Although some may say that the motivations behind Occupy Wall Street is to create economic reform, I disagree. Based upon some of the interviews I have seen with the protestors, they do not know why they are protesting. I did not hear a coherent message come from the protestors. If they would like to evoke some policy change, they should go to Washington, DC (which I know they did). I find it rather ironic that they are "protesting" capitalism and people who have wealth, yet the message was spread through social media, a type of communication created by capitalists. No one at the protest seemed to have any problem with the amount of money Steve Jobs earned through creating innovative products and companies.
This recent article from the New Yorker is the clearest I have seen on the exact origins of the Occupy Wall Street movement. It seems to be something that is changing (or winding down?) every day, but the origins are interesting.
Pre-Occupied: The Origins and Future of Occupy Wall St.
I view it as a general disillusionment with the way things seem to be going. That's about as close as one can get to defining the message of a movement that has lots of messages. Many of the more vocal protestors have said, basically, that they're out to get economic reform on the political agenda, which most certainly has not been the case for some time now.
It seems that the motivation is draw attention to a problem. The problem with that though is that there is no solution to the problem that is feasible in the short or long term. A protest against a war would call for the return home of troops -- relatively clear and simple. A protest against the current distribution of wealth in a capitalist society -- not so simple.
I think the problem is that there is no dominant voice out there. People have remarked in the past that the weakness of the Occupy Wall Street did not have a focused agenda. Some undoubted hate the banks and the government's bailouts. Some young people may not want to pay their student loans when there are no jobs to be had. For others, as post number three suggest, it might be about entitlements. What unites them is anger of some sort.
This is a worldwide movement, without a centralized leadership or an operating creed. So I think #2 is going to come closest to what sparked the protests to happen. I don't think it's a sense of entitlement, rather, the declining income and shrinking size of the middle class, along with the economic bite of the recession and housing crash, which have hurt average Americans more than the wealthy. They are also frustrated that those in the financial industry gambled so heavily with their money, lost, were bailed out with tax money, financed with public debt that affects poor and rich alike (money that has since been shaved out of state budgets) and finally with the startling and growing income disparity in the US.
But these things motivate a lot of people in the US who are not in the OWS protests--to vote, to run for office, to support and donate to candidates who represent the reforms they want, etc.
I think suggesting OWS is an anarchist movement is ridiculous. I also don't think it's accurate to say that so far the movement has been all that constructive. But the messages of economic pain and the need for regulation are not illegitimate ones.
I also find it interesting that conservatives are so quick to label OWS as some radical socialist anarchist self-entitled hippie crazies while those who protested in the Tea Party, weapons in hand, were simply God-fearing patriotic constitutionalists. Seems wonderfully convenient.
I'm not sure if there is one, from what I have observed, it is not a traditional movement. The dominant motivation is very hard to discern and I think that's intentional. I believe they are waiting for some sort of consensus to emerge.
I, also, agree with post #2. The main issue for OWS is the problems associated with "inequalities of wealth." The OWS movement seems (given one cannot really know all agendas) to want to equal the playing field when it comes to the taxation of Americans.
#2 is correct about the "official" and most often stated motivation behind OWS -- a motivation I believe to be unfounded in reality -- but while that may be what people will say to your face, I believe that the real motivation is anarchy. There has been no effort to make a single, unified point in a way that will garner attention and gather support from the public at large: fully 45% in a recent poll do not support OWS; I would posit that this is because of its violent nature. Everything we have seen supports the notion that these protestors are actually attempting to create a state of anarchy where anything goes and there are no consequences for actions.
Not that I necessarily believe this myself, but conservatives would argue that the dominant motivation of OWS is a sense of entitlement. It seems to some that OWS protestors think that society owes them something. They feel that instead of going out and doing what they can to make money, they should be allowed to simply follow whatever path they want to and somehow be rewarded for it.
So, again, not advocating this position, but that is clearly how OWS's motives are perceived by many of my conservative friends.
The dominant motivation of Occupy Wall Street seems to be to protest inequalties of wealth in the United States -- especially the differences between the wealth of the top 1% of the population of the wealth of the rest of the population. The movement points out (correctly) that there has been a growing disparity between the wealth of top earners and the wealth of the rest of the country over recent years. Occupy Wall Street participants seem to believe that raising tax rates on the wealthiest segment of the population will contribute to the economic and political health of the United States.
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