The Occupy Wall Street Movement, which significantly includes Occupy Oakland, Occupy San Francisco, and many other locations, is facing its biggest test, so far – winter. Not just the season winter, but a variation of the proverbial, “winter of (our) discontent.”
I had written before that the movement’s only weapon was persistence, and this of course implies a measured amount of patience (but not complacency). Without a doubt, the goal of the “forces that be” is to make the Occupy movement into a fad, and then make it go away. The weather will test the resolve of Occupiers and we shall soon see if it’s a fad or not. Here’s a hint… it’s not.
But what might turn out to be a bigger threat is impatience – both on the part of city governments and Occupiers themselves. Cities all over America have used various tactics, including ridiculously inappropriate force, to “evict” Occupiers from the camps they have established as bases from which to get the issues noticed. Some of these tactics have been just effective enough to diminish the potential impact of the camps, even if they still survive through mutation and adaptation.
The impatience of the cities (and the police), along with the lack of any observable improvement in the ways in which our country operates, has led to some impatience among the Occupiers as well. This was inevitable, but this winter will be the test. If the movement survives, it will take root and become legitimate.
Occupiers are essentially the Rosa Parks of our time. Any observer of the civil rights movement will tell you that her brave moment sparked something incredible. But her courage certainly didn’t accomplish anything overnight. The civil rights movement has been decades in the process and is by no means over.
During World War I, as the opposing forces dug into trenches in France, the Allied forces had presumed that those positions would be fleeting – that one way or another, things would change soon. The Central forces, on the other hand, assumed there would be a long, drawn-out battle. As a result, the Allies lived the entire time in mud, with diseases like trenchfoot all to common, whereas the Central trenches were relatively luxurious, with electricity, etc. If the Central supply lines had not all passed through a bottleneck that was vulnerable to an Allied attack, the war could have dragged on for years longer with an unknown result.
Get comfortable. This will be a long, bloody (not literally, I hope) fight. Occupiers have to find the balance between imperative and acceptance. The change demanded by the Occupy Movement will take decades. It will involve fundamental shifts in ingrained patterns of thought. It will involve wresting power from the powerful. Who could have thought this would be easy?
Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.
Tom also posts on thrustblog.blogspot.com