The other day Karoli expressed some of her questions about this movement and I tend to agree.
I think what it is, is the sense that discontent expressed doesn’t necessarily lead to a solution...
What we have is a serious imbalance. Serious. The pressure is on to balance it. That part of these protests is and will continue to be praiseworthy. But I am committed to change from within the system, rather than destroying it.
The quote in my title is from one of the protesters in a story about Occupy Wall Street in the New York Times. When I read it this morning, it chrystallized my concerns. It seems the protesters have identified the problem, but where there are thoughts about the solution (ie, "taking down systems") I think they're off track.
My questions go to whether or not the goals are to destroy Wall Street or rebalance the power. The former would lead to chaos that I think would do more damage than good. And in too many instances, history tells us that could lead to a potential fascistic backlash - especially given the small number of people on board with all of this compared to the overall U.S. population. This is why the term "too big to fail" developed in the first place...the failure of those systems would affect everyone. But as is always the case, "the least of these" will get hurt the most.
I recognize that this movement has tapped into the anger so many (especially on the left) have been feeling over the damage done by Wall Street and the arrogance shown by too many in their midst. But anger unleashed without purpose is potentially dangerous. It also strikes me as rather lazy and self-absorbed. I'm a believer in the idea that we have to calibrate the effects of our actions carefully. Any change ushers in unintended consequences and we have to be aware of that.
I know that Van Jones has signed on to this movement, but I would remind him of what he said last June.
I wound up going to many many more funerals than I went to graduations for those young people I was working with. And as the years went on, I learned that angry rhetoric might feel good to people like me, but it didn't make a difference in the neighborhoods I was trying to move forward. I learned that education and real opportunity is what makes a real difference. Protest signs are important - they can't stop a bullet. Nothing stops a bullet like a job. That's what I learned working in the toughest communities in our country.
Angry rhetoric is going to be part of any movement for change. It is necessary, but not sufficient. That's because what First Lady Michelle Obama said is also true.
The only thing that happens in an instant is destruction … everything else requires time.
UPDATE: Kai Wright shares his thoughts/questions at ColorLines.
It’s clear to me that NYPD could and would behave dishonestly. It’s less clear, however, what any of this has to do with the fact that millions of people have lost their homes—many in fraudulent, illegal foreclosures on fraudulent, sadly legal mortgages. It’s also unclear what it has to do with the jobs crisis. Or the trillions of dollars in taxpayer money that banks ran away with, while ignoring congressional orders that they ramp up mortgage modifications and small-business lending in return. I mean, I can’t rightly say I know a thing about organizing a movement and I’m all for “a symbolic gesture of our discontent,” as organizers have described this one. By all means, take over the park, the bridge, the street—you name it. But it’s hard to imagine how this becomes anything more than what it is now: a running battle with individual cops over the right to public space in Manhattan.