A Sympathizer Critiquing Occupy Wall Street
Out of character, I’d like to keep this concise. Since clarity is one of my main problems with the aim of the protests taking place from Zuccotti Park, best to practice what I preach, no?
One of the main problems with the protesters is their only unifier is feeling deeply disenfranchised. Vague, yes. But with 120 opinions from 100 people, building consensus is contrived and impossible. You need to look for actionable demands, even if they’re really not plausible.
Plausibility is a pipe dream. If you don’t know, a large segment of the protesters actively work within the general assembly and work towards building consensus. This video does more to explain than 1,000 poorly written paragraphs.
Coincidentally, it sums up much of the procedure and, for lack of better word, sheeple aspect of Occupy Wall Street. Or #occupywallstreet. However you find it. I can say it a thousand different ways. Building consensus around myriad pet causes and interests inevitably grinds to a halt. Or ostracizes too many people.
So what’s the solution for now? It’s not playing bongo drums, aggravating the neighbors. It isn’t trashing the machine and starting from scratch. What would we do with the torn up roads, anyway?
It’s just one modest opinion, but I’ve got short, medium and long term ideas which at least have a chance to work.
This is two steps. More for comic timing than efficiency.
Step 1: Audit Fort Knox. Of course, Ron Paul is the only man anywhere stating this most obvious demand. The Federal Reserve is private; some wrangling will be needed to open their books. But Fort Knox? That should be simple.
Step 2: Audit The Federal Reserve System. Know what I was saying about comic timing? After sifting through trillions of dollars worth of IOU’s to the Fed in Fort Knox, where better to turn than the Head Honchos?
In a nutshell, there needs to be an open, independent public audit of the organs of public fiscal health. The Fed and Fort Knox. Impossible, yes, but not TOO much to ask, right?
Which brings me to a more philosophical qualm I’ve got with the occupiers. Zuccotti Park is a glorified free speech zone, like you would find at a presidential convention. Rather than using the park as a base camp, it is their ONLY camp. An occupying force needs to employ tactics. Forming consensus and implementing action via working groups blunts spontaneous action. Disavowing another protester is easy if they’re not speaking on behalf of the general assembly.
Here’s two bits of free advice. The New York branch of the Federal Reserve is LITERALLY down the street from the park. Cycle through there daily. Then there’s Bowling Green Park…….a park feet away from the Bronze Bull standing guard on Wall Street.
Bowling Green is a park which is literally empty during the day. Blocks away from the rhetorical protest. This lack of
action awareness of ones surroundings is amazing. So protesters, march on the NY Fed, and Occupy Bowling Green Park. At least make the authorities react if you want to be perceived as a legitimate force.
Smoothly segueing into my second, medium term plank for the occupiers. Bright enough people to run for public office, gasp, run for public office! Jesse LaGreca is the best example that comes to mind. He’s got face recognition, articulates himself very well, and is as grassroots as anyone is getting at this point in the movement.
Even if people from various occupations around the nation lose, presenting candidates is how this social movement will rise above the status of, “I’ve got some new Facebook friends, cool!” to “The 99 percenters actually stand for something.” Germany can elect members of the Pirate Party into government and Americans cannot even muster a third party? Embarrassing.
And that’s the long term best case scenario. If the 99% really speak for most people, this is a slam dunk. When Alec Baldwin is morphing into the face man for your movement, well, Russell Simmons isn’t getting the credit he deserves. Do you want a rude, thoughtless little pig being the voice of Occupy Wall Street?
Without leadership and action, nothing will get done. And the cynic in me pins the second snow between Thanksgiving and Christmas as the back breaker. Sorry, guys. The bums will scurry for hot sewer grates. The young academic types will remember how much their families will miss them over the holidays.
Put it this way. The FDNY and NYPD are working on contingency plans for the winter. Protesters are not. Trashing the system and starting on new, trillion dollar green communes are unrealistic. So is demanding an auditing of Fort Knox and the Federal Reserve. The difference being, a real conversation about the bigger banking and wealth infrastructure in the United States is needed. Competent candidates for public office are hoped for. And a legitimate 99% political party (doubtful) is a best case.
Auditing the greater bodies of U.S. wealth, grooming candidates and creating (emphasis on creating) a free standing third party are not unrealistic demands. They’re also not an articulated opinion of the #occupywallstreet movement. Without some forward progress, this spirit that’s been dubbed ‘aimless’ will crumple on its internal contradictions. Below is my favorite tragic image from the site.
Collective disenfranchisement can only go so far before a demand is needed. Audit Fort Knox, then the Federal Reserve. Even if it just moves the conversation forward, that’s movement. I’ll be back soon enough with more on the protests, but I’m still forming an opinion of it myself.
Forming your own opinion. That’s your best bet. You may be surprised how many people have smart, different opinions than yours. If you can’t at least see the other side, you’re just not listening.