Activism: The Next Generation

I didn’t want to write this post. I had originally wrote it off (pun not exactly intended) as too complicated to discuss on WordPress. Why would I want to write about “what has Occupy Wall Street really done”?

I’m not really sure it’s done anything.

From my little corner of the country, a year ago I was more focused on the continuation of Arab Spring than OWS. In fact, as protests go, the two cannot be compared. One is real activism, the other is, well, c’mon people–it’s a farce.

[NOTICE: In fact, just in the last few minutes as I pondered the two, I decided to focus on these almost side-by-side demonstrations, instead of comparing OWS to real American activism from the 60’s and 70’s. Goodbye Kent State, maybe another time].

OWS

Arab Spring*

Focus of Protest Economic distribution, corporate influence on the US government While each country had its own particulars, in general, the protests focused on repressive government control
Results Impact is questionable on a country-wide scale. However, there were isolated instances where local OWS groups helped others facing financial difficulty/ruin.
  • 4 governments overthrown
  • Protests that affected government change
  • On-going civil war
Death Tolls Approx <20, though many were from exposure and conflict with other protesters. It should be noted the conditions of the protests did lead to a spread of disease.
  • Yemen – 250+
  • Bahrain– <100
  • Libya – 30,000+
  • Egypt– 900
  • Tunisia–300
  • Syria–3,500+

**

While watching footage of both these movements, I was struck by the visual images and the flow (or lack of) of humanity. It is evident to me that many Arab Spring protesters were continually on the move, mostly from the government militia determined to squash dissenting views. They walked (or ran) down streets, chanting and holding signs pinpointing what wrongs their government was being accused of. They were in constant motion.

In contrast, the OWS protesters were almost exclusively trademarked by their squatter-like behavior. They had the freedom to gather and voice opposition, perhaps indirectly at the government, but mostly toward what they considered corporate business’ influence on the government. Hence their occupation of “Wall Street”, the epicenter of corporate America.

OWS was characterized and criticized, not by their similar use of social media, but by the dichotomy of their complaint that they, the 99%, are unfairly subjected to unpayable student loans and unemployment, while holding smart phones and the latest tech gadgets to record and broadcast their so-called movement. Were any of these protesters homeless or living in shelters? It’s doubtful, since many in New York were sporting designer clothes.

Had the economic downturn of 2008 (and subsequently the OWS movement) not occurred, these protesters would have joined the very unfortunate American habit of borrowing gobs of money to support a lifestyle they think they deserve, but cannot afford. They would not have complained, they would be charging and spending each and every paycheck while paying the minimum owed (sometimes).

Here we have a generation of young people who would rather sit and play with their toys and let that compel the powers that be provide for them, than get a real job doing whatever it takes (even manual labor) to put food on the table. They want less freedom.

This flies in the face of the Arab Spring movement where, at the risk of their lives, protesters demanded more freedom—to vote, to speak freely, to work. Now, you tell me who has been more active and achieved more toward their goals. One has toppled dictators; the other has dictated what they think they are owed.

Frankly, in comparison, can anyone say OWS has done anything?

 

 

*while the term has its controversies, for the purpose of this blog it will be used to refer what is widely known as the protests that have taken place in the Mediterranean and throughout the Middle East

** http://www.usnews.com/news/slideshows/death-toll-of-arab-spring

 

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