OWS: 6 Weeks In; Still No Strategy
Alex Cacioppo – Contributing Editor – @ BylineBeat
(Brooklyn, New York) As I attempted to enter the Media tent, a facilitator said, “You’re not allowed here,” and extended his left hand against me in the imitation of a slow shove. A huge blue tarp protected a small warren of activists calling for volunteers as the cold snap of wind and hail wailed around the four corners of Liberty Plaza. A very early blizzard had swept over and around a hunkered-down encampment. “There’s fuckers in the tents,” this reporter overheard one man saying. Indeed, how else to keep warm? A tuba player surrounded by ponchoed revelers belted out a hearty rendition of “This Land is Your Land,” as the clouds punished the streets with sheets of small ice bullets. The global hub of what was promised to be the “booster rocket” for a Second American Revolution, according to the radical leftist outlet MarketWatch, was on my sixth visit to the miniature impression of a 21st-century Hooverville planted on the real estate of Wall Street’s backyard.
There is a perception that this scene, while resonant with many people (43 percent of the public, according to a CBS/NYT poll), is more symbolic than concrete; too much cipher and not enough pragmatic action and direction. The public deserves to know what O.W.S. stands for; they are mostly aware of what it opposes. The movement is now about a month-and-a-half old, very young for a social movement but old enough to begin to make serious decisions. A common perception that must be addressed somehow is that the Wall Street occupation is too frenetic and fragmented. Yet perhaps these qualities reflect the larger society itself. For the past two generations, our country has lost a sense of common purpose and with it has gone the public spaces needed to bring people together to find out what that purpose is going to be.