There’s an excellent column in the newest edition of The Nation by a former congressional staffer named Gordon Lafer entitled “Why Occupy Wall Street Has Left Washington Behind.”
I like this part:
“OWS is clearly inspired by Tahrir Square. Yet Egyptians succeeded in toppling the Mubarak government not because they occupied the square but because their occupation exerted direct pressure on the country’s most powerful business interests. As SUNY Stonybrook sociologist Michael Schwartz has detailed, by shutting down the tourist industry, disrupting construction projects whose financing had already been committed and initiating general strike actions that threatened to shut the Suez Canal, the occupiers of Tahrir threatened the interests of the economic elite—and that is what brought down the regime.
Clearly, something similar—nonviolent action that directly challenges the economic elite—is required here if we’re to succeed in making serious change. It’s daunting, but there is a precedent. Before there were civil rights laws, people broke the back of Jim Crow by picketing, boycotting, getting beaten and arrested by the tens of thousands, in direct action against the most powerful forces of their society.
OWS has resonated with millions of normally apolitical people across the country who recognize in it the crucible of their own struggles. If the movement moves beyond the occupied squares and into foreclosure defense (as has already begun in Los Angeles and New York) and student debt strikes—if it becomes not only the voice but the arm of those resisting immiseration at the hands of the 1 percent—then it may achieve by popular action what the political system is incapable of accomplishing.”