Occupy Wall Street: Effective Social Movement, or Massive, Ineffective Complaint about Economic Standing?

Occupy Wall Street protestors courtesy of current.org

Greetings readers — hope all of you are well. Today I am going to discuss the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) Movement. I have always have struggled to identify how I felt about the movement as a whole. Through this blogpost I hope to bring you on my journey of how I have thought about OWS.

Previous to writing this blog post I was very aware of the issue of the movement. For those of you who are not familiar, check out this Wikipedia page about the basics of the OWS movement.

Here are a couple other interesting facts:

(1) OWS is a self-proclaimed “people-powered movement” that “fights back against corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations.”

(2) The OWS movement was started by Adbusters editor Micah White, which called for an encampment in Zuccotti Park, a park close to the financial district.

(3) OWS is modeled after the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya.

(4)OWS “fights back against the rights 1% of people that are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future.”

I think that it is also important to note some criticism of the OWS movement:

(1)It has been tagged as a movement that has struggled to include people of color, despite the fact it has been claimed a “worker’s movement.”

(2)It has been praised for democratization within the movement; it used both working groups and general assemblies to ensure that many different individuals’ voices are heard.

(3)The OWS movement has been claimed as one of the most “empowering” movements of the time as it has, “given everyday people a sense that they can do something about their conditions.”

First, let me point out that I am sympathetic to individuals who are struggling due to their financial situation. Living in the US, especially in New York City is extremely difficult if you are not making a sizeable amount of money per year; with $3000 as the average rent price, NYC is practically unlivable unless you are making over $100K per year. Therefore, I believe that reason why everyone participated in the OWS protests –both in and outside of NYC — makes sense.

However, I do not think that the individuals who participated in the OWS protests were considering practical change as a result of their protests. The OWS protesters did not ever announce a specific plan about what they wanted the local, city, county, or state do about the current economic status of the nation. The government is not going to change the tax code or provide immediate assistance handouts just because people are protesting. Personally, I think that the people’s time would have been better spent running for office or talking to their respective politicians to affect political change.

In conclusion, OWS frustrates me. I do not think that it was an effective movement, as there has not been any political change. The banks and multinational corporations still exist. Although the Dodd-Frank laws were past, they have not radically changed Bank’s behavior. Overall, I think that the protestor’s time would have been better spent being politically active.

Curious to hear what you think! Give me a clap if you can :)

All the best,

Daniella