Curtain Raiser

A New Year to Occupy Minds & Streets, Colltalers

Today marks the first anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the spontaneous, and so far, only street protest to consistently oppose the impunity that some financial institutions still enjoy, after having wrecked the system and the lives of millions five years ago.
A year after, it remains independent, unafilliated with the Democratic Party, practically thrown under the bus by President Obama, mostly ignored by the news media, and still not completely embraced by the traditional progressive forces of society.
And yet, it’s still defiant and still hopeful that it may represent a positive force of change, despite several dormant months, and even if we were not fast approaching the presidential election.
Perhaps its greatest distinction has been its steadfast refusal to assign a leadership face to its proposals. Many see that as the source of its endurance and strength in the long run, but also its present vulnerability.
For even while lending sporadic support, such progressive forces, labor unions, immigration groups, grassroots organizations and the like, have at times grown frustrated for not being able to control the movement towards their own agenda, however important it may be.
It may not have been the most effective, or politically correct, way of promoting change and discussion, but even if for a short while last fall, and the first six months of this year, the OWS did manage to influence our national debate.
There was a moment, hopefully to be enhanced in the months ahead, when even the media establishment had to cede part of its coverage to the street protests, as they spread out to major U.S. cities and, some say, even had a limited impact in the so-called Arab Spring.
That it apparent ran out of fuel and almost self-imploded, weighted on by the contradictions of our political process, a multimillion dollar effort to discredit it, internal disputes, threat of law enforcement prosecution, and so forth, shouldn’t be a surprise.
The mighty Democratic Party, for example, has succumbed to even the lamest tactics of counter-information, and has been effectively co-opted by powerful interests that rendered it impotent in the face of the obscene amounts of money in its political campaigns.
There’s no need here to pile on those other, struggling political forces of society, each with their own shortcomings at touching and mobilizing the American people. It’s really a task not to be envied by anyone living in the U.S., circa 2012.
But it’s definitely worth getting out to try to change it. And no other movement in recent memory has shown more resilience, idealism, and courage, in doing just that, showing up. In many ways, the OWS has taken the lead even without setting itself to do it so.
So there should be no question about the reasons to celebrate this newest addition to the quilt of embattled grassroots movements that have been a fixture of American politics for over a century. Even more so than the other anniversary that September now marks.
So we hope to see you around this week, and the next, and the next, exercising your constitutionally assured right to peacefully express your political views without the threat of being harassed or arrested.
A last note to those who took the streets of the Arab world to share their sorrow and disgust about what happened and in solidarity to those brutally murdered in Benghazi. Their sympathy should never be taken for granted, underestimated or forgotten.
It may help too that today marks the Jewish New Year, with its own promise of hope and faith in a fairer future, in case you find positive encouragement in organized religion. There should be always room for inclusion when we gather together as a nation. WC

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3 thoughts on “Curtain Raiser

  1. In the US, one keeps Wall Street and Banks on a very short leash: regulations are essential as there is a fundamental misunderstanding of the notion of individualism and liberty. My freedom ends where yours begins and everyone is an individual, etc..

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