You say you want a revolution, well…

Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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92 Responses

  1. E.D., hope you saw the Times piece I linked to in my latest post. It shows more than a few Occupiers echoing your sentiments about the physical occupation no longer being important — in some ways, in fact, threatening to obscure the more overarching goals — and mentioning how technology allows them to be far more ambitious than just sitting in a park.

    I don’t know if I’ve said it here yet or just in my head, but I think social movements are like sharks in that they must always keep moving (which means changing). The first few weeks of Occupy were brilliant in large part because people were being so creative and active then — first the occupation, then the march to the brooklyn bridge, then the march to times square, then the marches to banks to withdraw accounts, etc. All of that action, that newness, is really vital, and it sounds like many of the OWS leadership (whether they want to call themselves that or not) knows that better than anyone.Report

    • E.C. Gach in reply to Elias Isquith says:

      What I haven’t been able to understand (unless I’ve just not been paying attention) is why there hasn’t been seemingly better integration of one-day marches and focal events…like the B-bridge moment, where Occupy protesters are able to swell numbers for a limited time and momentary blitz of public solidarity.

      I know there were reports that OWS was planning events prior to the park being cleared.  But over time, I feel like a kind of complacency arose.

      For instance, I live in Philly, not too far from the OP camp downtown (a long walk/short ride on the El).  If I knew there were going to be a special even at some point, I’d be down there to check it out.  But as it stands, if I were to go down there out of the blue most days all I’d see is just people living, which might be great for them, but hardly attractive from a protest point of view.

      Where’s Ariana Huffington and her squad of Mega Buses?  Where are the speaker events and marches?  The whole thing seems to be reveling in its own inertia.Report

  2. Michael Drew says:

    Thanks Erik.

    I definitely was to some extent knowingly exaggerating your early support for the movement in order to make my point.  You did indeed express misgivings with the movement’s modus operandi early on and signalled less than full support.  So I’ll simply cop to a slight distortion for my own purposes there; it goes without saying that you speak for yourself where the trajectory of your relationship to OWS is concerned.

    I tend to very much agree with you that, even if the movement wants to continue to focus on wage stagnation and inequality, in the short run the way to address thesd matters is with jobs.  They should focus in on a point of leverage on which they can engage on that topic in the context of the 2012 election. That should be the short term focus of the movement on the policy front.

    The problem is, it probably won’t.  That’s because, while the movement’s brain should probably be concerned with jobs in the short run, its heart, and a good deal of its broad appeal (to the extent it retains one) lies in the issue of inequality.  Specifically, the perceived soft treatment of the top 1% and especially the 0.1% and 0.01%  of income earners.  To the extent OWS isn’t just a youth movement agitating for jobs, it is a movement of middle-class resentment of their own stagnating wages in the face of skyrocketing high incomes.

    Don’t get me wrong: I think that resentment is well-earned, and something that is worthy of agitating for policy response.  But it is a distinctly second-tier concern in the midst of a jobs crisis.  In order to get to full employment, we ought to accept current levels of inequality for long as need be – if! need be.  But I think it is a more salient concern for a broader swath of the general public than is joblessness.

    I have some personal anecdotal data to support this.  (Some of the most heated debates I’ve had with liberal friends is over Obama’s capitulation on the Bush tax cuts, which to me was a straightforward forced move on which Obama had no defensible policy alternative but to avoid a placing a further contractionary burden on the spending part of the economy in the midst of a demand shortfall.  But most of my liberal friends disagreed.

    But Greg Sargent reports some more concrete data to back this up as well.  As an aside, I found it fishy when it was reported that the public’s views on the issues OWS has raised have turned around so suddenly.  That’s because they haven’t. Yes, views of the movement itself have turned, and so when you ask the simple question, “Do you support or oppose the goals of the Occupy Wall Street movement?”, you get a mildly negative response.  But when you actually ask about those goals (without mentioning the movement), you find that the public continues to share the movement’s main concerns (same link).

    However, if you look at the polling Sargent cites closely, you see one thing that is strikingly not reflected: interest in addressing the jobs crisis that our country faces.  (Granted, in this case the lack of interest is the result of the lack of a question about it, but that itself is revealing.)  But this makes some sense: the majority of the public has a job.  They work hard, and majorities find the level of inequality to be something they want the government to address, and think it is fair to ask the wealthiest to pay more in taxes.  Unemployment, on the other hand, is something that in many cases they hear about on the news.

    What we see, then, is that for OWS, much as for responsible officeholders themselves, there are twin problems – both very serious, both very real substantive.  Unemployment and inequality.  It’s not inappropriate to pay attention to inequality in this situation, but the fact of the matter is that substantively the jobs crisis is the more fundamental and more urgent of these two problems.  But it appears as though inequality may actually be the better seller of the two.  President Obama has rightly focused more on jobs, albeit only insofar as he has made it the theme of his campaign, and then really only as a means to establishing Congress as do-nothing nothing-doers.  But it is nonetheless the right focus.

    My fear is that OWS will take a look at their options and the polling and decide that their true calling is to focus exclusively on inequality as such, since the powers that be are in the thrall of anti-tax ideology and fear of being branded class warriors.  But now is not the time for that.  The public’s concern with the levels of inequality we have will endure as long as those levels do. In the short run, the thing that can most fight inequality, and the thing that would indeed help the movement’s own members the most, is to focus on advocacy for meaningful measures to restore demand and employment in the economy.  This means studying and learning about the debate about how that can be done, and somehow identifying a few measures to advocate.  The inequality message needn’t be abandoned, but, for now, it is essential that, whatever the outcome of next year’s elections, the problem of lack of jobs is kept at the forefront of the national discussion.Report

    • Kim in reply to Michael Drew says:

      please please please don’t say full employment. the words give me hives. 😉 [seriously, you mean something healthy, like 3% unemployed?]Report

    • Michael Drew,

      “It’s not inappropriate to pay attention to inequality in this situation, but the fact of the matter is that substantively the jobs crisis is the more fundamental and more urgent of these two problems.

      I agree completely. The goal should be getting people jobs first and then working on pay second. Ideally, those OWS people would get jobs where they would be able to help make their employer more profitable and share in that wealth. I think a big part of the negative public reaction to OWS is that we assume that these people want positions created for them with with good benifits and great pay and they want to just be plugged in as a reward for their 4-year degree. I don’t hear any talk of innovation or entrepreneurship (which strikes me as odd because I have always heard that start-ups boom in down economies).  This ‘dependence’ on busineeses to create jobs for them comes off as entitlement and that’s a very un-American concept.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

        We want to live in a country where college graduates can get goods jobs.  I realize that is radical and un-American, but there it is.  We have lived in that country pretty much without major discontinuity for about fifty years.  Now considerable doubt has been cast on the prospect for that string of good fortune to continue.  There is going to be a reaction, and there should be.  You can be as grumpy as you want about it and call the desire for a good job after seventeen years of schooling entitlement if you so desire, but these remain things that we should want for today’s young adults as much as they want it.  We’d all be better off.  It’s a healthy thing to want the kind of decent, entry-level job that can pay the bills while you decide what career to pursue (mail-room, reception, whatever that existed when you started your Art History degree to be there when you finish it.  Three years of jobless recovery is no trifling problem for a person with few entries on their resume.  Resent them all you want for it, I think it’s healthy and encouraging that we’re hearing from these people and they’re not just accepting the new status quo without protest.  They want jobs.  That makes them entitled?

        I’m not sure you hear how ridiculous and ugly you sound saying that people who are rallying for policies to help create jobs are displaying entitlement and un-American attitudes.  Aren’t there other websites where those views are more mainstream? Perhaps you’d be more comfortable elsewhere, Mike.Report

        • I hear a lot less complaining about there being no jobs. Instead it sounds like they are complaining that the jobs they WANT aren’t available. That’s entitlement.

          And what specific policies are they rallying for that would create jobs? All I hear is that complaining that Wall Street stole everyone’s money and that Uncle Sam should forgive their school loans. Oh and apparently now they are maybe going to go after school systems for creating inequality.

          And seriously this?

          “Aren’t there other websites where those views are more mainstream? Perhaps you’d be more comfortable elsewhere, Mike.

          I don’t even have the words for how ridiculous that statement is.Report

          • E.C. Gach in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

            With respect to entitlements, they can be both good and bad.

            I feel entitled to free speech and affordable food.  If neither existed in my country, I would still feel on solid ground to demand they be implemented.  So simply calling a sentiment or policy an entitlment shouldn’t be grounds for invalidating it.

            Articulating the need for more “middle class jobs,” no matter how seemingly ambiguous, is clear enough I think.  In the representative democracy we live in, where democracy is not direct, and propositions/referendums are not the norm most places, tasking a populist movement with coming with the policy agenda that will get them what they want is a bit silly.

            The technocrats and elected legislators are suppose to do that bit.  The people tell them what they want, and, ideally, they either deliver or explain why that’s not possible, and then face the public opinion outcome.

            Clearly, that’s not how our democracy often functions, and it would be better if, on average, when an OWS person were interviewed they had some good policy soundbites ready.  But when debating the merits of their grievances, claiming that the patient should be responsible for having the cure is just nonsense.Report

            • My point is not that the generic ‘We need more jobs’ is entitlement. What I am saying is that ‘Companies in the US are at fault because they are not creating more well-paying jobs for college graduates’ is when they cross the line.

              What’s interesting is that there are all of these well-educated people hanging out all day long and I suspect none of them have ever put their heads together and thought about how they could go into business for themselves.Report

              • E.C. Gach in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                America’s middle class has been bleeding members to the lower and upper ends for a while now.  Go to any city, and there’s a startling divide between the people working in the service/servant industry, and those working jobs lucrative enough to pay for all the servant services. 

                So I don’t think that a demand for more middle of the road jobs is that out of line.  Everyone wanting enough 9-5 jobs for those qualified to obtain them, despite being utopian, doesn’t seem ridiculous on its face.  It may not be readily achievable, but it seems like a good enough goal.  Now whether the gov. should have a hand in bringing that on is another question, but I don’t think it directly contradicts that as a good aim of society at large.

                To your second point, while I think a majority of the more angsty protestors probably haven’t, I think on the whole there are a lot of less vocal supporters, and certainly sympathizers, who would love a policy that attempted to make business loans easier to obtain.  If trial and error, creative destruction, and all the rest is good for business, it seems we aught to encourage captial to take more decentralized risks in the form of start-up ventures.  We don’t want another bubble, but I think there are more good ideas and more people willing to work implementing them than the amount of available capital is willing to take a chance on.

                Righting that imblance, to the degree that it exists, should be at the top of everyone’s list (targeted tax holidays, regulation waivers, etc. short of giving investors free money).Report

              • I guess it all depends on why you think the middle class is losing jobs. Personally I think basing your career goals around unskilled manufacturing is probably a bad idea. Other people might say it’s the companies’ faults for shipping jobs overseas.Report

              • E.C. Gach in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

                Personally I think basing your career goals around unskilled manufacturing is probably a bad idea.

                Which is why I’m suggesting that investing in industries with more potential to higher more skilled/higher educated workers is important.

                When unskilled labor when overseas, unskilled labor at home either got worse paying jobs or dramatically re-tooled/re-educated, and got higher paying jobs. 

                The problem is that while more people got educated (and on average, all things being equal, I’m willing to argue that a college educated worker is more desirable than only someone with a high school diploma), there weren’t jobs waiting for them.

                I’m not sure how someone can climb the ladder when it’s missing a bunch of rungs in the middle.Report

              • The problem is that while more people got educated (and on average, all things being equal, I’m willing to argue that a college educated worker is more desirable than only someone with a high school diploma), there weren’t jobs waiting for them.

                It’s not that the jobs aren’t waiting for them – it’s that the salaries aren’t there. I think the more important question might be people’s income and lifestyle expectations straight out of college.Report

              • E.C. Gach in reply to E.C. Gach says:

                Jobs that required that level of education?  No there weren’t/aren’t.

                And jobs with the kind of income required to pay off school loans, move out with a roomate, and pay travel expenses?  There just aren’t enough.

                Fault the schools or the gov, but the point is that there are people with a college degree and not enough work for which they are qualified.

                One solution is to just deal with it, but that’s most certainly a sub-optimal one, for everyone invovled (banks, business, young workers).Report

          • Michael Drew in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

            I’m entirely comfortable suggesting that if their demanding the things they are demanding – policies that spur the creation of good jobs, addressing extreme inequality, and the end to government-enabled private undermining of the economy through financial shenanigans – is enough for you to call them not only entitled, which is harsh, but civil, but un-American, which, while likely a compliment to many, nevertheless ugly, then perhaps you would be more *comfortable* finding a website where the views expressed are more akin to yours.  Entirely comfortable.  I’m not sure what’s ridiculous about it.Report

            • I elaborated on what I mean by entitled – feel free to read through the comments.

              And it sure seems like you are trying to either enforce some kind of ideologocial purity OR you are under a mistaken impression that I am looking for a bunch of fellow travelers. Also, I can promise you there are other commenters that feel pretty much the same way i do or a close variation.

              I’ve been here longer than you. Lots of your comments strike me as not homogenous with the group. I don’t recall ever suggesting you move on. Shame on you Michael.Report

  3. scott says:

    I don’t have a particular bone to pick with you about your criticisms of tactics, structure, etc.  I guess my take is that the Occupy folks, however badly led or badly organized, are the first set of people in the last few years who actually tried in a mass way to get people talking about the way our economy and polity have been looted and the world economy sent into crisis by our financial and political “leaders.”  So my reaction is to applaud that and to sympathize with it.  Neither political party really gives much of a damn about it, and neither does the media.  So you have a world where a billionaire like Bloomberg gets to use an outsized media megaphone to blame the economic crisis on shiftless ne’er-do-wells unfathomably allowed to buy houses and (somehow) gull our tender-hearted and trusting banks to loan to them.  If there’s a group of folks out there with the impulse to resist this sort of thing and to put themselves physically on the line to do it, I’d like to cut them some slack while they try to figure out how to make this work.  Because I don’t notice anyone else clamoring to take the lead in resisting the increasing political and economic domination in this country of the many by the few.Report

  4. Rufus F. says:

    I think a lot of people will say this proves that a voluntary society can’t work. 

    Those would be people who can only think of a society in terms of a nation-state. We all have experiences of small-scale voluntary societies at different times in our lives, and, yes, they tend to be transitory. It doesn’t mean that the model isn’t more appropriate to certain organizations than the top-down hierarchical model that the unimaginative go to first, last, and always. Probably what’s happening with this generation is they have lots of experience with online versions of voluntary “societies” and want to try it out in the real world.

    I would also tell these people that they need to stop and read Hakim Bey’s book on the concept of a Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ)- even though it’ll probably wig them out.Report

  5.  “…and I think OWS has foundered on the breakers of its own stubborn insistence that to continue they must continue to physically occupy somewhere.”

    Unfortunately this seems to be a branding problem. I’m trying to remember if it was an issue for the Tea Party.  


    “I’m glad they shifted the conversation to economic inequality.”

    The 1% thing was smart because it casted a very wide net looking for membership. Pretty much all of us could call ourselves part of the 1% so there was (in theory) less chance of alienating a significant part of the population. This also makes me think their broader message of income inequality is a much trickier thing. There are so many different variables in that conversation and even among economists there is disagreement about just what causes that inequality. Hard to create a coherent message around that.

    I would also add that considering the angry overtones that have marked the Occupy movement it’s hard to imagine they will create a message that actually acknowledges market forces in the creation of inequality. Instead they will look to blame individuals for consciously manipulating the economy to create said inequality. That will create animosity, both sides entrench and then nothing gets accomplished.Report

  6. Ethan Gach says:

    Just to give an unfolding example of what I wrote above:

    “Nationwide, today has been designated a “day of action,” and in Philly, Occupy, Fight for Philly, Action United and others were planning to mark the occasion at 4 p.m. with a march to the “structurally deficient” Market Street bridge to protest crumbling infrastructure. But it looks like today won’t be the day for Occupy to get back on message after this week’s battle over whether the demonstrators should or shouldn’t stand their ground on City Hall’s Dilworth Plaza.

    Instead, within the past 24 hours the march has been replaced on today’s schedule with discussions on possible “self-eviction” from the site. “According to the legal collective, because we likely do not have a legal claim to free speech at Dilworth due to the imminent construction, we have a slim chance of winning a court battle for an injunction to force the city to let us stay there.  However, our chances of claiming a site in the name of free speech are increased if we move to another location,” Occupy posits.”

    I live 10 blocks from that bridge.  It’s where I catch the bus in the morning to go to work, and where I come back into the city at night to go home. 

    But instead of making a visible impression, instead of protesting a simple and explicit thing, failing infrastructure, there needs to be upwards of 7 hours of deliberation to figure out where to move to.  I’m glad to see the OP people are abandoning one of their current sites, but by all reports this is an issue they could have figured out weeks ago.Report

  7. Stillwater says:

    All these posts on Occupy X posts make me chuckle a little. From the comfort of our keyboards we judge them for having no clear message, insufficient vision, lack of an organized outreach program, etc. all the while pinning our fading hopes on them. They don’t owe us anything. Or me, anyway. Why do we feel compelled to judge them if we’re not gonna get in their Drum Circle?Report

    • E.D. Kain in reply to Stillwater says:

      Yes, I know, this is the standard response to any sort of critique of any sort of movement. Well, for starters what if we’re not big on the drum circle model? For seconds, this is what bloggers do for good or ill and what we’ll continue to do. For thirds, I’m not an activist. And I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with writing about something that you’re not actively a part of. I also write critically of politicians. Should I withhold my judgment until I too become a politician?Report

      • Stillwater in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        Of course you’re entitled to your opinion of them and what they’re doing. But the current run of Occupy X posts strike me as being very similar to a guy who says he reallyreally likes this girl and they could have a great relationship together if only she were different…Report

      • Gong Szeto in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        The barrier to entry to becoming a politician is high. The barrier to entry to being on the ground at/with OWS, if only to soak up *information* if not messy emotional content, is, well, NIL. Man up and challenge your precious sense of superiority masked as journalistic circumspection. Costs you *nothing*.Report

        • E.D. Kain in reply to Gong Szeto says:

          And actually what you just said makes no sense. Which costs me precious time unfortunately.Report

          • Gong Szeto in reply to E.D. Kain says:

            It makes perfect sense. You’re the “J” in Meyers-Briggs tests. And you’ve figured out a way to make a living at it. But I hope you self-identify with more than being a second tier blogger. You are also a citizen of this country, and the political-economic system is FUBAR. You are telling me that you don’t have the time to suck up your intellectual pride and get dirt under your fingernails by swimming in the thrall of history unfolding? To take a risk? I’m sorry, but you don’t get a pass. Remember Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech. And remember all those journalists who report from the front lines. True grit is absolutely not something I see in this post. Democracy is messy. You want clinical critical detachment. One can do/be both. E.D., none of this is an abstraction, not when grannies are getting punched in the face by the police. Granny, mind you, has the grit you seem to lack.Report

            • E.D. Kain in reply to Gong Szeto says:

              No, you’re still not making any sense. I’m not saying that I have any desire whatsoever to be a part of occupy wall street at all. Why would I take a risk doing something I have no investment in? You’re odd hostility aside, this is just you projecting on to me what you think other people ought to do in order to grant their opinions any legitimacy. I say I can have a legitimate opinion about OWS without being a part of it. This has nothing to do with risk. But okay, we can play at this game. You have no right to have an opinion about Wall Street until you become an investment banker. Go on, take a risk!Report

              • One part of his point is that saying you need to be a pol before criticizing is unfair since being a pol is so hard to do. Being a OWSer, otoh, is easy.

                Another part — not really necessarily connected, but he does so — is to say that anyone who doesnt think things in the USA are going well should be down with the OWSers, otherwise they’re either on the opposite side, full of it, or both. And even if you want to take the stance of a non-partisan journalist, you’re a wuss for not actually going into the scrum and experiencing it first-hand.

                I think he’s making sense, I just don’t agree with him.Report

              • It’s not hard to be a politician. Just run for office. You don’t have to win. The point is that experiential information is not the only kind, nor is it in fact necessary for us to have an opinion. That’s just an old, tired dodge – a way to deflect criticism without having to respond to it.

                It’s a close cousin to “If you don’t like America why don’t you move somewhere else?”Report

              • No, saying that criticism demands expulsion *isn’t* the same as saying experience is the only relevant criterion, beyond their both being wrong and ugly sentiments.

                But if I’m writing a criticism of pols in DC and K street and lobbying, it’s definitely *not* easy for me to go and experience it. Even simply running for office is not as easy as walking down to your local occupied space. C’mon.

                I think it’s arguable, though, that the kind of criticisms you’re making of OWS are comparably difficult to act out. OWS is unwieldy, with a lot of people, and you can’t exactly just strut on down and tell people what to do.

                The heart of his pique though, I think, stems from the idea that anyone who disagrees with the present political economy *has* to support OWS.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to E.D. Kain says:

                That’s an interesting thought, EDK.  Until you’ve contributed something to the economy, shut up about it.


              • Mike Schilling in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Agreed.  Don’t go on about what heroes entrepenurs are until you’ve seen them in action close up.Report

              • Gong Szeto in reply to E.D. Kain says:

                I work for a $5B hedge fund. I’ve worked on Wall Street for 15 years. I have opinions. And no, you don’t have to be a part of it. You don’t have to be a part of anything, E.D. FWIW, I just taught a 4 week course on OWS up at Bennington. I can armchair just as well as anyone. Odd hostility? No, just frustration that you’re only at the stage you’re at. I had an 18 year old from Pakistan map out OWS’ issues using root cause analysis in a single week, elegantly showing what partisanship exists in the space of possible remedies to the many grievances that lay therein. We did this in the ivory tower, not different from wherever you are sitting. The only difference, is that this 18 year old wrote the piece (visually) after the last sentence in this post. Which will be translated into a pretty robust policy framework for the world to kick the tires on. You might shit on her findings, but in my book, she got her proverbial fingernails dirty without actually being at OWS and without actually *siding* with OWS, which you seem to be so repulsed by. And she’s not even an American citizen. Had to ramp up on US politics pretty quickly. Even you disagreed with her deconstruction and strawman proposals, you’d still be impressed with her pluck.

                OK, E.D. – I’ll throw you a bone. This link is the 99% Working Group’s public and shared Google Doc, outlining their “ideas” for building up 99% candidates. As far as I know, this represents the state of the art of their thinking. Sadly, it’s only 1.1 pages long. As far as I am concerned, you have a choice:

                1) Ridicule this document for its flimisiness, or

                2) Add to the document using your very best ideas at how to advance a country where something like an OWS or Tea Party might not actually need to exist.

                My benjamin on you choosing #1.


                Elias – “scrum”, “wuss” – you are a better wordsmith than I.Report

              • E.D. Kain in reply to Gong Szeto says:

                Okay, so an 18 year old did a project that was neat. That’s great. Good for her. My observation would be that this is a lot more useful than sleeping in a tent in Zuccotti Park. You want me to add ideas to the 99% document. Great, the whole point of my post is that it’s time to focus on ideas instead of the occupation itself. I’m entirely confused by what nit you’re actually picking.

                I haven’t ridiculed anybody (though you might find my earlier posts on the inaccuracy of the 99% slogan itself to be such) but you do apparently have reading comprehension difficulties.Report

              • Kolohe in reply to Gong Szeto says:

                You know, Glen Beck loved to draw diagrams on chalkboards that explained everything, too.

                Just saying.Report

              • E.D. Kain in reply to Kolohe says:

                I’m just trying to figure out exactly what is being said. We should all do the same thing? Different things? Bloggers shouldn’t blog, they should go dance in the park? Or…draw diagrams? Critics of the movement shouldn’t critique, they should just clap happily with dumb grins on their face? What? No value unless we’re yes-men?Report

              • I think maybe he felt you were disengaging and the perception of you being wishy-washy or easily discouraged was what he found aggravating? He’s obviously capable of explaining himself, though, so I should probably just shut it and let him do so.

                BTW I work downtown and it was a nuthouse today. Cops everywhere. A little unnerving, to be honest. It’s a rainy, ugly day; and with the cacophony from so many police trucks, vans, buses, cars, men and women milling about, I kind of felt like I was Clive Owen during the opening moments of “Children of Men” (but maybe that’s just because I’ve had that film on the brain).

                Anyway, I think I’ll save my thoughts about it for a post later tonight, but I think the way today was appreciably more chaotic and intense than things have been down here — at least since the pepper-spray incident — is significant.Report

              • E.D. Kain in reply to E.D. Kain says:

                The cops haven’t exactly done themselves a favor throughout all of this either, I should note. Yeah, I’m feeling pretty annoyed by all sides. But I feel annoyed by the OWS folks because I tend to agree with their message on economic inequality and I think this insistence on tent-cities is hampering the movement. But sure, I bet it’s very exciting to be a part of.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to E.D. Kain says:

                He’s obviously capable of explaining himself, though,

                For some (minimal) value of “obvious,” perhaps.Report

              • Roger in reply to Gong Szeto says:


                Interesting. When I got to it I kept thinking I didn’t know how to turn pages…where is the rest of it? Then I went back to your comment on its length. OH!

                It is basically a set of standards and a request for democratic input via GENERAL ASSEMBLY.Report

    • I try not to judge and to instead offer my worthless advice. I’m generally kind of uncomfortable writing about it for the reason you mention. I’ve gone down a few times and given some money etc.; but I’m still worried someone might notice I’m in my pajamas and covered in cheeto’s dust.Report

      • If you can write, write. I doubt you’re any more helpful camped out in the square. Why is writing about it any less helpful?Report

        • I would suggest you’re actually MORE helpful writing.Report

          • Michael Drew in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

            Maybe now that the physical occupation is temporarily (or not) discontinued (or not), an individual good writer would be more effective writing than occupying.   Obviously lots of people wrote while in the Park, and wrote by night while occupying by day. So it’s not like it was either/or.   Maybe really good writers would have been more effective just writing all along.  But let’s not pretend nothing happened here that couldn’t have been accomplished without a physical manifestation – just by a bunch of bloggers stepping up their keystrokes, without people getting out there and making an annoyance of themselves.  The fact is that the occupation is what spurred the shift to thinking about inequality and the plight of the unemployed and indebted – and directed the attention of writers and bloggers to these problems in a renewed and coordinated way.  Without the ‘Occupy’ of OWS, there would have been nothing in particular to focus on in writing about these issues.  No new facts.  Occupy literally changed the facts on the ground, and continues to.  Not entirely for the best, perhaps, but it is absurd to pretend there was a there there for writers to write about without it.  Yes, the issues existed, but the whole reason for the protests was that the issues themselves were not enough to draw focused, sustain attention to them.  Occupy Wall Street changed the behavior of people who write and think about the issues they were concerned about, a fact evident on this website, and so to say that people would have been better off just writing about these issues (I can’t tell if Mike or Erik are saying that, or saying that they should focus on writing just now that the occupation has been broken) is quite properly absurd.Report

        • Well, it’s not the writing so much as the NOW DO THIS, HIPPIES! that sometimes I secretly kind of want to do. But you’re right. It’s kind of (implicitly) anti-intellectual to think that writing is inherently less valuable.Report

        • Bozo The Imbecile in reply to E.D. Kain says:

          Nice profile there E.D.  Are those dreadlocks?Report

      • Kim in reply to Elias Isquith says:

        I’ve given on this side too. Figure it’s worth it just for the chaos. (see civil rights movement)Report

    • Ethan Gach in reply to Stillwater says:

      My own feelings are that, as a movement with national visibility, the people involved are to a degree, for better or worse, representing more than just themselves.

      As a generally perceived “youth” movement, their failings reflect on youth politics as a whole and effect the ability of youth movements to be taken seriously in the future.

      Even more to the point, as a anti-establishment liberal, I don’t like to see my values made a laughing stock of because those who would most actively declare them do so with half-baked reasoning and clownish assemblage.Report

    • MFarmer in reply to Stillwater says:

      “all the while pinning our fading hopes on them.”

      Uh… not I.Report

  8. James Hanley says:

    But ideas cannot be evacuated. Time to work on the ideas.

    Well-stated, Mr. Kain.

    As to the occupy aspect, I suspect it’s hard to give up because it creates a sense of place and connection to the movement that isn’t so easy to replace.  You’re not just getting together for meetings occasionally with your fellows, you’re living with them full-time.  That kind of “space where I belong” is psychologically hard to let go.  And given the lack of clear organizational goals, it’s not clear what a person is giving it up for.

    That’s not an argument against Elias and Erik, who I think are both right about what the movement needs to do next.  But I think it explains why taking that right step is so damned hard for some of them.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to James Hanley says:

      “You’re not just getting together for meetings occasionally with your fellows, you’re living with them full-time. That kind of “space where I belong” is psychologically hard to let go. ”

      Which is why cults and suchlike spend so much time in remote, secluded compounds. The True Believer strikes again!Report

  9. Ethan Gach says:

    Though it never hurts to put things in perspective:


    • scott in reply to Ethan Gach says:

      Um, yeah.  I know who I feel more sympathy for, and I wish them well as they try to figure out how best to fight the guys in the cartoon looking down on them from a great height.  Something to keep in mind as we fearlessly take on and critique the tactics of those fighting on the lopsidedly small end of this particular battle.Report

    • Roger in reply to Ethan Gach says:

      This cartoon would be spot on if the artist had only added a caricature of Uncle Sam up their with his cronies.Report

    • Scott in reply to Ethan Gach says:


      What perspective? I’m not sure what fantasy OWS camp Luckovich thought he was drawing. He didn’t show the violence, drugs, disease and filth. He is is a liberal propagandist and should be ignored.Report

    • MFarmer in reply to Ethan Gach says:

      The smoke from the cigs are supposed to be in the form of dollar signs.Report