The question is simple enough. Is Occupy Wall Street effectively dead?
It's not the clearing of Zuccotti park that makes me ask this question, though the lack of ability to literally camp there will certainly dent the physical protest. I'm curious because of this poll put out by PPP (itself a left wing organization) that shows public support cratering for OWS. A combined 33% of Americans support the movement now while 45% oppose. The chant of "we are the 99%" is clearly very inaccurate at the least. Looking at the internals of the poll, you realize very quickly that this is actually overstating their popularity. 41% of responders to the poll are Democrats, but I promise you that does not even come close to reflecting society at large. Also note that the first question asked is about, of all people, John Boehner, rather than, say, the President. Asking about a Republican first in a time when people hate all incumbents can shift fairly weak minded people into a more leftist position. Note that nobody bothered to ask about whether the people approve of the President's job performance.
And oh, the Tea Party is more popular than OWS. In fact, it's popularity is within the margin of error for its disapproval rating, making it a statistical tie.
The only thing that should be surprising about any of this is that it actually lasted for roughly two whole months. I pointed out well over a month ago that this group lacked any actionable goals or means of executing those goals. OWS turned into a motley crew of leftist causes, but more than anything it was (or I suppose, technically, still is) a protest for the sake of having a protest. For better or worse, Americans may very well have liked the ideas of fighting inequality and corporate power, but once it became obvious this movement had no solutions beyond shouting, violating the law, and making the lives of locals miserable, support plummeted. The Tea Party evolved mechanisms for winning primaries, mostly against Republicans. OWS created a Soviet style state with multiple, ill defined governing bodies composed of who knows who that quickly became eyesores in the cities due to lack of any actual control.
Really, any Left leaning movement that has to have "rape free zones" is a godsend to the Right. We could only hope that this would continue through November 2012. Unfortunately, it looks like America only gets two months of college kids playing Utopian deities over increasingly filthy societies.
Without an end (and thereby without means), the movement could not actually move. I'll have to set aside my extreme humility for a second, because I described this perfectly: "This is a spasm more than a movement. Movements go somewhere, spasm's are just violent shaking in all directions." The best that could have been accomplished would be to rule these little OWS societies in a way that made outsides approve of them. Instead, they became Obamavilles in which public sanitation, safety, and decency decayed before the eyes of the world. That is the very reason support for OWS is gone in the public, and combined with the lack of ability to physically maintain these protests 24/7 and with the onset of winter, I don't see things continuing as they have.
Most will go home. What I fear, not necessarily predict but fear, is that the hardcore people calling for the death of capitalism will realize this was their best shot in ages, that it is rapidly passing and that the only way to keep it from dying a quiet death is to make it die a violent one. I'm not saying most in OWS are of this sort (indeed, I believe they are pansies who would never actually risk themselves, as much as they might wish to imagine otherwise), but it only takes a few hardcore fanatics to do a great deal of damage, both to physical persons and to our political discourse.
I don't think it will happen that way, but I do recognize the possibility. But I would be greatly shocked if OWS as it exists today should still exist come January 17. That said, I wouldn't have predicted it would still be here now, but spasms can't go on forever without killing the sufferer. Either the movement will peter out due to lack of results or it will have to actually come up with ends and means. The latter requires leaders to take charge or, more likely, for current leaders to become public, obliterating the "equality" myth the movement has about itself. The Iron Law of Oligarchy will not be silenced by chants.