The Occupiers Have Been Left Out in the Cold Long Enough
by Kenneth Paul O'Connor
December 22, 2011
Winter is here and so too seems the end of the Occupy Wall Street movement which began in September. Those taking part rightly blamed the lack of employment opportunity on the economic injustice prevalent in these times. Most of them being of the sociable age of twentysomething, they got together and found something to do about it. But as correct as their assertions about our financial system are, the seeds they were trying to plant could not grow, as they had no fertile ground in which to plant them.
I happened to watch a live web stream of Occupy Boston on the night before they were evicted from Bostonís Dewey Square early in the morning of December 10. They were a cold but happy bunch, and one of the young gentlemen especially enjoyed the affection he got from the many young ladies who were either present on the scene or participating via Twitter. It was hard not to get caught up in the romanticism of fighting the Power. I remember what it was like as a young supporter of Ralph Naderís Presidential bid 11 years ago. Right makes might. We believed it.
Having witnessed the scene at Zuccotti Park in person the week before it was de-occupied, I can say it was a very minute fraction of the human activity in the city. Even if all of the activists in Occupy camps from around the world had gathered in Lower Manhattan, they would have been vastly outnumbered by the shoppers at Times Square on any given day (an average of half a million per day). Certainly there are many who sympathize with Occupy Wall Streetís condemnation of our financial system, but not very many of them will have been found at an Occupy camp. Those who have been there claim they represent "the 99%" and are protesting on the behalf of those who presumably don't have the ability to occupy. But shouldn't a lot more than a few thousand of the 99% have shown up?
The concept of "the 99%" has always filled my head with questions. What about the percentage of the 99% who wish they were a part of the 1%? Would it not be fair to speculate that they constitute about half? At least a quarter, right? Should they then be included in the 99%? If the 1% didnít have a significant number of allies from within the 99%, would they have any success? Shouldnít then these enablers be targeted as well? Arenít they equally as guilty? But that would complicate the "We are the 99%" slogan. Couldnít fit it on a sign. More importantly, it wouldnít fit in with their idealistic vision of a mass majority uprising.
To make an argument for what is obvious: most people don't support Wall Street swindling their savings and investments from them. To make a less obvious contention: most people don't think about where their returns on investment come from to begin with, which is almost always a swindle. People want their brokers to do their best to exploit profitable businesses, but ignore the well-documented truth that it's the exploitation of terrible labor standards around the world that makes most publicy-traded businesses turn big profits. It's only when these investments collectively fail that the middle class thinks something is wrong. When investments stablize (as they always eventually do - due to government bailouts, usually), the middle class daydreams peacefully once again.
If we are to have mass rallies to bring attention to economic injustice, we should point our fingers at ourselves rather than simply blaming the rich. If we want the system to change, then we, the 99%, can withdraw all of our money and burn it all in one giant bonfire. Because if we canít spend it, save it or invest it, the 1% will go broke fast and then be at our mercy. Anyway, good luck with that idea. Iím just glad those nice kids at Occupy Boston will no longer be spending their days and nights out in the cold.