Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Is Occupy Wall Street Too Broad?

There has been some debate about the Occupy Wall Street movement and its seemingly broad nature. But what some skeptics forget is that the OWS movement is intentionally broad. This, of course, has its pros and cons, and one outweighs the other depending on how you view it and what you're informed by, obviously. It's important to keep in mind that the OWS movement itself was conceived online, on Reddit, and the original demands were basic and very general. The aim was (and still fundamentally is) to protest the comfortable and happy marriage between governments, political parties and corporations. Leaders pander to corporate agendas in favour of their own wallets (how sloganeering of me) and at the expense of the people they were elected to govern and ensure the well-being of. The original memo also stated (and I'm paraphrasing here, this is when I first read the promo a few months ago): "we will figure it out as we go".

Really, the movement is taking advantage of the Arab Spring euphoria (and horror) and trying to recreate a revolution of some sort in the US. And that's not a bad thing at all, but unlike OWS, the Arab Spring had a distinct goal and that was, and is, to install democracy and receive greater rights and freedoms via removing tyrants and ditching regimes and making huge legal and political reformations to secure rights, safety and a good standard of living. 

As aforementioned, the nature of the OWS demands are constructed in such a way whereby the people participating 'find their direction' as the protests roll on. In terms of getting 'somewhere', creating some sort of unprecedented change, directly challenging and confronting the powers that be and heavily altering the status quo, I believe the lack of solid direction is unhelpful to the cause. The protesters are united by generalities (but this is not to say there isn't any truth to their assertions). 

In saying that, I do believe that the 'non-specific' nature of the protests has done the anti-corporate OWS cause some good in terms of raising national and global awareness, reviving interest and passion about social justice, and bringing taboo questions and demands to the forefront. It is like a national treasure hunt and people are trying to determine and pinpoint exactly the sort of changes they want. I would not dismiss the movement simply because it is "too broad" and "unfocused". 

Perhaps it is general, but I believe this is the kind of movement suited to America. No protest movement is the same. The US needs to 'wake up', the people need to question the ruling elite, they need to be more skeptical, politically astute, and most importantly, less apathetic. After all, apathy is complicity. There are US citizens who are aware of the state of affairs but are unconcerned by any political conundrum in general to act. The Arab world, on the other hand, did not need to 'wake up'. The masses knew of and were constantly reminded of their predicament. The Arab world has long brimmed with discontentment, but the people never had the means to change things around. The Arab people's choices and freedoms have always been a lot more constrained, a lot more silenced, compared to the US. The Arab world did not need any waking up - it needed to launch an awakening, an uprising. And it finally has. The US needs to 'rise and shine' before it tries to rise up.


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