Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm Against Formless Protests

I've thought and thought about how exactly to approach the Occupy Wall Street movement, from a philosophical/blog post perspective.  The recent emptying of Zuccotti Park, along with the string of news items about the movement in general really catalyzed me on one, firm point.

I'm against formless protests.

When OWS first started, the cottage industry became sharpening the points of a bunch of disparate interests in the mob, much as they had hyperventilated over what the now-vaporous Tea Party movement meant for all the brave, armed, flag-wearin' folk that marched around a couple of summers ago.  Then, of course, the media degenerated to picking out the freaks, as we are all wont to do when confronted with a mass of humanity.  It was all about the venereal disease, trash and infection, resistance to armed force, and occasional accidents/overdoses/deliberate suicides and on and on, until the mass of humanity camped out there were all just unwitting knots of data to be mined by a gluttonous pack of sycophantic news organizations, eager to please slavering TV audiences with new outrages.

So here's my point; how could this story have better furthered the causes which drove these folks to camp outside in the winter?

How about have a coherent, group point before going out there?

Think about it; the story became whatever the media wanted it to be, instead of what most of them wanted to say.  Sure we saw some truths out there, but really, is anyone confused about why folks marched from Selma to Montgomery, even if it had happened in today's 24-hour news culture?  No.  Their point was clear before they exposed themselves to the heat.

Had OWS formed and tried to use political power, or marched with a purpose, then perhaps the hole in their media flank would not have been so easy for the rampaging phalanx of the media to penetrate.  Instead of a policy prescription, it was just a generalized, "Hey, I'm Pissed!" and it left the world to watch the freak show, instead of truly contemplate a force to be reckoned with regarding the forming of society.

In the end, each generation waits, as the chairs occupied by the previous one (in this case, retiring baby boomers) are emptied, and the big game of musical chairs begins to see who'll be rich, who's the handsomest, who'll get the cute girls and who will run the show, forming real policy that will affect real people and make America a better place.  In the case of OWS, to use the previous metaphor, instead of trying to grab a chair, the general malaise of the movement was like a bunch of kids lying on the floor, too perplexed at their condition, or perhaps too coddled by a fattened corporate culture to truly protest with a bone-deep conviction.  Instead they mucked up the works, made other, more focused and committed lefty liberal-progressives like yours truly look like a condomless, unemployed, dirty freak trying to get laid with a fatty at the drum circle.

Here's the question, for those who read the above and are sputtering in outrage; has this movement advanced the conversation at all?  Are we talking more about income inequality, in a way that will lead to institutional change, or are we gawking at the guy with the tinfoil hat and laughing?

I say good riddance, if the law enforcement steps underway and the coming cold season drives the mobs from camping on public parks.  I'm all for protests, but if there is no conviction, it is as plainly obvious as when those convictions count more than life itself.

UPDATE: Or, as the Butcher said in Gangs of New York;
I know your works. You are neither cold nor hot. So because you are lukewarm, I will spew you out of my mouth.

UPDATED AGAIN: Looks like people are starting to agree with me.

YET MORE UPDATES: Yup, I was right, the kick back against the protesters has consumed the "newshole;"
Last week, the U.S. economy was the No. 1 story at 22% of the newshole, with the majority of that coverage focused on the confrontations between protesters, law enforcement, and the city governments that preside over the public spaces that have become encampments. All totaled, the Occupy Wall Street story accounted for 13% of the overall newshole during the week of November 14-20... That coverage marked a major spike from the week before when media attention to the protests had dropped to just 1% of the newshole.


So really, does anyone think leaving 30 tons of trash behind helped anyone think better about the goals of the movement?