Negative: 99% WTF?
Occupy Wall Street was most successful in creating the new language of the left-liberal scene: “We are the 99%“. This was their message to the Wall Street bankers: “You are the 1%” and, therefore, the opposition. Of course, not the enemy, because that’s too strong a term.
The only drawback to this language is that it’s incorrect in two ways.
First of all, 99% of the people involved in Occupy Wall Street were not/are not really part of the 99%, because they’re all comparatively well-off compared to most of the world. Let’s be serious, a white 23 year-old with $10,000 of debt from their Ivy League University is not in the same position as anyone in the Third World.
Second of all, the enemy (I’m not afraid of the term) is a lot more than the 1%. The bourgeoisie, petite-bourgeoisie, and other reactionary classes make up significantly more than the 1% on Wall Street. Those who own the means of production make up a more sizeable group than that and those who benefit from the super-exploitation of the Third World make up the entire First World.
We’re talking about imperialism.
Occupy’s sloppy analysis isn’t helpful.
The big problem here is that analysis and language here have a feedback loop – the language is flawed and the more this language is used, the less the analysis reflects reality.
Positive: Reinvigorated some aspects of protest culture
One nice thing that OWS was that it put protests back into the mainstream in a way. Whereas before 2011, there certainly wasn’t a prevalence of protests coming from the Left in the dominant culture, today there seems to be far more of a willingness to protest. I’d be willing to concede that this probably had to do with the prevalence of OWS in the news/popular culture.
Positive: Set the stage for Black Lives Matter
I hesitate to draw this line, because it gives Occupy too much credit in my opinion, and it makes it seem (once again) that black people need white people for inspiration and support (which is obviously not the case), but a lot of people have connected these two protest movements. Objectively, OWS did take place before BLM (in other words, before a white pig murdered an unarmed black teenager in Missouri), so OWS was in the news before BLM was.
Occupy is not some pan-leftist movement, but rather a washed-up intellectually-vacuous garbage. Case and point: this bullshit.
Positive: Opened up the ideological space
Of course, anything posted on Occupy.com in 2017 isn’t getting very wide readership, so we can rest assured that this “Letter to the American Left” won’t be poisoning much dialogue.
OWS had no specific goals, demands, tactics, strategies, analysis, worldview, standards, or ideas about pretty much anything. This led to the conclusion that putting up tents and using unclear language would be a successful (whatever that means) strategy to realizing their goals (whatever those were).
Actually, the major mistake that OWS made was that they said everything, rather than nothing. Different factions articulated different aims and different paths. By saying everything, they effectively said nothing. And, all the while, in this menagerie of ideas, the Occupiers were so frustrated that their “pure” message was being ignored.
Positive: The Left can learn
This broad populist left-liberal space is a minefield.
Left-liberalism is a dead-end.
Capitalism is a losing game.
The lesson here is clear: analyze and radicalize.