By John Stang
The Occupy Wall Street Movement has received a lot of buzz from the liberal blogosophere and from liberal celebrity activists alike. The L.A. Times eloquently describes the movement:
The protest, which evolved from a network of individuals and groups galvanized by the demonstrations in Egypt last winter, has moved far beyond what it was on Sept. 17, when police barricaded the streets outside the Stock Exchange to prevent a march there to protest corporate greed. A map in Zuccotti Park pinpoints scores of other cities with Occupy Wall Street events either underway or planned, including sit-ins planned for Los Angeles on Saturday and Washington on Oct. 6.
What it stands for:
On its website, Occupy Wall Street describes itself as a “leaderless resistance movement” drawn from people of all backgrounds and political persuasions. ”The one thing we all have in common is that we are the 99 percent that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 percent,” the website says. The posters in Zuccotti Park speak to the lack of a narrow platform: “End financial aid to Israel“; “End greed, end poverty, end war”; “No death penalty”; “Tired of racism.”
So what is it exactly? Well, it’s basically an unorganized, organized political movement that is angry at, not just financial institutions, but traditional institutions in general for failing to solve the global economic crisis. Everyone in the system has let them down and they want some type of change to clamour too. In a sense, I agree with their message. We all should be mad at Wall Street for making poor financial decisions and Washington for not being tough enough. Being mad does not get you anywhere, however. Liberal blogger Matt Yglesias writes:
I’ll cheer. If we do one down by the Eccles Building, I’ll show up. But when the lodestar of your movement is to say, “The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%,” it’s difficult for me to get excited. You have to have a dream scenario in mind. What if the protests are super-popular, the crowds are enormous, and the inconvenience to the high and mighty becomes intolerable? What if the bad guys decide it’s time to consider a surrender? You want them to come out, address the crowd, and do what?
Moreover, this movement is not much more, at this stage, where the Tea Party started out. The Tea Party was a group that wanted lower deficit spending and hated the bailouts. Eventually, conservative politicians and Fox News conspiracy theorists took hold of the movement and shaped it to form a very conservative agenda. The Tea Party could have easily died without media attention. Unorganized protest movements last until a leader comes along to shape the movement for re-election, or it eventually dies. I have hope that some Democrats will seize the day and capture this energy. If there were ever a time for President Obama to find a strong liberal base, an opportunity has opened up. My point is that political protests need energy, concrete solutions, and an insider to support them (think of Michele Bachmann for the Tea Party). Otherwise, Occupy Wall Street will be nothing more than a bunch of hippies who protested outside the NYSE for a few weeks demanding random, vague goals.