Now that May Day is done, where does Occupy go from here?
They bragged with great hyperbole about May Day bringing “the greatest shutdown NYC has ever seen” and initially threatening to shut down the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. But they had to back off the plan to shut down the Bridge, when it turned out they wouldn’t have union support(translation wouldn’t have the numbers necessary to blockade it). And the “greatest shutdown ever seen” turned out to be not any kind of a shutdown at all.
Many newspapers are openly scoffing at them, even the Village Voice, the great liberal alternative in NYC, which paper had been very supportive of them.
Yet, in some sense, this is the bit of the dangerous time. It, in a sense, parallels the 70s, when realizing that protest was limited, people either moved to work within the system, such as by running for elected office, like Tom Hayden, or moved to act in more militant directions, a la the Weather Underground and Bill Ayers(now something of a mentor to Occupiers).
Marisa Holmes- professional activist, member of the SDS, and major OWS organizer- said ”May Day will be the big kickoff of Phase 2 of Occupy. I think we will see a lot of people in the streets taking more militant actions than they had in the past.”
May Day did bring a rash of violence from somewhat minimal exchanges in NY with the biting of a cop and some vandalism to full-on riots in San Francisco and Seattle, and the bomb threat in Cleveland.
Yet capitalism was still there at the end of the day.
In discussions afterward, some Occupy/Anonymous twitter accounts seemed to speak of the fact that they were not succeeding at changing anything, that they needed to move beyond simple protests into more militant action.
What “militant action” may mean is of course open to interpretation. But we see in the Cleveland bombing case where some Occupiers went. If you need to kill people to allegedly free them, it could be that there is something off in your calculation.
This summer, the OWS Direct Action Group launches “Summer Disobedience School”:
We’ve completed Spring Training – and we’re moving and communicating in the streets like never before. Now we take our fight to sites of injustices throughout NYC, gradually building a culture of radical non-violent disobedience. We’ll be disrupting banks, corporations and the state all summer long, starting with the crooks in mid-town. We graduate as a full-on revolutionary force September 17th: City-Wide Shut Down!
“Non-violent” is also an interesting term. To most of us, we understand what that means. But to many Occupiers, non violent means not attacking people. Thus, attacking property would be okay. Also attacking police for example who are arresting you, that’s fine too. “De-arresting” people(fighting cops to get an arrestee back)=also not violent because you didn’t “attack” first. It also seems to be perfectly fine to do everything to precipitate a police response, all the while yelling “this is a peaceful protest”. This extends even to threatening to “doxing” cops, and spilling their private lives onto the internet in revenge. This has been done already in multiple cases, with the assistance of Anonymous. In one case, they leaked naked pictures of a female officer.
While many Occupiers are in fact peaceful, many others also have a belief in “diversity of tactics”, meaning they leave their options open to ways other than peace. Thus some are black bloc anarchists ready to smash things up.
Many believe the changing of the society has to come up from the proletariat rioting in the streets. They’ve tried it in Spain and in Greece. They are intent on having it happen here, so expect to see more attempts over the summer and the run up to the election. Some tough things may be coming.
But America is a unique creature, built on the power of the individual. The nature of its character is not the collective, but that enduring independent spirit.
One may try, but it will not be overwhelmed so easily.
The Village Voice seems to have flipped on OWS, with another story appearing to mock them.
It starts with a big banner:
Then the VV then goes on to discuss why it is difficult to take OWS seriously, citing the following comment from an OWS supporter, “Mantelln”, who talks about the difference that OWS makes, because it may cause a kid to drop out:
Dude, you should think about the shit you are saying and how irrelevant to important issues and culturally biased your opinions are and how press like this is worthless.
Back in the good old days of America, people would have shot those cops and burned the banks (if good old Americans hadn’t been such racist imperialists…).
Sleepin on the sidewalk can make a difference, btw. Some kid sees that and thinks, wow fuck all you lame punk assed suits, I wanna drop out! Why should people work so hard in this country when half of the work is bullshit designed to make some douche bag you don’t agree with rich, and the other half goes to killing or enslaving people in developing countries to make some other douche bag rich?
VV then winds up:
As we pointed out yesterday, not every member of the OWS movement advocates killing cops. Nor do they all think working hard is “bullshit.” But some apparently do, which makes the movement as a whole look ridiculous. In other words, any point OWS may have is immediately lost when idiots like “Mantelln” open their mouths (or bite cops, dress like hobos, sleep in the street, or dump buckets of feces and urine in lower Manhattan).
Sure, we’d love to live in a fantasy land where nobody has to work, nobody has to shower, and unicorns farting rainbows are galloping down Broadway. Unfortunately, this is the real world — and when you start advocating laziness and killing cops, you tend to lose a little credibility.
When the Village Voice, the liberal alternative newspaper of NYC, wonders if you have become a joke, it just may be that you have jumped the shark.
According to the Village Voice:
Occupy Wall Street’s May Day antics were billed as the resurgence of the Occupy movement. Unfortunately for the occupiers, May Day was widely considered to be a “dud,” and has many in the media arguing that the movement has become nothing more than a joke — just a bunch of “bums” running around New York City complaining about one thing or another.
With yesterday’s headline of“OWS Bums Are A Big Joke: Hard workers enjoy a good laugh as May Day skirmishes fizzle,” the New York Post is leading the charge.
From the Post:
Occupy Wall Street’s call for May Day mayhem largely fizzled yesterday — but at least provided a good laugh for hardworking people gazing from their office windows at the demonstrators’ antics as cops took a few dozen into custody. ”How can anyone take them seriously? They look like homeless people,” quipped Financial District bartender Kimberly Leo. ”I saw one woman complaining about not having a job, but she had a shirt with the word “nympho” on it,” Leo, 26, said. “These people need a change of wardrobe and a shower.”
Reuters, the Daily News, the Associated Press and several other media outlets made similar (although, slightly more subtle) arguments.
We witnessed several of Tuesday’s May Day festivities. While not everyone involved in the demonstrations were “bums” (which we pointed out in a post yesterday), the media’s take doesn’t seem to be too far off — it’s hard to take many of these people seriously when they’re biting cops, dumping buckets of feces in public places, and strolling around New York in Halloween costumes.
As Susan Ostrowski, a 55-year-old woman who works at a Wall Street insurance company, suggests, it seems some of the occupiers would be better served by “find[ing] jobs and protest[ing] on their time off. They should get involved politically, register to vote rather than sitting and sleeping on the steps in sleeping bags.”
The Voice took a poll asking the question has OWS become a joke? At last count, 27.4 % said yes, 28.79 % said no, and 44.16 said “When had OWS not been a joke?”
HT: Maddley Burns