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Ear to the Ground

Occupy Wall Street Is United in Its Diversity

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Posted on Oct 8, 2011
Flickr / Jerry Reynolds (CC-BY-SA)

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist David Cay Johnston wrote Friday that the Occupy Wall Street protests are unlike any demonstrations he has seen in more than 40 years, and that the reasons the movement differs so much are the same reasons why it could succeed in sparking major change.

The difference Johnston said he sees between Occupy Wall Street and other “anti-war, anti-rape, Tea Partiers” demonstrations is that rather than uniting around narrow, specific interests, people from all walks of life are expressing a wide array of views, but around a simple, common theme: The “bankers are ripping off America.”

Johnston also noted that two secondary ideas within the larger theme seem to be driving the protests: that the super-rich control America’s politicians, and that almost all media report events from the perspective of the rich.

Finally, here’s one mainstream media personality who recognizes that the movement is not hampered by championing divergent messages, but rather is united in its diversity. —BF

David Cay Johnston for Reuters:

Pay close attention to the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in New York and around the United States, especially if the protests endure through the cold months into the election year spring or if the New York police are ordered to violently end the demonstrations, which would ensure they spread.

The protests show signs of sparking a major change in U.S. politics by creating common ground among people with wildly divergent views. The key to their significance will be whether they foster a wholesale change in political leadership in 2013 or whether Americans return a vast majority of incumbents in both parties at all levels of government.

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zonth_zonth's avatar

By zonth_zonth, October 9, 2011 at 1:23 am Link to this comment

@bpawk
well, if they are not there as of now, I think an occupancy will be there before long.  From everything I have been reading on occupywallstreet.org the movement is growing and there are plans of occupancy around the country.  Indeed I think the saint himself (Hedges) was going to make an appearance at the DC occupancy.

I think we who are on the sidelines hoping and encouraging the movement, should do our part only (by donating etc) but should not make demands or criticize the movement if we are not there in person.  I personally am attempting to use self restraint in making demands of the OWS’s as Im on the opposite side of the planet and I have no right to make demands upon individuals who are themselves sacrificing.

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Robespierre115's avatar

By Robespierre115, October 8, 2011 at 8:01 pm Link to this comment

@gerard, as much as I admire where your heart is, real life is not a John Lennon, including when it comes to nonviolence, take for example the very similar protests in Israel: They eventually broke down because you had both leftists and right-wing settlers and Zionists peddling this “post-partisan” philosophy which meant that when the time came, Netanyahu simply brushed them away (he knew for example that at some point the left would bring up the issue of the occupation, dissolving any sympathy from the settlers). As the Mexican writer Paco Ignacio Taibo II once said, “the centre is nothing.”

It is very telling that you didn’t directly answer the dilemma I presented, instead you expressed typical postmodern, hollow rhetoric. The irony is that the capitalists and Wall Street fatcats are not centrists, they know damn well what they want, how, with who and where.

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mrfreeze's avatar

By mrfreeze, October 8, 2011 at 3:53 pm Link to this comment

Oh, sorry here are two links. The first is Mayer’s essay and the 2nd is an interview with her on Terry Gross’s Fresh Air a couple of days ago:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/10/10/111010fa_fact_mayer

http://www.npr.org/templates/rundowns/rundown.php?prgId=13&prgDate=10-6-2011

The villains are out there. They need to be called-out!

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mrfreeze's avatar

By mrfreeze, October 8, 2011 at 3:51 pm Link to this comment

Every effective movement needs its foil, its adversary and one of the reasons the “Occupy Wall Street” movement hasn’t yet found its BIG voice is that it simply hasn’t focused-in on one or more of the “monsters” who we all know are co-opting our republic. Some of you are stating that “it’s the government’s fault….” Well, you’re only partially right. I think OWS would do well to have all its members (and all of you should) read Jane Mayer’s incredibly disturbing piece in the New Yorker Magazine, “State for Sale.” If ever there was a story that gets to the heart of the the corruptive influence of money in politics (government), this is it. Pope, the Kochs, the Bushes and many other of the wealthy interests in this country have turned our republic into a “transactional” plutocracy…...............and it’s not a good thing. Let’s hope this new movement can find leaders smart enough and brave enough to call these monsters out for what they are: uber-wealthy sociopaths.

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By felicity, October 8, 2011 at 2:56 pm Link to this comment

The supra-rich, and therefore powerful in a
capitalist economy (Wall Street being as good a
representative of that crowd as any) have a strangle-
hold on this government. Hopefully, the socially,
economically and politically divergent groups of
protesters may come to realize that Americans of all
persuasions can and must work together against what
is, at the final count, their common enemy. 

This might prove to be the ultimate effectiveness of
the protests - realizing that no matter our politics
etc. we are one people, Americans, and we’ve got to
fight together against those who, in essence, are
trying to disenfranchise us.

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By bpawk, October 8, 2011 at 2:48 pm Link to this comment

to zonth_zonth;

So if the government is in cahoots with Wall Street and therefore are just as evil, why isn’t anyone going to the White House to protest? Just remember, Wall Street doesn’t have to answer to you the taxpayer, but the government does. Why are people afraid to go to the White House to protest?

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zonth_zonth's avatar

By zonth_zonth, October 8, 2011 at 1:56 pm Link to this comment

bpawk said “only the government can be the enabler. Wall Street is just exploiting the govt loopholes”

Wall street is exploiting govt loopholes that were designed BY the same wall street, bankers, VIA lobbyists.  Seems to me the government may be an enabler, whilst simultaneously being subordinate to the financial/corporate banking system.  It is a vicious circle.  What appears to be two (govt & wall street) entities are in fact inseparable.

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By bpawk, October 8, 2011 at 12:59 pm Link to this comment

from the article:
“The difference Johnston said he sees between Occupy Wall Street and other “anti-war, anti-rape, Tea Partiers” demonstrations is ... people from all walks of life are expressing a wide array of views, but around a simple, common theme: The “bankers are ripping off America.”

Who does he think helped the bankers ‘rip off america’? It was Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Obama ... IT’S THE GOVERNMENT WHO IS RESPONSIBLE so why aren’t the protesters in Washington? I believe this demonstration was started by democrats - they are deflecting attention away from their helping of the rich by focusing on the rich however, only the government can be the enabler with deregulating, bailouts and easy tax breaks for the rich - Wall Street is just exploiting the govt loopholes! You elect govt so go to your reprsentatives, not Wall Street! They are not here for you - your govt has let you down - go after them. I suspect people are too embarrassed they voted for Obama so instead of admitting you’re wrong, you go after someone else.

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By gerard, October 8, 2011 at 12:43 pm Link to this comment

Robespierre:  You seem to me to have a couple of problems:  1. You have little to no faith in others than yourself, let alone the present generation of protesters. 2. You haven’t read, studied or experienced nonviolence and reconciliation. Maybe your French persona, of which you seem to have forgotten two of the three parts:  “Liberte, egalite, fraternite!”

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Robespierre115's avatar

By Robespierre115, October 8, 2011 at 11:09 am Link to this comment

It all depends on whether the movement takes the road of a serious, organized entity or participant in the democratic system, or if it chooses to simply be some sort of street presence applying pressure. Once the question of actually changing the system either through taking power or other means, the real inner clashes will begin. Consider this: How can you possibly harmonize social democratic or radical leftist ideas with those of ultra-capitalist, Ayn Rand libertarians?

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