Klein Wolf has an interesting piece in the Gruniard today, in which she makes the claim that the Occupy movement is coalescing around the following demands:
The No 1 agenda item: get the money out of politics. Most often cited was legislation to blunt the effect of the Citizens United ruling, which lets boundless sums enter the campaign process. No 2: reform the banking system to prevent fraud and manipulation, with the most frequent item being to restore the Glass-Steagall Act – the Depression-era law, done away with by President Clinton, that separates investment banks from commercial banks. This law would correct the conditions for the recent crisis, as investment banks could not take risks for profit that create kale derivatives out of thin air, and wipe out the commercial and savings banks.
No 3 was the most clarifying: draft laws against the little-known loophole that currently allows members of Congress to pass legislation affecting Delaware-based corporations in which they themselves are investors.
It’s hard to know how accurate such a poll can be, but if it is anywhere close it means that the political class has some big problems. It’s a shame that the “demands” are so US-centric, but at least the second, separation of high street and investment banking, is universal.
If said motivations could be clearly elucidated to the general public they would most likely be extremely popular. Whether people would take to the streets to demand them, and whether the political class is even capable of delivering such change, against their own self-interest, are of course open questions. However, if the Occupy movement is to stand any chance of not simply being beaten out of existence (the state has a monopoly on the use of violence in the public sphere) it has got to get some sort of consistent message out.
Perversely it’s pretty obvious why coming out and making a set of demands, or setting a political agenda is likely to derail the existing movement. As soon as politics and politicians get involved the current “democratic process” will ensure that the voices with the most money will win out. That’s why we’re where we are today and why trying to ferment chaos in society at large is the only perceived way forward.
Perhaps the only way forward, without the kind of social dislocation and disruption that the Occupy movement presumably seeks, is for a group of wealthy philanthropists to create a ethically chartered parallel banking system, and for the public to move to it on mass. Doesn’t seem likely.
Sticking to the current course, it’s hard to see how the Occupy movement can attract the kind of numbers that are needed (presumably millions on the streets of all major cities) to have an impact.