Every once in a while it is important to revisit older topics, that we’ve discussed before. Today, I would like to come back to a couple of those, because they remain important and relevant.
If we are going to maintain pressure and relevance, then we have to continue to remember to act, right? One of the major knocks against the Occupy movement, for example, is that it lost focus. Certainly the occupation of major parks, and the various actions that were taken beginning in September of 2011 were breathtaking and stoked the imagination. They fired me up. They captured the hopes of many who were struggling to find “hope and change” in an America that had yet again been lied to and misled.
And, then, they fell apart. As with most inclusive movements, it fell prey to its own grand ideals. Instead of staying focused on the financial purposes that it started with, it wanted to be leaderless and then it became amorphous and had so many tentacles and purposes that it lost its relevance. Oh, to be sure, it still exists. The movement that is. I believe that there are still a few active occupations. Somewhere… Maybe. Even I have lost track, and interest. They lost me when they got off track. And, yes, I admit that I boisterously proclaimed that it was the last great hope for America. I even went so far in my fervor at the time as to say that if it failed, then I would start voting for the most evil right wing candidate I could find in order to simply hasten the fall of America. “Bring on the burning,” I said.
I retract those words, and acknowledge my own foolishness in having said them. I can only say that I was fired up and hopeful. I was excited and trying to get others equally fired up and motivated. I do still believe that it had great potential. Had there been some strong hands to guide it and maintain focus at the core, then it could have accomplished great things. I do think that it had impact, in changing the focus of the conversation ever so slightly. It was not the impact though that it could have had, and the damn Tea Partiers are still holding too much sway. Largely that is because there was too heavy an influence in the Occupy movement that simply felt that they could somehow change the system without actually being participants in the system.
There are only two ways to change a political system. One can either participate in and change it from with in, or one can violently overthrow it. That’s it. There are no other alternatives to changing it. If you play a pussy-foot, half-in-half-out game then what happens is that you wind up supporting (whole heartedly) the status quo. That is what happened with the occupy movement. Too many wanted to try to maintain the illusion that they were above and beyond the system, while still enjoying the benefits of that system. They wanted the technological benefits (the iPods, the smart phones, the lap top computers, the internet, the wifi, etc), they wanted the Constitutional protections, the responsiveness of the elected representatives, and all that the system had to offer. They screamed for and demanded their rights. “Whose park? Our Park!” and “This is what Democracy looks like” they screamed. Hell, I screamed, for I took my boys and went down to the streets, too. But, for all too many of them, they didn’t then want to exercise their responsibilities. They didn’t want to vote, or participate in the jury pools. They didn’t want to pay taxes or support that same government that they railed against. They didn’t want to participate by electing the candidates that would support the views that they wanted supported. They were only half-in.
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