What will it lead to? Will it last? Will this movement grow and evolve, spreading across the country? Where is it going? Where will it end?
I don’t know. As I once wrote in a professional court report to a judge, my crystal ball doesn’t work any better than anyone else’s. I hope this popular uprising grows, evolves, develops and never ends. It is the latest American manifestation of a grassroots struggle for freedom, a struggle that never ends.
The news says the cops pepper-sprayed dozens of people indiscriminately, and arrested 20. A newsman on the scene says the number arrested was much larger. The growing number of demonstrators can’t fit in the park or on the streets anymore. Their numbers are overflowing their target area, their government-designated token “free speech area.”
What would happen if they took a leaf from the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and filled the jails? If 20,000 nonviolent demonstrators participated in a sit-in, risking or inviting mass arrests, a nonviolent act of civil disobedience that overwhelmed the jail capacity and the police capacity of New York City–and made headlines worldwide?
I do know that if this movement grows it will be denounced by its enemies as a nihilistic criminal gang rather than a revolutionary movement, and as a conspiracy hatched by a foreign power hostile to the interests of the U.S. You can count on those smears arising. They always do. “Divide and conquer” strategies will arise right and left.
I know that if this movement is crushed by police and military forces of repression it will be worse for everyone in the long run. If people’s frustrations and righteous anger cannot be productively channeled into coherent protests and movements for positive change, that volcanic frustration, surging energy, increasing desperation and despair will inevitably resurface as riots and criminal violence. The social fabric is seriously fraying. It’s coming apart. People are rapidly losing faith in playing by the rules, in honest labor, and self-discipline when they see it leads to nothing but further intensified oppression and humiliation. In short, if this mounting desperation and anger is suppressed, is not able to express itself constructively, it will inevitably come out in destructive and self-destructive ways. That is one more reason for hoping for a sustained coherent movement for major reform: the alternative is increased despair, drug abuse, suicide, crime, and mindless violence. It has gone too far to simply subside and evaporate. It’s too late for that. It is, as Martin Luther King said in the title of his last book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? Those are the only two alternatives I see.
But what do I know?