And this is what one of our founding fathers, Gouverneur Morris, thought of a meeting of concerned citizens of New York back in 1774:
The mob began to think and reason. Poor reptiles! It is with them a vernal morning; they are struggling to cast off their winter slough. They bask in the sunshine, and ere noon they will bite, depend on it.
Based on last night's rally at Foley Square in downtown Manhattan, I'd say the snake's still struggling; or maybe just digesting its last meal, Mike Bloomberg, who looks like a petrified rodent to begin with. (Gouverneur Morris, by the way, died when he tried to insert a whale bone into his penis. Now what does this have to do with Occupy Wall Street?)
I'd say about 20,000 people at Foley Square and beyond, add to that the marchers who'd already crossed the Bridge (or crossed and been arrested) and the marchers coming and going since morning and you've got 50,000 to 100,000 participants that day, not bad in the rain and slough. My crowd at Foley Square was more professional than earlier crowds: union organizers with a fair number of the rank-and-file as well, a few neighborhood groups, in particular Hispanics, and the Infantile Left - the ones running up and down the crowd telling us all we had to tear down the system, or we're all going to tear down the system anyhow, it's historically predetermined, but I do wish they'd stop telling us ignorant mobs what we're either going to do because it's inevitable, or that what we're going to do will inevitably put their little coterie at the vanguard of a Revolution that, come to think of it, has barely begun to begin. There's been a lot of whining that the Occupy Wall Street folks haven't made demands, but there's too many folks making demands already because tactically there's little point in making demands that are going to be ignored, and every reason to make demands that can't be met. The unions are the smartest players in this demand game, and have been ever since Sammy Gompers, the founder of American unionism, witnessed a worker's riot on the Lower East Side and decided then and there that the role of unions was to substitute reasonable demands for the unreasonable demands of the rank-and-file. That's why the unions present at Foley Square had no demands at all, except that the march proceed peacefully: for once, last night, there was a committed group of marshalls, courtesy of the Service Employees union.
And then, there was the basking snake, and I'm starting to get annoyed with the self-proclaimed "kids" - that's what they call themselves. The kid who lectures me about an anti-war group I joined before he was born, for instance. (Next one who tries this, I'll tell him he reminds me of his mother.) The kid who goes around telling the grownups to put out their cigarettes because cigarettes are bad, man. Then there's the mic-check infants, like the one who disparaged the "old people" from the mic while making the bold demand that the Government fund the Arts, which is a bit like Gouverneur Morris and the whale bone: what was she thinking?
So, yeah, there is a split in the movement, one of many, but the only one that's not worth patching up: the point where we move, if move we can, from a formal democracy, the little gestures that are meant to portray equality for the media, the more-or-less peaceful marches that portray the revolution as a warning for the bosses to negotiate before the real thing gets under way, the mic checks that are academic demonstration projects of What Democracy Looks Like — move on, then to the real thing, the real demands for real changes:
YOU SAY MIC CHECK...