There are almost no stories about the Occupy Wall Street movement today on Google News, Salon and Slate. I smell something in the air: Decay.
We should have known what was up when Bloomberg suddenly decided to take a friendly tone toward the occupiers. The Establishment has shifted its attitude from "We must fight this thing" to "Let the kids vent. When the weather turns bad, most of them will go home."
Nobody on Capitol Hill is acting as though the protests matter.
I woke up this morning and sensed that the kids had reached, if not the end, then the beginning of the end. Maybe I'm wrong; if so, feel free to explain how and why.
But even the hardiest protesters must be starting to wonder: Is that all there is?
Are we just going to camp out and chatter and hobnob and march around? Why can't we focus all this energy on getting something done
The good news: An end can also be a beginning.
Even if the protests soon start to lose steam, the rebels will regroup, and the movement will take on a new shape. The traumas that gave birth to this rebellion have not gone away; the 99 percent are still getting screwed.
So here is my advice on how to do it better next time.
1. Forget this "no leadership" crap. Leaders are inevitable and desirable: Think King, think Aung San Soo Kyi, think Gandhi, think Petra Kelly. But always make sure that your leaders are replaceable and tethered to the majority will.
2. Stop trying to make decisions by consensus. As I demonstrate in the post below, that strategy is a proven loser. Make decisions by a simple show of hands. As Churchill once said: Democracy is the worst system imaginable, except for all the others.
3. Have your shit together. You need a list of goals. Steer clear of anyone who tells you that the movement is about "changing consciousness." This country does not need vague New-Agey woo-woo crap right now; people are hurting
4. Make sure that your list of goals stays focused on economics
, on the destruction of the middle class. This is not a time to be talking about animal experimentation, the environment, race relations, the danger of the religious right, abortion or this country's stupid wars. All of those issues are terribly important, I'll grant you -- and all of them will figure into any broad discussion of economics. But wedge issues can kill you. The need to arrest our slide into poverty is a problem faced by everyone
5. You need a book. Or perhaps a shorter written statement -- something on the order of the Letter from Birmingham Jail. You need to point to a document NOT WRITTEN BY COMMITTEE which tells the world what you want. (Any text written by committee is valueless. Committees have no ability to inspire. People respond to the personal.)
6. Define yourself as anti-Libertarian. You cannot be so inclusive as to include the forces that deregulated Wall Street in the first place. If you're trying to fix your car's body, you can't take an inclusive attitude toward rust.
7. Have an immediate, practical goal as well as several longer-term goals. When Martin Luther King went to Memphis -- where he was killed -- he was not there simply to talk about Civil Rights or the Vietnam War. He went there in support of a strike by garbage collectors.
I have recommended that the protesters seek the resignation of Tim Geithner as a good first step. Of course, his resignation would not solve our nation's problems, but forcing this president to do something he does not want to do would show that the movement has muscles.
If not Geithner, then go after someone else. You need a head on a pike. You need to show that you mean business.
When I suggested going after Geithner, a few people told me that getting rid of him would take the air out of the movement. WTF?
That response was one of the stupidest things I've ever heard. You know what will definitely take the air out of the movement? Marching and chanting in the rain while nothing changes
, as the Masters of the Universe look down on you and smirk at how cute you look.Update:
I forgot the most important suggestion...
8. Instead of worrying about whether you'll be co-opted by the Democratic Party -- take it over
The people advising you not to have anything to do with the party are either libertarian infiltrators (there have been plenty of those, as we've seen) or the sort of lefties who feel that wielding power is in bad taste.
The libertarians understood the Tea Party as a vehicle for taking over the GOP. Tea Party libertarians loved it when Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann spoke at their events. Tea Party libertarians loved it when they got to choose who lived and who died in the primaries. That's what works
. And for precisely that reason, the libertarians have been "helpfully" suggesting that OWS must never do what succeeded for them.
Way too many lefties -- eager, as always, to do their impersonation of Saint Sebastian -- have been taking and echoing that bad advice. Their motto: "We'll never have power, but at least we're pure
." How's that workin' out for ya?