How is the Occupy Wall Street movement relevant?How is the Occupy Wall Street movement relevant?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Occupy Wall Street movement is relevant in a couple of ways.  Regardless of one's own political leanings and support or disdain for the movement, it is undeniable that one of the most relevant issues it features is the notion of income inequality.  The chant of "We Are the 99%" has become infectious, causing people who are not normally politically active to reflect on what the capitalist reality of income disparity means in daily consciousness.  Income disparities and extremes in wealth proliferation has become openly discussed.  Even pro- capitalist advocates like Robert Rubin and Paul Ryan are openly talking about "serious economic and social issues in this country."  This is one of the most profound impacts of the movement.  It is also one of the reasons why it is relevant for it is forcing an examination, even on the smallest level, of capitalism and the system of business that has guided America for well over a century.

Another reason why the movement is relevant is because of its impact on the political sphere of discourse.  Leaders in Washington have had to accept the reality of the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Their responses help to feed the argument that is coming out of the movement.  Political leaders are being forced to address what it means to be representative of the "99%" and how policies are adopted that favor this group.  Even Republican Presidential Candidates are being forced to make the rather populist argument that they are speaking for those who are disenfranchised by government.  When a political party that has traditionally spoken for the interests of the wealthy and big business has to adopt a populist strand or thread, I think that one can see how the movement has relevance to the modern political and social setting.  At the same time, the emphasis on "jobs" and the need to ensure that the public sees job creation and employment as the most pressing issue is a direct reflection of the importance of the movement.  For the most part, the Occupy Wall Street movement is a response to the lack of economic enfranchisement for many.  "We are the 99%" is a mantra for those who has been economically challenged.  I don't think that it is a coincidence that the government is emphasizing job creation and job sustaining as a response to this.  Those who are economically marginalized are those who are not employed in a viable manner.  The fact that the Republican Presidential candidates as well as the Democratic leadership of the legislative and executive branches are spending so much time discussing the need and importance for jobs can be seen as a direct response to "We Are the 99%."  Similar to the Tea Party protests that reconfigured the national debate to the role of government, the Occupy Wall Street movement seeks to enhance the need for job creation and economic empowerment for "the 99%."  This is another way that the movement is relevant.

vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with # 4 that the true relevance, if any, of the movement will become clearer in 2012, especially in the summer and fall, in the lead-up to the elections. It will be interesting to see what tactics the Occupiers choose in dealing with the Democratic and Republican conventions, in particular.  It will be interesting to see if 2012 is in any way a repeat of 1968.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I think it's relevant because many people sympathize with the helplessness and anger, but not necessarily the methods. Many are turned off by closing ports, pitching tents for months and the more violent elements. I think the real relevance of this movement is still to come. We don't know yet where it will end up.
literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I also agree with #4. Many people today, with the state of the United States, are angry and frustrated. Any movement which speaks to how the "99%" feel is one which has relevance.

emanneh | Student

The Wall Street occupation appears to parallel historical events of the past. This specific event is an example of individuals standing up for the freedom they feel this country was founded on. Throughout history when individuals see an injustice they feel they should express their opinions. Specific examples which come to mind are the early days of the French Revolution beautiful depicted in Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Hopefully, we won't need a full scale revolution to get the message the protestors have tried to help make us aware of the corruption going on in the government.

This historic event could be the first in a series of events to come. People are tired of the injustices happening in the government. The systems established by our forefounders are being ignored and the amount of corruption is truly evident. Issues such as this occupation appear to be setting the foundation of more protest and major changes in the government which will follow. Regardless of what the future holds individuals are standing up for their constitutional rights.