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Occupy Everywhere

Posted on the 31 October 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost

Occupy Everywhere: Are the protests the catalyst for change or just naive idealism?

Occupy London, St Paul's Cathedral. Photo credit: Neil Cummings,

Think local. Writing for The Christian Science Monitor, Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais argued that Occupy needs to focus more on tangible, local goals, such as Occupy Los Angeles’ drive to push the local council to adopt a responsible banking ordinance.  Winograd and Hais said that protesters should avoid becoming mired in past grievances and “focus instead on the changes they wish to see going forward”.

Too vague. Writing for The New York Times, Bill Keller contrasted the Occupy movement with Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption campaigning in India, calling the Occupy movement “consensus-oriented and resolutely leaderless”: “Hazare and his entourage can seem self-important and high-handed, but he is a reminder that leadership matters,” he said. Keller argued that the movement’s aims are often just vague idealism, and questioned the gains made by Occupy: “So far, the main achievement of Occupy Wall Street is showing up,” he said.

Idealism back in fashion. Writing on The Guardian‘s Comment is Free about the London protests, Madeleine Bunting argued that those who criticize Occupy for its apparent lack of concrete political aims are missing the point. “The protesters’ aim is to open up space, physically and socially, for people to connect and thereby open up space in people’s imaginations,” she said. Bunting wrote that Occupy represents a return to “idealism, naivety and dreaming”, concepts which have been marginalised in the current political climate.

Power of simplicity. Indeed, Gordon Lafer argued at The Nation that the simplicity of Occupy’s essential demand – “You know what you did. You have our stuff. Give it back” – is what makes the message so powerful. Lafer suggested that should the US movement expand to include student debt strikers and foreclosure defence, “then it may achieve by popular action what the political system is incapable of accomplishing”.

Question of time. Besides, wrote Laurie Penny in The Independent, the London movement is still young: “Coming up with an action plan for a new world order takes time,” she said. Penny conceded that the consensus-based system used by protesters means decision-making is a long process, but said Occupy activists are “just asking for democracy that does what it says on the tin”.

Fear factor. Glenn Greenwald argued at Salon that the importance of Occupy lies in the movement’s potential to rein in society’s elite: “An oligarchical class that operates without any fear in its collective heart of the citizenry will continue to assemble and protect its ill-gotten gains without limits,” he said. According to Greenwald, the Occupy movement shows that people of different backgrounds are willing and able to unite against “seemingly invulnerable power factions”.

Workers unite? Writing for The Telegraph, Charles Moore argued that greater attention should be paid to the City workers who are quietly keeping the economy going than to attention-seeking protests: “I put more faith in all those other people I saw round St Paul’s this week. No one ‘occupies’ or resigns or preaches in favour of them, but they can be seen every morning emerging from the City’s Tube stations,” he said.

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