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article imageOp-Ed: Occupation Hibernation's spring thaw and fair-weather protests

By Lynn Herrmann     Feb 15, 2012 in Politics
New York - Lacking a solid foundation for its embryonic social movement and branding itself as a “leaderless resistance movement,” Occupy This and Occupy That appears ready to emerge from a winter blunder and resume its fair-weather protests.
It is no coincidence the Occupy movement has lost what little momentum it had in 2011, taking the winter off to regroup, withering even as the American presidential election process has gathered traction, despite a circus full of clowns, including Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, among others.
As some have suggested, there is much difficulty in trying to interpret Occupy’s activities, even for the Occupiers themselves. There has been no identifiable central leadership, and as a result, a web of small and, while participants themselves will argue the point, insignificant events have emerged.
Take, for instance, Occupy Atlanta’s effort on Tuesday from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m., a protest demanding AT&T “show some love” over its recent announcement of 740 job cuts in the Southeast.
Three hours, not too much of a time constraint. Okay, Iet’s hope right over and be Occupiers. Twelve protesters connected with Occupy Atlanta were arrested on Monday when they attempted to take over the lobby of AT&T’s Midtown Center. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution calls it a “large” number of arrests.
The media in Louisville calls Occupy Louisville, now in its fifth month of encampment, an “often-changing group of homeless,” currently numbering between 15 and 20 winter-hardy souls. A photo accompanying Sunday’s story in the Courier-Journal, taken from inside a tent at Founders Square, shows all the comforts of home: chair, table and laptop.
To their credit, with their tents’ plywood-bottomed floors, exposure to the elements, and the essentials of homelessness, these folks are now experiencing what many Americans will soon discover.
Still, corporate-owned media is doing the movement no favors. It doesn’t end with mainstream media, however. Even normally reliable outlets such as The Nation are adding their two cents worth, with this week’s Occupy Valentine’s Day article a case in point. So many choices for Occupy to occupy during this period of Occupy Hibernation.
Although the We are the 99% tag is catchy, it’s unrealistic. Of the 99 percent purported to be in the movement, a more realistic number would be, perhaps, two percent. Of the magical 99 percent, over half are perfectly content with their clock-punching jobs, perfectly content with their big homes with empty rooms, perfectly content with their paid vacations, health insurance, gas allowances, dental coverage, time-and-a-half for over 40 hours, sick leave, maternity leave, sunny day absences, their rapidly-vanished 401Ks, and on and on.
These are the fine folks who could care less about Occupy, yet they are most definitely tax-paying members of the 99 percent and essential contributors toward the wealth of the one percent, and only when the cold dose of reality hits them over the head will they awaken from the duh moment which has been an essential part of their lives for years.
Occupy needs cohesion. Today’s red and blue divide in America is a brilliant scheme by the corporate-controlled government, replacing the black and white divide of the ‘60s. There will be no 99 percent as long as 50 million vote red and 50 million vote blue.
There will be factions within any movement, for personal agendas are the parasitic tick to any group effort, and many worthy causes have gone by the wayside for this reason. Yet without a core group of leaders steering the effort through choppy waters, Occupy is doomed for failure.
The Civil Rights movement had, among its factions, Martin Luther King, Jr. as a central figure. Articulate and intelligent, and clearly blessed with more leadership skills than all politicians combined in the country’s current political structure, he was easily the identifying force. He was the rallying point. As such, he was the easily identified target.
Therein lies the difference. No one in Occupy wants to be the easily identified target. Let’s be “leaderless.” Yeah, that’s the ticket.
Of course, Occupy could easily argue the point. Look at Barack Obama, seemingly articulate and intelligent, all full of hope and change, rallying a part of the nation and a world fed up with eight years of the village idiot and his side-kick, the messenger of death. Look what that brought the country. Increased drones, increased war, increased foreclosure, increased climate change denial, extended tax cuts for the wealthy, and, well, hope and change has not been a pleasant experience for scores of 99 percent.
Add to this mix a complacent American population unwilling to support the movement, a population more infatuated with reality TV than in nurturing the seed of moral outrage.
Examples have been shown to us since the Occupy movement began. Clearly, one of the most disturbing moments during Occupy, of which there have been several, came after campus police in California calmly walked up and pepper-sprayed demonstrators sitting on a sidewalk. The protesters, sitting on their butts, calmly accepted the abuse.
There is a certain difficulty, for many, in giving respect to those not willing to defend their beliefs, their cause, their efforts. We must be honest in asking ourselves if sitting on one’s ass and allowing physical assault to occur on oneself at the hands of police oppression is a form of courage. If there is no respect for oneself, how can there be respect for a movement?
There was no outrage. America went back to doing what it does best, staring dumbly at the idiot box. Unable to grasp the concept. Compared to police brutality in other corners of the globe, the current orchestrated efforts by law enforcement in tearing down Occupy’s urban encampments in the U.S. is powder puff. What will Occupy do when it really gets nasty?
Occupy needs to re-evaluate its opposition. The one percent have the law on their side, or to be blunt, the one percent control the 99 percent in this country. Ironically, part of the 99 percent includes the various elements of law enforcement, mysteriously beholden to their rich gods. Chris Hedges wrote on Monday at TruthDig of the bitter reality and sums up much of what Occupy is up against, noting
The security and surveillance state has a vast arsenal and array of tools at its disposal. It operates in secret. It dissembles and lies. It hides behind phony organizations and individuals who use false histories and false names. It has millions of dollars to spend, the capacity to deny not only its activities but also its existence. Its physical assets honeycomb the country. It can wiretap, eavesdrop and monitor every form of communication. It can hire informants, send in clandestine agents, recruit members within the movement by offering legal immunity, churn out a steady stream of divisive propaganda and amass huge databases and clandestine operations centers. And it is authorized to use deadly force.
This is a serious matter, far more serious than most Americans are willing to acknowledge. Unfortunately, from there the Hedges essay takes a nosedive.
Hedges notes Occupy’s passive approach is akin to the strength in “powerlessness.” He ascertains this powerlessness allows the movement to “live in truth” and
by living in truth we expose a corrupt state that perpetrates lies and lives in deceit.
Nothing personal toward Chris or Occupy, but this exposure has been confirmed a long time ago. While some posters to Hedges’ essay suggest he is attempting to be a spokesperson for Occupy, it would behoove him to be a bit more precise in his wandering.
Noting Occupy’s embodiment of living in truth, Hedges states for this reason “it is a genuine threat to the corporate state.”
Convictions are essential in achieving a sense of purpose, yet just three paragraphs later Hedges points to the faltering Occupy movement,
I do not know if it will succeed. If it does not, then I fear we will see the classical forms of violent protest that are used by an enraged and frustrated populace; for me such a turn to violence, while understandable, is always tragic.
Where is the motivation? Without broad support from the American population, Occupy can protest until the cows come home. A disconnected Occupy, again, sorely in need of central leadership, will wallow in its own ineptitude. Isolated protests of 50 to a couple of hundred people are a joke.
An even bigger joke were those brave souls protesting during their lunch hours. Only in America, craving for its two seconds of notoriety.
Occupy needs well-defined goals. The very concept of goal-setting is reaching those goals. There is no purpose in unattainable goals. Occupy has not attained anything because it has no attainable goals.
Occupy needs a winning attitude. What little momentum the movement had last autumn was quickly forfeited when the winter hibernation set in. Syria did not take the winter off. Greece certainly isn’t taking the winter off. But them ‘murcan’s, bless their coddled little hearts, get cold feet.

Occupy needs sustained mass demonstrations. This means support from a broad spectrum of the working class: young and old alike, not just a group of twenty-somethings willing to casually take pepper-spray to the face. Instead of Occupy This and Occupy That,
One thing is certain, while Occupy has been busy with its winter slumber, those police and security thugs have been busy with their own strategies in how to best deal with Occupy’s spring thaw, if it ever comes.
This has been said before and warrants a repeat. These people, so desperate in their desire to be Occupiers, need only look to the Arab Spring for guidance. Unfortunately, thousands of people have given their lives for the Arab Spring, and thousands more will. This is the essence of a mass protest: standing up for what is right, with a non-wavering conviction, no matter the cost.
America’s too lazy, predictably overdosed on viral videos, cheap and nauseating entertainment, and in love with their lying politicians.
A better starting point would be to Occupy the 99 percent. Corporate greed does not wait for those who slumber.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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