Who's Concerned About the Co-opting of the OWS Movement ?
One of the striking characteristics of the Occupy Wall Street movement is that it, so far, has refused to yield to traditional elements of liberal politics. It is not pursuing specific policy reforms, nor focusing on Obama reelection. Nevertheless, there has been or will will continue to be various forms of pressure pushing OWS to conform top traditional avenues of politics, whether it is the media insisting on the movement having leaders, unions hoping to use OWS for leverage, or various national groups, eager to embrace the power and success of OWS, often for positive reasons, but some not ready to change themselves.
"....... the U.S. desperately needs a citizen movement devoted to working outside of political and legal institutions and that is designed to be a place of dissent against it. Integrating it into that system is a way of narrowing its appeal and, worse, sapping it of its unique attributes and fear-generating< potency. Even if you believe the U.S. has some sort of vibrant democracy — rather than a democracy-immune oligarchy — not all change needs to come exclusively from voting and electoral politics. Citizen movements can change the political culture in ways other than working within that pre-established electoral system; indeed, when that system becomes fundamentally corrupted, working outside of it is the only means of effectuating real change."
I asked Rose Ann DeMoro, Executive Director of National Nurses United, if she was concerned about the co-optation potential and she said: "The young occupiers are smart enough to know that the pied piper promise that the election of Democratic [or Republican] candidates as the cure all for economic inequality is a recycled recipe for failure. Legislators keep telling us to lower our expectations, the Occupiers are telling us all to raise them. They Occupiers have opened a door in history that the political class will not be able to stage, manufacture or contain.” I tend to agree that this movement, while having antecedents in progressive history, is unique to our times, and likely to carve out new space for social change.
The big question is : Can progressive join it on its terms, not insisting on ours?