How'r We Doing? What's Next?

Occupy Wall Street has inspired and energized the world. Most of the people who criticize it are just making excuses for not doing anything.

At the same time, the tactic of pitching tents and squatting on public land may not endure. Also, it may not quickly accomplish the goals of the brave and resolute people carrying it out. Sooner or later, the determined people in the occupy movement may want to look at more ways to do things.

All Tactics Are Good

If they are suited to the time and place, all tactics are good. But time and place determine which are good and which aren't. The data is definitely in on the occupation movement. It was exactly right. Its effect has gone far beyond what many of us thought possible, and it may continue to generate a strong movement for real change for some time.

The Industrial Workers of the World came up with a good tactic around 1909-1916. Frank Little is generally credited for leading the IWW's "Free Speech Movement." It came about because these enthusiastic union organizers often orated from soap boxes in public parks while they tried to find new members. Local authorities would arrest them under this or that phoney local ordinance. The IWW recognized that the U.S. Constitution protects the right of assembly and free speech, so they challenged the local authorities in an open and confrontational way. IWW speakers, one at a time, would mount a soap box in a public place and begin reading the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution. When the speaker was arrested, the next IWW member stepped up and continued.

The IWW would keep that up until all the local jails were full and authorities began to feel the pain of having to feed and guard so many inmates. Local authorities also didn't like the publicity they were getting for having flaunted the Constitution. Eventually, sometimes after months, the IWW activists would be released. In this way, the IWW used civil disobedience correctly to regain the right to assemble, the right to free speech, and the right to organize. This was years before Mahatma Ghandi or Martin Luther King "invented" similar tactics.

There are a lot of tactics

The people's movement is not helpless just because we don't control the police and the courts. We can boycott, picket, march, speak out, text. twitter, camp out, demonstrate, and a whole long list of civil disobedience activities. All tactics are good, but it is stupid to fetischise any of them. All of them are good, but only in the right time and place. People who insist on a tactic regardless of time and place are making a fetisch out of a tactic and misleading the movement.

In a very large, general, sense, we are actually stronger than the banks and corporations who rule us, because we can get along without them and they can't get along without us. Not to mention, there are more of us than them.

"Rise Like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number -
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many-they are few."
-- PB Shelly (1819)