Birthdays are usually cause for festivity, smiles and hope for the future. As the Occupy movement faces it’s first birthday, however, there is much trepidation as to the future of the Occupy phenomenon that has so profoundly sculpted a new political landscape.
From its inception this unlikely amalgamation of disenfranchised Americans has manifested momentous changes in our understanding of democracy, protest and the role of economic violence in our nation. Some Republicans now openly talk of holding the banking industry culpable for their actions in causing the most profound economic down turn in decades.
Americans across our nation lost their homes to unfathomable financial schemes that even economic experts find beyond comprehension. In silent shame our country watched as millions lost their jobs, homes and ultimately hope for the future. Joined by many other disenfranchised groups Occupiers stood their ground, seizing high profile locations around the nation in the name of Occupy, refusing any longer to be ignored.
With publicity the movement attracted many other groups who feel disenfranchised. Occupy to its credit established a consensus process of decision-making that strived to incorporate all voices. Suddenly, individuals who had been marginalized in public discourse for decades had an equal voice in the most exciting movement of their lifetime. Included in this group were many Antiracists’ and individuals who would proclaim their willingness to engage in violence as a means to achieve the goals of the movement. Experienced activists advocated peaceful action but were frustrated in their efforts to establish an ethic of non-violence within Occupy.
Middle class Americans began to realize that the movement that provided so much hope was morphing into something else entirely. It was this loss of mainstream Americans that so crippled Occupy. Occupy could no longer marshal overwhelming support from the public. Calls for action were met with the fear of violence. This was compounded by the disingenuous media coverage that focused on the actions of the few, instilling doubt in the minds of many Occupiers as to the ethical standards of the movement.
Today Occupy is a pail reflection of the movement that inspired so many. The goals of the movement remain, but the ability to engage in meaningful action has been compromised by both the establishment and Occupy itself. Now, Consumed by its own inability to not play into the hands of corporate America, Occupy exists as a reflection of what could have been.
Happy Birthday Occupy! The pursuit of economic justice that inspired you remains a worthy goal. Tactics that encourage violence and play into the hands of those oppressing our population are not.