As the OWS movement begins to crystallize (check out this MJ article, here) its potential could fall: that paradox (which is surely not hardwired) seems to have been understood spontaneously at the beginning of the movement, its founders expressing in some cases a remarkable impulse to simply drop out altogether. I am not fully aware of the details here, but the movement speaks just as well to those on the sidelines (who can’t therefore speak for the movement), and the exploration of the potential is the sudden new exercise of the fellow-travellers, or, at least, parallel travellers.
While it may not be admirable to simply drop out, the impulse, I think, springs from, among other things, the disillusion with Obama’s sheer mendacity in being an inspiring noise sounding like a radical, but turning out to be a closet ‘in our pocket’ Wall Street political dummy. Obama strangely ‘disenfranchised’ his flock, and the impulse visible at OWS to be wary of any platform reflects that revulsion at politics betrayed. Indeed, now Mr. Obama wants to use this movement to get reelected, so that, we should suppose, and fear, he can demolish social security. A dangerous man, and it is small wonder that renouncing politics as usual should drive desperation to a public park near Wall Street.
This mood also reflects the reality: that the problems confronting global society are so staggering, in the context of republicans still denying even the reality of global warming, that the issues of the next electoral cycle simply won’t answer to the creeping reality, even with a new New Deal in that cycle.
Still, you can’t remain virtual forever: something like a new New Deal seems the right way to ‘spend the pocket change’ of some political potential stored.
The problem is that if we have had one New Deal, and the right has destroyed it, what is the chance of repetition? As many on the left pointed out at the time, FDR saved capitalism. But is it possible to play this game much longer? Or is the situation beyond repair by small scale political effort?
In any case, it is remarkable the impulse to create a sort of ‘potential movement’ arose at all, a sign of the ominous future coming, and coming soon.
The question of such a movement’s one demand is utterly simple, socialism.