NOVEMBER 14, 2011 1:55PM

What happens next with Occupy Wall Street, realistically

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No, I am not affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street action, nor do I know any one who is. So when I say what'll happen next with this protest, yes, I kind of don't know what I'm talking about. But I'm right.

Here's what's going on:

Occupy Wall Street is partly – and only partly - an idea: Money has poisoned democracy, and we're not even experiencing true capitalism anymore. Legalized corruption has left us at the mercy of oligarchies that we're forced to support.

Message transmitted. And very well done, by the way.

But Occupy Wall Street is also a thing, a physical encampment in New York City - and as such, it'll probably deteriorate in certain predictable ways.

As most educated people know, winter is coming - and New York becomes very, very cold. The protesters with jobs will go back to them, the other middle class elements will wander off to preach somewhere more comfortable, and the only ones left will be really hard-core activists, and people who would be sleeping on the street anyway - the criminals and the insane. We have a lot of those here.

I have seen this kind of situation work itself out before, and in much gentler environs than downtown Manhattan. People's Park in Berkeley was born in May 1969, when student protesters clashed with police to prevent some open space from converting into a sports field. Ultimately, the protesters won - and bully for them. But by the time I enrolled at UC Berkeley in the 1980s, that little patch of weeds, broken glass and idealism had bloomed into an outdoor homeless shelter, and you didn't go there after dark.

Actually, most of the homeless themselves were afraid of it

Thus will it go in Zuccotti Park. Sure, conservative media outlets still sound a little nutty when they screech about scattered thefts and assaults in the park – conveniently ignoring that, in New York, it's only surprising the violence didn't flare up earlier. But come winter, the ditto-heads won't have to exaggerate anymore. Crime will become the norm, as the protest group boils down to its most desperate elements.

By the time the NYPD finally crashes down on these campers, a critical mass of New Yorkers will tacitly applaud.

And by the way, if the camp nonetheless survives, there will be uncomfortable questions of what to do with all the contributions Occupy Wall Street has accumulated from well-wishers. In fairness, those belong to the park dwellers. But understand that, if the Zuccotti Park encampment lasts until next spring, the driving theme behind it won't really be finance or graft anymore. It'll be homelessness.

In any case, although it would be a cute idea to mark an official end to the protest - on, say, the Winter Solstice - organizers can't really stop the thing because no one owns it. But I think the folks who ignited this event would be well advised to announce - clearly and unconditionally - that they themselves are heading on to another project.

Mind you, there's an upside here - creating a bad part of town right adjacent to Wall Street. It'll teach the brokers what happens when you screw your fellow man. Someday, your fellow man tracks you down - and he's not looking his best.

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Comments

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should be more realism around here.

you have to feel sorry for people that are surplus to requirements in the usa. poverty and crime are built in. 'protest' is all you can do, in absence of democracy. but it is near useless.
I dropped by the park, and it looks like a campground, all right.
It'll take more than a protest. Everyone has been made aware of the issue, but what happens now? Does the government change? Does Wall Street change? I haven't seen anything so far ...
the issue suggested here of course is whether or not Occupy must remain a "thing" in some vital way in order to continue to be a set of ideas that over time MATTER AND CHANGE LIFE HERE i think it does have to be a thing, even if an evolving one, to effect change
Places are powerful. Real people holding ground is powerful.
Networking a support and supply to keep the ground held is important. If the kids want it bad enough they can do it easily- and it can be high ground, moral high ground - held for all the right reasons - in the right places.

Tomorrow it all could be done with, or backed up by tens of thousands of people. Washington's army wintered over - without gore- tex or quaterpounders within walking distance.
So - as of today, the park has been cleared. It will be interesting to see what happens next. Meanwhile, in Detroit, I read last night about how the protestors have arranged to occupy some vacant buildings, for office space and residences. Detroit, of course, has lots of vacant buildings. This may not be an option for NYC...
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"
--upton sinclair

"One withstands the invasion of armies; one does not withstand the invasion of ideas."
--victor hugo


occupy party reaches critical mass/seismic effect--now what?
I must sadly agree with your prediction of what will become of the camps but I don't want to give up on the idea and ideals. I offer what I hope is an idea worth exploring. I ask that you read my blog post today. Comment or don't, at least it's a start.