Will the Occupy Wall Street movement be co-opted?
Gandhi once said of growing movements of social protestation, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
The trajectory of the ever-evolving and growing Occupy Wall Street movement follows the same pattern almost to a “T,” with slight variation.One can observe a perfect case study of the liberal class in action, in four distinct acts, with one exception: “then they fight you” can be replaced with “then they attempt to co-opt your movement.”
Act One – Getting Ignored: In the early planning stages of Occupy Wall Street, few were even paying any attention to them at all … even to those highly sympathetic to the cause and its accompanying ideology. The liberal class, predictably, was nowhere to be seen in the planning stages of OWS, wholeheartedly ignoring the fact, or simply not even knowing the fact, that this occupation was in the works.
Act Two – Getting Laughed at: Once it was seen that, while not yet a movement, the people occupying Wall Street had, at the very least, legitimate grievances, the liberal class resorted to scornful tactics like mockery of the type of people in the movement – ad hominem attacks, if you will. The liberal class, though, quickly realized that Occupy Wall Street was gaining traction, with leaders of the left like Naomi Klein, Cornel West and Joseph Stiglitz joining the cause in solidarity, and its leaders realized that it must co-opt the movement while time is still on its side.
Act Three – Co-Option: With Occupy Wall Street off the ground, but its longevity still in flux, MoveOn.org and its cousin, the Center For American Progress, and Van Jones’ Reclaim the American Dream Movement, were nowhere to be found. Instead, they were busy planning the Take Back The American Dream Conference, the process of co-opting a growing movement of democratic resistance and trying to replace it with a sales pitch to go out in 2012 and vote Democrat.
Act Four – Win or Be Co-Opted? That Is the Question: Occupy Wall Street now finds itself in a pivotal moment. Will the nonpartisan, anti-establishment movement allow itself to be co-opted by the Democratic Party serving powers that be, or will it remain a strong, left, independent force that grows with each passing day and strikes fear into … the power elite?
One thing is for certain … the liberal class is working overtime to co-opt a burgeoning social justice movement. John Stauber states, “Don’t be fooled. This will primarily be an effort to co-opt the language and energy to salvage Obama and the Dem Party. This is how you co-opt movements. The Occupy Wall Streeters are not leader oriented. Van Jones will become the voice of this in the mainstream.”
Act four, to say the least, should be interesting. It will all depend on OWS activists deciding whether they choose to remain independent of the forces of co-option.
[Excerpt of article by Steve Horn, Truthout]