Too Busy to Read? Here’s a Precis of Today’s Articles – On The Occupy Movement – 27 November 2011

Too Busy to Read? Here’s a Precis of Today’s Articles. via http://www.stevebeckow.com by Steve Beckow 27th November 2011.

For those who don’t have time to read these articles, here are excerpts giving the heart of the message.

Jeff Sharlett:

“In the days that followed, the few grew in numbers, a demographic that didn’t conform to media clichés: a gritty spiral jetty of anarchist punks and out-of-work construction workers and teachers who sleep in the park and rise early to get to school. Cooks and nannies and librarians, lots of librarians, and Teamsters and priests and immigrants, legal and otherwise, and culture jammers, eco-warriors, hackers, and men and women in Guy Fawkes masks, an army of stunt doubles from V for Vendetta, all joined by young veterans of the Arab Spring and the revolts in Greece and Spain – actual revolutionaries who had overthrown dictators and made Western nations shake.

“Now there are more than 1,600 occupations around the country and the world, some big, most small, some no more than one angry soul on the side of the road with a sign that says “We are the 99 percent.” They are in Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, Oakland, Seattle and Nashville; in London, in Sydney, in Cape Town, Tokyo and Sao Paulo.

“By November, Occupy Wall Street was serving more than 3,000 meals every day from its free kitchen, stocked mostly with donated food. At night, a rotating cast of as many as 500 bed down in the park, many of them using blankets and sleeping bags provided by the occupation. There’s a library with some 4,500 cataloged volumes – everything from the Communist Manifesto to He’s Just Not That Into You – an all-volunteer medical staff to provide free health care, a station that gives out hand-rolled cigarettes if you want them.” (1)

Chris Hedges:

“The next few weeks could see crucial decision making about the future of this nascent movement. An off shoot of protesters in New York are now taking their march to Washington DC in a move called “Occupy the Highway.” Many have called for a movement outside the cities into the suburbs in order to occupy foreclosed homes. Others are urging an occupation of schools and homeless shelters which have been shut down by city governments. Occupy movements on the West Coast, including here in LA are planning a major port shutdown on December 12th.” (2)

Scott Neuman of National Public Radio:

“The other side is owning the narrative right now,” Kalle Lasn, the editor-in-chief of Adbustersmagazine, told Britain’s The Guardian newspaper last week. …

For hard-core supporters, it may simply be a case of changing venues. A movement called Occupy Colleges has pushed for a move to universities, where students already have been staging protests over higher tuition costs, among other grievances. …

“What generally happens for successful social movements is that you get groups of people that go off and do all sorts of things,” he said.

Expect to see “a bunch of different things,” Meyer said. (3)

Brianna Lee in the Daily Need:

“Occupy protests have cropped up nationwide, credit unions recently saw a boom in business, and inequality and mounting student debt have made their way into the national conversation.

“Now, with local municipal governments’ patience wearing thin, that momentum seems to be slowing. City governments, faced with growing tent cities and reports of health and safety violations, made major moves this week to evict protesters after weeks of tenuously assessing the trajectory of the movement. …

“Is this the beginning of the end for the Occupy movement? Several observers asked this question as the crackdowns began to spread this week. …

“One push has been for Occupiers to move out of outdoor spaces and into foreclosed homes, where they would be able to make a clearer statement of protest against the financial practices that led to the housing crisis. …

“And even before Occupy sites began to face shutdowns, protest organizers called for anInternational Day of Action for Thursday, with planned marches and occupations of banks, bridges, subways and college campuses worldwide.

“But for the most part, the Occupy movement is at a crossroads over how best to keep its message resonating with the 99 percent – and keeping the focus on its goals, rather than the logistics of its operations.” (4)

Barry Rosen:

“The occupation of public spaces as a tactic for gaining sympathetic attention has, it seems, run its course.  Public opinion is often moved by media outlets fronting for corporate public relations teams, grand-standing political demagogues, and the herd of paid prime-time television operatives. …

“Many, many people are going through some form of transformational process now.  Whether it’s the elders who are either remembering their 60s fire or wondering about Medicare, the family bread-winners who feel the intense pressure of maintaining a safe and secure household, or young people concerned about their futures — we are all questioning the ‘status quo,’ ‘the way things work around here,’  ‘who stole my cheese.’

“Asking these questions (and so many others that address the disparities of wealth and opportunity in our society, and the rigged construction of the economic system) at family dinner tables, campus dining rooms, retirement community social halls, church gatherings, in protest gatherings — is a conversation that will fuel the transformation of Occupy into many educational, mobilizing, and action groups – and gird the will of core activists to continue their efforts through the winter chill into an American Spring.” (5)

Matt Taibbi:

“The essence of this particular sort of oligarchic power is its complexity and day-to-day invisibility: Its worst crimes, from bribery and insider trading and market manipulation, to backroom dominance of government and the usurping of the regulatory structure from within, simply can’t be seen by the public or put on TV. There just isn’t going to be an iconic “Running Girl” photo with Goldman Sachs, Citigroup or Bank of America – just 62 million Americans with zero or negative net worth, scratching their heads and wondering where the hell all their money went and why their votes seem to count less and less each and every year.

“If Occupy Wall Street … can speak to the millions of people the banks have driven into foreclosure and joblessness – it has a chance to build a massive grassroots movement. All it has to do is light a match in the right place, and the overwhelming public support for real reform – not later, but right now – will be there in an instant.” (6)

Douglas Rushkoff:

“Like the spokesmen for Arab dictators feigning bewilderment over protesters’ demands, mainstream television news reporters finally training their attention on the growing Occupy Wall Street protest movement seem determined to cast it as the random, silly blather of an ungrateful and lazy generation of weirdos. They couldn’t be more wrong and, as time will tell, may eventually be forced to accept the inevitability of their own obsolescence. …

“Anyone who says he has no idea what these folks are protesting is not being truthful. Whether we agree with them or not, we all know what they are upset about, and we all know that there are investment bankers working on Wall Street getting richer while things for most of the rest of us are getting tougher. What upsets banking’s defenders and politicians alike is the refusal of this movement to state its terms or set its goals in the traditional language of campaigns. …

“Occupy Wall Street is meant more as a way of life that spreads through contagion, creates as many questions as it answers, aims to force a reconsideration of the way the nation does business and offers hope to those of us who previously felt alone in our belief that the current economic system is broken.” (7)

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise:

“The Occupy movement has clearly made its point to the world; that much of its mission is accomplished. But the protests seem never-ending, and that indicates the participants don’t know what else to do. And that raises doubts about whether they will change the course of the nation.

“The protests have dragged on to the point where they seem more against city governments than against their intended targets: millionaires and the politicians who cater to them. The American public, like the First Amendment, generally supports “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” But squatting in parks and battling police are unnecessary, unsavory and confuse the public about the movement’s aim: Anarchy or democracy? Reform or revolution?

“Similar dynamics happened with the anti-globalization protests of the late 1990s – for example, the 1999 “Battle of Seattle” – and the Vietnam War protests of the late ’60s and early ’70s. Activists lost the moral high ground through overindulgence in hippie or punk lifestyles, unlike the disciplined, dignified civil rights protests of the ’50s and ’60s

“The Occupy protesters would be more effective if they took a cue from the other side of the political spectrum and moved their activism from the streets to the political process. A couple of years ago, the Tea Party movement began with public protests that, as with Occupy, included a wide variety of political causes but was unified around a general concern: for the Tea Party, that government and taxes need to be cut or at least restrained; for Occupy, that the richest Americans’ need to stop getting their way in federal policies.” (8)

Morgan Fiztgibbons:

” All across the country, people are asking ‘What’s next for the Occupy Movement?’ … Over the last two months, the physical occupation of New York’s Zuccotti Park, Oakland’s Frank Ogawa Plaza and thousands of other public spaces by concerned citizens across America and around the world has galvanized the public’s attention and most certainly raised awareness around the incredible financial inequality that exists in today’s society.

“Achieving this raising of consciousness is in itself a major victory. However, as any longtime activist knows, the space between raising awareness around a particular issue and solving that issue is typically a yawning gulf, and this movement’s inability to make clear headway towards solutions has been, at times, painstakingly documented. Despite these shortcomings, the issues have remained front-page news day after day due to nothing but the openly defiant statement of camping in public space.

“Now even this most basic tactic is under threat. In a clear exhibition of exactly the type of unfair political influence that the Occupy movement rails against, mayors from across America have been coordinating efforts to use brutal police force to protect the interests of their wealthy business overlords, in open defiance of basic First Amendment rights that once served as the bedrock of our American Democracy. Surely this assault will keep the attention on the movement for at least a bit longer, but what are we looking at beyond that?

“That is why I think it is time for a slight shift in tactic for the Occupy Movement. … I suggest the Occupy movement introduce the #OccupyYourNeighborhood tactic. By this I do not mean that people should be encouraged to encamp in public spaces in all neighborhoods around our various cities. Rather, I am suggesting that people be encouraged to organize in their local communities to effect a real response to the myriad planetary crises that are currently threatening us, both financial and ecological. By shifting the focus from public occupations to community organizing, the Occupy movement will be able render the first two drawbacks (inclement weather and focus on rights of assembly) moot, and begin to both move beyond merely raising awareness and engage the average sympathetic citizen.” (9)

What’s your take on where the Occupy Movement should go next?

Footnotes

(1) Jeff Sharlet,” Inside Occupy Wall Street:How a bunch of anarchists and radicals with nothing but sleeping bags launched a nationwide movement,” Rolling Stone, November 10, 2011, athttp://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/occupy-wall-street-welcome-to-the-occupation-20111110#ixzz1emUqFLof

(2) Chris Hedges, “What’s Next for the Occupy Movement?” Uprising Radio. org, 23 Nov 2011, athttp://uprisingradio.org/home/2011/11/23/chris-hedges-whats-next-for-the-occupy-movement/

(3) Scott Neuman, “As Occupy Camps Close, What’s Next For Movement? NPR, Nov. 15, 2011, athttp://www.npr.org/2011/11/15/142359267/as-occupy-camps-close-whats-next-for-movement

(4) Brianna Lee, “Occupy movement at a crossroads as evictions spread,”  November 16, 2011, at http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/the-daily-need/occupy-movement-at-a-crossroads-as-evictions-spread/12364/

(5) Barry Rosen, “What’s Next: Occupy Consciousness,” Occupy Oakland.org, November 18, 2011 inOpen Mic, at http://www.occupyoakland.org/2011/11/whats-next-occupy-consciousness/

(6)  Matt Taibbi, “My Advice to the Occupy Wall Street Protesters: Hit bankers where it hurts,” Rolling Stone, October 12, 2011, at http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/my-advice-to-the-occupy-wall-street-protesters-20111012

(7) Douglas Rushkoff, “Think Occupy Wall St. is a phase? You don’t get it,” Special to CNN, October 5, 2011, at http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/05/opinion/rushkoff-occupy-wall-street/index.html

(8)  The Adirondack Daily Enterprise, “What’s Next for the Occupy Movement?,” November 23, 2011, at http://www.adirondackdailyenterprise.com/page/content.detail/id/527900/What-s-next-for-the-Occupy-movement-.html?nav=5003

(9) Morgan Fitzgibbons, “OccupyYourNeighborhood,” HuffPost Local San Francisco, Nov 18, 2011, athttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/2011/11/18/occupyyourneighborhood_n_1100449.html

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