What are the similarities and differences between the Occupy Wall St movement and the Vietnam War protests of the 60’s?What are the similarities and differences between the Occupy Wall St...

What are the similarities and differences between the Occupy Wall St movement and the Vietnam War protests of the 60’s?

What are the similarities and differences between the Occupy Wall St movement and the Vietnam War protests of the 60’s?

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The better comparison would be between Occupy Wall St and the counterculture in general.  There are more similarities there than there are between OWS and the anti-war movement.

The major similarity between OWS and the anti-war movement is that they are/were both made up mostly of left-wing young people.  They are/were also both anti-establishment in nature.  However, that is where the similarities end.

The major difference is that the anti-war movement was a very focused movement with a clear purpose.  The protestors knew that they thought the war was wrong and should be ended.  They knew that they wanted the draft to be abolished.  There are no such clear demands present in the OWS movement.  Instead, OWS has a set of grievances, but very little in the way of concrete demands for what they want from government.

The anti-war movement, then, was more of what Aberle would call a reformative movement.  It was one that had specific goals that would change society in limited ways.  By contrast, OWS (and the counterculture) is more of a transformative movement in that it seems to want to change our entire way of life and our entire value system.

enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As long as the causes that impelled people to take to the streets for OWS have not been addressed, people will continue to take to the streets. That is, of course, if it is not suppressed.  Even then, people will protest, perhaps more so, as history has shown. Vietnam Era protesters continued to protest until the war was done; the comment about "Counterculture" is a good one -- Why weren't those protesting Vietnam all clean-cut?  The protest against Vietnam included other grievances against the culture at the time, but the War was the central one that held the counterculture movement together.  Some of their grievances then are some of our grievances now.  However, in our time, OWS seems to be more about these aggregate grievances, of which one component is the fighting in the Middle East.

belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If there is a real and quantifiable purpose to the OWS protests, it has been entirely drowned out by the deranged, reasonless madmen who are swamping their various cities. The rioting and public destruction that have occurred are now the real focus of OWS; their other goals have no voice and therefore are all but nonexistent. The biggest similarities I can see to the Vietnam protests is that both groups are taking up space in the streets, inconveniencing pedestrians, and making an amazing mess. At least the Vietnam protests captured public opinion in a positive way, and affected the political structures of the day; the only thing OWS is affecting is public safety. This is not a beneficial power-to-the-people rally against greed and corruption, this is simple anarchy in action.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The anti-War movement in the late 1960s and early 70s was very well organized, despite the popular misconception that the 60s counterculture was all hippies, rock n roll and free love.  They conducted "teach-ins", had a hierarchy of organization, had disciplined contacts with the media and practiced a strategy of political timing and civil disobedience.

From what I can gather (though I haven't witnessed any of it myself), the OWS movement has virtually none of those things.  They have national attention, but appear not to know what to do with it.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have to share the views of other editors in thinking that there seems to exist a curious lack of clarity and purpose in the OWS movement. This of course is the biggest difference between this movement and the anti-war movement and, unfortunately I think, will lead to the OWS fizzling out without having achieved much except for press attention. One similarity is that both movements started as grass roots movement by a public incensed by the way that governments and other official bodies were acting in ways that they did not agree with.

vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with the second post. It was very clear what the anti-war movement did and did not favor. It was indeed well organized. I am not entirely sure what OWS believes, what it wants, what practical policies it supports or condemns, or even if it makes sense to refer to it as "it."  It seems more anarchic than the anti-war movement. OWS has been in the news now for a number of weeks, but I don't sense any focusing or clarification of the message, nor do I sense any practical agenda.

readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Another difference is that Occupy Wall street is not only localized to America. It has spread to other countries like England. Moreover, if we see Occupy Wall Street from the perspective of the recent riots and revolutions in the rest of the world, then it is really global. From a historical point, debt is one of the things that can topple a government and cause people to take to the streets.

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You've got a number of good summaries of similarities and differences in the prior posts. OWS isn't as focussed as the anti-war protests were, but both represent, at least in their original intents, grassroots efforts by people who see themselves as unable to make themselves heard otherwise seeking to be recognized and to express opinions and concerns about situations that concern them.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The object of discontent in the Vietnam War protests was an objective reality that has, as history has recorded, legitimacy to its complaint, whereas the the OWS complaints are nebulous.  When asked by one journalist why he was there, one young person replied, "I am unhappy."  Signs such as "Eat the rich" are not exactly ones of clarity and legitimacy, either.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't think many people are taking the Occupy Wall Street movement seriously.  Yes, some are.  But I think it is mostly about frustration with the economy and what is perceived as greedy, fat cat banks.  In Vietnam protests, although many did not agree that seemed to take the movement seriously.  Except for hippie jokes, of course!

dongrossman | Student

A couple things. It is more decentralized with no real leaders organzing and in the spotlight. There doesn't really seem to be an explicit drug culture like the 60s psychedelic culture.


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