As the Occupy movement eases past the two-month mark, everyone seems to be discussing the future of the Occupation. Individual trends and motivations are apparent for each of the major groups involved in the conversation, but a common theme has also emerged. Setting aside the obvious positions of those holding pro- and anti-Occupation positions, it’s important to address the complaints of two major groups that remain; the political pundits and the government.
The individual opinions of political pundits run the full gamut, from rabid anti-Occupation to pro-Occupiers encouraging radical activity. What they have in common is their ever-increasing clamor for Occupy to identify the message of the movement. On the surface, this would tend to support the suspicions of some that political pundits are maintained in remote locales, inside small, inspiration-free cells, with only a steady diet of the single biased mainstream media outlet of their choice as intellectual fuel. The message of Occupy is simple, has been since the beginning, and has spread across the globe; it’s difficult to form a reasonable alternative explanation as to why the pundits still don’t understand the purpose of the Occupation. It’s entirely possible that they only speak sound bite, and while the Occupy message is simple, the talking points are legion.
The opinion of those in government, as always must be derived from combining their public statements with their seemingly opposite actions. The many mayors dealing with Occupations in their towns and cities publicly claim to support the rights of the public to protest. However, as is usual with politicians, there’s always a “but”. The opinions and actions of many Mayors are so similar that one might reasonably suspect collusion. They cite “serious” public health and safety concerns regarding conditions at Occupation sites, feign concern for the rights of non-Occupiers, complain about the overtime costs for the over inflated police presence, and completely ignore the simple, inexpensive solutions to those concerns, instead attempting to bind the rights of Occupiers with local laws that ridiculously purport to trump our Constitution.
This is somewhat tangential, but it must be said. Mayors, if you’re concerned about poop, allow the Occupations to rent porta-potties, or better yet, provide some for them. If you’re concerned about rights, stop trying to make an end run around our Constitution. If you’re concerned about the safety of the Occupiers, stop ordering law enforcement to stun them, beat them, shoot them and gas them. As a bonus, if you cease to order police brutality cold, you can cut the overtime costs by at least a factor of ten, which should help with the costs borne by Occupied cities; so would allowing the Occupiers to clean and repair the spaces they Occupy, as they have repeatedly offered to do.
One of the most common complaints from governments attempting to communicate with the Occupation is the “lack of specific leadership”, which they claim makes negotiating difficult or impossible. This is an odd claim. While it’s true that there are no specifically named leaders, there are certainly people within the Occupy communities who have leadership skills, which have been channeled into ensuring shelter, food, medical care, clothing, information, and a venue for free speech and decision-making.
Anyone can speak at the Occupations, provided they wait their turn. Decisions are made at the regularly-scheduled General Assemblies, which everyone is encouraged to attend and participate in. Mayor Jean Quan of Oakland, CA appeared to be offended by the notion that she was not important enough to skip to the head of the line when she showed up to speak at Occupy Oakland on October 27, 2011; she left rather abruptly without addressing the Assembly after discovering that equality trumps self-important governmental idiocy at Occupy Oakland.
This is, functionally, a non-problem. Politicians don’t like the communications and decision-making structures of the Occupation because it’s a lot easier to convince a few people to come around to your self-serving point of view than it is to convince a large group of people who have sustained physical, chemical, sensory and emotional damage at the hands of the establishment you represent, particularly when you’re the politician that ordered it.
Just as OWS and the rest of the Occupations have no official leadership, maintaining that we are all the leaders, the point of OWS is not limited to official statements and positions that may emerge from the Occupations.
The point of Occupy is EVERYWHERE, and we are ALL responsible for making it. Read something about our government or Wall Street or Big Business in our nation. Read Occupy signs. Learn something. Explain the something you learned to someone else, and show them where to read it for themselves. Go down to your local Occupation and do something. Occupy the Internet. Blog something. Share the facts. Share the details. Examine different perspectives and opinions. Draft your own solutions. Like and Share the work of others to help spread the word. Tell friends about the somethings you read and learned and did. engage in persuasive debate. Occupy the media. Overwhelm them with the Occupy message they demand. Show compassion for their limited ability to comprehend simple, obvious information and offer to explain the message to them, very slowly, using words of three syllables or less in deference to their shortcomings. Offer to supply vid clips and write their copy. Do whatever is necessary to change the mainstream media's Occupy image into our Occupy message. Send links to those in government who purport to represent us, send them snail mail, send them books, call them, email them, go pay them a visit. Do enough, and you might just end up Occupying their consciousness. Who knows what change that could bring?
The next step for Occupy is for everyone, even those who disagree with public Occupations, to Occupy our own homes and Occupy the Internet, and act, on our own, in solidarity. Stop waiting for Occupy to provide all the solutions. Occupy is probably not the vehicle of change. WE ARE.
Occupy paved the way for us. Nations that are not necessarily friendly with American government are Occupying WITH us, in peaceful solidarity. More and more Americans have discovered that something is very, very wrong with the "facts" reported by the vast majority of the mainstream media, and instead are turning to smaller independent information sources for the truth. Thanks to Occupy and law enforcement, America has learned that protecting grass, sparing the public from poop and safeguarding the establishments of white-collar criminals is much more important than protecting the People, our Constitutionally-guaranteed rights and our most fundamental American ideals. And still, Occupy stays the slow and steady course, fighting to win the battles of information and perception so that we can win the war of wealth superiority and corruption. What more can we reasonably expect?