Yves here. I’ve not weighed in on the second anniversary of the start of the Occupy Wall Street anniversary because, truth be told, the movement has gone so local and has so many different faces that I’m not certain it’s possible to make good generalizations without doing a lot of investigation.
This short interview seeks to address one of the expectations for OWS, that it become a political force, and why it was never met. Putting aside a sour note where the interviewee treats the re-election of Obama as a force for change (perhaps, but not the sort an OWS supporter would want), the immediate answer is straighforward: OWS didn’t set out to make demands (recall the frustrated criticism in the media about “Who is their leader? What do they want?”
Now on one level, you can argue that what old Sixties types would call consciousness building was probably a useful and necessary first step. But keeping political thinking at a rarefied or abstract level often means that serious fissures emerge when people start grappling with what to do. And there’s an undertone of distaste for the hard work of effecting change (the political version of Thomas Edison’s saying that invention was 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration). Mind you, I’m not saying the work that various Occupy groups are doing isn’t important and valuable. For instance, Occupy Sandy did a better job of providing services in Staten Island than New York City did, and various local Occupy Homes groups have helped stressed borrowers. But whether Occupy will again impact the national policy debate or put pressure on existing political parties remains to be seen.