…..Making tracks but getting nowhere?
In my first commentary on the Wall Street demonstrations I questioned whether this budding movement was revolutionary or anarchistic, and concluded that thus far it was closer to anarchy – which is a synonym for political chaos. This observation elicited a howl from many of those who support the demonstrators; some even suggested that I opposed them. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It is because I share their outrage at the Wall Street Robber Barons, and the decadent Plutocracy they serve, that I offer up critical analysis in the hope that it might have some effect on the debate about the direction of this budding movement that has now gone nationwide through the agency of social media. I want them to succeed in curtailing the power of the Plutocrats, but I know from many years as a participant observer and serious student that all successful mass transformative movements must contain certain factors.
The most important of these factors, after defining the enemy, is to put forth a set of realizable demands around which one can rally and organize the masses. These demands are defined by what the movement stands for, which is usually determined by ideology. In the absence of a unifying ideology the movement lacks coherence and thus it becomes unclear what their objectives are and confuses the masses.
The demonstrators say they are patterning their movement after the Mid-East uprisings collectively labeled “The Arab Spring.” Yet a close look at those social upheavals reveal a world of confusion which could easily end up with the cure being worse than the disease, as governments fall with no organized political formation capable of taking power and governing.
There is no chance of this in the US, because no unorganized rag tag force is going to bring down the American government. And no highly organized force operating outside of the two party system is going to change the American capitalist system, whether armed or not. This is the problem I have with the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Yesterday I spent considerable time among the demonstrators listening to their vision of the mission they have undertaken. And I found them as confused as two weeks before in both their objectives and how to achieve them. The most common theme in their arguments is that there is no difference between the Democrats and Republicans; hence they are above politics!
When John Was their Age
He was fighting against armed fascist!
They demonstrators exposed the depth and pervasiveness of this belief by denying Democratic Congressman John Lewis the opportunity to address the demonstrators in Atlanta. Not only does Lewis share their feelings about the criminal maldistribution of wealth in the US, but when he was their age he was the leader of an organization that played a critical role in a mass movement that qualitatively changed American society for the better. Here was a staunch ally in Congress who could transform their demands into legislation and put it before the Congress for a vote.
Then the demonstrations would have specific achievable goals to organize their activism around! They cannot achieve their hopes and dreams by any other method. Yet they turned Congressman Lewis away. If the anti-Wall street rebels do not soon get a grip on political reality –which is to understand how change is actually made in American society – their boisterous demonstrations will be all sound and fury…signifying nothing! Like Jack the Bear, they will make tracks but get nowhere!
The Beat Goes On!
Intoxicated by the Afrocentric Polyrhythms
An Aroused citizenry is on the March!
But where are they headed?
Text and Photos by: Playthell Benjamin
* Picture of John Lewis: Smithsonian Institute
October 10, 2011