Missing the Point of the Occupy Protests

Fuck the 99%, this dude speaks for EVERYONE

With the threat of eviction looming over the Occupy St. Paul’s protesters and the forces of America PD already coming down hard on its trans-atlantic primogenitors, we may be witnessing the final days of a movement said (by particularly deluded or insensitive supporters) to rival the Arab Spring.

It’s been a confusing and potentially alienating journey for spectators. I mean, I’ve always assumed I supported things like social justice, fairness, a more equal society, and so on. But I quickly grew frustrated and annoyed by the London occupation.

Recently, I voiced my concerns and criticisms, only to be told I’m “missing the point”. That troubled me. Was my feeble brain incapable of comprehending how brilliant, worthwhile and successful Occupy has been? Were my peers headshotting the point between the eyes at abandon, while I stood apart, aimlessly spraying my sympathy-bullets into the surrounding scenery like some n00b meat-puppet playing Goldeneye?

Fortunately, it seems I wasn’t such a freak. A quick Google search revealed the point to be as elusive as the Pokemon Mew . Actually, that analogy doesn’t quite fit. While there were a lot of people, like me, being told they were missing the point, there wasn’t much agreement on what exactly we were missing.

For example, the REAL point of the Occupy movement is, depending on who you ask (or don’t ask, as the case may be)…

Asking rhetorical questions…

“you are missing the point about that sign. I don’t think it is an attack on those people, I think it is an attack on what this society considers as freedoms. The purpose of it is to get people to question what freedom really is. Freedom is a word that gets used a lot by politicians and we all like to think we live in a free society. But do we?”

History is Made at Night

Solving a crime…

“The lack of an “agenda” or a lack of a coherence to the aims of the protestors is missing the point… A crime has been committed but the only clue they have is that it is something in the City and this thing in the “City” has made them a victim of a crime they don’t understand and it has cost them their job/home/car whatever… They are coming back at a perpetrator that government has failed to bring to book but in the hall of financial mirrors they don’t know where exactly to aim or exactly who to aim at for but they know roughly where the perpetrators hang out.”

CityWire

Rejecting democracy…

“I agree with your first part of the argument, the vinyl vanguards looking for a single unifying anthem of youth are missing the point. Occupy London are not representative of a single sub-culture, or even a shared ideology. Like you say, this is about a rejection of conventional politics.”

New Statesman

Rejecting debates…

“[One member of the camp] said Chartres’s [Bishop of London] earlier suggestion of a debate was “missing the point of this global occupation”.

The Guardian

Totally, like, opening up space in people’s imaginations, man…

“Screeds of criticism have now been written about the protest and on almost every point, they misunderstand the purpose of this form of street protest. Is this a revolution in the making? Of course not. Will it topple the government? No… The protesters’ aim is to open up space, physically and socially, for people to connect and thereby open up space in people’s imaginations.”

The Guardian

Setting up a camp site (while not making demands)…

“These questions miss the point… they’re not interested in making petty demands on a system they see as irreconcilably flawed. If anything, the camp itself is their demand, and their solution: the stab at an alternative society that at least aims to operate without hierarchy, and with full, participatory democracy.”

Patrick Henry Press

Not having an impact on its target…

“The purpose is not to directly affect your target. It is to rally support for your cause.”

Boardgame Geek Forums

Protesting for the right to protest…

“Anyone active on the left might be tempted to judge it and find it wanting in any effort to challenge capitalism, but that would be to miss the point. Understanding what it represents not judging it is the essential task. Here an historical framework can help and several models come to mind, the first of which is the symbolic occupation of space… All these instances are about winning the right to protest in certain spaces and that is certainly what has happened at St Paul’s in recent weeks.”

Morning Star Online

Attracting people who are temporarily pissed off…

“…enthusiasts for the action say this misses the point of the encampment – to provide a permanent focal point for dissent, not a home for an unchanging cast of campaigners.”

BBC

Having a wider, deeper conversation OR Acting as some sort of weather vane for human sentiment…

Even people accusing other people of missing the point are, apparently, missing the point:

Article: “The political [Labour] left have – in several places – criticised the Occupy movement for the lack of clarity in their aims. For me, this misses the main point the movement is trying to make… Since the crash showed us all the man behind the curtain, protestors are no longer simply trying to stop or promote particular actions or policies. They’re now trying to have a wider, deeper conversation about what happens now the house of cards has fallen.”

Comment: “I think this article misses the point entirely. The occupy movement is a spontaenous ensemble. The idea it has to forge itself into a lean mean fighting machine is not what it is about. Its about, for me at least, a weather vane about current sentiment and about what that current sentiment might become.”

Liberal Conspiracy

And the actual point is… our secret (so there!)

Maybe the point is they don’t want to tell us the point? The following (genuine, non-satirical) quote from an Occupy Wall St. activist writing on CiF certainly suggests so…

First, they come to us demanding, “What are your demands?” Then, they come to us insisting, “Where are your solutions?” We have waited our entire lives for this moment. And we could not be more ready to answer these questions. We smile, unphased, and tell them what they already know: “Our demands are too numerous to choose between, and we refuse to do so. The solutions are out there and we have long known what they are.”

Comment is Free

All this makes me suspect that I was right all along and it’s the protesters who are missing the point, NOT ME. But if you think I’m going to persecute myself by telling you what that point is… well, I might have to let my foot occupy the space between your left butt cheek and your right butt cheek. Purely to engage with you on a deeper level, of course…

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