Occupy Wall Street: A Good Place To Hang Out, or Good for America?
NOTE: This post contains some independent media sources, but is not focused on indy media. I wanted to talk about Occupy Wall Street because it seems to be a hot discussion in class.
The Occupy Wall Street protests have gained worldwide support, mainstream media coverage and the emotions of American progressives. But less can be said about the movement’s results; there still appears to be no consensus on what OWS’ demands are and the establishment’s response is less than encouraging.
A Brief History
OWS began as alternative online magazine Adbusters’ call for 20,000 Americans to meet on Wall Street in New York City to protest that corporations control government. They contend that common people, the so-called 99 percent, cannot participate in their government because corporate influence renders a truly participatory democracy impossible. The call to occupy suggested the Occupiers demand Barack Obama to create a committee to end corporate influence over politicians.
When the occupation began, support was overwhelming and the movement quickly spread across the nation then around the world as people took to the streets to stand in solidarity against a perceived world corporatocracy.
The Present Situation
One month into the OWS protest finds the Occupiers with more enthusiasm and no demands. Organizers like Amin Hussein say “The demands will come,” but there appears to be no clear message, just a general discontent with the status quo. A declaration was drawn to to explain what issues spurred the movement, but it does not contain a demand. There are many small groups within the movement advocating for topics ranging from fair trade to women’s rights, but OWS does not have an overall objective. Occupiers appear to be unconcerned by the lack of direction as they embrace the organization’s decentralized approach to decision making, where general assemblies gather for discussion and reach a consensus on what the Occupiers should do next. Testimony like THIS capture the enthusiasm of the Occupiers over these meetings but the meeting minutes show the overwhelming focus on logistics and not on demands.
The lack of demands has shown to be problematic for corporate leadership’s perception of OWS, who say they still see the movement as a rag-tag hippie-esque movement with no purpose, according to anonymous quotes in the New York Times. In Congress, some liberals are supporting OWS, but the lack of demands prevent any action.
OWS needs to take a step back and get some goals. There is too much focus on the occupation itself and not the reason behind the movement; the Occupiers say the General Assembly meeting with the decentralized decision making process is the ideology shift sought by the protest, but this does not change anything outside the occupied parks and streets.
If OWS wants to force a change, the need to make demands; there can be no change without goals, and right now it seems that this movement is, in fact, the hippie festival perceived by corporate leaders. In documentaries and news articles, Occupiers relate how happy they are that they can meet people who agree with them and hold meetings based on consensus, hat they have forgotten that they are protesting. OWS needs to make demands so that congress can react and change can be made.
But, perhaps, this movement, like the Tea Party, is just the natural response to political polarization and perceived injustice. Maybe Michael Steele, former RNC chairman, predicted it on the Daily Show Aug. 17, (skip to 6:05 on link at the bottom of the post), saying progressives need a movement to re-discover what they stand for. OWS may, in a long process, do that.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|