Does #occupywallstreet mean something?

Protestors gather in Foley Square, Wed. Oct. 5, 2011

There is some impression from the media that the occupy wall street protestors are disorganized, are messy, are visionless, and are altogether insignificant.

But what kind of grassroots movement would it be if it wasn’t disorganized and messy, if it didn’t seem visionless at times, and how would they gain any credibility and any viable power without seeming insignificant?

On Wednesday, thousands of people marched from Zuccotti Park to Foley Square, where they were joined by thousands more. The first thousands were the hardcore overnighters, the day protestors, the after-school protestors, the after-work protestors, from all walks of life. Unemployed marched with employed. Minimum wage marched with highest tax bracket. Young with old. Educated with uneducated. Americans, and many who weren’t American, marched side by side, all races, all religions. Alaska, Wisconsin, Colorado, Maine, New Jersey, New York.

The second thousands were more of the same, and more: union workers. Teachers. Auto. Transit. Writers. The AFL-CIO and the SEIU and the TWU and the CWA and the UAW and the PSC and every other acronym you may or may not have heard of was out in full force.

When, in the tens of thousands, the anarchists march with the socialists march with the labor unions march with the capitalists who still think the system is broken, you can’t tell me this doesn’t mean something.

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One thought on “Does #occupywallstreet mean something?

  1. Could I inflict a little (quasi) scholarship on your blog, revolving around the word “demonstration”? (“Schola” means “free time”: “leisure of the theory class”.) “Demonstration” is a military term for a feint or threatened attack, all the operations for an attack but without the full oomph or follow-through. Some activists like to describe political demonstrations as if they were such a power-in-potential. But demonstrations never seem to accomplish anything. Attending one tells you why. They’re just big parties. But as such they demonstrate something, in the scientific sense: “monster” means “something that appears”. A monstrance is the thing in Catholic ritual used to display a communion wafer on the altar. Political demonstrations show you that people can talk to each other, or at least walk along or stand next to each other, without a lesson plan, software upgrade, note from their doctor or mother, etc. In such circumstances conversations could and have been known to break out (like a hockey game at the fights). The topic is always the same: the one you advert to: what are we doing here, who are we, what do we want. Questions. That’s what breaks a regime: questions. Regimes are answers to old questions. Demonstrations prove we don’t need the old answers any more.

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