The future of “Go Home Gota”: Occupy Wall Street?

Occupy was, at its core, a movement constrained by its own contradictions: filled with leaders who declared themselves leaderless, governed by a consensus-based structure that failed to reach consensus, and seeking to transform politics while refusing to become political.

If one is searching for movements analogous to “Go Home Gota”, Occupy Wall Street is a good option. While it was fashionable at one stage to disparage Occupy Wall Street, as more recent assessments have pointed out, a movement’s success should not just be measured by the policies it produces at its peak, but also how it managed to shape public opinion and open space for new solutions, though these may need successor organisations to see them through to fruition.

Given the immediate need for action that can only happen within the mainstream of politics (e.g. an IMF bailout), the intransigence of the existing regime, and the sheer scale of what needs to change in Sri Lanka, history suggests the movement’s desire for radical system change are likely to be unfulfilled in the short-term, and instead smaller victories may have to be claimed.

Mass mobilizations often create change in a little bit of an indirect way, by shifting public opinion and creating a new climate of debate around an issue, allowing solutions that were previously seen as impractical to become plausible…Two important measures are whether they are shifting public opinion in their favor, and whether they are building their capacity to pull off more ambitious actions in the future. If, after a given round of protests, movements can live to fight another day, with more popular support and a better network of active participants, they’re doing a lot of things right.

This, then, is one likely vision of “Go Home Gota”’s future. Not an acquiescence to all its demands by the establishment, but the creation of a series of movements and empowered individuals, who can chip away at the oppressive edifice of mainstream politics in Sri Lanka.

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