To Occupy, or not to Occupy?

Written on:October 12, 2011
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The revolutionary in me wants badly to endorse the Occupy Movement, but the intellectual in me just can’t do it yet. While I applaud what they’ve accomplished on an activate the masses level, they have stated ‘it will last until the country changes’ but they have not adopted a specific set of changes or policies that they support. In other words, what ‘changes’ would constitute the end game? I’m sorry, but ‘greed’ isn’t going anywhere protests or not; ‘greed’ can only be contained in the form of regulations or laws, coupled with adequate enforcement.. so, we need specifics. Otherwise, the Occupy Movement will only be symbolic of our frustrations, which is commendable, but it won’t have any real political teeth. Even Matt Taibbi, a liberal journalist who has written about Wall Street corruption for years, was on CNN earlier saying “..eventually they will have to put forth a list of concrete demands”. At the moment, the Occupy Movement is really just generalized anger over the wealth gap (throw in campaign finance reform and under-regulation of the financial sector if you’re reading between the lines) being expressed communally in the form of these gatherings. That’s cool and all, and deserves a Dr Dre style ‘Heyulll Yeaaaah’, but a person like me needs more than an “I’m pissed off, too” affirmation to get on board; I’m too old, educated, and cynical for generalized emotional sentiment to bring me off the sidelines.. I need solutions. I’ve read enough about them, and the argument goes something like: “we’re just concentrating on growing the movement for now, we’ll concentrate on our message later”. But, this seems immature to me.. more like a defense mechanism than a predetermined tactical strategy; it’s like grass-roots without the roots, or invading Iraq without an exit strategy, or to quote a line from the movie Waking Life “all action, no theory”. The Occupy Movement is reportedly already expanding globally with demonstrations. My fear is that the Occupy Movement will grow too big for their britches, and when they finally publish some official demands, they will be over reaching or too generalized, if not completely radical or ideological, and will blow the opportunity and the momentum to make this a legitimate movement that believes in pragmatic solutions. I, for one, would be pretty damn pissed if I endorsed them now, and then later on they go off on some stupid immature type shit. My point is that they need to start articulating specifics now so that it can either start shaping actual policy stances going into the election season and gain more mainstream legitimacy, or reveal itself as simply generalized anger turned ideological so people like me can go about our daily business of bootstrap pulling and lesser of two evils vote casting. What I don’t want to see is an equally radicalized, left-wing counter-part to the Tea Party, which without stating what exactly you intend to change, is exactly what the Occupy Movement could turn into. It could even break into different factions in this event, just like the Tea Party did. Got too big, too fast, became uncontrollable and incoherent, radicalized the Republican agenda into government shutdown but was absorbed politically. The result being very bad for the country’s politics. We need more pragmatism in our politics, not more radicalization; I truly hope that Occupy will come to represent the former, but they have yet to solidify my confidence in that regard. There are already hints of immaturity, but that can also come to indicate youthfulness, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it definitely adds to my uncertainty the longer they remain ambiguous to political realities, or they should at least attempt to define a new political reality. To their credit, they have been quite forward about being non-violent, and have branded themselves cleverly as ‘occupy’ with equally clever slogans like ‘we are the 99%’. However, they have also made comparisons to the ‘Arab Spring’ (some going so far as to call it ‘American Autumn’), which in my view at least, is a sophomoric comparison as the two contexts are just not analogous, even if well intended as a comparison of tactic. At the end of the day, I’m following the Occupy Movement with excitement and optimism as a revolutionary, but they haven’t satisfied the pragmatic litmus to get beyond my caution and skepticism as an intellectual. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt for me to show some solidarity in spirit, but to give them a free pass based on emotional sentiment would be intellectually dishonest on my part.

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