What’s wrong with the original Occupy movement? If you ask most people, you’ll probably get a variety of answers, ranging from the filth and squalor, to the mindnumbingly inane political slogans, to the mass criminal acts and the desecration of once-lush city parks.
But according to Adbusters — the occasionally anti-Semitic magazine that published the initial Occupy call-to-arms — the real problem is that the original Occupy movement has sold out. It’s becoming too commercialized and institutionalized, and what it needs now is a second generation movement with none of the bourgeois pretensions of the first (via Newsbusters):
Burned out, out of money, out of ideas… seduced by salaries, comfy offices, book deals, old lefty cash and minor celebrity status, some of the most prominent early heroes of our leaderless uprising are losing the edge that catalyzed last year’s one thousand encampments. Bit by bit, Occupy’s first generation is succumbing to an insidious institutionalization and ossification that could be fatal to our young spiritual insurrection unless we leap over it right now. Putting our movement back on track will take nothing short of a revolution within Occupy.
Here’s a model of the revolution that Adbusters envisions:
The new tone was set on Earth Day, April 22, in a suburb bordering Berkeley, California, when a dozen occupiers quietly marched a small crowd to a tract of endangered urban agricultural land, cut through the locked fence and set up tents, kitchens and a people’s assembly. Acting autonomously under the banner of Occupy, without waiting for approval from any preexisting General Assembly, Occupy The Farm was notable for its sophisticated preplanning and careful execution — they even brought chickens — that offered a positive vision for the future and engendered broad community support. While encampments across the world were unable to re-establish themselves on May Day, this small cadre of farm occupiers boldly maintained their inspiring occupation for nearly four weeks.
Bold and inspiring? The San Francisco Chronicle’s Chip Johnson had a different take on the same protest, as P.J. Gladnick at Newsbusters notes:
The group cut through a secured gate to enter the property in mid-April and has been squatting on the land since. Protesters have planted vegetables on two acres of land being readied for a corn crop used in biofuel research.
…George Chuck, a U.S. Department of Agriculture researcher whose work is literally grounded on those same two acres, sees it much differently.
“What’s worse is that when I tried talking to (some of) these guys, they just started spouting slogans someone else told them,” Chuck said.
And as far as the group’s efforts to grow crops on land Chuck said is not yet ready for planting, “They have no idea what they’re doing,” he said.
Since protesters arrived, they’ve managed to destroy a fruit tree that was the subject of a research project, created a waste pile, built a rickety chicken coop and left the gate open allowing wild turkeys to escape or be killed by predators that entered the unlocked facility, he added.
The group with the biggest interest in killing the Occupy movement at this point is probably President Obama’s reelection team. The Occupiers are so out there on the fringes that many of them are likely opposed to voting in the first place (because that would only be legitimizing the political system, or something). In other words, the political benefit of associating with them is negligible. But Obama and other Democrats have already come out in support of Occupy, so any crimes or images of squalor and rioting would be tagged to the president and his party.
The Occupy movement was supposed to be the Tea Party of the left, but instead it’s become a major embarrassment for Democrats — and attempts to clean it up and make it presentable have been a major failure so far. As the latest Adbusters column illustrates, Occupiers are not looking for more cohesion and legitimacy. If anything, they’re looking for the opposite.