Occupy Wall Street’s Second Anniversary Should Be An Opportunity For Cooperation

This week, the 2nd anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement was commemorated with a group of about 100 protesters in New York City in Washington Square Park, the heart of Greenwich Village, the birthplace of many social movements.

These recent protests were so innocuous that the New York Police Department barely took count because there were more police at the protest than protestors. Remnants of the movement were celebrated in small ways around the city with the usual leftist offerings reminiscent of the so-called “summer of love” (i.e., Live Nihilist Theature (sic), Trans Pacific Partnership Puppet Theater Spectacle Money Warz, etc., etc).

I was too busy helping the 1% make money at the height of the protests two years ago as a “dedicated legal staffer” to really give the movement much of my attention, but I supported the Occupiers’, as they were sometimes called (among other expletives), right to protest.  However, like many of the corporate worker-bee minions I agreed with Henry Bloget, whose October 11, 2011 post in the Business Insider pretty much echoed the sentiments of most Americans about the OWS movement’s “demands.”  Although I myself have been downsized out of my well-paying corporate job, I continue to agree with much of Mr. Bloget’s assessment of OWS.

Did the OWS movement really turn into an amorphous protest against everything wrong with the world?

Judging by the turnout at the recent protest in NYC, one could argue that statement could be the case for the OWS movement.  However, I think that the impact of the OWS movement on policy, society, etc., is far more complex and nuanced.  From a historical perspective, it would be wrong to casually dismiss the relative impact of the OWS movement and its list of demands.

During the nadir of the protests back in October 2011, the Occupiers took over LaSalle and Jackson streets in downtown Chicago, a block away from where I worked.  On one of these afternoons, I found myself acting as an on-the-spot negotiator between two young men of two opposing political views.  One was an Occupier, wearing mostly black, scruffy and relatively unkempt holding a sign that said “Rules of the Camp,” the other, wearing mostly preppy pastels, a clean shaven Ron Paul supporter also carrying a sign that read, “End the Fed.”  It took a few minutes, but I was able to stop the fighting and convince both of them briefly that while their solutions differed, they were basically against the same thing, so why not join forces?

Amazingly, they did stop fighting. Still, the fact that these two young men refused to join forces really dismayed me.

Perhaps the “political discourse,” has changed as a result of OWS, but I still think things may have turned out differently for the OWS movement if only those two men had shook hands and worked together.  It might have changed history.  Who knows?