Michael Moore on Occupy Movement: something that can’t be stopped


Richard Moore

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, I have not felt this good in a very long time. This movement has spread like wildfire, and it is happening completely on its own momentum. And it’s something that can’t be stopped. I literally—and I don’t know, maybe Dr. West maybe feels the same way. We’ve been involved in various movements and causes for many, many years, and it takes a long time to build these movements. And at the beginning of the movements, at the beginning of the civil rights movement, at the beginning of the feminist movement, at the antiwar movement in Vietnam, you didn’t have 59 percent of the American public with you in the first month of the movement. According to the National Journal poll yesterday, that’s what it says: 59 percent of the American public is behind Occupy Wall Street. This has happened so fast.

And yet, it was—the reason, I think, is because I think the people were already there. The feeling toward Wall Street, toward corporate America, toward what’s going on, has just been simmering beneath the surface, and it was just ready to explode. And that is what’s happened, and it can’t be turned back now. And the politicians are trying to figure out, “How do we deal with this?…”


Michael points out that this movement has emerged with unprecedented rapidity. He attributes this to an anti-establishment sentiment that was already boiling beneath the surface. And he is measuring the movement by how many people are in favor of the movement when asked, not by how many people are participating in the occupations themselves. 

Certainly there is widespread anti-establishment sentiment, which is to be expected when things are collapsing around us. But to get 59% approval for the movement, people must think the movement itself is ‘sensible’. It is so easy for people to say: “I approve of their goals, but I can’t support their methods”. 
If 59% of the people aren’t making such objections, we need to keep in mind that the mainstream media, by the tone of its coverage, has been presenting the movement in a sensible light. In addition, we need to keep in mind that the widespread toleration of the Occupations by the authorities is somewhat surprising, in light of how drastic have been the suppression of previous anti-establishment protests, eg anti-globalization mobilizations, which also were largely non-violent, apart from agent-provacateurs / black-blockers – who are curiously absent from the Occupations. 
As regards the rapid growth in the occupations themselves, I find that whole process highly suspicious. A formula was launched, involving a central committee, a crowd-communication protocol, and an ethic about what can be discussed and what can’t. The formula operates as a viral meme, in that it has propagated widely, while maintaining its essential properties. The formula appeals to the underlying discontent, and by avoiding discussion of specifics, it succeeds in bringing together discontents from a wide political spectrum. It is not easy to come up with formulas that are this successful, and get them right the first time out of the box.
In addition, the formula leads to gatherings that don’t go anywhere, beyond existing as ‘vigils of discontent’. I said I was suspicious. It’s all of it together: the mainstream support, the instant-hit viral formula, the toleration by authorities. It’s all been too easy, too convenient, just when the demand was growing for anti-establishment expression. And the outcome – vigils of discontent – is a scenario ripe for the emergence of an articulate leadership element of some kind, some kind of ‘real win’, ie co-option.
In my view, all things considered, the Occupy Movement is clearly the domestic deployment of a regime-change technology that has been deployed / tested earlier in the ‘Colored Revolutions’, and in the ‘Arab Spring’. Always there is the  radical-but-vague mass sentiment, always there is a simple-but-effective propagation process, and always in the end the crowd goes for a ‘win’, which turns out to be: new boss, bad as the old boss, but in new clothing, serving new masters. 
Notice, in regard to the regime-change thesis, how Michael feels comfortable in asserting as true that politicians are feeling compelled to deal in some way with the movement, to respond in some way to it. Is that true? If so why? They certainly didn’t feel any need to respond to the anti-globalization movement, apart from suppressing it, and it too was radical, massive, and widely supported. For some reason, in this case, we are being given the ‘message’ – by our overall media environment – that we are to expect consequences of some kind from this movement, that it’s not just-another-ignorable-protest. That is to say, we’re being encouraged to expect some interesting changes from an unusual and radical direction.
If the Occupy Movement is part of a domestic regime-change operation, then the interesting questions become: What is the nature and scope of the intended regime change in this case? and: How quickly is it unfolding? (keeping in mind how quickly these things have happened elsewhere).