Occupy Can No Longer Justify Its Existence
I read an interesting document this morning about the Occupy Movement. It was tweeted by Occupy England and while I don’t fully agree with the content, I respected the fact that it put forward a position in an articulate and thoughtful manner. Unfortunately for the movement, it also betrayed the fact that Occupy has not been anywhere near as successful in attracting the support it wants everyone to believe it has. The document attributes that to the fact that people who would support them are too busy working during the week and calls on them to protest on Sundays. Self-delusion is the cruelest delusion of all.
Occupy has become a parody of a protest movement. It has no real purpose now other than to feed its own existence. It does not represent anything meaningful, it is merely a rabble trying to defend its lack of purpose under old clichés about democracy, rights and freedom. Increasingly, it is overwhelmed by special interest groups, professional anarchists and those who find a sense of personal empowerment that is missing in their regular lives. There have even been reports that OWS has been paying homeless people to participate in some of its marches but who knows if that is true or not. Like so much else about Occupy, nobody really knows the truth any more, including the people in Occupy itself..
What started as a protest against greed in the securities industry has become a protest that shouts out the new enemy of the day. In a desperate attempt to attract members to the cause, it has added nuclear power, government policies, profit, student tuition and long list of other issues to the things to demonstrate against.
The rhetoric has been ratcheted up to the point where everything is a crisis. Everything is bigger than life and everything and everyone except Occupy is wrong. This is a protest movement that is protesting against a moving series of targets but when you protest everything, you stand for nothing. It is also a protest movement that has no respect for the rights of others, especially those with whom they don’t agree.
In New York, the movement that demands the right of freedom of assembly holds flash mobs to shut down meetings of a school board and despite its claim to support freedom of speech successfully shouts down the CEO of Wal-Mart in his attempt to speak at an event later in the day. In Canada, Occupy demonstrators trespass on private property by jamming into banks and leaving innocent tellers and other employees feeling threatened.
In Oakland, Occupy was ordered to vacate the area they were occupying. They were given proper warning that they would be forcibly evicted if they did not comply. This was not police-state tactics, this was law enforcement giving advance notice to a group of people that they were in violation of a municipal bylaw and were being asked to disperse. Occupy Oakland was given a choice and they chose confrontation which ultimately led to violence and claims of police brutality. It didn’t have to happen.
Later in the same day, Occupy escalated an already tense situation by holding a protest rally and march through the down town core. Ultimately it led to more confrontation and violence although I read in one of the Occupy tweets that the police only took action after some member of a rogue element in Occupy threw a bottle at the police. How can Occupy possibly think that most of us would believe it is credible when it can’t even control it’s own members.
What absolutely astounds me is that some people brought children to the second march. What level of lunacy has so little regard for the safety of their kids that they would bring their children to a place where there was a very real possibility of violence?
In Glasgow an Occupy demonstrator was raped. In Boston, members of Occupy’s finance committee were fired. Occupy lost whatever credibility it ever had when it lost its ability to protect and control its own membership.
In the past decade, cities including Toronto, Vancouver, London, Manchester, Athens and a host of others have seen large groups of demonstrators turn into riots resulting in burned cars, smashed windows and significant destruction to property and personal injury. I am not suggesting that was Occupy’s intent but the police have no recourse but to be prepared for a mob to become a riot. Anything less would be irresponsible and a threat to public safety. Whatever leadership exists in Occupy should have been cognizant of that possibility and considered other means to make their point. Instead, they reacted just like so many others have in the past by provoking confrontation which ultimately led then violence. In doing that they put themselves in the same category as those who went before them.
In a recent exchange of tweets with some member of Occupy “England, I indicated that I was part of the 99% but neither he nor his movement represented me. He tweeted back that Occupy represents me whether I like it or not. Now there is democracy in action. His tweet seemed more like the kind of message coming out of the mouths of people like Qadaffi and Assad than a peaceful, democratic protest movement.
The simple truth is that Occupy has not only been successful in uniting the lunatic fringe on the extreme right and left, it is now uniting the 99% to demand its municipal governments end the protest. People recognize that our societies have issues that need addressing but Occupy has failed to put forward solutions to those problems. It does not demonstrate in support of new ideas, it protests against things and holds rallies to try and justify its weakening existence and influence.
Camping is not protest, it’s squatting. Using flash mobs to deny others the rights of free speech and assembly you demand for yourself is not democracy, it’s hypocrisy. Demanding that government provide things like free tuition is not the demand for a right, it is greed and claiming to represent the people when you can’t pull together world-wide as many people as attend the Super Bowl is merely self-delusion.
Occupy does not represent the 99%. It only represents itself and increasingly is nothing more than a disorganized organization looking to justify its existence. The Occupy Movement is creating an increased level of confrontation by its very existence in the streets. It has accomplished nothing and the longer it hangs around the less it accomplishes and the potential for more violence grows.
The reason is because Occupy is about the very thing it protests. It is about winning rather than resolving things. It is about ego and the cost to our cities and to the quality of life of others has become irrelevant. When that happens, it is no longer about issues. It is its own form of greed and selfishness and means that Occupy has over-stayed its welcome and its time for it to go.
One thing is certain, it will end and soon. Winter is coming and when the temperatures plunge to below zero and the snow is two and three feet deep in many cities, principles and rhetoric will fall by the wayside. At that point most of the Occupy Movement will have vacated the parks and moved indoors to those warm places heated by equipment manufactured by the hated corporations.
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