Occupy Wall Street? How About Occupy Yourself?
The current and ongoing Occupy Wall Street (twitter tag #Occupywallstreet ) protests have certainly started to gain some traction in the media. Outlets in the US such as CNN have been giving the event some good coverage, as have a number of other news organizations. Of course, twitter, facebook, and other social media sites have become meccas for this movement, but these social sites have also revealed the strangeness and lack of focus of these protests.
In theory, Occupy Wall Street originally was all about bitching that the banks got bailed out of the recession, the bank owners continued to get paid big salaries after screwing up, and now the banks are back making profits and getting rich – while the US (and much of the world) sites in the middle of an economic downturn / recession / depression that has been incredibly hard to shake. On that basis and that basis alone, the protests have some merit, but perhaps are more than a little ineffective.
What has swelled the ranks of the protests however has been the muddled message. Everyone and their dog with an axe to grind (real or imaginary) is part of the protest now, from the standard “protest everything” anarchists to students complaining about their student loans, from the unemployed to the never going to be employed, from grad students to squeegee kids. They are all in there in a mish mash of ideas, causes, and general displeasure.
Sadly, what has ended up happening is that the protests have become more and more directly anti-capitalist. It seems that the same types who show up at G8 or G20 meetings to protest, to break windows, and to cause mayhem are slowing coming to the fore in the OWS “movement” as well, and the message is becoming more and more directly against any capitalist activities at all. It takes away from the true initial idea of OWS, and instead has turned it on it’s head.
The movement of course isn’t helped by people chanting anti-capitalist slogans, while tweeting on their new iphone, wearing Tommy Hilfiger clothes, Oakley sunglasses, and Nike running shoes. It doesn’t play well when the most important thing in the park is power to recharge smart phones, rather than sanitary facilities. People defecating on the street while others use their smart phones to tweet the picture is a symptom of the bigger problem: They think that everyone else except themselves should suffer – and that most of them don’t seem to understand that they are really protesting anymore.
My suggestion for the OWS crowd is to give it up and go home. Go occupy yourself for a while. Go look at your own life and find ways to make it better. Work on the political level in your area with the part of your choice to find candidates that support your stand against wall street. If you want to change the way things work, you have to change the laws for everyone. Lower your own expectations, take the Mc Job and stop waiting for everyone else to fix your life. Don’t blame others for where you are at, move forward and you can get it done.
Occupy Yourself. Change starts with us.