Occupied with Occupy

The Occupy movement celebrated its one-year anniversary this week. Professional pontificators wondered in print and on TV, What has Occupy Actually Achieved?

Prevailing sentiment seems to be: nothing much. At least nothing tangible, measurable, quantifiable, or, most important, commoditizable.

Since protesters took over Zuccotti Park, numerous polls have shown that the American public – the 100%, composed chiefly of the 99% — approves of Occupy’s message but disapproves of Occupy’s disruptive tactics.  Presumably, the majority believes Occupy would do better to work “within the system” rather than reject the system as utterly rotten. Many Americans still think camping out to buy the latest iPhone is a better idea than camping out for social justice.

Some people think Occupy is fizzling out.

No new laws. No new regulations. No new policy changes. Occupy, the fizzler camp believes, hasn’t any accomplishment to call its own.

We think Occupy is a smashing success.

Occupy is a triumph. The occupiers made the organized crimes of Wall Street a topic of national conversation. They earned tens of millions – hundreds of millions? – dollars in media coverage, which is difficult to do unless you have tens of millions dollars or are willing to commit a particularly heinous crime. They momentarily captured our collective attention – which might be the zeitgeist’s greatest challenge and, yes, greatest accomplishment.

Sure, we eventually returned our focus to graver matters than the chasm between wealthy bankers and impecunious homeowners. We always have more urgent issues on our mind, such as the outcome of “Dancing With the Stars” and the unchasteness of Kristen Stewart’s vagina.

For a fortnight, and intermittently in the weeks ensuing, Occupy got a whole bunch of people, the 99% and the 1% and every percent in between, to pay attention. To get hip. To wake up. To realize that the way we’re currently organizing our society is the opposite of fair, egalitarian, or equitable.

Occupy roused us from our constant slumber.

Occupy helped millions of Americans understand, with varying levels of comprehension and concern, that they were being comprehensively swindled by the rich. And that our government wasn’t stopping the thieves; they were abetting them. Occupy exposed corporate America’s true nature, which is ugly and requires the constant use of rehabilitative propaganda to cleanse the wound of infectious greed. Occupy exposed law enforcement’s true nature and its true role: to protect and serve the interests of the ruling class, even as the oligarchy ensures that the good men and women of law enforcement don’t ask too many probing questions about their benefactors’ motives.

Occupy has shone a light, a bright one, on several of America’s darkest (and foulest) corners. For this we thank them. We’re genuinely grateful for their sacrifices and heroism. The occupiers strike us as real Americans, or at least Americans who embody the spirit of what used to be known as a patriot until the Patriot Act came along.

When the peasantry, which now includes what used to be known as the middle class, can no longer accept living as indentured servants to their larcenous masters and rises up in revolt, we hope it will be bloodless, with the force of public opinion serving as the balance-tipping weapon, not government drones.

We hope the next American revolutionaries will learn from the Occupy movement, brave dissidents who figured out a 21st Century social organizing solution to a medieval problem of injustice.

Practically speaking, the Tea Party has probably “changed the minds” of more politicians than Occupy has. Major banks still rig key interest rates, gamble recklessly, and launder funds for scoundrels, and our elected leaders don’t do anything substantive to change the rules of the game. The current rules suit them just fine.

Yet Occupy, in a weird and, one imagines, unintended way, has helped clarify the alleged differences between Dems and Reps. In this sense, Occupy deserves some credit (or blame, depending on your viewing prism) for getting Barack Obama re-elected.

This is funny if you’re in a good mood, ironic if you’re in a mildly cranky mood, and disgusting if you’re in a bad mood. President Obama, who the Republicans like to portray as an enemy of commerce and deregulation of banks, commenced his grand adventure in financial oversight by installing Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary instead of placing him under investigation for financial crimes committed during his tenure at the New York Fed and as Hank Paulson’s henchman on the Bear Stearns rescue and Lehman Brothers abandonment. The gangsters responsible for the 2008 financial meltdown have suffered few consequences; their victims haven’t been so lucky. And now The Prez is talking out loud about lowering the corporate tax rate.

In the wake of Occupy Wall Street’s anniversary, perhaps it’s the White House that needs to be occupied next.

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