Over the last week, we have been beginning to see a concerted effort on the part of local authorities across the United States to crack down on the various “Occupy” encampments scattered across the country. CNN has offered its characteristically mediocre synopsis of the current situation. We have seen clashes with police in Oakland, California and Atlanta, and a legalistic crackdown in Nashville, Tennessee, where local authorities have declared that occupiers will henceforth need proper permits in order to continue their protest. Then, right before the October snowstorm, Bloomberg sent in police and firefighters to confiscate Occupy Wall Street’s power generators, claiming a safety violation. That’s excellent timing on Bloomberg’s part! Why take away the power generations while it’s still warm outside? (“Bloomberg, you little devil, you!”) For coverage of the event itself, I defer to a few words from two of the most “reliable” sources of news: The New York Daily News and the Huffington Post.
The Occupy movement has many, many flaws, but Selecting Stones has dealt with them at length in other articles, so let us take a slightly different approach here. With all of the flaws — and the key one being, as always, it’s primarily (though not exclusively) upper-middle-class character — of the Occupy movement, you still have to hand it to the men and women who got the whole thing started on the East Coast: They’re still there, and it’s cold outside! This weekend’s unexpected snowstorm was, of course, nothing compared to what the winter will soon bring, but, to their credit, the protesters resisted the urge to pack up and go home.
What started on the East Coast, however, didn’t stay there. The movement has spread all across the U.S., taking on a distinctive local flavor wherever it finds itself. Take Occupy Tulsa, for example. It is quite — let’s just say — different from the original Occupy Wall Street, in spite of all the immediate similarities. But “diversity” is a good thing, right? So, all is well! Maybe fewer of the occupiers in Tulsa, Oklahoma ever had any hope of actually one day becoming Wall Street bankers themselves, and maybe that basic fact accounts for the difference. There is a huge disparity between a person who has seen his chances for a highly paid Financial District job withering away, and a person who never had that chance in the first place.
Perhaps as of yet the most significant thing about the Occupy movement is simply the length the media has gone to in order to ignore it. Step back for a second and look at the big picture. This is a huge deal, isn’t it? A few hundred upper-middle-class hippies decide to do a protest in Zuccotti Park, and then, within a few short weeks, countless occupations spontaneously spring up in all their local variety all across the largest and smallest cities of the whole U.S.! That’s huge! Something is going on. Why isn’t anyone talking about it?
And that, perhaps, is the most concrete sign thus far that the movement may have within it a huge potential. We all know damn well that the wealthy elite — the owners, the corporate fat cats, the bankers, the bourgeoisie… whatever you want to call them — control the media every bit as much as they control the financial system. In our present society, the flow of information and the flow of capital become one and the same thing. And if these elites even find it worth their while to go to the trouble to cover up what one would otherwise assume to be a huge story, then perhaps they know something that we don’t know. Maybe they’re consciously afraid, or maybe it’s just second nature to them: For anything that could, potentially, in the future be a threat, it’s always a safe bet to nip it in the bud. And what could be better — and easier — than a media blackout? Who would even notice?
As we have consistently maintained here at Selecting Stones, the Occupy movement as it presently exists is not really a tangible threat to anyone. But it has potential, and that’s what those who stand to lose the most know better than anyone else.