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OWS: The Start of Something Big

The Occupy Wall Street movement isn’t just some lefty rejoinder to the tea party, even though the two political phenomena have been subject to comparison over the last two months, but at least one prominent tea partyer joins a host of scholars and analysts in suggesting that OWS is about far more than showdowns over camping rights in various American city centers. In fact, begrudgingly or not, several culture watchers cited in this New York Times roundup predict that the movement is here to stay, regardless of whether or not the tents stay up. –KA

The New York Times:

But critics and supporters alike suggest that the influence of the movement could last decades, and that it might even evolve into a more potent force. “A lot of people brush off Occupy Wall Street as incoherent and inconsequential,” Michael Prell told me. “I disagree.”

Mr. Prell is a strategist for the Tea Party Patriots, a grass-roots organization that advocates Tea Party goals of fiscal responsibility, free markets and constitutionally limited government. He’s the author of “Underdogma,” a critique of left-wing anti-Americanism, which includes a chapter on the Berkeley Free Speech movement of the 1960s, which may be the closest historical parallel to the Occupy movement.

“They claim to stand up on behalf of the ‘little guy’ (the 99 percent), while raising a fist of protest against the big, rich, greedy and powerful 1 percent,” he said of the Occupy movement. “The parallels between Occupy Wall Street and the Berkeley Free Speech Movement are too clear to ignore — right down to the babbling incoherence of the participants. The lesson from Berkeley in the 1960s and the protest movement they spawned is: it doesn’t matter that they don’t make sense. What matters is they are tapping into a gut-level instinct that is alive, or lying dormant, in almost every human being. And, when they unleash the power of standing up for the powerless against the powerful — David vs. Goliath — the repercussions can ripple throughout our society for decades.”

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