Preoccupied With The Occupation Of Occupy Wall Street

Let me say this first: the Occupy movement has already failed.

In the first handful of days at the Occupy Wall Street event, there was something interesting going on – there was a hopefulness that a message could be made loud enough to catch the much-derided 1%’s attention at the top of the capital food chain.

It seemed like a situation that could spark to a sort of Arab Spring uprising that would force changes.

But… the message was quickly lost as everyone (and their dog) who had ever had a grievance with the system of capitalism showed up with a cardboard sign.

Immediately, the movement became a hodgepodge… a cohesive mess of the needy that lacked any sort of focus.

Just as quickly as the Occupy movement spread to other cities, this terminal protest disease spread out to the new locations… and nobody seemed to notice or was willing to do what was necessary to heal the organized group organism.

Instead of a single, collective voice calling on the rich to change their ways, the Occupy movement mutated into something that required not just the ears of bankers and investment brokers, but the attention of every sort of executive that had ever been in contact with money: bankers, investors, insurance agents, HMOs, Hollywood types, retirement fund operators, school board trustees, mayors, execs at restaurant chains, dental surgeons, toy makers, taxi operators, and the list goes on almost indefinitely.

In a few quick and easy steps, the Occupy movement had gone from relevant (good) to super relevance (bad).

To have an effective message, it has to be concise and to the point… something that can be carried by the masses with a unified voice.

The Arab Spring protests succeeded in overthrowing the governments of countries like Egypt because every person who picked up a stone to throw at the government’s forces in the streets wanted the same thing:  they wanted the ruling party and it’s corruption gone – end of story.

It’s a model that could have made the Occupy movement truly revolutionary and the Western world would be on it’s way to change.

But, instead, the Occupiers maintain an incredibly fractured front with nearly every person at these protests wanting a different form of change… and it’s that kind of behavior that those in power can effective ignore pretty much forever.

It’s sort of like someone on Facebook creating a group that sets out to draw attention to one thing that would seem very important – let’s say the abuse of raccoon dogs in China – and then proceeds to flood the group with links about Nike sweatshops in Thailand, the amounts of trans-fats in KFC chicken, and the failures of the American political system.

That Facebook user meant well, but is left wondering why he or she doesn’t have anyone joining their online cause and it’s simply because they couldn’t stay on message.

It’s the same in politics: the politician who’s most likely to win is the one who has a set number of priorities and then hammers away at them on the anvil of the public stage  – instead of jumping around from issue to issue as each voter mentions a problem during the campaign.

In fact, in the brief history of the Occupy movement, there’s only been one time that protesters got to the verge of getting some concessions made.

Several days ago, a group of Occupiers from the Los Angeles movement managed to shut down one of the United State’s most important ports by sealing off the entrance: trucks that would normally have picked up goods made in China and hauled them away to Walmarts across the nation couldn’t get in or out due to the mass of protesters standing in their way.

This ‘stand in’ lasted for about 4 hours before the Occupiers drifted away to their usual encampments… which is quite unfortunate.

Four hours may not seem like a long time, but when you take into account the amount of freight that goes in and out of the Port Of Los Angeles, even seconds of inefficiency cost shippers and receivers millions of dollars in lost revenue because those lost seconds propagate forward through time and can eventually turn into minutes and then hours.

So, when you make a four-hour stand, the collective sphincters of shipping magnates and the companies like Walmart or Target – who depend on their goods being delivered on time – clamp shut hard and then those execs start sweating as they start seeing the money they normally make slow down.

If those Occupiers had maintained their presence at the Los Angeles docks, and then got protesters from movements in other port cities to do the same, the very people who the Occupy movement is supposed to be targeting would become very uncomfortable – and would start thinking of ways to assuage the angry mobs.

Of course, that would depend entirely on the commitment of the people in the Occupy movement since those billionaire executives would put pressure on elected officials (that most assuredly received campaign contributions from companies controlled by said execs) to crack down on these protesters via legal means through the deployment of riot squads or military personnel.

If the Occupiers are willing to be arrested, pepper sprayed, tased, shot with high-speed bean bags, hit with sound cannons, bombarded with tear gas canisters, and beaten with billy clubs – all in sufficient numbers to completely overwhelm the legal mechanisms that were deployed on behalf of the 1% – then they could indeed successfully create change.

Governments that are freely and democratically elected have no stomach for bloodshed in the streets, especially at the behest of billion dollar corporations that could afford to lose some money if it meant that people’s lives would get better.

But, no.

The Occupy movement lacks that focus… that honest desire to change things.

The extensive camps across North America have become love-ins for the economically disenfranchised… meccas for every hipster, Gen X slacker, unemployed teacher, and general malcontent that doesn’t have anything better to do.

For these people, the message is the act… instead of the message leading to an act – which is why Occupy will eventually fail.

Media outlets focus on the Occupy movement mostly because it’s become a sideshow, but also because it provides some political drama as various city councils try to cope with the public disruptions.

In fact, the media are the only people honestly paying attention to the Occupy movement since the 1% have decided the Occupiers present no threat to themselves and their money-making empires.

So let me say this to you, Occupiers of the world: change your strategy or go home.

If you’re not actually interfering with the 1% by removing money from their pockets, you’re of no real consequence.

Gather up… firm up your resolve… solidify your message… and declare war on the 1%.

Block access to major ports.

Physically prevent people from shopping at major retailers.

Stop buying Starbucks coffee on your way to the Occupy camps.

Take your money out of the major banks and commit to a local credit union.

Honestly threaten the 1% by taking away their money… instead of being a bunch of dirty hippies standing around clapping each other on the back for a job well-done when you actually haven’t accomplished a single thing.

In the words of my progenitors: shit or get off the pot.

Or… in modern vernacular: get real or fuck off.

Occupy This

I Must Protest!

(NOTE: Edited with actual protester numbers on 8/30/2010)

Folks, I find myself writing this post in dire protest of protesters – but only those who congregate in less than critical numbers, and those who protest events worlds away from their selected protest site.

Am I the only one who finds it rather silly that 25 people 35 people in Peterborough gather up to protest a woman being stoned to death in Iran?

Is there some ayatollah in Iran who’s going to read about this little chanting session from a handful of attention seekers and say “Great Allah’s Beard! Why haven’t we seen the error of our ways before this moment? How could we have been so wrong?”

The notion is so clearly retarded that it makes my mind spin.

Before you say it, I must say that I do understand the underlying concept: protesting here will attempt to put upward social pressure on elected government officials who may actually have some influence on the world stage.

However, these people really need to be honest with themselves.

Nobody cares.

It’s a sad thing, yes… but none-the-less true: the woman who is being stoned to death has absolutely nothing to do with anybody this far removed from Iran (excluding any immigrants of an Iranian origin).

Sure… there are any number of bleeding hearts out there that will donate $10 to a $100 to an organization like Amnesty International to appease their conscience – but then they’ll move on with their day, completely absolved of responsibility and forget the whole thing.

At the end of the day, this sort of protest is as effective as protesting the sun or the moon.

Even if you blow the number of protesters up a thousand times, odds are that politicians still won’t listen.

The recent G8/G20 summit and it’s attached protests would be a great example of that: thousands upon thousands of protesters/rioters/all-around hooligans descended on Toronto to scream, shout, break windows, and set police cars on fire in protest of… what? The global economy?

They did all this for the government agents and representatives on hand, right? The ones that blithely ignored them?

Or how about the Buddhist monks who set themselves on fire – burning to death calmly in protest?

Hòa thượng Thích Quảng Đức did this in South Vietnam to protest how Buddhist were treated – but this only resulted in lip service from the ruling government at the time.

For there to be any effect on governmental bodies, the protesters have to be a real and legitimate threat – threatening to take away the government’s power to rule through the election process: in a democratic society, every eligible voter gets one vote… and if enough of those votes are possessed by people protesting, that is an immediate danger to the politicos in charge.

To understand this, we have to go back in time… back to the American Civil Rights movement.

Martin Luther King’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was a truly awesome sight and one of the most effective protests that I can think of – nearly half a million people descending on the nation’s seat of power.

It showed the powers in Washington that the black man was now united in it’s desire for equality… that there were now millions of voters in the U.S.A. that would throw their ballots in the direction of whatever party and presidential candidate that would give them the right to stand up with pride and dignity in CrackerLand.

And while the results were not immediate, they were tangible: a year later, Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act.

For protests to work, you need to have both numbers… a commonality… and authoritative body that can be threatened.

This can be easily demonstrated in many European countries where the governments actually fear the people e.g. France: if the French government passes some legislative charter that doesn’t sit well with the average citizen, a large fraction of the populace will take to the streets for days or even weeks until the government backs down.

Somehow, the North American populace has lost this power – and I have to say that we are poorer for it, but it is how it is.

However, I’ve been talking purely about democratic society and not those elsewhere that aren’t quite that free.

Let’s zero in on Iran where that poor woman is going to be stoned to death.

Yes… in theory, Iran has open and freely voted democratic elections – but the caveat is that the country is a theocracy ruled by ayatollahs, and that makes the presidential and governmental processes purely symbolic.

As much as we would like to heap hatred on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he is merely the mouth piece of the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – a puppet (a poorly dressed one) that spouts the religious party lines when the ayatollah can’t be bothered with the small details.

So, honestly, what are 25 people in Peterborough going to do against that?

Especially considering the entire frakkin’ UNITED NATIONS can’t get Iran to do squat?

The majority of U.N. members don’t want Iran to have any sort of nuclear energy whatsoever – in case it results in the development of nuclear weapons – but Iran just fueled up it’s first nuclear reactor with the help of the Russians (who also tend to do whatever they like).

If the world’s most powerful authority (at least ostensibly) can’t get certain nations to change their ways, what chance do a few attention whores carrying signs and chanting rhyming mantras have?