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Occupy, Phase 2: Irrelevance

In a piece entitled “Occupy Movement Regroups, Laying Plans for the Next Phase,” the NY Times gamely attempts to keep the hope for a left-wing counterweight to the Tea Party alive. But no dice. There’s nothing to see here but hand-waving, hyperbolic rhetoric, and vague promises of ill-planned action by career activists:

Jumping on a proposal from Portland, Ore., groups in 34 cities have agreed to “a day of nonviolent direct action” on Feb. 29 against corporations accused of working against the public interest. Then on May 1, they will try to persuade thousands of Americans who share their belief that the system is rigged against the poor and the middle class to skip work and school, in what they are calling “a general strike” — or “a day without the 99 percent.” […]

But some experts who credit Occupy’s achievements to date wonder if the earnest activists will overplay their hand. Some question how many people will heed a call to stay home from work on May 1, especially since labor unions, which have generally supported Occupy’s message, say they will not strike for the day.

A pool of leftie activists is always on call for this sort of thing. And every few years, another crop of energetic leftie college students dreaming of a new sixties or even a revolution pops up, hangs out in tents on public property, and breaks camp to go to law school.

The inescapable truth is that the worst U.S. recession since the Great Depression has so far conspicuously failed to generate a serious populist movement on the Left. Ron Paul has made a bigger impact on American politics than Occupy—and his presidential campaign is an electoral non-starter.

That is how lame Occupy is. This so-called “movement” doesn’t even have the clout and enthusiasm to match one wing of the Tea Party—the weak wing.

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  • Gene

    The problem that these allegedly intelligent activists never seem to grasp is that they almost invariably come across as tyrants in the making. People hear their rhetoric–and BTW I’m referring here to people who don’t look to The Nation and Mother Jones to help them understand reality, i.e., the vast majority of us–and reach an instinctual conclusion that such people should never, ever, be allowed to get their hands on power.

  • SteveMG

    One of the advantages – yes, advantages – that conservatives have had over the years is a (generally) liberal and sceptical, if not hostile, press. That’s forced them to sharpen their ideas and message and respond to critical questioning.

    This advantage has diminished with the rise of talk radio and Fox News but, to a lesser extent, it still exists. The cocoon hasn’t completely closed (but it’s getting there).

    The left, as we’ve seen with the OWS movement, hasn’t had that same critical scrutiny. OWS was hurt and not helped by the favorable coverage and the lack of questioning and probing. They never had to answer the questions, “What do you want?, What public policy changes do you endorse?”

    The NY Times is trying its best to keep the movement alive (as opposed to its attempt to smother the Tea Party). But as Dr. Mead points out, the streets are closed.

  • Alex Weiner

    They also just wrote this
    Contemptuously ignore at your leisure.

  • Soviet of Washington

    Because, you know, the last “non-violent’ action in Portland turned out so well.

  • SteveMG

    Giant papier mache puppet heads of Paul Vocker with “Death to the Volcker Rule!!” written on them?

    I’m doubtful that’ll get the movement re-energized.

    And Mead said irrelevant, not absurd.

  • Jim.

    @Alex Weiner-

    326 pages of policy jargon that doesn’t get translated into readable format even by sympathetic media like Felix Salmon and the NYT is not going to do you much good. If the accusation is incoherence, the only answer is to provide summaries and policy proposals understandable to the 99% of us who lack Finance degrees.

    What’s the punch line? “Break up the banks”? “Reinstate Glass-Steagall”? “End bailouts”? Even something to help us determine whether the Volcker Rule is a good thing or a bad thing would help.

    Your 326 pages of carefully-reasoned argument really are getting drowned out by stances that can be easily characterized as unworkable slogans of envy and socialism.

    You haven’t made your case yet. The protesters certainly aren’t making it for you. That makes “inchoate” a pretty good word to describe the whole mess.

  • Kenny

    “Ron Paul has made a bigger impact on American politics than Occupy—and his presidential campaign is an electoral non-starter.”

    All true.

    But let’s be fair.

    Ron Paul has influenced the debate. For the first time, the FED is being openly criticized … finally.

  • Corlyss

    “Nostalgia is a dangerous obsession. It makes yesterday sweeter than tomorrow can ever be.” – David Lamb, The Stolen Season.

  • Corlyss

    How’s come the OWS crowd didn’t go to Davos this year?

  • Ruida

    The letter on the Volcker Rule appears entirely substantial. Mr. Mead’s commentary would consign the American Revolution to the dustbin of history in 1773 with rabble throwing boxes overboard.

  • cas

    I wonder why they want to schedule a “general strike / day off” on May 1st…oh, that’s right, I almost forgot; Socialists ALWAYS celebrate on “May Day”
    I wonder if the “organizers” will bother to explain that to those who actually decide to take the day off…

  • Corlyss

    “For the first time, the FED is being openly criticized … finally.”

    Perhaps, but the chances of abolishing it are none and less than none.

  • Kris

    I hope you will all join me and the rest of the proletariat on May First. Don’t forget to bring red flags and to wear your Che T-shirts. Please memorize the Internationale beforehand. Onward, comrades!

  • Mosh got

    You are naive if you think the OWS movement is fading. Just wait until warmer weather. They will be back in droves and more than willing to confront the “establishment” hellbent on keeping them from re-taking their encampments. Think they will be in the mood to resist peacefully? Just looke at Europe, namely Greece. Don’t think that can’t happen here.

  • Luke Lea

    This blogs sneery snotty attitude towards OWS doesn’t do it credit.

  • TmjUtah

    The Left runs the Federal Government.

    Occupy was never intended to be relevant. The last year’s media coverage, with it’s studious attention to manufactured angst about “income inequality” and disciplined non-coverage of rape, murder, theft, overdose, assault, trash, vermin, and the generally infantile, pathetic, and frequently incoherent Useful Fools, is battlefield prep for the summer.

    Cities are going to burn. And it’s going to be about “fairness” and “fair shares” and “Some People Say ….” across all main stream media channels. Real “Back To The Sixties” Important and Momentous stuff.

    Give media a narrative, and they can get a thousand words out of one posed picture.

    But when those cities burn, nobody will say a word about preplanned strikes and teams using the Occutards as cover. Because that would NEVER fit the narrative.

    We may as well make popcorn. Our tax dollars are paying, and will pay, for the Occupy Movement. Call it Acorn, or whatever else they call themselves this week.

  • Kirk Parkerk

    To OWS (in a paraphrase of pseudo-Gandhi): First we oppose you (heh!), then we ridicule you, then we ignore you, then you lose.

  • Vic E

    I think the Occupy movement of 2011 till now is just a warm-up and recruiting tool for the coming political conventions (primarily the Republican one)and the election. What we’ll see this summer and fall is likely to be based on 1968 and some of the WTO actions or worse.

  • Furious_a

    #OWS isn’t going away. They’re entirely relevant, as The Mob (in the Roman sense) in service to the Obama political machine. Remember “I’m the only thing standing between you and the pitchforks”? That’s a message to wavering supporters — Wall St. — to toe the line or else.

    Nothing personal, it’s just the Chicago Way.

  • Trashhauler

    I seem to recall that, according to the Geneva Convention, when an occupying force takes control of a place or area, they are responsible for the well-being of that place and people. I guess these folks forgot to read that part.

  • Jim.

    @Ruida –

    Altogether too substantial for someone with a 40+ hour a week job to wade through.

    Seriously, could you or Alex provide a summary?

    Otherwise, (not to be snide here, but to be neutral and realistic) a large portion of the population is just going to go on assuming that OWS is just some fragrant hippy mob demanding unsustainable welfare handouts.

    Try putting together a thoughtful, short and sweet snippet (about the same length as WRM’s critique here), and see how people engage with it.

  • edge of the sandbox

    It’s a safe bet that where I live (in the Bay Area) the “non-violent direct action” will end up pretty violent. A grown up Democrat needs to step in and tell them to get lost.

  • Corlyss


    Surely you jest. They were a parody of a parody. Mildly amusing in their sober naivete until they became violent.

  • Chuck Pelto

    TO: All
    RE: Sooooo…..

    That is how lame Occupy is. This so-called “movement” doesn’t even have the clout and enthusiasm to match one wing of the Tea Party—the weak wing. — Walter Russel Mead

    ….what do you think these foolish, overly self-esteemed people will do when all their efforts amount to naught?

    I suspect their frustration will turn to more ‘direct action’, i.e., violence.

    Considering that the politicians and police did little to nothing to stop them last Fall, I think they’ll figure they’ll have the latitude to do as they please.

    The big question is what will the politicians and police do in that scenario?

    Blame the Republicans? And the media will pick up the battle cry?


    [No dictatorship of the proletariat is to be thought of without terror and violence. — Lenin]

  • Chuck Pelto

    P.S. As some others (above) have indicated, there will be violence. And I’m wondering if there is enough such violence, and well staged and timed, will there be a declaration of a national emergency? Martial Law, perhaps?

    I can see a scenario of that being tied to the recently passed NDAA wherein the military can be used to round up and detain people indefinitely.

    The question is, which group of people would be so detained?

    If the Democrats are behind/backing the Occupy movement, would they REALLY round-up the occupiers who are their ‘foot soldiers’?

  • teapartydoc

    Imagine Ron Paul with a sensible foreign policy. That person is going to emerge sooner or later, and the “weak wing” will become inexorably strong.

  • bandit

    They’ll be engaging in a general strike from doing nothing?

  • Chuck Pelto

    TO: furious_a, et al.
    RE: Not Quite….

    OWS isn’t going away. They’re entirely relevant, as The Mob (in the Roman sense) in service to the Obama political machine. — furious_a

    ….the Roman Mob. Rather the Mob used by the Communists in both Russia and China in 1917 and 1947 respectively. The Communist leaders whipped up mobs like these Occupiers to put themselves in power. We’re seeing something similar in Egypt and Libya at this time. The Muslim Bros learned the lessons of history well. Who’s to say the so-called ‘Democrats’ have not done the same.

    RE: The Scenario…..

    …..I was mentioning earlier in this thread.

    If the violence is well timed and a national emergency is declared, I suspect it would be timed to the point that it impacts on the election. To wit, if the hew-and-cry from the politicians and the media is that the cursed Republicans and most especially the criminals of the Tea Party are to blame, as opposed to the blessed Occupiers, what is to prevent the President from ordering the detention of registered Republicans in crucial election districts where violence—perpetrated by the Occupiers—is taking place?

    An additional consideration would be making much of propaganda from incidents where Republicans employ ‘Make My Day’ laws to defend themselves, their families and/or their property/businesses. Obvious evidence that such people are a danger to society.

    Let us watch for—as we say in the Army—’indicators’.

    • An ever increasing and violent description of Republicans, Tea Partiers and conservatives in the so-called major media.
    • Ever increasing violence in the Occupiers movement. [NOTE: You’ll not get it from the so-called major media.]
    • Legislation that would allow the shut-down of the internet at the will of the government.
    • The unfortunate demise of various conservatives in positions of authority, e.g., Supreme Court Justices.
    • Some form or series of ‘Reichstag Fire’ incidents.

    This is not a complete list. But it gives you an idea of what to watch for. If you see a series of such things happening, the probability of more ‘fun’ than I care to consider goes up.


    [Chance favors the prepared mind.]

    P.S. Do I sound ‘paranoid’? Maybe I am. You get that way after 27 years in the infantry and the last part of it working up scenarios to drive exercises for State Area Commands (STARCs), i.e., State National Guard Adjutants General and their staffs, in preparing for national emergencies—think Gulf Wars—and natural disasters—think Katrinas.

    Doing that you learn to read the development of ‘storm clouds on the horizon’ as harbingers of things to come.

  • JKB

    Hey, burn the cities, we’ll work to stop the waste of tax dollars rebuilding. In most urban cores, nobody’s there except for lawyers, politicians, tourists, aging hippies and self-indulgent hipsters. Oh, and don’t forget the gang bangers. America lives and works in suburbia. The cities are decaying eyesores from a bygone era. Burn em and we’ll put up a Walmart.

  • Kris

    Luke@15: We disagree. Sure, the situation is bad and many people are hurting; but as to the OWS hardcore? Pfft. (I’d say more, but I don’t want our host’s grandmother to exile me from the dinner table.)

    Mosh@14 and others: How did the Democrats do in the 1968 elections?

  • Victor Erimita

    The Reuters article to which Alex Weiner links is very interesting, as are the comment threads that follow. But if whoever put together the treatise that is the subject of the article thinks they will gain credibility by associating themselves with the illiterate rabble of vandals and overgrown adolescents piddling in the streets, they are mistaken

    I hope Mosh and others are correct that warmer weather will bring the Occupy-ers back out. The only way this country will awake from its willful slumber and see the catastrophic damage the hard Left is doing to us will be for the Left to show its true colors. The Occupy “movement” is ample demonstration of the world the Left has planned for us.

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