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View Diary: The Squandered Potential of Occupy (240 comments)

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  •  I took a college course one time (26+ / 0-)

    with a professor that had been part of the student dissident movement in the 1960s.  She told me that one thing many people never seemed to get about the dissident movement is that dissidents and hippies were not the same thing.  The Mario Savio types out there were all hard-working A students that were fed up with the system and wanted to change it and sacrifice their reputations to do it.

    However, they were forever associated with the hippies, who were people who weren't as motivated, who oftentimes didn't really care about issues like the war that much because they thought -- literally -- that if everybody could just try some acid, they would understand how none of that stuff matters.  

    As she explained it, the people at the core of the dissident movements hated the hippies.  They thought they were spoiling everything.  I shouldn't even use the word "thought" because she seemed to still think that's exactly what happened.

    Now, here's what I think:  Sometimes you cannot choose these things.  On the one hand, you want a big deal demonstration against the powers that be, in this case, Wall Street and the 1% and its influence in Washington.  You BENEFIT in some measures from the neo-hippy drum-circle types that are drawn to the event as a type of street theater.  You benefit from them because they swell your numbers and give it a sense of comradery and youthfulness.  It further swells your numbers and gets you attention.  At the same time, it drowns out your voices, the voices of the serious people (as you must obviously regard yourself) as they take over demographically just by their presence in great numbers.

    As frustrating as it is, your task, or the task of somebody with a real talent for moving people to action, is to

    1) Learn to live with the drum-circle guys
    2) Find a practical use for them.

    (1) should be easy.  Just acknowledge you never really had as much control as you thought you did and the movement isn't what you thought it was.  (2) is the hard one.  This takes somebody with charisma who is willing to become a focus for the cause, in the process making it less democratic and more centralized.

    "Oh, but I want it to be democratic!  I just want it to be democratic with us serious people in charge and not those un-serious people."  

    Yeah, well, if wishes were ponies...

    Gotta be real.

    Let me give you some more advice...  The biggest roadblock to Occupy was that the president of the United States was a Democrat and that they couldn't or wouldn't take him on.  It's hard to have an anti-establishment movement when you can't criticize the establishment point blank.  If McCain had been president, it might have had a terrific chance to be successful.

    •  "Gotta be real." (14+ / 0-)

      Really nifty comment, because not only do you advocate realism, but you don't confuse it with mere resignation.

      It seems to me that anyone who remembers or learns about the 60s could have pretty well predicted the limitations of the Occupy movement. Heck, anyone who realizes that people are not all the same could have done that. Maybe it would've worked out better in a Kim Stanley Robinson novel. But I have to say that Occupy far exceeded my expectations, and I don't think "squandered potential" is the right frame.

      Election protection: there's an app for that! -- and a toll-free hotline: 866-OUR-VOTE
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      by HudsonValleyMark on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 05:05:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't know about your last point (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AgavePup, cal2010, Smoh, hooper, Troubadour

      Plenty of Occupiers believe Obama is as bad or worse than any republican....because drones, I guess?  

      Basically, that idealistic-to-the-point-of-stupid view prevalent among them is what turned me off to the Occupy movement, which I was originally very supportive of.  

      Political compass: -8.75 / -4.72

      by Mark Mywurtz on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 05:48:22 AM PST

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      •  If there was no one complaing aobut drones, (0+ / 0-)

        there would be no one to oppose the use of drones. You have to take the good with the bad, I guess?

        •  Nobody on the left LIKES drones..... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TheLizardKing, Smoh, hooper, high uintas

          ...some of us think they actually prevent more deaths, some of us oppose them altogether.

          But a small minority of magical-thinkers on the Left apparently think that a Republican president would be better than Obama on this?  Or something?  That's just stupid.

          I suppose if a vote for Jill Stein made some people feel better about themselves, who am I to question that....

          Political compass: -8.75 / -4.72

          by Mark Mywurtz on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:55:05 AM PST

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          •  Drones are an abomination, a technological (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            barleystraw

            kill fetish that distances the masters of war from the war. (and since I am all of sudden channeling Dylan, I'll also mention that "the executioners face is always well-hidden").

            There is no way to square your moral life with the way drone strikes are propagating. There is no "these deaths create less death in the world" argument that works at any level.

            The only way of squaring our present admin and drones is by cognating some serious dissonance.... life is complicated, yes, and we can understand how technologies - once invented - are inevitably used, but don't for a minute get easy with yourself on such sloppy moral grounds. That is the root of the most cynical forms of nihilism.

            •  I'm not going to argue it here... (0+ / 0-)

              I'm just going to stick up my hand and go, uh, I think I might be in favor of the use of drones.  I know I'm outnumbered here.  I don't want to fight over it, though, not here.  I'm merely pointing out that you don't have unanimous consensus on this and that people like me who have deep moral feelings about just about every other aspect of the Bush years, from torture to domestic spying to wars of adventure to corporate cronyism, can still square it with drones if they want to.  I just don't see it in the same class.

            •  I'm still witholding judgment (0+ / 0-)

              I'm not going to pretend to be some kind of expert on drone strikes--and I'd say anyone who does is a liar.  I'd say that because it's just about impossible to find undisputed facts about the number combatants killed vs the number of civilians killed.  I'm not even sure you can always make a clear distinction between "combatants" and "civilians" in Taliban-controlled regions.  

              I'm also not going to pretend I know what the alternative to drone strikes would be.  How much of a threat do the targets pose to us?  If the individuals targeted are a serious enough threat, one could argue that a drone strike--even with its inherent risks--is preventing less discriminate bombings, ground troops, terrorist attacks, etc--you know, that "less deaths" argument you say can't work at any level.  (Just saying it doesn't make it so, however....)  What are the deterrent effects of drones?  Would the targets use human shields if we attempted to kill them by other means, meaning there would still be innocent casualties?  

              Look, on its surface, drone warfare is ugly.  I have no doubt that like every other type of warfare there are civilian casualties.  And I'd prefer we weren't engaged in any type of war.   But letting hostile people intent on doing us harm operate unfettered is ugly too.  

              If the president I voted for and respect (read: not Bush) and our national security agencies say that drone strikes prevent casualties by preventing attacks on the US or by reducing the need for ground warfare and they produce numbers that seriously dispute civilian casualty numbers given by the Pakistan government, I am going to need to see some hard evidence to the contrary before declaring them an abomination.  Doesn't mean I'm supportive and want to see more drone strikes....it just means I'm prepared to accept them as a "necessary evil" in a dangerous world until someone shows me otherwise.  But really, I am open to that evidence.    

              I guess my question to you is....we end the drone strikes, our enemies are still operating, so now what?  What's your alternative?  

              Political compass: -8.75 / -4.72

              by Mark Mywurtz on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:39:24 PM PST

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    •  The point of Occupy was not to confront power (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jds1978, Malvern, kalmoth

      but to exercise power.  The fact that they never understood that is what ultimately made them powerless, and why today they are irrelevant.  They could not mentally make the shift from being complainant outsiders to being leaders with a plan.

      In Roviet Union, money spends YOU!

      by Troubadour on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 08:27:11 AM PST

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      •  I don't want to advocate violence (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        barleystraw

        But Occupy was never going to exercise power properly without the threat of violence.

        That doesn't mean that Occupy had to be a violent group, but it does mean that Occupy at least had to threaten to require much more intense and much more visible political violence to dislodge them than what actually occurred.

        For Occupy to exercise power properly, I think there had to be the potential for a feeling in the air that things could get out of control and a riot might occur if concerns were not addressed.  

        •  Nonsense. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jds1978, Malvern

          Authority is power, and Occupy refused to give itself any because it was against hierarchy because it was tainted with anarchist fetishes.  It didn't want authority, and did nothing to cultivate any.  Authority was the enemy, from the way they viewed things, and people outside the movement came to see them accordingly - as folks complaining, not folks showing a new direction.

          In Roviet Union, money spends YOU!

          by Troubadour on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 08:47:32 AM PST

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