Praising (and Pulling For) the Occupy Wall Street Demonstrators



This post originally appeared at TomDispatch. 


In some ways, Zuccotti Park, the campsite, the Ground Zero, for the Occupy Wall Street protests couldn’t be more modest.  It’s no Tahrir Square, but a postage-stamp-sized plaza at the bottom of Manhattan only blocks from Wall Street.  And if you arrive before noon, you’re greeted not by vast crowds, but by air mattresses, a sea of blue and green tarps, a couple of information tables, some enthusiastic drummers, enough signs with slogans for anything you care to support (“Too big to fail is too big to allow,” “The American Dream: You have to be asleep to believe it,” “There’s no state like no state,” etc.), and small groups of polite, eager, well-organized young people, wandering, cleaning, doling out contributed food, dealing with the press, or sitting in circles on the concrete, backpacks strewn about, discussing.  If it were the 1960s, it might easily be a hippie encampment.

But don’t be fooled.  Not only does the park begin to fill fast and the conversation become ever more animated, but this movement already spreading across the country (and even globally) looks like the real McCoy, something new and hopeful in degraded times. Of the demonstrators I spoke with, several had hitchhiked to New York -- one had simply quit her job -- to be present.  Inspired by Tunisians, Egyptians, Spaniards, and Wisconsinites, in a country largely demobilized these last years, they recognized what matters when they saw it.  As one young woman told me, “A lot of people in my generation felt we were going to witness something really big -- and I think this is it!”

It may be.  The last time we saw a moment like this globally was 1968.  (Other dates, like 1848 in Europe and 1919 in China, when the young took the lead in a previously dead world, also come to mind.)  It’s the moment when the blood stirs and the young, unable to bear the state of their country or the world, hit the streets with the urge to take the fate of humankind in their own hands.

10/11/2011 2:00:28 PM

It occurs to me that 'Stopping Corporate Greed' will not really be addressing the root of the problem.... Unless and until the practice of allowing Corporate interests to affect the law making process is stopped / outlawed... The real issue is not being addressed. That cynical part of me is suspecting that focusing on Corporate Greed is acting to deflect / distract attention away from the real problem... The willing corporate enslavement of bought and sold elected officials

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