Whither OWS?

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Yesterday’s cleansing of Zuccotti Park and comparable municipal actions elsewhere–to say nothing of the impending cold weather–have raised in many sympathetic minds the question of what next for the Occupy Wall Street movement. More conventional political types like Michael Sean Winters urge the OWStreeters to morph into a more convention political enterprise. I fear that springs more from wishful thinking than anything else.

What OWS has brought to the table is moral witness via continuous presence in central public places. The immediate question before the movement, it seems to me, is how to keep the witness alive without the encampments. Translating it into practical politics may be an issue for another day, or not.

But that’s just what I think. To feel the movement’s pulse, to know what’s really going on, what’s needed is reporting from the inside, and from different sites on the OWS map. So I’m happy to recommend America, Occupied–a blog created and to this point mostly written by my journalist son Ezra, who last month quit his day job to report on OWS demonstrations around the country. For portraits of the demonstrators and assessments from various quarters it can’t be beat.

Check out, for example, this analogy to the radical Abolitionists by Penn State history prof Lori Ginzberg, whom Ezra ran into in Philly. Ginzberg argues that it was pure moral witness that made the radicals effective. Others did the politics.