|Time to re-think "Occupy" movement|
|Thursday, 01 December 2011 14:48|
With several cities across the U.S. taking a stance to remove Occupy Wall Street protesters from parks, and as the harsh winter season rapidly approaches, there are more efforts to weaken the movement.
Should they succeed in weakening the movement and it crumbles, it would be a pity. So many aspects of life in America have gone wrong, and with those in positions of authority seemingly unwilling to right these wrongs, a strong protest movement among affected citizens could mobilize some real change.
When the Occupy Wall Street movement started over two months ago, there was hope in some quarters that this was the movement that would initiate well-needed changes. There was hope that the movement would generate the influence to reduce the difference between the affluent one percent of the society, and the 99 percent for whom financial stress makes life a constant challenge.
However, days into the movement, although it quickly spread from New York City to other cities, there were concerns about how durable and effective the movement would be. The concerns grew because what initially started out as a protest against the mighty financial institutions on Wall Street, NY, which are responsible largely for the current economic crisis, quickly became a movement of miscellaneous grouses against a variety of institutions.
There were protests against commercial banks, employers, the rich, high student loan rates, local, state and federal governments. And, as more protesters occupied parks and other public sites, there was no distinct identity of who was protesting what. However, admittedly, one aspect remained constant, the protest against that one percent of the society, whose wealth keeps increasing dramatically and whose wealth is protected by tax breaks, tax loopholes and other legislations.
It is difficult for a protest movement to survive if it doesn't have a central focus, and a clear singular objective. If the movement finds itself representing a plurality of causes and objectives it is more likely to be fractured into sub-movements and groups which could make it ineffective in the long run.
In its early days, the Occupy Wall Street movement seemed to place focus on the fees some commercial banks had introduced for debit card usage. As the movement encouraged customers to close and shift their accounts from the banks to credit unions, and some customers began doing so, most of the banks relented and canceled the fees. This was a significant success that could be attributed to the movement, because the protest then had a primary motive and objective.
Another key aspect of a protest, or any, movement, is that it must have a defined organization, and distinct, acceptable leaders to ensure the organization serves the movement in meeting its objectives. It was never clear what, if any, was the organizational structure of Occupy Wall Street, and more so, who, if anyone, were the leaders of the movement. If the movement is deprived of organized leadership, the odds become highly stacked against its survival.
One of the more impressive and successful protest movements in America was the Civil Rights Movement in the late 1950s and 1960s. That movement was clearly well organized, and with defined leaders all over the country. After Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus, the movement coalesced under the leadership of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and was characterized by peaceful protests including sit-ins and marches, and its eventual success was monumental and historical.
Today, America is ripe for another organized movement; to push for economic and social rights. Since most of these rights can be upheld by the federal government, if that government ignores these rights, then the protest movement must be directed against it, irrespective of political party affiliation.
For several months, increasing number of Americans have been enduring critical financial pressures, characterized by underemployment and unemployment, home foreclosures; the inability to feed families, meet healthcare costs and provide children with a higher education. However, with all these problems, the country continues to be served by a Congress that seems oblivious to the pain being felt by millions; a Congress absorbed by personal political ambitions that are fast dissolving into a modern governmental organization of failure, irrelevant to the needs of the citizens and disconnected to the nation's president, perpetually frustrating his attempts to meet these needs.
A skillfully organized protest movement, peaceful like the civil rights movement of the1960s, is needed to protest the ineffectiveness of the majority of the members of the U.S. Congress – a protest that emphatically brings home to every member in the House and the Senate that Americans are fed up with them trying to serve their personal political interests instead of the people who elected them. Maybe these members will pay more heed to an organized protest movement, especially if such a movement becomes a powerful ally to an equally organized get-out-the-vote movement to evict the inept members.
It is uncertain if the Occupy Wall Street movement could be re-strategized into such a protest movement. Hopefully, it still can.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 08 December 2011 18:29|