I love you guys. I love what you stand for. I love how you are braving the cold weather, rubber bullets (in some cities) and police batons to face down an out-of-control capitalist system which, in its mildest form, depends on the average person to spend what they can’t afford (thanks to a decades-long, near-freeze in average wages) on things they don’t need. At its worst, it’s a cleptocracy – as in the States – where the system not only lets the individuals who caused the global meltdown to go unpunished, but actually rewards them with higher positions of wealth and power. Occupiers, I have the utmost respect for your resolve to go face-to-face with the riot police who are paid with your tax dollars to protect those who caused all the problems in the first place.
Problem is, I’m an easy sell. You had me at hello. It’s not me you have to convince. It’s the great number of other people in my tax bracket who you need on your side and who, after two months, still don’t know what the hell you want. Fact is, if I wasn’t one to keep my ear to the political ground, I wouldn’t know what you wanted either. Even more, I’m willing to bet, dollars to donuts, I would probably dislike you as much as National Post readers, if I didn’t bother to sift the BS that much of the right-wing media is lobbing at you.
However, two things you need to know: much of the BS is picked, ripe and ready from your own camps.
First, the plethora of youtube videos depicting crowds of you chanting and repeating the words shouted at you from the microphone of one of your delegates (something that immediately brings to mind a scene from Monty Python’s Life of Brain – we are all individuals!). Second, from the interviews on TV and radio, hosted by right-wing stations. For example 1010 Newstalk Radio, in Toronto. On the eave of the Occupation of St. James park, they hosted a mini-debate between Mark Carney – governor of the Bank of Canada – and one of your delegates who, through the debate’s entirety, felt compelled to address everyone as “my brother.”
This is nothing new. All movements which upset the status quo are subject to redicule, slander and scrutiny.
But you needn’t make it so easy for your detractors. Movements thrive off of momentum, but after two months, the short attention span of the general public ( which you so badly need on your side) has already shifted to much more important things, like Justin Beiber’s concert baby and Kim Kardashian’s divorce. Accordingly, with the recent crackdown in NYC, you are setting yourselves up as glorious martyrs to those on your side, like me, and glorious failures to those that either are against you or have no idea WHY you are doing the things you do.
To hell with court decisions and legal aspects of your protest! What’s the point of a civil disobedience if you have to apply for a permit? The time is ripe for a leader to come forth, a representative, bold and loud, to articulate, in no uncertain terms, what you want. Imagine the civil rights movement without the personalities of Martin Luther King Junior and Malcolm X. No “I Have a Dream.” No “By Any Means Necessary.” To many, at the moment, you are a faceless mob from which your detractors can pick the most unpalatable to represent you to the general public.
I have a feeling that you find the idea of hierarchal structure repellent; that it’s your desire to operate from mass consensus, but the reality is that humanity, as it has developed, needs its icons. In other words, if you want to move forward and coalesce into an ideal that the full 99% can hold onto, you need to choose someone who can put a face to a clear and directed vision.
I suggest Kalle Lasn. What a better a candidate than one of the men who is not only behind the Occupy movement, but the co-creator of Adbusters magazine, and its various yearly protests. Kalle is not only trusted and beloved by his millions of fans, but he is someone who is learned, dynamic and incredibly creative.
Of course, this is just my suggestion. It will take a democratic vote to choose a leader. You should know, in the meantime, what bothers many those of us living in democracies – who take the time to vote in government elections – is being told “this is what democracy looks like” by a group of people who, as of yet, haven’t been able to choose someone to lead them.