Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Occupy Movement and Progressive Bloggers

I see that London, Ontario, has become the first Canadian city to evict its Occupy protesters.

And that others are gearing up to do the same thing.

As news spread of what happened in London, Toronto's mayor said it was time Occupy protesters in his city left their encampment in a downtown park.

And although I'm disappointed, I'm not surprised. Canada is an aging, conservative country, where an authoritarian regime is making a mockery out of our Parliamentary democracy. And most people couldn't give a damn. 

Nor am I surprised that our Con media has been attacking the peaceful Occupy movement like a pack of rabid hyenas, to stroke their corporate masters.

But what does surprise and shock me is the way some Progressive Bloggers have been attacking the protesters. Calling them degenerates.

Admirable restraint and tolerance has been shown by the city so far, but enough is enough. Time to get these degenerate losers and violent nutcases out of the park by whatever means necessary.

Or communists.

Or rabid animals.

Using the actions of some homeless, or marginalized, or mentally ill people to slander a whole movement, with such obvious glee.   

It doesn't seem very progressive to me. It looks ugly, and cheap, and the kind of thing you would expect to read in the foam flecked pages of the Blogging Tories.

It's totally legitimate to question or challenge the movement's tactics. But it's not OK to question the motives or denigrate so crudely a group of mostly peaceful idealists who want to save the world from economic and ecological catastrophe.

So when I read a post about the Occupy movement on Progressive Bloggers, I would expect it to be more like this one.

The question now is whether the Occupy movement can survive as an effective force for political and social action.

Sadly, to some extent, the movement has to be saved from itself.

The decision made some time ago to set up permanent encampments is turning out to be a disaster and is taking attention away from other more productive activist events.

A post that gently criticizes them, but also suggests new directions, and above all encourages them.

Both Canada and the United States need radical social and political movements that could scare the hell out of the establishment and force change in ways that traditional left and liberal forces have failed to do.

I wish there was more debate on the Progressive Blogger site about those new directions, or the goals of the movement, and how to translate it into political power, to change our dismal situation and eventually defeat the ghastly Harper regime.

But I'm afraid what I mostly see is crabby old vitriol, and what I mostly hear is the silence of indifference.

Even as we stagger blindly towards a lost decade.

Oh well. I'm not going to let it get me down. Tomorrow after I visit the Occupy Toronto camp again, I'll try to offer up my humble suggestions for where the movement should go next.

But I'm already sure of one thing eh? You can destroy a campground, you can arrest its peaceful inhabitants, you can deal with them by "whatever means necessary."

But you can't arrest or kill a movement whose time has come.

From London, Ontario to London, England. From Vancouver to Halifax, Montreal, Toronto and America where it all began.

We will stick together. And sooner or later we WILL change the world.

I could help change the world? Oh Simon, oh Simon.

You fortunate son...


Anonymous said...

Clearly if there are people within this movement concerned with certain types of characters and behaviours turning up then there is a big issue. A mass supposedly leaderless movement can only sustain itself for so long before degenerating.

I find it interesting that you decry the media's bias yet all of these protests are located in major media centres. Makes me think they are just as interested in controlling the media as these mystical 1% boogey men. I would hardly characterize this movement as a mass awakening. I don't recall mass protests in the Ontario town I grew up in or even a hint of dissatisfaction here in Fort McMurray.

Sorry to be harsh. I'm all for a good cause but I just don't see it here. All movements are doomed to failure as the very word "movement" suggests. They move a little bit, get some attention and then stop and end.

LMA said...

Not even a "hint of dissatisfaction" in Fort McMurray?

Oh darn! I was going to suggest an Occupy Fort McMurray day. You know, just to gently remind Canadians that our whole economy will be controlled by big oil by the time Harper is through.

Skinny Dipper said...

I'm not sure what the Canadian protests are about. And I do think of myself as a progressive Canadian.

One thing about the term "progressive" is that it encompasses a lot of people including socialists, social democrats, liberals, environmentalists, feminists, conservative greens, liberal greens, progressive red-tory conservatives, and others. As a progressive citizen, I can be as resistant as a right-wing conservative to giving change to a panhandler. Sometimes, progressive people can be harsh on others. I do belong to a union, and I have attended its annual general meetings. I can be diligent while opposing the union giving money to different organizations that have no direct relationship with my union.

I do think that the Canadian Occupy movements would be wise to de-camp over the wintertime and reorganize themselves. That includes willing organizers deciding on the frame of their message and tactics needed to get their message out to the public.

LMA said...

Perhaps Occupy "days" rather than encampments might be a better idea. On the subject of inequality and corporate greed, it does amaze me that Canadians are not protesting continuing tax breaks to oil corporations for Tar Sands expansion, while Environment Canada funding has been slashed, Tar Sands pollution is not properly monitored or regulated, and First Nations in Fort Chip are living in fear of cancer because of contaminated waters. Will we just stand by and allow the Cons to cut our social programs in order to bring the deficit under control, while funding the oil companies to squander our precious resources and destroy the environment? That is why I suggested an Occupy Fort McMurray Day. Bill McGibben of has rightly said that the Tar Sands and the Keystone XL are the posterchild of corporate greed and arrogance.

Rev Effect said...

Fort McMurray is doing well is it, probably protected from the rest of us by those great firewalls i hear tell of...

Beijing York said...

I remain hopeful that the higher goals of the Occupy Movement will have traction and lead people, especially young people, to actively condemn what passes for democracy, justice and sound economic policy. Too many have trusted our leaders for too long and look where it's gotten us.

Governments beholden to corporate interests above all else need to be taken to task and/or booted to the curb. In Spain, those taking to the public square to protest against government actions and deepening inequities are called "los indignados". They serve as a constant reminder of how screwed most in their society are and how not a single government in recent years has been courageous enough to stand up for the average person, let alone the marginalized.

I guess as progressives we can shrug and complain for the time being but nobody in the media or in government is taking notice. The Occupy Movement or the march of Los Indignados serve as wake-up calls and force those with power to notice.

Anonymous said...

Good luck with an Occupy Fort Mac protest. "Big Oil" as detractors often term it, has done great work to enhance the quality of life here. Unfortunately it doesn't get the press coverage it warrants. I should add that I am an avid birder and this is a fantastic area to explore. One of my favorite birding spots is in fact a reclaimed mining site.

I should also stress that the "doctor" behind this big cancer scare a few years ago has been thoroughly discredited. Oil naturally finds its way into the lower Athabasca. That's how its existence was initially discovered. I always find it interesting that the people that freak out the most about the Oil Sands (not "tar sands" as they are labelled for propaganda purposes) don't even live here or even bother to drop by for a visit and check this great place out for themselves.

I live here. Fort McMurray is my home and proudly so. If things were really as bad as the propaganda makes it out to be, I think I would be the first to know.

LMA said...

WOW! Great victory for the 99% has just been announced by Bill McKibben of! Obama is delaying the decision on the Keystone XL until 2013 and ordering a supplementary environmental assessment. Will this embolden Canadians to stand up to the Cons and the oil corporations, or will we just surrender our country without a whimper?

Anonymous said...

And when Alberta's export ability reaches capacity around 2017, then what? Hey maybe we can buy from Nigeria, Russia, Iran and fund their enlightened dealings with their own citizens.

LMA said...

By 2017 we had better be using a lot less fossil fuels or we are headed to 11 degrees warming, according to the IEA report just released.

I guess you haven't heard of the research of Dr. Schindler who documented hydrocarbon pollution of the winter snow around mining sites, proving that Tar Sands contamination wasn't natural runoff.

I guess you haven't heard of the 2009 report by Alberta Health Services and reviewed by independent investigators which confirmed a higher number of cancer cases than expected in Fort Chip.

Glad to hear however that you are an avid birder, Way Way Up. You were lucky to have found some reclaimed land as so far only 0.15% of the land disturbed by Tar Sands mining has been certified as reclaimed by the Alberta Government. Good luck with your birding, as the Natural Resources Defense Council estimated in 2009 that Tar Sands oil development could claim more than 160 million boreal birds.

The deposits of bitumen were originally called Tar Sands. The term Oil Sands is greenwashing, like all the PR spin from the oil companies.

As far as protests in Fort McMurray are concerned, never say never. Six months ago, no one thought the Keystone XL could be stopped. Harper siad it was a "no brainer", remember?

Simon said...

hi Way Way Up...There are indeed issues this new movement must deal with. And maybe it's true that a movement does need leaders. But they will emerge in good time. And every step in humanity's long march to civilization has begun with some sort of movement...

Simon said...

hi LMA...I'm deliberately keeping Fort McMurray out of this argument. I'm saving that for another occasion. ;)

Simon said...

hi Skinny Dipper...I fully understand and celebrate the fact that the progressive family is a big tent. What I object to is progressives using the behaviour of a few, to slander a whole movement.
Your suggestion that the occupiers decamp for the winter is a valid one.
But I'm still making up my mind about what they should do next...

Simon said...

hi Rev Effect... Firewalls? Firewalls you say? I hear the biggest problem in Fort McMurray is finding four walls...and a roof... in which to sleep... ;)

Simon said...

hi Beijing...I love the word "los indignados" a lot. For we should all be indignant at what the robber barons are doing to this world.
And I agree with you:

I guess as progressives we can shrug and complain for the time being but nobody in the media or in government is taking notice. The Occupy Movement or the march of Los Indignados serve as wake-up calls and force those with power to notice.

The movement may march down a rocky road, but it will not be halted...

Anonymous said...'re right. We should only believe government. Only they know the truth. Isn't it government and some of its institutions that many of these protesters are protesting against? Look, you can get into all the stats and figures you want. I just trying to raise a family here through actual work rather than crying to the government for "entitltements".

As for housing, if you actually lived here you would see for yourself how many houses have been bought on my little street alone in the past 18 months.