The Occupy movement is continuing to gain momentum. This despite government efforts to quash it with police often equipped, and behaving as if, the non-resisting occupiers were violent terrorists. An impressive feature of the movement is the way it operates by consensus without identifiable leaders.
For more than three decades, the fruits of technological progress have been harvested by a tiny percentage of the population, who amassed great wealth, while the great majority worked harder, but barely held their own financially. Tens of millions of Americans descended into, or remained mired in, poverty. Both major political parties, tho differing greatly in style, have been fully complicit in this process. There was surprisingly little resistance by the victims. Young people were silent as their futures were strip mined via massive outsourcing.
Against this background it is exciting to see the dramatic awakening in the form of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, which seems to be spreading rapidly. What are the salient issues driving the movement? What are the distinctive features of OWS? How might it succeed in wresting power from the wealthy?
What is OWS about?
The core of the Occupy movement consists of young Americans who see their country being dominated by corporations who care nothing for the welfare of the general population. They see their prospects for satisfying employment rapidly fading. The spirit of the movement is well captured by the chant that seems popular among Occupy groups nationwide: “Banks were bailed out, we were sold out!”
The growing role of money in politics, considered a key factor in the domination of both the Democratic and Republican parties by the 1%, is a principal theme. ( The idea of publicly funded election campaigns is popular among OWS activists. Other concerns include the way corporate interests have been de-industrializing the US by shutting down production here, building factories abroad, and importing foreign made goods, thus eliminating American jobs in categories ranging from entry level sweepers to engineers and managers. College graduates, unable to find suitable employment, are outraged at being forced to work at jobs such as as retail clerks selling products made in China.
A longer list of Occupy issues, compiled by Occupy Washington, DC organizers, covers more ground, e.g., the endless wars and universal health care, (tho it does not include civil liberty violations, which I believe is a concern of many Occupiers) [Occupy DC]. The cited reference includes a pointer to an essay detailing studies showing that there is very strong popular support for the Occupy positions.
What’s Different about OWS?
Quick! Name one OWS leader! A unique feature of Occupy Wall Street is the absence of identifiable leadership. Although some prominent individuals such as Chris Hedges and Michael Moore have expressed support for, and participated to some extent in, the movement, they in no way can be considered as leaders or spokespeople. Nor have any previously unknown people emerged as conspicuous leaders.