As the Occupy Wall Street protests have spread throughout Southern California and elsewhere, perhaps the most modest Occupy protest is taking place in a small traffic circle in Venice, California. While tourists and locals cruise to the nearby beach, the Occupy protesters, with signs aimed at motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians, are politely trying to win back some justice for their countrymen.
As the slideshow at left indicates, the Occupy Venice protest yesterday afternoon included about 8 people, 2 dogs, several canopy tents, and tables with shared food, water, and clipboards with sign-up lists for various tasks, such as “Community Engagement” and “Media”. The main Venice organizer, Matthew, says he has been camped out essentially 24-7 at this location since October 9. He states (and is backed up by the group’s hand-made flyers) that the Occupy Venice protests truly come to life each evening at 6:30 p.m.
Identifying the Problems
As is the case on Wall Street and elsewhere, the Occupy Venice protesters can articulate the injustices that have sent them to Windward Circle. One paramount concern is corporate corruption of the political system by and for “the one percent” at the expense of “the 99 percent”. Matthew says he joined President Obama’s Council on Environmental Quality on the very day that Van Jones, a Special Adviser in that office, was let go after objections to Jones’ politics by Glenn Beck and others on the Right. Jones’ exit was perhaps an early indication for some Occupy protesters that President Obama might not fully represent the “change” from Republican corporate-backed policies that he had promised. The Occupy Venice protesters also join their brethren in New York City and other locations in singling out the executives of the big banks for taking giant taxpayer bailouts and then using the money to pay themselves huge bonuses instead of lending that money to Main Street and mortgage borrowers. The Venice protesters support the increasingly popular idea of taking one’s money out of the big banks and depositing it with community banks or credit unions with more consumer-friendly practices.
Inside or Outside Game?
When asked what other specific proposals they have to solve the problems they have identified, the protesters are still somewhat vague. Matthew talks about each American being engaged in solving issues that are important in his or her community. For example, in Venice, homelessness is a big problem, and advocates for homeless people are part of the Occupy Venice protest. Another protester essentially says that he wants to create a separate functioning economy. He talked about using “coupons” as a form of currency, or at least as a monetary rewards system, equivalent to S&H Green Stamps, and patronizing socially responsible local businesses. These proposals raise perhaps the biggest issue for the Occupy protesters: will they seek to influence existing political and economic institutions from the inside (for example, by electing more progressive Democrats to Congress, or running for office themselves), or will they want to go outside of those institutions and form new ones?
However, it is easy to forget that the Occupy Wall Street movement is only four weeks old, and the Occupy Venice protest is just over a week old; thus, the protesters cannot yet be expected to have a 15-point plan to solve this country’s economic and political injustices. Indeed, plenty of political movements take their time in forumlating their policies and plans. For example, organizations on the Right such as the Project For the New American Century (a/k/a the “Neocons”) can take years to do so.
Nevertheless, for the Occupy protesters from Venice to Wall Street to countries around the world, it may prove easier to identify the problems than to implement the solutions.
[Note: links not in bold have been added by knotmove.com, not by the author.]
© 2011 Matthew Emmer — All Rights Reserved
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