The UX of the Occupy Movement

Disclaimer:  I am a progressive.  I believe taxes should be raised for people making more than 750k per year and defense spending should be cut in half and the National Endowment for the Arts funding should be increased 100x.

With that disclaimer out of the way I have to say that I do not understand the Occupy Wall Street movement at all.  What are they protesting?  What are their demands?

Here is a description from the website:

Occupy Wall Street is leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.

No longer tolerate greed and corruption.  What does that mean?  Does it mean that all the banking laws that were never put into effect should be?  Does it mean the rich should pay more in taxes?  Does it mean corruption laws should be enforced?

This movement, unfortunately, is easy for politicians to ignore.  After a few weeks or months it will peter out and fade away.  There is no violence.  There are no leaders.  They are easy to write off as ‘crackpots’.  They are not negotiating anything in particular.  They are spread out geographically.  They are, in a word, ineffective.

In this world, no one gets what they deserve.  They get what they negotiate. – Chester Karrass

I wish the movement had leaders and could mobilize the people to political action.  Specific laws to support.  Specific candidates.  The Tea Party has done a masterful job of translating right-wing emotions into specific political actions.  I wish the left could be as organized.

Barack Obama is the leader of the nation, and specifically the democrats.  He has been unable to convert this energy into political action.  I hope that he (or someone else) can harness this power.  Mass movements are incredibly powerful.  I truly hope this one will yield some good.

5 replies on “The UX of the Occupy Movement”

“This movement, unfortunately, is easy for politicians to ignore. After a few weeks or months it will peter out and fade away.”

I think you might be wrong about this. The #occupy protests have already had far more impact and staying power than any progressive direct public action in my lifetime. They have already shifted the national policy conversation from enacting immediate austerity measures to curtail a long-term budget deficit to unemployment and, to some extent, the corruption between Wall Street and various governments, including our own, and the vast and widening inequality gap between the richest 1% and the other 99%.

I hope to see suggestions for legislation come from the #occupy camp, but I somehow doubt too many candidates will court or be courted by them. The structure of our political system was already biased against progressives before the Roberts court opened the door to unlimited, direct corporate corruption of federal politics. I think only the threat of widespread civil unrest has any hope of forcing progressive issues onto the federal docket; the ballot box is a useful but incomplete tool.

I think it is too early to tell. I agree that they can have all the media attention in the world, but unless it results in a tangible and meaning change, what is the point. However, what if it was like this; what is progressive leaders want to create a tea-party for the left. It would consist of democrats and liberals who are sick of the democrat and liberal politicians. They want to get back in touch with their moral roots. What if Occupy Wall Street is just a way to launch this movement. It it just a way to get the world’s attention and create something instantly powerful. The 99% party.

I think that this movement can be just as powerful as the Tea Party but it will definitely look different. And that’s ok. More than just being ok, it’s the way it’s gonna have to be. Everyone knows how difficult it is to liberals to come together for anything, they all are so adamant about their own particular cause. (Except they all seem to come out for legalizing pot… just go smell the protests!) So getting behind a leader, with a specific platform of demands… I don’t know if they can do that despite AdBusters intention of trying to organize them around the “One Demand” of creating a Presidential Commission to separate money from politics.

Republicans / conservatives on the other hand are ultimately very organizable and will sacrifice their personal issues to get behind a broader cause (to a point). Give them a talking point – they’ll fall in line and fight for it if they believe that it will lead in a general direction toward their issue.

And the Tea Party movement had the backing of big donors who had “stars” like Michelle Bachman, and other politicians waiting to jump out in front of the parade. With ideas generated by the donors and informal leaders who were camera-ready, they were poised to lead the many people who were legitimately angered by the Wall Street bailouts (and illegitimately fearful of a black president). This frustration and anxiety was channeled into the framework of the donors through the voice of the chosen guest speakers.

The Occupy Wall Street folks are definitely not channeled into any framework. I don’t think that the protesters would continue showing up if they knew it was all started by AdBusters and from what I’ve seen of the speakers, professionalism is not a strong suit (check out the interview with Occupy Oakland protester at minute 2:16). We’ll see if any Democrat other than Bernie Sanders has the nerve to jump out in front of this.

I just hope that the wave of sentiment that is created will force the media to pay attention to issues surrounding the economy, the poor policy in place, the money in politics, and shine a light on the idea that we have taken Milton Friedman’s ideas maybe a bit too far. And maybe from this changes in legislation will start to happen. Maybe changes in the House and Senate. Not sure how long this will continue. But there are a lot of people without jobs. What better to do?

I’m really hoping is #Occupy forces politicians to think about the money they are accepting from corporations and the wealthy. It’s just too easy to take it and use it to get elected…and then deal with the consequences later. With all this hoopla surrounding Occupy other organizations are pushing forward with the One Demand…furiously.
Fingers crossed!

Whatya think?