As Occupy Protesters' Camps Are Broken, Pause to Consider What They've Accomplished

Categories: Get Off My Lawn

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Wait. The "occupy" part of Occupy may be over, but that's not the story. The story is what the movement has accomplished already.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has evicted Occupy from Zuccotti Park. Our own mayor is making it plain that the Occupy Dallas camp behind City Hall is soon to go. A story in The New York Times reveals that that the Occupy eviction actions around the country are concerted, if less than meticulously coordinated.

The story reports: "Portland's mayor, Sam Adams, said the United States Conference of Mayors had organized two conference calls 'to share information about the occupying encampments around the country.' He said participants on the calls were eager for advice on how cities were handling demonstrations."

But consider this: Before Occupy sprang to life, only academics were talking and writing about income disparity in America. The birth of Occupy seemed to give establishment political leaders, the president among them, the courage -- at least the cover they needed -- to put income disparity on the table as an important political issue.

Now with more eyes focused, it's starting to look as if income disparity may be the single most important thread in the fabric of national politics since the Reagan era. The brave women and men who put up those tents in New York, Dallas and around the country get the credit.

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Photo by Chris Howell
They opened this crucially important window on the inner mechanism of American politics and how that mechanism affects the outward shape of the society. The tents? Eh. That's real estate. Someday scientists searching for the elusive element in our DNA that causes aging will discover that aging is not caused by DNA. It's caused by real estate.

The New York Times story today talks a lot about whether Occupy will be able to transform itself into an enduring political institution. It's an interesting question. I sure don't know the answer.

The challenge springs from the movement's very nature as an asymmetrical force. Maybe the one thing Americans could agree on now is that the symmetrical forces of politics, in and out of elective office, have become mired in a cynical field of sludge. Occupy was able to blast some things free precisely because it came from so far outside the symmetry.

So how do you turn something asymmetrical into something symmetrical? I could suggest we take a look at the Viet Cong, but I know that will only stir up the xenophobes and tank the conversation. So I didn't suggest it, OK?

We can look at our own history. America has been an important nation in the development of protest as tool of power. We didn't invent it. King borrowed from Gandhi and so on. But we have a right to argue that our own civil rights movement stirred the planet from Johannesburg to Belfast. Seems like Occupy could get some good pointers from all of that.

But that's tomorrow's discussion. Today's is just this: Occupy, you already went down in history. You are important, cool and courageous. Thank you.

I need to add a P.S. I'm kind of a camping equipment freak. I see some nice stuff out there behind City Hall. Please don't let those tents wind up in a trash bin. Especially if you have cooking equipment of the WhisperLite or JetBoil brands, please let me know if I can help with storage.

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91 comments
Rangers100
Rangers100

They accomplished nothing, Jim. You got behind a silly movement. Choose your battlers more carefully next time. There are thoughtful and intelligent liberals out there... the OWS crew is just a bunch of clowns.

pak152
pak152

"Before Occupy sprang to life, only academics were talking and writing about income disparity in America."

that is correct but too bad the OWS folks didn't read what the academics have been reporting on

5 reasons why income inequality is a myth — and Occupy Wall Street is wronghttp://bit.ly/uK8Pqs

The one chart that explodes the myth of U.S. income inequalityhttp://bit.ly/rIycyL

7 reasons why Obama is wrong on income inequalityhttp://bit.ly/rPE3ED

Getting the Question Right in Debates about Changes in Income and Income Inequalityhttp://bit.ly/t5fK3P

nadadamnthang
nadadamnthang

Those wouldn't happen to be the academics that you agree with, now would it? When it comes to "academic reports" like these, I think, both sides can find ones in their favor.

pak152
pak152

anything wrong with providing information contrary to your beliefs? just pointing out that the issue of income inequality is not as cut and dried as some folks think it is. did you check them out or just reject them out of hand? do you have anything of substance to offer in contradiction?

EdS
EdS

Some irony, Jim, between the name of your blog, “Get Off My Lawn,” and what those folks are doing: camping on our lawn.  I drove by for a look yesterday and that’s our City Hall lawn—not a park--where they’re camping.  And protected by more police officers than will visit my Dallas neighborhood in the next 10 years.  I’ve got a property tax bill sitting my desk, due Jan. 31, for $2,072.95.  $1,162.85 is for City of Dallas services. In times like these, when the city has court approval to get those folks off my lawn—but won’t--and all those officers could go back to doing necessary police work—but aren’t allowed to--I don’t feel so good about paying those city taxes. 

nadadamnthang
nadadamnthang

if it's "my lawn" does that mean I can go put me a slip-n-slide on it? i've been thinking for months how the City Hall lawn sure could use one.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Here is what thought the Occupy movement has stirred me to.  Why the Guy Fawkes mask?  Occupy movements are, by their own accounts, opposed to the wealthy, the politically entrenched, and the violent.  They are averse to planning and following logical steps.

Guy Fawkes was no friend of the poor or disenfranchised.  He sold an inherited estate to finance his travels to the Continent to fight in their wars, and had a reputation for being skilled in matters of war.  He was part of a traitorous conspiracy to remove one set of politically entrenched, religious nobility, for those of another sect.  Guy Fawkes is antithetical to much of what Occupiers claim to represent.

Phelps
Phelps

I have to disagree.  Not with your facts -- Fawkes was indeed trying to swap one set of politically entrenched nobility for another.

I just disagree that this was the opposite of what the Occupy Whatever movement was about.  This wasn't, "we don't like the 1%."  This was, "I spent all this time in college getting a degree in puppetry and now I want to be in the 1%."

Mott Romney
Mott Romney

I don't think many in the Occupy movement affilated the mask with Guy Fawkes or his role in British history.  They affiliated it with the guy from "V for Vendetta," who wore a Guy Fawkes mask.  They saw themselves as fighting against tyranny, just like Mr. V.

When you think about it without the movie, a Guy Fawkes mask doesn't make sense.  One columnist wrote (I forget who) it's the equivalent of wearing a Timothy McVeigh mask.

Phelps
Phelps

Not only that, but Frank Miller, the guy who wrote the story, called bullshit on them.  Even he thinks they are a bunch of dirty, whiny pussy losers.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Thanks, that's one movie I seem to have skipped.

nadadamnthang
nadadamnthang

yeah, i'm pretty sure(100% to be exact) that you are right. 

BigTex
BigTex

Bullshit Jim....I didnt see any quality tents or other camping gear.

Mike
Mike

They made no impact in the suburbs. If you do not matter in the suburbs, as far as electoral heavyweights go, you do not matter. Urban viewpoints having any voice is long gone. Occupy was strictly an inner city deal. Publish all the articles you want. You might as well published in Scientific American. They lost the minute the story was about trash and police. One big gap is they never made the case how if Michael Bloomberg makes less money, how do I make more. If he pays more in taxes, your typical suburbanite will not see that money and why should they care. Everybody wants to get paid.

Rangers100
Rangers100

Maybe so, but suburbs still really, really suck.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

Yep. 

Low crime rate, availability of shops and resources, friendly neighbors and a total absence of the stench of urine sure do suck.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

Does it suck as much as people who think that they know everything about a person from reading one comment on an internet blog?

Rangers100
Rangers100

What also really sucks is thinking those things make for a well-rounded life (much less a great city).

nadadamnthang
nadadamnthang

If you reside in Dallas(anywhere in Dallas), then you yourself live in a suburb...that's all this place is. I call it faux-urbanism.

cp
cp

Hum.... one cute chick and bunch of fat dudes. 

Annie Williams
Annie Williams

Pretty sure I saw many articles and blogs discussing income disparity prior to all this nonsense. Having read comments on the Occupy Dallas Facebook page by its own members, they sound like a collective bunch of losers, who can't even keep from fighting among themselves or manage to agree on anything. I can go go the OWS website and read what they claim to be about, but how, exactly, does camping out in all these various cities accomplish any of that? They need to be protesting in Washington. All they've done is create problems for local governments and made themselves a nuisance to innocent people who are forced to cross their paths - camping out at City Hall isn't putting them in front of anyone who can do anything about their issues. Sure, they've gotten attention, but unfortunately it's been more bad press than good.  This was a group that started out with good ideas but with absolutely pointless execution and did more harm than good to their own cause, in my opinion.

pencil
pencil

The "Occupy Movement" was a fart in the wind...a West Texas blue northern wind.

asu87
asu87

occupy would have been better if they just had a point. what do they stand for? seems like they are just the "i don't like anything" group. if you want to get your message out---have a point. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

scottindallas
scottindallas

"occupy would have been better if they just had a point. what do they stand for?"

"Say what you will about National Socialism, at least it's an ethos."

Mott Romney
Mott Romney

I think you hit the nail on the head.

Albert
Albert

The pojnt is that there are people angry about a wide range of issues in American life, and they can be compelled to band together to air their grievances in a theatrical way. The romanticization is the real message.

These are impatient people of great expectation.The audacity of expectation that gave us videos of children lovingly singing songs of praise that would not be out of place in church, but are unprecedented and bizarre in the context of an American political campaign, is by nature, not to be denied.

What are we going to do when twenty thousand people go on hunger strike to end greed? I have a feeling we'll find out.

RTGolden
RTGolden

We'll make runs on grocery stores to scoop up good prices on food with suddenly less demand than supply.  HOORAY for capitalism!

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

"What are we going to do when twenty thousand people go on hunger strike to end greed?"

Well, there will be a bunch of people who blog about it and think that they are "being effective" and "enacting change".  There will be a few people who get mad about it for some irrational reason or another.  Then there will be the vast majority of people who wonder "Why don't these people take advantage of the freedoms we have and get a fucking job?"

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Important, cool, and courageous? Mmmkay.

Reads like a really long Craigslist want ad for camping equipment with ass-kissing thrown in.

333
333

The Occupation Movement is evolving and will continue....there will be solutions proposed soon enough....dont count them out just yet old man Shutze. 

Kevin John Gilhooly
Kevin John Gilhooly

If they don't have a solution by now, I doubt another couple of  months of sleeping beneath the stars is going to produce one.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Solutions to unemployment, recession, and idiotic government bailouts that are supposed to 'stimulate' economic activity but only stimulated market activity?  

Or solutions to where to move the camp to next and where to find a union thug who wont thug our own people?

Rooster
Rooster

Their message (whatever it was), was waaaaaaaay to incoherant to have been effectively communicated to the masses.

All I saw was some homeless people had a place to live for a few weeks. 

J. Erik Jonsson
J. Erik Jonsson

Hmm.  I'm always mindful of Bowie's advice about spitting on protestors, but I'm having trouble discerning the accomplishment here.  Specifically, JS, how is OWS important?

trudat
trudat

It is plain that they have taken a stand against the "powers that be" and for the common people in a way that has not happened in years.  This in itself is a victory.  They stood up and they used the tools to make a statement.  True enoug; the statement has yet to be turned into tangible gains.  But they have started us in the right direction.

Garlan
Garlan

You mean like Obama's running buddies - Jeffry (Jobs Away) Immelt and Jon Corzine plus the Goldman Sachs crew?  Sorry but Obama is the "powers that be" and unfortunately the message is just a smoke screen for more of the same.

RTGolden
RTGolden

I think you mean.. True enough, their actions have yet to be turned into a comprehensible statement....

Annie Williams
Annie Williams

I'm one of the common people and they don't represent me. The 99% is BS. There may be 99% of us making less money than the 1%, but there sure as hell aren't 99% of us that stand with this type of "protest" or whatever it is they were doing.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

Bullshit.

What stand did they take?  They asked permission at every step and whined like a bunch of babies.

Camping is not a statement.

Bullshit.

EDM
EDM

Did you read the article?

"... Before Occupy sprang to life, only academics were talking and writing about income disparity in America. The birth of Occupy seemed to give establishment political leaders, the president among them, the courage -- at least the cover they needed -- to put income disparity on the table as an important political issue."

"Now with more eyes focused, it's starting to look as if income disparity may be the single most important thread in the fabric of national politics since the Reagan era. The brave women and men who put up those tents in New York, Dallas and around the country get the credit."

Phelps
Phelps

Then Obama said, "now watch this drive."

J. Erik Jonsson
J. Erik Jonsson

I did, and I think that's probably the most breathless, and let's not mince words, mistaken analysis of OWS I've seen from anyone but OWS.  What evidence is there of any of that clap trap?

RTGolden
RTGolden

The truth is more Americans are more concerned about income. Period.  They don't give a shit if the rich get richer as long as they can get a decent job.  The statement " .. income disparity might be the single most important thread in national politics...." shows how far out of touch Schutze and OWS are.

You may have been knocked on your ass, but it wasn't by truth.

trudat
trudat

Some of us have to knocked on our ass by truth before we recognize it.

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