Occupy Wall Street’s presence at the recent May Day protest in NYC was, at best, insignificant and, at worst, detrimental. I was hanging around the usual Occupy crowd that was there. There were a lot of familiar faces and very few unfamiliar ones. This threw up a red flag for me almost immediately because I had issues with these people previously where they had accused me–in so many words–of being an undercover cop because I asked a lot of questions.
After the main march had left, the occupiers were still chortling and hanging around union square when one of them announced that they would be taking a different route and would instead be going to Foley Square to hold a “People’s Assembly”. Now I was left with one of two options: either I followed the main march which was much larger then their small group of, at most, forty people. The other option was to follow the occupy people. I chose to follow them, comforting myself with the notion that the bigger march would probably not be very exciting anyways and that maybe something interesting would occur.
Of course, nothing of the sort occurred. From the start, things were kind of funky.They were throwing the birds at cops and yelling and acting like complete and utter fools while asking onlookers to join them. No one did. Hell, I wouldn’t if I were them either. Then just as I was about to considering ditching them to go march with the main group, they suddenly started running. When I caught up with them, they then announced that they would be joining the main march.
What was the point of that? I do not know. Thankfully, i managed to separate myself from them when I got to the main march and instead marched behind the Party of Socialism and Liberation, a misguided but organized and rowdy group of young communists.
When the march finally came to a halt, a middle-aged lady said to her companion, “Is it over?”
“No,” he replied, with a whimsical smile. “This is going to take many years.”
Too true, I thought to myself. But it was strange how when Occupy first came out on September 17, 2011, it seemed like it was going to be the beginning of another major protest movement the likes of which we had not seen since the 1960’s civil rights and anti-war movements. How the mighty have fallen.
Now exhausted and with little else to do, I wandered over to Foley Square for the “People’s Assembly”. However, the only people I saw there were the familiar faces that I had seen at so many Occupy gatherings in the past. I stayed and watched the occupiers dance like fools as they “explained” the various hand signals that they required for the consensus process.
The consensus process is something that is worth taking time out to mention here. If anyone has ever seen the movie, ’12 Angry Men’ you will know already, with little thought and effort, how the consensus process can be somewhat of a problem–especially when there are way more than 12 people. The idea that consensus can be used as a form of government is absurd. Why occupiers still perpetuate the idea that it works for them, when it is completely clear that it does not, is beyond my comprehension.
So they began taking stack for people to form break out groups to discuss various ideas and topics. I proposed a topic about new people and helping them get assimilated with activism which met with very little interest. Instead I had a discussion with a man who was trying to propose an idea that would open up the cracks in the wall for direct democracy in NYC and elsewhere. But since I didn’t live in NYC, I couldn’t help him.
At this time, the groups were beginning to do report backs but I was long gone. I was on a subway that would take me to Penn Station, which would then take me to a train home. The fact is that Occupy Wall Street, once a fire that was lit under the asses of people frustrated with the system, had deteriorated into nothing but a psuedo-political social clique. This statement is supported by their ineffective and disorganized approach towards activism, which is a word that seems to mean very little when it comes to dealing with ordinary people and their issues. I’m not going to say that Occupy itself is dead, because Occupy can never die. Occupy is a feeling and an idea that expresses the point of view that something is very wrong with the current system and that it must be changed.
However the leaders of Occupy Wall Street, who do not call themselves such, need to take a deep and thoughtful look at what they are doing and get out of their shell enough to back off and let other people take over their roles or else freely admit that their ways aren’t working, and actively seek new ways to change them, because for a so-called “all-inclusive” movement, their attitudes and tactics make for a very exclusive revolution.