Monday, November 21, 2011

Thoughts from occupy.

Two articles springing from the occupy movements caught my eye over the weekend, both from Salon. The first, was a demonstration of excessive brutality from police at a UC Davis rally, followed by what I thought was a spectacular reaction from the crowd, seriously, watch the video at the bottom of the article. I seriously can't imagine what was running through the head the officer who sprayed a bunch of non-threatening protesters with pepper spray. They posed no physical threat, the only thing that I can think of was that he wasn't thinking of them as human. The police dragged the protesters away and were surrounded by a crowd chanting "shame on you". Again no violence threatened and the police slowly backed away. I don't imagine anyone becomes a police officer because of the pay or the glamour, there has to be at least a glimmer of the public service ideal in there somewhere. I can only hope there was a glimmer of realisation in those officers heads that after what one of their senior officers did unthinkingly, that the public they hoped to serves regards them with scorn and disdain.

The other article was written by an American soldier currently serving in Afghanistan. It resonated more with me becuase I've been tring to figure out what the occupy movements next step is. What the soldier is asking for - a citizenry that cares, that is involved with the running of the country and takes the time to understand what is going on - is something that would fix a significant chunk of the worlds problems. Again though, it identifies what we are aiming at, not how to get there. Occupy, as best I can tell, was, in it's first phase, an effort to get the conversation started. "Hi, we're sick of this shit, how do we fix it". Which was/is necessary. I'm sure there will be later phases, but it can't be limited to just continuing to protest. if it remains as just a protest it leaves the ultimate responsibility to fix the problems with the ones who created them. And while those who created the problems might make minor course changes and spruce up the window dressing, they are not going to freely relinquish the position of power they have placed themselves in. So something more has to come of the occupy movement as time goes on. It could very well be that the people on some of the camps have come up with brilliant solutions. if they have though, they haven't been communicated to the general public.
Basically, I don't think the next thing that comes out of the occupy movement is some wonderful new political manoeuvre. Sure, there are problems with our economic and political systems, and we need to start putting suggestions forward for fixing them (Even I've got ideas for these, flawed to be sure, but ideas nonetheless). The major thing we need though is for the population to become engaged. Not just to vote, but to read, to figure out how they are governed and how to participate in that process. Of all the things that are broken in our systems, I think this is the biggest.

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