Over the last months I have been pushed gently by a number of my friends to become involved in the Occupy Northampton movement, but my response was tepid. I was out there in front of Thornes Market the first day, dutifully shouted out various slogans when prompted, and attended an organizational meeting of Occupy sympathizers at a private home. Most of us there were old and creaky and comfortably housed, and there was no one there from the movement itself. The first plan that was floated at that meeting was moving the protest from the park and the street to the senior center, which various people deemed "half-empty, overbuilt and underused." While I am all in favor of an option that would get the protesters off the cold streets, and also generally in favor of anything that would upset the existing order, when it came time for me to talk, I landed on the idea. Occupy Northampton marching down to the elderly center and throwing down sleeping bags would be a public relations disaster. Better to occupy Memorial Hall, which is downtown and half-empty. As time goes by the movement nationwide has dwindled. Carefully calculated non-violent repression has scattered the young people, and we have gone back to business as usual as our noble cruise ship SS. United States drifts onto the rocks.
For awhile the Occupy movement barked at us, we beeped our horns in support, but it had no bite, no long term strategy for change, and not much leadership here in Northampton except this one guy who is a poet and a monk. I have heard his poetry and it is bad; I have met the young woman who follows him about faithfully and does his laundry, and found this much submission detestable. When he asked me for help with his fight with Jon Hite who he says disrespects and discriminates against him, he told me that the only time he could talk to me was six in the morning. An acolyte I am not, and I sent him a note that I never left the house before 9:00. I am retired.
I rarely agree with the head of the Housing Authority, but when I heard that Jon Hite had lost his temper with him one day and intimated that he should go to work and free up a unit at MacDonald House I said "Here, here" like the Brits in the lower chamber do. It is a sin for a person with his talents and energy taking up an apartment in MacDonald House that a truly needy couple needs. The Occupy movement contrasts vividly with the vigorous talk and the action of a small group of Green Party people who I met at this party several months ago. They were doing conventionally reformist things, they had been out of the streets of Holyoke and Northampton talking to people, running for office and looking for delegates. A third party with a vigorous platform addressing the needs of the 99% is what we need to buck the existing order.