Thursday, April 12, 2012

Is the Occupy Wall Street movement on the verge of breaking out or breaking down?

The Occupy Wall Street movement here in America (NYC in particular) was an offshoot of the previous anti-globalization movement(s) as well as various other environmental and social justice movements as well as the so-called Arab Spring. It was also heavily influenced by the various anti-capitalism social movements in Europe such as the Indignados in Spain. Although these various movements have a lot of common roots, themes, and even personalities, the Occupy movement in the U.S. is really in a whole separate category by itself. The U.S. government isn't even in the same ballpark as the various "Arab" governments. The labor situation in the U.S., including for new graduates, isn't even in the same ballpark as Europe. Sure, the U.S. government and Wall Street and the job market could be improved, but that is a very far cry from comparing them to Tunisia or Egypt or Spain or Italy or Greece. The Occupy movement doesn't seem to "get it." They do wonder why they are not seeing tens of thousands or 100,000 or more people regularly show up for protests, but they are too clueless to grasp the essential differences between the situation in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. The simple truth is that the situation is not as desperate for the average American as it may be at other places around the globe. The simple truth is that if it was that bad then people really would be out in the streets in much greater numbers, but they're not.
The Occupy guys are struggling mightily to "raise an army" for a big "General Strike" and protest on "May Day", May 1, 2012. If things were as bad as they are claiming, such a strike/protest would be a slam-dunk no-brainer, but that apparently doesn't seem to be the case.
As I have said before, the Occupy movement could continue indefinitely as a relatively minor "protest movement", but there is essentially no evidence of the movement doing any serious growth. In my estimate, the Occupy Movement (at least in NYC) peaked in the middle of October (the one-month point) and then began a slow fizzle down. Occasionally they pop up, briefly, but then fizzle away again.
Ultimately, the future of the Occupy movement is not in the hands of its "leaders" and main activists, but in the hands of the American people. As long as the economy keeps stumbling along and employment doesn't slide a lot further, the average American will be too busy keeping up with work and family to divert much attention to a major commitment to the Occupy movement. This could change, but there is no significant evidence of such a change as of today.
In short, "May Day" may in fact be the make or break moment for the Occupy movement, at least in America and in NYC in particular. Interesting... I just realized that "May Day" is the traditional form for a distress call, so "May Day" is an appropriate name for this potentially Waterloo moment for the Occupy movement.


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