If you haven't already, please read the critiques I linked to in the last link round-up, by Joseph Cannon and Feminisnt. The problem with the Occupy movement is that (a) it does not have specific, clearly-articulated goals, and (b) there is no sense of how, exactly, the actions it is taking are going to achieve whatever the goal is.
The movement claims inspiration from Tahrir Square. But Tahrir Square had a clear goal -- the end of the Mubarak regime. And it succeeded because it was a mass movement -- the protests drew hundreds of thousands of participants, not just thousands. When the Occupy movement can get 300,000 mainstream Americans together in one protest, in one place, and they stay there for weeks or months, it may accomplish something, but right now it seems very far from that point.
Others have drawn inspiration from the Arab Spring. Earlier this year, anti-austerity demonstrations in Portugal and Britain drew hundreds of thousands of participants. Yet notice that even they have not been able to force their governments to change course, partly because these were one-day events, big but quickly over. Also, democratic governments are less brittle than dictatorships.
Today, the people of Greece are launching their own campaign against the austerity policies which their craven rulers are forcing on them at the behest of the EU -- a campaign of mass strikes and a tax revolt. They've got a chance if participation is high enough -- hundreds of thousands of working people, not just thousands of people from the fringe.
Some have made an analogy with the teabaggers, hoping that the Occupiers can become a similar force for the left. But insofar as the teabaggers have accomplished anything, they did it by focusing on electoral politics -- supporting candidates and getting them into office. Amorphous ranting against "the system" has certainly been there, but that's not what got things done.
How many of the Occupiers voted in 2010 -- when a collapse of turn-out enabled the Republicans to take the House and create the paralysis they decry? How many will vote next year?
So far I see nothing that suggests the Occupy movement has the potential to achieve any concrete results whatsoever (well, there's one small exception, but I'll get to that in a moment).
Right now, we do have an opportunity to achieve something real. With his American Jobs Act, Obama has finally broken away from the Republican navel-gazing over the deficit that has consumed Washington for months, and made a serious proposal to deal with the greatest concern of mainstream Americans -- unemployment. Economists agree that the plan will stave off another recession at least. As Booman Tribune points out, Obama is finally doing what his critics on the left say they want -- drawing a line in the sand and showing willingness to fight for what the country needs. The Republicans insist the plan is DOA, but mass public pressure has swayed legislative outcomes before -- never forget how, in 2007, a mass outpouring of public fury (which crashed the Senate's telephone system) stopped an illegal-alien amnesty which had bipartisan support and was considered a done deal. Who's to say that a similar mass display of support now couldn't scare enough Congressional swing votes to get the AJA through?
Yet when I look around the liberal blogs today, I'm seeing very little being posted about the AJA, and a lot being posted about the Occupiers. The energy and enthusiasm which, properly focused, might actually get something done, is being diverted into what looks like an exercise in plowing the sea.
As I mentioned, I do see one small sign of hope about the Occupy movement. This is the fact that it's attracting some significant support from unions. Unions are pragmatic and not ideological; they have clear goals and know what works and what doesn't work to achieve those goals, and they're very engaged with electoral politics and the Democratic party. And -- forgive my bluntness -- their decision-makers are people older and more experienced than those who seem to predominate among the Occupiers.
If the union connection can help the Occupy movement become coherent -- help it develop specific practical goals and grow into a large-scale, sustained movement with a plan for achieving those goals -- then it may actually get something done. (And by "large- scale" I mean what I said about Tahrir Square above. 500 people in each of 15 cities doesn't mean anything.) A sign of this would be if the movement starts pushing for action on the AJA.
Update: Two more worthwhile posts on this topic: Joseph Cannon warns of libertarian subversion of the movement, while Nance suggests that bloggers try to shape its agenda.