Sunday, December 11, 2011

Future of the occupy movement - 12/11/2011

Although the Occupy movement can certainly be readily sustained as a mere protest movement, its ability to expand beyond mere protest is now seriously in doubt. The whole "tent thing", seeming to be the heart and soul of the movement is clearly losing momentum at an accelerating pace. Rather than seriously attempting to build long-term sustainable communities, the tents now appear to have been more of a mere statement of protest. Although remnants of the tent communities remain, they don't appear to be growing in any dramatic manner. The movement is still able to pull together pop-up protests and disruptions of various sorts, but mostly very modest in size and effect.
Tomorrow, Monday, October 12, 2011, will be a moment of truth for Occupy as they literally attempt to shut down all ports on the west coast of North America. Further, they threaten that "If there is ANY police violence on #D12 we will extend the port shutdown." "#D12" is the Twitter tag for the "operation" and "D12" is the same "operation" naming convention used by the anti-globalization movement for naming their "operations" – "D" is for December and "12" is for the 12th of the month.
The open question is how many activists can be mustered in each port locale, how many average Americans join the activists in their port shutdown, as well as how various unions respond, and finally how the police and other law enforcement responds.
I'm sure the protesters can disrupt and maybe even shut down port operations to some limited extent, which qualifies them as a protest movement, the real question is whether they will actually succeed in moving beyond a mere protest movement to accomplishing anything substantial or graduating into a full-blown "insurrection" or even "revolution." So far, most of what they have been about is simply idealistic protest and no real substance. They can probably get away with a fair bit more "mere protest" before people get tired of the disruptions and distractions.
I think the general attitude of the average American is "show us some results or... we change the channel to something more interesting." Occupy still retains some novelty and interest of non-participants, but the clock is ticking for them. After all, Americans have shown a powerful penchant for a limited attention span.
The bar is fairly high for "results" from this port shutdown. Unless the movement comes through with absolutely stunning and sustained success, their days will be numbered. If they do last into the spring and summer, it will be interesting to see them compete for attention with the 2012 elections.
Meanwhile, this past week the Occupy movement has managed to divert attention to themselves that might otherwise have been focused on the big UN global warming talks that were also having trouble getting results.

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