LEFT VS. RIGHT; Occupy Wall Street

The Florida Times Union, November 15, 2011 | Go to article overview
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LEFT VS. RIGHT; Occupy Wall Street


Left: Stan Swart of Jacksonville is a retired professor at UNF, a certified planner and a labor activist. Email: sswart1818@aol. com.

Right: Jay Haug is a former financial consultant from Ponte Vedra Beach. Email: cjcwguy@gmail.com.

OCCUPY WALL STREET IS JUST ONE STAGE IN GANDHI'S PROCESS

Stan Swart

"First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win."

- Mahatma Gandhi, 1869-1948

In less than two months, Occupy Wall Street has reached Stage Three of Gandhi's famous model of political activism.

Is it now moving to Stage Four? The worldwide impact is clear.

Occupy Wall Street started on Sept. 17 with a small group of protesters demonstrating on Wall Street. Their focus? The negative impact that today's international financial community has had on Americans as well as other people.

Occupy Wall Street was launched by the Canadian firm Adbusters. Its goal? To protect society from corporate exploitation, as represented by Wall Street.

The American media immediately proved point one of Gandhi's framework. For example, the supposedly "liberal" National Public Radio did not mention a word about Occupy Wall Street for nine days.

The move to stage two - laughter - came quickly. Several Republican presidential candidates took this tack. And the American media, conservative as it is, began mocking it without mercy.

Occupy Wall Street was a passing fancy, right-wing pundits said. Disorganized and with no platform, it would go away when winter came. Its participants were - to cite some of the polite terms employed - dirty, unsanitary, and drug abusers.

Guess what? Occupy Wall Street immediately spread throughout the world. Hundreds of American cities now have their own ongoing protests.

Perhaps more important are the specific program offshoots. For example, the campaign entitled "Bank Transfer Day" inspired many Americans to move their funds from big banks to local credit unions.

Were the number and amount of transfers on Nov. 5 overwhelming? No, but Bank Transfer Day represents a start in the right direction. It could not have happened without it.

Occupy Wall Street and its offspring have partially reached Gandhi's Stage Four. And this has occurred without appreciable violence. The great success? Focusing citizens' attention upon the destruction of the American economy by financiers and their political allies.

What route will the Occupy Wall Street movement follow? The conservative trend, which led to business deregulation and disaster? Or the liberal path, which calls for minimum government except when society needs protection? The answer seems clear.

To tune in locally, get in touch with Occupy Jacksonville. Better yet, come to one of the meetings!

"Occupy Jacksonville" now has a continuous presence in front of City Hall and its adjoining park, Hemming Plaza. Open meetings are held daily, 7 p.m. weekdays and 4 p.

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