You know that a movement is getting desperate when they have to disrupt traffic to get attention. Over the past few days, the Occupy Philly protestors realized that the best way to remain relevant was to block streets, force SEPTA to close down (temporarily) train stations and make it difficult for commuters to get home. It was their own form of civil disobedience, otherwise known as a temper tantrum. They were being moved from Dilworth Plaza, didn’t like it, and decided to make their displeasure known to the 99% of Philadelphians who just wanted to get home after a long day’s work.
Ironic, since the Occupiers are all about getting jobs, right?
I know that some people believe the “Movement” is relevant, valid and has a clear message. I don’t happen to be one of them, because I think that camping out in tents with homemade signs and creating even more of a health hazard than already exists in our municipal plaza is a pathetic form of agitprop.
I also think that voting is a hell of a lot more effective in creating change than standing around with the ‘collective’ (someone’s been reading a little too much Dostoevsky) and complaining about the rich bankers and why they’re not wearing handcuffs.
That’s why I loved this piece by Will Wilkinson, which paints about the clearest picture of the problems with Occupy’s methods (as opposed to its so-called message) that I’ve read thus far. Here’s an instructive tidbit:
As I pointed out in my Economist post, public attitudes toward the Occupy movement have gone south. I think the evidence supports the proposition that keeping up the camping is counterproductive, unhealthy if you will, for the Occupy movement. And I don't think it's hard to understand why the Occupiers have so swiftly lost anything resembling a populist mandate. Like I've said, the movement is audaciously presumptuous, claiming to represent "the people", even when most people don't want anything to do with it. In many cities (but by no means everywhere), the Occupiers are violating local laws and ordinances put in place by "the people" through ordinary democratic means. They are not only asserting de facto property rights over public spaces, but are creating significant public expense at a time when municipalities are stretched thin. It's not surprising that many citizens resent this, and it's hard to see the strategic upside of aggravating people further.
That’s a good point. Some people think that a movement gains nobility in direct proportion to how much it annoys and inconveniences the public. If they don’t make the rest of us sweat, or suffer, they’re not doing their jobs.
Well I guess by that measure, Occupy has been a major success.