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View Diary: What's wrong with OWS - Outsider View (50 comments)

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  •  One problem for OWS... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    soros, FG

    ...is that the very lack of a clear message is what makes them quasi-successful.

    OWS is about "the 99%", a block of people that it tries to claim have universal interests against "the 1%".

    When you start making your message more specific, you start fracturing "the 99%" coalition when you start realizing that their interests are not all the same.

    Cut military spending? A lot of "the 99%" are employed in such areas.

    Higher public spending / pay public workers more / protect public pensions? A lot of private sector "99%" scraping by do not want to hear about this.

    Various policy proposals around social security / medicare / pensions affect old and young very differently.

    Student loan forgiveness? What if I just slaved for 10 years to pay my loans off only to be asked to subsidize repayment of someone else's loans who wasn't so diligent?

    Foreclosure assistance? Lots of young people rent, why would they want to assist people to keep home prices higher and make it more likely they themselves will never be able to afford a home?

    And so it goes, issue after issue. OWS basically survives because it is non-specific. As soon as you start making policy demands, it starts becoming an interest group for some faction of "the 99%" as opposed to others.

    "The 99%" is composed of many groups of people: very poor people, almost-rich yuppies, young people, old people, students, people on fixed income, etc. All of these people have their own interests that may not coincide with other factions' interests.

    Perhaps a strategy would be to make specific demands around specific items most likely to appeal to most of "the 99%": prosecute financial corruption and raise taxes on the rich (Buffett rule or what have you) and explicitly disown other agendas. But even that will weaken as opposed to strengthen them. Maybe their best strategy to get what they want (however that can be defined) is just to hang around and be visible.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Tue May 08, 2012 at 09:36:13 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Agree with this entirely (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      soros

      Especially the fact that having overly specific goals inevitably leads to breaking up the movement into factions.

      One last comment from Dan and then I'll be done for now. He observed that the Arab Spring protests in Egypt consisted of large groups of people who hated each other, but hated the Mubarak government even more. "We may not agree on what we DO want, but we know it it's YOU."

    •  The 99% message was sent and received (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AmericanAnt, PsychoSavannah

      That did work.  But unless you have a plan to turn protest into action it turns into whining.  Americans did want change or they would never have elected Obama who was more a symbol of change than anything else.  The hard work is connecting the protest to change that a middle American voter can see as a tangible result.

      Learn from the enemy - Republicans exploited suburban mega Churches to give people the sense that they could get practical assistance in faith based organizations.  African American churches have also served as change agents while they were also delivering practical assistance.  Of course the old union halls did the same.  

      What is missing is a focal point for community.  Tents just don't do it.

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