Occupy is a movement, not an organization
The “straw man” is one of the mainstays of dishonest argument. It is the art of making your opponent out to be something that he or she is not, and then arguing against that “straw man” depiction instead of arguing against what your opponent is really saying. This is what is being done to the Occupy movement. It is being made out to be an organization, and an extreme one at that, and then accused of being an irresponsible organization.
This whole thing did start with some extreme behavior.
There was the extreme loss of trillions of dollars worth of real estate and stock value around the world in 2008. The blurred line between mortgages, banks, securities and ratings agencies was extreme. There was some extreme damage to people’s personal lives, their retirements, their home values and for many many many Americans, there was the foreclosures of them homes and no accommodation of the extreme conditions in employment caused by this housing value collapse.
The tax break offered to the wealthy, while giving the common people a hard shaft of cutbacks was extreme. It started before this securitized mortgages fiasco under Bush and continued to the letter under Obama. To combine it with the largest income disparity in US post slavery history makes it all the more extreme. The only thing that caused us to miss how radical it was the slow build up of the effects.
The bailouts were very extreme. The excessiveness of it was reckless as was the lack of accountability. That we did it without a reform of the banking and investment system showed us who our government works for. To say that the banks paid it all back is to deal in another type of dishonesty and in case you missed it, to hand the biggest failures in financial history since the crash of 29 enough money to consolidate their banks and holdings even more at a time when the peoples government should have been breaking them up is daring and extreme.
So extreme in fact that it finally provoked a reaction. That reaction is Occupy.
Occupy is a movement against economic injustice. It is an injustice how the rich own our country and its politicians. It is an injustice to have so much wealth and so little responsibility for it. It is an injustice to help out those who profit and force cutbacks on those of us who really make the system work.
The resistance to the war in Vietnam was also a movement, as was the struggle against segregation and for civil rights. No one group marked it. At the time all those who headed it up were slandered and hated by our officialdom. People fought hard and broke the law to stop those injustices.
And they are doing so now in the Occupy movement.
Some were camping, that was illegal or was quickly made so. Some were feeding the homeless, and that has been illegal for a while already. Some housed the homeless and thus were slandered with whatever the homeless people were doing that could be pointed to as “wrong”. And some tried to occupy the Kaiser Convention Center with a march. These groups of Occupy protestors number in the thousands.
Others call for strikes, picket banks, hand out flyers, setup mobile libraries, feed the homeless too and all kinds of less publicized actions. Are these actions less publicized because we are non-violent and that does not fit the straw man the opponents of Occupy want to portray? You will have to ask the army of spin doctors, think tank pundits and PR agents that work directly for the 1%. Only they know what the plans are. The rest of us just get to hear the endless repetition of the talking points.
Right now the talking points say that our straw man had a good idea, but is going about things the wrong, violent way and that they should go home and the problem should be dealt with in the more civilized manner prescribed by the two official political parties.
Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez and all the war resistors did not buy that line of bull and we should not either. The last thing we need is advice from the rich and powerful or the enfranchised bureaucrats on how we should oppose their fiscal policies. We do not need the master’s permission to cry freedom.
This movement will not go away, not even the “extreme” part of it.
That Saturday something between two and three thousand young people marched on the Kaiser Center. After a couple rounds of tear gas and other forms of police force about a third of them gathered back at the plaza. At a call they got back on the street to try it again somewhere else.
The powers that be should take pause and realize that those kinds of numbers and that kind of determination is not some fringe phenomena. Occupy is organized in 1400 locations across the USA because there is a problem and it is not fixed. This is another fracture in our overall relationship with our nation’s youth. We have other fractures with other parts of our youth.
Hint to the Mayor and the Chief of Police: These young people do not believe you. They do not trust you. They do not respect you. They think you are sold out and on the payroll.
Why should they think otherwise?
And the rest of us? Well, you know we do not believe you either. You have had decades to address these economic fairness and general well being issues. What have you done? From the S and L Crisis to the latest tax give away you had done what the rich want, when they want it, as they want it.
There are tens of thousands of us who demonstrate peacefully as Occupy. There are tens of millions of us who sympathize with the Occupy movement for good reasons that stem from what we see with our own eyes in our own lives. One American in six is officially poor. Many more are only a paycheck away.
We are not the priority, the banks are, and everyone knows it.
Nothing has been done to fix the problems. Nothing has been done for those losing their homes. Nothing has been done to pull one in six Americans out of poverty and nothing is being done to keep our governments out of poverty. We call it cutbacks, other nations call it austerity. The bailout has been “for-rich-only” as obscenely as things were once “for-white-only.” As long as this goes on people will be in the streets protesting and demanding justice.
And I will be one of them.