Occupy Wall Street Two Years Later: Radicalism Is The New Normal
Occupy Wall Street got off to a shaky start in New York City two years today. From a small group of disaffected communists and anarchists staging what amounted to a fancy sit-in September 17, 2011 to the media explosion that happened two weeks later with hundreds of arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge, Occupy Wall Street was everywhere in the fall of 2011.
While some view Occupy Wall Street as a failure or a flash-in-the-pan, the movement actually hasn't gone anywhere.
It's more than just the catchphrases and imagery that OWS gave us: the 99% versus the 1%, Guy Fawkes masks, the Black Bloc. It was about much more than just the reelection of President Barack Obama in a campaign that was largely won on the rich versus poor messaging, as shown in Stephen K. Bannon's film Occupy Unmasked.
The real triumph of Occupy Wall Street is both invisible and omnipresent. We now live in the post-Occupy era where radicalism is the new normal.
Occupy Wall Street was able to introduce the peace and justice movement activism that began in the 1960s to a whole new generation of unemployed, disaffected youth. The significance of Occupy Wall Street is not that they supported Barack Obama. OWS is the radical bleeding edge and by that yardstick, Obama was too conservative for them. The occupiers themselves see Obama and mainstream Democrats as part of the problem, although they clearly see the Democrat party as 100 times better than the racist, sexist, xenophobic, patriarchal, rich, greedy personifications of evil that are Republicans.
No, the big deal was never that Occupy Wall Street supported Obama. It's that Barack Obama supported the Occupy Wall Street movement.
The stunner is that we have a sitting US president who is sympathetic to the goals, ideals and tactics of the extreme left. This is the genius of Obama's stealth radicalism: the community organizer in chief giving the appearance of moderation for the left while chaos foments in the streets and around the world.
It's had an impact on both international and domestic policy. While the Arab Spring movement that proceeded Occupy Wall Street promoted anti-American, anti-Western, anticapitalist jihadist Islam, the Occupy Wall Street movement promoted anti-American, anti-Western, anticapitalist revolutionary domestic change. On issues ranging from Syria to immigration reform to gun control to race relations, radicalism has seized the day and essentially become the platform of the Democratic Party.
None of this was accomplished in a vacuum. Obama, like every good horsetrader, knows the basic rules of negotiation: set the opening bid higher than you want, then let the other guy "talk you down" to what you really wanted in the first place.
The whole purpose of Occupy Wall Street is to create that high bid. They are the extreme, which makes Obama seem moderate.
Think Occupy Wall Street is dead? One current remnant of the Occupy movement is the current wave of fast food strikes that have been going on across the country all summer. Like Occupy, they aren't spontaneous or driven from the bottom up. They have been coordinated by radical left groups working in concert with the unions.
As FOXNews reported last month:
The protests are underway in cities including New York, Boston and Chicago, and organizers are expecting the biggest national walkouts yet.
A McDonald's restaurant in Detroit closed Thursday morning as workers and protesters chanted "hey hey, ho ho, $7.40's got to go," outside, WJBK reports.
These Astroturf protests have a goal of raising the minimum wage, based on the left is principal of a "living wage." Never mind that all jobs are not meant to provide a living wage. Never mind the jobs lost at restaurants like that McDonald's in Detroit that was forced to close. The strikes are classic post-Occupy Wall Street community organizing. They provide street theater and headlines and give the appearance of a nationwide movement.
The protesters are asking for $15 an hour to work at fast food jobs. That's double the current minimum wage.
So there is your high bid: $15 an hour for flipping burgers. What is the Obama administration stand on this? FOXNews continues:
The movement comes amid calls from the White House, some members of Congress and economists to hike the federal minimum wage. But most proposals seek a far more modest increase than the one workers are asking for, with President Barack Obama wanting to boost it to $9 an hour.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Associate Press, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said the strikes are another sign of the need to raise the minimum wage for all workers. He compared the protests to the demands of demonstrators in the 1963 March on Washington, who sought a national minimum wage to give workers better living standards.
Well, look at that. Compared to $15 an hour, $9 an hour for flipping burgers seems almost reasonable.
This is a pattern you'll see over and over again. Occupy Wall Street inspired protesters-working closely with institutional left groups and the unions-push the edges, as the Obama administration leads from the rear with its "moderate and reasonable" proposals.
In case you have any doubts about this coordination, the "Occupy For Fast Food Workers" was the kickoff event for today's planned Occupy Wall Street commemoration activities. A protest is planned at the McDonald's across the street from Zuccotti park.
There's something especially stinky about that protest outside that particular McDonald's, by the way. Look how the Occupy movement repays the kindness of the very same McDonald's that allowed them to use their restrooms during the occupation. An article in The New York Observer sets the scene from October 2011 so well you can almost smell it:
It was around 7 p.m. Monday night, and the McDonald’s across from Zuccotti Park was packed. Tired cops who had just spent two hours corralling protesters during one of Occupy Wall Street’s marches waited in line behind tired protesters still caked in zombie makeup. The lines for the bathroom were twenty people long; once inside a stall, the used toilet paper is stacked higher than the actual toilets.
A couple of families hurried in and out, one woman dragging her daughter away from two white guys in dreads who were giggling over some tablets of white powder.
Two years after Occupy Wall Street began, the tents may be gone but the movement hasn't gone anywhere. The frame has moved further left.