As I write this, one potential revolution continues to grow in size and scope, while another seems to be winding down. The various “Occupy” movements that began a few weeks ago with “Occupy Wall Street” have now spread to many other places in a spontaneous grass roots movement wherein concerned protesters express their frustration/anger/annoyance at… something.
My understanding is that the whole thing began as a demonstration on Wall Street in NYC aimed at calling out the monied elite of the American financial system for their continued excesses.
A few ugly incidents (in which pepper spray was gratuitously and unnecessarily used against peaceful protesters by the cops) attracted attention to the protest. A rather blatant attempt by the NYPD to downplay the details of those incidents (horribly bungled by the authorities and thoroughly foiled by the release of amateur raw video footage of the events) gained the Occupy Wall Street movement new legitimacy and a worldwide audience, inspiring numerous sympathetic protests and a flurry of organization. The latest goal of the expanding Occupy movement is apparently to “occupy” everywhere by camping out on whatever public property happens to be in one’s vicinity, displaying clever signs and chanting equally clever slogans.
The trouble is… apart from some rather vehement rhetoric about how much wealth is currently in the hands of what percentage of the population, the movement hasn’t been doing much of anything except sitting around, protesting against…stuff. Stuff that the protesters don’t like, of course… but pretty vague stuff, when one starts listening to what is actually being said. And while I completely support a lengthy anal-probe of the financial sector (especially after the pathetic history of fiscal misbehavior revealed during the recent bail-outs), it sure would be nice if a mandated-by-consensus grocery-list of formal complaints and demands was in evidence. Hopefully such a list is forthcoming.
That’s one (alleged) revolution. Meanwhile, in Libya, a much more violent revolution has now resulted in the career-ending death of a deposed head of state. I’m certainly not obituarizing Muammar Gaddafi— his lengthy political existence as military dictator, unrepentant despot, regional Anti-American loud mouth, and (at times) international laughing stock of the Persian Gulf, has already used up quite enough ink and internet bandwidth, thank you very much.
I notice that in that revolution, the rebels had a clear goal: oust Gaddafi’s regime. With a lot of very expensive help from the world community, the anti-Gaddafi faction managed to stay one step ahead of the Colonel’s brute squads long enough to topple the dictator and bring his government down.
But now that Gaddafi is gone, what will replace him? After the initial goal is achieved, the next step should be the declaration of new goals and a new agenda, right? Otherwise the whole situation could descend into an ever-deepening spiral of political turmoil and chaos as new Gaddafi wannabes step up, all clamoring for their turn at wearing the boss man’s hat.
Any competent business man will tell you that clearly-stated goals are key to achieving lasting success.
I sincerely hope the various “Occupy” protesters start to mold their collective concerns into a more tangible agenda, and soon. If not, expect them to lose cohesion and fade back into society’s daily grind. One cannot sit on a street corner forever, no matter how angry one happens to be. At some point, anyone wishing to achieve legitimate societal change must choose a direction and start moving. Otherwise, history suggests they will eventually expend their anger in one big collective primal scream and wander home.
“I do not like the way things are”— no matter how passionately expressed or how compelling the sentiment— is seldom enough to inspire lasting change. Because it isn’t a plan. “Here are our suggestions for fixing this mess” is much more powerful; having something tangibly better in mind always counts for more. Because complaining about things is always much easier than actually solving problems.
Of course… one can also write long screeds on some internet blog and bitch about stuff, too.