No. Full Stop. And here's why (excerpted):
So I’ve been tweeting up a storm today on the question of whether #OccupyWallStreet needs to compile a formal list of demands. (Spoiler alert: Nope.)...
The Montgomery bus boycott started out demanding a line separating the whites in the front of the bus from the blacks in the rear, so that black patrons wouldn’t have to give up their seats when the white section filled up. (Rosa Parks was seated legally when she sat down.) Mario Savio made no demands at all in the most famous speech in the history of the American student movement. Malcolm X’s demands shifted weekly, sometimes hourly, and the suffragist and abolitionist movements both encompassed vast, unwieldy coalitions.
I should say, I guess, that I’m not anti-demands in principle. If you happen to be fighting a narrow, single-issue, clearly-defined campaign, then by all means articulate what you’re looking to get. But if you’re not — and Occupy Wall Street isn’t — then any demands you put forward will serve a tactical purpose, and the question of what to demand has to be preceded by a discussion of whether it serves your interests to make any demands at all....
What’s going to change the dynamic in Washington DC, if anything will, is the continued growth of this movement. If you want to see Occupy Wall Street lead to a transaction tax, you want the movement to grow. If you want it to compel the demise of the legal concept of corporate personhood, you want the movement to grow. If you want it to overthrow global capitalism, you want the movement to grow.
It won’t grow if it’s completely contentless, of course. But it’s not contentless now. The General Assembly passed a “declaration of occupation” a few nights ago, and there’s some real meat there. I said in a recent blogpost that it was my sense that pretty much everyone in Liberty Plaza thought “that something was seriously broken in the American economy, that something was seriously broken in American politics, and that an accelerating concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a small minority was at the root of most of of that brokenness,” and none of the many people who’ve read or linked to that post have yet disagreed. If you think OWS has no message, you’re just not paying attention.
The OWS critique of our current national (and global) crisis will continue to unfold. Those discussions are ongoing, in a zillion venues. And I’m not convinced that this movement is any less coherent right now than the suffragists at the turn of the century or the lunch-counter sit-in crowd in the spring of 1960 or the London demonstrators over the last few months.
And at any rate the crucial task for Occupy Wall Street right now isn’t coherence, any more than it’s the articulation of specific demands. It’s resonance as an idea, as a movement.
You don’t win by making demands. You win by taking power or forcing power to bend. Either way your stated demands are peripheral to the outcome — what you demand has only the vaguest relationship to what you win.
Cross-posted at Plutocracy Files.