Why I Don’t Occupy Places

It was decided at a pessimist convention that there is no point in scheduling one next year.

Sometimes my world-weary, cynical, smug view of the world allows me to see things without the rose-colored glasses many people around me seem to be wearing. It’s not that I have a problem with aimless made-for-youtube demonstrations and camp-outs of the Where in the World Is the Occupy Movement; I passed the test on the Bill of Rights and have a Citizenship Certificate to prove it. I do have a problem with idiotic support and encouragement that otherwise normal people are giving to the movement. I am yet to hear what the real goal of all that noise is.

Once you take out the phrases like “changing the dialog” or “educating the public” which are just as meaningless as “sensitivity training” and “bullying prevention”, what else is left to show for the weeks of living in the tents and walking around with the signs and human microphones?

Unlike most people, I am convinced that the bankers and other targets of protests are perfectly aware that they are not universally beloved and hardly admired. I have no doubt that they know exactly what they are doing when they are scamming the taxpayer and ruining the economy. As a longtime fan and reader of Matt Taibbi I have no illusions about the underhanded dealings of the Wall Street and wherever else the financial and economic scams are being played out. Any person in this country with TV, radio, newspaper or internet access would be hard-pressed to avoid being educated on the subject or at least being minimally aware of it. “Changing the Dialog” implies that there was a dialog to start with and I am yet to discover its existence. Seems like “educating the public”, “changing the dialog” and “showing them we are pissed and won’t take this anymore” are just ways for the protesters to feel better about themselves without actually accomplishing anything.

In this country, much of the social change originated with protests, marches, sit-ins and riots. The occupy movement wants to bring back this longstanding American tradition. However, crediting a protest with producing desired results is oftentimes not as straightforward as it seems. For example, did this 1962 protest in front of the American Embassy in Moscow made the Americans back away from Cuba?

Shame on American Aggressors, Hands off Cuba © Time Inc.Stan Wayman

People in the crowd would think so, but those who know what actually happened would be right to be skeptical.

In my opinion, while the protests are a public face of social change, the real change requires many other conditions to be true to make it happen. Demonstrating all summer for the snow to come doesn’t mean that the protesters can take credit when the snowfall actually happens in December. Thousands of protests go unnoticed like these in Buenos Aires, where people live in front of the Presidential Palace for years.

Someone is occupying this tent in front of Argentinian Congress.

There is a fenced in area in front of the Presidential Palace where people a free to demonstrate and protest as often as they want…

…and no one cares.

Daily protests are so common that the traffic reports routinely include information about the blocked streets.

Even in this country there is history of ignoring protests and even hunger strikes like the one of Charles Hyder back in the 80’s and I don’t see why the government can’t adapt the same policy today. Take away the constant struggle not to be evicted from the tents and the movement will have no purpose left.

I don’t want to be lumped with any group – 1%, 99%, 47%, 64%; in America, where constantly harping about individualism is the national pastime , the ease with which people identify with a group is nothing short of amazing. I have a long history of not supporting the cause of the day. There was no cattle run when I switched to a credit union over 15 years ago, not to make a point but because even then they offered a better deal on banking and still pay me dividends every year just for being a member. I didn’t need hysterical chanting on TV to learn about the financial crisis and its reasons. People in the tents did not advise me to avoid being scammed when I was buying a house. None of these people speak for me or have my interests at heart.

I could make one of those photos that float on the internet by the hundreds of thousands with me holding a sheet of paper with a statement, but that would be lame and unoriginal; I could remind you that today is the 94th anniversary of the original occupy movement that actually succeeded in making everything fair, but that would be too cruel; I could mention that 99% of immigrants I know are gainfully employed, because they are flexible and driven; I could, for example, use this Lenin’s quote I had to memorize in school:

The fundamental law of revolution, which has been confirmed by all revolutions and especially by all three Russian revolutions in the twentieth century, is as follows: for a revolution to take place it is not enough for the exploited and oppressed masses to realise the impossibility of living in the old way, and demand changes; for a revolution to take place it is essential that the exploiters should not be able to live and rule in the old way. It is only when the “lower classes” do not want to live in the old way and the “upper classes” cannot carry on in the old way that the revolution can triumph. This truth can be expressed in other words: revolution is impossible without a nation-wide crisis (affecting both the exploited and the exploiters). It follows that, for a revolution to take place, it is essential, first, that a majority of the workers (or at least a majority of the class-conscious, thinking, and politically active workers) should fully realise that revolution is necessary, and that they should be prepared to die for it; second, that the ruling classes should be going through a governmental crisis, which draws even the most backward masses into politics (symptomatic of any genuine revolution is a rapid, tenfold and even hundredfold increase in the size of the working and oppressed masses—hitherto apathetic—who are capable of waging the political struggle), weakens the government, and makes it possible for the revolutionaries to rapidly overthrow it.

Instead, I just want you to complete the sentence: “As a result of the occupy movement, I expect the following to happen:

  • bank CEOs would resign in shame and return the ill-gotten money;
  • people who stole the money and crashed the economy will be arrested;
  • politicians will stop selling out;
  • new, better, more honest candidates will be elected;
  • the President will stop making back-room deals;
  • world peace;
  • full employment;
  • none of the above;

My answer is obvious. Nothing will happen.

You might ask what my solution to the problem is. As always I don’t have one. Going the election route was tried in 2008, when the Tea Party elected arguably the dumbest set of Congress people in the American history and its opponents elected the most over-hyped President ever. And I know the Revolutionary Situation according to Lenin does not exist because just last year people in the 99% wasted close to a billion dollars on imaginary farm supplies. Most people still don’t identify with the protesters. Most importantly those of us with jobs have better things to do.

So while you camping out in the cold, or taking paid or excused days off to “strike”, I’ll be back here working, paying bills, living my life, waiting for you to go away…

  • Hyperblogal

    This is why I’ve started calling both groups the “Occubaggers.”   Cluelessness on the right and cluelessness on the left to the fact that the solution lies in the middle.

  • Lots of us know where the change will come.  Even if the idealistic young protesters themselves don’t.  If the Russian thinks this is an attempted red revolution, he doesn’t know us as well as he thinks.  ITs like trying to teach someone democracy when he’s never know it.  This is a political movement but most of us know that like a big steamship, it takes a big turn on the wheel and a lot of patience.   I just hope this isn’t like the Titanic where we half assed it and opened up a whole bunch of compartments trying to round it out.

    • In no place did I say I think this has anything to do with revolution. Good luck turning your ship or whatever.

  • mark nunya

    “The Russian” is undoubtedly more well versed on the history, laws, constitution, of this country than 99.99999 percent of the occupy crowd.   Prediction, winter sets in, 99 percent of the .000000001 percent, aka 99ers, pack up their bongos and powdered soy milk and go back to complaining in the comfort of their parents home.
    Good perspective MV. Couldnt agree more.
    Midtown Miscreant

  • mommylinda

    dont think the solution lies in the middle.  It  lies within ourselves.  We spend years keeping the thermostat at 55 in the house because we wanted a paid off house.  Now we are in our  60’s and dont owe any bank anything.  It took some “giving up” in our 20’s and 30’s when everybody else was partying their lives away.

    It is a great liberator when you dont owe anybody anything.  You can basically tell them all to go to hell with no consequences. 

  • The OWS movement was a necessary step, as is will be its undoubted failure. Afterward, when the purging of emotions and frustrations has been completed, perhaps a thoughtful analysis of aims and historical trends will be done –

    * The Supreme Court started the modern banking/credit era in ’78 with Marquette Nat. Bank v. First of Omaha.
    * Congress followed up, for our own good mind you, with the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Act. 
    * Finally the Supremes put a lid on it with Smiley v. Citibank.

    Legally, the banks can and do as they please. Historially, the current occupant of the WH has the full faith and trust of Wall Street, particularly this occupant. Some Congresspeople have tried to reverse the usury/banking laws, but their efforts always fail. When OWS fails…what will be left?


  • I Travel for JOOLS

     The reason people are tea partying and occupying is because there is nobody leading where they are supposed to be leading….in Washington. 

    • I agree, the problem is not on the Wall St., they are just crooks and all three branches of government should be busy treating it as a crime that it is.

  • Bug

    Good point. Nothing can be done, so why bother. The best we can do is maintain the status quo.

  • Bug

    Gotta admit though, it makes one feel pretty damn good to be so much smarter, so much more aware, than all those idiots out there protesting to make themselves feel good. It’s like they’re so clueless they haven’t noticed that having a blog is the easier (not to mention warmer and safer) path to self-satisfaction.

    • you forgot to mention that blog is just about as effective. also I can always say “I told you so”

      • Bug

        Just as effective at creating a sense of self-satisfaction? Yes.
        At spreading the word, actually entering and affecting minds … the limited readership of a blog cannot compare to the global attention of Occupy.

        In my opinion, “I told you so” is a fool’s statement; the consolation prize for having failed to sufficiently convey a necessary truth in time to prevent unnecessary hardship. One gets to soothe their crushed ego (i’m not effective, nobody listens to me), with it’s favorite remedy (i’m right). If the knowledge accomplished no purpose, I fail to see the point in celebrating it; if anything the waste should be mourned.

        • Without speaking in overly dramatic terms, I’ve spent enough time in my life participating and watching protests and demonstrations to consider them a waste of time. I don’t need to be a part of a movement to feel like I am trying to change the world. Just like I expressed in my post, I don’t feel that the occupy movements are doing anything useful: the financial machinations were never a big secret, the job situation is in the news every day, and I am sure most of the people affected by the banking fees would move their money out (but probably not on the same day). I fail to see how standing, marching, or living in a park accomplishes anything. Even worse, if I ever had any good feelings towards the protesters, they evaporated when the unions – the most sellout, whorish, self-protecting organizations in this country, joined in. I work for one, so I would know. 
          It seems like the protesters are disappointed with the results as well, that’s why there will be more and more violence like this http://www.mercurynews.com/twitter/ci_19325023 ,people expect results and when after weeks of sacrifice (I don’t diminish the sacrifice, just its goals) nothing really happens the things will escalate. This is not the first time this has happened in the world so it’s not that unpredictable. How far it will go probably depends, no one wants to be on youtube beating up the protesters but at some point there will be a conflict, likely to be provoked by either side. And please, save the BS about being peaceful for twitter. 
          Lastly, the only legal way to change things in this country is to vote, but there are probably less than 10 people in Congress who are not sold out and the President leads the rest who are bought and sold to various degrees. So short of storming the White House I am not sure what you are hoping to accomplish. In the beginning I mentioned that I am a cynic and a pessimist, you are obviously not, I have no problem with that. Just don’t expect me to suddenly start seeing your light.

  • Have you  gone to any of the rallies to take an accurate head count of how many of the  protesters actually DO have jobs (some w/ multiple jobs) , attend college , are retired or disabled (after having worked long and hard throughout their lives) or who ARE working hard at finding employment when too few jobs are available ?

  • I Travel for JOOLS

    From one of the “elders” on this blog, It seems to me that people want it “all now” and that just isn’t realistic.  I remember buying a house when the interest rates were 18% and the requirement was 20% down.  That was in 1990.  I also remember refinancing that house when the interest rates dropped to 7% and I was thrilled and subsequently paid it off in less than 15 years.  I also remember working my way up from a secretary to a director of a large dept.  But, more than that I remember one young woman who had graduated from KU, spoke 6 languages, applied for and got a job as my secretary and today she is also a director of a large department in another company.  She wasn’t “too good” to start out at a lower position because she could see the future.  If I were to give one piece of advice to young people just starting out, it would be to “see the future.”  Look forward.  Set goals.  Work hard even if you have to mop a few floors to get there.