NEW YORK (AP) — Occupy Wall Street began to disintegrate in rapid fashion last winter, when the weekly meetings in New York City devolved into a spectacle of fistfights and vicious arguments.
Punches were thrown and objects were hurled at moderators' heads. Protesters accused each other of being patriarchal and racist and domineering. Nobody could agree on anything and nobody was in charge. The moderators went on strike and refused to show up, followed in quick succession by the people who kept meeting minutes. And then the meetings stopped altogether.
In the city where the movement was born, Occupy was falling apart.
In it's hayday Occupy had some unrealistic souls wondering if they weren't looking at the spark of new American Revolution. After all, if there was ever a time after the Civil War when it looked like that might happen it was the Great Depression. But it didn't happen then and it certainly doesn't look like it will happen now. What was hailed as a new begaining was really a flash in the pan.
As someone who thought this exactly what would happen from the start allow me a moment to "Bwahahaha!"
But the movement is now a shadow of its mighty infancy, when a group of young people harnessed the power of a disillusioned nation and took to the streets chanting about corporate greed and inequality.
Back then it was a rallying cry, a force to be reckoned with. But as the encampments were broken up and protesters lost a gathering place, Occupy in turn lost its ability to organize.
The movement had grown too large too quickly. Without leaders or specific demands, what started as a protest against income inequality turned into an amorphous protest against everything wrong with the world.
"We were there to occupy Wall Street," Dutro says. "Not to talk about every social ill that we have."
And here we have the real nut of it. No one was really in charge and everyone ended up wanting to talk about every little gripe they had with society. As one might expect from this sort of thing the protesters started accusing anyone in the moment who disagreed about anything of being a part of the problem and yadda, yadda, yadda...
So what have we learned here? One, no matter what your agenda clear goals and actual leaders are a must. Also, that sit-ins were a stupid idea in the 60s and they're not any better an idea now. Change requires you to get off your butt.
Anyway, Occupy will twitch a bit more before it finally dies. I suppose we'll have a bit of a break before the next would-be revolution comes. Hopefully someone out there has been taking notes.