Student Life | The independent newspaper of Washington University in St. Louis since 1878

Occupy protests need to focus on coherent demands

The “Occupy movement”—progressive protests focused on some of the inequality issues in the global financial system that started with Occupy Wall Street in New York City on Sept. 17, —has spread to other cities across the country, including St. Louis.

While we understand the frustration and lack of hope in the economy going forward, we believe these protests need to collate their message and come up with a serious and widely accepted plan for the future.

We also believe that the protests should focus on establishing a leader or figurehead for the movement in order to more effectively communicate exactly what the goals of the “Occupy” protests are.

Some of the protests have “living” documents that constantly change exactly what the demands are. The Occupy Wall Street demands have included “End the War on Drugs” and “Repeal the Patriot Act.” We think that that the range of the protests it too broad, and instead of calling a wide variety of issues from the past few years into question, protestors should focus on the economy and leave protests on other policies to come later.

These are protests that don’t have a centralized message or a centralized leadership, and they are losing ground for it. They need to maintain a civil, reasonable way of doing things, because some of their demands are well-founded. The lack of wealth equality in this country and the lack of oversight throughout the past few years are things that should be addressed, but when the protestors don’t work together and try to turn themselves into a legitimate movement, their demands are bound to be ridiculed.

The protesters are being derided by conservative media as “un-American” and by the rest of the media as “confused.” Without a stable and coherent message and leadership, the protests will fail and, along with them, so will the chances of doing anything about the problems that this country is facing.

The protests have been linked and compared to the tea party movement, due to their similar grassroots nature and extreme ideological stances. However, the tea party does have a centralized message, which the “Occupy” protests lack. The tea party is about reducing taxes and cutting spending to make government smaller. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the tea party’s stances, it is possible to know what the entire group and all of its smaller subsidiaries are about.

We believe the “Occupy” protests need to do the same thing. Define and convey their message correctly, and stick to reasonable demands that resonate with the rest of the American public. Most of the country has been seriously hurt by the financial crisis, and most of the American public wants to focus on creating a more equal and fair country. There is a lot of room for the “Occupy” protests to grow, but without a consistent message, most Americans will be turned off.

We believe that the “Occupy” protesters should focus on establishing themselves as a legitimate political movement, with widely recognized leaders and a consistent set of demands for most (if not all) of the protests that are being held worldwide.

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  • ATFSR says:

    One of the most obvious things not being discussed enough or logically is the damage and mean spritiedness of the Occupiers. Plus they are being “paid” to protest by the Unions. How can this possibly be compared to the Tea Party? Most of the occupiers have no real idea of WHAT it is they do not agree with. As long as logic is not included in the debate along with facts then there really is no comparison to the Tea Party.

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  • Jay Western says:

    thanks for asking, here are my demands:

    -abolish the police force, re-hire them as civil servants without guns (like a giant citizen/customer service institution)

    -open all national borders, issue world citizenship, allow for true freedom of movement

    -destroy the thousands of nuclear weapons stocked in this country and around the world

    -end all foreign occupations

    -end all violations of the geneva code which the united states flagrantly ignores

    -hold war crimes tribunals for pretty much every western leader of the past half-century

    -unequivocally support palestinian statehood at the UN

    -give puerto rico representatives in government or independence

    -pay reparations for slavery by investing in the infrastructure of largely black inner cities, stop making public housing so shitty

    -end harassment and degradation of welfare recipients (no drug tests, etc.)

    -invest $16 trillion (roughly the total amount given by the government in loans to the financial sector over the past 3 years) in public education

    -outlaw private and charter schools which perpetuate institutional privileges (public education should be good enough that *even rich people* can send their kids there)

    -raise the minimum wage to a living wage (so like, triple it)

    -hold mandatory collective liberation meetings every month so that all citizens can identify and understand various forms of political oppression (misogyny, white supremacy, classism, ableism, xenophobia, the list it goes on)

    -ban advertising

    -restructure the government entirely starting from neighborhood councils and other forms of local participatory democracy all the way up to an international body (we refuse to have our unity forsaken for freedom)

    -abolish the imf and world bank, use the last vestiges of their power to help end the massive exploitation of the global south

    ***

    after reading a few of my reasonable demands, i hope it is clear why anyone encouraging the occupy movement to “collate their message and come up with a serious and widely accepted plan for the future” (omg gag me) is actually the worst enemy of progress. the demands for a better future cannot be clear or simple (or even widely accepted) because the list of things wrong with our world is like infinite at this point. to formulate demands in terms that those in power have decided upon is to forfeit our revolutionary potential. they want us to have an elevator speech in case we end up talking one on one with the CEO of bank of america or something? BS! of course the ruling classes and their sympathizers don’t take the occupy movement seriously: we’re coming for them and their dear dear social positions, after all. we don’t need privileged, powerful people (the media, government officials, the wealthy) to legtimize us because their legitimacy, based on their “success” in this society, is what the movement questions in the first place. dems wish they could co-opt this ish. whatever. we want it all, a new world, yo. are u coming? (studlife obviously is not)

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  • Jerome Bauer says:

    You completely miss the point We are all protesting corporate control of the state, fascism by definition. The last thing we need is a fascist dictator or a figurehead leader, or to be coopted by a “legitimate” political party. Fortunately there are enough anarchists, left and right, among us to prevent this from happening. We are still a free speech movement, occupying a free speech zone, establishing an open university and direct democracy. It’s an experiment.

    We are all leaders. Wy don’t you join us, and be a leader too?

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    • Anonymous says:

      If you want to reclaim Democracy, the movement has to be political. I suggest GETMONEYOUT.COM as the cornerstone.

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      • Jerome Bauer says:

        If you think you have a solution please come to the Occupy site nearest you and bring your friends. You may form a caucus or special interest group without general consent or screening by any committee, and you are free and encouraged to organize a teach-in on your topic. Here at Occupy Saint Louis you would put your name and and contact information and time on Pillar Eleven, and we will do our best to get it on the website. We discourage open electioneering, because we do not want the Occupy movement to turn into a Ron Paul rally, or an Obama or anti-Obama rally, or a Dennis Kucinich rally, etc. etc. Of course we encourage you to Occupy the Voting Booth. Of course we are political, but it’s not politics as usual. This is something different, or it will be with your help.

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        • Jerome Bauer says:

          I consider the Occupy movement a populist coalition of left and right libertarians, united in opposition to American corporatism, a corrupt form of capitalism, defined by some as a form of fascism or a precursor to fascism. If this coalition proves to be stable this movement could be transformative, in the short and long run. I believe it is stable and I will work to keep it stable.

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        • Rosa says:

          Nice entry, Peter. I rlealy like your directing attention to options besides camping out. For one thing, a lot of us have to go to work (lucky to have those jobs), take care of children and parents, etc., and simply can’t spend more than an hour here and there on the streets. More importantly, this movement isn’t about sit-ins that’s just the form the first protests have taken. If that’s all we did we’d have decreasing impact as the press and politicians realized that they could ignore us and keep on doing the same thing.Anyone can get an appointment with their congressperson you don’t have to go to Washington. Gather a group of concerned friends, call your rep or senator’s local office, tell the staff you have a group that wants to meet with them about the policy issues Peter’s raised, and have a concise statement to give. Then ask the staffer your question ( Will the Senator vote to give the SEC more regulatory powers? ) and listen. Promise to follow up. Follow up. Keep up the pressure.

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  • Steve Houldsworth says:

    It is unfortunate that Student Life has joined with the mainstream media calling for a leader and a list of demands from the Occupy movement. The Occupy movement is not looking for a leader with a plan. That paradigm has not worked for the past 40 years in the US, and hopefully the Occupy movement can resist the press from outside forces to conform to that broken process. As soon as you have a leader, they can be attacked, co-opted, or undermined. No one leader can solve the current crisis we are in; we must all be leaders. It took decades to get into this position where wealth disparities, healthcare disparities, education disparities, and incarceration disparities are so vast that there is no common ground of experience for the US citizenry of different classes. The Occupy movement started on Sept. 17. I would be concerned if the Occupy movement felt that they had all the solutions to these problems 60 days into the movement. The fact that the Occupiers are willing to be in dialogue and discussion, rather than jumping to a quick fix, shows that this is a people’s movement looking for new solutions. Come down to the Occupy site closest to you and be part of the process.

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  • 08 says:

    Right, because the advice of a cloistered handful of undergrads from affluent homes should be listened to why? You are missing the point. They are not operating within the same sorts of constraints as establishment thinkers or college administrators. And that’s exactly why they’re successful.

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  • Fred Willcutt says:

    Let me explain something to the reader that the author doesn’t seem to understand. We like the opportunity for confusion caused by the press to be cleared up, for even the dimmest among us are aware that everyone has an agenda of their own.
    As with any peoples movement taking place within the public sphere in a free market where rights are protected, many individuals and groups move in to subvert it into something of their own. The socialists are attempting this with their banners and slogans, some crackpot neo-nazis may try in their furies of butthurt, the big media guys work by using their advantageous positions strategically in ways that reflect the time and state of the situation. Right now the voice of the media is unified in their criticism, that the movement need produce a list of demands and statements of representation. The attempts to marginalize made by a media looking to move opinion directions that serve their corporate interests will not be something that we forgive.
    This is a movement of people worldwide who have been disadvantaged because of a corrupt system that has nothing in common with its name. These people cannot be marginalized – even if a segment hammers out a list of demands or a manifesto or whatever, it won’t be representative of the whole. This is an unfortunate fact that the hand full of network/print/web media owners need to come to terms with – this is the first movement that you will not be able to marginalize onto a sideline by using emotionally packed labels. You will not get an appeal to authorities from this movement. You will be made to understand who the authorities are. The authorities are the people, and this will be made known in a way that will not be easy to forget.
    Then what is the problem, what is the complaint? The matter at hand is obvious even to those behind these inauthentic attempts to slow it down. It will continue – in the free marketplace of ideas, socialists, communists, and nazis are welcome to embarrass themselves with they pretend to represent the people. The media is welcome to play pretend with them. Have fun playing pretend amidst a legion of dissent. Expect us to not be bothered!

    We’ll just wait here in the street while you guys resolve the ancient partisan conflict over the cause and solution to what is now a crisis. When you realize that the only obstacle left is your partisan conflict, we’ll still be here in the street – we’re in it for the long haul. Each wing focuses on cause being fault of either gov or corp, reception of criticism by opposite wing returns defended exaggerations. The right sees selfish greed covered in ignorant adolescent idealism, the left sees selfish greed covered in bigotry, ignorance, or superiority protective of wealth. Both are victims defending their corrupt abusers who play three ring circus in their musical chairs.

    Heads up! The division bell rings from the line, and the sound is heard from above by 99% of us.

    Politix is broken, the memo is camping on the streets. The few actors in the game with electable positions serve the same agenda. Those buildings that came down mirrored each other, but terrorists brought them down and they now no longer exist. The cause isn’t worth arguing about, the only partisans left will not fix politics through winged complaints. The target of your scorn does not obey the boundary condition found within your furies of complaints. The focus of your blame does not divide itself between the side that you defend.

    There are no strategies left to engineer consent of the status quo. There are no remaining methods of managing perception using emotional levers. There is no public relations strategy in the toolbox, no social construction possible for concerned stakeholders, and no creative destruction on or off the menu for resolving a world wide uprising that requires only the return of justice to an unfair world.

    Let’s fix this problem so that we can bring politics back! I really miss arguing with you fools.

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Student Life | The independent newspaper of Washington University in St. Louis since 1878