Why the Charge “OWS Has No Clear Message” Is Wrong in One Photo

Update: This woman is a reporter and was fired from her job (big surprise, it was part-time) for expressing her political opinion outside of work.

Political movements are about steering different interests, and not about getting everyone into one group that agrees on everything.

Wall Street’s current practices are terrible for many reasons, but they’re all pretty complicated for unfamiliar laypeople: derivative swaps, disproportionate political influence, de-emphasizing traditional investment, rent-seeking, letting banks become traders, credit swaps, helping hide the tremendous debt of sovereign nations to the detriment of the entire European Union and international financial system, larger bonuses with less revenue, etc. How do you get tens of thousands to want the same thing, when what Wall Street is doing is doing wrong in many ways? Not easily.

In the Egyptian Revolution early this year, Mubarak was the figurehead of protests much like Wall Street is for the OWS crowd. Early in the protests, the grievances of Egyptians weren’t all against Mubarak directly but against varying negative social developments: huge inequality, high unemployment, rising food prices, religious oppression of political Islam, lack of democratic freedom. Only slowly did their demands take definition into the removal of Mubarak with demand of elections together.

OWS is a movement of grievance against industry practice, inherently far more disparate than grievances against a government led by one authoritarian. If Egypt’s revolution had a bunch of different interest groups originally protesting for vaguely defined reasons, then OWS should by nature of its target, be even less defined.

It’s nuts that the protesters get knocked for it. If you think that our private market capitalist system is laissez faire and Wall Street can make all the shitty products with overwhelming negative externalities it wants, fine, go be a chump. But don’t knock a process that changes social conditions in a democracy, even if there’s a low probability of positive change, just because it doesn’t fit a neat media narrative you hold in your fantasies. Disparate messages and demands are pretty normal in protests.

Examples of No Messaging, Wrong Goals Claim:



This entry was posted in Occupy Wall Street, Protest, Pundits, Wall Street and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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