Occupy Wall Street commemorated the first anniversary of its birth in the manner one would expect: There were a couple of pointless rallies, the usual slurs directed at anybody with more than a few dollars in his or her wallet, and in the end, about 150 demonstrators achieved the dream of every comfortable radical—they were carted off by police.
Another victory for people! Take that, Wall Street!
If only the Occupiers could tell us what, precisely, they wish to change (other than their clothes).
There’s no question that some of the young people milling around Wall Street have legitimate grievances. Job creation remains stagnant; lots of bright young people—and no small number of middle-aged workers—are out of work or underemployed. The national unemployment rate seems stuck at just over 8 percent. That’s bad enough, but things actually are worse here in New York, where the rate is 10 percent.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some people are taking their anger to the streets. The problem is that the Occupy movement is steered by folks who are using legitimate grievances as an excuse to demonize the successful, provoke the police and otherwise display their contempt for free enterprise and American capitalism.
That much is obvious in the rhetoric of the Occupy leaders.
Occupy Wall Street
The N.Y.P.D. was holding back regarding Occupy Wall Street protest actions on Saturday night until they put the smackdown on a band of European bagpipe players in nothing flat. The pipers showed around 11 p.m. and began playing for the assembly, but within 5 to 10 minutes they had been arrested, resulting in a sharp rise in tension in the crowd.
The arrival of Look Back in Anger, John Osborne’s revolutionary play about anger, decay and the rage simmering beneath the surface of British losers in the 1950s, revolutionized play writing and marked the beginning of a new decade of torn T-shirts and kitchen-sink misery on the London stage and the end of the well-written, elegantly staged works of Terence Rattigan, Enid Bagnold and Noël Coward. It was hailed as an important work when it opened in 1956 at the small, experimental Royal Court Theatre off Sloane Square, an alternative to the glossy productions in the West End. It was filled with hell and fury and shouted obscenities, a “protest” play unlike any slice of realism ever witnessed by refined London audiences weaned on Ibsen and Shaw. The excitement faded fast. By the time it was turned into a film of sweat, grief and brimstone in 1958 starring a young, virile Richard Burton, its time had passed. The movie was a flop and Look Back in Anger was toothless history. Mr. Osborne was credited (and cursed) with shuttering the complacency of well-ordered British dramaturgy. Time has now born witness to a desperate need to bring back Rattigan, Coward and the others. And not a moment to soon.
Occupy Wall Street
Sad news today: an unidentified man lies in grave condition after being shot at the Occupy , Vermont protest at Burlington’s City Hall Park. Early reports say the wound was self-inflicted and may have been a suicide attempt. WPTZ reporter David Schneider reports via Twitvid from the scene.
The Occupy Wall Street movement has succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of its organizers. When the protest began six weeks ago, few in the crowd at Zuccotti Park—and, no doubt, even fewer on Wall Street—could have imagined that an old-fashioned sit-in in a downtown Manhattan park would inspire a global protest.
But that is precisely what has happened. Most reasonably informed people in the U.S. and elsewhere know about the O.W.S. movement and its many iterations in other cities. While the demonstrations have lacked a certain degree of message clarity, and while the movement’s leaders are more than a little imprecise about their proposed solutions, there’s no question that O.W.S. has tapped into deep discontent and anger over the status quo.
Mental Health Protest
Update: The man let go of the rope on purpose or accidentally fell into the water around 2 p.m., according to The Nation’s Greg Mitchell. He landed in water or on the deck of barge and was taken to police barracks, Mr. Mitchell reports. The man’s condition is unknown, but NBC New York reports the man fell in the water, not on the barge. Right now he’s on an emergency worker’s boat, according to Gothamist. Before jumping he also took off his pants, apparently, and tried to swim away but emergency workers gave him a life preserver, which he took.
Occupy Wall Street might have to step up their protesting efforts. A man is currently dangling off the Tappan Zee Bridge, protesting his termination at a mental health facility Rockland County. Michael Davitt is clinging to a banner that’s tied to a van blocking traffic on the bridge over the Hudson River, occasionally taking sips from a thermos. The banner reads “ROCKLAND EXECUTIVE LEGISLATURE COVER UP RETALIATION,” and Patch reports his car has closed one lane.
Occupy Wall Street
The Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek turned up at Zuccotti Park to address the Occupy Wall Street demonstration on Sunday, offering up a seminar on Radicalism 101 for an appreciative crowd.
Occupy Wall Street
Protesters with the Occupy Wall Street movement have been marching, sitting, walking, sleeping, chanting, dancing, drumming and proclaiming in and around Liberty Plaza for eight straight days. Planning for the protest began in July with a call for peaceful revolution by the magazine Adbusters, with the hope that complacent Americans might adopt some of the outrage and effectiveness of the Arab Spring.
The Adbusters writers had a clear aim:
On September 17, we want to see 20,000 people flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months. Once there, we shall incessantly repeat one simple demand in a plurality of voices.Tahrir succeeded in large part because the people of Egypt made a straightforward ultimatum – that Mubarak must go – over and over again until they won. Following this model, what is our equally uncomplicated demand? The most exciting candidate that we’ve heard so far is one that gets at the core of why the American political establishment is currently unworthy of being called a democracy: we demand that Barack Obama ordain a Presidential Commission tasked with ending the influence money has over our representatives in Washington. It’s time for DEMOCRACY NOT CORPORATOCRACY, we’re doomed without it.
But the leaderless movement, which at any one time must be counted by hundreds rather than thousands, is held together by enterprising volunteers who are coordinating the protest via various working groups. The message about a presidential commission has been completely lost. Media attempting to report on the protest grabbed quotes like, “I want to create spectacles,” and “Oh, we’re just here, like, you know, protesting what’s going on.”
After spending a Saturday at the protest, it did seem the various grievances nursed by protesters had a common theme: a vague but certain notion that the richest percentile of the country remains fat and happy as the going-on-five-year-old recession continues to batter the middle and working class.
What do the protesters want to do about it? Less clear! But we found some suggestions in the hand-made signs they carried over the weekend.
Though Disney brought you Lion King, Cinderella and Bambi, a group of New York protesters today labeled the company as a “serial killer.”
“Do not kill my family!” read Debra Davidson’s sign, as she stood with a small group of enraged members of Fans United against ABC (cleverly named with the acronym F. U. ABC) Read More
On a recent Tuesday afternoon, outside a firehouse on the north shore of Staten Island, Bill de Blasio slipped between a throng of sweaty, angry protesters and was quickly ushered to a microphone stand.
“This mayor loves to brag how devoted he is to the numbers,” said Mr. de Blasio. “This is the fastest growing Read More