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I've been to several protest marches now in different cities... Yesterday I was in San Diego.  I do think that there is something very important happening.  I'm encouraged by the fact that people have decided to do something about the current situation in the country--an increasingly oppressive system based on crony capitalism and enabled by a corrupt political class.

Yesterday's march in San Diego was particularly inspiring, and what I estimate to be over 1000 people walked march through the Gaslamp District.

But there is a nagging worry that keeps coming to mind as I analyze the whole movement (insofar as I'm capable of).  The chants "We are the 99%," or "They got bailed out, we got sold out," what do they mean?

What is the purpose of chanting?  Is it to send a message?  And if so, to whom?  And what message are chants or slogans trying to convey?

Also, by now it has become almost orthodoxy for movement members to embrace the concept that "we don't need leaders," or a "clear message."  And that one of the advantages of that is that it will help in attracting lots of people with all kinds of interests.  And so I try to discern the progress, and I see the movement growing across the country.

But after each march, when people get to the destination to assemble, when I see the microphone and speakers setup, I get excited thinking that I'm going to hear a passionate orator with a clear and concise and powerful message.  Instead, you hear the "peaceful" kids playing "beautiful" music and dancing "grateful death" style, the drumming, the jumping.

When speakers stand to talk, I hear all kinds of disparate message... A nice-looking young couple sing a peace and love song at the microphone, and ask perplexed protesters to follow along... But the lyrics don't flow, and are hard to repeat.

When people "rise up" and "take to the streets," and chant, and "unite because people united can't never be defeated," is the intent to try to send some sort of message of show of force and power to the ruling elite?  It seems to me that that would be the object, unless I'm missing something.

But maybe is not, because I don't feel that's the message is being sent... And when people are interviewed by the media, the reporter asks "why are you here?" and people answer because I owe too much in student loans, or I can't get a job, or things are not fair.  In every single news report I've seen everywhere the reporter always ends by describing the movement as leaderless and lacking of substantive and clear demands... They usually say that there are all kinds of different demands, some of them disparate.

People tell me, give it time, the movement will coalesce and it will get more focused.  I'm all for that, and will refrain from criticism (as much as I can).

But again, some worries keep coming to mind... Could this eventually fizzle away due to a lack of inspiring leadership, and focused approach?  About the public relations aspect?  Is the message reaching people in a way that inspires increased participation and support?

And most importantly, are the people we are "rising up" against, the least worried?  

I can't help but to think that if a I was a zillionare tycoon, owner of a few private jets, five huge homes, and a yacht, at this point I would not be worried in the least, from what I've seen so far.

But maybe I'm missing something... And hence, this inquiring diary.  I really don't mean it to be (too) critical.  I just want to get "your" input as to how you see the movement evolving and achieving its goals--And BTW, what are those goals?

Originally posted to Occupy Wall Street on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 01:45 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Ray, this is real democracy in action. (5+ / 0-)

    It's messy and unorganized...but it's real. It's the spontaneous uprising of the American people. With luck and proper support this has the potential to be what you've been asking for here at dkos for I don't know how many months now.

    When people say to me, what can a bunch of protesters accomplish, I refer them to President Mubarak of Egypt.

    I think you should be glad for this movement and supportive of it. You have much to contribute.

    If you want to see some effective messaging from OWS, check out Jesse LaGreca, who most of us know as MinistryofTruth:

    http://www.dailykos.com/...!

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

  •  Valid questions (4+ / 0-)

    but this is still way early days.

    I would argue that the structure is likely to be highly self-limiting beyond a certain point, but I've been wrong before.

    Also, even if it just increases attention to the fact that the country isn't working for a lot of people that is useful.

  •  Seems there's a kind of pattern with this as (4+ / 0-)

    shown in Egypt, Spain, Greece, and elsewhere.  That is first there are protests, then a sort of regrouping when the realization sinks in that further actions are needed.  But the initial protests provided the spark for those further actions.  That's what they're hoping for here.  It's beyond me how a leaderless, organization less movement can get a majority of citizens to agree on something and make the politicians do it.  But that's where we're at, we have no choice but to try.  We're up against the most powerful organization (the .01 percenters) in world history.  Making them do what we want is going to be kind of hard.

    S.A.W. 2011 STOP ALL WARS "The Global War on Terror is a fabrication to justify imperialism."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 02:02:10 PM PDT

    •  maybe it's a little like learning to walk again (3+ / 0-)

      after a trauma...small signs that there is hope, the possiblility of forward movement.  A lot of information is being passed around about the financial system and the scamming of public money...this can only be a good thing.  Who can predict outcomes?

      "He's a walking contradicion, partly truth and partly fiction, taking every misdirection on his lonely way back home" Kris Kristofferson, "The Pilgrim"

      by Wonton Tom on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 02:08:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The 1% is powerful. Also, very weak. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bushondrugs

      The 1% have guns and money. But they are unable to produce anything and lack any skills except the skill of swindling.

      Hundreds of millions of people cannot be kept under the control of the 1%—if we refuse to be controlled.

      We can stop them from stealing our homes, confiscating our savings, eliminating our jobs. In fact, we (as a huge group) are the only ones who can do this.

      When a government violates the unalienable rights of the people, it loses its legitimacy.

      by Rayk on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 02:31:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  good questions, Ray... (3+ / 0-)

    I have been up to OccupyMaine in Portland, and will go up again tomorrow.  Just brought up some basic "care package" stuff, my wife is really good at that after three kids growing up...to me it is sort of "wait and see", I hope that something concrete happens, but I would agree that striking fear in the hearts of the 1% is not realistic from what I have seen here.  

    "He's a walking contradicion, partly truth and partly fiction, taking every misdirection on his lonely way back home" Kris Kristofferson, "The Pilgrim"

    by Wonton Tom on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 02:05:27 PM PDT

  •  The Declaration of the Occupation of New York City (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bushondrugs, Ray Pensador

    has a clear message. I suggest you read Declaration of the Occupation of New York City.

    Please follow the link. The message is to ". . . let these facts be known . . ."

    Read the facts and tell people the facts. Until everyone hears the facts little will be done.

    The purpose of the chants is to help everyone understand they are a part of us. We are all suffering together.

    Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

    by LWelsch on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 02:20:51 PM PDT

  •  OR worse, the lamest comments are cherry-picked (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ms Citizen

    by the opposition as being "representative" of what they've heard.  

    I'm concerned about the need for leadership in staying on message, as you suggest.  The movement needs to focus on the need for a LEVEL PLAYING FIELD, which most Americans can agree on.

    Seeing individuals complain about specific circumstances that involved tasking individual risks or making bad choices (like taking on tons of student loan debt with expectations of a super-rosy future) does not help the cause.  

    There is a big difference between demanding reforms to our broken financial systems (e.g., tax breaks for the wealthy, profits being used to justify ill treatment of workers and the environment, robo-signing and other mortgage bad practices, healthcare costs outpacing inflation by a factor of ten) vs. expressing a general angst about our personal situations.  We all should be able to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps (a common GOP meme); however, many Americans can no longer do this because the rich have heavily rigged the game in their favor.

    A Wall Street "bonus" should not be more than what my house is worth.

    by bushondrugs on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 02:23:15 PM PDT

  •  Here's what I think is happening. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wonton Tom, bushondrugs, Ray Pensador

    OWS is actually spontaneous. But there is a pattern, I think.

    The 99% are busy growing the movement. The short-term message is: we are here, you can join us, we understand the Wall Street is destroying us, taking our homes, stealing our savings, eliminating our jobs.

    Join us. We can wait for politicians to fix this. We will have strength in numbers, and because of the justice of our cause.

    Is Wall Street worried? I don't know or care. They are busy making life for the 99% worse, so they are in effect recruiting for OWS. They can't help themselves—it's what they do.

    But when the Occupy movement becomes millions, not thousands, we will have the opportunity to make the changes that are necessary.

    When a government violates the unalienable rights of the people, it loses its legitimacy.

    by Rayk on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 02:28:37 PM PDT

  •  Another message that gets lost: (5+ / 0-)

    We can't keep evaluating everything in terms of what makes the most direct profits for businesses, as if that's the only outcome that matters.

    This value is so deeply ingrained that we sometimes cannot recognize the alternative framing.

    For example, public transportation, such as rail, loses money.  Why should taxpayers subsidize something that is not profitable?  Answer:  We also pay for roads and highways with no expectation of profit.  We do so because all businesses benefit from being able to move employees and goods on smooth roads.  We are in better health from having good roads.  The productivity of the USA is reduced when roads are in disrepair.  The benefits clearly outweigh the costs.

    We need to improve our rail systems.  It's wasteful to use so much energy (and belch CO2) to overcome gravity to move people by aircraft, when some of the load could be handled more efficiently by high-speed rail; however, the airlines feel entitled to their profits and they get what they want--at everyone else's expense.  [I'm not against airlines; it's just that no private sector deserves a guaranty that the world won't evolve in a manner that is to their disadvantage.  The same goes for renewable energy vs. fossil fuels, etc.]

    Government regulations and programs have had huge benefits.  If we don't advocate for the role of government, who can?  The US Government does not have an advertising budget to tout its successes.  [Must remind my GOP friends that "government" and "politicians" are not interchangeable concepts. The bulk of our Government is not the politicians.  It's people providing needed services to our citizenry.]

    A Wall Street "bonus" should not be more than what my house is worth.

    by bushondrugs on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 02:50:51 PM PDT

  •  Their message (0+ / 0-)

    is pretty clear:  they hold Wall St., banks, corporations, and their state and federal governments responsible for their falling standard of living.  Their signs say it all.  
    They want economic fairness and justice.

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