Occupy Movement: Next Step Convergence
Joel S. Hirschhorn
There is a growing convergence of thinking about where the US Occupy movement should go as a next step to turning its values, concerns and commitments into changing what most Americans see as broken government under control of corporate interests. When it comes to political and social movements, history shows us that they usually fail not because they disappear, but rather because they become marginalized, unimportant despite a core group of committed people and groups.
They lose popular appeal and support or never expand beyond a small early group of supporters. The nation and many supporters move on. Other movements grab the interest of the most informed, dissident-type people seeking truth, justice or change. A good example of such a failed contemporary movement is the 911 truth effort. The groups, websites and true believers keep on pushing their objectives a decade after the historic event. But the goal of revealing what really happened that the official government story does not divulge is like a moldy piece of forgotten food in the refrigerator.
Movement death by inattention happens despite good resources, charismatic leaders and even great organization and communication skills. Critical mass of public support simply never materializes, in large measure because diverse segments of the population never buy into the central arguments of the movement. The Internet is littered with websites of activist groups that persist despite clear evidence of decay and wide disinterest. True believers have a mission in life tied to their egos that prevent them from admitting defeat. They do not move on.
The biggest mistake that passionate advocates for a cause make is overestimating their ability to reach critical mass and underestimating the competition of other movements with greater appeal which rob them of both attention and supporters.
Make no mistake; I totally and enthusiastically support the Occupy movement because it offers the prospect of producing reforms to fix our broken government and attracting very wide public support for a nonviolent Second American Revolution. What worries me, however, is that many of its participants seem over confident, as if they cannot fail. On the other hand, I have become impressed by a convergence of thinking about what the next big step for the Occupy movement can and should be. I will briefly identify examples of this convergent thinking.
Canadian author Erich Koch has written a compelling article: An Objective for the U.S. Occupy Movement: A Constitutional Convention. He buys into the view that the Occupy movement could embrace the thinking of Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig who has presented the case for amendments to fix Congress. Like others Koch is correct in saying that "No one in the movement would disagree with its main point: the fundamental problem is the corruption of Congress." Unlike others, Koch recognizes the path for obtaining reform constitutional amendments is using the provision in Article V for a convention of state delegates, having the same power as Congress in proposing amendments that still must be ratified by three-quarters of the states. It has never been used despite many hundreds of state requests for a convention because, clearly, Congress and most status quo forces fear such a convention.