By Mark David Blum, Esq
I have lost interest. Boredom didn’t extinguish the fire. Ambivalence chased me away. Actually nothing chased me away; I meandered down the road and moved on. I still believe in the dream. My heart still yearns for the joy of seeing a good thing happen. I made a professional promise to a few which I will honor. But what was once the first flames of a raging fire has now become just a smoker.
The Occupy movement so named itself and took to the streets to bring about monumental social awareness and change. Americans were mad as hell and demanded wide ranging and sweeping alternatives to our current social, political, and economic models. This was the rest of America; those persons ignored by the religious crazies that took over the Tea Party, but the people who still shared the common frustration with operations of Wall Street, K Street, and Pennsylvania Avenue. We were the ninety nine percent. Today, I am not so sure.
What has happened nationally is that the Occupy movement has become a movement about occupying. Their energies are focused on how to make more occupy sites and how to make the camp sites more functional, how to amass more donations, and how to get more campers. People spend their days trying to resolve garbage, bathroom, security, and food issues. They have general assemblies comprised of whoever shows up and makes decisions today, if they can, that are ignored that night, and then changed tomorrow. Meetings and teach-ins are held are the grand subject of how to get more police attention, how to fight with police, how to get arrested, how to provoke police, and how to quickly get media presence when they stage an incident. They also have yoga and meditation sessions.
Not once from anywhere have I seen any effort to actually bring forth ideas and set about a chain of events to implement those ideas. If you look at the Occupy Syracuse website as an example (http://www.occupysyracuse.org/forumdisplay.php), when the subject of what do they stand for, what are their core issues comes up, the debate shifts to the internal operations of the occupy movement. They debate the strengths and weaknesses of having a leaderless movement. I personally opine a leaderless movement is destined for failure and implosion; but that is just me speaking. This is especially so when the movement lacks any homogeneity of ideal or policy.
Nobody in the Occupy movement is putting forward any ideas. Well, there are some people attempting to do so. Someone at the Wall Street encampment did so early on. It has been done here and there; attempts to synthesize into writing what are the demands and grievances of the Occupiers. But there is no great debate taking place amongst the Occupiers. They refuse to even discuss the issues. Given a chance to meet with the Mayor of Syracuse, Occupiers bring up such non ‘occupy’ issues as public porta potties and wanting the City to help winterize and protect the encampment. Clearly, an opportunity blown. Porta potties are not why I devoted hundreds of hours and gobs of professional consultation. This is why in having such a list of demands and grievances, there is actually some goal toward which people can work. Right now, the movement is just a car spinning around in the wet icy snow gaining no more traction and causing the engine to overheat.
If you are going to have a public protest, such as a flash mob, there should be a goal. Getting arrested and making the evening news is not a goal. It is out of control narcissism. If people are going to put their liberty, freedom, reputation, and bodies on the line in defense of a cause, the cause should have a desired outcome. There has to be an exit strategy. It must be decided what are the accomplishments sought and what are the best ways to get there.
The Occupy movement is failing in this mission. Despite almost three months and growing exponentially, boredom has set in. People are walking away and caring less. The few remaining are giving up the core values that brought them to the street in the first place. So focused are they on maintaining their presence that they do not take advantage of their most powerful weapon and put a pen to paper and state their case.
The abuse of the peaceful protestors at UC Davis and before that, the injured soldier in Oakland were referred to by Occupiers as being their ‘Kent State’ moment. The horror and arrogance of that statement aside, neither brutality was a Kent State moment. Kent State protestors had a goal. They knew what they wanted and marched to get it. The fire lit by the national guardsmen focused the national spotlight on the core issue as well as the dead and wounded.
Here, now, today, if there were to really be a ‘Kent State Moment’, it would be a disaster and waste of human life. The difference is Kent State sought to bring about civil rights, ending a war and the draft, and a complete overhaul of the American paradigm.
To the Occupy movement, the goal has become the occupation. Me, I can work toward the goal of change without having to occupy. Frankly, I have better things to do.