Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Boston, Occupy Maine, and the 70 or more sister encampments blossoming throughout America are fueled by a collective DIY energy that mystifies the mainstream media almost as much as it spooks the political establishment.
This is not politics as practiced by College Democrats or the Young Republicans. It is directed street theater, a form of consciousness raising. The idea is to wake up and shake up a nation dazed by economic dislocation. The message is simple: we've been screwed. The richest one percent of the population saw their wealth increase more than threefold.
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For most of the past 30 years, vast swaths of the public have sat in front of their televisions, anesthetized by politicians who convinced Americans that they never had it so good. Jesus loves you. WalMart is heaven on earth. Buying and selling houses is good for the soul. Sending jobs overseas is part of God's great design. So is cutting taxes for the wealthy. As for those pesky little wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we'll pay for those with money borrowed from the godless Chinese, who will burn in hell anyway because they are Commie bastards.
Say what you will about the tens of thousands of Occupy participants, but the older ones never bought into that line of crap, and the younger ones have come of age at a time when their best prospects appear to be a lifetime of low-wage serfdom — if they are lucky enough to find a job in the first place.
Occupy is a movement without a center. It is flash-mob politics. It ignited a month ago after a prompt from AdBusters, a not-quite-underground magazine based in Toronto that wraps its anti-corporate message — hyper-consumption is the opiate of the people — in high-definition, high-gloss irony.
(It is rather delicious that the counterattack to the vast class war waged for so long by the American right wing and its corporate masters was hatched under Canadian sponsorship. The last time Canada provided such a public service was when it harbored Vietnam-era draft resisters.)
It is safe to say that politics as practiced by Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Boston is not of a type with which the respective city halls are familiar.
In both Boston and New York, and indeed across the country, organized labor is not only supporting the protests, but also providing back-door access and offering inside counsel on how to get along with municipal authorities.
READ: "Occupational Hazards: Our reporter sets out to see the revolution — five Occupations in five days," by Chris Faraone
Some of the success that Occupy Boston has achieved is due to assists from long-time, grassroots community crusaders with labor affiliations such as Mass Uniting and Jobs with Justice.