Sunday, October 02, 2011

First-hand report on the Wall Street Occupation,

Yesterday, Saturday, I was at Zuccotti Park for the first time. I went by a circuitous route, walking alongside the construction site (still!) of the World Trade Center; at its southeastern end it is abuts Zuccotti Park--an interesting conjunction. I was literally thrilled to be in the Park--very exciting. The occupiers now have a little 4-page newspaper, telling what some of them are thinking.

For some mysterious reason I wandered to the eastern end, where I found myself in a major march! I could have exited, but I didn't want to. I was particularly glad to be near the contingent protesting the execution of Troy Davis. We made our way slowly up to City Hall Park. That Park was completely closed off, but you could see the Sol Lewitt exhibition of abstract sculptures, a confluence of advanced art and, I trust, advanced political action.

In fact one supporter, Alexandre Carvalho, states: "Many of us in the movement believe we are at the brink of a new aesthetic school. A new historical art period, that reaches beyond the nihilism and hopelessness of post-modernism to a time of agency, belief, and hope. Virginia Woolf once wrote that 'around 1910 everything changed' to announce that modernism came to make a revolution. Maybe we, in 2011, a century after, may be entering the same flux."

However that may be, back to my own experience. Having come virtually within the shadow of City Hall, I was getting tired, so I opted to drop out at that point and just watch as the group made its way towards and onto the Brooklyn Bridge--luckily for me, since I would have been arrested. Maybe I should have been, though.

At last the media, who had been obtusely trying to ignore the Occupation, are forced to pay attention.

I don't know where all this is going--but it seems tremendously worth trying.

POSTSCRIPT. Why were the 700 people arrested? The police claimed that it was only because, once the marchers were on the bridge, they left the sidewalk where they were permitted, and went onto the roadway on the bridge. According to the demonstrators, though, the police actually encouraged them to go onto roadway. Then the cops turned around and arrested them. They were well prepared with handcuffs and buses waiting to take the arrestees away. This then would appear to be a case of entrapment.

It will take some time to get this all figured out, but my guess is that in the end the finding will not reflect glory on the cops, or on Mayor Bloomberg, who seems to be behind it all.

METACOMMENT (October 3), What are the actual aims of the Occupiers? It has been said that that they are too diverse to characterize. All the same, let me take a stab at it.

Many have felt that the Tea Party has hijacked the anger that should be aimed at the powerful fat cats who are responsible for the present mess. So the Occupiers are the Counter-Tea Party. Perhaps so, but both groups share a deep distrust of politics as usual and of the mainstream media. They are, or claim to be, grassroots movements.

There seem to be two things that galvanize the Occupiers: 1) the growing and indeed obscene gap in income and power in this country between the one percent and the ninety-nine percent; 2) the bailout of the banks and the major corporations, who have not been held accountable, and are in fact thriving while 25 million people are out of work.



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