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Critics of the Occupy Wall St movement complain that protesters don’t have a policy...

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misssbooo | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted November 4, 2011 at 3:22 AM via web

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Critics of the Occupy Wall St movement complain that protesters don’t have a policy agenda and, therefore, don’t stand for anything. What are your thoughts?

Keep in mind Social Psychology terms and social movement theme.

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kapokkid | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 4, 2011 at 3:28 AM (Answer #2)

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I recently read an interesting article that suggested the lack of an easily "tweeted" theme suggests not that occupy wall street doesn't have goals or an agenda but that it cannot be simplified enough for the media to package into easy sound bytes, therefore the media complains non-stop that they don't actually have an agenda.

But the idea that they do not stand for anything is strange given that they are standing together for a reason, otherwise they wouldn't be occupying anything, so that even if they have differeng agendas or haven't made it entirely clear what the entire movement's demands are, they still have them.

Perhaps they are standing up against the idea of a simplified demand, they don't want to be distilled to a thirty second news spot so they refuse to simplify everything just so reporters will have an easy time explaining their movement.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 4, 2011 at 3:58 AM (Answer #3)

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I believe they do stand for for something, it's just that their agenda as to what should be done about it is not well defined, and like the Tea Party, even if their agenda was well-defined, it would not be universal across the movement.

This is not merely blind rage, nor is it completely spontaneous.  The fact that it is this widespread suggests the economic conditions and disparities most often protested during this movement are both real and worldwide. 

They are disorganized, which is unfortunate, given that they have media attention now, in fact the microphones have been on them for a while, but they seem to have no cohesive message.  Still, I don't think they can be dismissed out of hand.  The social and economic issues they are upset about will not go away without policy changes.

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stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 4, 2011 at 5:24 AM (Answer #4)

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I agree with the above posts. I think the challenge facing the OWS movement is that there are a great many policy agendas and a great many frustrations all finding expression as individuals join in the movement. For too many citizens, OWS appears as their first opportunity to actually become personally involved in making their thoughts and concerns known on a larger stage. The movement as a whole stands as an indication of the alienation and/or frustration being felt by many. The challenge is taking that very indefinite attitude and giving it focus on specific issues that can be addressed in some concrete manner.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 4, 2011 at 5:56 AM (Answer #5)

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If you can't articulate a set of policy demands, you dont really stand for anything serious.  "I'm mad about the way things are" is not an agenda.

I think that the OWS movement needs to abandon its efforts to be this utopian, all-inclusive consensual mass movement if it ever wants to be relevant.  It's fine to be idealistic, but if you really want to cause any sort of change, you have to do something concrete.  OWS has not managed to do anything that will allow it to actually bring change about.  Instead, its lack of focus has helped to turn off many people who would otherwise be sympathetic to its ideas.

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boblawrence | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted November 4, 2011 at 7:02 AM (Answer #6)

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I think the OWS participants do, indeed have an agenda, namely pointing out and protesting the age-old inequity between the "haves" (Government, Politicians, Corporations, Banks, and Wall Street) and the "have-nots" (the rest of us).  It seems clear that this is what they are saying.  They want the "haves" to recognize the unfairness of the situation, and change their ways so as to prevent further injury of the masses.  These entities need to shape up.  And the regulators need to do a better job of protecting the individual.

Maybe the reason there is no list of demands is that the protests have been spontaneously generated through the use of social media.  They are not under the auspicies of any one group that might have a well-defined agenda.

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted November 4, 2011 at 8:21 AM (Answer #7)

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Personally I find myself not caring a whole lot about the Occupy Wall Street movement for the very fact that I don't really know what they want to accomplish. The majority of people in the country right now are affected by the current economic situation, but we also know that there is no simple solution to the multidimensional problem. The OWS isn't going to change anything as far as I can see, but it will be interesting to see how all OWS sentiments play out in the upcoming election season, and how each party will use it to their advantage.

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 4, 2011 at 8:45 AM (Answer #8)

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I'm not sure that many of the people in OWS are claiming that there is a simple solution to our problems. What the ones I've heard seem to be trying to articulate is a general sense that Western society is moving in a troubling direction, and that people in positions of power are facilitating, rather than resisting this trend. The fact that they don't have a clear-cut message that can be reproduced every 35 minutes in a facile way on our cable news stations doesn't mean they don't stand for anything.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 4, 2011 at 8:54 AM (Answer #9)

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I think the goal is to get people to pay attention.  They seem to have generally accomplished that. It is not a specific goal, like leave the Vietnam war, but it is still a goal.  To me, they are basically saying: The economy stinks, do something about it!

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 4, 2011 at 9:52 AM (Answer #10)

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I have yet to see a list of demands for particular kinds of legislation, or for particular changes in any government policies, or for support or opposition to any particular political ideology. I do see a lot of people standing around drumming, sleeping in parks, and engaging in some activities that don't make for pleasant photographs.  I think they may have squandered their time in the limelight.  I read today that more people now disapprove of OWS than approve. If behavior of the sort that has taken place recently in Oakland increases, I suspect that the proportion of disapprovers will grow.

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maadhav19 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted November 4, 2011 at 8:51 PM (Answer #11)

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It's not just that they protest that there are "haves." They protest that those who have benefit from the current political system, laws, and tax structure, and have the means to influence politicians to preserve the wealth and influence they possess, without any gain for the rest of America.

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misssbooo | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted November 6, 2011 at 11:12 PM (Answer #12)

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Following is the "Official Statement from Occupy Wall Street". It is too long to post, so, I will split it up into several post discussion's...

Official Statement from Occupy Wall Street - this statement was voted on and approved by the general assembly of protesters at Liberty Square: Declaration of the Occupation of New York City

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

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misssbooo | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted November 6, 2011 at 11:14 PM (Answer #13)

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They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.

They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.

They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.

They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.

They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.

They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.

They have sold our privacy as a commodity.

They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.

They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.

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misssbooo | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted November 6, 2011 at 11:16 PM (Answer #14)

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They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.

They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them.

They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.

They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit.

They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.

They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.

They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.

They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.

They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.

They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.*

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

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sorilbran | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 8, 2011 at 12:42 AM (Answer #15)

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Let's make the distinction between values and desires.  We know what they stand for.  We don't yet know what they want. They're not unemployed kids and hippies roaming about making noise.  Studies show that half are employed, a good number are students, a substantial number with advanced degrees and the average age of protesters is early 30s.

What they do right - The common theme throughout OWS is the idea that we've allowed democracy to be perverted.  If there's one thing OWS has effectively demonstrated since June of this year, it's democracy in its basest,  most stripped down form.  The movement has a solid understanding of what it means to run an organization horizontally. It's never a quick process when you've gathered droves of people and each person actually HAS a voice.

The General Assemblies convene daily and receive feedback from participants. It's a very transparent kind of micro-government. From their communicative hand signals, to the [mostly] peaceful demonstrations to the people's mic which works solely by employing one of the most powerful listening techniques around - repetition.

OWS is proof that there is a rumbling beneath the surface of American culture that's now escaped the ghettos. It's like that flash of implosive anger that surfaces weeks before the emotional explosion.  Watch.

 

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argan | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 8, 2011 at 9:27 AM (Answer #16)

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I agree they really do not stand for anything and their motivation for doing this is all wrong. If there had not been any crisis, then they would not exist.

I guess it is easier for people to throw mud at each other instead of actually make a difference when there is a crisis, just like kids in a kindergarten.

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Sizegenetics

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maggiekb | Student, Grade 11 | eNoter

Posted December 14, 2011 at 10:59 PM (Answer #17)

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I think one of the universal demands of the Occupy protesters is a higher tax on people who have higher incomes. I think that they are mostly out there to protest against things they view as unjust, like economic inequality and corporate interference in government.

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alderoniron | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 23, 2011 at 2:59 AM (Answer #18)

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Like any large group of people gathering in protest the OWS has two factions, the ones who are there peacefully with reason and intelligence, and then there are the ones who are there for the joy of protesting with no reason and sometimes not so peacefully.

I think that the basic reasoning for the OWS is just and sound but they are not going to be able to accomplish much through their chosen methods. They may have found more progress by challenging the government in DC.

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agensbobet | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 25, 2011 at 1:28 PM (Answer #19)

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I recently read an interesting article that suggested the lack of an easily "tweeted" theme suggests not that occupy wall street doesn't have goals or an agenda but that it cannot be simplified enough for the media to package into easy sound bytes, therefore the media complains non-stop that they don't actually have an agenda.

But the idea that they do not stand for anything is strange given that they are standing together for a reason, otherwise they wouldn't be occupying anything, so that even if they have differeng agendas or haven't made it entirely clear what the entire movement's demands are, they still have them.

Perhaps they are standing up against the idea of a simplified demand, they don't want to be distilled to a thirty second news spot so they refuse to simplify everything just so reporters will have an easy time explaining their movement.

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 26, 2011 at 8:02 PM (Answer #20)

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The main problem I see is that they have not achieved a thing.

Period.

Have they changed any fragment of society not including newspaper headlines? Have they done anything that will change the world for the better? No. They are a bunch of whiners who got together for instant gratification one day when, perhaps, the electricity went off in their homes and they could not play Legend of Zelda any longer.

If they ever come my way (which they won't) and prevent me from parking in my own parking space, or get coffee in my usual place, or let me live my life the way I have worked hard to live it...they will be "occupied" by yours truly. :)

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azxdfwer | eNoter

Posted December 26, 2011 at 10:03 PM (Answer #21)

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I think they are trying to get the government's attention:

"Hey, we exist! You can't abuse our money forever!

You can't take our hard earned cash to spend it on expensive pools (Canada), frequent misuse of search and rescue copters for yourselves (also happened in Canada), and extra money so that previous governor generals can hire other people to read their mails! (also in Canada).

We are NOT stupid (for the most part) and we will fight your injustice!We don't need inspirational speakers (USA) or police chuckling at our expense as they take away our rights (USA).

You can't blame each other, and do nothing until the end of your presidency/ prime ministry!"

Something like that. We have a TON of trouble happening in our countries: bombing countries for NO REASON OTHER THAN OIL to nothingness, while killing our own and their citizens in the process, demoralizing other people, ruining our own food (walmart anyone?)....

These people I admire and salute for their efforts to getting democracy to work: how many people trust politicians to keep their word? How many politicians actually kept their word within the beginning of their employment, instead of waiting for the election?

And yet... although I admire their efforts, I agree that their disorganization is what is truly undermining the messages they keep trying to send.

 

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irha-nadeem | Student, Grade 9 | Salutatorian

Posted December 30, 2011 at 12:18 AM (Answer #22)

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I believe that they have a plan, they have an agenda. The problem is that they are not being listened.

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