When the Occupy movement got going last year, it was possible simultaneously to support its central concerns - about the extent of economic inequality and the way the financial crisis is affecting lower-income groups - and to retain a certain scepticism towards the more extreme claims being made for it, such as that setting up camp on public or private ground presaged a totally new form of civilization. It was consistent, more particularly, with feeling sympathy for the protest the Occupy-ers were registering to be less tolerant of the plea that specific demands and policies were not their scene, dude, or the plea that electoral politics didn't float the Occupy boat. Amongst the sceptical reactions posted on this very site you can find one which was directed at Katrina vanden Heuvel for appearing to endorse that species of political immaturity. (And see also here and here.)
Well, lo and behold, I see that Katrina vanden Heuvel has moved on. In the Washington Post, she is now recommending the path of electoral politics:
[W]e can defeat [corporate money]. Doing so will take a protracted battle, both against corporate money itself and the causes that deploy it. But it will take something else too; it will take representatives of the 99 percent to step forward and run for elective office. Outside mobilization is essential, but we need 99 percenters on the inside, too. Our efforts shouldn't just be about making politicians into allies; it should be about making allies into politicians. We need the activists, the marchers and movement makers to run. And we need it to happen this year. As we fight to get corporate money out of politics, we must fight to get the things that are bigger and stronger than corporate money into politics.
And that doesn't just mean mobilizing 99 percenters to run for Congress. It means getting them to run for school boards and city councils, for county boards and state houses - the places where the vast majority of this nation's laws are written, debated and passed. It means infusing our political system - at every single level of government - with progressive values and progressive allies.
A very good morning to vanden Heuvel then. You will find an echo of a similar 'evolution' in this piece from today's G2 by Paul Mason, who writes that the Occupy movement in Europe and the US 'is beginning to leave a residue of policy among liberal and social-democratic parties'. That might be considered to be achievement enough, and maybe it is for the time being. It might also be said that every new generation has to find its own way, through its own experience. Even if this is so, however, those who already have some experience, already know something, can try to help along by not pandering to half-baked illusions like the totally new tent-based wow.