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The Reason "Occupy" Started in Wall Street

By Edited Apr 18, 2014 0 0
Credit: www.cnn.com


I'm not going to give you my personal opinion or affiliation about Occupy in this article, instead I plan on looking at a philosophical phenomona that surrounds social change as a whole. Hopefully you find this informative, and if you still feel the need to speculate about my political affiliation or whatever, that's fine.

Criticism #1: No one knows what they stand for

My response: Good

This is probably the critique you've heard from some 3 or 4 letter news network anytime the Occupy movement is brought up, and you know what? They are right. There isn't some central message that is proliferated because there is no real leadership, yet. This is why we are still calling it a movement and not a revolution. It is still in its infancy as an idea. The Protestant Reformation took nearly 10 years to get fully realized, and it had a strong leader from the start. This is actually probably the best time in a movement. It's idealized. People believe that they can unite and agree on things that will make the country a better place, and maybe they can, but once the message gets narrowed, it immediately throws out hundreds of ideas. Instead of just being mad as hell at corruption in government, you start to write a constitution, a manifesto, and the possibilities of what you can do narrow, the idealism is no longer illimitable. You know what follows every revolution? A new list of people who are pissed off about the new rules or regime. I realize there has to be a willful forgetting of this to enact social change; you have to believe that things can change for the better, and sometimes they do, but if you think too far ahead, if you get too close to it, you realize anything you fix will break again; anything you change will change again. So Occupy, stay ideal, keep every ideal in your head at once. Let them contradict and confuse, because once you take the first step forward, thousands of lights go out.

Criticsm #2: Why did they go to Wall St? If they really want to fix something, go to Washington.

My Response: It was never going to stay on Wall Street.

If you really want to enact social change, you have to attack symbols. Not in the V for Vendetta blow everything up way, but in a target a specific audience that stands for a larger corruption way. In a post-recession America the biggest symbol for the greed and irresponsibility for what brought us to this point was Wall Street. This doesn't mean that Wall Street holds all the blame. Wall Street itself holds none of the blame. The NYSE building holds none of the blame. Every person in that building doesn't hold the blame. No, it has and always will be a symbolic move at best. At worst, people projected their own unresolved personal and financial problems, as well the ills of society, on Wall Street. Instead of individual greedy people being called out for their crimes, the whole system was declared corrupt. That doesn't matter though, they attacked the symbolic hub of all the greed that most Americans agree has caused problems on some level in this country. Petty party lines may be drawn about what problems are there and who started it, because when it comes to politics, not much has changed since elementary school recess, but nonetheless, the move worked. What started as a petty movement that was largely ignored, and became a larger movement that New York's government saw as a nuisance that it eventually got evicted, turned into a country-wide phenomena. You may have noticed that you haven't heard about Occupy in a while, so you probably think they faded away. My History teacher today even called the Occupy Movement a "complete failure". But, much like the Arab Spring movement, it has gone underground. Check Twitter. Check news sites that don't have an agenda, well, less of an agenda. I'll include my preference in the comments if anyone is interested.

Anyway, in closing I'm going to quote Peter Matheson when he talked about the Berlin Wall toppling in 1989:

"In the background had been the quiet, creative leadership by poets and pastors, activists and dreamers, little groups that had been meeting for years to pray and study and protest. From them flowed a fresh language of realism and hope; they provided much of the human leadership, the disciplines, the symbols, the songs. And in turn these acted as catalysts to spark off a thousands spontaneous initiatives: the flowers in the mouths of guns, whole seas of candles, the chants and slogans coined as people marched, the graffiti on the walls, the acts of peaceful defiance that toppled apparently invincible regimes." [3341]

I don't pretend to know where this is going, but if I were you I'd wake up. Something is happening.



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  1. Peter Matheson The Imaginative World of The Reformation. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001.

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