Occupy has changed the country. People are fighting back. And the developments are happening faster than anyone could have guessed even a few months ago. The Occupy movement has gone from a few dozen in Zuccotti park in New York to thousands of participants in hundreds of cities. Across the country occupations have become pitched battles between the people’s movement and municipal police forces.
The speed with which this unfolded, the degree of brutality leveled against the occupiers, and the resilience of the Occupy movement are all remarkable. In times like this the movement outstrips the best expectations of organizers and organizations. And while these developments defy simple explanation, their impact is undeniable. People are no longer talking about deficits and budget cuts, but about Wall Street and the one percent.
So it is with Occupy. It has bypassed traditional forms of political mobilization, leaving more established organizations trying to play catch up. And the movement has changed form, from public occupations, to marches and rallies, civil disobedience and city-wide strikes – all faster than anyone would have expected.
But the forces opposed to Occupy are moving fast too. Occupiers have faced serious police repression around the country, with pepper spray attacks in Seattle and Davis, California, life-threatening injuries in Oakland, and in Seattle a miscarriage caused by police violence.
Meanwhile, Wall Street’s agenda of austerity for the poor and attacks on the public sector has not yet been derailed. In Europe, the bankers and bondholders are remaking governments and economies in Greece and Italy. But gutting the public sector and democratic governments may not satisfy the IMF and German bankers, nor avoid collapse. The euro zone’s whole single-currency project is approaching a systemic meltdown that threatens to contaminate U.S. banks and to bring on a rerun of the 2008 crash, perhaps worse this time.