Sunday, October 16, 2011
Occupy Los Angeles
This is the third time that I have tried to write this post. The difficulty is that the Occupy movements are too complicated to simply label as “good” or “bad.”
On the one hand, people are getting absolutely fucked over, and there are legitimate and righteous reasons to protest the lack of lubrication.
On the other, all the stereotypes that opponents of the movement use to label the protesters are there. There are anarchists and aging hippies and full-time radicals, all of whom don’t want to fix the system, but to smash it.
I don’t think I really need to make the case that people are rightfully angry. The middle-class is being dismantled. The wealth of the country is dramatically being accumulated exclusively in the hands of a few. Corporate personhood has made politicians entirely dependent on the large-money donations that business, labor and ideological groups can provide. When politicians require the support and donations of these groups above the support of the common man, then any mutterings they make about their affinity for the middle-class are simply platitudes.
While I agree with the majority of the complaints that the protesters are making, I am not yet convinced that these groups are capable of creating any kind of actual change. Last night I watched a two hour debate on whether or not Occupy Los Angeles should become a non-profit corporation. The benefits of creating a corporation were that it would allow greater financial transparency, limit the liability of the individuals involved, allow for checks to be written from the movement itself rather than from individuals, and dramatically reduce the inherent risks involved with having a few individuals be entirely responsible for the spending & receiving of the donation dollars.
Unfortunately, “corporation” is such a dirty word that the proposal eventually had to be tabled after hours of debate. This is where radicals in the movement allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. As much as I would love to believe that a leftist utopia is possible, the fact is that it is not. No one speaks for the whole of the movement, least of all me, but I think that the more radical agendas are hindering the possibility of actual changes that can be made in our country. The majority of the country does not want to end the Federal Reserve or try to form a Marxist-style Commune or go back to a gold standard. As I see it, focusing on impossibilities are neither productive nor desirable.
The movement is still quite new, so perhaps it can be forgiven for a lack of a coherent message, but it should happen soon. The current lack of direction allows for opponents of the movement to characterize it as a group of social misfits and crackpots who are just trying to cause trouble. If the legitimate complaints of working and middle-class people are ignored because of the fringe elements of the movement, that would be a real tragedy.