The spectacle, energy and unpredictability are contagious. Some national media are suddenly departing from the phony narrative of Right and Center-Right politics to give glimpses of the Occupy Wall Street drama.
Twitter naturally offers a more dynamic, unfiltered stream of tactical initiatives. When Ad Busters sent the initial email now months ago calling for the Wall Street ‘culture jam’ the call was for something brave, visceral but transitory. How delightful to see that simple summons to action grow into such an organic, ad hoc celebration of the possible.
All of it independent of the compromised, exhausted corporate facades foisted upon us by now a cable company as the voice of “the Left” or “Progressives” or “non-Rightists”. Or Arianna’s cynical duping of her readers and contributors to create her personal cash out with the dying AOL. How many long for the day to be free of both?
For all of their raucous, disorganized sprawl, #OWS and its now global siblings speak without pre-packed theme music, fast-flash graphic segment intros and patronizing (insulting?) personality brand enhancing promos groomed by focus groups and Q ratings. In other words, within the #OWS multitudes it’s highly likely there are voices much like you and the Stiftung. There’s also something restorative to the soul to see and and be reminded America as she once was and could have been. #OWS greatest gift so far is tangible reminder “We are not alone”.
Occupy Wall Street has already won, perhaps not the victory most of its participants want, but a momentous victory nonetheless. It has already altered our political debate, changed the agenda, shifted the discussion in newspapers, on cable TV, and even around the water cooler. And that is wonderful.
Suddenly, the issues of equity, fairness, justice, income distribution, and accountability for the economic cataclysm–issues all but ignored for a generation—are front and center. We have moved beyond the one-dimensional conversation about how much and where to cut the deficit. Questions more central to the social fabric of our nation have returned to the heart of the political debate. By forcing this new discussion, OWS has made most of the other participants in our politics—who either didn’t want to have this conversation or weren’t able to make it happen—look pretty small.
We agree with Spitzer’s evident excitement that #OWS has become so much more than a one-day culture jamming stunt. We caution, however, that the national dialogue has not yet changed. The electrifying possibility of #OWS – and its threat to narrative dependent Movement Rightist politics – is still playing out to a self-selecting audience. The larger step into mainstream demotic politics to effect concrete political change not on the visible horizons.
As it should be at this stage. #OWS in this manifestation is about the surprise discovery of hope. Thus, all the Tweety/establishment complaints about lack of a concrete, specific political plan (while these same people spend weeks ‘analyzing’ a laughably specious ’9-9-9′ “plan”) miss the point. #OWS is a rejection of the fake MSNBC-Fox duality, of the congenital Obama Goldilocks compromises with the extreme Right. If along the way a few people act out to reify others’ narratives of ‘violent hippies [sic]‘, etc. that’s a small price to pay for the overall achievement.
To a structuralist, OWS could be seen as a further harbinger of descent to demotic political shapelessness, of institutional feebleness giving way to palsy. In parallel with the Rightist narrative narcotic demanding fealty to vision and feeling over institutions, process, and empiricism, it marks in World Historical terms the pre-conditions of a Man on a White Horse phase. Which in turn ushers in a post-oligarchical new day. We believe that time is yet to come. #OWS signifies instead hope that our current politics and institutions can function for greater societal good. A call for functional politics, albeit not on Rightist narrative terms.
Is it naive? One observer remarked that if #OWS merely assisted the election of Liz Warren it would be worth it. That’s moving the goal posts just slightly from Spitzer’s #OWS ‘already won.’ We’d like to think people see our challenges as deeply systemic, albeit exacerbated by specific personalities today. We take delight in seeing #OWS evolve along its current, fairly orderly path. For the hope it ignites. And the possibilities for What Comes Next.