Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Oy Wall Street

Noticing some OWS supporters focusing more & more on the police brutality incidents.  Common thread, I realized, is that most are old-fashioned counterculture types, Sixties-inspired folks. That was the fucking problem with the late Sixties, guys dying by the thousands in Nam  & we were the ones being persecuted, so we claimed, with our long hair & pot & protests. I exited the Sixties hoping  I'd never again meet so many jerks, & I didn't. I went to college with angry, anti-war Vietnam vets, & when the Trotskyites  circulated through  the snack bar passing out their single-spaced manifestoes, they gave those vets in their fatigue jackets a wide berth.  You represent yourself, but the cause is bigger than you personally. OWS means standing for people who hate OWS, because they're part of the 99%  even if  they're getting it wrong. They refuse to see the strings on the marionettes. So keep yanking the strings.

There's a great risk of going off-message (even if the message is a bit vague to begin with). We know from the Wisconsin protests earlier this year that police are potential allies, as union workers.  In many cities where Occupy actions are popping up, the police have little experience dealing with this kind of long-term protest. The corporate powers lean on their political minions to do something,  so  the local governments push the police to do something. Basically, the Occupy protests are a form of vagrancy, no big deal, really. They disrupt "normal" routines.

It suits the suits if the protests appear to be about local police. Makes them local law & order problems, & in  much of mainstream media it's the protesters who come across as  lawless.  Many people disposed to be sympathetic with Occupy become unsympathetic.  Occupy has to keep the spotlight on the lawless powers inside  those office buildings, not on the agents of the powers.  Do what you gotta do to stay where you are, but do it with smart tactics, with negotiation where possible. In many cities, being heavy-handed with protestors would embarrass the Democrats in city hall & jeopardize base support.  In Albany NY, the state & the city tried to foist off responsibility for removing protesters on each other, because neither wanted to be perceived as culpable. Occupy Albany  recognized this conflict, used it, & outwitted them.  However, Occupy Oakland CA was evicted.

With winter approaching,  protest crowds in the Northeast & Midwest will dwindle, the story - barring any violence - fading into background. It's an opportunity for the Occupy movement to gain presence & strength in the milder climates of the South & West, & to organize satellite demonstrations in the presidential primary states, following the Repugs & Barack Obama.


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