Saturday, October 15, 2011

Occupy Wall Street and the Internet

I've been reading a lot of critisim about OWS lately, specifically about how the movement is "lacking a consistent message." All of this negativity got me thinking about successful movements in the past and how they positioned their demands. I don't think there was any difference between then and now besides one huge factor - the internet. Thanks to the internet, we're able to see OWS from so many different angles through so many different voices, and I hate hearing people discount the cause because of it.

Douglas Rushkoff, writer for CNN, wrote an opinion article that really expressed how I was feeling in ways I could not. I posted a portion of his article below, but I urge you to read the whole thing on CNN. The photo above was taken by an amazing photographer named Dylan Hollingsworth. If you don't live in New York, please take a minute to look through the album and see what's going on up here.

"It is difficult to comprehend a 21st century movement from the perspective of the 20th century politics, media, and economics in which we are still steeped. In fact, we are witnessing America's first true Internet-era movement, which -- unlike civil rights protests, labor marches, or even the Obama campaign -- does not take its cue from a charismatic leader, express itself in bumper-sticker-length goals and understand itself as having a particular endpoint.

Are they ready to articulate exactly what that problem is and how to address it? No, not yet. But neither are Congress or the president who, in thrall to corporate America and Wall Street, respectively, have consistently failed to engage in anything resembling a conversation as cogent as the many I witnessed as I strolled by Occupy Wall Street's many teach-ins this morning. There were young people teaching one another about, among other things, how the economy works, about the disconnection of investment banking from the economy of goods and services, the history of centralized interest-bearing currency, the creation and growth of the derivatives industry, and about the Obama administration deciding to settle with, rather than investigate and prosecute the investment banking industry for housing fraud.

Anyone who says he has no idea what these folks are protesting is not being truthful. Whether we agree with them or not, we all know what they are upset about, and we all know that there are investment bankers working on Wall Street getting richer while things for most of the rest of us are getting tougher. (...) Occupy Wall Street is meant more as a way of life that spreads through contagion, creates as many questions as it answers, aims to force a reconsideration of the way the nation does business and offers hope to those of us who previously felt alone in our belief that the current economic system is broken.

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