I have been traveling overseas during the majority of the Occupy movement and up early on Sunday morning, back in the States, I was thinking about what the moment means and how we should judge success.
Being American, we often want to categorize things as success or failure, it’s A or B. We want our wars to end in Times Square moments when the confetti flies and the sailor kisses the surprised girl smack on the lips. We like are business and our movements clean.
As the weather turns cooler, the lack of a clear goal post in sight, the fraying of the movement, the infiltration of those with less than pure political goals, which I have seen first hand in Boston, all these things will, I suspect, lead the Occupy movement to falter and fade a little bit.
The very smart people that think they are very smart will rush to declare it a failure. They will ask what came of it, where are the benchmarks, what was the Times Square moment? And lacking one, they will declare it a failure, when it most assuredly is not.
In a country like South Africa where I just was, the decades long struggle versus apartheid was one struggle or moment on top of another. Each movement stands on the shoulders of the one before it. I am not surprised that the Occupy Movement started in New York City because this Spring, I was lucky enough to help out on the ON MAY 12th movement. Occupy stood on their shoulders and soon, someone will stand on Occupy’s shoulders.
It won’t be pretty or organized or perfect but, for example, the November 6th circling of The White House by environmental groups, that will be better attended and better covered now. The next moment after that will be more successful still.
The whole movement could indeed fade into obscurity. It won’t be for lack of triggers, the path the country on is a devastating one and I would suspect Greece is showing us what our future will look like. But Americans are not South Africans, we don’t like struggles that last decades, we want instant gratification.
But for now, I would look to November 6th and then the next one and the one after that. The November 2012 elections are happening at the perfect time for the movement to influence them.
The power of the Occupy movement will not be seen now; just as the power of the ON MAY 12th wasn’t seen on May 13th.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, according to Lao Tzu. The steps are starting to add up. The journey has begun. Hold on, it could get a little crazy out there.
James Boyce has been involved in the progressive community online since his role as a Senior Advisor for John Kerry in 2004. Since then, he has been both a leading blogger, a frequent contributor to MSNBC, advisor to Bill Richardson in 2008, and founder of Common Sense NMS (www.commonsensenms.com) a online strategy group with clients such as Product (RED), NRDC, The Rainforest Alliance, Stonyfield Farm and more. James can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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