What the Occupy movement has done so far is admirable. It has taken media coverage skewed towards the deficit-reduction obsession of the global elite and forced it to cover the tangible economic problems of the United States:canyon-sized inequality through financial practices causing widespread, sticky unemployment and stagnating opportunities.
But to quote the Starks, winter is coming, the Occupy crowds will likely shrink. Covering tent cities gets tired even for those sympathetic with the movement. The Occupy movement has helped bring our society to a point where it is discussing the real problem: a new Gilded Era guided by an American elite that has siphoned the wealth and momentum of the middle and lower classes to enrich the 1% at their expense.
It has become so bad, the elite 1% so vampiric, that even the well-educated 81-99% Americans have seen their incomes stagnate since 1979. Good educations are not panaceas for greater shares of wealth.
The mechanisms by which the 1% has accomplished what is effectively a multifaceted political economic coup spans our judicial system; laws at the local, state, and federal levels; an entrenched lobbying apparatus without parallel in American history; a media run by sympathetic corporate interests; and perhaps the most resistant barrier for restoration of equitable wealth generation – a significant portion of the classes most negatively affected are the most supportive of the policies making them more disadvantaged over generations.
We need more targeted action and better leadership than the Occupy movement has been providing. Frankly, we now need a greater dynamism than symbolic protests. From the Occupy Wall Street Movement website:
“Dr. Cordero-Guzmán’s findings strongly reinforce what we’ve known all along: Occupy Wall Street is a post-political movement representing something far greater than failed party politics. We are a movement of people empowerment, a collective realization that we ourselves have the power to create change from the bottom-up, because we don’t need Wall Street and we don’t need politicians.”
All well and good. The Civil Rights movement of the 1960s was also nonpartisan, but the Civil Rights movement was also effective because it targeted specific Jim Crow laws in specific places and dismantled them.
We are living in an economic class structure with many parallels to Jim Crow and they are too many to name here. But they have to be confronted publicly and head-on to get the change the Occupy Movement wants. It will require more than collective awareness, it will require collective action against specific laws, policies, and people that stand in the way of reeling in inequality and restoring wealth generation for all economic classes. It’s going to take money above all else, time, people, and an accessible movement with nationwide coordination.
If we don’t do this, and do it soon while the wind is at our backs, the 1% will slow everything the Occupy movement has done to a standstill, just like they have for the last 30 years. People have protested inequality before. “What do we target?” is the next substantial question.