It would seem that a populist uprising against corporate greed would find a widely approving audience, yet the current occupation of Wall Street has mostly been received with a mix of muted support and mockery. The now week old protest, which has been reported to have attracted several hundred activists this past weekend, is struggling to be understood.
There is no leader, by design, and the demands are still being formed by General Assemblies, a loose group of protesters who gather to discuss their grievances with what they see as a system that takes from the middle class and poor and protects the rich. They represent what they call “the 99%,” the population outside of top 1% of income earners.
Protesters complained early on that they were not receiving attention from mainstream media, so they took to social media, using the hashtag #occupywallst (and apparently spreading to #occupyboston #occupyLA #occupydenver #occupytexas #occupynola #occupychi #occupyphoenix as well,) sharing minute by minute accounts on Twitter, posting photos and video, and live streaming nearly the entire time.
The claims that there is a lack of mainstream coverage doesn’t seem to hold water, and could simply be a ploy to encourage even more coverage. The protests have been covered by Reuters, The New York Times, and major networks. Anonymous and Ad Busters are major promoters and loose organizers of the protests but the movement doesn’t appear to be born directly from the groups.
Are they a mob of over-privileged, unemployed trustafarians? Many of them likely are. Does it matter? Dismiss them if you will, they’re motivated and mobilized. An apathetic population asked to foot the bill for the fallout from credit default swaps is exactly what the 1% ordered. The last few years the country has been told to fear an economic collapse if the masses fail to fork over what amounts to corporate welfare, and more recently, that more jobs will be lost if we close tax loopholes. Many claim that these protesters are anti-capitalist, but most are simply disillusioned by a form of capitalism they suggest is so far out of whack that the opportunity for bootstrap pulling is nearly non-existent. They propose that the current environment unapologetically favors the richest of the rich.