The Occupy movement is an attempt to replicate Tahrir Square in the United States. But you can't just cut-and-paste a model that (sort of) worked in Egypt to the United States.
Especially when you don't understand Tahrir.
American media mischaracterized the Tahrir Square political uprising as an ongoing occupation cum encampment. True, poor people from outside Cairo who couldn't afford hotel rooms slept in the Square throughout the rebellion against soon-to-be ex-president Hosni Mubarak. However, most of the tens and hundreds of thousands of demonstrators whose nonviolent protest led to the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak came and went throughout the day, often shuttling between their jobs and homes and the square. Unlike the U.S. Occupations, which devote most of their General Assemblies to logistical issues, Tahrir was a laboratory of democracy where people from different cities, religious and political persuasions met to debate and discuss issues and problems.
Other things are different. For example, Chicago is a lot colder than Cairo.
From a communiqué issued by Occupy Los Angeles: "Also, there is a movement going asking people to dress nicely -- they are calling it 'khakis and a polo.' By day, that makes sense, but dress warmly for night time! Hypothermia is dangerous."
Hypothermia? Not a huge concern under the palm trees of southern California. The weather is a serious issue for much of the country. The mercury is dropping throughout the northern United States. Winter is on the way.
What will happen to OccupyMN in Minneapolis? OccupyMNers marched to local banks and the regional branch of the Federal Reserve to demand a moratorium on housing foreclosures in particular and lower income inequality in general.
Interestingly, the U.S. Parks Police-issued four-month permit for Stop the Machine (the Washington occupation on which the Occupations were originally modeled) expires in February.
If the northern Occupations (which are the heart of the movement) are to survive the winter, they must move indoors. This will ratchet up the tension with the authorities. Which is the obvious next step anyway.
Occupy Albany is thinking about moving into New York's state capitol building.
There are countless options. Government offices, bank offices and branches, mortgage companies, colleges and universities with unsavory relationships to the top 1 percent who are screwing over most Americans -- all are obvious candidates for occupations.
The Nation notes that New York has many privately owned public spaces, including the atriums of buildings owned by Donald Trump, IBM and Citigroup. "These locations may not be altogether practical for the occupiers, and in fact protesters would likely face strong resistance from the properties' owners if they were to try to hold any of these plazas and atriums," writes Francis Reynolds. "But the fact that most of these privately owned public spaces are in the lobbies of banks and corporations is a powerful metonym for the way money is shaping our cities and our society. If Zuccotti falls, where will the occupation move next?"
OWS must remain dynamic in order to survive.
It made sense to invite the most dispossessed Americans to join a movement dedicated to eradicating economic injustice. But openness has caused problems. "Now, protesters from Portland to Los Angeles to Atlanta are trying to distinguish between homeless people who are joining their movement and those who are there for the amenities," reports the Associated Press.
At Occupy Wall Street discussions have been replaced by vacuous sloganeering in the form of politics -- nothing close to the energy of the ideological incubator of Tahrir Square. "What specifically are you protesting?" sympathetic New York Times columnist Charles Blow asked an OWS participant "I don't know. It's just cool," she answered.
If and when Occupiers move into indoor space, they may have to abandon their current strict adherence to nonviolent tactics.
OWS and its progeny will certainly go down in history as the first salvo of a nascent American revolution. Whether the Occupy movement survives to participate in what comes next, or whether anything will come next, will depend on whether they are willing to disrupt governmental and corporate activity -- and assume greater risks.
David Galland of the Casey Research blog sneers: "Like the 'Free Speech Zones' now mandatory for anyone caring to express an opposing opinion as presidential motorcades rush by, the Occupy Wall Street folks have allowed themselves to be corralled within the boundaries of a designated protest area, approved by the powers-that-be as suitable for the malcontents. Exposing the extent of the farce, the New York Police force has a portable, extendible watchtower that looms over the park, keeping a Sauron-like eye on the goings-on. That thing would have lasted about ten minutes back in the good old brick-throwing days. If I learned nothing back in the Sixties, it is that (once you decide on an objective) you need to assemble in the spot that most forcibly gets your point across -- by disrupting business as usual -- until the government has no choice but to arrest you, after which you return to same scene and repeat until someone gives. You win if the other guy blinks. Were I trying to discomfit Wall Street, I'd be blocking the doors of the major financial houses."
In other words, no more four-month permits.
Right-wing radio talk personality Glenn Beck warns the establishment: "Capitalists, if you think that you can play footsies with these people, you're wrong. They will come for you and drag you into the streets and kill you...they're Marxist radicals...these guys are worse than Robespierre from the French Revolution...they'll kill everybody."
Beck may be able to see further down the road than the OWSers -- some of whom are sucking up to the cops who abuse them by saying they're part of the 99 percent too -- can see themselves. Wayyy down the road.
The Occupiers need a warm place to sleep before they begin feeding banksters to the guillotine.
--Ted Rall is the author of "The Anti-American Manifesto." His website is tedrall.com.
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