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And, yes, I DO take it personally: The Occupy protesters are acting like citizens, believing they have the power to change things
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Monday, November 28, 2011

The Occupy protesters are acting like citizens, believing they have the power to change things

thoughtful perspective from william greider writing in the nation...
In Occupy Wall Street, we are witnessing a rare event—the birth of a social movement. Ordinary people are engaging in sustained grassroots protest against the political order and against citizens’ exclusion from the decision-making that governs their lives. They seek to rearrange the distribution of power, and they are doing so by injecting a creative, often playful vitality that has been missing in our decayed democracy. The protesters have slipped around the soul-deadening, high-gloss marketing of mass-communication culture. Instead, they insist that politics starts with citizens talking to one another and listening—agreeing and disagreeing with mutual respect. The open-door, non hierarchical membership commits people to engage in what historian Lawrence Goodwyn calls “democratic conversation.”

The Occupy protesters are acting like citizens, believing they have the power to change things. Their ambition reflects a core mystery of American democracy—the fact that humble people can acquire power when they convince themselves they can. Warmhearted and broad-minded, these citizens audaciously claim to speak for the 99 percent—and despite initial ridicule and dismissal of them by much of the press, polls show they have strong public support. The Occupiers have even managed to make uptight reporters write about corporate greed.


But will it last? Skeptics are entitled to their doubts, but for important reasons I am confident this movement will endure. First, because it is very unlikely the establishment will respond substantively to OWS’s grievances—and that will only make the protesters more determined. OWS has brilliantly focused its many complaints on the very sector—the megabankers and financiers—on whom the politicians are dependent. In different ways, Republicans and Democrats are aligned with the greedheads and are thus unwilling to punish their crimes or cut them down to size.


In any case, this movement is not about electoral politics—not yet, anyway. It is about saving the country, an objective bigger than politics and politicians. Its vision is nothing less than halting the degradation and fostering the rebirth of the nation’s original democratic promise. It is the nature of authentic movements to seek large and majestic goals that seem impossible to pedestrian politicians—and, at first, to most citizens. Standing up requires both uncommon courage and severe provocation.


[R]adical reform will originate only from ordinary citizens—not policy experts and their Wall Street supporters, who led the nation into ruin. The movement can inspire the people to become creative citizens again. Are we up to it? Let us find out. Let the democratic conversations begin.

i'm more than happy to bask in greider's optimism... i sincerely hope it's justified...

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