FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Quo Vadis, OWS?

by RALPH NADER

The question confronting the Occupy Wall Street encampments and their offshoots in scores of cities and towns around the country is quo vadis? Where is it going?

This decentralized, leaderless civic initiative has attracted the persistent attention of the mass media in the past five weeks. Television cameras from all over the world are parked down at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, two blocks from Wall Street.

But the mass media is a hungry beast. It needs to be fed regularly. Apart from the daily pressures of making sure the encampments are clean, that food and shelter are available, that relations with the police are quiet, that provocateurs are identified; the campers must anticipate possible police crackdowns, such as that which has just occurred in Oakland, and find ways to rebound.

There are enough national polls showing broader support for the Occupy people than for the Tea Party people. Additional communities are installing their own Occupy sites right down to small towns like Niles, Michigan (pop. 12,000) and Bethel, Alaska where Diane McEachern is occupying the tundra. But, there is trouble ahead.

First, police departments in other cities will be observing the nature and reaction of mass arrests in places like Denver, Chicago and Atlanta. The plutocrats’ first response is always to push police power against the people. The recidivist violations of the ruling class are rarely pursued, yet the rumbles of the lower class are often stifled. With the onset of colder weather and looming police pressure, the protestors need new venues for their demonstrations

Activists need to vary their tactics. I suggest citizens surround the local offices of their Senators and Representatives. The number of Americans fed up with a gridlocked Congress, beset by craven or cowardly, both marinated in corporate campaign cash, can motivate an endless pool of activists who want their voices to be heard.

We know that the Occupy people want to keep their opposition on a general level of informed outrage and not get to the specific policy level. Fine. The 535 people in Congress, who put their shoes on every day like we do, are quite susceptible to a fast rising rumble from the people. They don’t need specifics. They know all about the savagely avaricious corporate paymasters and their swarming lobbyists on Capitol Hill wanting ever more varieties of goodies and less corporate law enforcement. What they need to know is that you’ve got their number and that people are fed up and on the move.

More members of Congress than one might expect, with their finger to the wind, start readjusting their antennas when they sense voter agitation. It is just that for years, there has been nary a breeze from that crucial source, while the corporatists have had their party year after year with their governmental toadies on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Make no mistake; support for the power shift espoused by the 99 percent movement is now only a breeze but a windstorm is coming. The protesters are feeling their way – demonstrating before big banks and closing out their accounts in favor of smaller community banks. Protests in front of the Manhattan mansions of the superrich from the big media and the big hedge funds also make sense.

Each new protest gives the protesters new insights. The protestors are learning how to challenge controlling processes. They are assembling and using their little libraries on site. They are learning the techniques of open, non-violent civil disobedience and building personal stamina. They are learning not to be provoked and thereby win the moral authority struggle which encourages more and more people to join their ranks.

In the Arab Spring of Cairo, Egypt earlier this year, it was said that a million people in Tahrir Square lost their fear of the dictatorship. It can be said that in this “American Autumn,” some 150,000 people have discovered their power and rejected apathy. They have come far in so little time because the soil for their pushback is so fertile, nourished by the revulsion of millions of their countrypersons moving toward standing up and showing up themselves.

This vanguard of larger protests to come is building on the personal stories of desperate but failed attempts to find work; stories of heart-breaking inability to pay for healthcare for themselves or their families’; stories of being defrauded of their pensions, their tax dollars, their savings and their rights. They demand accountability for the culprits who lied, stole and got away with it destroying the economy. And they want Congress to never bailout the Wall Street crooks, swindlers and speculators with taxpayer dollars.

Shining the light of the 99 percenters on the operations base of the corporate supremacists and their Congressional minions in one location after another both empowers and further informs those Americans who are seeing that showing up is half of democracy.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
David Swanson
100 Years of Using War to Try to End All War
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mike Garrity
Why Should We Pay Billionaires to Destroy Our Public Lands? 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Randy Shields
Tom Regan: The Life of the Animal Rights Party
Ezra Kronfeld
Joe Manchin: a Senate Republicrat to Dispute and Challenge
Clancy Sigal
The Nazis Called It a “Rafle”
Louis Proyect
Socialism Betrayed? Inside the Ukrainian Holodomor
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
David Yearsley
Founding Father of American Song
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail