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View Diary: The Left Drops the Ball (244 comments)

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  •  To some extent, we're seeing the (19+ / 0-)

    objections coming from the crowd variously labeled the "limousine liberals," "Birkenstock liberals" (what we call them at Chez Max), "hothouse liberals," or the term I'm seeing on Twitter, "Grey Poupon liberals." They're either too arrogant and smug to think that the "unwashed" can mount any kind of significant protests of any kind without their leadership, or confused that the protesters didn't come to them for guidance and leadership. ("They don't even have a mission statement! We've got tons of them laying around! They can use this one, or that one, or ... here, let me dig around in this stack of papers ...")

    But that, of course, is simplistic and unfair to some who have resisted becoming involved in the protests. It's also unfair to paint all of the opoponents on the left as Obama supporters who think the protests are designed to destabilize the Obama re-election campaign ("They're going to end up trying to primary Obama, I just know it!"). That's true of some, but certainly not all, of the opponents on the left.

    More of them are not necessarily opponents, they're just not convinced that protests driven a group of unorganized "dilettantes" or "teenaged hippies" or "V for Vendetta obsessives" or whatever can have any real significance.

    They're dead wrong.

    In a recent diary, DanPS summarized what he calls "the many successes of Occupy Wall Street" better than I have done in my own attempts. He wrote:

    But some think OWS is a failure because it lacks direction or purpose, and that seems wrong for a number of reasons.  The first is that organizers had the whole wide world from which to choose, and they chose Wall Street.  That cannot be a coincidence, right?  Could one not infer that a movement called Occupy Wall Street might have something to do with Wall Street even if those involved did not say a single word?  Shouldn't that choice of location have communicated a fairly clear purpose?

    Second, there does not have to be a set of demands at the outset.  This is not The Further Adventures Of Action Item.  Organizers are at the "building support" phase, where they get their message out.  It seems straightforward to me that by being there day after day they are saying: We object to what has gone on here; we do not agree with it and do not support it; we want it to change.  For now, that is message enough.  What they need is to get the word out - which, given the informal media blackout, is no small feat.  Not everyone is jacked into the Internet, and there is a huge amount of WOMP (word of mouth publicity) required.  That is slower, so it will take longer to build up a head of steam.

    Concrete demands can wait.  As one commenter put it:

    The FDR liberal impulse is to jump immediately into pre-formed, almost traditional, policies and to prematurely suck off the energy into electoral politics. As process, we (and they) should work the process and hold off on electoral commitments as long as we can. The political environment must be transformed so that people have a voice again before electoral politics can make sense.

    The folks there do not need to come out blasting policy prescriptions; they need to get more and more people supporting what they are doing.  (And as Angus Johnston wrote from the site, "Folks who say '#OccupyWallStreet should have demands' should be here now. Process is hard. Process is beautiful.")

    I'm thinking in terms of Solidarity, the grassroots, union-driven protests and resistance movement in Poland that ended up driving a Soviet-aligned government out of power. I'm sure that some of the veteran anti-government leaders were going, "Who the fuck is this Lech Walesa guy, and why isn't he coming to us to let us handle this?!?" I'm also thinking in post-millennial, social-media terms: a "crowdsourced" "flash mob" protest that is led by exhortations on Twitter and Facebook posted by people that 99% of the respondents don't know personally and will probably never meet.

    Guys, seriously. This is what real grassroots protests and resistance look like, not well-orchestrated, staged events put on by semi-professional "movement leaders" who have the phone numbers to secure parade permits on their speeddial. It's untidy, impromptu, improvisational, and real.

    I'm hoping that the veteran activists, from Medea Benjamin and Michael Moore to the union leaders who are beginning to join in, will recognize that the protests need their participation and support. They absolutely do not need them to swoop in and attempt to take them over. If/when some of these "vets" come in and say, "Thanks guys, we're here now, you can step to the back and do as we tell you," that will kill the protests far more effectively than NYPD tear gassing and mesh nets could ever do.

    Occupy Wall Street. Occupy Main Street. Occupy everything. Force a tsunami of change on the nation.

    by Black Max on Sat Oct 01, 2011 at 11:00:40 AM PDT

    •  NO! No one is suggesting that (7+ / 0-)

      But if they find themselves in a position to want assistance (and honestly listen to the questions in the Chris Hedges videos - they have questions) - the leftist economists, etc. should have some things that could be useful.

      This is not about hi-jacking ANYTHING. At all!

      It's about offering expertise that could be useful IF requested - as any nurse, lawyer or anyone else with expertise might do. Nothing more.

      Thousands of years ago the question was asked: 'Am I my brother's keeper?' That question has never yet been answered in a way that is satisfactory to civilized society. ~ Eugene V. Debbs

      by PlutocracyFiles on Sat Oct 01, 2011 at 11:34:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Black Max, well said. However, to gain solidarity (4+ / 0-)

      labels & assumptions really will not help. Re this:

      objections coming from the crowd variously labeled the "limousine liberals," "Birkenstock liberals" (what we call them at Chez Max), "hothouse liberals," or the term I'm seeing on Twitter, "Grey Poupon liberals." They're either too arrogant and smug to think that the "unwashed" can mount any kind of significant protests of any kind without their leadership, or confused that the protesters didn't come to them for guidance and leadership.

      A way needs to be found to connect the dots & include the actions of the above.  So that there is sustained movement on multiple fronts.  Not everyone can physically demonstrate, after all.

      And lest we forget, those activists of the cultural decade that spanned 1963-1974 would not think this:

      More of them are not necessarily opponents, they're just not convinced that protests driven a group of unorganized "dilettantes" or "teenaged hippies" or "V for Vendetta obsessives" or whatever can have any real significance

      That "group" gets it, trust me.

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