By most indications, the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement has fizzled. What began on September 17, 2011, in Zuccotti Park basically has lost most of its momentum and the encampments are a thing of the past. From my perspective, it's a darn shame because OWS had a much better chance of bringing about progressive change than voting this November for Tweedledee or Tweedledum!
While I'm certain that police brutality and the exercise in real democracy (where everyone got to have their say) played roles in the rather quick demise of OWS, I think the biggest factor is something that is routine and run-of-the-mill. In fact, it is so pervasive that I think many of the organizers of OWS simply forgot to factor in this most important variable: the weather.
OWS commenced only 3 days before Summer was set to turn to Autumn. Fall, like Spring, is a season of transition. It is the time in northern parts of the US when the daily high temperatures start to fall off week by week. In many of these locales, rain, sleet, snow and wind begin to make appearances. As October turns toward November and beyond, the overall climate is not that hospitable for organized outdoor activities.
In September and October, the activities in New York City and other northern locales were vibrant. Tens of thousands of people joined in the many marches and protests. Hundreds gathered at the nightly encampments. By November, however, the momentum began to ebb at about the same time as the weather became more challenging. By December, OWS was a mere remnant of its former self.
In many ways, OWS organizers boxed in the movement from the very outset. Knowing that winter was soon approaching, they invariably limited the amount of momentum which could have been built and sustained.
Imagine if these folks had factored in the climate. Instead of beginning as summer waned, what if they had kicked off their movement in mid March or April? This would have meant that September 17 would have represented the 6 month anniversary instead of the beginning. Six or seven months of mounting momentum might have been enough to sustain the movement through the winter.
Alas, we will never know if this might have made a substantive difference or not.