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Occupy Wall Street: Too Abstract? Will it Last?

31 Oct

Plus Zombies, Bicycles, and Fat Cats

John McWhorter and Glenn Loury have an interesting discussion, mostly about Occupy Wall Street. McWhorter went down there the other day and noticed that it’s small.

Yes it is. Was there yesterday afternoon (Sunday 30 Oct) and it IS small. A whole city block, yes, but a small block. And crowded with tents. It’s large in the imagination, but physically small.

And jammed with people taking photos, shooting videos, and doing interviews. Which surely is the point, get in the media however possible.


The crowd, more diverse than some reports suggest, though it’s hard to tell the OWSers from the one-time visitors. Some folks, of course, visit time and again. I got an armband of orange mesh—just like the police use to corral people—from an older couple who were helping out. I also saw some seminary students offer a sympathetic ear as Pastors for Occupy Wall Street (something like that, I forget the exact banner they flew under). Yes, lots of young folks, but also middle aged and old. Women as well as men, and a child singer playing a pink guitar in one placer, a child drummer in another. Black white yellow, probably red too.

Will OWS Last?

But back to McWhorter and Loury. McWhorter thinks they’ll all disperse in a month or so when the weather gets really cold. Perhaps.

What McWhorter and Loury were wondering is whether or not THIS is the sort of thing that really stirs the passions so that the protest will last and last. And thus really get in people’s minds and under their skin.

Yes, the 1% vs. 99% message is clear enough, economic inequality. But you push beyond that, and what do you get? They feat that the enemy may be too abstract. Financial manipulation, derivatives, that’s a bit abstract. Cheating is not abstract, but is that cheating? How so?

I think they’ve got a point. How to bring the message home? Continue reading