as to the true meaning and this will be difficult with the corporate control of the media in the United States. Perhaps resorting to the old practice of pamphleteering...
Not sure yet.
I don't know.
Lobbyist regulation and campaign financing. The language of the majority will have been changed. Heightened awareness of the plight of the 99% and a sense of how many of us are, indeed, included in that statistic!
ELECTION REFORM, ELECTION REFORM ELECTION REFORM! THAT's what can lead to REAL representation and a shot at getting democracy here: publicly-funded elections, proportional representation, IRV, free TV time for candidates, etc. THAT in turn can stop corporate-funded laws and get regulations and reforms. Occupiers have helped awaken Americans to the 99% vs. 1% Disparity. Great! We need to awaken folks to admit that we have no democracy functioning now: it is all branding and illusion. THAT would be a major victory and a first step towards serious resistance. But it requires understanding -- and accepting -- the betraying role of BOTH major parties!!!
If we can keep it going and help it grow, it is our last and best hope. Otherwise, I'm afraid it's all over but the shouting.
I do not know. The Corporatacy has money, time and institutional support on its side. The Occupy Movement only has right on it's side. If the movement grows in numbers, resources and it's ability to organize specific actions to force it's will, there is a chance the Movemen will be able to force politicians to refocus political priorities on the needs of ordinary people. The biggest obstacle to success is that our democracy has been perverted by money. Unless and until the Movement can convince elected officials that their votes are more important to their tenure than campaign contributions, little will change. For this reason, the Movement should follow the route of the Tea Party.
I don't KNOW!!
NEW PEOPLE WILL BE ELECTED TO CONGRESS AND HOPEFULLY GET RID OF LOBYISTS HAWKS AND DIMINNISH THE POWER OF CORPORATIONS AND MAKE THIS MORE OF A GOVERNMENT FOR THE PEOPLE
Causing the dialog to change emphasis from reducing the debt to creating jobs and reforming wall street.
Delivering a turning point for the american people to get control of their country.
To support and vote for President Obama and a more empathetic congress who can establish economic equality in our country. And help the middle class with jobs, improved education, college aid, eradicate poverty. And repair our country's infrastructure. And stop jobs going overseas. And bring back troops wherever possible around the world and deal with the world as mediators not enforcers. AND LET AMERICANS DREAM OF GREAT THINGS AGAIN.
Do I look like a prophet?
Historic shakeup. So very glad it's happening (imperfections and all).
Awake masses to their own potential
Lessen the influence of the 1% and give more power, jobs and ++++ to the 99%. Ihy is heney walking around freely when there are 4400 dead USA troops because of his greed. We have to focus on HUMAN NEED, not CORPORATE GREED!!!~!
It will unite the progressives and bring more progressive candidates to the forefront just like the Viet Nam movement, the Civil Rights Movement and the Women's Right to Vote movement did only to mention a few movements throughout history. Tea Party radical right wing evangelical conservatives will be cast out of office and replaced by individuals that will listen to and represent the concerns of the 99%. This is not unlike the French Revolution with the exception that no heads will be cut, it is non-violent and only jobs of elected officials will be lost. Power of the people will out do power of corporations and the 1%. As President Harry S. Truman (1945-1953) stated "Are the special privilege boys going to run the country, or are the people going to run the country"?
Overthrow of the corporate state.
They have completely changed the national dialogue. We're finally talking about economic inequality, corruption, greed and the failure of our institutions to address basic economic issues. And as Oakland, Nashville, Denver and other Occupations have clashed with local authorities, we're also finally talking about civil rights, free speech, and the hypocrisy of our government officials. Here in Nashville believe it or not we have the former spokesman for the Tennessee Republican Party calling on our Republican Governor Bill Haslam to abandon is efforts to quash the occupation by passing arbitrary curfews in our Legislative Plaza. He called it a gross overreach and an assault on free speech. When liberal activists can find common ground with someone like that ... well, what can I say. It's a miracle.
First expression of massive discontent and attempts to organize a fightback no matter how politically infantile.
It's a revolution. Time for us to institute a new government that's at least somewhat less corrupt. In the meanwhile, Gary Johnson for President!
Time will tell, the movement will either wake up the country or it will be the precursor for the rebellion
If they merely point out the inequities, little lasting impact, but if they attempt to change the behaviour of Democratic Politicians such as with OBama, Demanding Obama Give Back all Wall Street Donations, well that would be momentous. Winning that would give Occupy more power and credibility and if Obama did it he would probably restore his credibility with his base and get their help in the campaign. It would be HUGE!
They system will be changed, which will result in those in power now being shown the door. Cannot be successful by being a party of a broken system, as that changes NOTHING.
Hopefully a new consciousness of the American people, carried into policy and practice at all levels of the government, permeating the economic system, the judicial system, the political system, and especially the American national media. Poka Laenui firstname.lastname@example.org
People do care. And the government by the wealthy for the wealthy DOES NOT.
I hope it reminds americans that democracy is not a spectator sport.
A change that leaves the world where there are no longer "leaders" and governments respond to the needs of the 99% rather than the needs of the 1%.
yET TO BE SEEN.
Chaos, anarchy, strife
Hopefully, we will get through to our elected officials that the people vote them in to do the work of the people...all of the people, not just the corporations/PACs who buy them with donations. The Supreme Court has a lot to answer for as well but I would hope fixing the first will impact that problem.
None. There is no point to it.
Something we might call Civilization if it is successful.
That the People are no longer willing to take the inequality of opportunity anymore because the gap between the two ends of the income scale has become ridiculously out of balance due to the corruptive influence of powerful corporate entities in Washington influencing legislation in their favor to the point where nothing is left but crumbs for the rest of us, and the inaccountability of Wallstreet to operate in a responsible manner.
Too soon to say, but it may save the middle class.
TRANSFORMATION IN AMERICA
If they stick together they will return national politics to some degree of sanity and common sense; if they do not, we might as well move to a banana republic because the general poulace will be even more oppressed than they currently are.
Hopefully a completely reformed US government.
it's opened a lot of eyes.
True Class Consciousness ! Workers of the world awake you have nothing to lose but your chains!
Nothing, if they don't get a vision, mission and decide what their goals/outcomes should be!
A restoration of Universal Civil Rights!
Indict all Republicans
More evenly distributed income
TO STOP CONSERVATISM FROM DESTROYING AMERICA
Beginning of activist career of many of those participating, some of whom will continue in many forms through their lives. Already an impact, it's hard to imagine Pres. Obama having made his student loan announcements and FHA and FMA changes without the movement taking place. Those impacts will continue. Let the more conventionally politically involved and the ambitious politicians try to enact in specific ways the general demand and outcry of the occupy movement.
Letting the 1% know that the 99% will not sit back and take it.
Hopefully, it will effect a fundamental change in the federal government and the impact it is having on our lives, now in and in the future.
LET'S HOPE IT CAN DO WHAT ORDINARY POLITICS HAVE NOT DONE AND CANNOT DO AS IT IS NOW -- ESTABLISH REAL DEMOCRACY IN THE USA
It will show that the 99% do care and are willing to be heard.
Touching hearts and minds of people and getting them to understand the scope of the problems we are facing, and instead of denying them, work to change and solve them. They are doing this by just doing what they are doing.
A wake up call for the 99% to rake action.
The further involvement of the people in the political process by voting.
The same 'lasting impacts' all demonstrations toward peace and the highest good for all, have had!
We will realize that college students need to have some harsh component to their education -- maybe serve in the military or do community service.
With the power of BIG MONEY it's like the Robber Baron Days. The USA needs another FDR.
It shows what can happen when people join together and speak truth to power.
Honestly, I think the the Occupy Movement has reach its zenith and will now devolve into violence, disillusionment, and embarassing overreactions.