Was Occupy Wall Street the “Beginning of the Beginning”?

As the 2009-10 Tea Party movement, lubricated by large sums of money from the Koch brothers and others, took control of the Republican Pa...


As the 2009-10 Tea Party movement, lubricated by large sums of money from the Koch brothers and others, took control of the Republican Party, Occupy scorned establishment politics. “At the base,” writes Levitin, “it was a movement constrained by its own contradictions: filled with leaders who declared themselves to be leaderless, governed by a consensual structure that failed to reach consensus, seeking to transform politics while refusing to become political. . “It was,” Levitin concludes, “colorful and chaotic, inspiring and self-defeating.”

But whatever his initial animosity towards electoral politics, Occupy – and his fellow travelers – sparked a convulsion within the Democratic Party that led President Obama to call inequality “the defining problem of our time.” This gave Elizabeth Warren a platform for her egalitarian reforms and, as a result, ushered in Bernie Sanders’ campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 and 2020, shifting the center of the party to the left and exercising a pressure on presumed moderate candidate Joe Biden. (In the cheeky but precise words of Felicia Wong, president and CEO of the progressive Roosevelt Institute, Biden turned out to be “so old… he’s actually pre-neoliberal.”)

“Sanders crystallized the intangible demands that Occupy had advanced but failed to structure the litany of accusations against the 1%,” writes Levitin. For example, the Occupy’s Strike Debt spin-off became the model for Sanders’ 2017 proposal to make public universities free, which in turn became Biden’s more modest but still important proposal for community colleges. .

Levitin’s enthusiasm is contagious, even if it can be extravagant at times. Like many left-wing journalists, he suggests that the Progressive Democrats were the big winners in the two recent general elections to Congress, while the consensus among analysts and academics is that in 2018 the moderates did better than the progressives. in swing neighborhoods. (Of course, it’s also true that these moderates were more progressive than the moderates who won the previous election.) He probably exaggerates Occupy’s impact on the 2017 Women’s March, on the #MeToo movement, and Black Lives. Matter in 2020, although the precedent of bringing many people to the streets has surely sparked the imagination of many post-2011 activists who would not rush to sleep in the parks. He credits Spain’s Podemos party, a spin-off of the Indignados de Madrid movement of 2011 (which predated Occupy Wall Street by several months), with a bigger political impact than it has had, and slips on its authoritarian tendencies with a easy sentence: “missteps and intra-party conflicts.” Radical as they are, political agendas like the Green New Deal will not, as it claims, ‘drive out free market capitalism’.

As for the future? To steal a sentence from actor Mort Sahl, he is waiting for us. Anyone looking to find out where our national upheavals are going will need a crystal ball clearer than mine. But it’s no exaggeration to say that Occupy Wall Street and its offshoots have changed the landscape much more than the three-quarters acre of Zuccotti Park in New York’s financial district.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Was Occupy Wall Street the “Beginning of the Beginning”?
Was Occupy Wall Street the “Beginning of the Beginning”?
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