Monday, October 31, 2011
Occupy Toronto and the Patient Revolution
When I wandered through the Occupy Toronto campground today it was quiet, like most places in the city on a lazy, chilly, Sunday afternoon.
But there were more tents than ever. The food tent was busy...
So were the sign painters...
Even on a lazy Sunday, the little community was humming like a bee hive. There may be divisions.
The question of trade-offs with authority keeps arising as an irritant. I was a little antsy Monday night when some speakers wanted to ignore the Parks Department’s request to remove the straw now covering the ground to keep the mud down. “If we allow ourselves to live with bureaucratic bullshit and this petty tin-pot dictatorship,” the demands will keep on coming, was one comment in a line of similar others.
But they are being talked out, the protests remain peaceful, the camp is clean (apart from all that straw) and superbly organized...
(click pic to enlarge)
It still looks a lot like Woodstock to me, a wonderful little progressive oasis, in the heart of a cold, grim, Money City. And its small band of mostly young and poor inhabitants seem so innocent about the beast they are facing, I fear for their hopes and even their lives.
But their numbers are growing. For every one of them there are 50-thousand sympathizers. And together with all the other occupiers all over the world, they are making a difference.
Two weeks — or six weeks, in the case of the original Wall Street occupation — does not a movement make, but there is no doubt the Occupy campers have already made a difference.
Not to the extent that the ubiquitous Michael Moore claimed in a rallying speech to the Oakland protesters Friday, when he claimed the protesters have killed despair and apathy in his country.
Apathy is a tougher foe than that.
But Moore was right when he said the protest camps have already altered the public discussion.
Even if to me that discussion sometimes seems too slow, too vague, and too scattered....
At the Gazebo today this guy was rambling on about the glories of the sixties, and how they were for peace, and against the "neutrino bomb." And how the media should belong to the people, and why we didn't need the pharmaceutical industry because we had herbal remedies the natives used before the white people came to Canada.
But the only applause he got from the crowd, which included quite a few homeless people and street kids, was when he said he didn't like to use the word homeless because "we are all nomads."
Which is when I wandered away.
But then I'm an impatient guy. I have no time for the mindless babble of pompous poobahs or street prophets. I hate every minute of every day I have to live in Harper's Canada. I want to see a simpler message. I want to channel all this energy into a drive for political power. I want to start changing the world TOMORROW.
So although I'm glad the unions are going to give the occupiers special tents to help keep them warm in winter.
I wish they could also send in organizers to help them focus their message sooner rather than later.
The occupiers however, have other ideas. They don't want to be packaged, or co-opted, or rushed. They seem determined to get there, THEIR way, and in THEIR own time.
This it appears will be a peaceful and PATIENT revolution...
And who's to say they're wrong? Not me.
Not when in just two weeks they have started a whole new debate in this country. Not when they are using campgrounds as an incubator of new ideas, engaging the young, the old, the poor, and the marginalized, many for the first time. Not when they are taking their protest to the streets. In a country as smug and complacent and democratically lazy as this one.
So what now ? I guess I'm going to have to wait and see. Damn.
But what I can say is that whatever is happening, may not be happening fast enough for me. But something new and different is definitely happening.
And it just might change the world...