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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Occupy movement needs leadership, vision to stay relevant

    The Occupy Wall Street movement celebrated its one-year anniversary on Monday. To mark the momentous occasion, occupiers protested corporate greed and wealth disparity the best way they knew how: By forming a human wall to block the entrance of the New York Stock Exchange.

    With thousands of occupiers carrying the movement’s banner and Occupy chapters in almost every major city, including Tucson, OWS should be doing more than just impeding traffic and roiling the New York City Police Department.

    Sure, this ragtag band of activists has made opposition to wealth disparity and corporate greed a permanent fixture in American politics, but by now, its ability to influence change should be tantamount to that of a political party.

    Just two years ago, Tea Party Republicans rode a wave of anti-big government sentiment straight to the floor of the House of Representatives.

    Why then, after ceaseless media coverage and millions of dollars in financial backing, has the Occupy Wall Street Movement not been able to achieve the same thing?

    In Tucson, occupiers have quieted and largely faded from the media and public eye. At the national level, being written off as a radical left-wing insurgency movement hasn’t helped. But instead of shrugging off this characterization, many within the movement have either embraced it or have done little to challenge it.

    When you become defined by fanaticism, whether through your own actions or through gross mischaracterizations, you lose all legitimacy. The sooner OWS defines itself as a group of well-intentioned citizens with valid concerns, the sooner it will be accorded the respect it deserves.

    The movement’s utter lack of unity should also be addressed, if it wants to be known as anything more than a club for aimless rabble-rousers.
    Two distinct camps comprise OWS: college-educated activists who are atop the movement’s chain of command and homeless transients who not only rely on the charity of the first group, but also on OWS at large for a sense of community.

    As the movement expanded and the number of participants increased and eventually reached critical mass, these two factions grew increasingly disparate. Now that OWS has fizzled, the intellectuals have shifted their efforts to other issues and the transients are in search of sustenance and a new place to stay.

    To compound this fracturing, OWS, from its inception, has lacked a definitive objective since day one.

    Rather than setting its scope on one particular issue, the movement set out to call attention to every social ill under the sun, from wealth distribution to hunger and poverty in third world countries. By spreading itself thin over a number of issues that could not possibly be grappled with all at once, OWS blunted the force of its overall impact.

    What made OWS so promising a year ago was that it was a grassroots movement made up of common folk whose voices had been drowned out by corporate interests and the defining roar of the far-right. Back then, it seemed as if Occupy would become a force to be reckoned with, a counterpart to the Tea Party.

    But with time, OWS has lost sight of its goals and allowed its naysayers to portray the movement in a negative light. Without the leadership to provide unity and the willingness and ability to define themselves, occupiers will continue to backslide into oblivion.

    — Nyles Kendall is a political science senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.

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