Tuesday, November 15, 2011

We're Just Getting Started

If you read as much World War II history as I do, you understand the purpose of midnight raids. It's a domination thing, an overt show of force against an opponent who is too tired and disoriented to resist. This has been standard counter-insurgency practice for more than half a century so seeing it in action in Zucotti Park should surprise no one.

And it was bound to happen. Mike Bloomberg doesn't just represent Wall Street, he is Wall Street. One of those "self-made" billionaires who bought his way into politics because it was easier than buying politicians to enact the loopy - and repeatedly proven wrong - policies of deregulation. He's been itching to turn the NYPD loose on these people since they first showed up but Bloomberg has been shrewd enough to play things soft. It may be satisfying to send in the riot squads like Oakland but it's always a PR disaster. Hence the NYPD's 2 am raid on #OWS when all the big name papers are asleep.

The realistic Occupiers had to know this was coming. You can't camp out on the oligarchy's front lawn forever, especially with a New York winter fast approaching. That's just simple logistics. If anything, the raid helps as it gets people out before the snow starts falling and the Occupiers would have to start leaving on their own - a tacit admission of defeat which would damage the movement's actual progress. They came, they marched, they got the country talking about the elephant in the room that is our horribly stratified class system, they don't really need to be planted there any longer.

It's the next step that's gonna be tricky. What, you think just 'cause the cops show up the party's over? Now is the perfect time to start presenting some real policy positions, like progressive taxation and breaking up the banks. Or hell, just the re-instatement of Glass-Steagal - the law that kept commercial and investement banks separate since the Great Depression until Rick "CitiGroup" Rubin pushed it into the dust bin in 1999. That right there was the biggest cause of the crash - a crash which will happen again because the people who run Goldman and JP Morgan are still playing roulette with your money.

Eviction won't silence #OWS. It can't. What could though is the same fatal flaw #OWS shares with the Tea Party - they're American. Face it folks, we have no stomach for long fights. Especially when they're not on TV. That was the one benefit to remaining in Zucotti Park, being a regular story for CNN. Without something tangible to point to, the media could easily drift away from the #OWS story and then it becomes just another one of the many silent - and doomed - movements this country has been seeing since the bombs started falling on Afghanistan.

#OWS can succeed but it needs to keep up the pressure. Only 200 were in Zucotti Park when the cops descended - not the whole movement by a long shot. So keep marching, keep protesting, keep visible because the worst thing #OWS could do now is retreat into internet-only soapboxing (shut up). Political change ain't some respectful salon conversation, it's boxing. If the other guy won't go down, you get him on the ropes and make him bleed.

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