Friday, October 14, 2011

The occupy movement - renamed the Occupy Resistance

A few weeks ago, the birth of the Occupy Wall Street movement was met with scepticism by some and welcomed by others.  And perhaps a few weeks ago we could have referred to this as a growing movement, something that would change and expand once it gained traction.  But it hasn’t.

A movement has to, you know, move – it has to accomplish something; it has to move towards a common goal.  But this movement has peaked.  Their organization is in shambles, members are desiring different outcomes and different goals, and the police are getting tired of the protesters trespassing on public and private property (the publicly-owned Brooklyn Bridge and by squatting in the privately-owned Zucotti Park).  The only thing they’ve done is angered ordinary citizens (the 99% they supposedly represent), vandalized local businesses, and been widely discredited by anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of economics.

That’s why from here on in this “movement” will be referred to as a “resistance.”  Resistance is a force pushing against the grain to block progress; it’s sludge slowing down an engine that will move forward anyway.

The fact that they’re not accomplishing anything meaningful isn’t the only reason they’re not a movement.  Early in their campaign they branded themselves the “new civil rights movement” on par with the 1960’s civil rights marches.

Since they decided to make such a comparison, I decided to compare this resistance to a few real movements, and what I found is a pitiful comparison.


The graph speaks for itself.  With estimates of roughly 3000 people occupying Wall Street, they pale in comparison to the March for Equal Rights in 1978 or the protest against the Kent State shooting in 1969.

To pronounce my distinction between a movement and a resistance even further, let’s consider a few examples not listed on the graph.

In 1923 the Ku Klux Klan mustered 35,000 supporters to march to Washington to support their organization.  In 1965 the Peace in Vietnam march also turned out 35,000 protesters.  As did the March to end the Vietnam War two years later.

Americans also marched in 1970 to end apartheid in South Africa and ended up with 10,000 voices in Washington, chanting for an end to that country’s oppression.

Congratulations Wall Street resisters, you have one tenth the support as the Ku Klux Klan did in 1923.

This resistance was never a movement.  To even mention the marches of Martin Luther King or the women’s suffrage movement in the same breath as Occupy Wall Street is a disrespectful sin.  It’s always been a resistance, and it will dwindle the second it becomes more popular to complain about something else.