On Saturday, September 17, the “occupation” in Manhattan began. Wishful thinking aside, no one really knew it would spread to other cities in the USA, then across the world. But it has. No one knows for sure what it will lead to next, or when it will end. After all, the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon’s agenda is coalescing, but it says here that the genie is out of the bottle; this thing now has a life of its own.
As The 99% movement grows many are cheering it on, even some are joining in on it. Some are puzzled by it, even flabbergasted. Others are ignoring it, even laughing at it. Still others are thoroughly peeved by it, even afraid of it.
Eventually, books will be written about what is happening, telling us who did what to set it in motion. No doubt, some Americans who stand in support of Wall Street’s billionaires, against OWS, will find nefarious conspiracies and villains in the shadows. But how it started will be much less important to people in the future than where it’s going.
Yes, I’m one of those who is already convinced that this movement -- OWS/The 99% -- is going to reshape politics in America. How much impact it will have on the rest of the world is anybody‘s guess.
Enemies of the movement and others baffled by it ask, "What do the demonstrators want? What's all the fuss about?
My answer is one word -- dignity.
Although it can’t be said that all of the demonstrators are liberals, or Democrats, this explosion of outrage in the streets is going to embolden frustrated liberals within the Democratic Party. In the next year it is going to put pressure on Democratic candidates to embrace some of what the movement is talking about.
Furthermore, I’m expecting it to eventually reverse the gradual drift to the right that America’s politics has been suffering from for 30 years. Yes, something had to do it, and I think this is it.
One thing OWS/The 99% has already given us is the “human microphone.” Born out of necessity, to sidestep New York’s law about electric amplification, it is spreading fast.
Each speaker at a General Assembly meeting talks in brief bursts, sentence fragments, so their listeners can repeat what they heard to amplify it to allow others further away from the speaker to get the message. This improvisation apparently started in Zuccotti Park/Liberty Park in New York. It has already spread to Richmond and probably most of the similar protests in other cities.
For those who can adapt their speech-making to this style, it works like a call and response style in a church. I suspect we will be hearing this human microphone way of speechifying for a long time.
In my view, the Occupy Wall Street/The 99% movement became inevitable with the infamous Supreme Court decision that ratified the Wall Street-friendly notion of “corporate personhood,” which the Court expanded with its Citizens United decision of Jan.21, 2010.
People have families; they have parents, siblings, children and friends. They have business associates and colleagues. Those are ties that bind to form a collective sense of duty and morality that comes to bear on most people. Untethered from such connections to life itself, rather than being born corporations are invented. The purpose of their existence is to make money for the stockholders. The corporate veil conveniently shields those owners from responsibilities and liabilities in a way no one enjoys as an individual human being.
You can’t put a corporation in jail.
While right-wingers are happy to make war on America’s students and public education system, on the health of the nation’s workforce, on trade unions, on needy veterans and our voting rights, on everyone’s firefighters, on the planet’s environment, even on your grandma, who really thinks a little symbolic class warfare from some peaceful demonstrators is such a bad thing?
Mic check ... MIC CHECK: You know ... YOU KNOW ... The answer ... THE ANSWER ... To that one ... TO THAT ONE.