Monday, October 17, 2011

Is This #OWS Phase Two?

I happened to see this link "Here Are Occupy Wall Street's Plans For A National Convention That Could Change The Face Of America" tweeted the other day. Since I've been following the Occupy Wall Street movement, and as many of its derivatives as I can find around the country and around the world, almost from the beginning, I was intrigued, because I'd never seen anything like this mentioned before.

So I clicked the link, read the story, and found the original (on which Business Insider's story was based) here: The Steps to Non-Violent Revolution and the Convening of a National General Assembly. As you can see, the Business Insider reporter had simply copied the entirety of this document into her report, which since a link to the original was provided and the document is posted publicly, I assume was fine with all concerned.

That still left the question in my mind, however, whether the above document really expresses the views of the Occupy Wall Street movement in NYC specifically, let alone the views of the various offshoot Occupy movements around the country. All I could find on that score, on the same site as the above document, was this: Who are we?.

So, okay, it appears that some lawyers and maybe at least some of the original protesters collaborated on the document. It appears, let me reiterate, because I don't think the "Who are we?" statement is quite conclusive.

Bottom line: I'm still wondering. The last I've seen out of of the original NYC Occupy Wall Street movement, apart from asking people to close their accounts at some (or all, I'm not too clear on that point) of the country's biggest banks by November 5th of this year was a declaration that their intention was for their occupation to continue more or less indefinitely, and that they expected (or hoped) that other occupiers throughout the country would do likewise. If the document referred to above has ever been discussed at the NYC General Assembly, let alone at the GAs of any of the other Occupy movements around the country, let alone agreed to, I haven't heard about it. Not that there's any particular reason I should have, I hasten to add, since I'm only an observer and not an active participant. Still, I can't help wondering if there is some plan, at some point in the not-too-distant future, for the document to be dusted off, possibly modified to some degree, and presented to the NYC GA and/or other GAs around the country for consideration, and if so, when we might expect that to happen.

As for the actual content of the document: I'm not a lawyer, or even an educated man, so I'll leave the legal feasibility of the proposals made therein alone. On the surface of it, I like some (perhaps all) of the proposals made in the document, but does anyone really think that President Barack Obama (if he manages to pull off a win in 2012), let alone any possible Republican president who might succeed him if he doesn't, will give so much as a rat's rear-end about any "Petition of Grievances?"

When one looks back at the Obama campaign in 2008 and the promises made (or implied) at that time, and adds in the reasons many, many swing-voters, not to mention Democratic progressives voted for Mr. Obama, the way the President has handled most of his first term up until now is almost as if, immediately after taking the oath of office, Mr. Obama looked into a television camera at the American people and said, "Fuck you." Why on earth, if he does manage to be re-elected, would he do any differently in a second term? Particularly since, at that point, he'd have no further need to please anyone or even to pretend to care what the American people think? And the idea of any possible Republican president feeling any differently about it is . . . to state the point moderately, downright laughable.

So then, if I'm reading the document correctly, over a year from now, assuming that the plan outlined in the document is fully agreed-to and fully implemented, we'd be looking at forming another third political party for the 2014 elections, and how often in American history have third parties ever accomplished anything? Admittedly, third parties have, on occasion, managed to split the vote of one of the two major existing parties, but that's about as far as any of them have ever gotten to the best of my knowledge. There's also a serious question in my mind at least as to whether, given the current political climate and the economic mess we're still in (which may get much, much worse at any time in the future, and is hardly likely to improve), the country's still even going to be a viable concern by 2014.

I hope I'm just being pessimistic. I get that way sometimes. And if this really is the plan, I hope that the various GAs across the country (and new ones which may come into being along the way) are able to do all the debating and so on they'd need to do to make this fly. But clearly the existing system is already reacting (in many cases forcefully and even brutally) against the protests in general, and I can't see that getting any better in the foreseeable future. No powerful, entrenched socioeconomic/political system ever changes willingly, and ours in the United States is hardly likely to do so either.

If this all does come about, if a national petition for the redress of grievances can be formulated and adopted on a nationwide basis, I'll be a huge cheerleader for it and those who drew it up. And when that gets slapped down by whomever's in the White House and by the vast majority of whomever's been elected to Congress by then, I'll support a third party, if one arises based on the issues people are protesting about today, too. But I'd be lying if I said I think either a petition or a third party are likely to be effective, to be able to bring about the basic, fundamental changes in our system of governance that I believe most protesters are hoping for.

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