Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why Unorganized Movements Don't Work - The "Neverlution"

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Social expression, whether in the form of approval or protest, is a Human dynamic which is either effective or destructive. If a group of persons (myself among them) want to change the way "Wall Street" (to use that geographical designation as the personification of greed, much as so many Americans regard Washington, DC as the epitome of corruption, and Hollywood as the land of the irresponsible, overindulged botoxed and endlessly de-toxing rich) is conducting matters concerning every aspect of the economy, they have gotten only one thing right -- a vague idea of the otherwise faceless enemy.

The "Occupy Wall Street" (or "Take Back Wall Street") movement and growing protests have only a few things going for them, and a great many more things working against them. This excess of organizational liabilities over organizational assets is why I believe this "Woodstock"-like study in sleep deprivation is doomed to failure.  Some philosophical protesters are actually calling this movement (more like a multi-geographical block party in search of any theme) a "horizontally-organized resistance movement." I cannot help but picture people lying down in the street as tanks march over them...

In brief:

1) The protesters have identified a categorical party -- an adversary with a name, whom they genuinely distrust, dislike and resent with increasing vitriol;

2) They (the masses) are (by loitering, littering and making a great deal of noise without a clear signal) physically out in the open and at the very gates of the felonious fiscal fatheads who have monopolized the money supply, the capital markets, and the unraveling of an economy. Righteous indignation, channeled and expressed properly (which they are least here) funneled into a course of action (rather like a strategic plan with a defined goal in mind, which is conspicuously absent in this Neverlution) can be powerful, if there is an objective (or a threat) and a plan of action understood and supported by its grassroots citizen military.

Yet, the only things that our neverlutionaries would seem to have in common [and again, I don't disagree with their tremendous hurt and outrage] is anger, frustration, a desire for some instant character change (I'm thinking of Ebenezer Scrooge, out of Dickens' novel  or of George Bailey, in "It's a Wonderful Life," Frank Capra's poignant masterpiece), and greater fiduciary responsibility paired with more generosity.

Our protesters are just complaining (except in Florida, where they are whining) and blocking the flow of traffic -- they are failing to recognize the need for movement leadership, a precise goal (or list of demands) to present to the some decisionmaking individuals in the Wall Street inside community who could actually be responsive, and a serious threat of consequences for non-compliance.

The sad truth is that our noble protesters lack a simple goal, a plan, the tools (perhaps threats) to prosecute the war, and a semblance of true organization, command and control. They are like kidnappers who have committed the act, but haven't figured out what they should ask for, how they can arrange to receive it, and what action that they can take in the event that the kidnap victim's loved ones are noncompliant;

3) No matter how great the movement gets in terms of involved protesters and geographical locus, nothing will happen with out a stated, realistic objective, a plan, leadership, and a viable threat.

If this movement fails, or just eventually results in a diffused death by boredom and attrition, or a resignation to impotence and surrender (without the first salvo even having been fired over the bow) it will ultimately encourage the smirking moneymeisters of the capital markets, banking and investment sectors to go even further with their abuses. It will strengthen an adversary's resolve. That would be a sad ending for what was started with the best of intentions.

An acquaintance of mine (a monetary mercenary), said to me, smiling, "Occupy Wall Street? Fine. I'll work from home. I've got my laptop and my phone."

Will one of our protesters put forth an agenda, promulgate it, and (if he or she is worthy and capable) take command? Don't lose this opportunity to achieve something memorable, and long overdue. In a year, don't be the punchline of a bunch of quick-churned jokes amongst Wall Steet's cognoscenti. Take off the tie-dyed shirts and put on the cleats.

Douglas E Castle []

by Douglas E Castle

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