At what point does a protest movement become an excuse for camping? At what point is utopianism discredited by the seedy, dangerous, derelict fun fair it creates? At what point do the excesses of a movement become so prevalent that they can reasonably be called its essence? At what point do Democratic politicians need to repudiate a form of idealism that makes use of Molotov cocktails?As ANR has argued before and has been written elsewhere, Occupy Wall Street is fundamentally a flawed, if simply a "fake," protest movement. While there are certainly real grievances throughout America, OWS is not a viable movement that can address them. This isn't an argument about OWS's ideology (if it has one), which is certainly open to criticism on its face, but a structural criticism. It seems that the mainstream is starting to recognize this too.
The emergence of Occupy Wall Street raised Democratic hopes for the emergence of a leftist equivalent to the Tea Party movement. The comparison is now laughable. Set aside, for a moment, the reports of sexual assault in Zuccotti Park and the penchant for public urination. Tea Party activists may hate politicians, but they venerate American political institutions. Veneration does not always involve understanding. But the Tea Party’s goal is democratic influence.
And we are beginning to see what direct action means. Occupy DC protesters recently assaulted a conservative gathering, then took over a public intersection to prevent the passage of luxury cars. Blocking the path of one driver and his 2-year-old son, an activist shouted, “Sorry, but you have no power right now.” That is the opposite of participatory democracy — the use of power to intimidate a fellow citizen on a public street. It is the method of British soccer thugs.
Defenders of OWS dismiss this as the work of a few bad apples. But the transgressors would call themselves the vanguard. And they express, not betray, a significant ideological strain within the movement. Since the 1960s, some on the political left have sought liberal reform through the democratic process and nonviolent protest. Others have sought to hasten the crisis and collapse of fundamentally illegitimate social and economic systems. Both groups can be found within OWS, but the latter is ascendant.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Is the Mainstream Losing Interest in OWS?
Here's an excerpt from a poignant critique of OWS from the Washington Post's Michael Gerson. The whole article is worth a read.