We don’t live in the same world that saw the civil rights movement succeed. Ours is a world of more control and more distractions.
The Occupy Wall Street movement will fail just like the anti-Iraq War protests failed. Why? Several factors, but most of all, timing:
Ok, let’s think about this.
On one hand we have a bunch of angry protesters sleeping in tents in New York city. On the other hand we have the world’s most powerful business men working in ivory towers and going home to their mansions.
The protesters need to eat, and to eat they need to have food, and to have food they need to have money, and to have money they need an income, to have an income they need a job. Eventually these people are going to run out of money for food and will have to go home to try and get more income. On top of that, winter is coming, it will be snowing in New York city and many of these people will freeze. It is a race against time, and the mega powerful people in wall street have all the time in the world. They’re not sleeping in tents, they’re not running out of food. The worst they have to endure is possibly a slightly longer commute to work past all the protesters.
I pointed this out to a friend of mine and she remarked “Yes, well many of the people are there protesting precisely because they don’t have jobs to go home to.” Yes, this is true, but it’s a null point. The fact is, they still have to eat, whether they have a job or not, and the restaurants around wall street are not going to take to charity. You can also be damned sure that the powerful are not going to let the most expensive real-estate on the planet turn into something akin to a refugee camp.
Eventually the numbers of protesters will drop and the movement will lose momentum. Winter and the long stretch of time between now and elections will only exacerbate this decline. Eventually people will go home out of exhaustion and necessity.
The movement also has to contend with the news media. Angry people sleeping in tents is only interesting news for so long. Eventually people will get bored of the same old thing over and over again. This is not to mention the fact that many of the news outlets are owned and controlled by the very people the protesters are protesting. Inevitably there will be negative spin control on the movement. Fox “News” predictably has already taken the stance that the protesters are evil slobs aiming at destroying capitalism. (Which is ironic because a lot of them are protesting big government bailouts of firms that were so fiscally irresponsible that they fucked the world economy. You’d think that a principled conservative could get behind that, but no, hypocrisy is always the soup du jour at Fox “News”) Eventually the news media will stop covering the movement all together.
This type of media control and spin did not exist during the days of the civil rights movement. The powerful have more tools at their disposal beyond just beating protesters and sicking dogs on them.
Which brings me to the only hope for the Occupy Wall Street movement:
Nothing keeps a movement alive and energized like martyrs. Martyrs get the fence sitters off the fence and in the streets. It galvanizes those already committed to the movement, and most importantly, it makes great news, keeping the national spotlight on your cause. (Although there is no guarantee that the publicity will be good publicity. Hell, there have been several occasions where police have either beaten of killed protesters in wheelchairs and Fox News always seems to defend the police.)
“But GP, even if the protesters have to go home for winter and to get food, the conditions and factors that caused the protest will still be there…”
Yes, that’s true, but I think the conditions have to get a lot more extreme before more people take the protests seriously. Yes things are bad, yes unemployment is at 10%, yes foreclosures are at an all time high, yes we’re being robbed blind by the mega rich, but the general populace won’t take up arms until unemployment soars much higher. Only once the majority of people can’t put food on the table, then perhaps things will start to change. I have no idea when that will come.
If if that day does come, there is no guarantee that the protest will have any real effect. You see, there is an entire industry of “non-lethal” and “less-lethal” weaponry that serves authority, enabling them to control and disperse crowds in new and innovative ways that the police in Birmingham Alabama during the civil rights movement could only dream about.
S0 enough bullshit. What’s the endgame?
Let me just say that throughout history, the powerful have never voluntarily given up that power.