End the occupation

No one likes occupiers. They're like fish and houseguests, they start to stink after a short period of time. And I worry that as time goes on the movement will only have a more and more destructive impact on progressive politics and political discourse. This isn't to say they can't be effective, or haven't been effective at at least one goal, that is bringing the topic of economic inequality back into the spotlight. However, as time goes on their leaderless, agenda-less actions are becoming more random, and less likely to result in a good outcome in the coming political fight. In fact, several of the occupy actions are now likely to harm a progressive agenda, and seriously alienate would-be allies. For example this video from San Francisco CBS:

Really? Breaking into public buildings and burning the flag? What do actions like this accomplish? That's like the A-bomb of protest moves, and you're doing it why? Because you don't have a job? Because you want rich people taxed more? The reaction seems disproportionate. If you're going to be burning the flag it better be because the U.S. is tattooing swastikas on puppies and dropping them with C-4 harnesses onto hospitals. Not because your poetry MFA didn't prepare you for the job market.

Other snippets from around the country include throwing condoms at Catholic School girls, breaking windows and spray painting anarchy symbols on cars, and generally being jackasses. Now, the condom thing is kind of funny to those that think the Catholics stand on contraception is absurd, every sperm is sacred and all that, but doesn't that exemplify why it's an error of tactics? You don't want to alienate an entire religious organization which actually might side with you in terms of working for economic equality. Who runs more homeless shelters, the Catholics or Occupy? These are potential allies, and the lack of focus of Occupy will result in more harm to it and those that may be in place to enact their goals.

A survey by Survey USA now shows a majority of bay area residents opposing OWS with 26% saying they did support them before, but now oppose. This movement is becoming toxic. Where did it go wrong? And is there a better way to protest?

I've been to many protests since 2001 starting with the Bush inaugural. I was there for the reason everyone else was, that election was a sham. The Supreme Court decided it, and a bogus recount was then certified by a crooked Republican state administration run by the president-elect's brother. There were good reasons to go down to D.C. and shake your fist as the motorcade drove by. Then, this arguably unelected moron got us into not one but two wars. The second of which was based on cooked intelligence that we basically lied to the world about in front of the entire U.N. More protests, and again I attended. I was in graduate school at the time and the occasional trip to D.C. to shake my fist was definitely within reach.

The problem was every time I went to one of these protests I saw lots of well-meaning people who were coming from near and far to express discontent, but every protest was spoiled by jackasses picking fights with the cops, carrying stupid signs, destroying property, or playing with stupid puppets. Every war protest was attended by a cohort of wannabe anarchists wearing all black with combat boots and bandannas spoiling for a fight with police, trying to relive their Seattle world bank protest heyday. Then there were the "Free Mumia" people. Besides being off-topic, dude, Mumia shot that cop. The gun registered to him was found with five spent cartridges at the scene and he had one of the cop's bullets in him. Then there's the anti-Israel posters with signs with a swastika = star of David on it. And which group of people gets the media coverage? The jackasses, every time. You see these guys and you just want to go home. I don't want to be associated with these morans.

It's not like the teabagging protests were any less moranic.

And this is the problem. No one in this country knows how to effectively protest. Instead they're trying bastardized tactics of Saul Alinsky. For those who don't know, Saul Alinsky was a life-long professional community organizer and protester. He has become known for disruptive protests like his "piss-in" or "fart-in" which were often effective even before their implementation as they were basically extortion. While he got results in the short term, his more effective strategies were in organization rather than these much-publicized disruptive acts. Both the tea party and the Occupy movement have cited their use of his "Rules for Radicals" to come up with strategies for protest. And guess what? Both groups are now seen as equally pointless and shrill. Occupy's support is tanking.

I believe for almost three generations now we have been protesting ineffectively. FOr some reason, the model utilized by protesters has been to emulate the hippie/yippie culture of the Vietnam War protests of the 60s and 70s. But is there good reason to? Were they effective in their goal of ending or shortening the war in Vietnam? I believe their estimation of their effectiveness is overblown. For instance, when former NY governer David Paterson was on Real Time with Bill Maher talking about occupy he said:

"There are a lot of criticisms of Occupy LA, Occupy Wall Street. They may not really have leaders, they may not really understand the relationship they have to have with the same community that they're trying to represent, the reason that I think this is happening is that nobody has protested anything in this country for 30 years, so the problem is ... that we forgot how to do it. Let's just remember there was a ragtag protest that started at my alma mater, Columbia university, in the mid-60â²s, within a year it forced the President of the united states not to run for re-election because of the opposition nationally to the Vietnam War. So, the style may not be perfected, but the substance is there, the complaints are real and I wouldn't be surprised if it isn't the beginning of a new movement."

Is this something to be proud of? Is this what you want occupy to do? Maybe they'll similarly sabotage Obama's chances of re-election so we get Newt or Romney. Do you guys think it's good that left wing protests sabotaged the Democratic party, enraged Americans nation-wide with the '68 convention riots and helped the election of Richard Nixon? Because Nixon shortened the war right? Oh but surely their protests were so effective that he was a one term president right? Oh, yeah, no. Maybe they prevented an escalation though? Nope. But surely they shortened the length of the war? When did the Vietnam war end? Oh yeah, 1975. That's crack job they did back then. Maybe the reason we've just been engaged in a decade long war is we've made the same mistake with our protests.

So, what are examples of protests or tactics that did work? I think we've got to go back further to the protests and tactics of Gandhi and King. The key features of those protests were strong leadership, preparation, and strict discipline. Their goals were to represent their beliefs in as sympathetic a way as possible, and to make it impossible to accept the position of their opposition which denied their fundamental humanity. In preparation for the March on Washington the signs were preapproved by the march committee. Details were managed from transportation to sanitation. And look at the way they dressed:

i-837eb498592e246eeaea4f50812f58c9-Civil rights protest.png

They're wearing suits. When a cop beats up a man or woman in a suit people get really really angry. When a cop beats up a dreadlocked hippie, they tend to think the hippie started it. Sad but true.

The goal of protests should be to bring people to your side, not alienate people or turn huge demographics against you by, for instance, throwing condoms at minors or burning flags. By all means bring flags, but wave them, because people love this country. If you say or show you hate it, they'll hate you instead. Carry signs that are on topic, with correct spelling. If you want modern examples see either the pro-choice or pro-life movements. I've been to those protests and both sides are organized, uniform, peaceful, and they take care of things like food and port-a-johns. Don't give the city the excuse to clear you out because you're filthy. When you're leaderless, like Occupy is, you can't truly distance yourself from the negative actions either, because if no one is officially sanctioning an activity it's impossible to claim the disruptive protesters aren't "real" occupy protesters. Disorderly conduct and fights with the police are counterproductive. After all, the people you're trying to convince are likely to be turned off by chaos and disorder. Don't forget, conservatives classically favor order over freedom, and a lot of people are extremely turned off by property destruction and riots.

With the approach of the election this year I worry we're going to see a repeat of the protest dynamic of 1968. I don't want to see elections where anti-science candidates who deny evolution and global warming win because of the alienating tactics of this movement. It's not too late, and if the energy of these protesters can be redirected in a productive way there's a good chance the Occupy movement can help, rather than hinder the progressive agenda.

Update:
For some reason I'm reminded of the People's Front of Judea

With their ultimate outcome:

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It's because they have picked the wrong villain.

Compare losses caused by banks and people not repaying their mortgages, against the unfunded government liabilities. [Ignores tax revenue from banks]. Government liabilities are 2 orders of magnitude larger. For the UK, that's 70 bn on the banks, against 7,000 bn for government debts.

Even with 70 bn can be offset against tax revenues. In addition the losses are primarily caused by government buying shares at too high a price, and selling insurance after the fire. ie. Idiotic behaviour.

Now look at the next problem, rent seeking. The bank bailout is just one example.

If I ask you for 100K and you give it to me. Who is the idiot? Me for asking or you for giving me the money.

The banks are just one form of rent seeking. At the other end are Green subsidies and all form of Pork Barrel.

Thank you for the insightful article. I disagree with the header, "End the Occupation." Contrary to portrayals by the mass media, the occupy movement has been overwhelmingly non-violent, even in the face of unjust police brutality. It's also been wildly successfully in raising public consciousness - a mindset that we desperately need to reinforce and expand.

If we accept the idea that we should "end the occupation" thanks to the actions of a few, then we must accept the idea that we can *never* have a broad protest movement - ever! Extremist elements will always try to co-opt existing movements to advance their own agendas. If we give up every time this happens, then we lose our most effective strategy for progressive change - protest and civil disobedience.

The occupy movement needs to begin policing itself, which may include cooperating with the police to report and prosecute violent extremism. That will seem counter-intuitive to some, but it's far better than abandoning our right to protest and any hope of real change.

By Methodissed (not verified) on 06 Feb 2012 #permalink

I'm all for continued organizing for progressive goals. But the occupiers erecting shanty-towns in the middle of cities, pissing off local businesses and getting into riots with cops, breaking into public buildings and burning flags (not even their own flag but the city's flag) have overstayed their welcome. I think they should go home, regroup, reorganize, and come back with a more disciplined and goal directed approach.

I forgot one of the most salient points to reinforce why the civil rights marches were so effective. They had a single goal - the passage of the Civil Rights Act. They achieved this.

Without strong leadership and discipline you can't dismiss the extremists. They are indistinguishable from the crowd. And the Occupy policy of all-inclusion and consensus, besides being a set up for ineffectiveness and failure, will never exclude these elements which will tank the movement.

You guys raided a city hall and burned its flag. C'mon. This movement needs to lay low, and come back with a better message and tighter organization. You'll lose the overwhelming majority of the country with actions like these. You've certainly lost me.

Why is this on Science Blogs?

By Steven Bissell (not verified) on 06 Feb 2012 #permalink

This situation is not new:

"With the lone exception of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, the demonstrators in Miami were a useless mob of ignorant chicken-shit ego-junkies whose only accomplishment was to embarrass the whole tradition of public protest. They were hopelessly disorganized, they had no real purpose in being there, and about half of them were so wasted on grass, wine and downers that they couldn't say for sure whether they were raising hell in Miami or San Diego."

-- Hunter Thompson, at the RNC convention in Miami, 1972

As you might have noticed Steven, scienceblogs has a "politics" channel. As there is an intersection between politics and science (Chris Mooney used to have a site here called "the intersection" explicitly covering this) we have an interest in politics as well as just discussing papers and pretty pictures of fractals.

When the election is between global warming denialists, evolution denialists etc., as well as people who reject the concept of public funding of science at all, we have an existential interest in politics. When morons like this inadvertently help the anti-science side, I'm gonna complain.

I think they should go home, regroup, reorganize, and come back with a more disciplined and goal directed approach.

Occupy has a primary goal - to end the perpetual robbery and control of the 99% by the 1%. An important first step is to reverse the Citizen's United ruling. If that's not clear to you, then the corporate-owned mass media has done its job.

Without strong leadership and discipline you can't dismiss the extremists. They are indistinguishable from the crowd.

Perhaps you can explain how a broad protest movement with "strong leadership and discipline" would be immune from infiltration by undesired elements. Do we wear uniforms and have special ID cards? How exactly do you keep unwanted agendas out of a public protest?

Are you abandoning the strategy of national protest and civil disobedience to enable progressive change?

By Methodissed (not verified) on 06 Feb 2012 #permalink

You've linked to an anti-abortion newsletter rather than a real media source for the school girl condom thing - there doesn't seem to be any first-person witness to any 'Catholic School Girl' being condomed - there were some after-the-fact statements of rocketing rubbers but the police said they didn't get any complaints at the time. And they don't exactly make for good projectiles in or out of the foil wrapper anyway.http://news.providencejournal.com/breaking-news/2012/02/ri-right-to-lif…

By Mark Bellis (not verified) on 06 Feb 2012 #permalink

I'm not sure if throwing contraceptives is a crime that would warrant a police report. And it sounds like the occupy protesters maybe dropped them from a balcony above rather than thrown. It is unclear.

Yes, I do scan the right wing rags to see what's happening inside the bubble. I tell you why I believe this story. One, a total fabrication from this minister seems unlikely. Two, the act is just so bizarre. It's too strange for fiction. If this guy Bracy is just making it up, I give him kudos for inventiveness. The Blaze is repeating the claim, as is fox (for what it's worth), as well as about 100 conservative sites that picked up the story. If you think he's lying, well, what can you do. I take him at his word but also believe he's probably exaggerating for sympathy to some extent.

All that being said, it's going the rounds now, and whatever they did, OWS is pretty off-topic if they're going to cover anti-abortion rallies. If they want to build a non-partisan movement for income equality they shouldn't engage in massive demographic alienation by mixing messages with anti-abortion protest. Look how bringing abortion into the mix helped Komen after all.

I understanding perusing right wing rags to see what the nuts are saying - but blindly believing and repeating their BS without outside corroboration? There's a word for that - it's called gullibility.

I tell you why I believe this story. One, a total fabrication from this minister seems unlikely. Two, the act is just so bizarre. It's too strange for fiction.

That makes me laugh. Right-wing anti-abortion nuts are notorious for making shit up. Their entire belief system is made-up, and they value allegiance to their invisible friend over logic, reason, and evidence. Far from being bizarre, this is a perfect story to advance their agenda, i.e., to infuriate gullible readers.

I take him at his word but also believe he's probably exaggerating for sympathy to some extent.

So you acknowledge that he's probably lying "to some extent" but you take him at his word. Seriously?

I don't know if it's true - neither do you. You should know better than to regurgitate drivel from a source like this without first verifying it's accuracy, especially on a science blog.

By Methodissed (not verified) on 06 Feb 2012 #permalink

"When you're leaderless, like Occupy is, you can't truly distance yourself from the negative actions either, because if no one is officially sanctioning an activity it's impossible to claim the disruptive protesters aren't "real" occupy protesters."

Actually most Occupations do have an "official" mechanism for sanctioning an activity, the General Assemblies (GAs). Certainly anyone can use that term while doing anything they want, and the media will focus on the stupid. However, there really is a process for making decisions.

By blueshift (not verified) on 06 Feb 2012 #permalink

Thank you Mark for writing this - it's something the movement needs to consider and address.
(have they?)

By Anna Haynes (not verified) on 06 Feb 2012 #permalink

So what have these occupiers suggested to solve any problems? The soviet socialist model is not the answer. Changes to the tax code? What changes? How about taxing all income on the same rate scale, earned, capital gains, etc. It may be a good idea, maybe not. But as far as I can tell they have not provided a credible analysis of anything. All they do is whine.

I really don't care if a bank CEO gets a 10 million dollar bonus. Some baseball players make more. What pisses me off is when the government bails them out with borrowed money when they screw up.

Not because your poetry MFA didn't prepare you for the job market.

Yeah. It is most definitely the fault of the unemployed that they don't have jobs.
/sarcasm

Other than that, good article.

By Drivebyposter (not verified) on 06 Feb 2012 #permalink

>"I'm not sure if throwing contraceptives is a crime that would >warrant a police report."
The chief of the capitol police said they'd received no complaints of condoms being thrown - he'd never said anything about doing a crime report. Given that Bracy appeared to say in the article you cited "..they âstarted showering condoms down on some of the girls from a Catholic high school.â" but said in the Providence-Journal article, dated two days after the article you cited, "..he saw "an object falling from the balcony" at the State House strike a former Right to Life leader, but only learned the details later.", I would not find him at all credible. Videos of the event don't show anything being thrown and no one has posted anything from anyone who claimed to have been struck with a contraceptive, and that the Occupy Providence group has denied this happened. Also, Bracy seems to be the only one who said that there were or was a/some "Occupy Wall Street" protestors there along with the Occupy Providence people.
I'd just take this as an example of FOX news misreporting something and bloggers who either don't know how to fact check or just don't want the facts to get in the way of a good story running with it.

By Mark Bellis (not verified) on 06 Feb 2012 #permalink

Mark Bellis, thank you for looking into this. I appreciate the follow-up. Aside from condom throwing, the bigger issue is the validity of the Occupy movement.

@MB - I'd just take this as an example of FOX news misreporting something and bloggers who either don't know how to fact check or just don't want the facts to get in the way of a good story running with it.

There's no doubt that MarkH knows how to fact check, and from what I can tell, he's normally very careful with his facts. Also, I don't think it's fair to suggest that he doesn't "want the facts." The problem most likely results from one of the following (there could be other explanations):

* MarkH is part of the 1% and/or is immersed in a 1% tribe. In this case (from his perspective), campaigning against Occupy makes sense.

*MarkH is part of the 99%, but thanks to our powerful and corrupt corporate mass media, he's been deceived to think that Occupy is a bad thing, e.g., they maliciously throw condoms at innocent teenage girls.

I don't have time to expand on point #2. If any readers want more information about how the elite systematically deceive the masses, I recommend two books:

* Manufacturing Consent by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky

* A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn

Alternately, consider searching for articles from the preceding authors and/or John Pilger.

By Methodissed (not verified) on 06 Feb 2012 #permalink

>Also, I don't think it's fair to suggest that he doesn't "want the facts."

Me too! That's why I didn't say that. I was refering to the "...as about 100 conservative sites that picked up the story.'

By Mark Bellis (not verified) on 06 Feb 2012 #permalink

Mark Bellis - Sorry for the misunderstanding.

By Methodissed (not verified) on 06 Feb 2012 #permalink

Someone ought to go through the denialism card deck and compare them to this post and comments.

"Really? Breaking into public buildings and burning the flag? What do actions like this accomplish?"

Visibility. If you complain, and nobody hears, then were there any complaints at all?

"That's like the A-bomb of protest moves,"

Please leave pointless and extravagant hyperbole at the door, thanks.

If they'd blown the public building up with an A bomb, that would have been like the A-bomb of protest moves.

This was just the "poot" swearword of protest moves.

Go look at the takedown of the Berlin Wall to see what a proper swearword of protest moves looks like.

Wow, a lot of hostility over this one claim. A few issues.

One, I don't dismiss out of hand a source of information just because it is pro-life, or because it is a religious person. I know lots of pro-life people, and religious people, their pro-life or religious politics does not make them instant liars. So in evaluating the source (and based on my research lifesitenews appears to be the original source for this rampant right wing tidbit) I don't immediately discount it, but I am skeptical of any politically-motivated news source of course. That being said, the possibilities are the news piece is A) a fabrication B) false testimony from Bracy C) an exaggeration.

Fabrication by lifesitenews seems very unlikely, and is a relatively uncommon form of fraud even among right wing rags. I don't have a reason to immediately assume Bracy is an outright liar, just because he's pro-life is not good enough. Sorry. I think it's likely there is some exaggeration, but everyone who perceives themselves as victims exaggerates their victimhood. Overall, I think it is more probable than not that this happened. Was it a torrent of 10,000 condoms? Probably not. Were condoms dropped or thrown? Probably. Was it captured on video? Nope, but does the video coverage you have show the entirety of the protest? No, it doesn't.

So please tell me, why is it that you automatically assume Bracy is lying? Is it just because he says something you don't like? I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt. After all, he did for Occupy. See this business insider conversation with Bracy. He hates them now because they disrupted his pro-life rally - a fact that is not in dispute. And why is occupy getting involved in the abortion debate? Why are they disrupting this prayer meeting or whatever? What a terrible error. This stuff is divisive. You want to be the 99% based on issues of economic equality, but not if you're pro-life. Not if you're catholic. Splitters.

Methodissed, thanks for the link to the Black Bloc criticism. I can't stand those idiots and they've ruined almost every protest I've ever been to. However, you said:

*MarkH is part of the 99%, but thanks to our powerful and corrupt corporate mass media, he's been deceived to think that Occupy is a bad thing, e.g., they maliciously throw condoms at innocent teenage girls.

This might very well be true, if Bracy is indeed lying then I've believed a liar. It wouldn't be the first time, or probably the last, but it's not so great a crime. And don't get me wrong, I think the form of protest was kind of funny. But that's beside the point. People like you and me might find it funny, but Catholics will not. Why alienate the Catholics? The Catholics were even helping the occupy protesters out in providence.

PROVIDENCE, R.I.âOccupy Providence and the city said Monday they have reached an agreement over the opening of a temporary homeless day center that will bring an end to a monthslong standoff over the group's encampment downtown.

Protesters voted unanimously Sunday night to dismantle their tents at Burnside Park as soon as a day center planned for Emmanuel House in south Providence opens.

"I consider this a victory for Occupy Providence standing up for the most disenfranchised people that don't have many people standing up for them," protester Robert Malin said. "It shows that with pressure from people, a government can be made to move."

Malin said activists have been told the facility will open soon. It will be run by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, which already operates an emergency winter shelter at Emmanuel House. The Rhode Island Homeless Advocacy Project and the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless also will provide support, and activists plan to volunteer there, Occupy Providence said.

Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare said the city will help find funding to operate the shelter but that no city money will be used.

So the day after the Catholics open a homeless shelter up for the occupy protesters they disrupt their rally? That looks bad and is poor planning.

The truthiness of this one claim is besides the point. Occupy should not be branching out into the abortion fight. This kind of splitting dilutes their message, and there is no reason to create political or religious divisions within a movement devoted to economic equality.

Missed this at first. Also from Methodissed:

Perhaps you can explain how a broad protest movement with "strong leadership and discipline" would be immune from infiltration by undesired elements. Do we wear uniforms and have special ID cards? How exactly do you keep unwanted agendas out of a public protest?

Are you abandoning the strategy of national protest and civil disobedience to enable progressive change?

I thought I did. Citing the King-led rallies and the March on Washington in which a march committee planned details from the signs down to the schedule and transportation. If it's a matter of record that you had a specific message, and everyone is carrying around signs with a uniform objective and statements makes it clear what your message is and is not. If one guy shows up with a kennedy=hitler poster it's pretty easy to say, "he's not one of us, not an approved sign, nice try". In preparation for sit ins of race restricted businesses, they would prep the protesters ahead of time. I've seen the video in Birmingham's civil rights museum. They would yell and scream and dump water on the protesters ahead of time, so when it happened for real they wouldn't lose their heads and respond with violence.

I do understand the leadership structure of occupy, I read all about it. I just think it's ineffectual. You are not totally leaderless, but you're also not strongly led.

And anon, I freaking love HST and that's a great quote. It describes most of the anti-war protests I've been to. Although I've read people's history and Chomsky too, don't worry.

All of these things require lots of discipline and lots of hard work. The type of protest I'm advocating is not easy, and I think that's why it isn't routinely done (although the pro-choice groups I think are a modern example). But I also think it's the most effective. I'm not arguing against occupies message or goals. I'm disagreeing with their tactics, execution, and dilution of their message and goals with this stupidity. I'm saying chuck out your Saul Alinsky and instead study the most effective demonstrator we have in our country's history. You know, the one that just got a 50 foot granite statue down on the mall.

So Mark, are you saying the Occupations should all end or that they need to refocus on the core goals and more carefully consider their tactics?

Your initial post was extremely disparaging, particularly if you are simply trying to say the groups are getting off message.

By blueshift (not verified) on 07 Feb 2012 #permalink

"Now, the condom thing is kind of funny to those that think the Catholics stand on contraception is absurd"

Not to me, and I think the official Catholic stance on contraception (which isn't shared by a great many Catholics anyway) is absurd. Why isn't it funny to me? I had condoms thrown on *me* once, when I was a schoolgirl. Not a Catholic schoolgirl (public school, me), and nothing to do with abortion rights; it was junior high and I was one of the designated victims for the local bullying squad. So, it's not funny to me. Never will be. Throwing prophylactics on girls is a way to humiliate them. And it generally works. Doesn't matter what the intended message is; it's wrong.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 07 Feb 2012 #permalink

I didn't see that angle of it Calli, I'm sorry.

blueshift. I would say they should end the occupations physical presence in cities. They should then go online, and organize people from their protests into specific goal-directed protests. I think as long as they are creating ongoing problems for individual cities and businesses they're going to engender negative press and negative attention. It's hard for protests to get positive attention in the best of circumstances. When they're fighting with cops and breaking into public buildings to burn flags, they're going to hit the deep negative end of press coverage. It doesn't matter if it was justified. It doesn't matter if they're right and the cops are wrong. The images created are harming their cause.

Mark,
Thanks for the reply. I had somehow missed your 10:39 am post where you did effectively answer my question.

I agree the protester vs. police dynamic is counter productive unless the protester is clearly non-violent.

By blueshift (not verified) on 07 Feb 2012 #permalink

Mark, they have to fight with cops and cause trouble to get attention and look like victims. If they stick to communist complaints about 'income inequality' they will disappear into the background once again. When you get them to actually articulate their economic policy they become another 1% group with no political power. Capitalism works, warts and all.

Of course, if I am wrong and they do really represent the 99% then they will control the congress within a year and begin to implement their policies.

Bracy has told the Providence-Journal that he only saw "an object" "fall" from the balcony onto someone at the rally who he didn't identify as a schoolgirl - he learned the details later, but we don't have any direct source for the claim that Catholic schoolgirls being pelted by condoms, so if we take Bracy at his word, all we have is hearsay that hasn't been supported by any evidence. One would expect that there would have been someone else in the crowd to support this claim.

By Mark Bellis (not verified) on 07 Feb 2012 #permalink

"Mark, they have to fight with cops and cause trouble to get attention and look like victims."

Bill, the police have to incite violence and hide the provocation so that the filthy hippies can be made out to be the bad guys.

Indymedia had several servers taken from Rackspace by some unspecified government agency Rackspace are forbidden to name because in the G20 summit in Italy, Indymedia had footage of the start of a riot by "protestors".

The instigators were undercover police.

The Italian police demanded the data be taken down and deleted because it put identities of any undercover policeman in danger, and that there were no undercover police instigating violence either.

They mismatch between these two statements were apparently ignored.

And there's a recent incident after protesters were kettled (google the word), a man went home from his work, saw the disturbance, went a different way home and was killed by a police officer who knocked him down and beat him. The police were all unmarked.

The police official statements were that this man (Ian Tomlinson) was a violent protestor, then that he was resisting arrest, then that he was actually assaulted by protestors.

When mobile phone footage showed the incident, it was shown that the man was attacked unprovoked and that there were protestors within a hundred yards but they were calling for aid for him.

The first point, surely, is not that large and orderly protests have been hijacked by nutters, but rather that the nutters have wrapped around themselves larger protests of (presumably) well-intentioned spear-carriers? Visit any social website catering to a sub-culture where there's a significant sense of grievance, and you'll find these agents provocateurs spending years carefully grooming those with a chip on their shoulders against society. That gets them from twenty people to a few hundred. Then they send out those hundreds onto mainstream social sites and presto! you've got a few thousand, enough for a demo and top spot on the evening news. Facebook has done for these what the portable printing press did in 19th Century Russia (Dostoevsky's "Demons" is a long read, but illustrates some of their tactics).

The second point is that to have a dignified protest, you really need some generally acknowledged injustice. Whether it's students in the UK in 2010 or Occupy last year, what we have in the West is mostly a bunch of subsidised people demanding even more subsidy from a tired society. If you can afford to spend three months off work in a tent city without starving to death, then you are absolutely in the top 1% in the world, whether it's comfortable for you to admit that or not. Contrast both these efforts with the dignity of the Russian white ribbon protests asking for fair and properly scrutinised elections.

By Ian Kemmish (not verified) on 08 Feb 2012 #permalink

Wow, the video at the top of this post indicates it is the protesters being violent, not the police. They could have stood on the steps and articulated their point in a peaceful manner, but they would have to have something intelligent to say.

S'okay, MarkH. I didn't really expect you to see that side of it. I just wanted to point out that while the irony of it may amuse, there are reasons it is humiliating to girls which have nothing to do with abortion or safe sex. I was in 7th or 8th grade (can't remember which, but it was junior high, anyway), and I never did find out who did it. It wasn't a terribly subtle or coherent message; it's just that condoms are associated with sex, and at that age, that's something very confusing and complicated for kids. Girls especially; you don't really know how to navigate all of these feelings you have, the girls around you are being very competitive (basically the same thing guys go through a couple of years later; it's part of maturation), and there's this weird tension between wanting to be attractive and not wanting to be a slut. It's a very conflicted time for gals. Throw a condom at a girl and it gets all sorts of weird.

But anyway.

Regarding the original post, I agree that the Occupy movement is now doing more harm than good. I'm not really sure it ever was doing much good. Some, maybe, but I'm not sure people even now have much awareness of the gulf between the 1% and everybody else. It reminds me very much of the protest that occurred on my college campus, senior year. The paracollege was being cut; in fairness to the school, there were only six paracollege majors preparing to graduate that year, so the department wasn't doing a good job of justifying its existence that way. The idea had been that with paracollege, you could major in things the school didn't formally offer, and in the beginning (back in the '60s), that's how it had worked out. But one of the ones in my graduating class was majoring in protest. The protest against pulling the paracollege was her work, as her senior project. The college permitted them to camp out on the college green, even though that was normally against the rules, and even provided refreshments to them during Senior Week, when each department hosts a meet-and-greet for parents and students. As far as I could tell (living in a dorm room that looked out over the "protest"), the irony was lost on them.

Oh, and for more irony -- the first move in their protest came the day the decision was announced. A handful of paracollege students sat outside the chapel listening to a tape recording of "We Shall Overcome". I kid you not. Again, the irony was clearly lost on them.

No organization, no clear goals; they were utterly ineffective. It was a very small scale demonstration of what we're seeing now; the Occupy movement is too disorganized to be effective.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 08 Feb 2012 #permalink

@MarkH

Wow, a lot of hostility over this one claim.

I didnât mean to be hostile and apologize if I came off that way. Itâs my nature to blunt, especially when frustrated by what I think is a misguided public appeal, i.e., The blog header - âEnd the Occupation.â

why is it that you automatically assume Bracy is lying?

Remember that you referred to this website as a âright wing ragâ and you said, â...the act is just so bizarre. It's too strange for fiction.â Letâs reframe your question using your own words,

âWhy would you object to a prominent intellectual (speaking outside his area of expertise), for strongly believing a bizarre claim that is too strange for fiction, which he found on a right wing rag and then reposted on a science blog as though it were a fact, without first verifying itâs accuracy?â

Perhaps I should ask why you called this site a ârag.â

Rather than asking why I think âBracy is lying,â we should ask, âWhy would I automatically believe this deeply biased and highly motivated professional religious nut when he makes uncorroborated claims that advance his irrational divine mandate to save âinnocent babies?â This is fertile ground for believing that the end justifies the means, which only adds to my skepticism. Further, I didnât say he was lying, I expressed doubt, i.e., we donât know, which is not the same thing.

My point about mass media manipulation was directed at the original post and the conversation in general. Seriously man, youâre view of Occupy sounds like a nightly news cast straight from the lips of the corporate-owned mass media, i.e., you reiterated many of their favorite talking points. They have intentionally and successfully marginalized positive aspects of the movement and cleverly portrayed outliers as representative of the whole (just like Americanâs statistically irrational fear of terrorism).

Thanks to mediaâs self-serving manipulation, tens of millions of Americans automatically experience a negative visceral response from just hearing the word âOccupy,â which naturally compels people to act against their own interests. And yes, the inappropriate behaviors of the few protesters are a gift to the 1%.

Trusting corporate media to fairly report self-defeating ânewsâ is like trusting a news station owned by big tobacco to accurately depict anti-tobacco protests. There is overwhelming amount of hard factual evidence that clearly illustrates the long-standing unethical behavior of our mass media.

Citing the King-led rallies... If it's a matter of record that you had a specific message, and everyone is carrying around signs with a uniform objective and statements makes it clear what your message is and is not.

Think about it â why didnât anarchists co-opt the civil rights movement? Because it didnât apply to them. Conversely, they are part of the 99% and they are justly upset, which means they arenât going away no matter what we do (plus, they love to protest). As I noted earlier, I think we need to cooperate with the police in the reporting and prosecution of extremists.

Weâre talking about two very different scenarios. Racial inequality has multiple facets, but it was a relatively easy problem to focus. The minority was being unjustly oppressed by the majority. Occupy is a response to oppression of the majority by the unimaginably powerful minority, and the injustices are significantly more varied and complex.

Weâre getting screwed in so many ways and at so many levels, I donât see how there can be a specific message that addresses the issue, other than 99% vs. 1%. Letâs say Occupy decided to focus on a worthy target â the banks. While weâre battling that partial problem, our government and its corporate masters will continue stealing from poor to further enrich the rich, shredding our constitution, cheating in our election process, bombing poor and helpless countries, destroying our planet,, etc. etc. As I noted earlier, reversing Citizenâs United is a huge priority and would have a substantial impact. But thatâs only part of the problem, and is therefore only the beginning.

In conclusion, I donât see how âEnd the occupation,â even temporarily, is a good idea (we risk losing momentum and vital gains in raising public consciousness). We donât have time to start over. For most people in this country, the situation is desperate and rapidly getting worse.

From that perspective, it seems a little presumptuous for someone who presumably has a bright career ahead and a relatively privileged life, to tell suffering people to go home and stop protesting against the enormous injustices that they and their loved ones are enduring. You seem to be genuinely sympathetic to many of the issues and I have no doubt that you mean well. I do, however, suspect that our corporate media has significantly distorted the truth as you see it.

In my opinion, the movement will grow and expand because the 1% cannot stop screwing us. Every for-profit corporation is engaged in a perpetual war for survival, growth and profit, and the global playing field and resource pools are rapidly shrinking. The public, now with a 99% mindset, will become more and more aware as the situation worsens, which means Occupy is here to stay â in one form or another.

The books I mentioned above beautifully outline the problem, especially in regard to unethical conduct by corporate print media giants like the New York Times.

By Methodissed (not verified) on 08 Feb 2012 #permalink

"For most people in this country, the situation is desperate and rapidly getting worse"

Looks like you've been brainwashed Methodissed. These protesters were born into the richest, fattest, laziest society in the history of the planet. Just because somebody else works harder and has more money doesn't make your situation desperate, just envious.

Let's get specific. My wife and I own a corporation. We work hard to provide a product our customers want and purchase of their own free will. We work long days for months on end without a day off to make sure we are successful. We listen to and respond to our customers. At the same time we provide employment in our community, collect sales taxes for the government, pay corporate and personal income taxes and contribute our time and money to local non-profit endeavours.

What would you do about us? Shut us down because we make a profit. Have the government seize our business and put some bureaucrat in charge. Let's hear your solution to the great injustices you suffer due to our hard work.

Methodissed:

Rather than asking why I think âBracy is lying,â we should ask, âWhy would I automatically believe this deeply biased and highly motivated professional religious nut when he makes uncorroborated claims that advance his irrational divine mandate to save âinnocent babies?â This is fertile ground for believing that the end justifies the means, which only adds to my skepticism. Further, I didnât say he was lying, I expressed doubt, i.e., we donât know, which is not the same thing.

I still think this is an unfair dismissal of testimony of an individual for his politics. I'm the first to point out when the pro-lifers lie, and they do, a lot. They say abortions cause cancer, that they're unsafe (they're safer than term pregnancy), that birth control causes cancer, that abortion causes infertility etc. All lies. But those lies are different, because they have to do with protection of their ideology from science which shows all their health complaints about reproductive choice are false. The willingness to believe in these denialist arguments however doesn't usually translate to general dishonesty and lying. Just because someone denies global warming doesn't mean they'll steal your change or lie about you in general. Other quotes from him have emphasized it was condoms that fell on him, that he made a point of saying they were "unused" etc. I don't think he's fabricating. Something happened. We might just have to agree to disagree.

Think about it â why didnât anarchists co-opt the civil rights movement? Because it didnât apply to them. Conversely, they are part of the 99% and they are justly upset, which means they arenât going away no matter what we do (plus, they love to protest). As I noted earlier, I think we need to cooperate with the police in the reporting and prosecution of extremists.

These people are a poison-pill. Include them at your own risk. As noted in my post my dislike of this group is from personal experience with them sabotaging anti-war protests and acting like morons. Having a all-inclusive strategy sounds nice, you may not want them on the outside pissing in, but the anarchists piss on everything when they're inside the tent too.

In conclusion, I donât see how âEnd the occupation,â even temporarily, is a good idea (we risk losing momentum and vital gains in raising public consciousness). We donât have time to start over. For most people in this country, the situation is desperate and rapidly getting worse.

The gains you're making in the public conscious are negative. Flag burning is a terrible PR disaster. This strategy is failing, see the survey USA poll from last week. 57% of San Franciscans opposed Occupy, with 26% saying they changed from positive to negative. An large majority (68%) support the police with 33% saying they've been going easy on the protesters. You've lost San Francisco! How is that possible? If you can't maintain even a plurality of support in San Fran, how do you think you're going to do in Peoria?

If you are losing the public your protests are failures and the polling data shows that exposure to occupy is inducing losses in support. If your strategy isn't working change it! That shouldn't be difficult to accept, unless it's just the culture of protest that is loved, and not the desire to obtain results. Take a deep breath, separate your emotions from the facts, and try to see from a dispassionate point of view that current methods and protests are not achieving goals.

From that perspective, it seems a little presumptuous for someone who presumably has a bright career ahead and a relatively privileged life, to tell suffering people to go home and stop protesting against the enormous injustices that they and their loved ones are enduring.

These arguments generate nothing but hostility in your opponents. I feel as though I'm being criticized for delaying gratification, educating and training myself for 12 years post graduate, working 80-100 hour weeks for a salary that, factoring in the hours we work, barely places us over minimum wage despite the nature of our highly skilled and specialized labor. My life isn't exactly easy either. And if I make out in the future it's only after I've sacrificed decades of my life to a profession that has the explicit goal of relieving human suffering, not just the unenlightened pursuit of profit. Keep up arguments like these and you'll have no allies left.

You seem to be genuinely sympathetic to many of the issues and I have no doubt that you mean well. I do, however, suspect that our corporate media has significantly distorted the truth as you see it.

I am the one who is looking at this dispassionately. I don't have a dog in this fight. You complain that I sound like the corporate media, but you forget I'm also citing personal experience with protest movements for the last decade. It's not just corporate perception, it's what actually happens due to poor discipline, unfocused goals, and misbehaving jackasses.

Complaining the media is biased solves nothing. Instead, figure out how to get your message across in the corporate media because A) that's what the people you're trying to convince rely upon, B) just because it's corporate doesn't mean it's wrong (as opposed to biased) and C) their portrayal of you will be the final record of the event. Being oppositional here won't serve you, because the people you need to reach out to aren't going to be reading the Daily Worker or even Huffpo. Video (usually) doesn't lie and that flag burning was an unquestionably an error. The lack of sympathy of the the media to your cause is exactly why you must be more disciplined, more on message, and more goal directed. You can't let them catch you making mistakes because they will be amplified far more than your successes.

Being angry that corporate media distorts things doesn't address the problem that the public will be looking at you through that distorted lens. Your strategies have to be adjusted for the reality of corporate media dominance, you're not going to change that anytime soon.

@bill

Just because somebody else works harder and has more money doesn't make your situation desperate, just envious.

You know nothing of my situation, which necessarily means that your overt truth claim (I'm "just envious") is grounded in ignorance.

What would you do about us? Shut us down because we make a profit. Have the government seize our business and put some bureaucrat in charge. Let's hear your solution to the great injustices you suffer due to our hard work.

In logic that's called a Strawman Argument, i.e., you're committing a common logical fallacy (an error in reasoning). Occupy is not in anyway opposed to hard working self-employed people. I too own a small corporation and have been in business for 13 years.

You clearly have no concept what this movement is about. Fail!

By Methodissed (not verified) on 09 Feb 2012 #permalink

@methodissed,

"You know nothing of my situation"

Not true, I know what you said,

"the situation is desperate", "Weâre getting screwed in so many ways and at so many levels,", "the 1% cannot stop screwing us.", blah, blah....

I think that's bullshit. Exactly how are you being screwed? You are fortunate to own a corporation and live in one of the richest, healthiest societies ever and all you do is whine. I've heard it all before. "The 1% have more money than us, whaa, whaa."

"Occupy is not in anyway opposed to hard working self-employed people."

Not true. Corporations and 'rich people' (that's the hard working self-employed people)are the subject of much vitriol from the occupy movement. I can't believe you missed that.

You wrote,
"In my opinion, the movement will grow and expand because the 1% cannot stop screwing us. Every for-profit corporation is engaged in a perpetual war for survival, growth and profit, and the global playing field and resource pools are rapidly shrinking. The public, now with a 99% mindset, will become more and more aware as the situation worsens,"

Was that statement made in support of those hard working folks who run those corporations?

I have engaged many occupiers and tried to get them to give me their alternatives but they always come up empty. Almost every time it turns out that they are doing OK but just pissed of because other people are really rich. That's envy. Many times I find, as you pointed out, "they love to protest."

Convince me I'm wrong. What are the three best ideas to come out of this movement that would change society for the better?

@methodissed

I forget to mention.

You wrote,"You clearly have no concept what this movement is about."

Now I get to say, You know nothing of my situation, which necessarily means that your overt truth claim is grounded in ignorance.

You see, it's not that I have no concept, I just disagree with your take on it. Do you understand the difference?

I still think this is an unfair dismissal of testimony of an individual for his politics.

I find this aspect of this discussion fascinating. My position is skepticism 101, or if you like, the null hypothesis. Once again, Iâm not accusing Bracy of lying â I simply donât know.

How about this â run the condom claim past some of your science blogging colleagues to see what they think. For example, send the website link to Steve Novella and ask him if he would repeat this claim as a fact on his blog, and use it as a key premise in a long and detailed polemic, without first verifying its accuracy. Iâd bet a lot of money that he recommends a healthy dose of skepticism. Please let us know what you find out.

You and I certainly agree that violent anarchist actions are poison. We canât extract them from our cause just as the Viet Nam anti-war movement couldnât stop The Weather Underground from detonating bombs or advocating other forms of violence. Would you have offered the same advice to the anti-war movement, i.e., stop protesting?

The gains you're making in the public conscious are negative. Flag burning is a terrible PR disaster. This strategy is failing,

If you cherry pick negative examples, it can certainly seem that way. Itâs also true that 99% vs. 1% is now engrained in the public consciousness, which is extremely important to help people properly frame further attacks on our freedoms and way of life. In fact the movement has been so successful that Obama (the most powerful man on the planet) used strongly worded Occupy language to gain popular political support.

San Francisco is not âlostâ â public support has been weakened. Thank you asshole anarchists (or whoever) and congratulations to the corporate media on successfully defending your turf. If human history tells us anything, you can only push people so far before they push back. The elite will not and cannot stop their assault on our freedoms, liberties and economic well being. That means more injustices and hardship ahead, which will invigorate more support. There are sure to be many more setbacks to the movement â they are unavoidable in any anti-government protest scenario.

I feel as though I'm being criticized for delaying gratification, educating and training myself for 12 years post graduate, working 80-100 hour weeks...

I didnât mean to criticize your career choices, and I think your protest background is admirable. My point was that based on your statements above, Iâm not sure that youâre in touch with the people on the street, i.e., to viscerally empathize with their hopeless situation. Itâs easy for someone who has a stable home and promising future to tell other people to just go home and chill in the hope that someone will figure out how to eliminate the anarchists. Again, Iâm not criticizing you â itâs simply a disparity in situations. Iâm challenging your appreciation of their desperate situation and limited options.

Complaining the media is biased solves nothing. Instead, figure out how to get your message across in the corporate media...

I wasnât just complaining, I was suggesting that youâre perspective has been unfairly warped by our corporate media. If you trust the corporate media to offer a reasonably accurate window to the world, then youâre in denial about the power that they wield over your malleable (plastic) brain.

We all think weâre immune to subversive influence (propaganda), but we all have the same (or similar) cognitive biases, which are easily manipulated, just as our perspective is easily warped by visual illusions. As a result, if you trust corporate media to be "fair and balanced," your beliefs and subsequent actions will necessarily be distorted in ways that benefit the 1%. In fact the title of this blog post, âEnd the Occupation,â is a gift to the 1%. Again, I understand that your intentions are ethical and noble.

In the interest of furthering your understanding of denialism, how about reading Manufacturing Consent? The book is heavily sourced and will destroy your trust of corporate media. If you think the book is B.S., that could be a great subject for a blog post, i.e., why we can trust the corporate media to act against their own interests and to violate their legal mandate to prioritize profit over truth.

By Methodissed (not verified) on 09 Feb 2012 #permalink

@bill

Exactly how are you being screwed? You are fortunate to own a corporation and live in one of the richest, healthiest societies ever and all you do is whine. I've heard it all before. "The 1% have more money than us, whaa, whaa." ... You see, it's not that I have no concept, I just disagree with your take on it. Do you understand the difference?

No. You've clearly demonstrated (again) your complete lack of understanding. A fundamental aspect of argumentation is being able to charitably express opposing views and to respond with valid and damaging counter-arguments (the Rebuttal Principle). Your depiction of Occupy is again a straw man, and your response is laden with cynicism with no substance.

Corporations and 'rich people' (that's the hard working self-employed people)are the subject of much vitriol from the occupy movement.

Our system overwhelming favors the wealthy and screws common people, which is the 99% vs. 1% argument. You're lumping all corporations into the same bucket. For example, my corporation is a little one-person shop that isn't hurting anyone. Conversely, billion dollar corporations are causing great harm on many levels, and the system is unfairly stacked in their favor.

What are the three best ideas to come out of this movement that would change society for the better?

There are many ideas. I don't know if these are the best, but they're significant.

* Reverse corporate person-hood and the notion of money as free speech

* Change our entire government structure so it is "of the people, by the people, and for the people"

* Create a fair tax code

You wrote,"You clearly have no concept what this movement is about."

Now I get to say, You know nothing of my situation, which necessarily means that your overt truth claim is grounded in ignorance.

That's an irrational comparison. You previously claimed that my primary motivation was envy. I called that ignorance of my situation, but it's actually worse than that. My comments above consist of hundreds of words, and clearly demonstrate that my view is much more nuanced than simple envy. Conversely, my claim about your understanding of Occupy was based on your written comments . So no, my response was not grounded in ignorance - I have hard factual evidence.

Incidentally, I can see where this is going, and I've played this game many times. If you keep responding in this way, I'll continue providing lessons in informal logic and argumentation. You're way out of your league bud.

So, how about less cynicism and more genuine effort to understand with the hope of finding common ground?

By Methodissed (not verified) on 09 Feb 2012 #permalink

@methodissed

Again; Exactly how are you being screwed?

You are fortunate to own a corporation and live in one of the richest, healthiest societies ever. Syrians are being screwed. The poor kids in China who made our computers are being screwed. How are you being screwed?

"Our system overwhelming favors the wealthy and screws common people, which is the 99% vs. 1% argument."

Repeating the same slogan doesn't make it true.

" You're lumping all corporations into the same bucket."

No, YOU lumped all corporations together when you said, "Every for-profit corporation is ....."

"There are many ideas. I don't know if these are the best, but they're significant.

* Reverse corporate person-hood and the notion of money as free speech"

I agree with the first half of that but the occupy movement didn't come up with it. Would you limit my right to free speech if I wanted to take out a full page add in a widely read paper to express my views?

"* Change our entire government structure so it is "of the people, by the people, and for the people"

It is. What system are you thinking of that represents the people more than democracy? Have you noticed what is happening in the Republican primaries? The people are debating the issues that they think are important and making their choice about the future of government. We may not like their views, but they are still people. Sure, there are big money interests on all sides but the people still decide.

"* Create a fair tax code"

It is very fair. Poor people don't pay income taxes and they actually receive money from the system. The average guy who is doing OK (like us) pays a bit. The rich pay a lot more. How is that unfair? What percentage of total federal tax revenues come from the 1%? or the top 10% of income earners?

I understand the movement; I just think that many of your statements are specious.

Bill, you're a shining example of the power of American propaganda.

We work long days for months on end without a day off to make sure we are successful.

Here's an idea. Rather than devoting almost your entire life to the pursuit of the mighty dollar, how about allocating time to seriously study alternate social, political, and economic perspectives, with the goal of developing a broad nuanced understanding. That's the only way one can claim to have an informed opinion.

You're grossly ignorant about this subject, which makes productive discussion impossible. Feel free to say anything else you like. You and I are done talking.

By Methodissed (not verified) on 09 Feb 2012 #permalink

@43

Gee Methodissed, thanks for the âlessons in informal logic and argumentationâ. lol

Seriously, your response is typical of the shallow arrogance Iâve come to expect from you occupiers. You scream, âlisten to us, we have the answersâ but when you get your chance to tell us your great ideas you have nothing.

I asked you a few specific questions in response to your bombastic hyperbole and all I got in response was personal insults and demonstrably false declarations of your intellectual prowess. About what I expect from an intellectual wannabe who cites a government of, by and for the people as an idea that came out of the occupy movement. Pretty pathetic.

As for, âRather than devoting almost your entire life to the pursuit of the mighty dollar, how about...â Your ignorance is showing again Homer. I work hard to make a living 5 months of the year then I take the rest of the year off to enjoy family and friends, travel, audit a few online courses, engage in some philanthropy and volunteer as a technical specialist for our municipal environmental advisory committee. You see, before I went into business for myself I was an academic scientist for about 15 years, Ph.D. in biochemistry. Your self-aggrandizing BS doesnât impress me, save it for someone who doesnât know any better.

But the occupiers erecting shanty-towns in the middle of cities, pissing off local businesses and getting into riots with cops, breaking into public buildings and burning flags (not even their own flag but the city's flag) have overstayed their welcome. I think they should go home, regroup, reorganize, and come back with a more disciplined and goal directed approach.

Great, they can come back as a new Tea Party. See, I see Occupy as what the Tea Party intended. They wanted the government to stop wasting money, and a lot of other things. Most of the message got shoved aside real fast though, because the people who like Big "Moralizing" Government, but hate Big "Social" Government managed to reframe things, so it looked like everything would be fixed, if they just elected the right people, and gutted the government.

Occupy isn't saying anything *either* party wants to hear. No one wants to end corporate excess power, or over spending, or lobbying. On the contrary, nearly everything done recently, or which has been suggested, has either empowered corporations, or increased their spending on themselves, and politicians, *or* amplified their ability to lobby (either directly, or via political commercials).

Ok, yeah, a more coherent message might be useful. But we are seeing the "pre-party" here. All the people that would, if we had crashed as hard as the Great Depression, be in those shanty towns, either to help, or because they didn't have choice. And, some percentage of those people there may not have one, at this point. You can't be completely out of work, when previously having had a job for years, and no longer eligible for unemployment, and a) keep your house, b) pay bills, or maybe even c) have your car, or anything more than what is on your back.

Who knows what percentage that may be. But, when you crap a shit load of people in one place, any number of which have no place else to go, some of them are going to be criminals, and others are going to be there to commit crimes, using it as an excuse.

What do you get with a more "coherent" message? Well, unless you can get Google, and other big names, to back you, like happened with the SOPA protests, exactly jack shit happens. Because, if you have a list of names, but only a few hundred show up, and its all the same people, all the time, you can be dismissed, the same way the right wing, and even some of the left, dismiss people that "look like" a minority to them. It doesn't matter if they are a majority in reality, if you don't have thousands of people, in a lot of places, all protesting, you might as well be two people, with a list of names from grave stones, as far as those in power give a shit about it. A group can be dismissed, because damn near every group the powerful are members of inflate their numbers, lie about how much influence they really have, and try to con you into thinking they outnumber you, when the reality is *they* are outnumbered 1,000:1, or worse. Just look at the whole "we need to stop voter fraud by passing shit that, by sheer coincidence, helps us!", bull. Same thing. If you don't want someone to be important, you downsize their influence, claim they inflated their numbers, or made them up, and find some "other" group to claim, with higher authority, that the problem doesn't really exist. And, while you are at it, you make that "helpful" group look as big, important, and trustworthy as possible.

You can do that to Climatologists, to people talking about the ineffectiveness of "Abstinence", to the majority religious position, by kissing their ass one moment, then claiming that all 2 billion of them as false Christians, they next, because they don't follow the evangelical ideals, etc. You name a group, with a clear purpose, goals, and leadership, and some asshole, someplace, is lying about how many belong, what they actually seek, and whether or not they are worth listening too, either for, or against, that group, based on if it helps, or hinders, their own dogma, politics, or pocketbook.

But... you get millions of people on the street, and the ***only*** thing you can possibly do to fight that is to pick out the bad apples, and try to claim that its *only* those people out there, or that they are a majority, or worse, that some of it isn't (and we know from recent politics that this is certainly possible, like with Acorn, and the recent "We picked living people to vote for, to prove that dead people can also vote, and therefor fraud it being widely committed, by like.. other people, and not just us!", some certainly is), staged to discredit the whole thing.

I think I will refrain from patting you on the back for throwing the majority out there to the wolves, precisely because much of the press, and everyone else with an agenda to undermine it, has successfully used a small number of those involved to discredit the rest.

But... you get millions of people on the street, and the ***only*** thing you can possibly do to fight that is to pick out the bad apples, and try to claim that its *only* those people out there, or that they are a majority, or worse, that some of it isn't (and we know from recent politics that this is certainly possible, like with Acorn, and the recent "We picked living people to vote for, to prove that dead people can also vote, and therefor fraud it being widely committed, by like.. other people, and not just us!", some certainly is), staged to discredit the whole thing.

I think I will refrain from patting you on the back for throwing the majority out there to the wolves, precisely because much of the press, and everyone else with an agenda to undermine it, has successfully used a small number of those involved to discredit the rest.

I'm sorry you think I'm trying to throw the majority to the wolves but I'm really not. The problem, kagehi, is that the small number have served to discredit the wider movement. Flag burning and breaking into public buildings is a catastrophic failure of discipline. I don't want economic reforms to fail or for corporations the maintain their oligarchy.

What I'm saying is that when the majority get their news from the corporations, when protests, at baseline, are viewed with suspicion and distaste, that's when you've got to exercise the tightest discipline and stay on message. You've got to work with what you've got. If they can find a way to make protests look bad they will. That was the whole point of my complaining about my past experiences with protests. Lots of well-meaning people show up, and a dozen jackasses get the media coverage and screw the translation of your message. Protesting in an effective way is very challenging. By its nature it's an uphill battle because you're trying to get people to change, and all the powers that be will do what ever they can to belittle you. I will stipulate to these facts. But crying about their treatment of you will change nothing. You have to beat them at their game. You have to be better at getting your message across than they are at skewing it.

The tools that will help you accomplish this will be organization and discipline. You use that bad apples quote but you forgot the second half. They spoil the bunch.

@MarkH - "The problem, kagehi, is that the small number have served to discredit the wider movement. Flag burning and breaking into public buildings is a catastrophic failure of discipline."

Can you name a major protest movement that was not infiltrated by undesirable elements?

By Methodissed (not verified) on 07 Mar 2012 #permalink